I stood on the sideline past mile 25 of the 2019 London Marathon, where I saw Eliud Kipchoge gracefully run towards victory in a time of 2:02:37. This was the second fastest official marathon time in history, which he set at the 2018 Berlin Marathon in 2:01:39.
The following two runners who finished behind him, plus Sir Mo Farah zoomed passed me. Their legs were turning over so quickly, with the uniform blur of the neon green Nike Vaporfly NEXT% on their feet.
The data and upgrades:
Nike made the following upgrades from the Vaporfly 4%.
Runners wanted more room in the forefoot, which resulted in a wider toe box.
The outsole has better traction and durability which makes it more stable for cornering and running in the rain.
To decrease friction and pressure where the top of foot traditionally meets the laces, Nike offset the laces to the outside of the shoe.
Following the rain of the 2018 Boston Marathon (I’m still having flashbacks…) the runners wanted a material that wouldn’t absorb as much water as the Flyknit.
Nike’s upgraded upper is called VaporWeave. It’s a mix of two types of plastics TPU and TPE which means it absorbs approximately 90% less water (sweat or rain) than the previous Flyknit.
The heel is supported in the lighter upper with a small cushioned black band, to keep your heel secure from slipping.
The sole of the NEXT% like the previous Vaporfly 4% continues to use ZoomX foam and a full length carbon fiber plate. Nike state that the previous foams gave back approximately 65% of the energy runners put in, whereas ZoomX in the NEXT% returns up to approximately 85%.
Nike added 15% more cushioning (ZoomX) in the midsole. However due to the light weight VaporWeave upper, it’s not increased the shoe’s weight. An additional benefit is it’s added 4mm of height, which has changed the heel to toe drop from 11 mm in the Vaporfly 4% to 8 mm in the Vaporfly NEXT%. I tend to prefer lower drop shoes personally when running faster, as I feel closer to the ground, plus it gives the shoe more stability.
(First long run) How was it was to run in?
I ran a 20 steady miles in the NEXT% recently, but before I started my run, I wanted to point out this cool detail. Under the shoe’s tongue. Nike included two boxes to let you record the date and location of your race PR.
What’s it like run in, well I liked the cushioned forefoot with a low drop. Every step felt like it was pushing me forward, even when you are walking. I liked the wider forefoot it felt comfortable as I was moving forward.
The NEXT% are made to go fast, they felt light (184.3g / 6.5 oz Size 10) but it’s definitely a shoe you save to race in.
However depending how deep your pockets are it’s down to you if you train and race in them.
But I think the NEXT% would be wasted running easy paced miles in. If it was a car it’s like taking your track day car, to do your weekly grocery shop in, whilst keeping it in second gear only.
It’s early days but these are special shoes and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do.