Eliud Kipchoge’s Shoes: Nike’s Quest for Marathon Record

eliud kipchoge shoes

Getty Nike made Eliud Kipchoge's shoes.

Eliud Kipchoge’s high-tech shoes are credited, in part, with his history-making sub two-hour marathon in Vienna, Austria at the Ineos 1:59 Challenge. According to Nike, Kipchoge and the company have been working together for years to “redefine the marathon shoe.”

Kipchoge, 34, is the first person to break the two-hour marathon barrier in history, finishing the 26.2 miles in 1 hour, 59 minutes, 40.2 seconds on the morning of October 12, 2019 in Vienna, Austria. According to RT.com, it wasn’t only the shoes that helped the Kenyan runner in this quest: a laser was beamed by a pace car on the street to ensure Kipchoge kept up the pace of 2:50 minutes per kilometer needed to break the record.

According to RT, Kipchoge’s “personalized” running shoes were created by Nike and featured “a custom design based on the shoes worn by the athletes who have run the five fastest marathons in history.”

“Many ideologies [have] been going that no human will break the two-hour mark but personally, I have dared to try,” Kipchoge said before the race. “I am doing it to make history.”

Here’s what you need to know:


Kipchoge Wore a Future Edition of Nike Next% Shoes Specially Designed for Greater Efficiency

eliud kipchoge

Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge (white jersey) celebrates after crossing the finish line at the end of his attempt to bust the mythical two-hour barrier for the marathon on October 12 2019 in Vienna.

Nike described the shoe that Kipchoge wore on October 12, 2019 as “a future edition of Nike’s Next% marathon shoe.”

According to Runner’s World, Nike’s Vaporfly 4% shoe was introduced in 2017 and “features a carbon fiber plate to help propel athletes forward.” Kipchoge used the ZoomX Vaporfly Next% in April. That was the latest version of the controversial shoe, the running magazine reported, and it was “15 grams lighter and featured a thicker midsole.”

Kipchoge was training with an even newer version of the shoe, which hasn’t yet been formally released, and it’s considered more efficient. Sneaker News reported that, in Vienna, Kipchoge wore “the latest iteration of NEXT%.” It includes a “re-tooled midsole that boasts a visible Zoom unit at the fore-foot” and “Atomknit upper,” the site reports.

Nike says in this promotional photo posted October 11, 2019: “The writing on Kipchoge’s Breaking2 Nike Vaporfly Elite reads “Beyond Limits,” a personal mantra that drives his consistent progress. “

According to Nike, for the past five years, Kipchoge “has offered astute feedback on the full gamut of Nike’s running footwear — from Free to Epic React and Pegasus to Vomero. Most important, he has been a constant partner in Nike’s effort to redefine the marathon shoe.”

The company reports that Kipchoge “first tested what was to become the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite in January 2016. He was instantly entranced by the radical tooling and the road feel. A few months later, Kipchoge wore the shoe, still an under-the-radar prototype, in London and again that year in Rio.” He then sought a shoe with “advanced benefits,” Nike reports, and, since then, “he’s been leading each iterative advance of Nike’s NEXT% range.” The company did not provide additional details on the October 12 shoe.

Nike listed these other recent shoes for Kipchoge:

Breaking 2: Vaporfly Elite
Berlin 2017: Vaporfly Elite
London 2018: Flyprint Upper, Vaporfly Elite tooling
Berlin 2018: Vaporfly Elite upper, Vaporfly NEXT% tooling
London 2019: Vaporfly NEXT%


Other Details Were Meticulously Planned to Help Kipchoge Break the Record

eliud kipchoge

Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge (L) celebrates with his wife Grace after busting the mythical two-hour barrier for the marathon on October 12 2019 in Vienna. – Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge on Saturday made history, busting the mythical two-hour barrier for the marathon on a specially prepared course in a huge Vienna park.
With an unofficial time of 1hr 59min 40.2sec, the Olympic champion became the first ever to run a marathon in under two hours in the Prater park with the course readied to make it as even as possible. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP) (Photo by ALEX HALADA/AFP via Getty Images)

According to Runner’s World, every detail was meticulously considered to give Kipchoge his best chance to set the record. That includes the location: Prater park in Vienna. It was chosen because its “temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind speed, elevation, and precipitation at this time of year” made it ideal for the quest, the site reports. He used running pacemakers who handed him drinks, meaning the feat won’t be recorded as an official world record.

Kipchoge had come close before as part of Breaking2, the Nike quest to break the 2-hour marathon barrier. On May 6, 2017 in Monza, Italy, Kipchoge’s final time was 2:00:25. “…the Kenyan distance champion and marathon world record holder has been with Nike since the early 2000s,” Nike wrote. “At that time, he was a junior cross-country runner on the precipice of claiming his first world title (the 5000m in Lausanne in 2003) and en route to a career that would earn him an undisputed title: the greatest marathoner ever.”

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