Just as several brands are readying the launch of their own high-end marathon running shoes with carbon plates, Nike has tried to stay ahead of the pack by launching the successor to the Vaporfly NEXT% – the Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%.
The world has been given a good look at this shoe, or a version of it, already. When Eliud Kipchoge ran the first sub-2hr marathon in Vienna last year he was wearing a prototype of the Alphafly. However, since then World Athletics has imposed a 40mm limit on the height of the stack of cushioning on running shoes. Kipchoge’s shoes seemed to be well over 50mm, but Nike is confident that the Alphafly that was announced in New York on 5th February is legal.
This means we’ll be seeing a lot of it in professional events this year. The shoe will surely be worn at the 2020 London Marathon where the race between Eliud Kipchoge and Keninsa Bekele, who are both Nike athletes, stands a good chance of producing a world record, and then at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Alphafly has a carbon plate and Nike’s lightweight, bouncy ZoomX cushioning, just like the Vaporfly, but two Nike Zoom Air Pods have been added in the forefoot to provide extra propulsion and energy return.
If the shoe does improve on the performance of the Vaporfly (and is legal) it’s fair to say that we can expect a sub-2hr marathon in an official event in the near future, along with a whole heap of new PBs at the amateur level as well.
Nike has also launched the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% shoe, which has been tweaked to make it a more comfortable option for general training. The carbon plate is replaced with a softer composite plate, while the ZoomX midsole is supplemented by React foam in the heel to provide extra durability.
The same Nike Zoom Air Pods are used on the Tempo NEXT%, though, so you’ll be able to enjoy the energy return they provide during training as well as racing. There will also be a FlyEase version of the Tempo NEXT%, which has an easy entry mechanism whereby you can unzip the heel and put it on without tying laces.
There’s no word yet on when the shoes will be available to buy, aside from sometime in summer 2020, and Nike is keeping schtum on prices as well. We’ll be trying to get our hands on a pair as soon as possible to compare it with both the Vaporfly and the Brooks Hyperion Elite, another marathon racing shoe with a carbon plate that has just been launched.