News / 13.12.23
The Super Shoe Debate
This year’s Irish Life Dublin Marathon generated over 48,000 mentions on social media. And while competitors had their eyes fixed on the finish line, others had their eyes focused firmly on the feet of those competing.
It’s now a given that the top competitors will wear a form of super shoes; designed to be faster, lighter, and more responsive than traditional running shoes, several studies have shown that super shoes can allow elite athletes to gain up to four minutes of improvement on their race time.
Shoes that cost the same as an iPhone — and with just about as much technology — are helping runners shatter records and triggering a feverish race among shoe companies.https://t.co/I2qgXgxyZT
— Axios (@axios) November 25, 2023
In fact, super shoes, in particular Nike Alphaflys, were the catalyst for the first ever sub two-hour marathon to be completed, with Eliud Kipchoge running the INEOS1:59 Challenge in 1 hour and 59 minutes. In Wired’s article about the science behind his run, Kipchoge’s “efficiency enhancing shoes” were called out as a key element to his success.
Since the development of their super shoes in 2016, Nike have dominated the field; their athletes won 31 of the 36 podium places in 2019’s six major marathons. However, this is beginning to change.
Tamirat Tola won yesterday's @nycmarathon wearing the adidas Adios Pro Evo 1 🥇
"Today’s race went perfectly for me…Wearing adidas’ lightest ever racing shoe – the Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1 – gave me the confidence that anything would be possible today," he said. pic.twitter.com/eaJSFCTTD1
— Sneaker News (@SneakerNews) November 6, 2023
This year’s Boston Marathon saw all three male winners on the podium wearing Adidas’ Adios Pro 3s, while the Berlin Marathon saw Ethiopia’s Tigist Assefa smash the women’s world record, also while wearing a pair of Adidas shoes.
And as Kemal Husen and Amente Sorome Negash smashed records crossing the finish line in Dublin this year, while celebration of their achievements was the key topic of conversation, there was inevitably also some chat about their footwear.
So how does social media weigh in on the great super shoe debate?
With over 120,000 mentions of super shoes on social media so far in 2023, people had a lot to say about the footwear, with cost vs. value being one of the key drivers of conversation. As much as we all like to pretend we’re elite athletes, are they really worth the price tag for a Saturday parkrun?
Adidas’ newest running shoes, the Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1, worn by Ethiopia’s Tigist Assefa to set a new women’s marathon world record in Berlin, went on sale with an eye-watering price tag of $500 https://t.co/kZCo0Pht9b pic.twitter.com/B6iw0fiaH1
— Reuters (@Reuters) September 27, 2023
Another area of concern was the “removal of a level playing field” and whether they create an “unfair advantage for some competitors”.
Runners like Kenya’s Kelvin Kiptum are breaking records wearing “super shoes” 🏃♀️ 💨
But what are they – and do they give some an unfair advantage?
— BBC World Service (@bbcworldservice) November 6, 2023
Scientific studies into the effectiveness of super shoes were also frequently shared, as was praise for the incredible athletes smashing world records in them.
Adidas came under fire on social media, as they announced their new Adios Pro Evo 1s, a single-use shoe for Adidas-sponsored marathon runners, generating strong criticism for their “lack of awareness” and contribution to “unnecessary landfill”.
No doubt you’ve read about @adidas’ new running shoe, the Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1. Well we’ve adinuf of their disregard for the environment, people & planet. There’s no place for a single use shoe. We are #AntiEvo & we’ve sent them this letter. Let them know you’ve #adinuf pic.twitter.com/Wjt0BbIaVt
— TheGreenRunners (@TheGreenRunnerz) September 28, 2023
Social media also saw the promotion and celebration of “low-tech running”, with many claiming that if you want to go for a run, not intentionally to quote Nike, but just do it. You don’t need a smart watch or super shoes, just get out, enjoy yourself and hey who knows, maybe next year you’ll find yourself on the streets of Dublin as part of the 2024 Irish Life Dublin Marathon.