Editor's note: This shoe is now available to Nike members, with availability to everyone coming next Thursday.
When Eliud Kipchoge clocked a 1:59:40 marathon in Vienna last fall, the running world pretty much lost its mind... with good reason. Like Roger Bannister breaking the 4-minute mile barrier in 1954, Kipchoge did something many once thought was impossible. But unlike in Bannister's case, much of the chatter was about the man's shoes. Those mysterious, funky-shaped Nikes must be magic, right?
If you consider years of carbon-plated R&D oriented toward this singular goal magic, then the answer is yes. The shoes turned out to be an unreleased version of the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%, which represents not only the pinnacle of running shoe tech, but a platform upon which footwear with more widespread appeal can be based.
Case in point? The Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT%, essentially a daily training version of the record-breaking shoe. Last night, we attended a (no pun intended) Zoom session where Nike Senior Footwear Innovator Carrie Dimoff introduced the shoe and star runners Mohammed Ahmed and Karissa Schweizer shared their early experiences with it. Here are the highlights of this noteworthy upcoming release.
Composite, not carbon
Nike's designers sought to create a shoe with a similar propulsive sensation as the Alphafly, but smoothed out for tempo runs and ultimately higher mileage. The most significant corresponding shift is toward a most flexible and comfortable composite plate, rather than a stiff carbon-fiber one. The first plate in a Nike training shoe still provides more stability and transitional assistance than alternatives.
Two different Nike foams come into play with the Tempo NEXT%. The brand's bounciest variety, ZoomX foam encases the composite plate, filling the forefoot and midfoot to boost energy return. Meanwhile, React foam reinforces the heel, softening the initial impact of every footstrike. Along with the modified plate, this element represents a significant departure from the Alphafly, which favors elite racers who don't spend much time on their heels.
The outsole is beefed up with more rubber than the Alphafly to increase the shoe's ability to hold up over many more miles. The upper features Nike Flyknit construction, with an integrated fit band that maximizes the socklike fit.
Inspired and informed by adaptive athletes, Nike's FlyEase platform makes shoes easier to put on and take off, user-friendliness any runner can appreciate. The FlyEase version of the Tempo NEXT% features two of the platform's systems. A collapsible, step-in heel lets the feet slide smoothly into the shoes. And the one-pull fit system employs a strap that can tighten the shoe with a one-handed tug — and loosen it with the mid-foot strap.
Both shoes will retail for $200. They'll be available September 24th for Nike members and October 1st for everyone else. We just got our test pair — stay tuned for a review later this month.