Nike explains the engineering behind its latest record-breaking marathon running shoe

Brett Holts, vice president of Nike Running Footwear, and runner Paula Radcliffe explain the new Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% shoe worn by London Marathon winner Eliud Kipchoge in this movie produced by Dezeen.

The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% follows up the brand's previous marathon-running trainer, the Zoom Vaporfly 4%, which was released in 2017.

The NEXT% was worn by all athletes who appeared on the winners' podium at the London Marathon on Sunday. The male winner, Nike-sponsored Kenyan runner Kipchoge, set a new record for the course and ran the second-fastest marathon in history.

The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is an update of Nike's previous marathon-running trainer, the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%
The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is a trainer for marathon runners

According to Holts, the trainer has been designed for marathon runners of all abilities.

"This shoe has been created for all marathoners of all levels to help them achieve their records and break barriers," he said in the video interview, which was shot by Dezeen at a launch at Niketown London, the brand's flagship store in the UK.

The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is an update of Nike's previous marathon-running trainer, the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%
The trainer was launched to coincide with the London marathon

The shoe builds upon technologies that were first used in the Nike Vaporfly 4%, which was developed in close collaboration with Kipchoge in an attempt to aid the athlete complete a marathon in under two hours in 2017.

"We started with the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%," said Holts. "The update with the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is really just an evolution of that exact same system that changed the game for our elite marathoners."

The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is an update of Nike's previous marathon-running trainer, the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%
The NEXT% is an update of the brand's previous marathon-running trainer, the Zoom Vaporfly 4%

The NEXT% notably features more of Nike's signature ZoomX foam underfoot, which was engineered in the brand's Sport Research Lab to increase energy return.

"The biggest update really is 15 percent more foam, specifically under the forefoot which is where you're going to get the highest rate of energy return," said Holts.

The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is an update of Nike's previous marathon-running trainer, the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%
The NEXT% features more of Nike's signature ZoomX foam underfoot

Between two layers of the foam is an articulated carbon fibre plate, which increases the stiffness of the shoe. "That's what is giving athletes that propulsion to get their foot off the ground," Holts explained.

British ex-marathoner Radcliffe, who also spoke to Dezeen at the launch of the NEXT%, explained that the shoe meets marathon runners' needs for lightweight equipment and adequate cushioning for their feet.

The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is an update of Nike's previous marathon-running trainer, the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%
Nike athlete Paula Radcliffe described the shoe as "light and responsive"

"It's combining the most important things that elites want from a racing shoe," she said. "That's to be light and responsive, which the plate helps with, and to be cushioning, so to return as much energy as possible to your body without losing shock absorption."

The NEXT% also features a striking fluorescent green upper crafted from a new material called VaporWeave, which is lighter and less water-absorbent than the Flyknit uppers that have been used in many of Nike's running shoes since 2012.

The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is an update of Nike's previous marathon-running trainer, the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%
The trainer features a lightweight upper made from a new material developed by Nike called VaporWeave

The new material was developed after runners in the rainy Boston marathon in 2018 reported that their shoes had been weighed down by water absorbed by the shoes' uppers.

"It's an extremely lightweight material, it's still very strong, and it won't absorb water over the course of the marathon," said Holts. "That allows us to give you fifteen percent more foam underfoot, while coming in at exactly the same weight as the Vaporfly 4%."

The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is an update of Nike's previous marathon-running trainer, the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%
The shoe's sole has been designed to maintain traction in wet conditions

Nike also developed a new sole to cope with wet running conditions, featuring a more robust rubber grip.

"We added a different pattern and a little bit more rubber for durability and traction coverage," said Holts.

According to Holts, Nike develop their running shoes in close collaboration with athletes like Kipchoge, Mo Farah and Radcliffe in order to deliver products that meet their specific needs.

"We are fortunate to work with some of the most elite marathoners in the world," he said. "We interact with our athletes on a daily basis."

The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is an update of Nike's previous marathon-running trainer, the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%
The NEXT% was worn by Nike-sponsored athletes at the London marathon

Radcliffe states that the support that runners receive from Nike gives them confidence on race-day, in order that they can focus solely on their performance.

"Nike really works with you to make sure that when you step on that race line, you really have no questions about your equipment," she said.

Dezeen filmed this video for Nike at Niketown London on Oxford Street. All images are courtesy of Nike.