Is Adidas’s $500 marathon shoe worth it?

Is Adidas's $500 marathon shoe worth it?

When Ashley Mateo went through a track workout recently, something felt different. She did her intervals faster than usual, her heart rate was lower, and her legs felt lighter. When she ran her next marathon, she achieved a personal record.

Ms. Mateo, a journalist and 15-time marathon runner who reviews running shoes, believes she has improved her performance thanks to Adidas’ Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1, a new marathon race shoe. Whose price is 500 dollars. There’s another problem: The Evo 1 only lasts long enough for a marathon, plus an unspecified “familiarization period.”

Despite her positive experience, Ms. Matteo isn’t sure the shoes are worth the price, which she didn’t have to pay as a reviewer. “I don’t think the shoe will work for everyone,” he said.

These shoes are the lightest shoes ever produced by Adidas and are the latest entry in the intense competition to create the best carbon-fiber racing shoes. Only 521 pairs have been released to the public so far, targeted at runners who can run a marathon in 3 hours 30 minutes or faster.

Some runners who have run in them say they can feel the difference immediately, and Ethiopia’s Tigaste Assefa ran the fastest marathon ever run by a woman in a pair, beating the previous record at the Berlin Marathon in September by two minutes. Broke longer.

Yet the shoes’ short shelf life has raised concerns and led some in the running community to question whether the hype is justified.

Apart from their lightness, the shoes’ other technology – a new foam and new structure – are unlikely to provide any major gains, experts say. And at $500 per marathon and tryout race, they are among the least durable shoes. Adidas said it intended to keep the price at $500, which “reflects the high-performance materials and design within the product.”

“We have marketing claims and some promises about improvements,” said exercise physiologist Ross Tucker. science of sports, a popular blog for runners. “We have a world record in the marathon. “But we really have no evidence, not compared to its peers and certainly not compared to its predecessors.”

Nike has long dominated the marathon racing shoe market with its Vaporfly line. A carbon-fiber plate in the Vaporfly’s midsole stores and releases energy with every step. This, combined with a midsole foam called Pebax, propels long-distance runners forward, providing about a 4 percent improvement compared to the average shoe.

Soon after their release in 2017 with their hefty $250 sticker price, the Vaporflies helped elite runners break records. Other shoe companies followed suit, with brands like New Balance, Saucony, and Hoka releasing carbon-plated shoes.

Adidas’s new shoe features three major developments. At 4.9 ounces in a men’s size 9, it’s about 25 percent lighter than the latest Vaporfly. The company says the new foam promotes energy absorption, and changes to the shoe’s design curve the sole upward near the toes.

It is well established in sports science that the lighter the shoe, the faster the runner. Geoff Burns, a University of Michigan physiologist who studies the biomechanics of running, said the weight difference between the Evo 1 and the VaporFly can shave about 20 seconds off a marathon runner’s time.

This is the only improvement that is likely to be seen, Dr. Burns said, if he tests the shoes in his laboratory. Changes in foam and rocker are unlikely to be significant, at most “a fraction of a percent in efficiency,” he said.

When the Vaporfly arrived, it took years of testing and a New York Times analysis to confirm the shoe’s speed increase, which turned out to be about 4 percent. The Evo 1 isn’t much different from the VaporFly, Dr. Burns said. “It’s the exact same recipe, with different spices added to the foam,” he said.

While researchers are skeptical of the effectiveness of Evo 1, some runners have felt its benefits. Michael Ko, a runner who reviews shoes on his YouTube channel, “Kofuji,” said the Evo 1, which he received from Adidas for review, felt fast, cushioned, and light. He said his goal was to run his fastest half marathon.

“They’re like there’s nothing there,” Mr. Ko said. “When you wear them you can tell there’s something special about them.”

The durability of shoes remains a matter of concern. Like all race shoes, there is less weight and support than standard running shoes when it comes to speed. Racing shoes like the Vaporfly typically last at least four marathons, and Dr. Tucker and Dr. Burns expressed concern that if the Evo 1 was only good for one marathon, it would show signs of degradation during the race itself. .

“If you’re a lightweight, not very fast runner who doesn’t destroy the shoes at all, you’ll probably struggle to get rid of that too,” Dr. Tucker said.

This wasn’t the experience for runner and founder Thomas Neuberger. believe in the race, an ongoing news and shoe review site. Mr. Neuberger, who was sent a pair of Evo 1s from Adidas, said that the 2-ounce difference between the Evo 1s and the Vaporfly became too much at the end of a recent marathon.

“After a while, it’s like having a book above your head,” Mr. Neuberger said. “When you first hold that book, it doesn’t seem that heavy,

Dr Burns said excessive payments for small improvements in performance were typical of the current times. Athletes use every option available to them to get the right price, he said, whether it’s hiring a team of fast bowlers to break a world record, jet-setting around the world or buying a pair of shoes. Pay $500 for something you’ll wear only once.

Ms. Matteo said that the rocker style of the shoe was her favorite part, and after the race the shoe “didn’t feel like it was at the end of its life”. But he also said the cost, which he didn’t have to pay as a reviewer, was a non-starter, and felt the feel was a matter of personal preference and biomechanics.

“They feel fast, but every runner reacts differently to different shoes,” Ms. Matteo said.

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