(CNN)Kenyan long-distance runner Eliud Kipchoge will wear Nike’s controversial shoe for the first time in an official race at this weekend’s prestigious London Marathon.
Nike’s Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%, a version of the prototype Kipchoge wore when he ran a marathon in 1:59:40 in Vienna last October, is said to provide a 4% boost in running economy — the amount of work a runner must do at a given speed — compared with other top racing shoes.
Kichoge’s Vienna run received backing from petrochemical company Ineos in an attempt called the 1:59 Challenge, though the milestone didn’t count as a world record.
During the race, Kipchoge followed behind a car — a condition not allowed under IAAF sanctions — and was assisted by an army of 30 pacemakers.
Some critics have argued that the advancement in technology is akin to doping, though Kipchoge defended the shoe ahead of Sunday’s race.
“We live in the 21st century and we need to accept change,” Kipchoge told reporters. “Secondly, development goes hand-in-hand with technology. The shoe is good. We are doing a press conference virtually, is that not technology? We should accept technology and marry technology.”It’s good for Nike.
On the other hand, it’s business. It’s good for Nike to be far higher than other companies as far as technology is concerned,” he responded when asked if it provided an unfair advantage over other athletes.
Nike was not immediately available for comment, but on its website the apparel manufacturer describes Kipchoge’s time of 1:59:40 in Vienna as an “extraordinary achievement: that was “years in the making.””Our premier racing shoe is loaded with new technology and innovation that includes two ultra-responsive Zoom Air pods in the forefoot and additional ZoomX foam in the heel.”