Why is Every Runner Obsessed with Nike’s New ‘Alphafly 3’?
Thanks to the Apple watch and various fitness apps, going for a jog has become a competitive sport. Dive into Strava, and you’ll be met with a sea of everyday athletes proudly discussing their “cadence” and “splits” as if they’re vying for a spot on the Olympic team. This newfound obsession with measuring every inch of our performance has led apparel companies to constantly push the boundaries of footwear technology, and Nike’s upcoming runningshoe promises to get you to the finish line faster than ever before.
Enter the Alphafly 3 – Nike’s pinnacle of innovation in the realm of super shoes. Adding to the anticipation, it’s the very shoe recently donned by Kenyan marathoner Kelvin Kiptum as he surged past Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record in Chicago. Hitting shelves in January 2024, we decided to see what sets the Alphafly 3 apart to claim the title of Nike’s ultimate super shoe.
The third iteration of the Alphafly series is the lightest yet, reducing its weight by 15% compared to the Alphafly 2. Whilst maintaining the core elements, the three Air Zoom units, a carbon fibre Flyplate, and ZoomX foam form the foundation of the sneaker’s tech and have been slightly upgraded for increased performance.
One of the significant improvements in the Alphafly 3 is how Nike redesigned the midsole as a continuous unit to enhance the transition from heel to toe. Additionally, they expanded the full-length Flyplate for better propulsion and improved breathability, as well as an updated midsole that optimises your foot’s engagement with the airbags and lets the Air Zoom units do more of the work for you.
Bret Schoolmeester, Nike Running’s senior product designer, told Highsnobiety that “with previous Alphafly, a lot of runners felt a slight break in transition from heel to forefoot, so we’ve made the movement feel more seamless. We’ve also added comfort, stability, and a smoother transition. It really is everything you want in a shoe.”
Notably, unlike many other super shoes that have raised concerns about sustainability, Nike’s Alphafly 3 is built to last. To ensure runners can get the most bang for their buck, Nike has tests it’s Alphafly 3’s across various locations, settings and seasons so that they can withstand the demands of runners.
“It’s hard to put a durability number on a sneaker, but we do test the shoe up to 250 miles and it’s doing really well,” explains Schoolmeester. “Also this isn’t a one-marathon shoe,” he adds. “It isn’t USD$500, it’s USD$275, something we’re extremely proud of.”
Following Kipchoge’s historic sub-two-hour marathon in Nike Vaporflys in 2019, World Athletics prohibited the shoes and established fresh guidelines for competition footwear (per Footwear News). Presently, sneakers are limited to a maximum 40mm thick midsole and only one rigid plate, like the commonly used carbon-fibre plates. Moreover, they must be purchasable on the open market for at least four months. Although not yet available for purchase, the Alphafly 3 has received World Athletics’ approval for use until December 3rd.
The Nike Alphafly 3 is set to launch on January 4 via Nike’s website and app, as well as in certain running specialty stores.
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