The Kenyan marathoner ran 1:59:40 in a pair of unreleased Nike shoes. Thankfully, their design is online at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The Nike Vaporfly Next%, a shoe designed to improve running economy by at least 4 percent, wasn’t the only racing shoe in the V-shape formation that shepherded world record-holder Eliud Kipchoge to the first sub-two hour marathon in Vienna. Kipchoge himself wore something different—an iteration of the Next% that appears to have a bulge (air bags, if you listen to the Internet) in the forefoot.
We’ll get a better look at the prototype as images from the INEOS 1:59 Challenge surface, but until then, we’ve got something better: A U.S. patent filed by Nike in 2018 that looks extremely similar to Kipchoge’s Vienna shoe. The patent drawings, recently unearthed by the site Believe in the Run, outline a cushioning apparatus that includes a segmented sole, three plates (likely carbon fiber), and up to four fluid-filled chambers.
Of course, the shoe isn’t the only factor in Kipchoge’s historic run. First, he’s clearly the “GOAT,” holding the official world record and is undefeated in his last 10 marathons, including a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Plus, he had a rotating cast of pacers not permitted in record-eligible runs, was also handed bottles of Maurten from a bike, and benefited from a pancake flat runway lined with cheering fans. But, were those shoes the X factor?