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Kelvin Kiptum’s ‘Super Shoes’ sold for £500, sells out in minutes

The late Kelvin Kiptum made the Nike Alphafly 3 famous by breaking the marathon world record in a prototype pair last October CREDIT: Getty Images/Michael Reaves

The Nike ‘super shoe’ that was worn by the late Kelvin Kiptum to set the marathon world record has sold out within minutes of going on general sale, leaving runners facing hugely inflated prices on resale sites.

The long-awaited UK release had been scheduled for 8am on Thursday but there was anger when, almost immediately, most sizes of the £284.99 carbon-plated shoes became unavailable on the Nike website and then began appearing on sites like eBay for as much as £499.99.

“To all the folk who have bought the new Nike Alphafly 3 in order to turn a monetary profit, I hope you all fail miserably,” said one runner. Another, Diego Sempreboni, said that he was “very disappointed” at the emergence of a “side market” at the expense of an opportunity for “everybody to appreciate” the new shoes.

Emails publicising the release of the new shoes were still being sent to Nike ‘members’ over an hour after almost every size had already sold-out.

Kiptum, who was killed in a road accident last month in Kenya, had worn a prototype of the new Alphafly 3 shoe when he became the first man under 2hr 1min in an official race at the Chicago Marathon in October. A first batch went on sale in January and also sold out within minutes.

It follows a similar buying frenzy when Adidas launched their Adizero Adios Pro 1 in the days after Ethiopia’s Tigist Assefa took more than two minutes off the women’s world record in September’s Berlin Marathon in the shoes.

The Adidas shoes were being sold then for £400 and are now listed at £450, although they are also currently unavailable on their website.

The new super-light shoes are both reinforced by carbon inside a specially responsive foam that is designed to retain energy and help propel the runner forward.

It has represented a major new twist in the arms race that has developed between manufacturers after Nike’s invention in 2016 of the first ‘super shoe’ and then the release of their various Vaporfly and Alphafly models.

The early Nike shoes were said to boost running economy by around 4 per cent and every distance world record above 5000m has been beaten since 2020 in some version of ‘super shoes’ or ‘super spikes’.

The benefit of ‘super shoes’ is now widely acknowledged for all standards of runners – and just about every brand has their own variation – although testing has suggested that the extent to which an athlete might benefit is highly individual.

A secretive multi-million pound industry

The shoe companies now employ vast teams of scientists and the race to create faster shoes has become a secretive multi-million pound industry that has prompted World Athletics to form a special evaluation team to work with manufacturers on their new innovations.

Some athletes have argued that a ‘new era’ to mark super shoes’ rise should be formally recognised in world record books. World Athletics is satisfied that its checking procedures have ensured that the playing field is now fair.

The rules for innovation were most recently updated at the start of 2022 and they must all conform to a 40mm maximum stack height on the road and 25mm on the track.

Shoes must also be generally available, although special dispensation can be granted for a year to ‘developmental’ shoes provided that they meet the guidelines and have been checked by World Athletics.

Source: telegraph.co.uk

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