Explained: The £400 single-use Adidas shoe that is smashing marathon records

The new Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1s were worn by Tigsit Assefa as she smashed the women’s marathon record

Ben Fleming
Monday 25 September 2023 11:33 BST
Tigsit Assefa smashed the women’s marathon record in Berlin
Tigsit Assefa smashed the women’s marathon record in Berlin (Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

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Last weekend’s Berlin marathon saw the tumbling of the latest marathon record as Ethiopia’s Tigist Assefa shattered the women’s record with a breathtaking performance.

Assefa, who only raced her first marathon last year, surpassed the former record - set by Brigid Kosgei in 2019 - by more than two minutes to finish in 2hr 11 min 53 secs. The Ethiopian caught the eye not only for her startling performance and finish time but also for the shoes she was sporting, which made their first race appearance on Sunday.

The Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1 - soon to be released to the general public - will retail for around £400 and are reportedly only designed to last for one race. The hype and intrigue around them will have only been heightened after their first spectacular audition.

Given their hefty price tag - around £150 more than the average running shoe, some may question their value. Adidas is certainly sure, labelling it “a running shoe like no other” that is “enhanced with unique technology that challenges the boundaries of racing” on their website.

At just 138 grams, the shoe comes with a new foam design that ensures it remains optimised for a race despite its weight. As well as a sizeable 39-millimetre heel, the shoe debuts a first-of-its-kind rocker at the front of the shoe which allows the runner to be projected forward at even greater speed and in a way that allows them to expend less energy.

Perhaps the only downside to the shoe’s mainstream appeal is its durability as, according to the German manufacturing giants, the shoe is only meant to last for one race. Such a design flaw has prompted criticism surrounding environmental waste.

Regardless, it marks the latest landmark in the collision between athletics and cutting-edge technology. The last few years of marathon running have been dominated by the rise of supershoes as sports brands look to use science to create shoes that can help runners shave seconds, if not minutes, of their race time.

Eliud Kipchoge was victorious in the men’s race in Berlin
Eliud Kipchoge was victorious in the men’s race in Berlin (Getty Images)

Eliud Kipchoge, who won the men’s race in Berlin last weekend with the eighth-fastest marathon time, made headlines back in 2022 when he set a new world record time of 2:01:09 with the Nike Alphafly. But it is Adidas’ latest product that has now taken the marathon world by storm. Assefa, herself, could hardly be more complimentary, claiming the shoes were like “nothing I’ve [ever] felt.”

“This is the lightest racing shoe I have ever worn and the feeling of running in them is an incredible experience,” she added. “I knew I wanted to go for the world record but I never thought I would do this time. It was the result of hard work.”

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