Running shoes don’t normally make headlines, but the story of the possible World Athletics ban of the Nike Vaporfly running shoe has caught the attention. You may be wondering why Nike apparently has the monopoly on this kind of technology – can no other large sportswear companies compete with them?
While Hoka One One has released a couple of shoes with carbon plates (the Evo Carbon Rocket and Carbon X), neither were designed to be thoroughbred marathon racers, and New Balance’s first carbon shoe was designed for one-mile road races. But that is all set to change in the first half of 2020. Several brands are about to launch marathon racers with carbon plates, and Brooks is the first to do so with the Hyperion Elite.
A prototype of the shoe has been used by Brooks’s elite athletes for a couple of years – Desiree Linden won the Boston Marathon in 2018 while wearing a blacked-out version of the Elite – but it will be available to buy for the first time on 1st March. Like the Vaporfly, it will have an eye-wateringly high price – £210.
There are several other similarities to the Vaporfly as well. The high stack of lightweight cushioning for one, although Brooks’s DNA Zero EVA foam is not as springy as the ZoomX foam Nike uses in the Vaporfly. Then there’s the carbon plate, which provides stability and propulsion. And the shoe is topped off with a very light upper, so the Elite comes in under 200g, something Brooks told Coach was a prime goal when designing the shoe and a reason the midsole is not as springy – Brooks traded energy return for less weight.
However, Brooks does claim a key difference between the Hyperion Elite and the Vaporfly in the extra stability offered by its shoe. The Hyperion Elite has a wider base and is designed to help you maintain your natural running form even as you tire, so you remain efficient in the later stages of a marathon.
We have the Hyperion Elite to review but have so far only logged 400m in the shoe, which is not the ideal way to test a marathon racer. However, when you first run in the shoe it is noticeable that it doesn’t feel like the Vaporfly, which has an incredibly soft, almost squishy ride. The Elite’s foam and design provides a more stable ride, which we’re looking forward to trying out over some long, hard runs soon.
Not too many long, hard runs, however, because Brooks told us the Hyperion Elite is only built to be at its best for 50 to 100 miles (80 to 160km). That’s a startlingly low number, and certainly not an environmentally friendly one, and really emphasises that this is for race day with maybe one or two training runs in it beforehand to get used to the feel. We’d be very surprised if the shoe actually fell apart at 100 miles, and it will probably be good to run in for many more, but Brooks’ suggestion that it will be past its peak at that point is a little disappointing.
Brooks has also launched the Hyperion Tempo, a lightweight shoe designed for fast training runs. It doesn’t have a carbon plate, but the DNA Flash midsole is infused with nitrogen to make it a little springier than the DNA Zero foam in the Elite. It’s also a rather fetching shade of blue. The Tempo will be available 1st April and cost £140.