How The New Adidas $500 Super Shoe Outran the Competition and the Clock at the Berlin Marathon

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2:11:53 – The time it took Tigst Assefa to re-write marathon history.

Everything needs to be dialed in to break a world record: training, nutrition, equipment. Assefa left it to Adidas to ensure her equipment was dialed in, and the company did not disappoint.

“They enable me to put my full focus on the race, which is exactly what you want as an athlete,” Assefa said. 

The Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1 carried the Ethiopian to glory and made headlines along the way.

Now being labeled the “Super Shoe,” no stone was left unturned in their development.

“We explored every element of a racing shoe, balancing what we could remove or change to reduce the weight,” says Patrick Nava, Vice President of Product, Running & Credibility Sports at Adidas.

The Science Behind the “Super Shoes”

Coming in at only 138g, Adidas reveals improvements to their “Lightstrike Foam” has reduced the shoe’s weight, improving running economy, while offering a better energy return. 

Compared to other racing shoes by Adidas, the Supershoe is 40% lighter.

Alongside, the unique shoe features a forefoot rocker, placed at 60% of the length of the shoe, to promote forward momentum and improved running economy.

For further weight savings, Adidas abandoned the traditional sock liner and replaced it with the improved “Lightstrike Foam.”

Significant weight savings of around 70g can be credited to the outsole. Thinner and lighter than any other, developers say it is still made of rubber and the grip is not compromised.

A translucent, lightweight mesh used to create the top of the shoe was also said to reduce the shoe’s weight.

The significant time spent in research and development is reflected in the price tag, with the Super Shoes retailing for $500. 

Those hopeful of improved running speed ready to pay the price should note that the shoes were developed for speed and not durability. Adidas notes the shoes are only to be used for one race – one marathon. 

Innovative or Technological Doping?

Adidas is not the first company to have released so-called “Super Shoes.”

These cutting-edge creations, like Adidas’ Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1, have not only shattered records but also reignited a contentious debate about their place in competitive sports. 


In January 2020, World Athletics restricted stack height and the amount of rigid plates, namely those made from carbon, permitted in shoes. This came after Nike Alphaflys helped Eliud Kipchoge break the 2-hour barrier in the marathon in 2019.

In 2019, 31 out of 36 podium positions in the major marathons came from athletes wearing Nike Vapourflys

Some applaud these companies for their innovation and commitment to research and design. Others criticize and call it “technological doping.”

In the world of marathon running, where every second counts, the pursuit of excellence has taken an intriguing turn with the advent of the “Super Shoes.” 

As athletes increasingly rely on advanced technologies to gain that elusive edge, questions surrounding the ethics of this new era of “technological doping” persist. 

Are these innovations a legitimate leap forward in the pursuit of human achievement, or do they threaten the purity and integrity of the sport? 

The meteoric rise of these “Super Shoes” sparks contemplation on where the line between athletic prowess and technological advantage truly lies, leaving us to ponder the ethical implications that loom over the future of marathon history.

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Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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