Last Updated on April 26, 2014 by Amir Rehman
NOTE: These spikes are ideal for distances 800 meters and up, and will be available October 1, 2008
From NIKE Press release:
Weight wise, 100 grams has always been the Holy Grail for a track spike. When Michael Johnson came to Nike, designers did everything possible to shave weight from his spike to make it light enough for his gold medal win, and still his famous Gold Shoe weighed in at 112 grams. That track spike, though, was meant to be worn for no more than 40 seconds by one person for one race. So to say you can make something under 100g was a lofty challenge, particularly when the spike was to be designed for middle-distance and distance runners who need more support and cushioning in their shoes since they compete in them longer. But, this was the challenge that ultimately became the Nike Zoom Victory Spike.
Researchers in the Nike Sports Research Lab (NSRL) knew it was possible to get a spike that light. They just needed the right tools to create a track spike that was strong enough to support specific competitive needs like around the corners of a track where runners experience the greatest sheer loads but light enough to get runners around the track faster.
Tom Redding and John Truax, the Nike design and development team on the Nike Zoom Victory, weighed everything that went into the spike. They used lightweight Vectran thread. Stronger than Kevlar, it’s spun from liquid crystal polymers and was used to sew the balloons on the Lunar Rover. The Flywire filaments themselves are covered in a TPU film to ensure they don’t snag. The TPU film determines much of the spike’s weight, so it was paired down to only a couple microns thick. Every part of the shoe that could be, was perfected to cut weight. To cut even more weight, the decision was made to remove the sock liner. Instead of using a foam sockliner used in traditional track spikes, a single piece of lightweight suede was used. To get a better fit, the shoe was constructed with a center seam, but then a way was also found to remove the thread itself. The shoe was still sewn up the center, but drafted in a solution more common to surgery water-soluble thread. Now, just before the factory adds the suede sock liner and puts the shoe in the box, the Zoom Victory is wiped down with a wet brush to dissolve the thread. This process removes approximately 1.2 grams.
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The final innovation John and Tom incorporated was a hole in the heel. “We didn’t need a heel counter, which again probably weighs five or six grams,” Tom explains. They created a weld around the edge and punched it out to expose the foot itself. At first athletes were nervous about the fit, but the hole allows the Zoom Victory to grip the heel tightly, creating an almost custom fit and preventing slippage.
American miler Alan Webb was the first athlete to try the Nike Zoom Victory more than a year ago. He wore it in Brasschaat, Belgium where he broke the American record in the mile with a time of 3 minutes 46.91 seconds. Bernard Lagat saw that winning streak and wanted to try out the Nike Zoom Victory too.He wore the Nike Zoom Victory spike in the World Championships in Osaka where he won the 1500 and 5000 meters. Both of them ran in an all-white version of the spike so that no one could see the Flywire technology.
Also in Osaka, just before the 10,000m, Kara Goucher was given a pair of new spikes to try. This spike, called the Nike Zoom Matumbo, was created for distance events and features the same Flywire technology as the Nike Zoom Victory.No one expected her to wear it in the race. But she did that and ran pretty remarkable results. The 10,000m is typically a race against distraction. In the twenty five laps around the track, athletes often find themselves focusing on the smallest thing that’s bothering them. But for once, Kara found she wasn’t distracted by her footwear. It was only at the end that she realized she hadn’t thought once about them and she took bronze.
Flywire’s creator Jay Meschter sums up the Nike Zoom Victory’s successes: “It also gets to that elusive thing, which is, I want the plate just to be attached to the bottom of the foot and forget about the shoe. It has wonderful freedom of movement, but it’s also holding you down.”