Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, the 2016 Olympic marathon champion, wore a customized pair of racing flats at the 2017 Berlin Marathon.
The eventual winner, in 2:03:32, raced in red Nike Vaporfly Elite, with personal messages written on the sock liner and along the shoe’s sole. The shoe features a carbon fibre plate and was built specifically for three athletes, Kipchoge, Zersenay Tadese and Lelisa Desisa, with variations of the shoe available to the public including the Vaporfly 4% and the Zoom Fly, both considered racing flats.
“Beyond the limits” appears on the lateral side of the shoe with “EK” on the medial side. The names of Kipchoge’s wife, sons and daughter can be seen on the upper.
His original goal was to break the existing men’s world record of 2:02:57, set at the same Berlin course in 2014.
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“A world record, that’s what’s in my mind,” Kipchoge said before the Sept. 24 race. “To many people it’s a barrier; to me, it’s slower than my personal best.” What the 32-year-old was referring to was his 2:00:25 run for the marathon distance in a non-sanctioned event put on by Nike in Italy in early May. In Berlin, he wore a similar kit including half-tights, arm sleeves with a singlet and tape on his shins. Rain played a factor on Sunday morning slowing the finishing times.
According to Nike, the custom red Vaporfly Elite, without Kipchoge’s personal messages, and with a stiffer carbon plate through the midsole, are available in a limited release within Europe. Runners’ names are drawn from a pool and those selected can purchase the red Vaporfly Elite for 500 Euros ($737) on Sept. 27.