Having smashed what was thought possible in the marathon with their revolutionary Vaporfly shoes, Nike have launched a similar assault on the 100 metres by releasing a futuristic track spike they hope will be in use at this summer's Olympics.

The Viperfly, designed specifically for the 100m, contains a carbon-fibre plate and "ultra-responsive" air pod, building on technology employed in the Vaporfly road-running shoe that has been found to give runners somewhere in the region of a four per cent saving in running economy.

The key, according to Nike, is a shoe that "focuses attention on what athletes need most in the last 20 metres of the sprint."

But there is a fly in the ointment for the footwear giant. World Athletics regulations introduced last week state that track shoes are allowed only one "rigid embedded plate or blade", plus one additional plate or blade to attach spikes. The sole must be no thicker than 30mm.


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The Viperfly shoes - which were developed before the rule amendment - do not adhere to those regulations, but Nike have confirmed they are working to modify them accordingly in a bid to make them available later this summer.

"Barriers are inspiring to innovators," said Tony Bignell, Nike vice-president. "Like athletes, when a barrier is in front of us, we are challenged to think differently and push game-changing progress in footwear design."

No one has come close to breaking Puma-sponsored Usain Bolt's 9.58sec 100m world record set in 2009, although American Christian Coleman, who is sponsored by Nike, clocked 9.76sec - the fastest time in the world for four years - to win the world title last September.

Nike's road-running dominance looks set to continue after they followed up their controversial Vaporfly shoes being given the all-clear by announcing the release of a mainstream version of the shoe worn by Eliud Kipchoge when becoming the first man to run a marathon in less than two hours

The Alphafly shoes worn by the Kenyan in that manufactured time trial did not meet World Athletics regulations, but Nike say the new version are perfectly legal under rules permitting road-running shoes to have a sole no thicker than 40mm and one "embedded plate or blade".

The new Alphafly road-running shoe adheres to regulations. Photo / Nike
The new Alphafly road-running shoe adheres to regulations. Photo / Nike

Despite its alarmingly high appearance, Nike say their new Zoom Alphafly Next% shoe has a sole thickness of 39.5mm and contains only one carbon plate. It also has two pods in the forefoot and even more of the groundbreaking ZoomX foam seen in its predecessor Vaporfly shoe.

World Athletics announced last week's rule changes after coming under pressure to address issues surrounding the existing Nike Vaporfly range - the 4% released in 2016 and Next% a year later - amid accusations they amounted to technological doping.


Athletes wearing the Next% claimed 31 of the 36 top-three finishes in major marathons last year, while Kipchoge and fellow Kenyan Brigid Kosgei both wore versions of the shoe when shattering the marathon world records.

The new rules also state that from April 30 any shoe used in competition must have been generally available to the public for four months, ending the familiar scenario of athletes wearing prototype shoes in major races.

Nike have confirmed the Alphafly will be available in limited quantities to its members at the end of February, but World Athletics confirmed to Telegraph Sport that the shoe must be "properly on the market and available for purchase by any athlete" if it is to be worn by Kipchoge and his fellow Nike athletes at the Tokyo Olympics in August.

The Victory shoe is designed for distances from 800m to 10,000m. Photo / Nike
The Victory shoe is designed for distances from 800m to 10,000m. Photo / Nike

"We are pleased the Nike Zoom Vaporfly series and Nike Zoom Alphafly Next% remain legal," read a Nike statement. "We will continue our dialogue with World Athletics and the industry on new standards."

In addition to the Alphafly and Viperfly, Nike also announced a third competition shoe - the Victory - designed specifically for use at distances from 800m to 10,000m.