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adidas / December 2019
Sarah Sharp

ADIZERO: RUNNING SHOES BUILT TO BREAK RECORDS

Get the inside track on how adizero democratized speed for everyone, breaking world records and empowering everyday runners alike.

THE ADIZERO ORIGIN STORY: HOW A HERO WAS BORN

In 2004, after decades of creating race-winning, record-setting running shoes, adidas wanted to push the boundaries even further by developing a shoe that would really redefine the meaning of fast.

There was no better craftsman for the task than Japan's legendary shoe designer Mr. Toshiaki Omori, who has helped make world-class running shoes for adidas since 1999. Having spent his life developing his "inside out" design philosophy, Omori believes the anatomy of the foot must always come first in the crafting process. Using molds of real feet, known as lasts, he worked to create the most perfect, streamlined fit possible—what he calls a “microfit."

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To achieve this symbiosis between foot and shoe, simplicity was essential. From the choice of materials and textiles to the weight and cushioning of the sole, every element was carefully considered. The shoe needed a lightweight feel to maximize speed without compromising comfort. It had to be elegant, with a sock-like fit, and pace to burn. Plus, as runners know, a shoe has to look as fast as it feels.

During every step of the design journey, there was a new challenge for the team to overcome. The shoe had to be versatile and adaptable to any running conditions an athlete might encounter: mile repeats on the track, a 10K tempo run, treadmill interval sessions or an ultra-marathon.

Needless to say, the design and development team had their work cut out for them.

Finally, after years of careful development, it was time to introduce the world to the adizero.

It was September 2008, the night before the Berlin Marathon. In his hotel room, Ethiopian long-distance runner Haile Gebrselassie laced up the first adizero Adios prototypes. He ran up and down the hotel corridor, testing them out, feeling the responsiveness of the soles as his feet touched the ground. Impressed, he decided to wear the adizeros for the marathon.

The next day, he broke the world record in them by 29 seconds, with an incredible 2.03.59 finishing time. His third consecutive win.

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ADIZERO INNOVATION TAKES THE WORLD BY STORM

Since their splashy 2008 debut, adizeros have collected over 150 victories in the world of elite racing. To make these wins possible, the adizero team has rigorously refined the shoe. "Testing and improving with the support of athletes is fundamental in our process,” says adidas running footwear designer, Moritz Hoellmueller.

With this athlete feedback as their guide, the designers are constantly trying to harness their creativity to unlock new innovations. Each time they do, athletes are empowered to push themselves further.

Lee Ryan, current adidas Runners Dubai captain and father of two, has improved his performance along with the shoe’s evolution. In adizeros, he’s broken five world records, including fastest marathon with a double stroller. “The shoe became better over time, just as I performed better over time,” says Ryan.

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Ryan couldn’t have said it better: adizeros are constantly improving alongside our athletes. Just three years after Gebrselassie’s Berlin Marathon win, Patrick Makau wore the next evolution of the shoe to beat the previous record by 21 seconds. In 2014, yet another adizero evolution broke the record when Dennis Kimetto shaved 41 seconds off Makau’s time in the adizero Adios Boost.

As more and more elite athletes started wearing and being seen in the shoes, interest in them from runners of all paces grew. adidas addressed that. Today, adizero has expanded into a range of shoes for every level. Ben Herath, a designer on the first adizero Adios, believes that "lightweight is for everyone because we all want to run fast. That was the goal, to open up speed for everyone."

adizero has become a gateway shoe, democratizing speed for the masses. Mathilde Have, captain of adidas Runners Copenhagen, feels that wearing adizeros has reshaped her relationship with speed: "I felt faster, and that feeling made me go faster." Like other adizero runners, the shoes made her feel more confident, allowing her to rediscover her love of running fast.

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WHAT’S NEXT FOR ADIZERO?

Runners and running shoes have something in common: They always want to go faster. Whether you’re a marathon record-setter or a casual 5K runner, the adizero can help you unlock your next level. So the real question isn't what’s next for adizero, it’s what’s next for you? If you’re ready to go faster, it’s time to discover the adizero range.

adidas / December 2019
Sarah Sharp
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