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Written By Rob Smith - January 14 2020
When it comes to innovation there are few companies that have the intensity of Nike's constant flow of ideas, features and product advancement. This momentum has resulted in industry leading products like the Vaporfly and its resulting dominance of the racing world. But, what if the focus wasn't on racing and instead on preventing injury that stops runners from getting to the start line they've worked so hard for?
Over the past couple of years Nike has been coming to Vancouver to visit the University of British Columbia. The purpose of these visits was an intense study focused around 226 runners and a shoe that would eventually become the Nike React Infinity Run.
The purpose of this study was to look at the stability market and find a solution that would work for a greater population while keeping injury rates lower than they have been in decades.
When Nike debuted the Zoom Vaporfly 4% in 2017, racers cheered; the shoe was built for notching PRs and breaking limits. The same year, Nike React, a proprietary foam offering game-changing cushioning and energy return debuted. In running, the technology answered for a near impossible desire: a feel that was soft, resilient, lightweight and durable.
The result of the UBC study and the near 100,000 test km's put in during that time, is a shoe that encompasses the best qualities of those two technologies - a fine-tuned blend of biomechanical efficiency and cushioning - for a breakthrough shoe that offers a more democratic solution to stability, and an advance from traditional motion-control designs. The idea was to keep runners running longer by providing a more stable platform to land on, without interrupting the natural movement of the wearers foot during the gait cycle - and it worked, really well. In studies Nike and UBC saw a 52% reduction in injury (definition: three or more days of running missed due to pain) compared to the Nike Zoom Structure.
Now with the Nike React Infinity Run coming to market it was time to celebrate. In partnership with Nike, Vancouver Running Co. selected 13 women to kick off a 13-week training cycle, culminating at the Nike Los Angeles Half-Marathon in April.
On January 5 everyone showed up to Vancouver Running Co. after receiving an invite to Project Fearless. With not too much more information than that, there was anticipation and curiosity in the air that rainy Sunday morning.
Each of the invited women were presented with a custom half-marathon kit complete with their Nike React Infinity Run shoes, a jacket, a pair of tights and their training plan. While Nike tech pro Ekua explained the technology behind the new shoe everyone began getting their first steps and feeling of this breakthrough technology. Eager to get out running, NRC Coach Britt explained the 13-week training to the group and what was coming up as they worked toward their half-marathon.
Laced up and ready to go, the crew headed out for their 5km debut run; the perfect way to test the new shoes and get to know everyone in the group.
With a wet lap around the Kits area in the bag everyone headed back to Vancouver Running Co. to enjoy some breakfast and juice, and some social time, before heading out for the day.
Stay tuned for more on Project Fearless as we follow the journey of the 13 women taking part.
Special thanks to Ekua Cudjoe, Sandra Renwick, Paulina Maher and Nike Canada. Follow along the 13-week journey @vanrunco and @niketoronto
Learn more about the Nike React Infinity Run here
Purchase the Nike React Infinity Run here