In the race amongst sports brands to claim they have the ultimate running shoe in their arsenal, Adidas has made a daring move ahead with its latest creation, Ultra Boost, which promises to deliver the greatest run ever. The culmination of two years of intensive research and development, the design is backed by some of the most cutting-edge technology, gleaned from the sports world and beyond.
Ben Herath, Adidas' vice president of design, running explains, 'We set out to create the greatest running shoe ever, which was a little bit daunting for a designer as a brief, but we kept going back to "How does this make you feel?" We really challenged ourselves to make each part [of the shoe] take on a greater role.'
Building upon its Boost running shoe that launched in 2013, Ultra Boost offers even more support, stability and comfort than its predecessor. Working with Aramis, an optical 3D deformation analysis system more typically used by companies like Nasa and Boeing to understand materials' reactions under strain, Adidas has tracked how the body moves while running in unparalleled detail. A runner's foot can expand up to 10mm or more in width and when not properly catered for this can result in injury, friction and other discomforts.
'We could see where the foot expanded and contracted, where the skin stretched or moved, and we could reflect that exactly in the design,' continues Herath. 'When you try it on, the shoe really feels natural, like an extension of yourself. That's what we are going back to.'
The Ultra Boost achieves all this with Adidas' 'Primeknit' body that accommodates the natural expansion of any foot shape. A revolutionary new construction of the heel, which sees the heel counter placed on the exterior of the shoe, supports the Achilles tendon without restricting it. Topped off with Adidas' Boost sole, made from over 3,000 individual thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) capsules (20% more than its first Boost shoe), Ultra Boost returns energy to the runner for a more springy and reactive feel. A stretch web outsole also distributes pressure while adapting to different foot strikes.
Launched in just one colourway, a rich medley of dark blues and black, Ultra Boost is just as easy on the eyes. The shoe is a tribute to urban running: 'More people are running in cities and we see the increasing urbanisation of sport,' adds Herath. 'We looked to the most energising moments of the day: sunrise and sunset. We wanted to capture these times, which are also when a lot of people are running as well. The colour of the sky just when it's changing from day to night is what we wanted to reflect here.'