The Nike Vaporfly 3 is your ticket to freakish running speeds

Now in its third iteration, Nike's Vaporfly is still the best running trainer for race day
Nike Vaporfly 3 review For freakish running speeds

I could tell you that the Nike Vaporfly is the running shoe that pretty much every runner on the planet knows; that it’s been on the feet of numerous athletes in competition; that long-standing records have been broken in them. But you probably already knew that. Nike wasn’t the first to put carbon fibre in a running shoe, but when it did — on the original Vaporfly in 2017 — it changed running shoes forever.

Over five years on from that moment and I have the Vaporfly 3 in my hands, the third instalment of the iconic racer that Nike says is still designed for speed at any distance. Existing fans will be pleased to hear that this new version still matches up a full-length carbon fibre FlyPlate with a light and bouncy ZoomX foam, promising to continue delivering big energy returns to delay that fatigued feeling.

There are some differences: Nike has redesigned the shape of the midsole (home of that foam and plate) to make the Vaporfly 3 more stable than its predecessor. It’s added a new version of its FlyKnit upper to make sure it’s securely locking your foot in, too, keeping things breathable for hotter and longer running days and roomy at the toes when you need to go the marathon distance.

My first run is a 35-minute interval session trying out Technogym’s new MyRun treadmill. It also turns out to be an appreciation of just how light the Vaporfly 3 is. The reworked knit upper is wafer thin, while the triangular chunk cut out from the midsole helps it weigh less than 200g, making it lighter than most other racing shoes. What I really care about, though, is what it’s like to race in. That’s what Nike made this shoe for, after all. So on a muggy Wednesday evening in Battersea Park that's exactly what I did.

I stepped into the pack up near the front of my 5km race and after another glance at that gorgeous all-white knit upper it was time to tackle the two-lap course. I knew pretty much instantly I had something pretty special on my feet. Sinking into that soft layer of ZoomX foam you feel the bounce generating a memorable, lively feel: on long flat stretches, it's supremely smooth, while the outsole holds strong when tackling corners, letting you accelerate out of them.

Nike Vaporfly 3

Before I even cross the finish line I know I’m on course to run my fastest ever 5km race time. It’s never all about the shoe — you still have to do the running — but the Vaporfly 3 feels like a vessel for speed.

If there is one downside it's that they're best kept for special occasions. Looking down at the battering the exposed areas of the foam on the outsole have taken, I know this isn’t a shoe I can reach for every run. When there’s another race to add to my calendar though, it won’t be a hard decision to make on whether I should be lacing up the Vaporfly 3. This racer's favourite still feels unique to all others that have tried to emulate what Nike has achieved here.


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