The energy return from shoes to elite athletes has been in the news the last couple of months, with the controversy of the advantage to elite athletes of the Nike Vaporfly Next% and Alphafly prototype running shoes. Into this environment, ASICS is about to release three new sports shoes with promises of performance lifts.
By this I don’t imply at all that these three new ASICS shoes provide the level of performance lift that the Vaporflys have had proven in competition. This new Meta range has not as yet. Also, it should be said that a promise of energy return from running shoes has been used a sales-enticer with all standards and levels of runners since the 1980s.
Energy return refers to a push given to an athlete as the shoe’s midsole moves from its compressed to uncompressed state as the foot transitions from bearing the runner’s weight to leaving the ground. It’s just that the Nike Vaporflys took the promise to another level. Or levels, with their involvement in smashing the Marathon world record, and their presence on the podium in marathon races since 2019 has been heavy.
But back to the ASICS range. There are three shoes in the Meta range:
Metaracer: a long-distance running shoe (pictured above)
Metasprint: a track running with a carbon fibre honeycomb structure substituting for regular spikes
Metarise: a volleyball shoe
And what are the performance claims of these new ASICS shoes? It’s claimed that the improved toe-spring shape on the Metaracer ‘reduces the load on the calf muscle by up to 20 per cent’. The honeycomb-like outsole of the Metasprint shoes are claimed to ‘transfer additional power with every step and increase speed’, while the Metarise ‘gives players an extra 3 per cent lift for higher jumps.’
Time will tell if these three shoes will meet those claims in competition, and if they go on to be as controversial as the Nike Vaporfly. All three are limited edition shoes, available only from ASICS own online and retail stores, and in selected specialist sports stores.
The release dates and cost of the shoes are as follows:
Metaracer: April 17 (Japan), April 26 (global), US$200
Metasprint: April 17, US$180
Metarise: June 12, US$210
In the meantime the sport’s governing body, World Athletics, has announced that ‘… any new shoe technology developed after 30 April will have to be available on the open market for four months before an athlete can use it in competition.’