London Marathon 2018: could Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite Flyprint finally break the two-hour barrier?

3D printed shoe will be worn by Olympic champ Eliud Kipchoge and available to you to buy in limited numbers

Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite Flyprint

Want to run like an Olympic champion? In a sense you now can, as the exclusive, 3D-printed Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite Flyprint, will be available to buy, after it makes its bow in this Sunday's London Marathon. 

Elite, gazelle-like runners including current Olympic Champion Eliud Kipchoge will wear the shoe as they race, with the goal being to crack the two-hour mark for the first time. In the unlikely event they succeed, it will be a remarkable demonstration of human endurance and footwear engineering. Especially as the champ will be being pursued by people wearing inflatable sumo costumes, football team mascot outfits and/or dragging a fridge.

Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite Flyprint being Flyprinted

The Flyprint process in action

The shoe is the successor to last year’s Vaporfly Elite, developed for Nike's 'Breaking2' project, and the first appearance of the brand's latest textile innovation, Nike Flyprint.

For this shoe, the upper is 3D-printed – a first in performance footwear, we are assured – "to the exact specifications of elite athletes by listening to their feedback – accelerating innovation to accelerate athletes."

Naturally, bespoke 3D printing allows increased customisation, but it also means new ideas can be very rapidly prototyped and tested as the engineers and athletes seek to shave off the remaining minutes and seconds required to break 2 hours (there's actually a full two minutes and 57 seconds left, so actually reaching that mark will be somewhat less instantaneous than the shoe printing, we suspect).

The ultra-light, 3D printed shoe will be available to buy from Sunday via the Nike app

The Vaporfly Elite weighed next to nothing, but this new Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite Flyprint, despite taking much longer to say, is actually a full 11g lighter. Responding to feedback from users of the older shoe, the Flyprint also has greater breathability and decreased moisture absorption.

If you want to have a go yourself at running 26.219 miles in 119 minutes 59.999 seconds, the Zoom Vaporfly Elite Flyprint will be available in limited quantities on the Nike and Nike SNEAKRS apps, from Sunday. 

We don't have details of pricing, but last year's Elite shoe was £200, and it's not likely to be cheaper than that. Also, sizing will be standard, rather than the shoe being 3D printed specifically for the exact size and shape of your foot. You'll have to train a bit harder if you want the full Elite package.

Duncan Bell

Duncan is the former lifestyle editor of T3 and has been writing about tech for almost 15 years. He has covered everything from smartphones to headphones, TV to AC and air fryers to the movies of James Bond and obscure anime. His current brief is everything to do with the home and kitchen, which is good because he is an excellent cook, if he says so himself. He also covers cycling and ebikes – like over-using italics, this is another passion of his. In his long and varied lifestyle-tech career he is one of the few people to have been a fitness editor despite being unfit and a cars editor for not one but two websites, despite being unable to drive. He also has about 400 vacuum cleaners, and is possibly the UK's leading expert on cordless vacuum cleaners, despite being decidedly messy. A cricket fan for over 30 years, he also recently become T3's cricket editor, writing about how to stream obscure T20 tournaments, and turning out some typically no-nonsense opinions on the world's top teams and players.

Before T3, Duncan was a music and film reviewer, worked for a magazine about gambling that employed a surprisingly large number of convicted criminals, and then a magazine called Bizarre that was essentially like a cross between Reddit and DeviantArt, before the invention of the internet. There was also a lengthy period where he essentially wrote all of T3 magazine every month for about 3 years. 

A broadcaster, raconteur and public speaker, Duncan used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with telling people, "I used to be on the TV, you know."