Go big or go home, they say.
We've got the first kit review for Toppy Runs the World ... and we're going with the most controversial shoe there is: the Nike Alphafly.
A few things about how I review stuff before we get started: I'm not going to go into stats about drop or stack height or anything like that, unless those things have had a significant impact on my shoe experience. I'm not sure how that's helpful, and it's easily looked up. Instead, I'm going to talk about MY experience in the shoe, and how well it serves it's function.
Here we are. Nike Alphafly Next%. Bought with my own money.
Here's how the shoe has been used prior to review:
- One tempo run
- One marathon pace workout
- The 2020 Virtual London Marathon
- Total: 59.9 miles
My basic verdict on this shoe is: don't buy it.
While it's definitely a good shoe to race in, it's also not as good as the two marathon racing shoes that came before it: I preferred racing in both the Vaporfly Next% and Vaporfly 4% Flyknit to the Alphafly.
The question is why - and I have a couple of thoughts on this:
First, there is too much shoe here. The Alphaflys are higher and wider and very obviously present through every step of every run I've put into them. I never managed to forget that they were on my feet. And as much as I love running shoes, I don't want to be thinking about the shoes on my run.
In fact, I'll go as far as to state that my favourite shoes are all shoes that I forget about and just do their job.
Second, they aren't as fast as the Vaporfly Next%
I feel I need to put an asterisk on this. I mean, I set a personal best in them, and Kipchoge ran under two hours in the things. So they're not a slow shoe at all ... they're just slower than their Vaporfly cousins when they're on my feet.
Toppy, I hear you ask, you ran faster in the Alphaflys - why do you insist that you're faster in Vaporflys?
Well, let me tell you:
I had Vaporfly Next% on my feet during tune-up races prior to London. And turned in 10k and Half Marathon times that line up with a 2:58 and 3:04 marathon, respectively, using VDOT tables. My marathon time? 3:14:06.
I had Vaporfly Next% on my feet during Marathon Pace workouts throughout my training block, and regularly turned out pace that would have had me under 3:05 on the very same course where I ran my marathon, during high mileage weeks where I wasn't tapered.
And generally speaking, I found holding my Threshold pace during the one workout with the Alphaflys to be more difficult than it typically was with other shoes.
In any case, during the race the pace I was looking for wasn't there. That's clearly not the shoes, which have gone faster on other people's feet, but as they're the most expensive marathon racing shoes on the market, I shouldn't have better results with cheaper shoes from the same company.
Second, they aren't great in the wet. Conditions were wet on London Marathon day, and these shoes really held water. By comparison, again, things were wet when I ran the 2019 Berlin Marathon ... and I was extremely happy that the Vaporweave on the Next% barely held any water at all, keeping my feet feeling relatively light.
All in all, I've found the Vaporfly Next% to be more versatile and faster than the Alphafly. Maybe if your stride is more like Kipchoge's, the air pods will provide additional benefit and make you faster with these ... but the Alphafly is certainly not my super-shoe of choice.