At a big-deal event in New York last Thursday, Adidas gave the world its first look at the latest in running footwear: the Ultra Boost. "It's a game-changer for runners, and a step change for our industry," adidas executive board member Eric Liedtke said. "We feel like we have the best running shoe ever made."
The shoe was developed for neutral runners and is an update to Adidas' earlier Boost-powered running shoes, which have been available for the last two years. Ultra Boost has a full-length Boost midsole, a flexible Primeknit upper that works with the foot instead of against it, a Stretch Web outsole to maximize mobility, and a new external heel counter that protects the Achille's Tendon while staying out of its way.
At the launch, journalists got a behind-the-scenes look at how Adidas developed the Ultra Boost. Biomechanical scientists were on hand to discuss what went into the construction of the show, while others demonstrated how they used the high-tech ARAMIS testing system in the research and design process. ARAMIS is a network of high-speed cameras and sensors that can measure all sorts of data points. In this case, it looked at just what happens to a runner's foot when it strikes the ground, both with a shoe and without. One thing scientists learned was that the foot has a lot of expansion at the midsole when it hits the ground, and other running shoes constrict that natural movement. Using information like that, Adidas designed Ultra Boost to give runners a more natural experience in the shoe.
All of the tech and research that went into creating Ultra Boost is good news for serious runners. But for people who are more casual, there's an added bonus: It's sleek design looks really cool. "It's an urban feeling," Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins said. Watkins was one of the athletes at the event to help unveil the shoe. "It's not a loud color to where you can't wear them with everything. You can throw on blue, back, or anything and it can look nice."
I tried the shoe out a bit at the event, and the cushioning was impressive. There's a bounce to the Ultra Boost that was unexpected. It also offered great security, expanding to accommodate my wide foot and hugging it tight to keep it from rolling. And it's so low-profile that, even though I knew I was wearing a running shoe, I never felt uncomfortable or self-conscious about it.
There will certainly be more news about the Ultra Boost once runners start using it in races and marathons. For now, here's a closer look at the shoe. And if you're interested in getting a pair, start saving: the Ultra Boost costs $180. You can buy it on adidas.com starting February 11 and in stores February 25. The company says it's available only in limited amounts, so it suggests pre-ordering online.