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September 2017 in Berlin, Eliud Kipchoge battled heavy rain and 99-percent humidity over the course of 26.2 miles. Though the result was first place, his performance wasn’t enough to earn him the world record he had trained for. It was only after Nike designers spoke with Kipchoge about the wet conditions that they learned his shoes absorbed water—which added weight. Considering Kipchoge felt the shoe was otherwise “perfect … really perfect,” designers were left with a new obstacle to overcome.

Deciding to focus on updating the upper, design teams ran through a rapid-fire prototyping phase which consisted of thousands of options. They ultimately chose an experimental performance-printed 3D upper which they called Nike Flyprint.

As of today, Flyprint is the first 3D-printed textile upper in performance footwear. And weighing in at 11g lighter than the now-legendary Vaporfly 4%, it offers more breathability while boasting almost zero water retention.

Presenting the Flyprint upper to Kipchoge for the first time, things went exactly as one would have expected. “I thought these guys were really crazy,” said Kipchoge. It wasn’t until the testing began that his mind changed. “I had to take the shoe, put it on my foot and run on it. You feel like flying when you’re running.”

Stay tuned to SNKRS for more info and insights on innovations like this one.

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