At the recently concluded World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, athletes signed with adidas won one race after another, scoring a total of 24 medals (8 gold, 6 silver, and 10 bronze) and breaking one world record, two World Championship records, and one U.S. record.
In the men’s marathon, with competitors from all over the world, Tamirat Tora, from Ethiopia, broke the race record held since 2009, running away with a World Championships record of 2:05:36. Wearing adidas ADIZERO ADIOS PRO 2, he beat his countryman, Mosinet Geremew, by more than a minute.
In the men’s 110-meter hurdles, American Grant Holloway, wearing ADIZERO FINESSE, became the first athlete to defend their championship in the 110-meter hurdles in nearly two decades, while in the men’s 400-meter hurdles, Brazilian Allison dos Santos, wearing ADIZERO PRIME SP2s, won the gold medal and broke the World Championships record in the process. Another defending champion was American Noah Lyles in the men’s 200 meters, wearing adidas ADIZERO PRIME SP2 as he broke the national 200-meter record that had stood for 26 years by 0.01 seconds, making him the third-fastest athlete in men’s 200-meter history.
In the women’s 400-meter event, Shauna Miller-Uyber, from the Bahamas, won the gold medal in ADIZERO PRIME SP2s, while in the women’s 100-meter hurdles, Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan won gold medal in ADIZERO AVANTIs, breaking the world record with a time of 12.12s. In addition, Eleanor Patterson, from Australia, wearing adidas ADIZERO HJ, won gold in the high jump with a personal best; and Anderson Peters defended his championship title in the javelin sail event…
As the world’s top athletes gathered to compete, the ADIZERO running shoe series led the charge and felled one world record after another.
With its “midsole revolution” breakthrough, adidas has taken the lead in the battle for technology
Take the ADIZERO ADIOS PRO 2, the running shoe chosen by men’s marathon gold medalist Tamirat Tora, as an example. Compared with other high-tech running shoes, the propulsion system of the ADIZERO ADIOS PRO 2 is more advanced. Its midsole material - LIGHTSTRIKE PRO is softer, lighter and more elastic than EVA or TPU materials. In order to better fit the feet of runners, adidas uses its ENERGYRODS carbon column design in the midsole, rather than the single carbon plate used by so many other brands. Through the “sandwich” structure of two layers of LIGHTSTRIKE PRO, with a carbon column for the forefoot and a carbon plate for the rear heel, the momentum from the five carbon columns can be fully unleashed, while the lighter forefoot allows for sharply increased resilience, leading to improved propulsion.
The core parts of a running shoe are its outsole, its midsole, and its upper. Of these, the midsole determines the shoe’s elasticity and cushioning, which is key to performance.
Since the late 1970s, after the American brand Brooks first added elastic material EVA to the midsole of running shoes, a marathon battle focused on the so-called “midsole revolution” continued on the feet of top runners. Especially over the past few years, after the World Athletics Federation opened the door to technological innovation, innovation has become essential for global running shoe manufacturers such as adidas.
adidas first took the lead in this marathon in 2013, when it launched its Boost technology, combining both soft cushioning and agile responsiveness, formerly unheard of and bringing an entirely new experience to runners globally.
Four years after that, adidas launched its Futurecraft 4D technology, which uses 3D printing technology to synthesize the midsole of running shoes with resin materials. This meant that consumers could customize their own running shoes to best fit their own characteristics, achieving the perfect combination of cushioning, stability, and comfort.
It is worth mentioning that adidas’ midsole revolution didn’t stop there. The ADIZERO ADIOS PRO 3 running shoes, another from the record-setting ADIZERO series, was released in June this year. It adopts an upgraded design for the ENERGYRODS 2.0 energy carbon column, which combines the previously separated energy carbon columns to form a whole frame that runs parallel to the direction of the foot metatarsal, striving to provide runners with appropriate stiffness and superior energy feedback.
The ADIZERO ADIOS PRO 3 features newly upgraded technology, design and materials, which the company considers the “successor” in high-end long distance running shoes – a sublime tool for helping runners to improve performance, chase new records, and continue their legacy.
Owing to adidas’ enduring pursuit of running shoe technology, adidas-contracted athletes achieved good results in 2021. In road races in 2021, more than half of the races were won by adidas-contracted athletes, who accounted for only 15% of the total, according to reports by Europe’s Corriere dello Sport.
On the other hand, as more and more young consumers gravitate to environmentally friendly brands, adidas has also weighed in on its “low-carbon technology tree”.
adidas has always prioritized ending plastic waste as a long-term goal, and recently proposed its sustainable “Three Loop” Strategy, made up of its Recycle Loop (sourcing raw materials that have been previously recycled), Circular Loop (producing a product that’s made to be remade), and Regenerative Loop (making products out of natural materials). This emphasis on sustainability is one that adidas will continue to promote in the future.
Take the 4DFWD X PARLEY running shoes, launched in April this year, as an example. The upper material is sourced from high-performance yarn made from 81 percent Parley Ocean Plastic materials, which were recycled from plastic waste found on remote islands, beaches and coastal communities. Around 60 percent of adidas’s current products are made from sustainable materials such as natural rubber, sugar cane, and marine debris. By 2025, adidas plans to increase this to 90 percent.
In 2020, the Stan Smith Mylo series became the world’s first sustainable sneaker, made from Mylo mycelium material, which is a purely biological material made from mycelium and jointly developed by adidas and its partners. As a substitute for leather, its potential for ending animal products in shoes is immense.
In addition to the adaptation and reuse of marine plastic waste and the use of natural materials to manufacture products, adidas also stated in its 2021 financial report that since its first generation of recyclable FUTURECRAFT.LOOP sports running shoes, launched in 2019, the company has increased the number of MTBR (Made To Be Remade) product offers to include additional running shoes, clothing and more.
That is not all adidas is doing to innovate with its products in the name of low carbon achievement and environmental protection. In April this year, adidas and ALLBIRDS teamed up to launch the ADIZERO X ALLBIRDS 2.94 KG CO2E running shoes. As an advanced version of FUTURECRAFT.FOOTPRINT running shoes, it is a low-carbon emission sports running shoe, made from innovative materials with an outsole jointly developed by the two parties. Its carbon footprint for a single pair is only 2.94 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent.
According to legend, Alexander the Great embarked on a journey to find Oceanus, the sea at the end of the world. For adidas, its endless sea may be the continuous evolution of running shoe technology and the innovation of commercial technology.
At future track events, how many more records will athletes break with the help adidas’s ever-evolving running shoe technology? In the marathon that is product innovation, where is the end for the ever-innovating adidas?
For the first such question, the answer will always be “whatever record lies ahead,” while for the second, it is simply that “the journey never ends.”