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‘It stretches the limits of performance’: the race to make the world’s fastest running shoe

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With its supercharged sole, the Nike Vaporfly bounced on to the winner’s platform at nearly every major marathon last year, smashing world records. Can its rivals keep up?

Natasha Cockram never really cared about shoes. When the Welsh runner entered her first marathon in 2017, she wore a pair of two-year-old Nike racing flats that cost her £15 at an outlet store. And she was a talented athlete: a former junior cross country and middle distance champion, she had won an athletics scholarship to the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. She studied psychology and raced hard.

“What I’ve always loved about running is that it was so accessible,” Cockram, who is 27, says when we first speak in early September. “All you needed was a pair of trainers. It didn’t matter what they were – anyone could just do it.”

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