If you’re new to the Nike Alphafly 3, you might have discovered it through Kelvin Kiptum̵7;s world record-breaking run in October at the Chicago Marathon. Yet, the shoe has been in development long before you came across this story.

Slightly exaggerated, the Alphafly 3 predates Nike itself. Co-founder Bill Bowerman, the iconic track coach, once emphasized a shoe’s need to be light, comfortable, and durable—qualities that perfectly align with Nike’s latest marathon race shoe. These principles are so ingrained that they’re printed inside the Alphafly 3’s “Prototype” colorway shoebox.



SKU: FD8356-100

RetailerTimeShippingRelease TypeStatusReminder
Nikestore US10:00North America OnlySold OutSold Out
DICK’S10:00North America OnlySold OutSold Out

The next “super shoe” from Nike launches on January 4th, 2024, via nike.com, the Nike app, and select running specialty stores, priced at $285 USD ($275 in other regions). Explore more about the shoe’s history, innovative features, technical specifications, insights from Bret Schoolmeester (Senior Product Director for Nike Running Footwear), and an honest review by Sneaker News’ resident runner.

At its roots, Nike started as a running company, initially importing running shoes from Japan before crafting its own footwear in the 1970s. Steve Prefontaine is an American medium-distance runner who was among the first to don swoosh-branded track spikes.


In November 2016, Nike embarked on a bold mission with Kenyan athlete Eliud Kipchoge: break the 2-hour marathon barrier. Pursuing this ambitious goal, the company developed specialized footwear aligned with Bill Bowerman’s principles of weight reduction, comfort, and durability. This effort gave rise to the 4% series, evolving into the NEXT% line. On October 12th, 2019, in Vienna, Kipchoge achieved the historic feat of running a marathon in under 2 hours (1:59:40), wearing a prototype of the Nike Alphafly NEXT%—a shoe that would revolutionize the sport of running.

Eliud Kipchoge And Pacers During INEOS 1_59 Challenge

Following Eliud Kipchoge’s accomplishment, controversy surrounded the Nike Alphafly NEXT% due to its unique features like a high-stack height, unconventional shape, visible Zoom Air units, and carbon fiber plate. The debate questioned the impact of technology on athlete performances. In response, World Athletics introduced new rules for “super shoes,” a category pioneered by Nike’s Alphafly and Vaporfly NEXT%. One regulation mandates that racing footwear must be available for purchase at least one month before competition unless still in development. This ensures everyday runners can access Nike Running’s cutting-edge innovation.

What is Different?

To enhance an already proven best, Nike tasked its team of designers, researchers, and runners with improving the Alphafly’s impressive features. Demonstrating their commitment, the Swoosh meticulously analyzed each component of the first two iterations, gaining invaluable insights from their most crucial audience: athletes.

Nike Alphafly Heritage

Following the Bowerman philosophy, “If you have a body, you are an athlete,” Nike collaborates closely with athletes at all levels for its performance products. For the Alphafly 3, the brand engaged with over 300 elite and everyday runners globally, covering more than 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometers) in testing—the most for any Nike Racing shoe. This intentional testing ensures the shoe can meet the diverse needs of runners throughout its lifecycle.

Crucially, women athletes played a vital role in developing the Nike Alphafly 3. Their feedback, more vocal than their male counterparts, influenced the incorporation of softer yarns in the Atomknit 3.0 upper, enhanced arch support, and improved toe protection. Ultimately, this input benefited all runners.

Nike Feedback

Nike’s “system of speed” in the shoe remains consistent, but the recipe has been adjusted for enhanced performance and comfort:

  • The ZoomX midsole, maintaining its original height, is now a continuous bottom connecting the heel and forefoot, addressing athlete feedback for smoother heel-to-toe transitions. The foam has been sculpted to reduce weight and guide foot strike.
  • The redesigned midsole allows runners to concentrate load on the forefoot Zoom Air bubbles, offering improved protection for the visible Air technology compared to the first two Alphaflys.
  • The full-length carbon fiber Flyplate retains its role, providing the same stable, propulsive sensation. In the Alphafly 3, the plate has been widened on the medial midfoot for enhanced stability.

Additional updates to the Alphafly 3 encompass:

  • Introduction of a new Fast Shot outsole for dependable traction and reduced weight.
  • Redesigned lacing system integrating eye stays into the Flyknit upper, enhancing the fit on the top of the foot.
  • Implementation of a new molded sockliner, last, and lofted Flyknit heel pods for increased comfort and support, minimizing rubbing and providing better foot accommodation.
  • Inclusion of Atomknit 3.0 uppers, delivering breathability and containment in a lightweight design.

Tech Specifications

In the entire Alphafly series, the Nike Alphafly 3 is Nike’s lightest. In a Men’s 10, it weighs 220 grams (7.7 ounces), while the Women’s 8 is 176 grams (6.2 ounces)—remarkably light for a record-breaking marathon shoe! The Men’s 10 adheres to the 40-millimeter stack height regulation by World Athletics, and additional stack height details from Nike are undisclosed. The shoe has an 8mm drop from heel to forefoot.

A Winner Already

The Alphafly 3 (“Dev 163”) was worn by top marathoners worldwide, during the 12-month World Athletics development cycle (December 2022 – December 2023). such as Conner Mantz (Houston Half Marathon), Suguru Osaka (Tokyo Marathon), and Nell Rojas (Boston Marathon).

The breakthrough came when Ethiopian-born Dutch runner Sifan Hassan secured the first position among women at the London Marathon, marking Nike’s third Alphafly victory in a World Marathon Major (there are six).

Sifan Hassan Left Eliud Kipchoge Center Kelvin Kiptum Right

Eliud Kipchoge, the pioneer of “super shoes,” raced in Dev 163 for the first time at the Berlin Marathon in September, securing a victory and adding to the Top 10 Fastest Marathon Performances.

The Alphafly 3 made history on October 8th, 2023, in Chicago. In his third marathon, 23-year-old Kelvin Kiptum broke Kipchoge’s world marathon record with a time of 2:00:35. Kiptum, previously using Vaporfly NEXT% 2, praised the Alphafly 3, stating, “this is it,” high praise from the current marathon world record holder.


What was the intention behind the Alphafly 3?

Bret Schoolmeester initiated the “super shoe” era with the original Vaporfly, pushing boundaries for the marathon. The Alphafly emerged to help athletes achieve extraordinary feats. The marathon fields now feature a mix of Vaporfly and Alphafly, leading to discussions with runners about hurdles preventing Alphafly use.

Our process starts with athlete feedback, addressing mechanical and biomechanical aspects. Runner input highlighted concerns in transition, comfort, and stability.

How does the AF3 maintain its energy while ensuring stability and a smoother heel-to-toe transition?

We’ve closely studied the processing and design of ZoomX foam, focusing on dialing in the proportions and compression ratio from the pre-form stage. Starting with the Vaporfly 3, our goal is to minimize weight while ensuring the right soft feeling. Additionally, we optimize the system, including the bag and Air pods’ placement, to provide runners with the ideal compression and return.

Are there any intentions to follow competitors and develop a shoe without being bound by World Athletics’ restrictions?

Certainly, it’s To Be Determined. We’ve been at the forefront of exploring that territory, not mimicking others. Pushing boundaries for athletes is ingrained in our DNA and will always be a part of our approach.

Would this shoe have reached its current state without the input of women?

No doubt. Women played a crucial role in shaping the shoe. This reflects a broader trend in our creation process, where women runners consistently provide vocal and articulate feedback, pushing us to improve. It’s not about wanting different things; it’s about holding us to a higher standard. When we meet those expectations, all runners benefit.

User Review

I’m not an elite runner, but I’ve logged 1,035 miles since 2020. This year, I recorded 569.6 miles, ran the Mexico City Marathon, and am eager to try the Alphafly 3. Bret assured me it benefits common runners, and after a 9.4-mile test, I agree. The shoe feels light, the knit upper is airy, and the visible Air setup provides an underfoot spring. The ZoomX foam feels softer and well-guided, aiding in fatigue. The “Prototype” colorway is a personal favorite. At $285, it’s an investment, but the durability justifies the cost. The Alphafly 3 is a remarkable shoe, and I’m excited for my future runs in it.

Nike Alphafly 3 Prototype User Review
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Jimmy McPherson

Jimmy McPherson

Jimmy is the former founder of Midwest Soles, a sneaker and streetwear reselling company. He's a current business student with a continued passion for sneakers and sneaker reselling.


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