In December I attended the global Boost launch in Germany, at the company’s HQ in Herzogenaurach, and I will admit to being ever so sceptical as the launch presentation began. I mean, when Eric Liedtke, Head of adidas global Sport Performance, compared their latest innovation in running shoe design to the first man walking on the moon in 1969, I couldn’t help but quietly raise an eyebrow in surprise. But he soon made his point, explaining that running in the new shoes feels more like bounding across the moon’s surface than any shoe has ever done before.
“With our new Boost foam, we are addressing a fundamental insight: Everyone wants more energy. Our revolutionary Boost cushioning foam provides the highest energy return in any running product,” he said. “We believe Energy Boost will reset the running industry and pave the way for all future performance footwear.”
PUT TO THE TEST
Soon I was standing in my socks on a platform of Boost foam built into the catwalk in the auditorium, bouncing up and down on my heels, then dropping this huge ball bearing they gave us to compare the lack of bounce-back from conventional foam rubber versus the high bounce-back from Boost. Then we got to strap on a pair of the new Energy Boost shoes and give them a test run, and that saw me running up and down an indoor test track – it was snowing outside, and the temperature was well below freezing, so I decided that running indoors was perhaps the better choice for this South African boytjie!
What I found was while you still get great heel cushioning on landing, you can feel the elasticity of the foam rubber and it helps to shoot you back up off your heels. Then, as you transition onto the forefoot, not only are you moving through the foot-strike a bit quicker, but you’re getting a slingshot up onto you toes. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying your feet are rocket-blasted off the ground again – no shoe is ever likely to achieve that, unless they can build mini rocket engines into the soles one day – but there is definitely more ‘push-back’ by the shoes.
Admittedly, with a thicker section of Boost foam in the heel and a low-profile forefoot, the shoe will not give quite as much energy-return to forefoot strikers like myself, but even I could feel a difference in springiness when I ran up on my toes. And when I deliberately planted my heels, I definitely felt the springiness! (Now I can just imagine hordes of South African ultra-marathon runners thinking to themselves, “Yes please, I’ll have some of that for when my legs have had it and my feet feel like they’re stuck to the ground in the last 20 kays!”)
Boost foam rubber comes in 10% lighter than conventional foam rubber, but it’s not about weight in this shoe, it’s about energy-return. I also really liked the upper design, which is mostly breathable mesh that offers a sock-like fit, but with the same adidas Techfit technology currently used in form-hugging adidas clothing, featuring elastic polyurethane powerbands that provide optimal comfort and support. It makes for a great fit.
The development process of Boost saw the adidas team go looking for a new rubber compound that would provide great cushioning while also springing back to provide superior energy-return, and also maintain it’s shape and elasticity for many kilometres, i.e. durability. After testing some 25 different materials, they found what they were looking for… in their cars. You see, the foam rubber compound made by leading chemical company BASF for the seats of Mercedes Benz and Audi cars proved to be exactly what they were looking for.
BASF literally blows solid granular foam material (TPU) up to turn it into thousands of small energy capsules, and these are now being moulded together to form the distinctive Boost midsole. With their unique cell structure, these capsules store and unleash energy more efficiently in every stride. And the durability of this new material has also proven to be superior to conventional foam rubber, so these shoes will go the distance.
GO GET IT
The Energy Boost is the first shoe from adidas to feature the new Boost material, and they plan to roll out a full range of ‘Boosted’ shoes later in the year. Available at adidas Concept Stores at R???. Visit www.adidasrunning.co.za for more information.