This past weekend was a historic one in the world of running and sports in general. Not only did Eliud Kipchoge break the 2-hour marathon barrier, but Kenyan runner Brigid Kosgei also set a new women’s world record, finishing the 2019 Chicago Marathon with a time of 2:14:04. Kosgei broke the record while wearing the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%, while Kipchoge completed his feat in a future model of the NEXT%, slated to release in February 2020.

Running has always been deeply embedded in Nike’s DNA, but they went the extra mile leading up to the 2019 Chicago Marathon. Activations included a series of pop-up races throughout the city, workshops at NikeLab Chicago Re-Creation Center c/o Virgil Abloh and more, all while continuing to support and sponsor local run clubs such as Windrunners and Second City Track Club.

Below is a recap of a couple of the activations that Nike held in our hometown this weekend to continue to fuel the running culture in Chicago.

Blue Ribbon Sports: Coast to Coast Pop-Up

Before adopting the name of the Greek goddess of victory, Nike was known as Blue Ribbon Sports. In the early days, BRS employees served athletes in the community by driving around and selling inventory from the back of their cars. BRS then opened its first retail door in January 1967 at 3107 Pico Blvd in Santa Monica, California, which served as a destination for runners until 1969. Nike re-opened the original BRS location in January earlier this year.

3107 Pico Blvd
As a homage to their roots, Nike has taken a BRS-branded VW ID. BUZZ CARGO across the country, starting its journey from the BRS location in Santa Monica. This VW is an all-electric version of the second-generation Volkswagen Type 2 Bus that Jeff Johnson, Nike’s first employee, used for product deliveries as he served athletes in the Los Angeles area.

The VW popped up in Chicago on Saturday, and NikePlus members who visited it were able to unlock exclusive footwear via the Nike SNKRS app. The offerings included two classic running silhouettes: the Cortez ’72 and Pegasus Turbo 2. Each BRS-exclusive shoe pays homage to Nike’s heritage with the iconic orange color palette and BRS logo. On the heel, it reads “1 of 3107”, signifying the shoes’ limited run, but also serving as an homage to Nike’s first retail address: 3107 Pico Blvd.

Nike Cortez ’72 ‘Blue Ribbon Sports’
Nike Pegasus Turbo 2 ‘Blue Ribbon Sports’

The Blue Ribbon Sports: Coast to Coast Pop-Up will make its last stop in New York City on October 15. See additional coverage of the Chicago BRS pop-up over at Her Notoriety.

Focus on Fast: NEXT% at Notre

Chris Cook and Joe Holder at Notre Chicago

Nike’s fastest running shoe to date, the ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%, was celebrated with a live conversation at Notre Chicago with Chris Cook, one of the developers of the shoe, along with Nike Master Trainer Joe Holder and Nike+ Run Club coach Steve Finley.

Cook gave insight on the evolution of the Vaporfly series, starting from the first prototype developed in 2016, and touched on each year’s iteration, including the current NEXT% and the future model worn by Kipchoge. Attendees learned how the incorporation of ZoomX foam technology provides more elastic rebound, allowing for a greater amount of energy from your previous stride to be recycled and used on your next stride. Cook also mentioned how the incorporation of a carbon-fiber plate prevents loss of energy. If the joint of your foot bends too much, you lose some energy, so a stiff plate helps retain that energy.

He also told stories about his working relationship with Kipchoge, which started in 2011. Cook and his team would send the latest prototypes to Kipchoge’s PO box in Kenya, which worked out well since both Kipchoge and Nike’s prototype size are a US10. Kipchoge would then take the shoes out for a run and send detailed feedback emails to Cook. These emails were instrumental to the development of the NEXT%.

Notre’s FOCUS ON FAST installation, featuring a deconstructed ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%.

Following Cook’s presentation, Joe Holder and Steve Finley spoke on how health and wellness can be viewed as a design concept: the same way you can design a shoe, you design a person through nutrition, mindset, and physical training.

Additional coverage of the Notre x Nike Chicago Focus on Fast event can be found on our sister site, Her Notoriety.


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