Nike (NYSE:NKE) unveiled a sneaker Thursday that it bills as its softest and lightest yet, thanks to a new cushioning innovation, described as soft and springy but also squishy and stable, the company developed for basketball players last July. The Nike Epic React Flyknit running shoe is geared toward runners, providing a shoe option that’s lightweight and long-lasting, with better cushioning and a better energy return, the company said in a press release. It costs $150. High-profile athletes, including former Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, crossfit athlete Mat Fraser and Australian soccer player Patrick Dangerfield have endorsed the shoe in ad campaigns on Instagram. Nike analyzed athlete data, studying how they moved through pressure maps that showed where athletes need support, cushioning and traction. From there, elite and amateur runners tested the shoe in more than 17,000 miles of running. Some runners unknowingly tested shoes that had been worn for at least 500 miles, and when they returned, were asked how many miles they thought the shoes had one them; the highest guess was 100, and the lowest was 15 miles. “Over that span, our weartesters consistently told us that Nike React made them want to run more often,” Ernest Kim, the director of advanced footwear at Nike Running, said in the release. “My favorite bit of feedback came from a wear tester who said of running in the Nike Epic React: ‘It felt fun — it makes you want to run.’” After the new shoe was released, company shares were hovering around $67, part of a steady rise since its October Investor Day conference that was held to belie concerns about falling sales in North America, layoffs and a restructuring plan and increased competition from its rivals, including Adidas. Adidas shares are currently trading at $181.70.
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