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Nike says its $250 running shoes will make you run much faster

If a running shoe made you 25 percent faster, would it be fair to wear it in a race? What about 10 percent? Or 2 percent? The Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% — a bouncy, expensive shoe released to the public one year ago — raises these questions like no shoe in recent distance running history.

Nike says the shoes are about 4 percent better than some of its best racing shoes, as measured by how much energy runners spend when running in them. That is an astonishing claim, an efficiency improvement worth almost 6 minutes to a 3-hour marathoner, or about 8 minutes to a 4-hour marathoner.

And it may be an accurate one, according to a new analysis by The New York Times of race data from about 500,000 marathon and half marathon running times since 2014.

Using public race reports and shoe records from Strava, a fitness app that calls itself the social network for athletes, The Times found that runners in Vaporflys ran 3 percent to 4 percent faster than similar runners wearing other shoes, and more tha…

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