By Helen Reid
LONDON (Reuters) - Adidas' newest running shoes, worn by Ethiopia's Tigist Assefa on Sunday to set a new women's marathon world record in Berlin, went on sale on Tuesday with an eye-watering price tag that will test the enthusiasm of amateur runners.
Adidas, its bigger rival Nike and other sports brands, have been locked in a "supershoe" war for years, since the first running shoes containing a thick, shock-absorbing foam and carbon fibre plate helping athletes run more efficiently, were released.
At $500 a pair, the Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1 cost $225 more than Nike's equivalent Alphafly 2, raising the question of how many amateur runners will swallow the extra cost.
"The price tag is just insane," said Harry Swinhoe, founder of Grove Lane Runners, an amateur running club in southeast London. "People will flock to it, but I wonder whether the average runner will really feel the benefit of the ultra-supershoe, versus the supershoe, or the normal shoe."
Weighing just 138 grams (5 ounces), the shoes are very light, but not durable. They're designed to be worn for a single marathon-distance race (42 kilometres, or 26 miles) and pre-race warmup, making the cost per mile at around $19 if, as Adidas says, runners must buy a new pair for each marathon.
"This is a shoe optimized for speed, versus durability," Adidas said. The retailer released just 521 pairs of the shoes on Tuesday, with a second drop planned for November.
Adidas is marketing them as world record breakers, with CEO Bjorn Gulden on Tuesday posting on his Instagram a photo of him and Assefa holding the shoe, with the caption: "Tigist Assefa... we are so proud of you!"
Assefa broke the world record by more than 2 minutes to finish in 2 hours, 11 minutes and 53 seconds.
(Reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Sharon Singleton)