For years, the “super shoe” discussion has been one heavily-dominated by Nike. Since the introduction of its Vaporfly Next% and Alphafly Next% in 2017, the brand’s carbon-infused footwear has been at the forefront of sporting innovation, and dressed the feet of countless record breakers along the way.
Despite adidas’ recent rise (see the Adios Pro 3) – and the likes of On and Saucony throwing their hats into the “super shoe” ring – the conversation always tends to find its way back to the brand with the Swoosh.
This season though, New Balance has emerged as a major player once again, after dropping its most advanced running shoe to-date in the FuelCell SuperComp Trainer – a silhouette that has the potential to change the running landscape as we know it.
Designed predominantly as a “daily training shoe,” the FuelCell SuperComp Trainer – which is available online now across Europe (with a US drop slated for late summer) – comes equipped with NB’s newest underfoot technology in the Energy Arc, which houses an arched carbon fiber plate between two layers of FuelCell Foam.
Here’s the catch: while the FuelCell SuperComp Trainer looks good and delivers (something I can vouch for), its stack height – 47mm at its highest point – makes it technically ineligible for athletes to wear on race day.
That being the case, we sat down with Chris Morfesi, Product Manager of Performance Running Footwear at New Balance, to find out more about the shoe, the tech inside it, and who exactly it’s targeted at.
Let’s start with the basics: can you tell us a little bit about the FuelCell SuperComp Trainer?
Our goal was to create a daily training solution. The trainer has a two-part FuelCell midsole with a cambered carbon fiber plate, while a large midsole void is strategically placed in order to maximize displacement and allow the plate to flatten out and then spring back into shape as the runner moves through their gait cycle. On the upper, we utilized a lace knit material that brings the breathable, lightweight material you’d want in a racing product, but with the creature comforts you’d want in a training shoe.
What makes the FuelCell SuperComp Trainer different from any other “super shoe”?
Access to our athletes and our Sports Research Lab has helped us create our pinnacle Energy Arc technology, but what really sets the Trainer apart are the additional benefits of the height of the shoe and the high rebound foam that provides runners with metabolic economy benefits. This can help a runner exert less energy throughout the course of their training run.
As a technically ineligible shoe, who’s it actually for?
The FuelCell SuperComp Trainer redefines what the everyday runner can expect from a high-performance training shoe. Today, 90% of runners race in some kind of “super shoe,” so to set all runners up for their best performance on race-day, the FuelCell SuperComp Trainer was created to provide maximum energy return and speed in a daily training model.
Was making an illegible race shoe the aim from the outset?
The goal of this shoe was to create an exceptional, technologically-advanced training product that any runner could benefit from on a training run. We wanted to bring superior energy return and energy storage to a product, so that come race-day, pros can lace up in other New Balance runners with the same Energy Arc technology and FuelCell, but within the legal race height requirements.
What’s the overall goal of the FuelCell SuperComp Trainer?
There were two primary goals with the trainer: we really wanted to take the features, technology, and design philosophy of our most elite racing product and bring it to the masses as an everyday training shoe, but we also wanted to push the boundaries of the FuelCell platform. We want the launch to validate us as leaders in performance innovations with runners and elite athletes alike.