You wouldn’t need to be running’s own Sherlock Holmes to have noticed a shoe that’s featuring rather prominently in the distance events at the 2023 World Championships. It’s bright pink, and it’s called the Nike ZoomX Dragonfly.
In many ways, it is the track spike equivalent of Nike’s record-breaking Vaporfly. It has a carbon plate, ZoomX foam and a propensity to hoover up world records like an anteater.
They adorned the feet of Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay on her way to winning 10,000m gold (incidentally, the Netherlands’ Siffan Hassan was also wearing them, but of course fell a few metres from the finish line). Meanwhile, the podium finishers in the men’s 10,000m – Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei, Kenya’s Daniel Ebenyo and Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega – all looked to be wearing the Dragonfly too.
To confuse the issue slightly, there are other bright pink Nike spikes on show in the shorter distances: the Air Zoom Victory is on the feet of many middle-distance runners, suited as it is to distances of 800m to 5,000m, and there’s a Air Zoom MaxFly version popular with sprinters too.
While all these spikes are designed with elite racing in mind, it’s probably the Dragonfly – built for 5k and 10k racing – that has the most application for the keen amateur runner.
Running in the Nike ZoomX Dragonfly
So what is it about the spike that makes it so special? First, it’s extremely light, weighing in at just 125g. Second, it has a full-length carbon plate, encased within Nike’s lauded ZoomX foam.
Having narrowly missed out on the qualification standard for the World Championships, I headed to the local track with Dragonflies in hand and a point to prove.
I can report back that the shoe give you real sense of propulsion underfoot, particularly when you’re pushing the pace. The Dragonfly fits true to size and there’s a welcome amount of room in the forefoot, as well as a nice amount of foam underfoot – more so than in regular track spikes. That said, non-elites will likely be comfortable running in it for distances of 5000m or less. The £159.95 price-tag may deter all but the most ardent PB-seekers, too, but if you are in the market for marginal gains, the Dragonfly delivers.
Alas, I'm required to inform you that becoming the next Gudaf Tsegay or Joshua Cheptegei will also require a serious amount of hard training, mostly at altitude, and a life of discipline and self-sacrifice. But still, you could always start with the shoes…