If you want to race like a pro, consider running a few miles in a pro’s shoes. By lacing up a pair of Zoot’s new energetic Ultra Kiawe racing flats ($120, Zootsports.com), you’ll be wearing slick kicks built to the exact specs of Spain’s Javier Gomez, the silver medalist at the 2012 Olympics.
That might not guarantee you’ll close with your best run splits of the summer, but you’ll definitely feel fast. The 6.8-ounce bright yellow racing flats were developed over the past 18 months specifically for the two-time ITU world champion, but also included design input from American pros Jordan Rapp and Heather Jackson.
The process started with Zoot footwear director Dave Jewell grilling Gomez on what he liked and disliked about each of the models he had raced in for the past several years. Gomez’s top priorities weren’t weight, footbed height or flexibility, but a snug, all-encompassing fit and super-grippy outsole for cornering at top speed.
Given the nature of the run loop courses in ITU races and this summer’s Olympics in London—which have 180-degree turns and little margin for error—Gomez told Zoot he needed a semi-firm racer he could rely on in all conditions. (In 2011, Gomez stormed to victory in an ITU race in Sydney after Great Britain’s Alistair Brownlee slipped on wet pavement.)
After a half-dozen prototypes, Zoot had made Gomez his ideal shoe. So far, so good: The 29-year-old Spaniard won the Nautica South Beach Triathlon on April 1 in Miami wearing a pair of Ultra Kiawes. He then raced to an Olympic silver medal in London in the same shoes.
“He wanted a lively shoe that fit as if it were part of his foot, and that would have no loss of energy around corners,” Jewell said. “And with his help, that’s what we built.”
The Ultra Kiawe, which has a 6mm heel-toe drop, will be sold with both regular laces and elastic one-pull racing laces.
Did you know? To achieve the foot security Gomez demanded, Zoot ditched its typical elastic quick-closing upper in favor of this more standard lace setup, but its seamless inner liner remains intact.