Following the competition success of Nike's Alphafly NEXT% and Alphafly 2, the shoe is designed to cater for both professional athletes and everyday runners across a range of abilities.
A prototype version of the Alphafly 3 was on the feet of Kenyan athlete Kelvin Kiptum when he completed the Chicago Marathon last month in the world-record time of two hours and 35 seconds.
In line with World Athletics rules, a development version of the Alphafly 3 has been trialled among elite runners since December 2022 but it is only now being officially released by Nike.
According to the brand, the Alphafly 3 is a continuation of the original Alphafly shoe worn by Eliud Kipchoge when he became the first person to run a marathon in under two hours in an unofficial event in 2019, with changes aimed at improving stability, comfort and propulsion.
Its primary configuration consists of a chunky ultra-light ZoomX foam midsole, dual Air Zoom cushion units to absorb impact and a stabilising carbon-fibre Flyplate embedded within the sole.
In a change from its predecessors, the high-stack midsole is extended as one continuous bottom connecting the heel and front of the foot, intended to create more seamless heel-to-toe transitions.
Nike carved the ZoomX foam to reduce overall shoe weight and to concentrate foot load onto the Air Zoom units towards the front.
It also selected lighter Flyknit yarns in the upper and outsole to further reduce the Alphafly 3's material weight, helping make it the lightest shoe in the series.
The shoe's lacing system is redesigned for a softer top-of-foot fit and integrates more padding support into the heel and lower achilles compared to earlier Alphafly iterations.
According to Nike, the Alphafly 3 is its most extensively tested super shoe and was informed by feedback from the largest pool of women athletes that the brand has ever used for racing shoe research.
The brand credits this increased gender diversity in the testing development with major improvements to the shoe's arch support, toe protection and material comfort.
The Alphafly 3 is the latest product to emerge in the trend for running super shoes as brands to compete to see their sponsored athletes run the first official sub-two-hour marathon.
Notable previous super shoes have included the Nike Vaporfly Elite, which was the first time the brand used its ZoomX foam and carbon-fibre plate combination and was used for Kipchoge's unsuccessful first attempt to run an unofficial marathon in under two hours in 2017.
In an apparent reference to Adidas's most recent super shoe, the single-use Adizero Adios Evo Pro 1, Nike has sought to emphasise the Alphafly 3's durability, claiming that the shoe is tested at a minimum of 200 miles (322 kilometres).
The prototype colourway of the Nike Alphafly 3 will be available from 4 January 2024.
Nike has also recently released a colourful Flyknit trainer for young children and explored "circularity and connectivity" in shoe manufacturing during Milan design week.
The photography is courtesy of Nike.