Inside the Nike Pacific Running Summit

Inside the Nike Pacific Running Summit

Over the last two days, Nike brought together the paragons of Australia’s running community for a celebration of all things running at the first ever Nike Pacific Running Summit. Men’s Health was there to test the latest innovations, get an inside look at the gear that will be lighting up the track in Paris next month, and to discover what separates Nike from the pack

“RUNNING IS NIKE’S BUSINESS” are the words Nike Pacific EKIN Manager Michael ‘Osto’ Osten uses to welcome Men’s Health, the media, athletes, podcasters, run club founders and anyone else with an ounce of influence in the running world to the inaugural Nike Pacific Running Summit in Melbourne. Looking around the hallowed halls of Nike HQ, it’s hard to disagree with him.

In the blur of my peripheries, the silhouettes of Phil Knight, Steve Prefontaine and Bill Bowerman, the chief innovators of Nike’s earlier years, adorn the screens lining nearly every wall in sight. Propped up on every spare surface are tangible examples of Nike’s modern innovation. And back at the QT Hotel, where Nike hosted guests during the summit, the very same ‘swift suit’ worn by Cathy Freeman as she claimed gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics sits on display. You will hear no objections from me: running is well and truly Nike’s business.

Utterly engrossed in the world of Nike and its latest triumphs as I was, it’s not difficult to discern how I came to take that view. But the belief that Nike is at the top of its game is not isolated to a lone Men’s Health writer; it’s a sentiment echoed by various athletes who made appearances throughout the summit.

There’s Sinead Diver, the Australian record holder in the women’s marathon, who has defied the odds throughout her career, all while wearing Nikes – a point she’s eager to share. Three-time Paralympic medallist Jaryd Clifford also credits Nike gear for helping him overcome every obstacle ever thrown at him. But it’s perhaps the freshly crowned Australian 200-metre champion and Olympic hopeful, Calab Law, who best captures the appeal of being a Nike athlete.

“I’ve never sprinted in anything but Nike since I was like 11,” Law, who has been a Nike athlete since 2022, tells Men’s Health. “I’ve just always felt like they make the best gear and shoes. Plus, knowing Nike’s history and about every other athlete that’s been apart of Nike, it’s super cool to be in that group of people.”

Nike Running Summit

It is appropriate that Law mentions Nike making the “best gear” because the opening day of the running summit on June 5th overlapped with two highly anticipated events. The first, Global Running Day. The second, the release of the Nike Pegasus 41. This was no coincidence, and fittingly, attendees of the summit had a chance to put the Pegasus 41s (which Nike reps call ‘Peg41s’) through their paces.

There’s something about a shoe having a large number next to its name that lends a heightened level of prestige to it. And few shoes come close to the level of iterations as the Pegasus, which has received almost yearly updates since its first release in 1982. For those doing the math, yes, 1982 was 42 years ago. And no, Nike hasn’t miscounted. The first Pegasus received a limited release in 1982, but became widely available in 1983, 41 years ago. These are the kind of fun facts you learn at a Nike Running Summit, and if Nike history ever pops up as a category at a trivia night, I’m prepared to dominate with knowledge like that tucked away in the recesses of my mind.

We’ve digressed. Let’s get back to the Pegasus 41s. You might assume that all Nike has to do with a massively successful line like the Pegasus is slap a new colourway on the model, add a new number beside its name and call it a day, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Throughout its 42-year history (that’s right, 42), the Pegasus has been fine-tuned to keep up with the latest footwear innovations, all while responding to consumer demands and insights from elite athletes.

So, how does the Pegasus 41 improve upon previous iterations, you ask? For one, it’s the first shoe in the Pegasus line to feature ReactX foam, which takes shape in a full-length foam midsole. This boosts the Peg41’s sustainability, durability and responsiveness. According to Nike, the ReactX foam provides 13 per cent more energy return than the foam used in the Pegasus 40. Its carbon footprint is also reduced, clocking in at 43 per cent less than previous versions of the foam.

Nike Running Summit

The Pegasus 41 also utilises Air Zoom units in both the forefoot and heel for supreme cushioning. This is an upgrade from the Peg40. The Peg41 was designed to improve the ride for its wearers, resulting in a shoe that responds to your foot, adapts to its shape and provides cushioning and comfort where you need it most.

This all looks good on paper, but what about in practise? To put the Peg41s to the test, the entire running summit menagerie took to Melbourne’s Olympic Park Oval, the training ground of Collingwood Football Club, for a road test.

Beginning our test session, a trainer split runners into two groups. Runners in the first group would complete laps of Olympic Park Oval at their own pace, while the second would take part in what I first believed to be called ‘fart dick’. As it turns out, the term is actually ‘fort deg’, which is Norwegian for ‘speed up’. It’s a gruelling system of running training that involves frequently fluctuating between fast and relaxed paces, with little time to catch your breath in between. I checked afterwards, and the Norwegian pronunciation already sounds a lot like fart dick, but it was the Australian twang of our trainer that completed the salacious/gross misinterpretation.

I lasted around ten minutes in fart dick (sorry, fort deg) and was immediately struck by how comfortable the Peg41s are. Typically, telling people “I’m trying a new running shoe’ is simply another way of saying “I’m up to my eyeballs in blisters right now”, that’s not the case with the Peg41s, which are as comfortable as they are responsive – which I’m certain is what allowed me to keep up with the pack for as long as I did.

Nike Running Summit

The summit didn’t end there. Back at Nike HQ, I’m given a crash course in the cutting-edge innovation that has gone into preparing Nike gear for the 2024 Paris Olympics, as well as an ultra-secretive sneak peak into what the future of Nike running holds. So secretive was this sneak peak that phones were confiscated before anyone was allowed into a dimly lit room holding the shoes that will likely be on the feet of record breakers in the coming years – I only hope I haven’t violated any regulations in saying that.

“The future of running is bright” is how Nike Pacific Senior Marketing Director Andrew Keith closes the Nike Pacific Running Summit. Given what I’ve seen over the past two days, I’m inclined to agree.


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By Cayle Reid

Cayle Reid is a fan of everything sports and fitness. He spends his free time at the gym, on his surfboard or staying up late watching sports in incompatible time zones.

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