Polyurethane experts from Huntsman have collaborated with running shoe specialist Joe Nimble and Footwear Innovation Lab GmbH on an innovation project – a revolutionary, high-performance running shoe. Joe Nimble’s Ultreya, which launches this week with a limited edition drop, offer extra comfort to marathon and long-distance runners, and can help minimize the risk of pain and injury.
Designed by Joe Nimble founder, Sebastian Bär, alongside acclaimed biomechanics expert Lee Saxby, Ultreya shoes have a unique design that helps protect the feet of serious runners, who can typically cover around 40 miles per week. While conventional running shoes restrict the toes and prevent their natural anchoring and stabilizing function, Ultreya utilizes Joe Nimble’s toefreedom® technology into the shoe-last design to increase stability of the foot in motion. With a wider, anatomically correct toe box that provides a natural stabilizing function during the ground contact phase of running, muscles are protected from overuse.
Adding extra comfort and performance-enhancing potential, Ultreya running shoes feature a high energy return polyurethane midsole. Based on a special dual density DALTOPED® polyurethane system from Huntsman – named nmblFOAM® by Joe Nimble – this technology delivers a running shoe with physiologically balanced cushioning and zero heel elevation. The DALTOPED® system has also enabled Joe Nimble to radically simplify the manufacture of the shoes – eliminating key production steps.
Explaining more, Johan Van Dyck, Global Application Development Manager at Huntsman, said: “It’s always a pleasure to work with Sebastian and his team, and our colleagues at Footwear Innovation Lab; and it is very exciting to be part of a project where the science of running and the biometrics of the feet are translated so closely into the design and construction of a shoe and its sole. The unique, dynamic performance that our DALTOPED® polyurethane system delivers to Ultreya shoes will have a huge impact on runners worldwide and is further evidence of the incomparable opportunities that polyurethanes can enable in footwear – going far beyond what other soling materials can offer.”
Lee Saxby said: “Mother Nature provided humans with a well-padded and well-rounded heel bone for a reason; to maximize shock absorption and ensure a smooth rolling transition to the foot-flat phase of the gait. The geometry of Ultreya shoes supports this and the polyurethane midsole – made using Huntsman’s technology – provides extra cushioning to propel the wearer into the propulsive phase of running. It’s a powerful combination that enables Joe Nimble to deliver on its mission of creating running shoes that can help facilitate pain-free running, for life.”
Continuing, Sebastian Bär, Head of Joe Nimble, said: “The idea for our Ultreya shoes arose while watching runners compete in the Badwater® Ultra Marathon – which claims to be the world’s toughest footrace. I was the crew captain for top ten runners twice at the race and noticed how many elite athletes cut open the front of their running shoes to give their toes more freedom. This led me to introduce our toefreedom® technology into a pair of trainers for the first time.”
“When it came to making first samples of the Ultreya, I knew Huntsman and Footwear Innovation Lab would deliver again from a materials and manufacturing perspective, and they did. Huntsman’s foam is key to the comfort and performance of the shoe, which I can personally testify to having run the 2021 Berlin Marathon in a prototype pair. Using Huntsman’s polyurethane system and the latest automated manufacturing techniques provided by Footwear Innovation Lab, we’ve created a shoe, locally in Europe, that uses less energy, less water, less solvents and less labor and has smaller transportation footprint. This exciting collaboration and product launch proves that with the right approach, the correct materials and methods, and the best team, it is possible to create shoes that can avoid the running related pain and injuries associated with repetitive impact and shock absorption.”
Jens Schmidt of Footwear Innovation Lab, said: “Our aim was to define a new perspective in running shoes - combining extraordinary material characteristics, bio mechanical expertise and a unique design with modern production methods. This goal has been achieved by the team, using the newest production methods and cutting-edge materials.”
The first drop of Ultreya shoes was manufactured in Portugal; with Joe Nimble planning to produce wider runs of the trainers in Pirmasens, Germany from Autumn 2022. Pirmasens is located around 300 miles (500kms) from Deggendorf, where Huntsman produces its DALTOPED® footwear systems; and less than 100 miles from Ludwigsburg, where Joe Nimble is headquartered.