A Warwickshire firm which works with the British Army to develop tough sports footwear has become the first in the world to launch a running shoe designed to last 1,000 miles.
UK Gear has created the PT-1000 shoe after eight years of development and rigorous testing which has seen 40 British Army fitness instructors run thousands of miles to test the firm’s claims.
The shoes were worn by Captain Barry Stoddard, who recently broke the world record for completing a half marathon with a 40lb backpack, during his training for the event.
UK Gear chief executive David Hinde said the shoe was the first of its technically advanced products the ten-strong company would be launching on the high street.
“It’s a performance product not a fashion product,” he said. “The problem that we see is there is a big grey area between a running shoe and a shoe that looks like a running shoe.”
UK Gear’s association with the army goes back several years, with the first shoe born from the unique collaboration launched in 2004, named the PT-03.
The PT-03 was the first commercial product to earn the distinguished right to bear the British Army’s crossed swords insignia.
Mr Hinde said: “We decided we wanted to move into footwear and were trying to think of an organisation that was serious about physical fitness and did not compromise on the standards of equipment they used. We couldn’t think of anyone else other than the Army.
“We asked them if they wanted to help us develop a training shoe that could withstand the rigours of military training on the basis of if it’s good enough for the army it’s good enough for the general public.”
Since then UK Gear, which manufactures its shoes in Vietnam, has succeeded in selling its products to various military organisations around the world, including the US Army.
Because UK Gear has a contract with the British Army, soldiers in the UK also benefit from any sales of its shoes.
“We sell the product back into different militaries around the world and also sell it to the general public,” said Mr Hinde. “The Army receives a royalty for any product we sell which goes back into equipment for the army.”
Mr Hinde said the PT-1000 was designed to fill what the firm saw as a gap in the market for ultra-durable running footwear. “Most running shoes are retired at 350 miles,” he said.