New Balance engineered the FuelCell 5280 for one purpose: running a mile. Built like a track spike but optimized for pavement, the 5280 delivers exactly what road milers need, says Danny Orr, who worked on the shoe for New Balance’s Innovation Team.
“If you look at the marathon, the focus is on improving an athlete’s efficiency,” Orr says in a New Balance release about the shoe. “In the mile, yes that efficiency improvement is beneficial as it plays a role in the key element, which is improving an athlete’s speed and power.”
The Innovation Team started testing midsole shapes for the shoe in July 2017, and they reworked the formulation for their FuelCell foam to coax better energy return from it. Then they experimented with plastic and carbon fiber plates to improve propulsion and brought in lightweight fabrics for the upper.
Simpson, Jake Wightman and other New Balance athletes began testing prototypes that November.