Manager, Run Performance
Evan Day’s journey in biomechanics started as an 18-year-old participating in a treadmill study at Iowa State University. Captivated by the blend of sports, medicine, and human motion, Day shifted his focus from sports medicine to biomechanics. Eventually earning his Doctorate in Biomechanics from the University of Oregon, he joined Brooks as Run Research Manager.
Faced with personal foot issues like a recurring bunion and Haglund’s deformity, Day contributed significantly to the development of the Ghost Max running shoe. Designed as a “solution shoe,” it targets common comfort issues and accommodates various foot ailments like bunions, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis. The shoe aims to guide individuals into their optimal gait, correcting imbalances in motion.
Day and his team of biomechanical experts, perception researchers, and data scientists at Brooks spent 18 months perfecting the shoe. They fine-tuned various aspects, from metatarsal reinforcement for forefoot problems to heel and ankle padding. The design incorporated years of laboratory findings, runner feedback, and clinical data. Multiple iterations were tested in both real-world and laboratory settings, receiving the ultimate approval only when endorsed by test subjects.
After rigorous testing and tweaks, the Ghost Max shoe received a green light from the lab team, satisfying Day’s quest for a shoe built with “integrity and intention” to protect people. The project, according to Day, was a “total blast,” embodying the seamless integration of biomechanics, user feedback, and deliberate design to enhance comfort and performance.
Director, Run Research Lab
Jen Sumner, head of Brooks’ Run Research lab and holder of a PhD in kinesiology, has dedicated her career to optimizing human movement through footwear. Guided by a childhood interest sparked by her sight-impaired brother’s mobility challenges, she chose a career blending biomedical engineering with kinesiology. Sumner joined Brooks in 2017, finding a culture that highly values movement science and has a workforce rich in qualified women.
Sumner led a team of 23 researchers, amassing 193 years of combined experience, in the development of the Ghost Max shoe. The shoe was designed to support individuals in their “habitual motion path,” a concept that respects the unique biomechanics of each person. Unlike previous approaches, which attempted to steer wearers into a specific gait, this shoe aimed to facilitate natural movement.
The team carried out 33 human movement capture collections, tested 160 pairs of shoes on people aged 16 to 75 who collectively ran 13,000 miles, and analyzed 445 user surveys. The final Ghost Max design balanced various needs—sufficient room for orthotic inserts, less flexibility for better energy transfer, and unique cushioning characteristics. It underwent multiple iterations to perfect details from shock absorption to stack height.
For Sumner, the Ghost Max is more than just a shoe; it’s a tribute to her late brother and a win for people who value locomotion in all its forms. The project symbolizes the perfect blend of science, human-centered design, and inclusivity, aiming to suit everyone from the fitness fanatic to the casual jogger.
Director, North American Footwear Development
Zach Boteilho, once a competitive runner, changed his relationship with running after undergoing a major knee surgery. This personal experience gave him unique insight into the needs of everyday runners and walkers, influencing his role as the head of North American Footwear Development at the Brooks Research Lab. Over 15 years, Boteilho was instrumental in the creation of various shoe models, but the Ghost Max, launched in Fall 2023, is his proudest achievement.
Designed as a universal shoe for comfort and prevention of foot issues, the Ghost Max is aimed at a broad spectrum of users.
Boteilho’s passion for footwear began during his undergraduate studies in creative writing, leading him to the Run Research Lab at Brooks after working for an athletic footwear company. His role involves global partnerships and overseeing the entire shoe construction process, ensuring a focus on fit, feel, and ride that respects individual biomechanics. Boteilho’s athletic background includes winning numerous track and field titles, running up to 100 miles a week, and completing the Boston Marathon despite his knee issues.
His reduced running capacity made the Ghost Max’s features—stability, smooth gait, and comfort—especially resonant. The shoe’s creation involved sculpting a foot last based on extensive biomechanic data. Boteilho believes the Ghost Max provides a different, yet fulfilling, running experience, aligning with his personal journey from a competitive to an everyday runner.