By Brian Metzler
The 127th Boston Marathon on April 17 will feature arguably the fastest and deepest men’s and women’s elite fields the race has ever assembled. It will also feature the fastest crop of marathon racing shoes ever assembled, too. Is that a recipe for the men’s (2:03:02) and women’s (2:19:59) course records to fall? It certainly seems so! Here’s a look at some of the most prominent models that will be racing on the feet of elites and recreational runners from Hopkinton to Boston on Marathon Monday. Whether or not you follow the race results of the world’s best runners, you’re definitely going to be interested in the shoes on their feet.
Weights: 6.4 oz. (women’s 8), 7.8 oz. (men’s 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 6.5mm heel-toe drop (39.5mm in the heel, 33mm in the forefoot)
Unlike some of the other super shoes mentioned here, the Adizero Adios Pro 3 doesn’t produce an excessively bouncy feeling. Instead, it provides more of a rolling sensation—buttery smooth and super-quick transitions from landing to toe-off, no matter how or where your foot hits the ground. From its first iteration, the Adizero Adios Pro incorporated a skeleton of carbon-fiber rods in its midsole instead of a carbon-fiber plate to maximize energy return. Those EnergyRods are now encapsulated into a more cohesive unit, beginning in a connected structure in the heel before spreading out in the forefoot under the metatarsals. The bottom line is that it’s lighter, more stable and faster than ever before.
Approximate Weights: 6.1 ounces (women’s 8), 7.2 ounces (men’s 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 5mm (39mm in the heel, 34mm in the forefoot)
Approximate Weights: 6.4 ounces (women’s 8), 7.4 ounces (men’s 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm (39mm in the heel, 31mm in the forefoot)
The updated Metaspeed Sky+ and Metaspeed Edge+ both have thicker FlightFoam Blast Turbo midsole, a new, more pliable engineered mesh upper and adjusted positioning of the carbon-fiber propulsion plates. While analyzing stride data from thousands of runners, ASICS determined the “stride style” runner needed the plate to be placed higher, to allow for the greater compression of the foam during toe-off to gain higher bounce. The “cadence style” runner needed the plate to be lower and more forward to help maintain the tempo and promote easier roll-forward motion. The Metaspeed Sky+ has 4 percent more foam in the midsole, while the Metaspeed Edge+ has 16 percent more cushioning. Both are cushy shoes, but it’s the location of the foam relative to the position of the plates that is the differentiating factor for each gait style.
Approximate Weights: 5.8 ounces (women’s 8), 6.5 ounces (men’s 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm (40mm in the heel, 32mm in the forefoot)
The top-tier racing shoe from Brooks hasn’t earned stellar reviews, if only because it doesn’t provide the same level of propulsion as some of its peers. Yet, Des Linden has raced in it just fine on numerous occasions, including setting a new world record in the 50K in 2021. However, Linden also raced the New York City Marathon on the yet-to-be-released Hyperion Elite 4 (which is expected to become widely available later this year) and will likely be racing in it on Monday.
Approximate Weights: 6.7 ounces (women’s 8), 8.2 ounces (men’s 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 5mm (40mm in the heel, 35mm in the forefoot)
After several years in the making, the Rocket X 2 has finally arrived for recreational runners. Built with a responsive, full-length Peba foam midsole and the engaging combination of a carbon-fiber plate and Hoka’s meta-rocker geometry, it feels fast, light and very lively. It debuted a year ago in Boston on the feet of Hoka-sponsored elites and was also seen in the Chicago Marathon, New York City Marathon, and the Ironman World Championships last year. It debuted to the public this spring to rave reviews. It’s by far the most energetic shoe Hoka has ever made, one that finally puts the brand on par with the super shoes Nike, Adidas, Saucony and ASICS for more than three years.
Approximate Weights: 6.4 ounces (women’s 8), 7.6 ounces (men’s 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 4mm (40mm in the heel, 36mm in the forefoot)
New Balance is back in the road racing game. The first two versions of this shoe were called the RC Elite, but now it’s the SuperComp Elite 3. With the name change, there’s also an improved upper and a much improved feeling of propulsion in every stride. The SC Elite incorporates New Balance’s Energy Arc technology (carbon-fiber plate and a dual-density FuelCell supercritical EVA/TPU midsole foam) on a platform that is 5mm wider at the heel for more stability and 5mm narrower at the forefoot for greater agility. Faster, smoother and more nimble, it’s by far the best super shoe New Balance has ever built. (And Emily Sisson proved that last fall in Chicago by lowering the American record in the marathon to 2:18:29.)
Approximate Weights: 5.3 ounces (women’s 8), 6.5 ounces (men’s 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm (40 mm in the heel, 32 mm in the forefoot)
Nike’s latest super shoe release is coming in hot! Released in mid-March, the revamped Vaporfly racing shoe feels lighter and bouncier than ever, thanks in part to less forefoot rubber. The new version continues to feature the hyper-responsive ZoomX midsole foam with a full-length carbon fiber propulsion plate embedded in the middle. The new lightweight airy Flyknit upper allows the shoe to fit better and feel better than the previous version.
Approximate Weights: 6.1 ounces (women’s 8), 7.5 ounces (men’s 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm (40mm in the heel, 32mm in the forefoot)
The updated version of the shoe Eliud Kipchoge wore to run a 1:59:40 marathon in the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in 2019, the Next% 2 is lighter, provides more energy return, and has better long-run cushioning than the original. A complement to Nike’s long-striding Vaporfly Next% shoes, the Alphafly Next% shoes are designed for cadence runners with shorter strides. Compared to the original Alphafly Next%, the Alphafly Next% 2 is a bit firmer and more stable, more breathable and snugger-fitting, too.
Approximate Weights: 5.8 ounces (women’s 8), 7.6 ounces (men’s 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 10mm (38mm in the heel, 28mm in the forefoot)
Firm and responsive, the vastly improved Cloudboom Echo 3 has been revamped with a new CloudTec bottom unit made from Helion X1 Perform and a full carbon speed board sandwiched between the midsole layers. This shoe won’t launch for wide-spread distribution until July, but On will be giving away pairs of shoes in a promotion along the Charles River in Boston, in which On athlete David Kilgore will be running a series of 3km time trials. More importantly, On runner Hellen Obiri, one of the top contenders in the women’s elite field, will be racing in these on Monday.