The 2013 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide magazine is out on newsstands now (and check out the digital version), and we’re giving you a sneak peek right here. Check out the complete running shoe section from the guide below and check back to Triathlete.com for more Buyer’s Guide content.
New Balance RC 1600
The draw: Special weapon for fast workouts
Get ready to fly in these babies. The RC 1600 fit precisely as a fast racing flat should: snug around the entire foot, low-profile and with a nearly seamless upper that makes running sockless incredibly comfortable. Choose thin socks if you wear any at all, as the fairly narrow toebox can put some lateral pressure on the feet. The slightly stiff cushioning requires some adjustment, particularly during the transition from initial footstrike to toe-off.
Pearl Izumi I.S.O. Transition
The draw: Quick transitions and a snappy feel
Mid-foot, forefoot and even heel strikers who desire a responsive ride and ample cushioning in their 70.3 or Ironman shoes, take note. The I.S.O. Transition, developed with feedback from Tim DeBoom, is a cross between a trainer and a minimalist race shoe. Made for sockless running, the upper includes a seamless lining that wicks moisture, which reduces chafing and hot spots. Stick to the roads when wearing these, as small rocks, debris and mud can get caught in the drainage holes.
RELATED – Shoe Talk: Pearl Izumi Road N2
The draw: Heel-strike no more
Designed to encourage mid-foot striking, the newton Gravity is the perfect shoe for runners looking to improve their gait. The raised forefoot lugs on the outsole work brilliantly to move your foot strike away from your heel and toward the ball of your foot. This dramatic change takes time, so the Gravity is a shoe best broken in slowly if you have been running in traditional trainers. ride feel is quite firm because of the lugs, but there’s enough cushion for long runs.
Skechers GoRun Speed
The draw: Responsive mid-foot striker
Designed specifically for 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist Meb keflezighi as a marathon-racing shoe, the snug-fitting Gorun Speed provides a responsive ride engineered for quick turn-over. The love- it-or-hate-it feel of the mid-foot rocker (that encourages a mid-foot strike) found in the Skechers Gorun is less prominent in this shoe, and the midsole is much more firm, so take heed if you prefer more cushioning and flexibility in your marathon shoes.
RELATED – Video: Skechers Go Run And Go Ride
Asics Gel-Excel33 2
The draw: Natural movement and ample cushion
The biggest problem with most highly cushioned shoes is that they feel clunky and create a rigid, interrupted gait cycle. The Excel33 2 shatters that conception, flowing naturally through a stride while absorbing shock. Asics biomechanist Simon Bartold attributes this sublime combination of flexibility and cushioning to the sole’s new cut pattern, freeing the ample foam padding to bend naturally. Fit is best for average to slightly high volume feet.
RELATED: ASICS Gel-Lyte33 2 Review
Hoka One One Bondi S2
The draw: Less impact, no mushy sensation
Given that its chunky height makes this shoe look like a butt-toning shoe, it’s difficult not to be skeptical when first sighting the Hoka One One Bondi S2. But the model, designed by two trail runners looking to lessen impact, is lighter than you’d expect from the bulky cushioning. The Bondi’s profile, with only a 4.5mm drop, makes it easier to mid-foot strike than with a typical neutral, cushy shoe. Once you get used to the uniquely forgiving feel, this shock-absorbing shoe is a good choice to mix in for long runs.
Adidas Supernova Glide 5
The draw: Maximum cushioning and protection
Comfort and durability abound in the Supernova Glide 5. Its cushioning system utilizes a decoupled heel that absorbs and disperses impact to save joints from the abuse of concrete. This shoe isn’t a featherweight (11.8 ounces in a size 10), and we found it suited to high-mileage, neutral runners looking for extra protection from running mostly on roads. The toebox is on the roomy side and the length runs long, so if you think you may be between sizes, go a half-size smaller than usual.
The draw: Adaptive cushioning geared for faster running
Running in the Cloudsurfer does take some getting used to. Once you adapt, though, the inherent benefits truly shine. On’s system employs 13 rubber pods attached to the midsole that absorb both vertical and horizontal impacts, which On claims translates to more forward momentum as you toe off. The ride is firm but the shoe provides an excellent feel for the road. While the Cloudsurfer floats over pavement, it’s not ideal for trails because rocks can easily get lodged in the rubber pods. Neutral runners with a mid-foot strike looking for an efficient shoe that caters to up-tempo runs should look no further.
Nike LunarGlide+ 4
The draw: Daily trainer
With a silky-smooth ride and a touch of support, the LunarGlide+ 4 is an ideal daily trainer. This shoe boasts a glove-like sensation thanks to the Flywire upper design, which offers a custom-fit feel. Nike’s dynamic Support in the midsole provides just a hint of pronation control without the weight of a traditional medial post. The Lunarlon foam supplies a springy, supple feel and great energy return without feeling mushy. The adaptability of the upper makes this shoe desirable for a variety of foot widths, but the toe box height is low, so runners with high- volume feet may want to look elsewhere.
Brooks PureFlow 2
The draw: Your first minimalist shoe
A transitional shoe for those who want to shift from an ultra plush trainer to a lighter shoe, the PureFlow 2 features a unique off-centered lacing system that hugs the mid-foot, providing a sock-like fit. The shoes might require a break-in period for heel strikers, as the outsole pods and low heel-toe drop encourage mid-foot striking. More robust than a racing flat, the PureFlow 2 is ideal for longer races and workouts, particularly for heavier athletes that need a little more cushioning in their running shoes.
Zoot Ultra Kiawe
The draw: Stable yet quick and agile
With less heel-toe drop than most Zoot shoes and an all-stretch upper, the Kiawe—designed with significant feedback from pro triathletes Jordan Rapp and Javier Gomez—is best suited for fit, efficient, fast runners looking to jam after the bike. Ideal for barefoot use, the lower heel tab eliminates rubbing, the extended tongue loop is handy for pulling the shoes on quickly, and the quick-dry, minimal-seam construction guards against blisters. The Kiawe provides an incredibly stable, flexible ride thanks to a carbon-fiber insert at the mid-foot.
The draw: Comfortable and responsive for forefoot strikers
After a brief hiatus, Avia is back in the running shoe game and embracing the natural running movement. The Mantis’ heel practically collapses under a heel strike, but the forefoot adeptly recoils off the ground, encouraging the runner to land with a mid- foot or forefoot gait. The upper is both soft and sturdy, binding the shoe to the runner without creating any pressure points.
Karhu Flow Light
The draw: A burner fit for narrow feet
Perfect for neutral runners gunning for PRs, the Karhu Flowlite’s snug fit and highly responsive ride make it the perfect workhorse for swift tempo runs and interval training on the track. With similar cushioning in the heel to a marathon racing flat, the cushioning in the forefoot of the Flowlite is much more minimal. The shoe’s minimalist features shine when used for fast racing at sprint distances; slower running on the roads can be uncomfortable for those unaccustomed to the barefoot feel.
Mizuno Wave Rider 16
The draw: Versatility of daily training and speed
Wave rider loyalists rejoice, the 16th version of Mizuno’s most popular shoe has the same great ride characteristics as its predecessors but weighs a full ounce less than the 15. This shoe still delivers adequate cushion despite the weight loss, achieving harmony between comfort and performance. neutral runners have turned to the Wave rider for years because of its versatility. it has just enough protection to be a daily trainer, yet is light enough to serve as a tempo or fartlek shoe. its super-smooth ride caters to runners with an efficient gait. The fit feels unchanged from the Wave rider 15, with medium volume through the mid-foot and toe box.
K-Swiss Blade Light Run 2.0
The draw: Freedom of movement and ample cushioning
This neutral, 9.7-ounce update to one of the brand’s most popular models begs for speed and would work well as a performance trainer or a marathon race shoe. The blades on the outsole have been repositioned on the 2.0 to cater to a mid-foot or forefoot strike. The heel-to-toe drop is now 8mm, versus 12mm on the original. The arch structure is low and there is virtually no support, so only the most efficient runners will enjoy the blade Light run 2.0. The seamless upper offers a slipper-like feel to decrease the possibility of hot spots.
Saucony Fastwitch 6
The draw: Race flat offering a touch of support
If you’re a mild overpronator looking for a racing flat that’s substantial enough for an ironman, this is your match. equipped with the same midsole/ outsole as the Fastwitch 5, Saucony shaved an ounce off this version by redesigning the upper. The Fastwitch 6 provides plenty of cushioning to handle the pounding of longer tempo runs and marathon-pace efforts.
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