by BRIAN METZLER | OCTOBER 2021
Running the New York City Marathon? Here are 10 shoes to consider for running the rolling, 26.2-mile route through The Big Apple’s five boroughs.
We’ve broken them down between models with more less inherent stability and more inherent stability with the notion that even a lot of runners with neutral gait patterns need some extra support after running 20 miles on the roads.
There are dozens of additional models to consider than just the 10 listed here. You have to consider how fast you’re going to run and whether you’re going to race all-out, run just to finish or somewhere in between.
Remember, the most important criteria you need to consider when looking for your race-day shoes is how it matches your foot shape and gait style.
BEST MARATHON SHOES: LESS STABILITY
Nike Zoom X Vaporfly NEXT%, $250
6.6 oz. (men’s/unisex sizing) 8mm heel-toe offset (40mm/32mm)
The Nike Zoom X Vaporfly NEXT% is the current hot shoe in the marathon world, the one Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele wore en route to running 2:01:41 and just miss the world record at the 2019 Berlin Marathon. Nike took the learnings of its original Vaporfly 4% shoe and developed a new shoe with more rear-foot cushioning, a new hydrophobic upper, a lower heel-toe offset, a higher stack height and a more bulbous outsole geometry with better traction in the forefoot. The result is a slightly lighter, snappier and more stable shoe.
Adidas Adizero Adios 4, $140
7.8 oz. (men’s); 6.2 oz. (women’s) 10mm heel-toe offset (23mm/23mm for men’s; 25mm/25mm for women’s)
The Adidas Adizero Adios has been one of the world’s most popular—and one of the fastest—marathon shoes for years. Featuring a thin layer of energetic Boost midsole foam, it provides an electric ride with a low-to-the-ground feel. The upper has been updated in this edition with a more comfortable double-layer mesh construction that features a seamless toe box and just one midfoot overlay.
Hoka One One Carbon Rocket, $160
7.3 oz. (men’s/unisex shoe) 1mm heel-toe offset (28mm/27mm)
Hoka quietly released this lightweight, moderately cushioned model with a carbon-fiber plate last winter as a 5K to half marathon racer. It has softer foam directly under the foot and a more durable, energetic foam below the carbon-fiber plate. With a snug, athletic fit from its two-layer mesh upper and a low-to-the-ground feel for the ground from heel to toe, the Carbon Rocket feels light and fast the moment you slip it on.
Saucony Kinvara 10, $110
7.8 o.z. (men’s), 6.2 oz. (women’s) 4mm heel-toe offset (25mm/21mm)
If you’re looking for a soft and light shoe for racing with a low heel-toe offset, the updated Saucony Kinvara 10 could be the race-day shoe for you. It has a soft and light feel like its predecessors, but this year’s version is slightly firmer and more energetic thanks to a thin layer of springy Everun foam on top of the traditional softer layer of EVA that has been the trademark of this shoe for years. A new, lightweight engineered mesh upper offers better breathability and a more snug, locked-down fit.
Altra Escalante Racer, $140
6.8 o.z. (men’s), 5.7 oz. (women’s) 0mm heel-toe offset (22mm/22mm)
If you appreciate the zero-drop geometry and wider toe box of Altra shoes, then the Altra Escalante Racer will be a good one to consider for a marathon. The Racer feels low to the ground and responsive, with semi-soft/moderately firm midsole cushioning that offers energetic pop in every stride.
The balanced cushioning allows a runner’s foot to move entirely uninhibitedly from foot strike to toe off, but it will take some getting used to if you’ve been running in shoes with a higher heel-toe offset.
MARATHON SHOES: MORE STABILITY
Hoka One One CarbonX, $180
8.8 oz. (men’s); 7.1 oz. (women’s) 5mm heel-toe offset (35mm/30mm)
Hoka made a splash with this carbon-fiber plate shoe when elite ultrarunner Jim Walmsley set a new world best for 50 miles (4:50:07) when this model debuted. Unlike the Nike shoes with stiff carbon plates, the Hoka One One Carbon X feels moderately soft and very stable, allowing a wider range of runners (and slower paces) to benefit from the propulsion provided by the carbon-fiber plate. It feels smooth and consistent running at faster speeds, but it takes a bit of getting used to before finding a rhythm and moderate paces.
Adidas Adizero Boston 8, $120
8.2 o.z. (men’s), 6.6 oz. (women’s) 10mm heel-toe offset (26mm/16mm)
The adidas Adizero Boston 8 is marathoning shoe that serves up both a very energetic, well-cushioned and inherently stable ride. The energy comes from a thick layer of Adidas’ extremely responsive Boost cushioning foam and a flexible, thermoplastic midfoot shank that helps optimally guide each stride to the toe-off phase, while foot-cradling plastic rails offer inherent stability. The updated outsole pattern on the Boston 8 provide more flexibility and traction on wet surfaces.
New Balance 1500v6, $125
8.6 o.z. (men’s), 6.6 oz. (women’s) 6mm heel-toe offset (23mm/17mm)
This low-to-the-ground model is a light-and-faster racer, but it also provides a bit of medial stability. The New Balance 1500v6 is an ideal shoe for runners who typically overpronate as well as runners with neutral gaits who need extra support in the latter miles of a race. The midsole is mostly made from light and responsive RevLite foam, although a firmer medial post and a plastic shank help provide surprisingly stability and arch support for such a lightweight shoe.
Brooks Ravenna 10, $110
9.6 o.z. (men’s), 7.6 oz. (women’s) 6mm heel-toe offset (23mm/17mm)
The Brooks Ravenna is a well-cushioned everyday trainer with modern stability-enhancing features. While it’s not pegged as a racing shoe, it can be a great choice for a committed, mid-pack runner or a first-timer because of its optimal blend of cushioning, protection and responsiveness. Plus, it’s lighter than most everyday stability shoes. It features Brooks’ new GuideRail technology, which keeps excessive pronation nicely in check.
ASICS GEL-Kayano 26, $160
11.1 ounces (men’s); 8.8 oz. (women’s) 10mm heel-toe offset (29m/19mm)
The latest edition of this popular stability shoe has been overhauled with an updated GEL cushioning capsule for better shock attenuation, lighter midsole foams in the heel for a springier ride and a contoured EVA sockliner for improved underfoot fit and feel.
The dual-density midsole in the ASICS GEL-Kayano offers ample cushioning, responsiveness and stability for the long haul, but it has a good amount of energetic pop for fast-paced running. The ride is extremely stable and secure, but not at the expense of being overly controlling or inflexible.