for those who love the outdoors

23 April, 2023


6 of the best marathon shoes

With the Spring ‘Marathon season’ upon us, Paul Freary, our resident Running Shoe Guru takes a look at six of the best marathon racing shoes on the market, some of which, may put a spring in your step!

OA website image template 2023 04 18 T164500 718

If you would like to read more from Paul then you can see his full range of articles by clicking here, and you can follow his Instagram page by clicking here.

Mizuno - Wave Rebellion Pro - £200

Mizuno wave rebellion pro


Stack height: 39mm heel/35mm forefoot = 4mm drop

Weight: 218g

Perhaps the most striking design of the shoes featured here, the Rebellion Pro stands out from the crowd.

Its plate is carbon-infused nylon and running through the twin layered midsole, the propulsive effect comes largely from the deep, unusual geometry of the midsole with its cutaway heel and large forefoot rocker.

At the deepest part, the shoe's cushioning measures close to 50mm but the unusual heel design ensures it meets World Athletics regulations. The measurement takes place away from the back of the shoe and in the centre, so a cutaway section helps get around this ruling.

The deep stack and the rocker help create a pivot point that almost encourages a faster push-off and rocks the foot forward making it feel fast from the start.

The highly aggressive rocker and cutaway heel make it a shoe that’s more suited for the neutral, more efficient runner, especially over the marathon distance. That’s not to say you can’t wear it for shorter distances, in fact, over 5km the shoe feels incredible.

Saucony – Endorphin Elite - £280.00

Saucony Endorphin Elite


Stack height: 39.5mm heel/31.5mm forefoot = 8mm

Weight: 204g

Sitting above the Endorphin Speed and Pro in the Saucony racing line up, the Elite is the brand's pinnacle racing model.

Feeling a little more stable thanks to a new midsole foam, PWRRUN HG the shoe still has a familiar, high-energy return feel.

The new carbon plate has a more aggressive toe-off which can be seen in the shoes side profile. This is the brand's Speedroll technology and once the foot rolls onto the toes you experience this roll, the shoe encourages a forward motion.

It’s a more noticeable roll than the Endorphin Pro and overall the Elite feels slightly firmer. It’s still comfortable and offers great energy return when racing.

The shoe's upper is a striking design, with a broad midfoot strap that holds the foot securely in place. There are large cutaway sections to reduce weight and a minimalist perforated tongue. It’s a great fit and allows plenty of airflow to help keep the foot cool.

Despite the aggressive look of the shoe it rides smoothly and remains propulsive and comfortable over longer distances.

New Balance – FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 - £220.00

New balance fuelcell elite v3


Stack height: 40mm heel/36mm forefoot = 4mm drop

Weight: 215g

More stable than the previous version, the v3 feels the best yet. The FuelCell cushioning feels slightly different feel to the previous model but it retains a great ride and offers a good degree of energy return. It’s a little more stable too, which is a good thing and perhaps down to the tweaked cushioning and the overall shape of the midsole.

The foot feels like it's sitting a little lower within the cushioning, cradled and stabilised.

The EnergyArc, the brand's carbon plate has a curved shape which, when combined with the voids in the midsole cushioning is allowed to sink into the cavity and create more ‘rebound’.

The bootie upper design is constructed from a knitted mesh and is beautifully shaped and covers the foot very well with a sock-like fit.

Overall the combination of carbon and cushioning hits the spot perfectly for the marathon distance with a soft but responsive ride that’s stable and balanced.

ASICS – Metaspeed Edge+ - £225.00

Asics metaspeed edge


Stack height: 34mm heels/26mm forefoot = 8mm drop

Weight: 210g

The Metaspeed Sky+ and Metaspeed Edge+ are similar models although designed for different runners. Asics say the Sky+ is intended for runners that increase their stride length as they increase speed whereas the Edge+ is for those that increase their cadence to go quicker.

Physically the Edge has a slighter higher heel drop, 8mm to the 5mm of the Sky and the carbon plate of the Edge has a slightly larger curve to its forefoot.

I’ve found the Edge+ slightly better than the Sky+ in that it feels a little more aggressive and with that higher heel drop more suited to longer distances.

I think there could be an argument that some runners increase both their stride length and cadence as they increase their speed, in which case the choice of shoe would be purely personal. Having been fortunate to have run in both the shoes as well as the previous version of the Sky, my preference does fall with the Edge+.

Otherwise, both shoes feature the same great fitting upper and weigh in at around 200g.

Adidas – adizero Prime X - £230.00

Adidas prime x


Stack Height: 50mm heel/40mm forefoot = 10mm drop

Weight: 272g

Measuring 50mm deep, the stack of cushioning in the Prime X is ‘illegal’ by World Athletic standards for competition use.

Bizarrely when standing side by side with the Nike Alphafly the depth of cushioning is almost identical, but using World Athletics measuring rules, the clever recess in the sole of the Nike reduces the measured depth.

For training it’s an incredibly cushioned and high-performing shoe and legal. It’s probably the largest stacked shoe available on the market, with three layers of the brand's responsive cushioning, Lightstrike Pro embedded with Carbon Energy Rods. These rods replace the carbon fibre plate favoured by many brands and follow the lines of the foot's metatarsal bones. Providing a very propulsive push-off you can’t help but appreciate the amount of ‘spring’ these shoes provide. That said, it was only really when I approached ‘race pace’ that the shoe came into its own. At slower speeds with more of a heel strike, I noticed how unstable the shoe is, but at speed when striking more mid-to-forefoot the ride came into its own and it was simply amazing.

The outsole is Continental rubber so offers excellent traction on the roads and even with this massive amount of cushioning the shoe manages to weigh in at just 255g (UK Size 8.5)

The upper uses a new technology from the brand, Strung, which uses data mapping of the foot to knit a close-fitting design for a close and structured fit.

For those seeking a truly ground-breaking feel in a shoe that can be used daily, it really is a great option although, it’s perhaps used a little more sparingly to maximise its effect on faster runs.

Nike – Alphafly 2 - £279.95

Nike alphafly png


Stack Height: 40mm heel/32mm forefoot = 8mm drop

Weight: 227g

The undisputed King of marathon shoes, the Alphafly is the model that graces the feet of

the fastest marathoner ever, Eluid Kipchoge’s helping him to his sub-2-hour performance when running 1:59:40 in Vienna.

The new version of the record-breaking shoe simply takes the Alphafly experience to the max! There’s a little bit more ZoomX foam cushioning, taking the heel drop up to 8mm as opposed to 4mm in the original whilst retaining that 40mm stack height and that midsole becomes a little broader, creating a more stable feel. The twin Air units remain in the forefoot but now sit atop some more of that ZoomX foam. This creates a smoother running sensation as well as reducing that road noise that was very evident in the original.

For me, the shoe works best at marathon pace or that ‘comfortable tempo’ speed, cruising along with a sensation of the shoe absorbing the impact but then ‘giving a little something back’, there’s that slight ‘springy’ sensation and when you hit the speed sweet-spot it feels great.

It’s not for everyone, as many that have tried both this shoe and the Vaporfly prefer the Vaporfly due to the Alphafly feeling a little ‘bulkier’. It certainly does feel like a lot of shoes!

The upper uses the Atomknit construction and has a stretchy fit that hugs the foot. It’s very breathable and with this shoe works very well.

For those more marathon-specific runners aiming for a personal best, it’s a proven shoe with world-class credentials.

Paul Freary


Athletics runs in the Freary family. Paul’s father, Mike held the British 10,000m record in 1969 and Paul himself has been running for over 45 years.

As an athlete Paul has won Northern and Inter-County golds at 5000m as well as British half-marathon and trail running titles.

His claim to fame is beating Steve Cram over the classic mile distance on the road in Bermuda, a distance where Paul’s personal best in 3minutes 56seconds!

Having worked in the running industry for over 25 years he’s worked for Puma, Fila, Nike and adidas as well as now owning his own running store. An expert in video gait analysis, Paul is ideally placed to write authoritative reviews of running footwear, gadgets and gear.

For 2023 Paul has his targets set on improving his 2:39 marathon from Berlin in 2022.

More articles from Paul Freary

Related Articles

Most recent articles by Paul Freary

Most recent articles in RUNNING