In racing in super shoes from Nike, ASICS and Saucony, the ASICS were my favourite, hands down. Of course, when dealing with carbon-plated shoes, it’s like comparing sports cars and Thoroughbreds—each is powerful, expensive and awe-inspiring. Today’s runner wearing any of these—or from New Balance and HOKA—would have huge advantages over runners from any previous era: all offer lightweight bounce, cushioning and springiness, the likes of which never before has been seen.
This is why all the records are breaking. The sport remains the same. Our shoes keep getting better. But what super shoes are the best?
Last spring, in a profile of Cam Levins, his strength coach David McHenry said: “We did a side-by-side analysis of the ASICS METASPEED and the Vaporfly, and realized the ASICS was a far better shoe for him. It had far better biomechanics. I was pretty astounded.”
I didn’t run side-by-side analysis, but the words remained in my head as I finished my marathon last month in the ASICS METASPEED SKY+. I was told that you really feel the difference in a super shoe at the end of your race. That’s hard to say. I feel it also at the beginning. Wearing the METASPEED SKY+, which weighs 205 grams, has a 33 millimetre heel height and 28 millimetre forefoot (the toe rises up when it sits on the ground), I felt cocked and loaded. The shoes have such spring that it feels unnatural to be standing still.
With supreme durability and grip, the METASPEED SKY+ are the kind of shoes that cry out for new socks. They felt connected to my foot and, as the race went long and my form broke down, as I really needed everything I could find, I could feel the shoe retaining its springiness. I only wore them once before my race and felt like they maintained their integrity. The marketing materials say the curved outsole helps runners conserve energy, and that may have been the case in my marathon. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly but, in a shoe designed like a Ferrari, I believe.
Besides: one dollop less of energy and I would have finished that thing in the arms of the runner beside me.
Other things to know about the $325 super shoe: it comes in a really pretty and super vibrant “diva pink” colour, and is engineered to be environmentally friendly. The upper is made with at least 20% recycled polyester and the dying process uses less water, and releases fewer carbon emissions, than many of the competing shoes.
I found the shoe fit true in a size 9.5, and felt fast in the METASPEED SKY throughout my race (well, fast according to the Scale of Me). Of course, I’ll never run like Cam Levins and I certainly don’t have a coach advising me on my shoes. But the FF Blast Turbo cushioning in the METASPEED SKY+ is light, propulsive and responsive—for an old man huffing his way through the marathon, that felt pretty good.