The Fastest Marathon Shoes of 2023

Three of the year’s six World Marathon Majors are done and dusted. In this article, I take a look at what the podium finishers wore to find out what’s the fastest marathon shoe of 2023, so far.

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Nike the Leading Brand at Halfway Point

Nobody will be surprised to learn that Nike still sits at the top. With a total of nine top three finishes across Tokyo, Boston, and London, their shoes lay claim to exactly half the podium spots.

Adidas sit at a close second, with a total of seven top three finishes.

The only two other brands to challenge the duopoly of the two biggest brands are Asics and On. They each claimed one podium finish.

Podium finishes per shoe brand WMM spring 2023

Adidas Have the Most Successful Model

While Nike sits at the top in the brand category, the most successful model belongs to their German rivals. The Adidas Adios Pro 3 was the preferred race day shoe for all seven of the Adidas athletes that grabbed a top three spot, making it the most successful shoe model in the 2023 World Marathon Majors – so far.

For Nike athletes, meanwhile, there was a more diverse selection of models. Two of three first places came from athletes opting for the now classic Vaporfly Next% 2, while their third win was run in a prototype of the third version of the Alphafly.

Asics got their third place finish with the Metaspeed Sky+, while On’s Helen Obiri won the Boston Marathon wearing the CloudTri 1.

Table showing the fastest marathon shoes of 2023

One could make the argument that this comes down to Nike having a more diverse spread of top of the line racing shoes. The counter argument, however, would be that Adidas are more confident in their single premium racing option.

Now, let’s continue with a deep dive into the different models.

Adidas Adios Pro 3

Adidas Adios Pro 3 is at the top of the fastest marathon shoes of 2023 so far

Every single Adidas runner that claimed a podium spot in the three first marathon majors of 2023, did it wearing the Adidas Adios Pro 3. The most notable race from an Adidas standpoint, was the Boston Marathon.

Not only did Adidas runner Evans Chebet defeat the marathon world record holder, and Nike posterboy, Eliud Kipchoge, to defend his title. With Adidas runners Gabriel Geay and Benson Kipruto claiming second and third respectively, it was a clean sweep for the Adidas Adios Pro 3.

Nike Vaporfly Next% 2

Nike Vaporfly Next% 2

The most impressive performance from a Nike perspective–and from any perspective, really–was Kelvin Kiptum’s London Marathon win. Finishing in 2:01:25, it was the second fastest marathon ever. And he did it wearing last year’s version of the Nike Vaporfly, the Next% 2.

>> Related reading: How the Vaporfly changed the world of distance running

That was the case for Ethiopians Deso Gelmisa and Mohamed Esa, who took the top two spots in the Tokyo Marathon back in March. It’s worth noting, however, that the Vaporfly 3 had not been released to the public at this point.

Nike Alphafly 3 Protoype

Nike Alphafly 3 prototype, here seen worn by Suguru Osako during the 2023 Tokyo Marathon. Photo credit.

Perhaps the most photographed developmental prototype of all time, the Alphafly 3 is not among Nike’s best kept secrets. Sifan Hassan wore it when she won the London Marathon in epic fashion. Runner up in the men’s race in London, Geoffrey Kamworor, did the same.

There’s no definite word on when this shoe will be released. Nike have traditionally favoured a Vaporfly release one year, with the Alphafly getting a makeover the following year. Given that the Vaporfly 3 came out this year, that might mean we won’t see a public release before 2024. But a fall release cannot be ruled out as of yet.

For now, you can purchase the Alphafly 2 from our partners.

Nike Vaporfly 3

Nike Vaporfly 3

Nike’s newest racing shoe featured on the podium of all three major marathons so far in 2023. Surprisingly, however, it has only been worn by female runners who managed to secure a top three spot.

Some have pointed out that the newest addition to the Vaporfly line is perhaps slightly less aggressive than its predecessor. Could that be the reason why some of Nike’s best runners have opted for the previous version instead? Or is it simply a case of racing in what you’ve trained in? We’ll know more about the elite runners’ preferences after fall marathon season.

On CloudTri 1

On CloudTri 1 prototype. Photo credit.

On made a statement when they landed a sponsorship deal with Helen Obiri. One of the most accomplished runners in the game, she was a guarantee for gaining publicity around their running shoes. And when she lined up in Boston, she did not disappoint, taking the win while wearing the On CloudTri 1.

As the name indicates, this shoe seems to be marketed primarily towards triathletes. In fact, the shoe caused a bit of a ruckus after Triathlete Gustav Iden used them in a World Triathlon Championship event back in March. That didn’t stop Obiri from picking these shoes over the Cloudboom Echo 3.0–the brand’s upcoming super shoe for road runners.

This shoe is not yet publicly available to purchase.

Asics Metaspeed Sky+

Asics Metaspeed Sky+

The final shoe to make the podium during the 2023 spring marathon majors season was the Metaspeed Sky+ from Asics. Worn by Tsegaye Getachew when he finished third in the Tokyo Marathon, the Japanese company was no doubt happy with a podium finish on home soil.

I use this shoe regularly in training. But, as I noted in this article comparing it to the Vaporfly, it is not among my personal favourites come race day. Regardless, it’s clearly a shoe that’s good enough to compete with the best.

Case in point: Cam Levins also wore this shoe when he set a new North American record in the very same race.

And that’s a wrap for this recap of the fastest marathon shoes so far in 2023, based on top finishes in the first three majors of the year. I’ll be back with a more extensive write-up towards the end of the year. Make sure you don’t miss it by signing up for a our newsletter below.


August 10, 2023