The Fastest Marathon Shoes of 2023

Five of 2023’s six World Marathon Majors are done and dusted. And we can add a World Championship marathon to that. In this article, I look at what the podium finishers in the biggest marathons wore. The aim? To find the fastest marathon shoes of 2023.

As a reminder, these are the seven most prestigious marathon races of 2023:

  • Tokyo Marathon (March 5th in Tokyo, Japan)
  • Boston Marathon (April 17th in Boston, United States of America)
  • London Marathon (April 23rd in London, United Kingdom)
  • World Championships Marathon (August 26th in Budapest, Hungary)
  • Berlin Marathon (September 24th in Berlin, Germany)
  • Chicago Marathon (October 8th in Chicago, United States of America)
  • New York Marathon (November 5th in New York, United States of America)

The only race yet to take place is the New York Marathon. As such, the data presented here is based on the results from the first six races. Once New York is finished, I will update the article for a complete data set.

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Nike the Leading Brand

Nobody will be surprised to learn that Nike sits at the top. With a total of 18 top three finishes across the biggest marathons of the year, their shoes lay claim to half the podium spots.

Adidas – the other major player in the running shoe space – comes in second. Runners wearing their race shoes have 12 top three finishes.

Beyond the duopoly of the two big brands, Asics – with one second and two third places – is the only other manufacturer with more than a single podium finish. It’s still interesting to see relative newcomers like On, Xtep, and Anta claim one podium spot each.

Fastest marathon shoe brands of 2023

The Fastest Marathon Shoe of 2023 Is Made by Nike

After a double sweep in Chicago, the Nike Alphafly 3 has a total of four big marathon wins this year. No other model has more. Not bad for a shoe that is still at the prototype stage, and has yet to be released for general sale.

The Adios Pro 3 has more podium spots. But wins carry the most weight. Plus, Kelvin Kiptum ran 2:00:35 in the Alphafly 3. That’s faster than any other human has ever run the marathon. That’s a tiebreaker if ever there was one.

Fastest marathon shoes of 2023

Beyond the two most decorated shoe models, it is a closer race. It’s clear that Nike’s other race day option, the Vaporfly is still popular among elites. Interestingly, many of them still prefer the old Next% 2 – originally released back in 2021 – over this year’s updated Vaporfly 3 model. When comparing the Vaporfly Next% 2 and the Vaporfly 3, I preferred the latter.

Adidas’ newest marathon racer, the Adios Pro Evo 1, made a splash in Berlin. After a limited release where they only sold 500 pairs, Tigst Assefa obliterated the old female world record when she ran 2:11:53 wearing the Pro Evo 1. Don’t be surprised to see these top the list next year.

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

Nike Alphafly 3 Protoype

The Nike Alphafly 3 is the fastest marathon shoe of 2023

The Alphafly 3 is among Nike’s worst kept secrets. Sponsored runners have been wearing it for marathons all year. And it’s safe to say that the hype has kept building. Culminating in the Chicago Marathon, when both Sifan Hassan and Kelvin Kiptum won the race wearing the next iteration in the Alphafly line.

Not only that, both did it running absurdly fast. Hassan’s 2:13:44 makes her the second fastest female marathoner of all time. Kiptum, of course, broke the world record with 2:00:35. That’s all the evidence we need to crown the Nike Alphafly 3 the fastest marathon shoe of 2023.

Recently, Nike finally announced a release date for the shoe. Regular people like you and I can purchase it in January 2024. In the meantime, you can buy the Alphafly 2 from our partners below.

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Adidas Adios Pro 3

Adidas Adios Pro 3

The top choice for marathon racing from Adidas, the Adios Pro 3 is a record breaking shoe. It is fast, cushioned, and bouncy. And with nine podium finishes, including three first places, the results speak for themselves.

Although the shoe now faces stiff competition from its more lightweight sibling, the Adios Evo Pro 1, the Adios Pro 3 remains one of the fastest marathon shoes of 2023. Support Run161 by purchasing it from one of our partners below.

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Nike Vaporfly Next% 2

Nike Vaporfly Next% 2

If you’re looking for the most tried and tested option that still appears on the podium of the biggest marathons in the world, the Nike Vaporfly Next% 2 is the obvious choice. Released back in 2021, it’s been the go-to for marathoners all over the world for years.

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

Despite the fact that its successor is out and publicly available, some runners still prefer this shoe. A more aggressive fit and feel, and a firmer compound midsole foam are the chief reasons why.

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Nike Vaporfly 3

Nike Vaporfly 3

For most runners, the Vaporfly 3 is a significant upgrade on its predecessor. The weight is lower, yet it is softer and more comfortable than the Next% 2. And elite runners have been slow to embrace the newest model – as evidenced by the fact that only two of the nine Nike runners that podiumed in one of the fall marathons opted for the Vaporfly 3.

But don’t let elite runner preference stop you. You can not go with the most recent edition from the Vaporfly line of shoes. In fact, this is the shoe I will be using when I run my next marathon in December.

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Adidas Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1

Unveiled in September 2023, just ahead of the marathon, the Adios Pro Evo 1 is Adidas newest entry in the supershoe arms race. Right out of the gates, it’s already gathered two rather dubious accolades. Priced at a cool $500, it is the most expensive running shoe, by some margin.

The kicker, though, is the disclaimer from Adidas that the shoes are only good for one race. Of course, that’s what happens when you strip a shoe down to the bare essentials for performance. Weighing just 138 grams (4.9 oz) it raises the bar for how lightweight a marathon racing shoe can be.

Thinking that you want to dig deep and give it a go? Well, tough luck. As mentioned, the first production run was limited to just 500 pairs that went on sale. As of right now, there’s just no way to get Adidas to take your money in exchange for a pair of the Pro Evo 1.

Asics Metaspeed Sky+

Asics Metaspeed Sky+

Asics’ top of the line racer – if you’re a stride runner, anyways – is the Metaspeed Sky+. For cadence runners, the Edge+ is supposedly the best choice. All three Asics runners that claimed a spot on the podium of the biggest marathons this year wore the Metaspeed Sky+.

Having run hundreds of miles in this shoe, I rate it highly. But, as I noted in my comparison of it versus the Vaporfly, it is not up there with the best racing shoes. That said, I think that is mostly a case of personal preference. Cam Levins, who wore these shoes when he set an American record in Tokyo earlier this year, tested all the brands’ different super shoes. The conclusion? The Metaspeed Sky was the best option for him.

If you want to test if they are the best for you, support Run161 by buying them through one of our partners below.

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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, and there’s currently no information on when they will be released.

Xtep 160X Pro 3.0

Xtep is a Chinese brand. Popular domestically, they’ve been working to expand their reach to the rest of the world. And when Fatima Garadi of Morocco won bronze in the World Championships marathon wearing their shoe, it marked the brand’s arrival on the world stage.

None of our partners currently carry shoes from Xtep. But, depending on your whereabouts, they can be found in some regional retailers around the world. Or you can purchase them from AliExpress.

Anta C202 5 GT Pro

Anta is another Chinese brand. And they’re no minnow. Trailing only Nike and Adidas, they are the third largest manufacturer of sporting goods. That’s worldwide! Small wonder then, that their shoes finally snagged a top spot in one of the world’s biggest marathons in 2023. It was Magdalena Shauri who provided their breakthrough when she came third in the Berlin Marathon.

If you want to test out these shoes from your next marathon, Anta have their own branded webshop with worldwide shipping.

And that’s all the shoes that claimed at least one podium spot in the biggest marathons in the world this year. Once The New York Marathon concludes, I will update this article with a complete data set. Sign up for the Run161 Newsletter below to make sure you don’t miss out.


October 12, 2023