Saturday, December 29, 2018

Hope Wilkes Best Running Shoes of 2018

Article by Hope Wilkes

Trainers - Road
#1 New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon (RTR review)
This is a nearly perfect shoe for me. It’s comfortable enough to go long distance without beating up my legs, but snappy enough that I don’t have to sacrifice speed for comfort. I love how flexible the sole is. With durable rubber strategically placed in high-wear areas, the ground contact version of Fresh Foam functions as midsole and outsole. There’s no bloat here — everything I need and nothing I don’t. My one gripe is a small one: the woven upper is dense and not quite as breathable as I’d like for warm weather use. I’m very nervous about the 2019 update for this model since I love it so much as it is.
#2 Saucony Kinvara 9 (RTR review)
Saucony keeps making this shoe better and better. The K10 coming in 2019 is a real treat, but don’t sleep on the K9. Saucony flattened the heel bevel compared to the K8 and made the outsole pods more flush with the midsole. The result is a smoother riding shoe that is still light and responsive.

Honorable Mentions:

#1: Under Armour HOVR Sonic  (RTR review)
This is probably a sleeper pick. I think it’s a solid, thoroughly modern design and fairly priced ($100) neutral shoe that would work for nearly every runner. The HOVR Sonic is bouncy and flexible yet features a ton of outsole rubber (and a seriously weird looking rubber configuration that doesn’t look like anything you’ve seen before on a running shoe, but trust me, it works) that will last for hundreds of daily miles.

#2: Reebok Sweet Road 2 (RTR review)
I love the flexible forefoot and the great ground feel it provides. This shoe begs to go fast and it looks good doing it. The SR2 has one of the best uppers of 2018: soft, conforms to my feet, and easily sheds dirt and rainwater. I’ve enjoyed it during hill workouts and speedy efforts. It’s a great do-everything trainer, and like the HOVR Sonic, also fairly priced at $100.

Racers - Road

#1 Nike Zoom Fly 4% Flyknit (RTR review)
There’s not a lot I can say about this model that hasn’t already been said. It’s simply outstanding. The Flyknit improves upon the OG 4%’s somewhat overly loose upper. The more precise-fitting upper lets the propulsive forefoot really shine. I’d still love a more stable heel for marathon use, but I’m very happy with how the 4% FK rolls along at speed.

#2 Skechers Performance Razor 3 Hyper (RTR review)
Hyper Burst foam is my favorite 2018 midsole tech. It means I can have enough foam underfoot to not feel too beat up after long runs, but it’s amazingly light so it doesn’t weigh me down. I raced a fall marathon in the R3. Even though I had a tough day, the shoe held up and I had fresh enough legs to still pass people during the final 10k. There might not be enough outsole rubber for the R3 to flex into the daily trainer role, but I think it can do everything a daily trainer does. If you’re going to have a one-shoe rotation the R3 would be a great pick.

Honorable Mention: 

Adidas Adios Boost 4 (RTR review)
With a more comfortable upper, the Adios 4 would have snagged second place. I’m blown away by the perfect balance of softness and responsiveness that the Adios 4 delivers. It’s not a featherweight racer, but the controlled bounce of the Boost midsole makes up for the heavier weight. If Adidas could make an upper for this that was less scratchy, it could be the perfect 10+ mile racer. It certainly has the Zoom Fly 4% beat in terms of durability, especially for the price.

Hope Wilkes
Hope is a lifelong resident of Northern Virginia. No stranger to hills and humidity, this mid-packer is most at home on tough courses that might make other runners stay in bed. Hope has dabbled in ultras, including two 50-mile finishes, but has turned her attention to the marathon, working hard to improve upon her 2017 PR of 3:47:40. Already passionate about sneakers when she picked up running in 2008, it was inevitable that she’d become a running shoe geek. Hope funds her shoe habit with her gig as a financial services trade association program manager, a job that includes regular domestic and international travel. This happily married mom of two cats is also a first-year evening MBA student at Virginia Tech. In her free time she likes to review running shoes and gear at her blog Runner’s Reviews []

More Best of 2018 Articles

Sam Winebaum  (Editor and Founder) Road, Trail, and Tech 
Peter Stuart Road 
Michael Ellenberger Road
Jeff Valliere Trail
Dave Ames Road and Trail
Jeff Beck's Road and Trail
Dominick Layfield Ultras
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1 comment:

Dennis Chui said...

NB Beacon is my favourite trainer this year. If NB can update the upper material to flyknit then it will make the already light weight trainer even lighter!