Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Hope Wilkes' 2019 Running Shoes of the Year

Article by Hope Wilkes
I had the pleasure of running in a lot of superlative road shoes in 2019. I’ve grouped my favorites into three general categories: daily trainers for beefier models built to soak up mile after mile, uptempo trainers for faster efforts, and racers. I’m sure people train in racers, race in trainers – these categories are meant to be descriptive rather than prescriptive. Your mileage may vary!
Best Daily Trainers of 2019
1. Brooks Glycerin 17 (RTR Review)
I’m currently taking some downtime due to injury, and the Glycerin 17 is my shoe of choice for babying my feet. As good as it is for just walking around, it’s even better for running. The flexible midsole and outsole make for a bouncy, yet controlled ride. This shoe runs far lighter than its weight would suggest. Known for softness, the Glycerin delivers cushioning that doesn’t bottom out or feel mushy. The simple upper offers gentle support without any irritating overlays. For me, the gold standard in running shoe comfort has been the OG Saucony Triumph ISO – the Glycerin 17 might be even more comfortable than that. If I had to nitpick, I’d note that the upper might run a touch warm in the hottest summer months, but I didn’t have problems using these on 90+ degree days. They’re outstanding.
2. New Balance FreshFoam 1080v10 (RTR Review)
New Balance fixed the loose heel cup from the 1080v9 and produced a shoe even closer to perfection. Lively, responsive, and comfortable with no break-in period, the 1080v10 is a crowd pleaser that I’m thrilled to have in my rotation. I’ve slotted it in behind the Glycerin 17 because the stretch knit upper that improves midfoot and heel lockdown might not be as accommodating to all foot types as the Glycerin 17’s roomier mesh upper.
3. Topo Magnifly 3 (RTR Review)
This is an unassuming trainer with a lot of personality. The Topo Magnifly 3 is the only shoe I ran in this year six days a week for multiple weeks. I loved its zippy, resilient cushioning and classy good looks. I never thought that a trainer could get me quite as jazzed about running as a built-to-feel-fast racer, but the Magnifly 3 had me looking forward to my long runs, even in the brutal summer heat.
Best Uptempo Trainers of 2019
1. Hoka One One Hupana 2
Surely a surprise pick, the lowkey Hupana 2 was a standout performer for me. Hoka One One has the best ground contact midsole compound out there. Its incredible grip had me bombing down steep hills at top speed, even on rain-slicked streets. You don’t need outsole rubber or a carbon fiber plate to get great pop from a shoe. These are fun and fast.
2. Topo Zephyr (RTR Review)
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you’re racing in the Next%, you should be training in the Zephyr. While these don’t feature a pricey carbon plate, they do include a propulsive Pebax plate that adds snap to the soft midsole foam. They felt a bit weird for me out of the gate, but after a short break-in period, these began to feel like a trainer version of Nike’s trendsetting racer: the plate encourages fast turnover, but the forgiving midsole foam keeps the long miles from punishing my legs.
3. Brooks Revel 3 (RTR Review)
Fun, fast, and wallet-friendly, the Revel 3 delivers premium performance without the premium price. I’m happy to sacrifice a heavily engineered upper to get a simple knit paired with a BioMoGo DNA midsole that just flat out works. Fans of the OG Brooks Launch will love the Revel 3 – this is a $100 shoe with hall of fame roots.
1. Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% (RTR Review)
A lot of ink has been spilled already about the Next%. Suffice to say, there’s a reason that elite athletes sponsored by other brands are often seen racing in blacked out Next%s. Astoundingly light, soft, propulsive, and far more durable than either of its predecessors, the Next% deserves the hype. If it’s in your budget, you won’t find a better marathon racing shoe.
2. Adidas Adios 4 (RTR Review)
I reviewed this shoe in 2018, but I think it was released to the public in 2019, so I’m including it here. The Adios 4 is where old school meets new school in the best possible way. Boost, the game-changing midsole tech Adidas first released in 2013 has been refined so it complements this snappy, stable racer with a touch of softness in the heel. This new school technology meets an old school mesh and faux suede upper, done up in a modern one-piece construction. A bit scratchy on the inside from un-taped seams, the Adios 4 gives off vibes of the hard-nosed, no-nonsense old school. I ran the fastest workouts of my life in the Adios 4 and I might prefer it over the Next% for distances less than 13.1 miles.

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 [https://runners-reviews.com/
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Shoe Reviews YouTube playlist HERE

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The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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