Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Saucony Endorphin Elite Multi Tester Review: 13 Comparisons

Article by Derek Li, Sam Winebaum, Peter Stuart, Renee Krusemark, Sally Reiley and Marcel Krebs

Saucony Endorphin Elite ($275)

Editor’s Note: We are updating Derek’s November 2022 review of the Endorphin Elite with input from 5 other testers. Derek has more than 200 km on his pair while the rest of the team has only had the Elite for about a week. We will further update the review as we run them more and discover more!

Derek: My Endorphin Elite was a personal purchase from Key Power Sports Vietnam, a Saucony distributor where the shoe was first available for sale in November 2022, albeit briefly.

Saucony was the first brand to truly challenge Nike in the super shoe game back in the Spring of 2020, with the launch of the Endorphin Pro 1. The shoe was impressive and a huge step forward for them, but it didn’t quite match the Vaporfly and Alphafly. Since then, the Endorphin Pro has undergone 2 revisions, while still maintaining more or less the same “principle of assistance”, in that it utilizes the carbon plate to reinforce the forefoot rocker to aid transition.

In parallel with this widely accepted method of using the carbon plate, another approach has been gradually gaining traction. This approach relies on a lower heel-toe drop, and maximizing the amount of foam under the forefoot, while concurrently using a plate that is able to absorb a high forefoot loading force and rebound in a way that propels you forward. Examples of this approach include the Nike Alphafly 1, ASICS Metaspeed Sky and Sky+, the Xtep 160x 3.0 Pro and the Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro. 

Now it seems the Endorphin Elite has joined those ranks and it will classed alongside the Endorphin 3 as Saucony’s flagship super shoes, sort of like what Nike are doing with the Vaporfly and Alphafly and what ASICS are doing with the Edge and Sky.

Sam: With a wild look some say and I agree reminiscent of Dutch clogs, Saucony launches the Endorphin Elite in February as their pinnacle long distance racer.  Key to its potential is a new midsole foam PWRRUN HG with claimed energy “return” above 90%. 

Saucony shared the following information with us regarding the mechanical\ testing of HG foam and the metabolic testing of the Endorphin Elite:

In Lab mechanical testing, PWRRUN-HG is our most energy efficient foam to-date.  In Lab metabolic testing, the Endorphin Elite results in statistically significant improvements in running efficiency, on average, compared to other production models (testing includes our product and competitor product.) 

At a max legal 39.5 mm heel with 31.5mm forefoot stack we see a new 4 forked carbon plate, instead of the usual spoon shape in  most super shoes, as shown below. 

Would this combination of super efficient foam and lots of it, forked plate, and radical midsole design deliver top notch performance, likely I think but for what types of runner strides, paces and abilities? Saucony said in their marketing: “We build for the experience, not your ability.” Our wide range of tester types with marathon times from about 4 hours to 2:39  set out to find out.


  • Good heel lockdown – Derek/Sam/Peter/Sally

  • Roomy forefoot, should fit most foot shapes well – Derek/Sam/Peter/Renee/Sally/Marcel

  • Excellent stability – Derek/Sam/Peter/Renee/Sally/Marcel

  • Good outsole durability – Derek/Renee/Sally/Marcel

  • Consistent feeling,stable and easy to flow from landing to midfoot - Marcel/Sam

  • Deep cushion, highly energetic ride (Saucony claims 95% energy return) that balances comfort with quick response -  Sam/Sally/Marcel

  • Saucony says: “We build for the experience, not your ability.” True! A great experience even for this for sure (Sam) non elite who tends to heel strike: Sam/Sally

  • Forked plate has some flex leading to an easier roll with more decisive foam rebound then prior Endorphin: Sam/Sally/Marcel

  • Very light for high 31.5/39.5 stack and broad platform: Sam

  • Incredibly breathable upper (but a con right now for cold New England winter runs) - Sally/Marcel

  • Leg saving even at hard efforts - Marcel

  • Good outsole grip for a racer - Marcel/Sally


  • Transitions feel awkward at slower paces – Derek/Peter/Renee/Sally/Marcel

  • Rocker could move a little further back to ease into the toe off roll a bit more “gently”: Geometry of plate, softer foam or more plate flex could help-Sam/Peter/Renee/Sally

  • Firmer forefoot than Endorphin Pro 3 - Derek

  • Could use more lace eyelets – Derek/Sally

  • Heel lockdown might need some time to dial in for some folks - Marcel/Renee


Official Weight:  Men 7.2oz / 204g (US9) ::  Women 6.5oz / 185g (US8)

Sample Weights::  

         Men’s: 211g / 7.5oz US9.5, 203g  / 7.15 oz US8.5, 215g / 7.58oz US10

         Women’s: 6.5 oz / 186 g (US W8) 6.52 oz / 186 g (US8)

Official Stack Height: Forefoot: 31.5mm, Heel: 39.5mm 

Measured Platform Width: 85mm heel / 60mm midfoot / 113mm forefoot

$275. Available February 21, 2023 

First Impressions, Upper, and Fit 

Derek: Over the past 2 years, I have become a big fan of lower drop super shoes and even a lot of my moderate pace long runs are done in high stack, low drop shoes. My most used trainers have been the Nike Tempo Next% (4mm drop) and the Xtep 160x Pro v1 (6mm drop), while my main racing shoes were the Nike Alphafly v1 (4mm) and the ASICS Metaspeed Sky (measured 5mm drop). The Saucony Endorphin Elite photos have popped up on social media on and off for some time now, and so when I saw that it was launching in Vietnam, I jumped at the chance to get a pair. 

The upper is all sorts of radical with straps and holes all over the place, reminiscent of the old Nike Huarache shoes, and I think with a silhouette like this, it is appropriate to keep the color schemes relatively simple. 

Fit is the primary concern with such an apparently unstructured upper. Will the lockdown be good enough? The shoe feels more like a working prototype with an unfinished upper, compared to the much more refined finish of the Endorphin Pros. The fit is on the slightly longer side of true-to-size, and the toebox is even more rounded and roomy than on the Endorphin Pro 3. That said, I would not size down for this one. Not for a marathon race anyway. (In terms of fit comparison, I wear true to size in all the Endorphin shoes as well as in the Vaporfly range.  size down a half size in Alphafly 1 and 2.

The front of the upper is composed of a single layer nylon mesh. 

There is an internal laminate forming a toe guard up front, giving it quite good volume over the toes. 

The tongue is composed of a thin perforated suede layer attached to elastic fabric bands on both sides in a gusseted manner. The sockliner is glued in and flat.

At the midfoot, there is a single nylon strap that attaches to the lace eyelet section of the upper on both sides, running externally to the primary upper layer.

 It then runs under the embedded carbon plate coming up the other side of the shoe.

It is one continuous strap (only interrupted where it meets the lacing)  that serves to reinforce the hold of the midfoot. 

You don’t really notice it until you lace up the shoe and the resultant hold comes into effect.

The rear of the upper is completely unstructured with no heel cup. 

It is a stretch knit with a non-stretch band wrapping on the outside of the knit and then running up to the laces and along either side of the window through which the underfoot strap runs with the upper part of the strap the lace eyelets.  

Instead of the commonly used cushions on either side of the Achilles, Saucony has opted to use a single thick pillow to lock onto the heel with on the outside a pull tab connected to the strap for a touch more rear structure.

The other piece of the puzzle is how much the upper slants forward into the Achilles by design. 

I think without this aggressive forward angle of the heel collar, we would be seeing massive heel slippage. Instead, we have excellent heel lockdown, which has become somewhat of a rarity with racing uppers of late.

If there is one knock I have on the shoe, it’s the installation of only 5 rows of eyelets. 

I would have liked an extra row, just so that lace tension is less obvious on the top of the foot. With such a thin suede tongue, any pressure from the laces will be quite clearly felt on the foot, especially with thinner socks.

All in all, the upper is surprisingly effective for me, and I think people are going to like it more than the upper of the Endorphin Pro 3, an upper where I have incidentally never had heel rub issues.

Peter: Not too much to add to Derek, here, just some subjective input. Shoe is true-to-size for me, roomy enough that I’m not going to pay for a long run with a lost toenail. Lockdown and fit are excellent. This is a lace-em-up and go experience. Eyelets and lacing were excellent for me, and felt like my foot was wrapped in a very light and supportive upper. The whole package seems like it will dry quickly and not get heavy if wet. Should be a nice warm weather race shoe for that reason. Super breathable. 

Sam: Derek describes the upper as sort of a “working prototype”. I see it as stripped down to its the essential skeletal support with each element focused on task and weight reduction. Essentially we have a single layer mesh front and midfoot and a stretch knit rear with a single piece laminate of non stretch pliable plasticky material wrapping the heel, framing the windows and creating the eyelets holder. 

Some stitching reinforces the key diagonal strip from the lace up to the rear intersecting the heel wrapping strip which is about the same thickness as the rest but not as translucent.

Also key to the foothold is the more open, only slightly stretchy grid mesh strap which wraps under the foot on each side ending on each side of the laces. 

This strip totally locks my foot to the narrow 60mm midfoot platform and more than mitigates, along with the flat medial foam surface at the road, any stability issues in what is among the most narrow of midfoot platform widths with in addition its big lateral cutout. Clever and effective as this approach clearly reduces weight as well.

The rear hold is shockingly good for essentially a stretch knit with the rear strap and the single pillow of achilles padding with the foam sidewalls cradling not only the rear but the sides of foot further forward.

Lace up is easy and pressure free despite the thin gusset tongue which cleverly has a touch of padding through a thin rubbery logo layer at the lace up point. It has not folded over as some such thin tongues do

The toe box is generous and very well held with the pliable high and extensive toe bumper overlay bringing up the height while securing the foot in what upfront is a notably thin and pliable mesh. 

I puzzled alot about how this upper works so well and conclude the key is the external straps placement, including the arch strap focusing on where the foot really needs to be locked to the shoe working in concert with the foam sidewalls. 

Most of my test runs were on an indoor track with 2 sharp almost square corners and even there I was locked and stable.

The fit is easily true to size for me with thin Compressport race socks or even somewhat heavier socks with plenty of well held toe box room.

There is no doubt this upper may prove to be the most breathable yet in a super shoe although the high midsole side walls may potentially retain water to be seen.

Renee: My fellow RTR runners have the details, so I’ll chime in as a mediocre runner trying to run closer to a 7:30 min/mile pace marathon than an 8 min/mile pace. The upper for sure looks like a prototype, but it does not cause as many issues as it looks. 

For sizing, I suggest true-to-size. I’m between half sizes and have plenty of room in the forefoot. I’m not sure I’d half-size down though. I have the same issue in the Vaporfly and to save my toenails, the half size larger works better. 

I needed to lace really tight across the forefoot to get a good hold, which is not a problem at marathon pace (or slower) but I wore the shoe during speed intervals too and had some security issues (minor only). The same issue goes for the heel hold. At 5k to half marathon paces, the heel feels a bit loose. The tongue material bunches some across the forefoot when lacing tight, but I had no irritation even when wearing thin socks. I thought the heel would rub so I wore ankle socks to test, and had no issues. I could feel the midfoot strap occasionally, but it wasn’t bothersome. 

For reference, I’ve run 33 total miles in the shoes all on the treadmill because of snow and ice. I ran one 16-mile easy to marathon pace run and two interval/speed workouts (1-mile intervals at half marathon pace and 1k intervals at 10k pace). 

Sally: Derek is a master of the technical details, so I won’t even attempt to add to his summary. Suffice it to say my initial impression of this shoe was WOW. 

The fit is true to size and immediately comfortable with a more generous toe box than the previous Endorphin Pro models, aided by the ample height of the toe bumper. (I had some challenges on long runs with the Pro 1 and the Pro+ especially, wishing I could size up to preserve my toe nails). 

The upper wraps your foot securely like a minimalist glove.  Between the midfoot strap and the heel pillow, my foot was locked down with absolutely no heel slippage. 

The barely there thin suede tongue with its large perforated holes looked like it would double up on itself over my narrow foot, but I never felt a thing. And breathable, wow, is it breathable! On the cold winter morning runs this past week in New England my feet were admittedly cold, so I had to adjust with thicker wool socks. Underfoot, you can’t help but notice the aggressive forward rocker geometry of this shoe. Let’s run!

Marcel: With so much concentrated expertise in the test team, it is not easy to add further relevant technical aspects, which is why I will limit myself to my personal impressions at this point.

In terms of fit, I have good news for those like me with a slightly wider forefoot. The toe box of the Saucony Endorphin Elite is comparatively generous for a racing shoe. At the same time, midfoot support is very good, so forefoot wiggle room doesn't come at the expense of hold. Awesome! 

The heel hold is a little tricky and depends on the individual foot shape, I guess. The reason for this is mainly the strongly forward inclined and extremely thin heel cap.The pillow at the achilles tendon works surprisingly well; I did not experience any irritation so far. As far as heel hold is concerned I personally had to dial in lacing and choice of socks a little bit, but then the fit was very secure. 

Basically, however, the Saucony Endorphin Elite turns out true to size. At the front of the shoe I have the usual thumb width space. The Endorphin Pro 3 is somewhat less generous in comparison and the standard model of the Speed 3 is exactly half a size too short for my liking.

As is well known, taste is up to personal preference, but I like the bright neon green of my test sample extremely well! How the Saucony Endorphin Elite performed in the field test, you will find out in the next sections.


Derek: The midsole has two distinct colors with the green foam actually firmer than the white foam. Saucony lists the foam used as PWRRUN HG foam and it seems clear both green and white foams are different versions of the same foam. The HG foam is not made of expanded beads of PEBA as PWRRUN PB is as it has a continuous very fine grained texture. 

It has become clear that PWRRUN PB foam can be tuned to different densities as evidenced by the clear difference in softness between the Endorphin Pro 3 and Pro 1 and 2. 

It looks like the same also applies to PWRRUN HG foam. I measured the firmer green foam durometer at 30A, while the softer white foam durometer was measured at 23A. For reference, the Endorphin Pro 3 midsole durometer was measured at 20A so the foam in the Elite is firmer yet I also found it also more forgiving with less ground feel than the Endorphin Pro 3 or Adios Pro 3’s Lightstrike Pro’s foams. 

Despite the external appearance, my measured heel stack of the Endorphin Elite and Endorphin Pro 3 is almost identical. 

This is because the green foam rises quite high up the sides for most of the heel and midfoot. There are two key features to note here. First, the forefoot rocker is quite far forward, and you don’t really engage it just by landing midfoot a la Endorphin Pro 3; you do need to lean into the forefoot to engage that part of it. If you land more on the heel or midfoot, the shoe actually feels quite flat on initial impact. 

That brings me to the second key feature. The midfoot cutout on the lateral side. 

Compare this with other brands that put the cutout on the medial side, e.g. Adios Pro 2, Puma FAST-FWD Nitro Elite, Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro, if they even put one at all. 

I point this out because the foot’s natural tendency is to pronate. That’s normal. 

Here, instead of a medial cutout that promotes pronation, you have an imbalance of underfoot resistance that tips you more towards supination. At faster paces (6:20/mile down to 5:20/mile) it’s no problem, the natural impact forces and fast transitions will let you breeze right through to the forefoot. At slower paces (8:00/mile or slower)  I can feel a sinking in the midfoot where you kind of load in the middle and feel like you have a hill to climb up to get to the forefoot rocker. For context, I am mostly a mid-forefoot striker at most paces. 

When I first experienced this, I thought I had broken the plate. Of course, fast and slow are all relative so it’s going to be tricky to gauge how you will experience this.

At this point it would be remiss not to talk about the embedded carbon plate. 

It has a 4 way front fork and is quite different from the Endorphin Pro plate. The plate is still stiff for sure and gives a very solid rebound off the toes. 

In terms of underfoot feel, the vibration dampening in the Endorphin Elite is very, very good. Right up there with Alphafly 1, Xtep 160x 3.0 Pro and the Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro, and noticeably better than the Adios Pro 2/3, Endorphin Pro 3 and Vaporfly Next%. 

The relatively wide heel and forefoot also make the shoe one of the more stable super shoes on the market.. This is, I think is the key selling point of this shoe, where you have runners who like the forefoot loading and spring of the Alphafly 1 or Xtep 160x 3.0 Pro, but just can’t handle the instability.

Peter: Derek nailed it completely when he said “ you do need to lean into the forefoot to engage that part of it. If you land more on the heel or midfoot, the shoe actually feels quite flat on initial impact. “ I’m quoting him here because that’s exactly what holds this shoe back from greatness for me. Especially in direct comparison to the Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro . I’ll get into it more on the ride section. Agree that it feels very stable (which the Rebellion Pro did not at the end of a race). I need to put more pace work into the shoe to get a better sense of whether it really excites me at race paces. 


Saucony described their mechanical testing of PWRRUN HG foam as follows:

In terms of mechanical testing, a mechanical apparatus bludgeons the foam, and how much energy the foam returns when the force is relieved demonstrates the shoe's energy efficiency. 


The foam is the spring. It compresses and rebounds.  We measure both the Force and Displacement on the downstroke, and the upstroke alike.  The hysteresis created is how we assess the foam efficiency.  

In Lab mechanical testing, PWRRUN-HG is our most energy efficient foam to-date. 

I found the foam highly energetic with a quick rebound. As Derek also found it is very impact vibration absorbing. Based on the table Derek prepared below with lower durometer scores softer foam and higher scores firmer we can see the Elite top layer is moderately firm and the bottom layer moderately soft. 

I do wonder why unlike most others the firmer foam in the Elite is placed above and not below. Maybe to mask the plate feel? Elite Saucony runners preference? A touch more drop in squish up front might have helped give the shoe more roll for me and less of a need to drive hard on the plate to get rebound.

Despite appearances, the Elite measures 39.5 mm at the heel and 31.5 mm at the forefoot. As Derek notes the thin top portions of the green midsole side walls rise about 15 mm above the footbed at the rear, tapering lower further forward providing a bathtub of soft foam to seat the foot and stabilize. 

The light shade of green at the arrow is actually the foam sidewall

So instead of widening the platform as some competitors do for stability, Saucony uses this clever approach along with more vertical sidewalls and no cutout on the medial side as shown below which saves weight over a fuller width of foam mass below the foot. 

The Elite’s platform on the ground measures 85mm heel / 60mm midfoot / 113mm forefoot so quite similar to other super shoes with the exception of the midfoot which is considerably narrower. The narrow midfoot platform may in part explain Derek tipping towards supination in combination with the lateral carve out of the Elite.  

I had no such issues as I tend to have a quick if pronounced medial heel strike with not much pronation after.

I found the platform notably stable and “on the ground level” to the rear of the shoe moving me easily towards the forefoot from heel to midfoot. 

The forked plate is I assume rigid carbon but by being forked will have more give in terms of individual toes in action. I think this is a smart move. Walking in the Elite one has a very distinct sensation of the final “Speed Roll” drop off while running, assuming the forked plate has some give, there is a less abrupt drop off sensation and more of a roll. Certainly more roll than the Endorphin Pro 1 and 2 and about the same for me as the Endorphin Pro 3 with its far softer foam mushier and less reactive foam which Derek measures in his table above at 15.5 top and bottom vs 30 top and 23 bottom for the Elite. 

Maybe Saucony relaxed the plate with forks to smooth things out to keep it from being harsh with the now firmer foam and I think it works well. While we don’t know if the plate here has flex as does the Carbitex plate in the trail Endorphin Edge or the various Xtep if it doesn't, more flex would improve the feel and flow for me regardless. 

Renee: So, yeah . . . it’s a lot of midsole. If you want a high stack cushion, you’ll get it. The shoe sort of “broke in” for me during my second run, at about 15 total miles. The midsole softened some once I realized the best landing and pace for the forefoot rocker. During my first 9-mile run (2 mile warm up followed by 1 mile intervals), I could feel the plate under my forefoot. Same for the first few miles during my second run (16 miles). The midsole became more comfortable with some break in. I’ll agree with Derek and Peter that a strong, fast push from the forefoot is needed to really engage the shoe.

Sally: It seems amazing that the heel stack height of this shoe is within the “legal” limit of 40 mm, measuring in at 39.5mm. It runs like a higher stack super shoe. I found the midsole soft without being bouncy soft, most notable for its forward lean and rocker geometry. An uptempo quick pace and accelerated cadence will make this shoe shine. This is not a shoe for a slow easy “jog.” 

Marcel: Looking at the midsole, the lateral cut-outs immediately catch your eye. These are not only visually eye-catching, but also contribute to weight savings. 

As Derek mentioned, the Saucony Endorphin Elite has the cut-outs on the lateral sides, unlike the competitive models I'm familiar with. 

Even though I am a classic neutral runner, this is very positive for me in terms of the stability of the Saucony Endorphin Elite. This is simply because the natural pronation movement is not further reinforced by cut-outs on the medial side. 

In addition, I can confirm that the rocker under the forefoot is indeed positioned very far forward, which requires an appropriate running stance and speed to activate it efficiently. 


Derek: The outsole surprised me. Usually you look at the compounds and you kind of know what to expect. One of the criticisms of the Endorphin Pro 3 is the relatively weak durability of the forefoot blown rubber. 

Here you have a thin layer of rubber that looks like the sandpaper like stuff of the Adios Pro range, but it has been surprisingly resilient and grippy, making me think it’s some new variant of carbon injected rubber instead.

Update: so far I’m still seeing quite low wear on the rubber sections of the outsole. The compound definitely seems to wear down slower than the Adidas equivalent for me. That said, the exposed midsole does scuff up a little, though the degree is no more so than other race shoes with exposed midsoles like the Nike’s and ASICS’s. People coming from the Endorphin Pro’s might be a bit put off because the beaded PWRRUN PB foam is incredibly resistant to scuffing even on the exposed outsole sections. I personally don’t really wear my shoes much on the medial sides so this is not really an issue for me. 

The photos below are after ~200km of running split between 60km of treadmill (mainly shorter interval speed work) and 140km road/pavement. 

Peter: Outsole is simple and effective for me. I got them out on wet roads and had zero issues with traction.

Renee: I’ll echo everyone else. For a marathon racing shoe, the outsole coverage is perfect. I normally have some wear on the lateral heel of plated shoes when running intervals on the treadmill (laziness when moving from fast to slow/recovery pace). The rubber placement is perfect and I have no wear after 33 miles. 

Sally: The outsole has a surprising amount of rubber, given its lightweight, and looks not unlike the Metaspeed Sky. All that thin rubber provided great traction on the wet roads I ran on, and most likely will contribute to decent durability, oftentimes a problem with marathon race shoes. Another wonderful attribute of this outsole is that it is relatively quiet (so unlike the Nike Alphafly!). This outsole checks all the boxes and then some.

Marcel: Sally takes the words out of my mouth at this point: The similarity of the outsole to the Metaspeed models from ASICS literally jumps out at you at this point, as you can see well in the picture above. And this is meant as a compliment.

Traction is at a comparably high level and I also had a secure grip on wet surfaces. 


Derek: The shoe is best run at an uptempo pace, not because it is harsh when it’s run slower but mainly because the transition seems to stall a little at midfoot at slower paces for me. Otherwise, the degree of cushioning makes it easily usable for pretty much any kind of run. The stability and outsole grip are the big selling points for me, and when combined with the excellent upper, make for very confident cornering. 

This is a low drop shoe that rewards loading the forefoot with a strong confident rebound. The overall ride is on the firmer side, but it’s definitely more forgiving than say the Adios Pro 3 and Endorphin Pro 3 because there is less ground feel. People should have no problems doing a full marathon in these shoes.

Update: the official stack numbers have put the drop at 8mm. Honestly it still feels like a low drop shoe to me, and more importantly, this shoe needs a lot of calf drive to generate the pop off the front, much like ASICS Metaspeed Sky+ as the HG foam is not quite as soft as the other super foams. 

Peter: While the ride is stable and there is a plate, I feel like I’m working a little harder to push this shoe through. There are some shoes in which I just FEEL faster, roll forward and almost have to control the forward roll. The Endo Elite makes me work for it. I haven’t gotten enough long pace work in it to know if I can tune in the ride to make it as fun and fast-feeling as some other race shoes. 

Renee: I agree with everything Derek and Peter wrote, and I’m slower than both of them. I didn’t mind the ride during 2-mile warm up paces, but at slow paces for longer durations, the transition doesn’t feel as natural as other plated shoes, including the Sky+ and Vaporfly. During my 16-mile easy to aerobic run I had to speed up to at least marathon pace. As a marathon race shoe, that’s the goal, although just a note about the shoe not working the best for training or for runners who are used to plated shoes that work at a variety of paces. For example, the Vaporfly works for me for 5ks to marathons, and I don’t mind the Sky+ for shorter distances at faster paces either. As others wrote, the ride is best for a strong forefoot take off and quick cadence. I’m as surprised as Derek that the drop is 8mm. The forefoot landing makes the shoe closer to 5 or 6mm. In my opinion, the ride of the Elite is like a higher stacked, more aggressive forefoot take-off version of the ASICS Sky+. 

Sally: I am probably the slowest marathoner of this group with my most recent London time of 3:24:02, but I have had the good fortune of running in many of the recent super shoes. The Endorphin Elite impresses me a lot: I found myself running faster than the perceived energy expended because the shoe encourages a quick cadence and aggressive toe-tipping forward roll. I also feel the ride to be more natural in feel than that of some of the other full carbon plate shoes, possibly because the innovative slotted carbon plate in this shoe allows your foot more flexibility laterally upon landing. There is plenty of rebound and energy return in this midsole (Saucony claims 95% energy return), but not the trampoline like bounce of the Nike Vaporfly; the rebound feels more forward thrusting than simply airborne.

Sam: I am slower than Sally these days! All of my runs in the Elite were between 4 and 5 miles on an indoor track, adjusting for altitude they were at a bit faster than my wished for marathon pace for a marathon between 3:40 and 3:45 and slower than my half pace for a 1:39-1:42 half. 

The ride is very stable at the rear without being overly broad (Alphafly 2) I think due to expanse of level foam which by the way in about 20 miles of running to date has zero wear or scuffing, unlike my Alphafly 2 which have some on the interior of the central groove quite far forward of the heel. 

The Elite does require a power forward posture to drive the plate but unlike the Alphafly 1, RC Elite 3, or Endorphin Pro 3 is not overly soft and for me sometimes unstable. This part is good for me as I tend to quickly but quite sharply heel strike. As Peter says the flow is not easy smooth as some you have to work and focus on driving forward.

The plate is for sure noticed and begs to be pushed hard but not so much if you don’t or run slowly that it feels overwhelming. I think the Speed Roll combined with the forked design helps in that regard. Interestingly, as stated above the Speed Roll is very much noticed walking but less if for sure still there on the run telling me the forked plate has some give, 

For sure it has less give and roll than the Varorfly, Endorphin Speed 3 or several of the flexible plated Xtep racers, shoes along with the Endo Speed 3, which are my go to for racing these days.

No races so far in them but I think I will be lacing them up for 10K to half type distances and will opt for more roll (Vaporfly) and/or more flex for a marathon (Endorphin Speed 3 and Xtep 160X.2.0 or 3.0)

Marcel: My thoughts on the ride are mainly initial impressions because of the short lead time since receiving my sample. Therefore, I might adjust them a little bit during the upcoming weeks. Nevertheless, the picture that emerges so far is quite clear and largely coincides with the impressions of my colleagues.

For me, the Saucony Endorphin Elite really begins to shine in a pace range between 6-7 min/mile. At slower paces, it neither feels awkward nor unstable but it simply cannot play to his strengths effectively in those pace ranges.

In contrast, during uptempo-training, strides and at marathon efforts, the Saucony Endorphin Elite is incredibly efficient and leg saving. I recognized this especially when I went into a long run with some (light) Patella pain which often gets worse during a run. But in this case, they almost disappeared after the run. I have no intention of making any medical claims here. But it nicely illustrates the effects the new midsole of the Saucony Endorphin Elite might have regarding leg saving and faster recovery after hard efforts.


Derek: Saucony has had a string of superb hits this year with the Ride 15, Tempus, Endorphin Speed 3 and Endorphin Pro 3.  I think the Endorphin Elite will be a major hit among the Alphafly 1 faithful, and maybe pull in a whole host of new fans who maybe liked the forefoot ride of the lower drop shoes but couldn’t quite handle the heel instability.

Derek’s Score: 9.73/10

Ride 9.8 (50%) Fit 10 (30%) Value 9 (15%) Style 9.5 (5%) 

Smiles Score: 😊😊😊😊😊 

Peter: I wanted to love the Endo Elite. I wanted it to come in during race week and win a spot on the starting line, but alas, it did not. I did a lot of direct comparison and found that it just didn’t feel as fast and smooth for me as a couple of other race shoes. Is it wrong to say that I might even prefer the ASICS Magic Speed 2? Running them side by side ,the Magic Speed 2 runs a little smother, rolls a little easier off the toe. I prefer the underfoot cushion of the Endo Elite though, so I think that it will be better for longer fast workouts.  I’ll admit that the Endo Elite might be great for faster, more elite runners than me, but for me it’s decently fun and fast but not a home run. 

Peter’s Score 8.5/10

Smiles Score: 😊😊😊

Renee: At 33 miles total, I’m still figuring out the Elite. I like it, but I think I need to be faster to really appreciate it. The stack is massive, so for me the shoe will work best for marathon distances only (whereas some plated racing shoes work fine for me at shorter distances). 

Much like Derek and Peter thought, the shoe will work best for runners with an aggressive, fast push from the forefoot. My initial impression is the shoe might be “too fast” for my marathon pace, but it does require a fast turnover and that’s the goal for a marathon racing shoe. I’ll just need to make sure I’m in good enough shape to maintain a pace. I’ll be curious if the aggressive forefoot ride softens closer to 100 miles, in which case it might work better for us mediocre runners. 

Renee’s Score: 9.3/10 (-.30 upper fit, .-40 forefoot aggression)


Sally: I only have 30 miles on the shoe so far (blame that on the wintry weather here in Massachusetts, and I DO NOT do treadmills), but I do think Saucony has a real hit here with the Endorphin Elite. Yes, I am also still figuring it out, but it successfully combines fast performance with comfort. 

Saucony claims that this is not just a race day shoe for elite runners, but rather a shoe that makes all runners feel like an elite. And in my book, if running in this shoe makes me feel like an elite, I will rise up to that expectation and run more like an elite. Mind over matter! 

I plan to do some testing on longer training runs (I am training for my 10th straight Boston) to see if I can sufficiently sustain the fast turnover required to maximize the benefits of this super shoe over longer periods; stay tuned. My recent marathon PRs have all been achieved in Nike Vaporfly Next%  that provide more of a bouncing up sensation than this shoe with its sensation of forward propulsion. It’s a pleasant surprise to find a carbon plated race day shoe that feels great on the foot on day one, and boosts my confidence on the run. Following on the heels of numerous recent Saucony successes, this Endorphin Elite is a winner!

Sally’s score: 9.6/10

Ride 9.7 (50%) Fit 10 (30%) Value 9 (15%) Style 9.5 (5%)

Smiles Score: 😊😊😊😊 ½  

Marcel: Despite the relatively short test period so far, I am very impressed with the Saucony Endorphin Elite. First of all, it generates excellent propulsion - provided you have the right running style and speed. At the same time, it is extremely energy efficient and leg saving, offers excellent cushioning and is very stable for a racing shoe. It also comes at a very low weight. As the cherry on the cake, it also looks very good;-)

From my perspective, the Saucony Endorphin Elite is a shoe that we will definitely see more and more on the start lines of major marathon races this year. Not only is the Endorphin Elite a serious alternative for the elite field. The Saucony Endorphin Elite is also an excellent choice for the broader masses who, like me, are aiming i.g. for a Boston Qualifier with times of ~3:10 to 3:30h. In the pace ranges below that, Saucony offers a great alternative with the Endorphin Pro, which covers an even wider range of paces. 

Marcel’s score: 9.43/10

Ride 9.5 (50%) Fit 9.5 (30%) Value 9 (15%) Style 9.5 (5%)

Smiles Score: 😊😊😊😊😊

Sam: A wild look, superb upper, a great high energy returning foam, and barely 7 oz for a max stack racer are the big highlights of the Elite. While my testing is still early, Saucony for sure has a top level contender for elites and faster amateurs neatly bridging between their over firm and aggressive (for me)  pioneering Endorphin Pro 1 and over soft and mellow and a bit disjointed Endorphin 3. 

All of a piece and ready for fast (and stable) racing action, I think the Elite leans more elite than the slower end of the marathon pack. I do think Saucony says it right and created what they claimed to build: We build for the experience, not your ability.” as the overall experience is superb in execution although this shoe does require some “ability” to really enjoy, I would say 3:30 marathoners and faster.

My cons are first the pricing at $275 as I am not sure it is as versatile for me as some options although the next level foam and incredible upper are a cut above the competition. 

Secondarily, the aggressiveness of the plate despite the helpful forked design. I think a more flexible plate, even a small amount more flexible, or softer foam directly below the foot instead of at the ground to better roll those of us without powerful strides would have made the Elite more accessible to yet more runners and make it a better value.

Sam’s Score: 9.40 /10 

Ride: 9.3 Fit: 9.9 Value: 9 Style: 9.5


13 Comparisons:

Derek’s Comparative Platform Widths & Foam Firmness (lower values are softer)

Saucony Endorphin Elite vs. Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 (RTR Review)

Derek: I am true to size in both shoes at US9.5. The EP3 rides more like a Vaporfly with a geometry that promotes rolling through the shoe, while the Endorphin Elite relies more on the runner leaning into and loading the forefoot. EE appears to have better outsole durability than the EP3, and also has better vibration dampening and less ground feel. I feel like for the marathon distance, the EE would be the better shoe for me.

Sam: I agree with Derek that the Endorphin Pro 3 is a more rolling action shoe. I do find its considerably softer foam and full spoon type plate not as all of a piece in feel but more forgiving (and less efficient in return)  so more mellow if less rear stable. The Endorphin Pro 3 may be a  bit better choice for the slower marathoner than the Elite and for those who prefer soft midsoles. Too soft for me.

Marcel: The Endorphin Pro 3 was my road running shoe of the year 2022. It’s not only an excellent racer but also works well at slower paces. Therefore, it is more versatile than the Elite. As far as fit is concerned, both are TTS for me, with the Elite clearing having the more roomy toebox which i highly welcome. Pro 3 for versatility, Elite for marathon race day.

Saucony Endorphin Elite vs. Nike Alphafly 1

Derek: I wear US9.5 in the Endorphin Elite, and size down to US9.0 in both Alphafly 1 and 2. Alphafly 1 has been my gold standard marathon shoe this year and I ran two of the fastest marathons of my life in the same pair. 

The Endorphin Elite has a better upper for me and seems to hold even pressure for longer periods, while the Atom Knit of the Alphafly tends to lose tension a little after the first 2 hours, especially if the knit gets wet. 

Both shoes have excellent outsole grip and relatively good rubber durability so that’s a wash. 

Endorphin Elite has the better overall stability especially when cornering, but is maybe not as spectacular at slower than race paces. The AF1 is good overall at all paces for me and so has somewhat better versatility. In terms of mechanical assistance, I think the AF1 still has a slight edge, but that edge has become really small.

Sam: The AF 1 was super fast for me when I could go fast but back on the heels at slower paces when tired I struggled.

Saucony Endorphin Elite vs. Nike Alphafly 2 (RTR Review)

Sam: Clearly Saucony was aiming more for the Alphafly than Vaporfly with the Elite. Alphafly 2 has a broader (by 11mm!) yet more stable heel but one that if you heel strike gets more in the way as pace slows. The extra 1 oz of weight, I bet from all that rear heel width of the AF 2 is felt in comparison.  The front air + carbon feel is more explosive when pushed and I would also say slightly more cushioned in feel with the somewhat similar final roll less present unless you are yet more forward in posture than even Elite. I find the AF2 is more rigid overall requiring good front form and effective use of air pod plus plate to really move but easier to run slow than the Elite. Nothing wrong with the Alphafly 2 upper, but Saucony clearly wins in that department for me. More comfortable, no arch bite, easier on the foot and at least if not more secure.

Saucony Endorphin Elite vs. Nike Vaporfly Next%

Derek: I am true to size in both shoes at US9.5. The Vaporfly is more like the EP3 above. I feel that the Next% lost a bit of transition efficiency when they went with a lower 8mm drop vs the 10mm drop of the 4%, and the softer heel also makes the shoe feel a little flatter than it should be. Overall, the EE provides better cushioning and a more springy and energetic rebound off the toes. I much prefer the ride of the EE at even slower paces. Endorphin Elite for the win.

Renee: I’m between half size in both shoes and will suggest the same size in the Vaporfly Next% for the Elite. The Vaporfly Next% upper is more secure/form fitting for me, although wide-foot runners might prefer the Elite upper. The Elite has better/more cushion and more spring from the forefoot. The ride of the Vaporfly is more user friendly for those who don’t have an aggressive forefoot landing, and as a high cadence runner, I found the Next% better for my paces.  

Sally: Usually a W8, I prefer to size up to a W8.5 in all versions of the Vaporfly Next % so as to preserve my big toe nails in a marathon, but I don’t feel the need to do so in the Endo Elite and felt comfortable in my true W8. My foot is on the narrow side of average, and the Endo Elite is definitely roomier in the toebox at TTS. The EE has more of an aggressive rocker and energetic toe-off bounce, while for me the VF has more of a trampoline -like bouncy sensation. I have run all my recent PRs in the VF (my “magic slippers”) and will need more convincing to line up at a race in the EE. My concern is that my running style/form cannot sustain the necessary effort to maximize the benefits of the EE. More long run testing will tell.

Sam: The Vaporfly is less cushioned in feel, has a far narrower heel landing, and a more pronounced rolling action from its bottom loaded carbon plate, so less need to really drive the plate down. It is more suitable to my form and low knee lift especially as I slow in races and this despite the narrow landing.

Saucony Endorphin Elite vs. adios Pro 3 (RTR Review)

Sam: The adios Pro 3 has similar underfoot dimensions of heel 85mm and  forefoot 117mm to the Elite with a wider midfoot, which really is not noticed as I find the Elite more stable, likely due to moving its cut out to the lateral side whereas the adidas is medial. 

The geometry of the adios Pro 3 upfront is angular in looks and action leading a bit more decisive toe off and more rigid front feel vs the slightly smoother roll of the Saucony. No comparisons as far as uppers as the adidas while fine is more a collection of overlays than the effective skeletal system of the Saucony. Both true to size with the Saucony not only more secure but roomier and more comfortable front to back

Renee: I wore a unisex size 7 (women’s 8 according to Adidas) in the Pro 3. The Pro 3 ran long for me, and I think a men’s unisex size 6.5 will be comparable to the women’s size 8 in the Elite. The Pro 3 has a surprisingly smooth ride that I think works better for a variety of paces. The Elite has more cushion and a more aggressive forefoot spring. For marathon racing, the Elite seems like the faster shoe, if you can handle the strong forefoot ride. 

Saucony Endorphin Elite vs. Xtep 160x 3.0 Pro (RTR Review)

Derek: I am true to size in both shoes at US9.5. Both shoes are great in their own way. The Xtep is a lot softer and more bouncy and springy, but also quite unstable. I think if you need more stability, the EE is the better option, but if you like a softer ride then the Xtep is the better shoe. As of this writing, fellow RTR contributor Matt Crehan just smashed a 2:18 marathon PB in the Xtep 160x 3.0 Pro so there’s nothing wrong with that shoe!

Sam: Agree with Derek here as the Xtep is softer and bouncier with a similar pronounced plate feel that is better cushioned and actually a touch flexible. I found the rear stability fine but not quite at the level of the Elite. For a marathon I would select Xtep Pro over the Elite. Shorter distances a toss up.

Saucony Endorphin Elite vs. ASICS Metaspeed Sky and Sky+ (RTR Review)

Derek: I am true to size in both shoes at US9.5. The Endorphin Elite has a firmer overall ride than the Sky but is softer than the Sky +. All of them rely on a good solid forefoot load to work well. If you find the Sky to be too little shoe, but Sky + to be too firm, then the Endorphin Elite is definitely worth a try.

Renee: The Sky and Sky+ have similar rides, with the Sky+ having slightly more cushion and a better fitting upper. The Sky+ is the closest comparison to the Elite of the marathon plate shoes I have. The Elite has more cushion and a more aggressive forefoot spring. The Elite seems like a pepped up version of the Sky+, which will be great for fast runners and not as great for mediocre marathon paces. For sizing, I suggest the same size although the Elite has more room in the forefoot. 

Sally: I agree that the Sky+ is the closest comparison in terms of ride of all the supershoes I have worn. I find both the Sky+ and the EE are true to size at W8 (thankfully ASICS remedied the short fit of the original Sky). The Sky+ has a fun, well-fitting peppy forward rolling ride, but the EE takes it up a notch with its more aggressive toe-off and exaggerated forward propulsion. If you have a strong forefoot thrust, you will be well served by the EE, but if you run more flat footed or are a heel striker, you might find the EE requires more effort for the energy return.

Marcel: I agree with Renee and Sally here. The Sky+ is a little bit more “accessible” at slower paces. And it indeed fixed the sizing issue of the Sky OG. Therefore, Sky+ and EE are TTS; if considering the Sky OG, size up at least half a size. More aggressive forefoot spring and more cushioning for the EE, while the Sky+ has a more classic and therefore more stable heel counter, even though the EE is pretty stable.

Saucony Endorphin Elite vs. Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite (RTR Review)

Derek: I am true to size in both shoes at US9.5. The Fast-R Nitro Elite is by Puma’s own admission, meant for mid- and forefoot strikers, but it rides like a traditional drop shoe! I find it quite tedious to load the forefoot in the Puma because the heel feels quite high. The Endorphin Elite is just as stable and confident around the corners, and is a much more forgiving and springy shoe. Endorphin Elite for the win.

Renee: If I think the Elite caters to fast runners, that goes double for the Fast-R. In terms of marathon plated racers, the Puma Fast-R is a bit heavy. The ride is much more forgiving than the shoe looks, but it takes a fast, strong push off from the midfoot to feel fast and comfortable. The Elite works better (in comparison) for me at all paces. Sizing is comparable, although the Elite upper is more flexible and roomy. 

Saucony Endorphin Elite vs Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro (RTR Review)

Peter: The Wave Rebellion Pro is a crazy shoe. It’s got more foam under the midfoot than anything I’ve ever put on and it very actively pushes you through the stride. When my legs got very tired at the end of a race, the Rebellion Pro made me feel a little bit like I was struggling to control them. Sort of like when a horse runs faster than you are comfortable with and wind up just hanging on. That said, I raced them instead of the Endorphin Elite. The Endo Elite are much more stable, but a bit less aggressive, and for me less fun. 

Saucony Endorphin Elite vs. NB FuelCell RC Elite v3 (RTR Review)

Sam: Much softer in feel (both foam and rear Energy Arc), less aggressive in ride, 0.6 oz heavier on a lower stack and a 4mm drop the RC Elite is almost more a trainer than racer in comparison. It for sure lacks the oomph and return of the Saucony but is super pleasant to run. Our Michael Ellenberger ran a 2:22 PR in his so they can move.

Saucony Endorphin Elite vs NB Fuel Cell RC Elite V2 (RTR Review)

Peter: Somewhere between the Mizuno and the Endo lies the RC Elite. I find the NB more stable than the Rebellion Pro and softer with more energy return than the Endorphin Elite. While the NB is smooth and quiet, the Endo Elite has the “tock, tock, tock” of the Alphafly. If I had to pick here, I’d race the NB over the Endo. 

ASICS Magic Speed 2 (RTR Review)

Sam: Not quite in the same weight range at 8 oz with a slightly lower stack or price range at $125 less, the Magic Speed 2 is a much more practical equally as stable option with a less aggressive carbon composite plate and a smoother less prominent rocker with a more pronounced roll sensation than the Elite. Its upper is snugger and thicker but more suitable for.. Speed. For races below a half and for fast training it is a better value and more versatile all around shoe with a smoother ride 

Altra Vanish Carbon (RTR Review)

Renee: The Vanish Carbon is much better for training miles as compared to most plated racers, including the Elite. While zero drop, the Vanish Carbon feels like a low drop and it has a very comfortable roll forward for a variety of paces (slow runners included!). The outsole has some durability issues and I had considerable issues with the tongue bunching (which was a problem I continued to have after writing the RTR review). For speed and performance, the Elite is a much better choice. For training or slower paces, the Vanish Carbon is friendly for all runners (aside from the tongue issue). Sizing is comparable and both shoes have roomy forefoot/toeboxes. 

The Saucony Endorphin Elite will be available February 21, 2023

Tester Profiles

Derek is in his 40’s and trains 70-80 miles per week at 7 to 8 minute pace in mostly tropical conditions in Singapore. He has a 2:39 marathon PR from the 2022 Zurich Marathon.

Peter lives in Austin, Texas and has been a sub 3 hour marathoner as well as a 1:21 half marathoner in recent years.

Renee is a former U. S. Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She has PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon.

Sally is a lifelong runner and mother of five who agreed against her better judgment to run her first marathon at age 54; she has since run the past nine Boston Marathons, NYC Marathon (2x), Chicago, and London with the new goal of earning the WMM Six Star Medal (next up: Berlin). With a Boston PR of 3:25:55 in 2022, she recently placed 6th in her age group (F60-64) in the Abbott WMM Age Group World Championships at the London Marathon with an all-time PR of 3:24:02. She also enjoys competing in USATF-NE races with the Greater Lowell Road Runners. To add meaning to her Boston Marathon races she runs with Team Eye and Ear and has raised over $265,000 for Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital. Sally is a compact (petite) runner at 5’2’’ and 105 pounds and lives in Marblehead, MA, training outdoors year round. 

Marcel Marcel is an avid trail runner from Germany who is increasingly discovering road racing and is going for his Boston qualifier in 2023. In addition to his fascination for running shoe innovations for road and trail, Marcel is also enthusiastic about technical gadgets of all kinds.Updates regarding reviewed shoes and much more on IG (

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 65 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 was Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range, if he is very lucky, training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

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