Monday, December 04, 2023

Road Trail Run's The Running Event Awards: Best Road & Trail Shoes, Top Brands, Visual Design, Trends and Innovations

Article by Renee Krusemark, Sally Reiley and Peter Stuart

Road Trail Run’s team of Peter Stuart, Renee Krusemark, and Sally Reiley spent 2 fast and furious days at the recent The Running Event discovering and reporting on all the great run shoes and gear coming for 2024. 

The Running Event is the biggest trade show in running with over 310 brands(and growing every year) exhibiting to retailers and media from all over the world in Austin, Texas a fabulous run city.  

Below are their top picks in multiple categories. At the end of the article you will find our videos and articles covering the event and most of the shoes shown in the awards with more to come.

Top Road Shoes


New Balance Fresh Foam Balos (Full Pebax Fresh Foam midsole)

Mount to Coast R1 (amazing feeling new ultra road shoe)

Hoka Mach 6. Now with a supercritical foam midsole Can . Not. Wait

Renee: The New Balance SC Pacer looks like fast fun. I’m looking forward to a yet-to-be-discussed NB trainer coming in 2024, (a returning fan favorite). 

I always like Saucony, so the Kinvara 15 seems fun and Saucony has two returning shoes for 2024 that are great. Details can’t be discussed yet, but RTR testers have them now.


NB SC Trainer V3

So many great things in V1 and V2 with t NB talking about intentional improvements in upcoming V3. Hard not to mention excitement for the entire NB lineup, including the uptempo SC Pacer V2 and the not-being-discussed-nor-shown Rebel 4

On Cloudboom Echo 4 - amazing feeling race day shoe that we can't share pictures of yet, but following the introduction of the On Cloud Eclipse (love!), suffice it to say I am thrilled about the exciting On lineup for 2024 and beyond.

TOPO Specter 2 - I was surprisingly blown away by the recent Atmos , and I am really looking forward to the Specter 2 daily trainer with its all PEBAX midsole

Nike Alphafly 3 - The elephant in the room, and a much anticipated revision of the marathon race shoe that has already been breaking records on the feet of pros lucky enough to have them.

As a devoted Vaporfly fan who has previously been intimidated by the Alphafly, this is the one I want to try for my next marathon.

Top Trail Running Shoes


Nike Pegasus Trail 5

Hoka Speedgoat 6

Saucony RIde TR 2 (may win best looking of shoe for me)

Renee: I can’t limit my picks to just three trail shoes that look promising for 2024!

Brooks has a new version of the Catamount (v3) and the brand new Agil for fast and short trail runs. 

The entire line up at Merrell is great. RoadTrailRun has most of them, all receiving very positive reviews. Merrell will also have a yet-to-be-discussed shoe coming in 2024 (hopefully). Merrell athlete Reid Burrows was at The Running Event and has been testing prototypes. You might see them at Western States Golden Ticket races early in 2024. 

The Hoka Speedgoat 6 loses some weight, so I might like it more than the previous version. The new Zinal and Tecton X 3 also looked like fun. 

I enjoyed the Nike Peg Trail 4 (I still have versions 2 and 3), so I’m looking forward to running in the Pegasus Trail 5 when available. 


           HOKA Speedgoat 6

           Saucony RIDE TR 2

           Brooks Agil 

Biggest Surprises and Finds


Mount to Coast road ultra racing and training shoes

Zym Hydration

Upcoming shoes we can’t talk about from ON and NB.

Tracksmith Olmstead Pack 


Tailwind is adding Dauwalter Melon Endurance Fuel as a permanent flavor for 2024. They will have a new product released too (used by Harvey Lewis at Big Dog Backyard). 

Outdoor Research has a new Diviator line, consisting of new technology in a wind pant, hoodie, vest, and gloves. They will also be releasing more apparel geared toward running and mountain biking. 

Nathan has a new version of the Pinnacle 4L Vest with less storage in the back and bungee cords for the front pocket flasks. 

Ultimate Direction has two new vests for 2024: a front-pocket-focused vest (Exodus Vest/Vesta $180) and a lesser storage $80 vest (the Tarmac). 

Leki has a series of new gloves for 2024 all with loops to attach their poles, including the Ultra Trail Storm Shark (gloves/mitten combo).

Sally: I was amazed at the number of new companies attempting to break into the already-competitive running shoe industry! 

A standout was Mount To Coast, a new Chinese premium footwear company focused on long-distance and ultramarathon running They will release 3 models for racing and training, all in a clean white aesthetic and innovative materials-and their rep Emily was super engaging and so knowledgeable!

One fun discovery I made at TRE is that I am now really excited to run in some brands that I have not been all that familiar with or had a positive experience with in the past. New Balance and Saucony have consistently been many of my favorite shoes and will continue to be with their inspiring lineups, but I am also excited to run in the upcoming On, Hoka and Puma shoes.

Best Visual Designs 


Peter: New Balance and ON just killing it on design. 

Honorable mentions to Mount to Coast (for the White Stripes vibe), Hoka (as usual)  and Altra.

SallyNew Balance is indeed crushing it with the visual design, especially the white/black/mint green colorway. 

Brooks has a nice clean lineup.

On’s not-to-be-seen-yet race shoes are simply beautiful. 

TOPO has succeeded in taking functionally shaped shoes and making them attractive.


Peter: ON had a great two story booth with clean aesthetics and great looking shoes and apparel. Nike and Hoka looked great as well. 

Renee: Honestly, I wasn’t paying much attention to the booth designs. All of the large companies had impressive displays. I could probably talk more about which brand has the nicest people. 

Sally: All of the booths were impressive and slick, but On was perhaps the most impressive. Nike, New Balance, and HOKA were also noteworthy. TOPO was attention-grabbing. 

Tracksmith stood out with its Tracksmith van within the display with the iconic navy with white sash. Like Renee, I was attracted more to the really nice people than to their visual displays.

Best Presentations/Pitches

Peter: On was enthusiastic and had great stuff to show. New Balance delivered on details and a thorough rundown of their lines.

Renee: I thought most brands had knowledgeable staff, and I probably paid attention to the “smaller” brands and booths more so than the well-known brands. Maggie Guterl was working at Tailwind, Reid Burrows was at Merrell, and Allie Ostrander was at NNormal

The staff at Junk and Injini were very nice and very generous with samples (I use those products, so I was pumped). 

Ultimate Direction (Mindy) had great product details. Vimazi and Scarpa staff were great for conversation too. Of course having Molly Seidel and Rory Linkletter at the Puma Shakeout for the Fast-R NITRO Elite 2 release was enjoyable. 

Sally: Nothing beats a pitch featuring one of your favorite athletes! I had the honor of running with Des Linden at Brooks in the new Hyperion Elite 4 (sweet shoe!), with Kelvin Kiptum and Nike in the new Alphafly3, and of course we had fan favorite Molly Seidel there with Puma and the Fast-R Nitro Elite 2. 

On, TOPO, Altra, Tracksmith, Saucony, Puma, Mount to Coast were standouts. 

ASICS and Adidas disappointed with little to show, and Skechers showed us Pickleball shoes (interesting pivot from running footwear) 

Trends and Innovations

Peter: A fair number of new shoe companies, lots of pickleball (particularly K-Swiss and Skechers), Nathan has some nice vests coming with lights. 

Renee: A major trend, which we knew was coming, is more stack and more cushion to daily trainers. Running shoes aren’t used just for running, so it makes sense that most brands are releasing models that can be worn casually, for walking, or for people who work on their feet all day. This trend is a bit of a bummer for those who like ground feel, non-plated running shoes. The quality of options for trail shoes looks promising, including technical and road-to-trail options. We’ll see some type of plated racing trail shoe from all brands either in 2024 or 2025 (from those who don’t already have them out). 

Sally: I notice a “democratization” or “moving to greater inclusivity” in many of the brands. Those wildly fun built for speed race day and uptempo training shoes are now softer, higher, more stable, more suited for the everyday runner than their predecessors. An example of this trend is the Salomon S/Lab Spectur (RTR Article


I translate that to less fun and not as fast and less ground feel…. But the shoe companies need to make shoes not just for that small percentage of runners who are elite marathoners, but for the much larger  target audience of the average joe everyday runner (even joggers too). 

Skechers pivoted from running and showcased their pickleball product line - and even built a pickleball court in the convention center where they showcased professional pickleball players. 

There were lots of socks - but one of my favorite sock companies, Darn Tough, was notable in that they are introducing a “Wide Open” sock line designed for the individual with wide feet and larger calves. 

Turns out a large percentage of people have a difficult time finding socks that fit their bigger calves and ankles and don’t cut off their circulation with the elastic - as a bird legged runner, I never thought about this. Innovation! 

Top Run Brand at The Running Event


Toss up between ON and New Balance for me. 


I can’t pick just one. 

If I’m looking at road and trail shoes combined, Brooks. For trail only, Merrell. 

For road only, toss between Saucony and New Balance


          #1: New Balance!

          Honorable Mentions: On, TOPO, Saucony

2024 Running Introductions at The Running Event: Videos and Articles

New Balance 2024 Previews: SC Elite v4, SC Pacer v2, SC Trainer v3, Balos, Hierro v8 Article

Hoka 2024 Previews: Tecton X 3, Speedgoat 6, Mach 6, Mach X 2, Skyflow Article


S/Lab Phantasm 2 (elite racer), S/Lab Specter, ( 3 hour+ racer)  and Specter 2 (trainer)

Salomon Introduces the S/Lab Spectur, a shoe  to "Democratizie Speed" Article

Puma Introduces the Fast-R Nitro Elite 2
Release: 12/8/2023 (Ekiden Rush colorway, limited pairs) and 2/22/2024 (Psychedelic Rush colorway will be available and larger quantity than the December drop) Price: $260 Weight: 240g Stack Height: 40mm heel / 32mm forefoot Drop: 8mm Lifespan: 400km / 250miles

New Balance SuperComp Elite v4: all PEBA midsole 10% reduction in weight

New Balance SC Pacer v2 Introduction: a lower stack more nimble super shoe now with full PEBA midsole

Saucony 2024 Introductions: Hurricane 24, Kinvara 15, Xodus Ultra 3

ASICS Novablast 4 & GEl-Nimbus 26 Introductions
Novablast 4 (releasing December 1st 2023: Multi Tester Review GEL Nimbus 26 (releasing January 5 2024): Multi Tester Review

Nike Introduces Alphafly 3. 15% Lighter

Nike Introduces Zegama 2: Vibram Outsole and Outer Carrier Foam, Pegasus Trail 5 gets React X foam

adidas Terrex Introduces  Agravic Ultra & Agravic Speed & Agravic 3

Ultimate Direction Presents their new Exodus Vest (men) and Vesta (women)

Tracksmith Full Collections Overview. 1st Time at The Running Event

2024 Altra Racing Shoes: Vanish Carbon 2 and Mont Blanc Carbon

2024 Altra 4mm Drop Shoes Introduction: 
Experience Flow, Experience Form, Experience Wild (trail)

2024 Brooks Introductions: New Foams! Glycerin 21 (Loft v3), Ghost 16 (Loft v3), Hyperion Elite 4 (Flash v2), Caldera 7 (Loft v3),, Catamount 3 (Loft v3),, Agil (Flash v2),

Topo Athletic 2024 Introductions: all PEBAX foam Specter 2, Ultrafly 5, Pursuit 2

2024 Scarpa Golden Gate 2

2024 Injinji Toe Socks



DRodgers said...

No 2024 offerings from Skechers for run, are they not offering any performance running shoes in the coming year?

Anonymous said...

They are. Look at BITR on Youtube. They made a video with Skechers.