7 Best Competition Running Shoes, 100+ Shoes Tested in 2023

Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen on
7 Best Competition Running Shoes, 100+ Shoes Tested in 2023

With speed written all over them, the best running shoes for racing are light, snappy, and crazy responsive. 

With so many competition running shoes to choose from, it can be a challenge to pick the right pair - let alone, the best pair. 

But don’t fret, we have handpicked our top picks from five different categories to cater to all runners.

How we test running shoes

To stay objective, we always buy the shoes we review with our own money. We also examine them thoroughly in our independent shoe testing lab. 

To further our scrutiny, we also: 

  • Log at least 30 to 50 miles in each race running shoe 
  • Slice them open
  • Assess and measure each part of the shoe
  • Generate their Corescore based on thousands of expert and user reviews

 

Best competition running shoes overall

ASICS MetaSpeed Sky
ASICS MetaSpeed Sky

CoreScore

90
Superb!
4.4 / 5 from 487 users
94 / 100 from 22 experts

Pros

  • Bouncy and responsive
  • Fast
  • Fantastic grip
  • Ultra breathable
  • Stable even at slower speeds
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Perfect fit
  • Superb foot lockdown
  • Fits wider feet

Cons

  • Not so durable
  • Expensive
  • Not for cold weather
  • No heel tab

Verdict

We almost never say this, but when we do, it's really something - the ASICS MetaSpeed Sky is the BEST racing flat we've ever tried! It's ultralight, responsive, and supportive in all the right places, zooming us forward to our next PB with fun and confidence! Even better, in comparison to all other carbon-plated race shoes we've tested, this is by far, the most stable - even at slower speeds! 

ASICS MetaSpeed Sky full review

Competition running shoes with best cushioning

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%

CoreScore

89
Great!
4.3 / 5 from 674 users
93 / 100 from 19 experts

Pros

  • True to size
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Bouncy and responsive ride
  • Breathable
  • Carbon-plated
  • Excellent grip

Cons

  • Not made for high mileage
  • Unstable platform
  • Feels tight in the midfoot

Verdict

The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% is a race shoe that made us zoom through the streets! It's fast, bouncy, and light and - it's everything speed-ready. With its steep price, it's exclusively for runners who only care about beating PBs and nothing else. For a race shoe, it's surprisingly cushy. During landing, our feet felt like they were stepping on marshmallows! 

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% full review

Competition running shoes with best comfort

New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2
New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2

CoreScore

88
Great!
4.3 / 5 from 90 users
92 / 100 from 21 experts

Pros

  • Plush comfort in a race shoe
  • Smooth, fast ride
  • Breathable
  • Responsive toe-off
  • Carbon plated
  • Stiff but not overly stiff
  • Fits wider feet well
  • True to size
  • Stretchy material hugs feet
  • Sticky, grippy tread
  • Sexy! Sparkles in sunlight

Cons

  • Spendy at $225
  • Heavier than other race shoes
  • Tongue tends to fold under

Verdict

A luxurious spa-day treat for the feet? We'd take the New Balance FiuelCell RC Elite v2 any day! The midsole is very plush but it has a plate that balances it out, making the ride not only cushy but also very snappy and stable. If you're looking for a mid to long-distance racing shoe that will outthrow the Swoosh, this, along with the MetaSpeed Sky, can do it handsomely! 

New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2 full review

Best racing flat

Adidas Adizero Pro
Adidas Adizero Pro

CoreScore

89
Great!
4.5 / 5 from 885 users
88 / 100 from 13 experts

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Excellent outsole grip
  • Super breathable upper

Cons

  • Finicky upper fit
  • Insufficient cushion for marathons
  • Carbon plate is not propulsive

Verdict

The Adidas Adizero Pro is not something we'd consider a super shoe. It's still got a long way to go. But for a marathon racing flat, it does a great job! It gives a fast-feeling toe-off and its carbon plate just gives a very snappy ride. It's not the most cushioned but sure did keep our feet well-protected. 

Adidas Adizero Pro full review

Best carbon-plated competition running shoe

Hoka Rocket X
Hoka Rocket X

CoreScore

89
Great!
4.5 / 5 from 768 users
88 / 100 from 23 experts

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Carbon-plated design
  • Light
  • Best-priced
  • Robust upper

Cons

  • Narrow
  • Break-in period
  • Heel slip

Verdict

I think Hoka has a winner here. I am really impressed with this shoe. For the price, I think they’ve done something amazing here.  It feels more like an everyday shoe but sure does perform like a race shoe. It doesn’t look crazy either, and it feels great. There are lots of cushioning and it has a super smooth transition. It’s fast as hell! Hoka, you sold me. It’s probably the best race shoe out there, all things considered. Well done! 

Hoka Rocket X full review

Best value competition running shoes

Saucony Endorphin Speed
Saucony Endorphin Speed

CoreScore

93
Superb!
4.7 / 5 from 5,117 users
92 / 100 from 30 experts

Pros

  • Fast & responsive
  • Cushioned especially for the long runs
  • Spring, trampoline effect
  • Excellent durability
  • Featherweight like a race shoe
  • Breathable
  • True to size
  • Perfect foot lock
  • Incredible value

Cons

  • Needs adaptation period
  • Questionable grip on wet surfaces

Verdict

If we can pick a shoe that screams fast, the Endorphin Pro 2 is THE shoe! Made for race day, you can't go wrong with the Endorphin - it's carbon-plated, snappy, rebounding, light, and just everything speed-oriented. It will bolt you forward in your competition, so prepare to take off at lightning speed! If you want to beat or set new PRs, we strongly suggest getting this shoe.
Saucony Endorphin Speed full review
Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.