5 Best Running Shoes For Spartan Race (OCR) in 2024

Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto on
5 Best Running Shoes For Spartan Race (OCR) in 2024
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When the arena is all muddy and you have your game face on, you can't be wearing just any random pair. No, you need to be in the best Spartan Race (OCR) running shoes on the market.

We've tested multiple Spartan Race running shoes to have an all-inclusive knowledge of each model. We organized everything we found in an in-depth review so you could learn about them without leaving your seats. Indeed, this stellar selection houses the best Spartan Race (OCR) running shoes — from the most tenacious to the most well-rounded.

How we test running shoes

We are proud to present our spotlight-worthiest Spartan Race (OCR) running shoes. We assembled our top picks through this foolproof approach:

  • We don't rely on brands sending us free kicks. Instead, we buy running shoes using our own money.
  • In our own lab, we put these runners through various tests to discover their fortes. We also split them in half to display all of their elements for us to assess.
  • We take them for a spin, running in every pair for miles to lock in their strengths and weaknesses. We test them out like crazy. And then we report and summarize all the significant things we find while wear testing each of them.

Best running shoes for Spartan Race (OCR) overall

What makes it the best?

The ultra-grippy Altra Lone Peak 7 supported any movement we made — from climbing obstacles to crawling in the mud — with its awesome lockdown. Along with its balanced cushion and flexible midsole, it's the perfect partner for conquering a Spartan race!

We felt the outsole’s reliable traction on any pavement. We ran fearlessly around the muddy arena and climbed walls effortlessly without worrying about slipping. In the lab, we measured its sticky lugs to be 3.4 mm deep, explaining its “bite” even on slippery pavements. Keeping our foot in place is the steady lockdown provided by its semi-gusseted tongue.

From burpees to lifting weights, we could move freely in this pair as it flowed with our feet. The lab result made sense when this shoe measured 20.8% more resilient in our flex test. This means it’s flexible enough to adapt to different movements — exactly what a Spartan needs.

Its wide toebox and low-to-the-ground profile enhance stability, preventing the ankles from rolling in. Its squared toebox allows the toes to splay upon landing while its low-drop measurement of 0.2 mm, gives a better feel of the ground. This kind of support keeps the athlete in control.

At 3/5, this pair scored below average (3.4) on our breathability test. For athletes who prioritize well-ventilated shoes, we recommend checking other options.

Pros

  • Very wide toebox
  • Protective midsole
  • Superb lockdown
  • Super grippy outsole
  • Excellent for fast runs in the mountains
  • Added heel cup provides stability
  • Super comfy
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Colorways might be a downer
  • A bit pricey
Full review of Altra Lone Peak 7

Running shoes for Spartan Race (OCR) with the best grip

What makes it the best?

We ran fearlessly with Speedcross 6 and discovered it offers the best grip for Spartan obstacle course races. This solid and sturdy trail shoe crosses muddy paths and steep slopes with ease, offering secure lockdown and protection underfoot for a comfy and worry-free Spartan experience.

This rugged pair performs best in soft and wet terrains. With 5-mm lugs sticking out, Speedcross 6 is extra grippy. The aggressive pattern supported our wall climbs and mud crawls. The design cleverly sheds off mud too, so we didn’t have to bring the dirt home!

The tongue and mesh upper offer a lot of padding for a more comfortable experience. The Quicklace system effectively secures lockdown, which is why we had no issues of lacebite and debris sneaking inside the shoes. 

Underfoot, our heel sits comfortably on a generous amount of cushioning, whereas the forefoot remains low for better ground feel and control. This leads to an inclined platform with a 10-mm drop. 

Since Speedcross remains a high-stacked shoe, it may be unstable for runners who tend to overpronate more.

Pros

  • Superior traction on wet, technical trails
  • Ideal for heel strikers
  • Impressive durability
  • Quick mud shedding ability
  • Lightest Speedcross yet
  • Secure lockdown with QuickLace system
  • Enhanced ground feel in the forefoot
  • Agile and responsive in fast corners

Cons

  • Midsole feels like concrete
  • Extremely poor breathability
  • Not suitable for midfoot and forefoot strikers
Full review of Salomon Speedcross 6

Best cushioned running shoes for Spartan Race (OCR)

What makes it the best?

We conquered all obstacles — from climbing, crawling, running and jumping — with the Peregrine 13. Its build kept us agile, in control and supported with its cushion and outsole. Our lab and actual run findings point to this shoe as the best cushioned for Spartan races.

The shoe’s light weight of 9.6 oz (271g) kept us quick on our feet. Its flexible midsole enhanced a sense of nimbleness and sure-footedness even on uneven terrains. In our flex test, this shoe emerged 33% more flexible than average. This made it easier to perform different kinds of movement in a spartan race.

Its leveled platform consists of a balanced cushion and a 7-mm thick insole (52% thicker than average) that adds delightful comfort despite the 29.1 HA cushion (6% firmer than average). 

Its awesome traction sealed the deal, as we felt its grippy outsole bite through any surface. We ran fearlessly through the mud with the 4.8-mm lugs keeping us steady. It's also capable of shedding off the dirt while running, so no need to bring the mud home.

As mentioned, the cushion is quite firm and it might feel too firm for other runners. Best to check other options if a softer cushion is a priority.

Pros

  • Cushioned midsole
  • Protective rock plate
  • Better for longer efforts than the v12
  • A good trail racing option
  • Great traction whether on ice, snow, gravel, and dirt
  • Mud just falls off the outsole
  • Comfy and airy upper
  • Performance-oriented fit
  • No heel slippage
  • Smooth and natural-feeling ride

Cons

  • Debris tends to get in
  • Not as fast as other speedwork trail shoes
  • Too-firm midsole
Full review of Saucony Peregrine 13

Running shoes for Spartan Race (OCR) with the best foothold

What makes it the best?

Sense Ride 5 helped us earn the Spartan title with security and ease. It allows us to move freely with its unopposing midsole, climb properly with its grippy outsole and run fast with its lockdown fit. Our feet remain steady with every obstacle, making SR5 the Spartan shoe with the best foothold.

The upper is comfortable and feels breathable, especially in the toebox area. Looking closer at our microscope, it’s cleverly weaved more densely around the heel area to keep it in place. Its midsole has overlays that work with the Sensifit system — connecting the midsole to the upper for a more snug fit. SR5’s Quicklace system closes it off with a more solid lockdown.

We can accomplish squats and burpees without restrictions since the platform allows us to do so. Our flex test validates that SR5 is as flexible as the average trail shoe. This enhances agility and control.

Its Contagrip outsole feels steady with 3.5-mm deep lugs that stick well to the walls we climb and on the dirt trails we run on. 

The midsole runs a little tight, which may cause discomfort to athletes with wide feet. It’s 1.3 mm and 4.3 mm narrower than the average trail shoe. 

Pros

  • Immaculate lockdown
  • Good responsiveness
  • Plenty of ground feel
  • Confident on moderate trails and steep downhills
  • Smooth and stable ride
  • Can hold its own for speedwork
  • Comfy and breathable upper
  • Best for daily miles, longer efforts, and even road runs!

Cons

  • Forget about hard trails
  • Thin under forefoot
  • Runs a little bit narrow
Full review of Salomon Sense Ride 5

Best lightweight running shoes for Spartan Race (OCR)

What makes it the best?

The Altra Superior 6 made conquering Spartan courses a breeze with its airy build and adaptive nature. Its minimal yet supportive construction proves it’s the best lightweight pair among our lab-tested Spartan OCR running shoes.

We feel quick on our feet with its exceptional lightness. Our scales show it’s only 9.6 oz (272g), 7.2% below the average trail shoe. Its low-to-the-ground profile allows us to feel the surface we’re tackling and to adjust steadily. Staying true to Altra’s core, it features an almost non-existent 0.1 mm drop to promote a natural ride.

Further boosting our agility is the shoe’s flexible nature. It flows freely with our movements, regardless of what exercise we perform. From burpees to climbs to crawls, Superior 6 bends and twists with our feet. In our manual assessment, it earned a below-average 3/5 torsional rigidity, meaning it’s more fluid. For longitudinal flexibility, it’s 39.8% more malleable than average in our bend test.

Underfoot is a robust MaxTrac outsole with 3.6 mm lugs to ensure protection and sure-footedness. We measured the rubber at 91.0 HC, 6.9% harder than average. This translates to a long-lasting outsole, which we struggled to wear down in our trials.

With sub-par durability in the upper, we warn that it may wear out prematurely if placed against too much friction in rope climbs and mud crawls.

Pros

  • Exceptional ground feel for a more connected run
  • Nimble and quick
  • Excellent breathability
  • Upper and tongue designed for maximum comfort
  • Durable outsole with reliable grip
  • Remarkable stability
  • Comfortable for all-day wear
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • Lacks a rock plate
  • Not ideal for long distances
  • The upper could be more durable
Full review of Altra Superior 6
Author
Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto
Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and run all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyzes every detail of the shoes that you might buy.