Nike Air Zoom Elite 9: The King of Kings

95 / 100 by Kory Mueller • Level 2 expert

When shopping for the Nike Air Zoom Elite 9, my goal was to find something with a wide range.

I was looking for a shoe to run on roads for a long slow day or bring to the track and throw down 400s with the middle school cross country team. This shoe has an ability to hit the trails for 10+ miles after cross country practice.

It was helpful to not have to carry two different shoes with me on a daily basis.

What I learned was this shoe was more versatile than I could have ever imagined. After wearing these for most of a trail marathon training cycle, I decided to forego lacing up my trail shoes and chose Zoom Elite 9's on race day.

I found these shoes matched my neutral stride and mid-foot strike quite well. What first had me interested in the Zoom Elite's were the complete rubber out-sole and the light weight.

 

Outsole

The outsole of the Zoom Elite 9 includes rubber from heel to toe.

As I was planning to have this shoe double as my daily trainer and trail runner this was a must.

 

 

I found the rubber grippy in all road conditions (wet, rainy, and even a little snow).

They also provided plenty of bite on single track dirt and gravel trails, however, I would not recommend them for a muddy trail or one that includes many slick/wet/mossy rocks.

I have put about 350 miles on this pair with wear showing on the toe and heel at about mile 250.

 

Upper

The upper includes both flymesh and flywire setup.

I found this setup both forgiving and durable as I blow through the uppers of many shoes within a couple hundred miles. The Zoom Elite 9s are still without holes or rips at 350+ miles.

 

 

The upper is also stable. I am able to lock down my foot and get a comfortable fit, good for 2-3 hours on the trails without adjustment.

I have noticed two areas of concern. One, the laces need to be knotted tightly or even double knots do not hold.

Two, I found the angle of the heel counter a bit steep and I would have to make sure to not tighten the top lace too tight or I would feel added stress to my Achilles. 

 

Midsole

This shoe is responsive and you get good ground feel.

The Zoom Elite 9's do not provide a whole lot in the way of plush cushioning. However, I did feel it was enough for 20+ mile road and trail runs.

 

 

Pros

  • Mesh upper with flywire
  • Rubber outsole with tons of grip
  • Versatility in many distances and workouts
  • Lightweight

 

Cons

  • Shallow toe box (plenty of width for me but not much height)
  • Laces 
  • Steep heel counter

 

Final Thoughts

The Nike Zoom Elite 9 is a workhorse. I have done it all in these shoes from track workouts to a trail marathon. They are durable, they are responsive. 

Are you looking for a shoe for your speed work days and use it again for a long slow run? If the answer is yes, put the Nike Zoom Elite 9's on the top of your list. 

At first, it feels as though there is a slight bump under the ball of the foot, this sensation relaxes after a couple of runs. I would say this is due to the Zoom Air pocket found in the forefoot of the Zoom Elite 9's.

Is this the shoe for your next 100-mile ultra? Probably not.

Does it have the responsiveness of a daily trainer from intervals to long slow runs? Absolutely. 


Kory Mueller

Kory Mueller • Level 2 expert

Two of my passions in life are teaching and living an active lifestyle. As a middle school science teacher and cross country coach, I express both passions on a daily basis. I' m passionate about being active and the outdoors, which usually involves running both on the road or hitting the trails. In fact, over the past several years I have participated in 5k road races, as well as trail and road marathons.


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