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 organised everything we discovered while testing the shoes in our in-depth reviews 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 summarise all the significant things we find while wear testing each of them.

Best zero-drop running shoes for Spartan Race (OCR)

What makes it the best?

The Altra Lone Peak 8 gave us peak agility as it delivers the best zero-drop experience for Spartan races. It has a grounded and flexible profile that allows intuitive manoeuvring, supporting any exercise we perform—from climbing obstacles to dropping on the floor for burpees. It keeps the ride all-natural and ensures we remain stable throughout.

Its modest yet firm cushion boosts surface sensitivity, ensuring stability and preventing wobbly strides. Our lab reveals a mere 1.4 mm heel drop compared to the 8.0 mm average, and a dense 29.3 HA measurement, enhancing balance and control during multi-directional movements since the foam won't compress unevenly. 

From lunges to lifting weights, we could move freely in this pair as it flowed with our natural foot contortions. The lab result made sense when it emerged 27.1% more bendable than average in our flex test, proving it barely resists our movements—exactly what a Spartan needs.

We felt the outsole’s reliable traction, especially on dry and loose ground. We ran fearlessly around the arena and climbed walls like a gecko. In the lab, we measured its sticky lugs to be 3.0 mm deep and positioned strategically to enhance traction. However, we warn caution that LP8 displays subpar grip on wet and muddy areas.

Pros

  • Responsive midsole
  • Natural barefoot feeling ride
  • Low to the ground and stable
  • Doubles as a reliable hiking shoe
  • Breathable and durable ripstop upper mesh
  • Secure midfoot lockdown
  • Accommodating toebox
  • Generously padded and comfy
  • Dries quickly
  • Gaiter attachment ready

Cons

  • Not so grippy in wet conditions
  • Subpar outsole durability
Full review of Altra Lone Peak 8

Best running shoes for Spartan Race (OCR) overall

What makes it the best?

We conquered all obstacles—from climbing, crawling, running, and jumping—with the Saucony Peregrine 14. Its light and loose build enhanced our agility while its traction and balanced cushion kept our movements controlled. Proving its versatility and reliability in the lab, it’s our ultimate shoe for an effortless Spartan race finish. 

The shoe’s light weight of 9.4 oz (266g) keeps us quick on our feet. Its uncomplicated midsole boosts a sense of nimbleness and sure-footedness as we perform various exercises. In our flex test, it resembles the average trail shoe, making it adaptive enough for different movements. Its humble platform has a minimal 2.2 mm drop with a balanced sensation that improves our form. Our durometer confirms an average result of 26.0 HA. 

Its remarkable traction sealed the deal, as we felt its grippy outsole bite through any surface. We ran fearlessly through the mud and climbed walls with the 4.7-mm lugs keeping us steady. For reference, the average trail shoe’s lug depth is only 3.5 mm.

Peregrine 14’s focus on versatility makes it less responsive than other trail shoes. Those who prefer more explosiveness on race days should look for a more responsive shoe.

Pros

  • Natural running feel
  • Superb value at just £150
  • Flexible and comfortable
  • Heel security
  • Plusher tongue
  • Cushioned insole
  • Rock plate
  • Highly versatile

Cons

  • Limited energy return
  • Somewhat firm
Full review of Saucony Peregrine 14

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 lightweight running shoes for Spartan Race (OCR)

What makes it the best?

In our actual trials, the Saucony Endorphin Rift made conquering Spartan courses a breeze with its airy build, adaptive nature, unwavering traction, and energetic midsole. 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 9.0 oz (255g), a figure that’s hard to match for the 10.4 oz (294g) average trail shoe. What also keeps the feeling light is its ultra-breathable upper that showcases top-notch ventilation, earning a well-deserved 5/5 rating in our lab tests.

The Endorphin Rift enhances agility with its flexible design, accommodating free movement for burpees, climbs, and crawls. It feels fluid whether we twist or bend our feet. Our bend test confirms it's 9.9% more malleable than average. Control is further improved by the 4.5-mm deep and sticky chevron lugs, which efficiently shed mud for safe and stable strides.

The ride feels smooth yet responsive, thanks to the midsole’s combination of the bouncy PWRRUN PB foam and Saucony’s Speedroll technology. We thoroughly enjoyed the dynamic rockered experience as the shoe promotes energetic toe-offs with less effort.

However, the shoe costs £180 which isn’t appealing for buyers on a budget since the average trail shoe costs only £140.

Pros

  • Fantastic PWRRUN PB midsole technology
  • Ideal for summer runs due to its breathable upper
  • Capable of handling muddy terrain with ease
  • Upper and outsole showcase incredible durability
  • Sufficiently cushioned for ultra-marathons
  • Exceptional cushion-to-weight ratio
  • Sock-like upper provides a fantastic fit
  • Excellent heel lockdown
  • Handles faster paces effortlessly

Cons

  • Tongue design needs enhancement for ultras
  • Lugs could be slightly shorter
  • Price point is probably too high for some budgets
Full review of Saucony Endorphin Rift

Best running shoes for long-distance Spartan Race (OCR)

What makes it the best?

On our wear tests, Saucony Xodus Ultra 2 boasts a high level of flexibility, comfort, and stability that make it the best pair for long-distance Spartan courses. We discovered in the lab that its flexible and breathable construction is complemented by subtle supportive features that enhance our controlled movements.

Whether we run, climb, or squat, we move naturally and effortlessly thanks to XU2’s fluid build. Its nonresistant midsole makes completing different types of movement a breeze, as confirmed by our flex test with a measurement that’s 9.9% more bendable than average. Adding to its loose feel is the well-ventilated upper with a high 4/5 score in our lab.

XU2 features the PWRRUN PB, known for its responsiveness, which is hard to ignore in our runs. We found a dual-foam setup, a moderately firm 27.5 HA for energy return, and a second firmer 29.5 HA foam under the heel for additional support. The midsole also has sidewalls that gently align our foot movement. We couldn’t deny the shoe’s impressive stability, especially as we speed up.

Underfoot is the PWRTRAC outsole and 4.6 mm lugs which keep us steady whether we climb walls or run through mud. We felt surefooted as we tackled various obstacles.

With only 3.7 mm of tongue padding, we warn users to be extra cautious when cinching the laces down to avoid adjusting them mid-workout.

Pros

  • Snug, secure fit
  • Highly breathable
  • Enhanced lacing from v1
  • Responsive midsole
  • Upgraded durability
  • Solid, stable feel
  • Long-run-ready cushioning

Cons

  • Bootie upper might feel odd to some
  • Slightly heavy for its size
  • Firm cushioning
Full review of Saucony Xodus Ultra 2
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 analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.