In recent years, the best marathon running shoes have undergone an incredible transformation. Starting with Nike Vaporfly 4%, the entire running shoe industry changed what constituted a proper marathon shoe. And now, the best marathon running shoes are better than ever, and recent world record runs attest to that fact.
The best marathon running shoes used to be low stack height and as light as possible. The thinking was to minimize the weight the runner carried on his or her feet for such a long distance in order to save energy. But due to the emergence of super foams like Pebax, all of sudden, a super-light shoe with a big honking stack of foam was an option. These super foams were incredibly plush and unstable, so brands placed carbon fiber plates inside the foam to offer greater stability and springiness. What resulted were shoes that better protected joints and aid in quicker recovery from long grueling races. Oh, and studies claimed they improved performance by up to 4%.
With all that good press, the new super shoes became the most coveted marathon running shoes, and soon every brand was making one. Now, there’s enough that we can do an entire list dedicated to the best marathon running shoes. Our list below will explain some of the nuances of these shoes and help your figure out which will be best for your feet.
If you wish to see all of our running shoe reviews, you can check out our Running Shoe reviews page.
Categories are placed to help you find what you want. If you know what you need, you can simply click the category. If not, feel free to check out the whole list as your guide.
We would also like to hear your thoughts on this list, and you can even share your own list in the comments below.
Let’s get into our picks:
Best Marathon Running Shoes
- Best Marathon Running Shoes for Racing: Tier 1
- Best Marathon Running Shoes for Racing: Tier 2
- Can I Run a Marathon in Everyday Running Shoes?
- Best Marathon Running Shoes Now on Sale
- Best Marathon Running Shoes – Coming Soon
Best Marathon Running Shoes for Racing: Tier 1
Saucony Endorphin Elite
The Saucony Endorphin Elite is the first shoe to feature Saucony’s next PWRRUN HG foam. It’s a little firmer than the PWRRUN PB in the Endorphin Pro 3 but it’s also bouncier. The carbon plate is segmented at the toe for a little more flexibility but it and the midsole curves up sharply for added toe spring. You sit inside the midsole a bit to keep you on the footbed while the midsole also flares outward resulting in one of the more stable modern marathon shoes on the market.
The outsole has no rubber at the rear so if you’re a heel striker, you may not get great durability…but midfoot and forefoot strikers should be ok. The Endorphin Elite is also one of the most breathable shoes on the market making it a great fit for warmer races. The biggest drawback is the $275 price point…but just like the Alphafly, if you’re a shoe nerd and heavy into marathons, this shoe will deliver value to match. See full review.
Fit: True to Size, Drop: 8mm, Price $275
New Balance FuelCell SC Elite V3
The New Balance FuelCell SC Elite V3 features squishy protective FuelCell foam, a nice pop from the exposed Energy Arc carbon plate, and a great ride. It’ll make your stride feel smooth while feeling lightweight. It’s a shoe that gets out of the way as you run fast paces on race day or amble over long distances on your local roads or greenway.
The SC Elite V3’s knit upper is really hard to put on and could be better but it does the job and is the best road racing shoe New Balance has built to date. Getting all of that at a $230 price point is a nice value for a carbon-plated race-centric shoe. Read the full review.
Fit: True to Size, Drop: 4mm, Price: $230
Asics Metaspeed Sky+
The Asics Metaspeed Sky+ is light, stable, breathable, and super bouncy. The FF Blast Turbo paired with the carbon plate really provides a spring to every step. The AsicsGrip traction grips everything making the Metaspeed Sky+ a great choice for running in bad weather. The upper isn’t perfect, but the rest of the shoe is so good you can overlook any small issues. It’s versatile enough to tackle any race from a 5k to a marathon. You’ll love the mental edge the insane bounce provides. Read the full review.
Fit: True to size, Drop: 5mm, Price $250
Saucony Endorphin Pro 3
The Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 is the latest evolution of Saucony’s flagship marathon racing shoe. And it’s a winner. The midsole is slightly softer than in years past, still stable, and the upper is lighter and more breathable. The Saucony Speedroll rocker is still hella smooth and makes each footfall feel effortless. The fit is a little strange at first — the heel is narrow, and your arch will feel like it’s hanging over the edge of the shoe (similar to the OG Nike Alphafly), but that’s mainly noticeable while walking around. Get up to running speed, and the Endorphin Pro 3 becomes a bouncy, peppy shoe that feels like it’s returning loads of energy.
This is the Saucony racing shoe that finally surpassed the Nike Vaporfly and is one of the best marathon racing shoes available.
Fit: True to size, Drop: 8mm, Price: $225
Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro
The Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro is an out-of-nowhere surprise hit. Mizuno was largely staying out of the road racing shoe arena and making its typical everyday running shoes…until now. The Wave Rebellion Pro is the most aggressive super shoe to date. The midsole is cut into a supercharged rocker shape without much of a heel. This shape puts you on your midfoot/forefoot more than any other shoe. Because of that, the Wave Rebellion Pro demands better running form and you may feel some accompanying soreness as you break it in. But once you get the hang of it, the bounce is elite. Every step feels like you’re getting a ton of energy return.
It’s a bit heavier than the lightest marathon racing shoes but you won’t really mind it the extra weight as your body will instead benefit from the trampoline-like feeling that the Enerzy Lite and Wave plate provide. The upper is comfy but does run a little short, so take that into account. One of our testers was ok with his usual size but another needed to go up half a size. And you may be thinking a shoe this tall will feel unstable…but you’d be wrong. You can take corners fast in the Wave Rebellion Pro because the G3 outsole grips everything and the upper locks your foot onto the footbed. Mizuno nailed it with this one.
Fits: Short (go up a half size), Drop: 4mm, Price: $250
adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3
The adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 is a smooth-riding and bouncy marathon-focused racing shoe. The rocker is improved from previous versions with a sharper toe angle and improved carbon fiber energy rods that make the shoe feel faster and bouncier. Breathability is top-notch, the outsole grips everything, and, due to a widened base, stability is great for a race day shoe. You’ll want to wear thicker socks with a heel tab to avoid issues with the problematic Achilles stitching but that’s the only real issue in a shoe that’s one of the best marathon racing shoes on the market. See the full review.
Fit: Typical adidas, Drop: 6.5mm, Price $250
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2
The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2 is one of the bounciest marathon racing shoes available. Eliud Kipchgoe, the best marathoner of all time, used the Alphafly 2 to set a new world Marathon time of 2:01:09. And while most of us won’t use it to set world records, it’ll help with personal bests.
Nike slightly improved the stability and fit from the original Alphafly, but it’s still not the most stable shoe, and it’s still difficult to get your foot into the shoe. But, the troublesome arch area from the original is much improved while the extra padding at the heel and tongue adds needed comfort. The upper is even lighter and airier than the original while the midsole drop goes from 4mm (that felt like 0mm) to a typical 8mm. The redesigned midsole is also a little less slappy and a smoother ride.
All of the changes make the shoe more accessible to more runners. And though we’ve heard from some runners who prefer the first one, we (and many others) believe the Alphafly 2 is an overall improvement and one of the best marathon racing shoes on the market.
Fit: True to size, Drop: 8mm, Price: $275
Best Marathon Running Shoes for Racing: Tier 2
The Asics Superblast is a high-stack, fun, and versatile shoe useful for anything from easy miles to workouts to marathons. It’s so light it can work as a race day shoe. It’s soft but stable, and even without a carbon fiber plate in the middle of all that foam, it’s got a nice pop.
The Superblast is only missing a carbon fiber plate from the typical marathon shoe tech stack. It’s worth the money despite that omission and provides the perfect option for those that don’t love the added stiffness of a plate. And it also provides a smooth ride that makes you want to lace it up more often. See the full review.
Fit: True to Size, Drop: 8mm, Price: $220
Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite
The Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite is a light, supportive racer with amazing traction and bouncy forefoot cushioning. It’s a fun, wild-looking shoe that performs well and gets attention. Heavy heel strikers should probably avoid it due to the decoupled midsole construction and denser foam in the heel. The rest of us can enjoy the rocket-like Nitro Elite forefoot foam. Read the full review.
Fit: True to Size, Drop: 8mm, Price: $250
New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer
The New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer is a high-stack neutral training shoe perfect for long runs and minimizing wear and tear on tired legs. It packs massive amounts of FuelCell cushioning underneath one of the best uppers of the year. The engineered knit upper is comfortable and accommodating to all foot types. And while it’s a bit heavy, the SuperComp Trainer is more stable than expected. If you’re willing to trade some weight for ultimate impact protection, or you’re a bigger runner, the SuperComp Trainer is worth your consideration. Read the full review.
Fit: True to size, Drop: 8mm, Price: $180
Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2
The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2 is a fun shoe to run in. It The Vaporfly is the original super shoe line and the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2 is the current iteration. It’s incredibly light and anchored by tons of ZoomX foam bisected with a scooped carbon fiber plate. And while the traction and support aren’t always reliable, you’ll see this shoe on tons of feet at marathons all over the world. And for good reason, it’s super snappy, bouncy, and just fun to run in.
Fit: True to Size, Drop: 8mm, Price: $250
Puma Deviate Nitro Elite
The Puma Deviate Nitro Elite is the least expensive shoe on this list, but that doesn’t mean anything. It has a high rating for a reason. The traction is one of the best available on the market with what the brand calls Puma Grip. This rubber compound will grip and bite anything it touches so you don’t have to worry about slipping. It’s perfect for a marathon in wet conditions. Plus, the Nitro Elite midsole is bouncy and the shoe packs above-average support. See the full review.
Fit: True to Size, Drop: 8mm, Price: $200
Saucony Endorphin Speed 3
The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 is a near-perfect everyday running shoe but versatile enough to handle races. It’s also a great option for those that dislike the stiffness of carbon plates. The composite plate in the Speed 3 is still bouncy but easier on the feet.
The fit is excellent with impressive lockdown and stealthy but solid midfoot/arch support. The PWRRUN PB in the midsole is both plush and bouncy. It’s a well-cushioned, long-lasting ride ideal for long-distance races. The only small issue is some slippage in wet conditions. But that can be easily overlooked because the Endorphin Speed 3 is comfortable top-to-bottom and a legit race-day runner. Read the full review.
Fit: True to Size, Drop: 8mm, Price $170
UA Flow Velociti Elite
The UA Flow Velociti Elite is Under Armour’s first true marathon-focused shoe and the best midsole it’s ever made. The combined Flow and Pebax midsole is bouncy and protective. And while the midsole isn’t the best marathon racing shoe midsole, it’s a viable option if you enjoy the fit and feel of the shoe.
The Velociti Elite grips well in all conditions, features a fantastically comfortable and breathable upper, and is way more stable than expected. The tongue is a little annoying on the sides, but that’s not a dealbreaker. All in all, the UA Flow Velociti Elite is a super fun shoe that shows off some distinctive Under Armour DNA. Read the full review.
Fit: True to Size, Drop: 8mm, Price: $250
Can I Run a Marathon in Everyday Running Shoes?
Yes, you can. For many people, that’s the best plan. Typically, it’s better to run a marathon in a shoe you’ve worn regularly during training and feel comfortable in. This limits potential issues (like blisters or bruised toenails) on race day because your shoes already handled the long grueling runs you did during your marathon training.
A good place to start looking is our list of the Best Long Distance Running Shoes. All of the shoes on that list can go the marathon distance when needed.
If you buy one of the marathon racing shoes on this list, be sure to mix it into your training and use it for both some speed work and long runs. The idea is to break the shoes in enough that they mold to your feet (to avoid any painful rubbing during the race) but at the same time, save the cushioning, so it’s still super bouncy on race day. Your legs will appreciate the extra bounce or plushness as you work to maintain your marathon pace for 26.2 miles.
Best Marathon Running Shoes Now on Sale
No current best models are on sale.
Best Marathon Running Shoes – Coming Soon
We’ve seen several interesting prototypes along with the Nike Vaporfly 3 which should release in April. As soon as we get our hands on them and they pass our performance tests, we’ll add them.
Thinking of a shoe we should add to the best marathon running shoes list? Comment below or message us on Instagram or Twitter.
Which do you prefer out of the Saucony Pro 3 and NB SC elite v3? Which would be more stable and faster shoe and better for 5km to marathon distance. Thanks in advance.
That really comes down to personal preference around fit. Both are fairly stable with the NB SC Elite v3 being a bit more plush/cushy. The EP3 is more of a traditional running shoe upper while the NB SC Elite v3 is a sock-like fit. I’d say the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 is the more popular shoe but performance wise they offer similar benefits.