Thursday, November 29, 2012

Seems to be the cool thing to favorite running shoes

Sneaker Report's list of The 100 Best Running Shoes of All Time has recently been making the rounds across the Twitter-verse, and several people have been weighing in with their opinions on the list, as well as their own personal favorites. Definitely some interesting choices on that list...some I'd agree with, and plenty I most certainly would not agree with, but hey, that's part of the fun of making your own list, right? Pete Larson just posted his list, so I figured, what the hey, I'll play.

The Top Three

1) Brooks T Racer

Currently on its 7th edition (T7 Racer), the T Racer has been a staple in my closet since 2007, when it was the T5. It was my first racing flat (I wore spikes in high school and college), and it continues to be my go-to shoe for longer races and many road speedworkouts. The guts of this shoe have remained unchanged since...well, at least the T5, though a quick Google image search hints that the current midsole and outsole design may date back to the T3, and there's a good reason for that: the shoe works. No need to mess with success, and while I'm assuming the T8 will most likely replace the rearfoot Hydroflow with DNA, with any luck, Brooks will keep their flagship racer true to its roots. It's light and quick, with plenty of rearfoot cushioning for its weight, a fast heel-toe transition, a good response, a traditional 12mm heel-toe drop, a radically curved last, and a narrow performance fit. Not one of those characteristics on its own makes the shoe (and I've worn plenty of shoes, some that I liked quite a bit, with characteristics that differ from those listed), but they all come together to make a damn good racing flat.

2) Adidas adiZero PR

The adiZero PR was the original ultralight. Clocking in at 3.9oz, its closest competitors are the ASICS Piranha SP, Mizuno Wave Universe, and New Balance RC5000. Only Adidas did it first, and they did it lighter, lower-slung, and more flexibly than the Piranha, and with a more spike-like fit than the Universe (I haven't worn the RC5000). I've taken this shoe up to the half-marathon, and all I can say is that this is the dream shoe for both serious racers seeking a lightweight flat and for minimalists looking for a barely-there shoe. This shoe is the polar opposite of the T7 in some ways; it has little cushioning and a very low heel-toe drop, but the one thing is does share is a great ride. Too bad it's discontinued...

3) Nike Zoom Kennedy XC

The original super spike! In the words of one of my fellow running shoe geek friends, "dag, they were awesome." These were my XC spikes for sophomore through senior year of college (2004-2006). I paid $80 for them, which was a ton of money for spikes in '04 (most spikes went for $30-45 or so), and they were worth every penny. A huge step up from what I was using before in fit, feel, ride, everything. I put these on the list over the Zoom Kennedy track spike simply because I never bought the track version...that version lined all the spikes up along the big toe, which doesn't favor my stride. If not for the Kennedy and Kennedy XC, who knows where the spike market would be today.

Zoom Kennedy porn, since I kept mine. Zoom W in the background. And yes, this links to my Instagram account.

Honorable Mention

Nike Air Pegasus

Hey Pegs, I know we've been through practically everything together since '02, and I'm sorry to leave you off this list, but ever since you changed midsole materials a couple years ago, you just haven't been the same. It's like you're trying to act like your big bro Vomero or something, and that's just not okay. I know you lost weight and all, but that was never my problem with you...I never minded that you were a little on the soft side. I'm sorry. I'll still remember all the good times we had, I promise.

Brooks Launch

When Pegs and I had that little fallout, I found someone else that I actually liked better. I'm going to place the Launch lower on the list because the Pegasus treated me so well for so long, but damn, the Launch is awesome. It actually rides very similarly to the Pegasus...similarly soft midsole with a smooth heel-toe transition, no doubt aided by the full-contact outsole. Too bad Brooks is discontinuing it, though Larson has apparently heard rumors that it may have been spared. Fingers crossed, but I'm not getting my hopes up.

Also worth mention are the Mizuno Wave Ronin, because I haven't been that excited about a flat in a while. That one has potential to find its way onto this list at some point in the future, but honestly, I haven't worn it long enough to say it stands the time test. The New Balance 790 also warrants a mention as one of the first trail racing flats that wasn't all stiff, bulky, and heavy, and because it took years for anyone to make a trail shoe that eclipsed it, in my opinion. That shoe was way ahead of its time.

Note: These are "my favorites," not "the best." Big difference. Need an explanation? My favorite song is "Angel of Death"...whether or not you agree with me depends on whether you like '80s thrash metal with blistering solos and low-E string carnage (actually you're downtuned, so it's not even E, but I digress). So they're the best if you have my body and my taste in shoes, but may not necessarily be the best otherwise.


  1. This is awesome. I agree I love the Ronin.

  2. Maybe you've read this already; it is another fave shoes list - albeit only for this year. It contains the best Launch lament I've read; and there have been plenty floating around. (Full disclosure: I've never even seen the shoe in person, much less worn it. But a lot of people I like on the internet like it, so that's something.)

    "The design of the Launch reminds us of days before people missed workouts because their Garmin wasn’t charged; before people took gels on a 5 mile run; before people gave a shit about over-pronation."

    1. I love that blog! I think their June 2012 post was one of the early places I got confirmation that the Launch was actually going away (I had heard rumors earlier, but the Brooks rep kept telling me they weren't true, at least until the news broke online). That was also the blog that helped me make the connection between the Launch and Peg having a full contact outsole. I had been trying to make sense of why they rode similarly for a while, and I read one of their articles and it clicked. Prior to that, I had just assumed it was the simplicity and lack of all the techno-garbage (the Pegs have a Zoom Air unit, but are still way simpler than much of the nonsense around today.


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