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Triathlon race-day run shoes: 10 of the best for racing the final leg

To provide you with a triathlon boost, it’s wise to have some lightweight specific race-day shoes in your triathlon kit bag. James Witts tests and rates 10 pairs of race-day run shoes for men…

Distal weight. Heard of it? Broadly, this is the pendulum weight of your lower limb. The heavier the weight hanging from your knee – in this case, your shoe – the greater force required to get it moving. Therefore, a strong argument for choosing lightweight racers over your slightly heavier training shoes. According to a study by former Nike coach Jack Daniels, adding 100g to a shoe increases the aerobic demand of running by 1%. This, he calculated, equates to around a minute over a 26.2-mile marathon.

Those of you who’ve read the brilliant Sports Gene by David Epstein will already be aware of this distal-weight concept. It’s why, argues Epstein, the Kalenjin tribe of Kenya has produced runners of the calibre of Wilson Kipsang.
The Kalenjin tribe has particularly thin ankles and calves, ergo a lower distal weight and a faster, more sustainable leg turnover.

That’s why the weight of a race-day shoe is important but it’s not everything. In our experience, you’re still after a shoe with a bit of fizz, one that delivers a healthy return on your landing force. So we’re after propulsion. And stability. A slipping foot leaches energy, as well as raising the spectre of injury. As our racing amphitheatre kickstarts with transition, we’re also after a swift and stable foot entry. Right, onto the search for
third-discipline speed…

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Zoot have produced quality tri gear since the 1980s and so it is again with the Ultra TT, built in collaboration with the co-founder of Newton. Tri features start with the elastic laces, which work fine but feel parochial compared to New Balance’s Boa system. Drainage holes in the outsole allow water to escape, helping to cut weight and reduce blisters, and there’s a heel loop. Fit is comfy. As is your run gait, with the 3mm heel-to-toe drop hiding a midsole that features graded cushioning and implants beneath the foot. The minimal drop doesn’t feel flat but took a few runs to bed in. Weight is a low 266g.

Verdict: a solid but pricey effort with spectacular patterns 77%

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Newton’s promise of forefoot running, and the efficiency and injury-prevention benefits that brings, carved them a profitable niche before sales began to suffer. Now they’ve stabilised and built a solid shoe in the 253g Distance Elite. It utilises Newton’s classic four-lug platform upfront, yet it also features raised cushioning in the heel area, recognising that the heel of forefoot strikers often kisses the ground. They’re comfy but do take some acclimatising to those lugs. The main concern, though, is the upper. It’s light and breathable, but is delicate and laterally moves too much for us.

Verdict:does the job but costly and we have upper concerns 73%

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The Cloudflow are worn by Brit Ironman Tim Don, which shows their key ground; ticking off 70.3 or Ironman with aplomb. Mind you, at 266g, many short-course athletes will fancy them. Why? First, there’s On’s rebound force. In the case of the Cloudflow, 18 lugs on the outsole compress on landing before offloading for a forceful take-off. Historically, we grumbled this led to a flat stride. Not anymore as On’s Helion foam midsole boosts comfort. So does the breathable upper. Our concerns that the tongue is flimsy proved unfounded, but a complaint is the tepid colour scheme.

Verdict:Another impressive On shoe, especially for iron 83%

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Continue reading our guide to this year's race-day run shoes for men (2/3)


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