Women's race day run shoes
Credit: The Secret Studio
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Women's triathlon race day run shoes: 7 of the best reviewed

Specific race day run shoes can give your triathlon run performance a real boost on race day. Here are 7 new pairs tested and rated.

There’s an argument for saying that the best run trainers you can choose for a triathlon are those that you feel most comfortable in. After all, whichever distance you’re taking on, this is the part of the race where your legs will be most tired, your feet battered and in need of some help to get through.

Back in our men’s race day shoes test though, we quoted the results of some research that showed that a balance of minimal weight, plus cushioning for comfort and maximal energy rebound is ideal for fast efforts. So in the main, that’s what you’ll find here, too.

Are heel-to-toe drop differences in run shoes overrated?


During the test period we focussed on the same 5km run loop (all on road, mostly man-made surfaces and both in the dry and wet)  and also ran on the treadmill in controlled conditions. We took into account how these shoes might adapt to tri-specific issues: for example how quickly you can get them on in transition (we tested them with manufacturer-supplied laces, although you could obviously add elastic laces for little cost). We also considered whether they are comfortable enough to wear without socks and with damp feet, without irritation.

Saucony Type A8


Now in their 8th incarnation, Saucony describe the A8 as their ‘most popular road racing shoe’ and there’s a lot to like with these come race day. With a 4mm drop they offer a good halfway-house between zero drop and the more cushioned shoes on test and were also the lightest at a mere 148g for our UK6.5. You feel great connection to the ground, allowing you to really pick up the pace, but without having to completely change your run style. The  Flexfilm engineered mesh upper was very light and breathable (although perhaps a little delicate, so save these for race day!), yet hugged the foot for a great fit and the soft inner made them comfortable without socks. They also had a nice wide toebox, allowing plenty of room for swollen end-of-race feet to move. Finally you get an elastic heel loop, making them quick to pull on in T2. We’d just add elastic laces, too.  saucony.com 

Verdict: true race shoes with the bonus of features that make them ideal for tri 90%

Buy from www.saucony.com

Brooks Levitate


The fact that these are the heaviest on test at 280g might seem at odds with the name ‘levitate’, but rather than meaning they are floaty-light, that refers to the wodge of super-bouncy DNA AMP midsole technology, designed to ‘energize’ you and propel you forward. Taking them round our test loop you certainly noticed the bounce and they are very plush feeling – plus the 8mm drop is exacerbated by a high arch and ‘rocker’ shaped sole which also acts to propel you forward. Hoka have shown that a more platform-style shoe can work come race day and certainly with these at the other end of the spectrum from the Vivobarefoots, it’s good to see real choice. For this tester though, these felt a little too disconnected from the ground and we felt just a bit unstable in them when we picked up the pace. Kudos to Brooks for the space-age silver sole, though! 

Verdict: stop here if you want tigger-style bounce – but at the cost of feel for the ground 77%

Buy from www.brooksrunning.com

On Cloud X


We’ve been running in On shoes for a couple of years now, but out of the box the new Cloud X instantly felt more comfortable than its predecessors with a remodelled seam-free upper that was instantly very comfortable, hugging the foot but with plenty of room for toes. It’s lighter too – our UK6 came in at just 194g compared to a trusty old pair at 251g. On tarmac these felt propulsive with just the right mix of cushioning and contact with the ground. Those ‘clouds’ compress so you still feel connected to the road, despite having enough bounce to keep legs fresh. The upper was breathable and dried out quickly when used on soggier days. In fact, the only downside of these we could find was that when used at a local 5km on mixed surfaces the centre channel on the sole got gummed up with mud and grass.
We still got a PB though, so we’ll forgive them! 

Verdict: fast with the right mix of comfort, cushioning and contact with the ground 92%

Buy from www.on-running.com

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


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