10 Best Marathon Running Shoes Reviewed
Selecting a great marathon running shoe is an important and highly personal choice. Certain factors should be considered, such as arch type, whether you prefer minimalist, traditional or maximalist shoes, weight and even appearance. This list comprises the very best, overall marathon running shoes in terms of weight, fit, cushion and overall value. This list will guide you to a shoe that is perfect for you. We know that any one of these shoes will take you the distance!
1. Nike Flyknit Racer
Defined as a minimalist, the shoe provides perfect cushioning for marathon running. It’s also just-right for runners wishing to reduce cushioning from a more basic trainer. The Nike Flyknit Racer slogan is “Light for Flight” and we believe it. It weighs in at 6.0 oz. for the men’s version and even lighter for the women’s. It’s fit is often described as sock-like, and the weight feels like a sock, too!
The fit of this shoe is ideal for racing. The outsole is constructed of a foam and rubber material that’s less flexible than its competitors. The rigidity provides more support for distance, which is especially useful for muscles under fatigue. The upper is fabricated with Nike’s newest design trademark, and offers a snug-without-restriction fit. Because the tongue is an extension of the upper, it’s hardly noticeable when running. The quick dry upper makes for great running in any conditions.
The Flyknit is on the higher end, but the fit, weight and performance are excellent for the cost.
- Great go-flat runner for all types of races and workouts
- Lightweight with just-right cushioning for marathons or trainings
- Sleek design and great appearance
- Some feel it’s “too much” shoe for marathons 10k and less
- A bit on the pricey side
2. Brooks Ghost 9
Brooks’ trademark BioMoGo DNA foam cushioning adapts to runners’ strides and eases pressure and tension on the sole. And from foot strike point to toe off, the cushioning positively impacts all distances. At 10.60 oz, we think the Ghost 9 is a strong contender. Runners will definitely feel the ease of moving forward with lightness during high mileage runs.
The updated design uses a newly engineered mesh for the upper. Running feels second nature with a widened toe box. The lowered heel stack in the Ghost 9 design means a solid, comfortable run.
The strongest feature of the 9 is the sole unit’s crash pad which helps runners maintain a consistent stride. This coupled with a looser grip, compared to previous models, results in a natural stride from strike to toe off. Fully seamless, the upper is breathable while snug.
The cost of this shoe is slightly high but not unreasonably so. With updates that runners can appreciate, there’s a ton of bang for the buck.
- Excellent grip, cushioning and breathability
- Current model lower to ground than past designs
- Good price point
- Upper allows water to seep in
- For larger or heavier runners, cushioning may not suffice.
3. Hoka One One Clifton 3
The plush cushioning of the Hoka One One Clifton 3 is unique for such a lightweight shoe. Because it’s so pillowy, runners are free to go the distance. It's lightweight makes an excellent design for racing. At 8.60 oz, it’s hard to believe so much comfort, cushion support are squeezed into such a weightless runner. For a smooth, comfortable run and hard-to-match durability, the Clifton 3 offers an excellent, versatile model that won’t disappoint.
We thought the first two Hoka One One Clifton running shoes were great. But they managed to build on success with an even better fit. New mesh material, a wider toe box and a no sew speedframe upper allows runners greater distance and more durability. CMEVA foam makes up the midsole material which results in a shoe that tapers up in both the back and front. No matter where the foot hits, runners propel forward. It also covers part of the outsole, which features high abrasion rubber material wrapped up the toe.
The shoe has a “thicker” appearance compared to sleeker, previous designs. We think it’s kind of vintage in its appearance, paying homage to old school, bulkier runners. This in no way obstructs a smooth, light and fast ride.
Higher end, but so many excellent features for the cost.
- Great cushion
- Great Styling
- Mesh upper may allow for some water to seep in
- High end pricing
4. Adidas Ultra Boost
The Adidas Ultra Boost weighs in at 9.3 oz and offers a lot of cushion. The Boost foam improves on an already reputable bounce. And don’t worry about what this means to your footstrike. The Ultra Boost bounce-back capability remains higher than most contenders for this level of cushion. Heel to toe comfort never disappoints!
An updated sole provides an open grid pattern with a stretchy rubber that assists with movement and an easier heel-strike to toe-off transition. The Primeknit upper mesh is durable enough for a twenty mile run and stylish enough to transition to dinner with friends later. Stretchy and ventilated. The bent forefoot helps to set stride and speed work for all types of racing. The Continental rubber outsole is great for added traction and contributes to the overall flexibility of the shoe.
This shoe is among the most expensive of our picks, but for the incredible comfort of the Boost foam, the great styling and the perfect fit, it’s worth it!
- A 500 mile shoe
- Responsive cushioning
- Technology to increase boost and responsive feature under the foot
- High price point
- Might be too constricting outside a narrow foot
5. Saucony Kinvara 7
The shoe weight runs between 6.6 oz for women and 7.7 oz for men. The lightweight is excellent for racing and long distance. But it’s the placement pattern of injected blown rubber in specific areas of the sole that make this shoe really interesting as well as high performance. By providing cushion and durability only where the highest ground contact occurs, the weight is more controlled (and lighter). Using the latest EverRun SSL foam offers a more dense and firm platform than in previous models.
FlexFilm eliminates seams and stiffens the upper while retaining flexibility. This technological feature is a carry over from earlier versions, and we’re glad. The rigidity the FlexFilm helps the shoe to maintain in no way obstructs a comfortable ride. The upper still utilizes the Pro-Lock lacing system, which sits beneath the upper unit on top of the tongue. Even without this component, the Kinvara stays snug. The heel counter which rubs against the achilles is soft and comfortable.
No matter the type of run, between the lightweight feel and excellent fit complete with the best technology, it’s sure to please.
Reasonably priced with excellent features.
- Excellent durability
- Great fit
- Some dislike the Pro-Lock lacing, finding it restrictive
6. Asics GT 2140
The cushion and comfort wrapped into this 12.6 oz wonder runner make for a great trail or pavement ride. Between improved foam material ensuring better bounce and midfoot support and the Space Trusstic System which has been lengthened on the medial side to offer better heel-to-toe support during the running gait, the Asics promises an excellent ride with unbeatable stability. A feature that remains unchanged is the DuoMax dual density technology, which provides targeted injections of harder foam in the medial region of the midsole to assist with collapsing arches. Meanwhile the Gel technolgy in the forefoot and the heel cushion the rest of the foot.
We like the addition of the Ortholite sockliner which is made of Memory Foam. It offers additional cushioning without compromising stability and adapts to the shape of the foot, returning to its original form after each run. Pretty cool! An upper mesh water-resistant material lets the foot breathe, forefoot studs offer even better traction and and Impact Guidance System enhances the foot’s natural gait from heel strike to toe off. This shoe is comfortable, versatile and high performance.
For neutral to mild overpronator runners, the fit of this shoe is an excellent option. For the price, it really can’t be beat.
- Great stability
- Less trendy aesthetic
- Not as lightweight as some contenders
7. Newton Fate II
Being that it is a minimal running shoe, the Newton Fate II doesn’t promise tons of cushion. But there’s enough there for comfort on a long distance run. The trademarked EVA foam allows a lot of bounce even at lesser amounts. We like that while you have some support, the minimalist approach will have you leaning on your own strength and building endurance as well as strength in your gait, all while looking awesome. At 7.9 oz and a heel-to-drop of 4.5 mm, successful runs aren’t left to fate. They’re because of Fate!
A form-fitting shoe that molds nicely to your foot while offering newer technology that will help your ride no matter the terrain. For elevation and rougher ground, this shoe is top-notch. Lined with a comfortable inner-fabric for breathability and metatarsal stretch panels for foot-shape accommodation, runs of any distance feel great.
The midsole’s 5-lug P.O.P. 2 platform offers comfortable beveled lugs, part of the Newton’s Action/Reaction Technology, which provide a smoother ride. The new seamless upper with no-sew overlays and a soft fabric which rests against the foot is more comfortable than previous designs. This neutral trainer with so many excellent options increase runner capacity, build individual strength and still offer excellent comfort.
The overall fit of the Newton is just right - not too snug or too loose. The toe box allows for some movement without losing a secure fit. This makes long runs with hard turns more efficient.
The updates including changes with the lug fit and placement as well as other excellent components make this shoe an all around winner - and worth the slightly higher price.
- Cushioned, comfortable while lightweight
- A bit pricey
8. Skechers GORun 4
While the Skecher Go Run 4 is a minimalist shoe, it offers up some incredible comfort. Runners will like that there is enough cushioned foam to keep firm, grounded support. The midsole is home to the EVA foam support targeted area, making a kind of “landing pad” for the middle foot. Skecher’s design was meant to provide a moving-forward motion and a strong midfoot strike (Hence, M-Strike, it’s trademarked structure).
The outsole has “go impulse sensors” which are well-placed pods independent from the rest of the outsole. The concept was to improve overall flexibility and ground feel and we say, “mission accomplished!" The upper has a sock-like fit with smooth, mesh material that feels soft against the foot. A wide and thin tongue wraps over and contributes to an overall excellent fit. A unique aspect of the shoe is the quick-fit, a hole in the back heel region of the upper which helps the shoe to slide on easier. This element does nothing to hinder the ride or heel stability. A wide toe box allows for the perfect amount of room for toes to spread during a run. Skechers claim that this shoe is so comfy and structurally sound you can wear it sockless.
The cost of this shoe is extremely reasonable, and the value is fantastic for the price.
- The upper is extremely comfortable.
- The price is great.
- Overall durability and flexibility
- Some runners feel the ride is too stiff past 10K.
9. New Balance Vazee Pace V2
At toe off, runners will note spring - just not high levels of cushioning. However, the REVlite foam uses a blown rubber which means more durablity with a bit less product. The rubber outsole is extremely well designed, with a softer rubber compound that provides great traction even on slippery surfaces. It also provides for more comfort and support. Weight is not sacrificed for this element - at 9.2 oz this shoe definitely maintains a healthy lightweight.
A no sew application, REVlite midsole foam, a mesh upper for excellent ventilation and a 6 mm drop offer streamlined, comfortable fit. The two-tone design is sleek and satisfying for racing, of course, but also for everyday wear.
The concept of this stylish but simplistic shoe is to provide a basic but high performance running apparatus that throws back to old school versions. It's so basic in structure and appearance, it's easy to forget it's one of the best racers available.
The bootie construction gives a snug and supportive fit and assists with speed by hugging the foot comfortably yet securely. The lace system holds the foot securely, the toe box is roomy enough for toes to spread and the upper is a knit design that hugs feet while allowing perfect ventilation. What's not to love?
This shoe is everyone's fave - new runners and experts alike will glean value from the simplistic, high functioning design, and look great too!
We like the price too - reasonable and well worth every penny.
- A firm midsole without a rough ride
- Wide groove running from split heel to midfoot keeps weight centered
- Thin removable insole
- Awesome for racing
- Won't translate as well into slower runs
- Not a shoe for those looking for "frills"
10. Nike Air Max Moto +
At 12.8 oz, the Nike Air Max Moto +9 carries a bit more weight than other top ten contenders. This isn’t a hindrance to its performance. In fact the excellent heel to toe cushioning is worth its weight. The enhanced Air Cushioning creates additional spring and comfort, making long runs easier with less negative impact to the foot, joints and muscles. If that wasn’t enoughm a partial innersleeve construction adds additional plush comfort.
What makes this running shoe special is the structure specific to this design. The articulated Max Air unit in the heel coupled with the Zoom unit in the forefoot region provides the best impact protection and response. A PU heel casing increases foot stability by adding support and better fit. Feet stay ventilated with the upper mesh fabric. Runners will have no problem maintaining a comfortable (and successful) run because of the shoe's great design.
Great price point for the awesome features in this shoe.
- Great cushioning
- A great “all around” running shoe
- Some believe the shoe fits better for feet with a greater arch, less so with flat feet.
The bottom line is this – finding the perfect running shoe is definitely an individual pursuit. What one runner calls the “best shoe ever”, another may not. Depending on the type of running, the physiology and structure of the body and plain old taste, the right shoe will vary. Whether you prefer the latest technology, high grade cushion or kickin’ it old school, we’ve narrowed down the best of the best. Now that you’ve found your perfect marathon shoe, get out there and enjoy the ride!