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Sole Man: The Shoes Of Ironman

A quick look at the shoes triathletes wore during the running portion in the 2014 Ironman World Championships.

Mirinda Carfrae wore New Balance TK, while Sebastian Kienle ran in New Balance 1600 racing flats. Photos: Courtesy of

A quick look at the shoes triathletes wore during the running portion in the 2014 Ironman World Championships.

What shoes did the world’s top pro and amateur triathletes wear during the marathon run portion of the Ironman World Championship on Oct. 11 in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii? According to the annual running shoe count conducted by Lava Magazine, more than half of the field of 2,000 triathletes wore shoes from four brands: ASICS (17.7 percent), Saucony (14.5 percent), Newton (10.7 percent) and Brooks (10.3 percent).

That shouldn’t be too surprising, especially given that it’s the exact same order of brands and very similar percentages of each of the previous two years at the Ironman World Championship. Brooks and ASICS are the top two brands at specialty running retail shops and Newton and Saucony both have made considerable investment in the sport of triathlon in recent years.

What might be interesting is that the next brand on the list is Hoka (6 percent) after having been worn by only 1.9 percent of the field last year and 1.7 percent of the field in 2012. Next among brands from this year’s race were adidas (6.9 percent), Mizuno (5.9 percent), Zoot (5.9 percent), Nike (5 percent) and On (4.6 percent).

[Note: This is a corrected post that includes adidas at 6.9 percent. The original post of the shoe count from Lava t didn’t include any figures for adidas.]

The most notable decline among the brands this year was the drop of K-Swiss, which continued its slide from 10 percent in 2012 to 5.4 percent last year to 2.3 percent this year—likely a result of its decision to return its focus to tennis after a few years dedicated to running and triathlon.

What might be surprising is that New Balance was worn by only 3.7 percent of the field. That might be bound to change slightly next year, given the Boston brand’s recent investment in triathletes and the fact that both winners— Germany’s Sebastian Kienle and Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae— were both wearing New Balance shoes. Kienle wore New Balance 1500 racing flats and ran a 2:54:37 marathon split to cruise to his victory with a 5-minute cushion, while Carfrae wore New Balance 1600 v2 racing flats and cranked out a 2:50:26 to run away with hers by more than 2 minutes.

However, although triathlon is a gear-crazy sport in which top pros are idolized by the masses of age-groupers, it’s not likely that any of this will create any kind of buying shift among triathletes and especially not among traditional runners. First, it’s just a brand count and not an actual count of specific shoe models. Secondly, not all triathletes—even those who qualify for Ironman—choose to run 26.2 miles in something as light and minimal as a racing flat.

While certainly some of the frequency of brands on the 2014 shoe list has to do with the overall success of companies at retail running and triathlon shops, it probably has a lot more to do with how much (or how little) those brands have put behind triathletes and the sport of triathlon in the past few years. It’s interesting to note that, even though the data is incomplete, just four years ago, ASICS claimed 25 percent of the first 1,000 of the competitors at 2009 Ironman World Championships. Newton (11.1 percent), Saucony (11.4 percent) and Brooks (10.1 percent) rounded out that shoe count in 2009.

RELATED: For more 2014 Ironman World Championships coverage, go to Triathlete Magazine’s Kona site.