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Sole Man: Should You Buy The World’s Fastest Shoe?

Can the adidas Adizero Adios Boost lead you to a new PR?

Can the adidas Adizero Adios Boost lead you to a new PR?

Last weekend, Kenyan Dennis Kimetto shattered the world record in the marathon wearing a pair of adidas Adizero Adios Boost 2.0 racing flats, running an eye-popping 2:02:57 to win the Berlin Marathon. Finishing not far behind in 2:03:13 was countryman Emmauel Mutai, who was also wearing a pair of  adidas Adizero Adios Boost 2.0 shoes. The top two women in the race, Ethiopia’s Tirfi Tsegaye (2:20:18) and Feyse Tadese (2:20:27), were also wearing those shoes.

Does that mean these are the fastest shoes in the world? Well, yes, it certainly appears to be the case, at least when you put them on the feet of the world’s fastest marathoners.

(But other factors are that the Berlin Marathon has a fast course and pacesetters and it offers huge bonuses for world records. Plus, adidas is one of the main sponsors of the race and it happens to sponsor many of the world’s top marathoners.)

Does that mean every  runner should buy a pair of Adizero Adios Boost 2.0 shoes ($140 at with the hope of running a marathon PR? Well, that depends on a lot of things, so the answer can only be … maybe.

PHOTOS: adidas Adizero Adios Boost 2.0 

Truth be told, the Adizero Adios Boost 2.0 is an amazing shoe, but, remember, the first step in finding the right shoe for you is making sure it fits the size and shape of your foot. And whether or not you set a new PR depends mostly on how well you trained and how well you race. Keep in mind that American Shalane Flanagan was wearing a pair of Nike racing flats (they looked like either Zoom Streak 4, LunarSpider 2.0 or some kind of semi-custom model) and ran a new PR of 2:21:14 while finishing third, so those must be fast shoes too.

The shoes you race in are important, but it’s less about the shoes and more about you.

Like all racing flats, the Adizero Adios Boost 2.0 is super light (8.0 oz. for a men’s size 9.0, 7.1 oz. for a women’s size 7.0), but the key to this shoe is the layer of innovative Boost midsole foam made from a combination of Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) and Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU). Boost foam, which debuted in 2013, has been shown in tests to provide greater energy return than traditional EVA foam and Competitor’s wear-test team has repeatedly given praise to the energetic feeling of shoes with Boost foam. (It’s important to note that previous versions of the Adios prior to the advent of Boost foam were worn on the feet of numerous record-setting runners, including Haile Gebrselassie.)

Among the aspects that set this shoe apart are two things that seem to offer a slight stabilizing presence as the foot hits the ground and moves through the gait cycle to toe-off—a very minor plastic rear foot brace, of sorts, just off the edge of the medial heel, and the thin, semi-firm layer of material above the Boost foam. Our wear-tests have also reported that some of the original shoes with thicker layers of Boost foam have been a bit wobbly for some runners, but the lower level of foam and other features in the Adizero Adios Boost (both in v1.0 and v2.0) seem to stabilize and keenly focus all energy in a forward direction. (The biggest change in the second edition of the shoe is a new, lighter, more breathable and slightly less structured mesh upper.)

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Another key element of the Adizero Adios Boost 2.0 is the semi-rigid plastic skeleton between the Boost foam and the outsole rubber. In adidasspeak, it’s known as the “Torsion System,” a device that helps transfer energy from impact through the toe-off phase. It bends and moves with your foot and then releases the energy as the shoe is de-flexed just before the toes push off.

Also, instead of a full-rubber outsole, which tends to be overkill for a racing flat and also makes a shoe heavier, the Adizero Adios includes only segments of durable Continental rubber at the main areas of contact with the ground. (Rubber is typically the heaviest single element in a shoe, so using less of it is an easy way to lighten up a particular model.) Also worth noting, the shoe has a 10mm heel-toe offset based on stack heights of 23mm in the heel and 13 mm in the forefoot.

The bottom line? The Adizero Adios Boost 2.0 is an agile, light, flexible and energetic shoe that inspires fast running. You’ll definitely feel the energy return, no matter if you’re racing, doing a speed workout or just jogging around during your shake-out run. Choosing that shoe as your race-day tool of choice certainly wouldn’t be a bad decision, especially given its recent history, but it’s not likely to lead to huge time drops unless you were already capable of that.

But, remember, it’s less about the shoes and more about you.

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