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Runblogger Reader Survey Results: Top Road Running Shoes of 2013

A few weeks ago I posted a survey asking Runblogger readers to vote for their top 3 road and trail shoes of 2013. The response was incredible! A total of 523 people submitted votes for top road shoes, and 233 submitted votes for top trail shoes. I’ve tallied the road shoe votes and the results are presented in this post (I’ll hopefully get the trail shoe results up later this week or early next week, it has taken longer than expected to compile the data).

For the road shoe survey, 523 people submitted a total of 1,200 shoe nominations (some only voted for one or two shoes rather than three). I removed any votes where a brand was entered without a specific shoe model, and I’ve pooled the votes by shoe model name rather than version number to keep things cleaner (if you want to see the raw votes with shoe model versions, click here to view the Excel spreadsheet).

First, here is the share of votes by brand:

Runblogger 2013 Top Road Shoe Reader Survey - Brand Share of Votes

Runblogger 2013 Top Road Shoe Reader Survey – Brand Share of Votes

I wasn’t surprised that the top two brands were Saucony and Brooks, but I was surprised by how much Saucony dominated the other brands in the survey. Saucony shoes received 227 votes, and Brooks at #2 received over 100 fewer at 119 total. Skechers turned in an impressive performance coming in at #3 – they also did quite well in a poll in the Running Shoe Geeks group on Facebook. Skechers is one to watch out for as more people get over the Skechers brand baggage and give their performance shoes a try (I was once one of the non-believers, but have been converted to the point where I now work with them regularly on shoe development).

Now for individual shoe results. Below are the top 20 shoe models with number of votes (the full list can be viewed here). You can click on the shoe images in the table to view a review of that shoe (where I haven’t reviewed the current version of a particular shoe yet, I’ve linked to my most recent model review).


Rank

Running Shoe

# Votes

#1

Saucony Kinvara 4Saucony Kinvara

102 votes

#2

Skechers GoRun 3Skechers GoRun

57 votes

#3

Saucony VirrataSaucony Virrata

56 votes

#4

Merrell Bare Access 3
Merrell Bare Access

42 votes

#5

New Balance 1400 v2New Balance 1400

30 votes

#6

(tie)

Altra Instinct 1.5Altra Instinct

29 votes

#6

(tie)

Brooks PureFlow 2
Brooks Pure Flow

29 votes

#8

Saucony A5Saucony Grid Type A5

28 votes

#9

Newton EnergyNewton Energy

26 votes

#10

(tie)

Altra TorinAltra Torin

24 votes

#10

(tie)

Merrell Vapor GloveMerrell Vapor Glove

24 votes

#10

(tie)

Mizuno CursorisMizuno Evo Cursoris

24 votes

#13

Skechers Go BionicSkechers Go Bionic

22 votes

#14

Pearl Izumi EM Road N1Pearl Izumi EM Road N1

21 votes

#15

Altra The One
Altra The One

19 votes

#16

New Balance 890New Balance 890

18 votes

#17

(tie)

adidas Adios Boostadidas Adios Boost

17 votes

#17

(tie)

Brooks PureCadence 2Brooks Pure Cadence

17 votes

#17

(tie)

New Balance MR00
New Balance Minimus MR00

17 votes

#20

Mizuno SayonaraMizuno Sayonara

16 votes


A few observations on these results:

1. I’m not surprised that the Saucony Kinvara came out #1 (even though I wasn’t crazy about v4 of the Kinvara). It’s a great all-around shoe, and one of the first that I recommend to people looking to go lighter or lower drop. Personally, I’d like to see shoes like the Kinvara, Brooks Flow/Cadence, NB 1400 v2, Mizuno Sayonara be the starting point from which people move either up or down to more structured or minimal shoes.

I have to admit that I was a bit surprised by the magnitude by which the Kinvara beat out even shoe #2. Impressive results for one of my personal favorite shoes!

2. I suspected the Skechers GoRun would do well, but would not have guessed it’d be #2 overall.

3. Saucony nabbed a second spot in the top 5 with the Virrata. They did something really smart with the Virrata – it’s zero drop but is really well cushioned and doesn’t look or feel like a minimal shoe so is less likely to scare off people who fear going minimal yet want zero drop.

4. The Merrell Bare Access at #4 was a big surprise to me. I love it as a casual shoe but find it a bit firm for running. Need to get some miles on the v3 for a review.

5. No Asics or Nike in the top 20 (I at least expected the Nike Free to show up in at least one of its iterations).

6. The closest thing to traditional shoes in this list are the New Balance 890 and Mizuno Sayonara, and even those are fairly lightweight training shoes. No heavy, 12mm drop shoes anywhere near the top. This probably is a reflection of the readers of this blog and my own more minimal bias, but Runblogger readers tend to be shoe geeks so it’s interesting to see how the results here contrast with typical top selling shoes at run specialty (e.g., shoes like the Brooks Adrenaline, Saucony Guide, Asics Nimbus).

7. The only real ultraminimal shoe here is the Merrell Vapor Glove, again a reflection that readers of this blog tend to gravitate toward lighter shoes that retain some amount of cushion (with drops anywhere from 0 to 10mm). I have not reviewed the Vapor Glove, but have worn it a bunch casually and have run in it a handful of times. It’s probably the best ultraminimal shoe I have ever worn.

That’s all I have to say, would love to hear any comments you have on these results!

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. Very intresting poll. Bummer I missed sending in my votes.
    Interesting that Brooks i #2 but they are not very present in the model list.

  2. Travis Forbes says:

    I guess this is the first year of doing this; if you do it again it’d be interesting to see the “movement” in brands up or down.

  3. Jesse Gonzalez says:

    The Bare Access at #4?!? Wow!

    I absolutely love the shoe and voted for it myself but never expected as many others to like it that much, let alone vote for it!

    • I agree, Jesse. I love, love, love my Bare Access shoes and placed my vote as soon as Pete posted the poll. I did not expect the shoe to be so high in the ranking, either, but I’m glad to see it there. The Bare Access is a fantastic road shoe, IMHO!

  4. Whilst it’s hard to say much without knowing who ‘we’ the readers all are…it looks like we are, at least, quite a discerning bunch!

  5. Just ran a 5k in the heart of Ohio. Over 1000 runners. It seemed like about 80-90% of the runners wore Asics. I showed up in my fancy-pants new Skechers GoMeb New Yorks. The only Skechers I saw there. By the end of the race, I was wishing I was wearing my good old reliable Asics Piranha SP3s. Asics makes very comfortable shoes that appeal to the masses, but not so much to the shoe geeks. The Gel Super J33, new DS racer and the new Hyperspeed might again make Asics appealing to more discriminating runners.

    • Nick Bradley says:

      What was wrong with the GoMeb Michael?

      • I don’t think anything is wrong with it. I only wore it once before the race, so I don’t think I had enough time to adapt. It’s probably the stiffest shoe I own, and the stack height is a little higher than my other flats, so it did something to my gait which caused a pain in my left hip. I’ve been wearing zero drop minimalist shoes ever since the 5k and the pain is gone now. I think I’m more sensitive than most, so my experience may not be typical.

        • i love the stiffness of a racing shoe and the GoMeb is nice and stiff giving you a nice recoil. although i agree with you on the stack heigth of the GoMeb being too high. however, i own 4 pair and have resolved the issue by taking them to a shoesmith and having the heel reduced to lower the stack and drop to near zero. works great and i have run 7 marathons in the GoMeb in 2013 w/ at 3:29 at Grandma’s. the GoMeb got a vote from me for the Runblogger survey.

    • I do not trust Asics. They love their medial posts and other support features. Even their “neutral shoes” have support elements.

      I did a quick mental list of injured athletes, both professional and people I know, and a large amount of them wear Asics.

      A recent video of the Hakone Ekiden showed something I have never seen before…an injured Kenyan with a stress fracture hobbling, unable to finish the race….he was wearing Asics (most Kenyans do not).

      • Good point Mike. Ryan Hall is also sponsored by Asics and has been injured on/off the last years.

      • Balthasar says:

        I immediately got injured when I switched to Asics, with two very different shoes that had the same result (achilles tendinitis with a Cumulus 15 because of a too soft heel, and a Trabucco trail shoe because of excessive support that hurt my feet).

  6. Lots of love for Saucony. This site and it’s readers convinced me to transition to the Kinvara out of a Nike Pegasus a year and a half ago and I haven’t looked back. I now own the Cortanas and A5s. Hoping to add the Virratas to the list at some point (shoe budget currently exhausted). I come here first for all my shoe info!

  7. Interesting! I missed the voting, but love my Kinvara 2s and am really worried about what I’ll do when the stock I have all wear out if they keep changing them.

  8. Gabriel Hopkins says:

    However geeky your readership, I still think it’s astonishing (but sort of right) that Asics and Nike scored so low. These are companies that expend serious energy and cash on establishing themselves as serious running brands. Clearly we’re not buying it.

  9. Peter I know you try to be honest and objective. But to me the list seems very Peter_Larson-influenced. Not a coincidence that your favorite Kinvara is at the top. I am not criticizing but the list tells me you have many loyal fans that think – if it works for Peter Larson, it works for me! And meaning your readers have great respect for your personal views. But I think you know that and keep it in mind :-)

    Shoes are like music. It is personal and there is no “best ever” product. Too bad I don’t get tons of shoes for review but have to rely on others testing and opionions. It is hard spending hundreds to only find out the shoes were a complete bummer for me even though the reviewer loved it. Glad you have the forum for more personal shoe experiences!

    So keep up the good work focusing on the most important thing for runners: Running injury-free!

    PS. I am one of those fans and my favorites are on the list (but far from top) :-)

    • It’s a reader survey so of course it’s biased, I wouldn’t try and claim otherwise. But it gives me an idea of what people who read my site like, and there were quite a few surprises for me as discussed in the post.

  10. Stéphane says:

    The Bare Access is definitely my shoe of choice for this year. I could use it exclusively. My favourite one is the Vapor Glove though. Phenomenal shoe even if a bit too demanding for my current level.

  11. Wow – hard to believe Skechers is so big here. I’m a believer. Just ordered the ultras – loving the GRR3 and all weather GRR2.

  12. I thought the survey was only about shoes that were released or updated in 2013. I was surprised to see shoes like the Altra instinct or the Skechers Go Bionic in the list, because they weren’t updated in 2013. But apparently I am mistaken.

  13. I also wish I had seen the survey so I could have cast my favorite shoe the Brooks Launch in there. Glad to see there were a few of those among the favorites along with the Green Silence.

  14. Nice pie chart! Great to see that Altra’s received a fair amount of votes (and close to Merrell’s for %). Both received my vote. :) Thanks for putting this all together.

  15. Skechers GoBionic is best shoe I have ever used in my life. I love everything about his shoe.

    I only wish I’d bought more since it is no longer available :(

  16. Great post and survey, it’s nice to know what the trends are. I’m actually quite surprised by some of the results.

  17. Nice survey. My shoe is #5 the NB1400 and I have been wearing if for a couple of years since it 1st came out. I am still surprised it took so long for people to try it out.

  18. Sad I missed the vote–guess I need to lurk more often or just finally sign up for the RSS feed.

    I’m surprised (and happy) to see Merrell do so well. Simply put, their barefoot glove line of shoes just work for my feet. I spend a lot of time during the day on my feet and typically wear Merrell Flux Gloves (from Sierra Trading Post on clearance) if the Chicago weather allows. I do about 30% of my training in Road Gloves 2 but I’m afraid to bump that much higher and do the other 70% switching between Saucony Kinvara 3 and Grid Type A5s because I feel safer doing long runs in 4 mm drop shoes with slightly more cushioning. I would love to see Merrell make some of their barefoot shoes with a 4 mm drop because the Mix Master line doesn’t work for me for road running.

  19. Had i voted I think i’d have probably gone for the Kinvaras, but it’d have been a very close call between them and Inov-8′s Trailroc 245s. For anyone doing lots of trail miles looking for a shoe that does a mix of terrains, the Trailrocs are superb. Not good in the very muddiest of conditions, but few shoes are. Have recently gone to the 255s which seem to be a much heavier shoe (definitely feel heavier than advertised). Still my go-to shoe.

  20. Shame I missed this vote but I would have gone for the Saucony Hattori. They are perfect for me with the exception of when having to run down very steep long roads (very hilly where I live), in these situations I could do with a little more cushioning and perhaps a bit of a heel to toe drop.

  21. Alex Komodore says:

    Hi Peter: I’m a fellow tenured professor (Music for me!) have run 14 marathons, dozens of other shorter events, and love your blog. I agree with this poll in that I own 5 pairs of Kinvaras.I will try the Mizuno Evo Cursoris soon (I’m a huge former Ronin 2 fan, best shoe ever made IMHO!) and possibly the Virratas. Anyway, keep up the good work. If you ever get to Denver, I’ll buy you a beer!
    Alex

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