Health & Fitness | November 8, 2022 2:08 pm

Some NYC Marathoners Wore Running Shoes That Don’t Exist Yet

It was a big day for prototypes...and Under Armour, which finally reached the podium

The female leaders at the New York Marathon. What shoes did they wear? We've got a breakdown.
Peep the Under Armour Flow Velociti Elite, set to be released next spring.
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The New York City Marathon returned to full capacity this past Sunday, with over 47,000 runners crossing the finish line for the first time since 2019.

While the field included entrants from 131 different countries, with many of the runners repping their home nations on T-shirts and singlets (some even draped in flags), that diversity petered out down around the feet, where most were wearing a top-line sneaker from either Nike or Adidas. In its post-race coverage, Runner’s World called this year’s footwear of choice a “sea of Vaporflys, Alphaflys, and Adios Pros.” (The first two belong to the swoosh, the latter to the three stripes.)

The secret’s out, and the sport has lost interest in debates over the ethics of equipment — carbon-plated, foam-cushioned sneaks now rule the day. Unsurprisingly, runners who’ve already committed (or fundraised) thousands of dollars to secure a race-day slot aren’t going to stop short of competing in one of the best shoes available on the open market.

Desiree Linden of the United States competes in the Women's Professional Division of the TCS New York City Marathon on November 06, 2022 in New York City.
Des Linden’s unnamed Brooks prototypes won’t be available for nearly two years.
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

But some of the shoes that made public appearances this weekend actually aren’t available to the public yet, while others represent relatively underrated entries from other labels in the industry. One thing is clear: While the two top-selling brands may have had an R&D head start, the entire industry now knows how to make a “super shoe.”

The winner of the women’s race, Sharon Lokedi, was wearing the Under Armour Flow Velociti Elite, a racing shoe that won’t be released until spring 2023. That’s UA’s first-ever trip to the podium in a marathon major. And Des Linden, an American woman who finished in 16th place, literally ran in a pair prototypes. Outside identified the black, white and orange shoes as the work of Brooks, but wrote that “no one is willing to give up any details of the shoe.” Evidently, it won’t be released until 2024.

Nike and Adidas still dominate at the top (spotted on the feet of a combined 30 of the top 50 male and female finishers), but the representation from other brands should be encouraging to runners who appreciate choice — and recognize that the harder these brands fight for superiority, the faster the shoes will inevitably become.

The Asics MetaSpeed Sky+, Hoka Rocket X 2, On Cloudboom Echo 3, Puma Fast R Nitro Elite and Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 all had big days, guiding the men to sub-2:20:00 finishes and the women to sub-2:40:00 finishes on what turned out to be a muggy, unfavorable racing day throughout the five boroughs.

It’s good news for future marathoners, who have a habit of going through multiple pairs of shoes en route to the big day, anyway. With so many brands now entering the hyper-foamed fray, it’s likely that one of them will work for you. (Some runners who resisted Nike’s original carbon-plated models did so out of irritation with the narrow upper — not necessarily as a personal protest of the running shoe revolution.)

One recommendation? As tempting (and enthralling) as it is to buy an expensive pair of shoes online, go support your local running shop and get a feel for today’s various options in person. They’ll be able to get a feel for the shape of your foot, and give concrete advice on exactly when/how you should deploy the shoe before race day (if at all!). By the time the mysterious Brooks shoe arrives in 2024, you’ll be a pro.