Unless you’re gearing up for a sprint or super-sprint race, you’ll probably find that the ideal race shoe is one that you can also use for tempo and speed workouts. That’s why triathletes have long been drawn to lightweight trainers as their go-to choice of footwear. So, once again, you’ll find lots of those shoes in this year’s guide, but we’ve also included a few models that offer more stability for those who might need it.
Named after the famous Australian race, the latest iteration of the Gel Noosa line up offers everything you’ll need to nail a fast run split regardless of your race distance. The Noosa Tri 13 screams performance throughout, even though this latest version actually borrows a lot of features from the Evoride, another lightweight performance shoe, but one that’s renowned for its cushioning, making it a great option for longer efforts where you still want to maintain a decent pace.
Since the Noosa Tri 13 uses the Evoride platform, it is a bit wider than you might remember previous versions of the shoe feeling, but that added width provides some welcome stability without adding any weight. That’s one of the first things you’ll notice about the Noosa Tri 13 – it is super light. Weighing in at just 224 g in a men’s size 9 and just 184 g for a women’s 8, you’ll be amazed at how cushioned the shoe feels. Adding to that soft feel is the Flytefoam used in the midsole to give you an extra little bit of spring in each stride. Stability is enhanced because of the Guidesole technology that provides some stability as you are toeing off.
There’s just enough rubber in the forefoot and heel to give you some decent durability so you won’t be afraid to use the Noosa Tri 13 for training, but keeping the weight down.
The seamless upper is made with really soft, engineered mesh that is comfortable, very breathable and excellent for sockless training or racing, There’s a pull tab on the back to make it easy to pull the shoe on in a hurry as you’re blasting out of T2, and it comes with elastic laces to complete the triathlon specificity. The wild colour scheme continues the Noosa tradition and will certainly stand out in transition.
The Noosa Tri 13 provides lots of very welcome cushioning and spring back so you’ll be able to hit your stride quickly on tired legs after the bike. The heel and upper are much more flexible than the Evoride, making it easier to crank up the pace and also adding to the comfort.
The soft, smooth ride makes this a great choice for triathletes who can handle a neutral shoe and are looking to maintain a quick tempo. Even though the drop comes down a bit to just 5 mm, you’ll still be able to roll over onto your toes with ease right from the start of your run.
We often focus on lightweight trainers when suggesting shoe options for triathletes, but we like this stability shoe because while there is lots of support, you won’t feel like the Andrenaline GTS 21 is stopping you from running naturally and at a quicker tempo when you want to. The DNA Loft foam and Guiderails technology provide a welcome amount of cushioning and support. The mesh upper is both comfortable and breathable, making this shoe a great choice for those who need some extra support for their running – whether that be while training or racing.
Inspired by the Rincon surf spot, you get lots of cushioning in a very light shoe that is just what triathletes with tired legs will love as they get started on the final leg of the race. A combination of the EVA midsole and the Meta-Rocker technology means that you get the best of both worlds – lots of cushioning, but also the ability to turn things over as you look to pick up the pace. The engineered mesh offers just the right mix of breathability and support to get you through the toughest training or race days.
In 2019 Nike’s Alphafly line up was revolutionizing the race world for both running and triathlon – to the point where some triathlon pros were jumping ship from their shoe sponsors and buying their own shoes to gain the benefits of the speedy, but delicate, Alphafly models – you weren’t getting too many km on them. The Tempo Next% is the more durable version of the Alphafly, still offering a lightweight, seamless upper and all the performance benefits in the midsole of two different foams, a carbon plate and two air bags. You get the same cushioned, fast ride all those pros were gravitating to the Alphafly for, but in a shoe you’ll get considerably more wear out of.
Making a return to Swiss-based On’s 2021 lineup is the Cloudswift, which offers lots of cushioning and supportive sidepanels, along with a re-engineered Speedboard for even more of a performance feel. The Helion superfoam provides lots of cushioning and energy return without adding much weight, while the durable rubber reinforcements on the sole provide lots of traction. The engineered mesh upper keeps you cool while providing just enough support to keep your foot in place as you ramp up your pace.
It might not be named after a long-standing race, but the Kinvara line up has been a go to shoe for triathletes because of its light weight and surprising amount of cushioning for years. Weighing in at just 213 g for the men’s size 9, the shoe is easy to run fast in, even though the drop is only just 4 mm. Saucony has made this the lightest Kinvara yet, but has maintained the supportive feel from the breathable mesh upper and supportive midsole. A great shoe for tempo and speed workouts, the Kinvara 12 continues the tradition of being a great triathlon race-day shoe as well.
Designed to be softer, lighter and, as every triathlete likes to hear, faster, the Machina 2 is a neutral carbon-plate shoe with an 8 mm offset that will suit triathletes nicely for training and racing. Like the original Machina, the Pebax plate enhances the energy return and keeps your foot stable as you push off. Add to that UA Hovr foam that provides lots of cushioning and a carbon rubber outsole that offers durability, making this a shoe you’ll get some miles training on in addition to your racing. There’s even a sensor embedded in the midsole that connects to UA’s Map My Run so you can track your efforts with or without your phone.
This story originally appeared in the March/ April issue of Triathlon Magazine Canada.