Our Favorite Racing Shoe Releases in 2024 (So Far)

A group of runners during a race.

All shoes are reviewed by the Fleet Feet tester team, which represents a wide variety of goals, foot shapes, running locations and terrains. Reviewers pound the pavement, climb the hills, tackle the trails, then come together to compare notes. Debates ensue over the feel of the cushioning, the purpose of the shoe, and how it compares to last year’s model. While each reviewer has their own individual preferences, we hope that capturing our debates will help you make an informed decision.

Spring has sprung, and with that returns the racing season to most regions of the country (unless you live in Florida, like me, where the racing season is officially over). In addition to choosing your next race and selecting a training plan, you’ll also want to pick out your race-day wardrobe. And there’s no single item more important than your shoes.

Luckily for you, we’ve seen several new race-day super shoe releases so far this year. We’ll walk you through the ones we’ve tested, in alphabetical order.

1. HOKA Cielo X1

The HOKA Cielo X1.

Weight: 7.4 oz (W), 9.3 oz (M)

Stack height (heel/forefoot): 37 mm/30 mm (W), 39 mm/32 mm (M)

Heel-to-toe drop: 7 mm

Price: $275

Best for: Runners who like a wide, stable base

The HOKA Cielo X1 offers a dual-layer PEBA midsole that sandwiches a snappy carbon fiber plate inside. The result? A propulsive ride that Kate describes as springs on her feet. She should know, as she raced the Greenville Half Marathon in them last month in 1:18:58.

“The Cielo X1 has a strong rocker shape, an incredibly stiff feel and very bouncy cushioning. The combination makes it super propulsive,” she says.

We can’t promise that the Cielo X1 will have you dropping six minute miles during your next half marathon, but we can tell you that the shoe is built with both speed and stability in mind. The carbon plate in the midsole is winged, meaning it offers a touch more stability than traditionally-shaped plates. Plus, a wide platform offers a stable base for landings and takeoffs.

Our only issue with this shoe is the fit of the upper. It’s offered as a unisex option, and the pairs Mandy and I received were much too large. I was able to tie the laces tight enough to log a comfortable run, but the knit material buckled from being cinched so tightly, giving the Cielo X1 an unsightly appearance. I’d definitely recommend trying the Cielo X1 on in store, especially for women, as the unisex sizing can be tricky–women should ask for one to 1.5 sizes down from their typical running shoe size.

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2. Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro 2

The Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro 2.

Weight: 6.3 oz (W), 7.6 oz (M)

Stack height (heel/forefoot): 38 mm/36.5 mm

Heel-to-toe drop: 1.5 mm

Price: $250

Best for: Runners who have a high cadence and midfoot strike

The Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro 2 threw us off in the beginning with its extreme heel bevel and unique geometry. I’m glad I gave it a chance, though, because I ended up running a new half-marathon PR in them this month. It’s nowhere close to Kate’s time in the Cielo X1, but I think that’s representative of the abilities of the runner and not necessarily the shoes.

I have a high cadence and tend to land on my midfoot, so the Rebellion Pro 2 really worked for my stride. But for a couple other reviewers, the shape just didn’t work for them. I’d recommend trying this shoe on at your local Fleet Feet before purchasing. If it does work for your stride, you’ll get to enjoy the thick, dual-layer midsole combined with a carbon-infused plate that had Mandy and I bouncing down the street.

“My first run in the Rebellion Pro 2 was a 5K time trial and I felt like I was flying,” says Mandy. “It was the fastest I’ve run a 5K in quite some time. The foam was light and bouncy, and when I wanted to slow down the geometry of the shoe kept me moving forward at a nice, quick pace.”

Plus, the Rebellion Pro 2 has the grippiest outsole we’ve ever seen on a super shoe. Super shoes typically tend to shave weight by minimizing the amount of rubber on the outsole, which is what helps shoes grip the pavement and withstand the constant pounding. But Mizuno’s tacky, Polyurethane resin outsole somehow manages to keep the shoe lightweight, likely due to the open outsole channel.

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3. New Balance SC Elite v4

The New Balance SC Elite v4.

Weight: 6.1 oz (W), 7.8 oz (M)

Stack height (heel/forefoot): 40 mm/36 mm

Heel-to-toe drop: 4 mm

Price: $250

Best for: Runners who like a firm ride for fast efforts

The New Balance SC Elite has gotten a complete makeover from the ground up. I raced in the SC Elite v3 during the 2023 Philadelphia Marathon and earned a four-minute PR, so I was excited to test what New Balance described as an even more energetic ride.

To put things into context, I love soft shoes–which is why I loved the v3. It was soft yet bouncy and springy, the perfect combination for someone like me. However, the v4 is quite a bit firmer than the v3. It uses a new PEBAX midsole, which was done to increase energy return.

While I didn’t love the firmer ride, a lot of our wear testers actually prefer more rigid cushioning while trying to run fast. If this sounds like you, you’ll probably enjoy the v4. It also sports a brand new upper made with New Balance’s proprietary Fantom Fit upper, which is two layers of lightweight engineered mesh fused together to create a locked down fit. It holds your foot in much better than the one-piece knit upper from the previous version.

“I’d recommend the Elite v4 to anyone looking for a solid speed shoe for distances from the 5K to the marathon, depending on what kind of support they like,” says Kate. “This does not have a bouncy-feeling ride, so I’d recommend it to runners who prefer a firm feel when they’re running fast.”

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4. Saucony Endorphin Pro 4

The Saucony Endorphin Pro 4.

Weight: 6.5 oz (W), 7.5 oz (M)

Stack height (heel/forefoot): 39.5 mm/31.5 mm

Heel-to-toe drop: 8 mm

Price: $225

Best for: Runners who like a softer ride with a higher heel-to-toe drop

The Saucony Endorphin Pro 4 has been upgraded with a brand new dual-cushioning system. It’s a combination of PWRRUN PB foam and Saucony’s new PWRRUN HG (high gradient) foam, which was first introduced in the Saucony Endorphin Elite. Saucony claims their PWRRUN HG foam is the brand’s most energy-efficient cushioning yet, making this an exciting update for the Endorphin Pro 4.

“Who knew a shoe could transform you into a gazelle? Running in the Endorphin Pro 4 made me feel light on my feet, swift, smooth and like I could outrun a lion,” says Mandy. “It was better than a shoe disappearing on my foot, it felt like I strapped rockets onto my feet. Each run was smooth, comfortable and bouncy. My legs turned over effortlessly and quickly.”

I’ve been doing some speed workouts in the Endorphin Pro 4 and I really like how they feel. The upper is light, airy and molds perfectly to my foot. I also noticed that they changed the material on the heel collar. In the Pro 3 I would get really terrible blisters on the backs of my heels if I forgot to wear long socks. I didn’t have any issues whatsoever in the Pro 4. They feel a tiny bit softer than the previous version, which is a win in my book, but not too soft that they lose their responsiveness. I’m planning to race a couple of 5Ks in them later this spring, so stay tuned.

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