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Dave McGovern

Professional Racewalking Expert

Racewalking Shoes

Featured On:

  • The Complete Guide to Walking
Racewalkers are a different breed from runners so we need different shoes to perform at our best. The high-heeled, stiff, clunky trainers that most runners wear will not do for the high-speed gait of the racewalker. But running racing flats? Now that’s where the action is!

Ever since New Balance phased out the 111 racewalking shoe in early 2007, running racing flats are about all we have left. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Racing flats come in a wide variety of styles ranging from flimsy non-supportive slipper-like creations to much more cushiony trainer-racers. Within that range, racewalkers can find a wide array of PR-worthy shoes.

Most racing flats are “slip lasted,” or “strobel lasted,” techniques that allow for light weight and superior flexibility. Because we racewalkers hit the ground with less than half the force of the typical runner’s stride, we can get away with these much lighter shoes for both training and racing.

Steer away from the flimsiest shoes, like cross-country racers or track flats, but any shoe designed for 15k to marathon racing should work well for racewalk training and racing.

The downside to using racing flats for day-to-day wear is that they’re designed for runners to wear only once every few weeks to race, so they often don’t last very long. But life-spans vary considerably; some flats will last 300 miles or more, some extremely lightweight flats may be shot after a mere 50 miles. Shoes designed for marathons are made with high carbon outsoles that will usually hold up for several hundred miles.

The features sought out by racewalkers are lightweight, a low heel, a flexible midsole, a moderate amount of support, and a generous toe-box to prevent blisters or the dreaded “black toe-nails” that can arise after miles of walking in narrow-toed shoes. Outlandish colors seem to be a plus.

There are dozens of shoes that “foot” the bill. But who does it best?

For serious racers looking for the lightest and fastest shoes around, the Adidas adiZero RC and the Asics Gel-Hyper Speed 2 are heads above the rest. For marathon walkers or 50k specialists looking for more support, the New Balance RC1001, Mizuno Wave Revolver 5, and the Nike Air Zoom Marathoner get the edge for lightweight stability.

Buying a shoe for racewalking isn’t like buying a car. There aren’t an unlimited number of dazzling features that will steer you one way or another. Ultimately, fit is what matters most. How far you’ll be walking, how heavy you are, and the mechanics of your feet will also play a role. What the Olympic Champion wears - or the guy who just won your local 5k for that matter - is immaterial. Having said that, these are some of the very best new models from which to choose.

Best Mens Racewalking Shoes by Dave McGovern

The Best You Can Get

  • New Balance RC1001

    Dave says: The New Balance RC1001 is designed for the neutral to under-pronator who requires lightweight cushioning. It’s a responsive racing flat suitable for marathons and 50ks, but it’s definitely fast enough for 5ks. Three-time 50k Olympian Philip Dunn loves their breathability and will wear them in the Olympic 50k in Beijing. Two-time 20k Olympian Tim Seaman is another fan.

    • Weight: 7.6 ounces
    • Absorb® cushioning in both heel and forefoot for exceptional shock absorption
    • Synthetic/mesh upper provides lightweight comfort and support
    • N-Durance® solid rubber outsole provides longwearing durability with blown rubber forefoot for lightweight cushioning
    • Stability web arch provides lightweight mid-foot support
  • Mizuno Wave Revolver 5

    Dave says: This is a great shoe! If you can get past the Smurfelicious color scheme, you’ll love the flexible support of the Wave Revolver.

    The designers at Mizuno must have used a little Smurf magic to make such a lightweight shoe so comfortable. They feel fast on the road - or track - for a blazing 5k, but have enough cushioning to get you through a marathon or 50k.

    The Revolver’s firm Wave plate and low profile midsole make it quite protective in terms of reducing foot flex and roll.

    • Weight: 7.7 ounces. Designed for mild to moderate over-pronation
    • SmoothRide engineered Fan Wave disperses shock
    • “ap” midsole resists compression and provides extra durability
    • AIRmesh upper provides outstanding durability. Microfiber overlays provide support
    • X10 carbon rubber provides durability in heel. Solid rubber in forefoot
  • Asics GEL-Hyper Speed 2

    Dave says: The GEL-Hyper Speed 2 is a lighter-weight, more flexible version of the already cloud-like DS Racer. Weighing in at only 6.9 ounces, the Hyper Speed 2 still manages to provide adequate support for the long haul despite a very low heel. Ben Shorey wore his Gel-Hyper Speed 2s to a personal best in the IAAF Racewalking World Cup 50k in Russia in May 2008.

    • Weight: 6.9 Ounces
    • Lightweight neutral racer
    • Open mesh upper provides excellent comfort and breathability
    • Molded EVA midsole is combined with the GEL® cushioning system that attenuates shock during the impact phase
    • Magic Sole™ outsole minimizes weight and maximizes durability. AHAR® Heel Plug placed in critical areas of the outsole for increased durability
  • Adidas adiZero RC

    Dave says: The adiZero RC definitely has the fast feel of a racing flat, but offers a bit more support than some of the other top choices. A very generous toe-box is also a welcome feature for the long-distance walker. This shoe just feels good right out of the box! Olympic hopeful Susan Armenta will be wearing her adiZeros in the Olympic 20k Racewalk Trials, and hopefully in Beijing. Susan says “I'll be using my Adidas Adizero RCs (at the Trials). I love them because they are super light, flexible, and breathable. They are perfect for racing!” Another Beijing hopeful, Mike Tarantino, will be wearing them in the men’s 20k. According to Mike, “the adiZero RC is light, has a low profile with solid stability in the heel without being too rigid. The midsole construction is ideal for the rolling foot action in racewalking.”

    • Weight: 6.9 ounces. Designed for neutral pronation and supination
    • Perforated upper for superior breathability; air mesh lining for comfort and breathability
    • TORSION® SYSTEM provides adaptive midfoot support
    • adiPRENE® under the heel for superior cushioning at impact. adiPRENE®+ in the forefoot maintains propulsion and efficiency
    • adiWEAR® outsole in the heel for durability, blown rubber in the forefoot for lightweight traction
  • Nike Air Zoom Marathoner

    Dave says: Designed for elite marathon runners this is a serious racing shoe that can also withstand the rigors of high-mileage training. The Air Zoom Marathoner is a great balance between light weight and support for the long haul.

    • Weight: 8.8 ounces. Very lightweight upper mesh panels add breathability
    • Soft frame reduced number of seams offers supple feel and support
    • Flat-profile Phylon™ midsole delivers cushioning and needed support for long-distance racewalkers
    • Heel Zoom Air™ unit for responsive cushioning
    • Full-length carbon rubber outsole brings durability with minimal thickness to save weight

You will be happy with any of these

  • Brooks T5

    Dave says: The only thing keeping the Brooks T5 out of the top five is its short lifespan. The T5 is fast, comfortable, and adequately supportive, but the outsole that Brooks promotes as “abrasion resistant” tends to wear through to the midsole fairly quickly. If you can forgive them that flaw, this shoe feels fantastic to wear, and is lightning fast. Save them for races rather than for every day wear and you’ll probably fall in love with the T5.

    • Weight: 6.2 ounces.
    • Built for the neutral to under-pronator who requires lightweight cushioning
    • Breathable mesh upper ensures a comfortable footbed
    • HydroFlow® cushioning absorbs heel-strike impact
    • Recommended for distances of up to a half marathon
  • Nike Zoom Air Streak XC

    Dave says: Nike has a way of making racers so light you can forget you’re wearing them. At 5.6 ounces, the Air Streak XC is no exception. Probably better saved for shorter races and speed sessions, the Air Streak XC does have a long-lasting outsole, but the trade-off between weight and stability means they might not be the best choice for longer-distance workouts. The Air Zoom Streak XC has such a low heel and thin midsole that you can practically fold it in half with little effort. Again, great for speed, but not supportive enough for most heavier or long-distance racewalkers.

    • Weight: 5.6 ounces.
    • Minimal and glove-like fitting upper with heel lobes for comfort fit
    • Full-length Phylon™ midsole. Durable BRS 1000™ carbon rubber in the heel
    • Heel Zoom Air™ unit provides fast, low-profile cushioning
    • Forefoot Duralon™ rubber pods add articulate flexibility and cushioning
  • Loco Bandito

    Dave says: Loco is a new brand that has become very popular with racewalkers. The Bandito is a no-frills shoe without a lot of extra bells and whistles. They are very flexible, but also have more cushioning than most racing flats. They may feel a bit “slower” than less cushiony flats, but the added support may be just the thing for marathon walkers.

    • Weight: 8.5 ounces
    • Dual density EVA midsole
    • Fully slip-lasted
    • Grooved carbon-rubber outsole for durability
  • Pearl Izumi Streak

    Dave says: Better known in triathlon circles, the Pearl Izumi is earning converts in the racewalking arena. The Streak is designed for use in distances ranging from 5k to the marathon. Forefoot grooves and a low-profile design make the Streak feel fast, but they are also designed with comfort in mind. Excellent cushioning and durability in a lightweight racer makes the Streak a winner all around.

    • Weight: 8.8 ounces
    • Skydex® forefoot and heel crash pad deliver miles of protection and cushioned comfort
    • Forefoot flex grooves for a smooth, efficient ride
    • High-performance dual-density EVA midsole provides maximum shock absorption
  • Saucony Grid Fastwitch 2 Speed and Fastwitch 2 Endurance

    Dave says: Saucony actually has two Fastwich racers: the Speed and the Endurance. Both are excellent choices for racewalkers. The Endurance offers a bit more support, the Speed a faster feel. The Endurance is a great pick for heavier walkers who still want to knock out the miles, or for those suffering from plantar-fasciitis. The added “stiffness” under the arch makes for a somewhat slower transition to the forefoot, but that’s a fair trade-off if it prevents sore feet in the later miles of marathon or long training walk.

    • Weight: Speed: 7.6 ounces, Endurance: 8.1 ounces
    • Lightweight and breathable Air-Mesh upper
    • Dri-Lex lining wicks moisture away from the foot and is very quick drying
    • Compression molded EVA midsole. Midfoot support bridge keeps the foot neutral in the midfoot phase of the gait cycle. Ionic Grid Cushioning system provides heel cushioning through the use of molded pillars
    • Low profile carbon rubber outsole. XT-900 is a carbon rubber outsole material that offers exceptional traction properties without sacrificing durability

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