Raceday Tier List 2024 – Ranking The Best of the Best

So many shoes and so little time. Which race day shoes will propel you to your PB and which will drive you to despair? This article will give you insight into the myriad options out there.

Raceday Tier List – Investing Wisely

Race day shoes are a big investment both in terms of money and trust. The wrong pair of shoes can be the difference between a PB and blisters, injury and disappointment. With nearly every company on the market having their own high priced, superfoamed, hypebeast of a shoe, selecting the right one can be a marathon task of its own. Between the runners at Meta Endurance, we have been fortunate enough to test many of them. Some we love, some we would rather never lace up again. Whilst everyone’s experience of a shoe is personal, we hope that this will help guide you on how to channel your hard earned funds. Do you agree with the choices in our raceday tier list?

Gara Carbon-14 - Raceday Tier List
Alphafly 3 Wall 2 - raceday tier list

God Tier – The Superhuman Supershoes

These are the best of the best, those shoes which have that magic. Helping us to get fleet feet and fast times, we have the Alphafly 3. Probably not a very controversial choice, it is, after all, the world’s fastest marathon shoe. Kelvin Kiptum broke Kipchoge’s record in them. After a poor second outing, Nike brought back the magic in the v3. All the testers agree that Nike have brought back the Alphafly and that it truly deserves a seat at the top table. Stable, light and explosive, it hits all the marks. 


Probably a slightly more controversial choice and certainly a far lesser spotted on start lines is the Diadora Gara Carbon. The Italian sportswear company is known for style and fashion. However, they haven’t been a big player in the running scene recently. Sometimes something appears and just wows everyone. The Gara Carbon is that shoe. Whilst not everyone would use it for a full marathon, everyone on the team who has put it on foot can’t say enough positives about it. A shoe with that real sprinkle of magic dust, the Gara Carbon is a shoe which everyone should try. Pop, bounce and really pretty. Give it a go, you’ll love it!

HOKA and ASICS Make a Play For the Top

Next in the pantheon of race day wonders is the Asics MetaSpeed Edge Paris. ASICS shoes have forever been known for their dependability and durability. They haven’t always been known for speed and excitement. Some of their earlier attempts at race shoes would have been hard pressed to make the bottom rung of this race day tier list. Flash forward to today and the MetaSpeed series have become a staple of many runner’s wardrobes. The more aggressive Edge for cadence runners takes the top spot here while its softer sibling is relegated to the lower level. 


Finally, we find the HOKA Rocket X2. Personally, my least favourite of the shoes in this top tier and the one which I would relegate. Whilst many have likened this to the original Vaporfly, for me, it felt firm and the fit missed the mark. That being said, I think I was a dissenting voice on the team as the majority greatly enjoyed it.

Alphafly 3 Wall

Home Run – An Honest Choice

Whilst these may not make the top grade, these are the shoes which won’t go wrong. Missing a touch of the pure magic of the God Tier, this second rung of the race day tier list would be a good choice for the majority of runners. Dependable choices such as the adidas Adios Pro 3 which top many a marathon podium find their way here. So does the MetaSpeed Sky Paris which is a really excellent shoe and one I would definitely put in the top tier (sorry Rocket X2). We also find the New Balance SC Elite v4 which a couple of our testers felt was a fantastic super trainer which lacked the aggression required for a really top of the line racer. 


Next up are a couple of more leftfield choices. Li-Ning, the Chinese company who are finding their way to the top of more podiums, make the cut with the Feidian 3.0 Ultra. Now superseded by the 4.0 Ultra which gives a slightly firmer ride than most super shoes but with outstanding grip. Then we find the On Cloudboom Echo 3, a shoe with undoubted chops but sadly let down by a lack of durability which may push it down the list for some. We all want our money to last for more than one race!

SC Elite v4 - Feet-12 raceday tier list
raceday tier list

Runner’s High – Getting You To The Line

Here we find the more out of the ordinary shoes for our raceday tier list. I would imagine that this would be the tier in which there would be most movement. For example, the Altra Vanish Carbon 2 has been described as the best running shoe experience ever by Ivan. Meanwhile, the PUMA Fast-R 2 might not make it very far up the list for those who prefer a more springy and soft forefoot. 


The second PUMA shoe in the list is a dependable and versatile shoe which, for most, makes an excellent rep shoe while falling short of being a race day favourite. However, the Deviate Nitro Elite 2 can be picked up for some insanely low prices with a little looking. This may boost it higher up the rankings for those with budget as a top consideration. 


The Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 also makes this section of the race day tier list. While many found it rather stiff and preferred its lower priced sibling, the Speed, it can still do a job. Then we have very divisive shoes like the Mizuno Wave Rebellion 2. The crazy geometry and specific footstrike needed might put off some people. My experience with the upper of the v1 put me off the v2 entirely even though I did enjoy the midsole and to off.

Altra Vanish Carbon 2-05 raceday tier list
tier list c

Raceday Tier List Runnable – Just Making The Grade

Putting the Vaporfly this low down a raceday tier list may seem controversial. The OG super shoe which sparked desire, debate and controversy has really seen a downturn in its third version. The added stability and move towards making it a more accessible shoe for everyone seems to have stolen some of the magic. Less aggressive, more stable and hugely less fun, most people hope to a real redesign in the next version. That being said, it is still topping podiums globally. Maybe it’s the runner more than the shoe!


Also in the box are the more super trainer style shoes. More forgiving and versatile than the thoroughbred racers but usually with a weight penalty. The adidas Prime X2 Strung, HOKA Cielo X1 and Saucony Endorphin Elite are heavier, sturdier and more stable. For running fast and recovering. They combine carbon plates, super foams and easier geometries to make them more versatile. Two of the three would see you disqualified from the prize money if you were an elite. Only the Cielo X1 makes it under the 40mm World Athletics limit. However, mere mortals like us can use whatever we want to smash our PBs. 

vaporfly 3 ride road shoes of the year 2023
HOKA Cielo X1 race day tier list

Boring and Is It Even A Raceday Shoe – The Bargain Bin of Busted Badness

I’ve never laced up the Brooks Hyperion Elite 3 but if it is less inspiring than the Hyperion Elite 4, it can stay where it is. Lacking in a super foam and bringing firm, unresponsive midsole blues it finds itself just above the last two shoes on the list. At the bottom of the pile we find the New Balance SC Elite v3 which lacked aggression and testers found the midsole foam to be soft, wallowy and energy sapping. 


Finally we find the KIPRUN KD900X. I would probably personally swap this and the KD900X LD the raceday tier list. I found the LD version very thin for a forefoot striker and did not like the geometry in the midsole either. At least the KD900X had some real pop on the track with the exceptionally stiff carbon plate. 


Whilst this raceday tier list is missing some major players such as the adidas Pro Evo v1, it sums up the state of play in the carbon market. Which changes would you make to the list?

kiprun kd900x


45 years old

173cm (5’8″) – 66kg (145lbs)

Forefoot striker – (Very) high cadence runner


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