Road Shoes of the Year 2023 – Team Meta Endurance’s Picks

From slow plods to all out efforts, the team at Meta Endurance have tried and tested a lot. Which of them make our road shoes of the year 2023 list?

Road shoes of the year 2023

It is with a huge amount of gratitude that we are able to come together to write this article at the end of the year. During the past 12 months, we have been fortunate enough to put thousands of kilometres through dozens of shoes. Some have been surprises, some have been disappointments. Out of all the shoes we have written about, photographed, videoed and most of all, run in, which make the rotation of our dreams? 


Everyone has selected their road shoes of the year 2023 and will explain their choices below. Most have been provided to the team for the purposes of review but some have been purchased with the writer’s own money. Which do you agree with and have you found any surprises in the article below?

In our first article, we look at: 

  1. Daily Shoes
  2. Workout/Tempo Shoes
  3. Surprises of the Year
  4. Race Shoes

Favourite Daily Shoes

To kick off our road shoes of the year 2023 list, we look at the daily workhorses. The ones we log the most distance in, the ones awaiting us by the door before the majority of our runs. High stack, low stack, fancy or super simple. Which have been our mileage monsters?


Alex – New Balance 1080v13

Andy – Skechers Go Run Ride 11

Ivan – Saucony Triumph 20/21

Josh – ASICS Nimbus 25

Silke – On Cloudsurfer 7

Theo – On Cloudmonster

Tim – New Balance 1080 v13

Favourite Daily Shoes 2023


The New Balance 1080v13 wins this very convoluted category. It’s not perfect but it is getting darn close to it. Fit: plush and comfortable. Ride: soft, smooth yet not inefficient. Stability: not the best but it’s not a real concern for me. Market positioning: it’s basically what the Nike Invincible 3 should have been. The only shoe with a better fit in that segment is the Nimbus 25, but the ride is better for me on the 1080. All the likes of Ultraboost, Magnify, Clifton, Triumph are quite behind in my road shoes of the year 2023 list.


The Skechers Go Run Ride 11. A shoe which really changed my mind on a brand. I got these at the same time as the Max Road and instantly preferred the slightly more svelte Ride. A huge rocker on the HyperBurst Ice foam just ensures that each run will be an easy rolling and enjoyable affair. The price point also helps with the enjoyment of the Ride 11. Hopefully the 12 sees a slightly more breathable upper.


When it comes to my casual daily runs, I truly value a shoe that combines ample comfort, protection, and versatility. The Triumph 21 (or 20 for that matter) impresses me with its exceptional fit, providing a secure lockdown that eliminates the need for mid-run adjustments. Despite its deep cushioning, the shoe feels fairly lightweight, while ensuring a responsive and energetic feel throughout my runs. No matter the pace, the Triumph maintains a smooth, lively and snappy ride, never succumbing to sluggishness. While it offers decent stability for a neutral trainer, the fairly flexible forefoot adds a pleasant touch of ground feel and strengthens the feet, in contrast to the often rigid or plated designs of other daily trainers in the market.


When it comes to a daily trainer, I look out for a shoe which is comfortable, durable, and has relatively high cushioning. This year for me the ASICS Nimbus 25 TR has been that shoe. While it is on the heavier side of daily trainers, I have thoroughly enjoyed plodding out my easy miles in them this winter. The added grip offered by this “Traction” version has made them the perfect training companion and I still go to grab them. I would put them in the maximum cushioning classification of shoes, with the likes of Nike’s Invincibles and Brooks’ Glycerine. While I would use them similarly to the Invincibles, I much prefer the Nimbus 25’s because I have found them to be much more stable.


Since spring, it has been the On Cloudsurfer 7, a soft and bouncy ride. I did over 700k in the shoe and a lot of walking afterwards.


The On Cloudmonster has taken this crown for me for the last two years. The choice was easy for me, really comfortable and responsive, I use them from recovery runs to tempo runs.


If the year stopped in October, I would have picked the Brooks Glycerin 20. Comfort aside, this shoe has nothing fancy but it delivers very well. And then New Balance decided to revive its 1080 series with a new model that ticked all the boxes for my daily trainer preferences. Comfortable, soft, even plush… it works for everything from easy to tempo for me (from 6 min/km to 4 min/km).

New Balance 1080 v13 Conclusion road shoes of the year 2023
on cloudsurfer midsole road shoes of the year 2023

New Balance 1080 v13

Saucony Triumph 21

ASICS Nimbus 25 TR

On Cloudsurfer 7

On Cloudmonster

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Favourite Tempo/Workout Shoes

When the paces pick up, there are now a whole range of shoes designed for the less glamorous hard distance. Not the race day specials, the ones which get you through those workouts on rainy nights, the early morning push, the workout which ends in a DNF so your race doesn’t.


Which shoes did the team choose to get their fitness to the start line on our road shoes of the year 2023 list?


Alex – adidas Adios 8

Andy – On Cloudflow 4

Ivan – Saucony Endorphin Pro

Josh – On Cloudflow 4

Silke – PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite 2

Theo – On Cloudmonster

Tim – HOKA Rocket X2

Our Favourite Tempo/Workout Shoes 2023


The Adidas Adios 8 was my favourite workout shoe this year. It feels a bit more flat (and closer to the ground) compared to other Adizero shoes but that’s precisely what I like about it. I feel like it’s making me work a bit more during the toe-off phase, requiring me to push more and activate my foot muscles. Yet at the same time it’s a much more leg saving option compared to older Adizero racing flats. Continental outsole doesn’t disappoint and the Adios 8 feels amazing both on the road and track. Price point is fair. Long story short, you can’t go wrong with it.


On Cloudflow 4. Lightweight, unfussy and easy to run in. The Cloudflow 4 has seen me through sessions on both road and track and has done so with aplomb. Lower stack and slightly firmer than my usual choices for a workout, they have done me good service at a range of paces from strides through to longer sessions at marathon pace. The On Speedboard just helps the shoe roll through the gait cycle.


The Saucony Endorphin Pro has been my go-to choice for uptempo runs throughout the past year. Despite being designed as a racing shoe, its remarkable versatility positions it as an great all-around workout shoe. Also, with the presence of the Elite version, I think it’s fair to categorize it as a ‘Tempo’ shoe in their lineup. But why does it matter that it can handle a wide range of runs, being a tempo shoe? Allow me to clarify. The majority of my workouts consist of either longer tempo blocks or shorter interval sessions on a distant track. In both scenarios, I incorporate warm-ups, cool-downs, and in-between jogs. The Saucony Endorphin Pro not only provides comfort and a some stability for those purposes, but also exhibits a snappy responsiveness that effortlessly accommodates a variety of paces. However, on race day, I tend to lean towards more explosive alternatives.


Whether you love them or hate them, tempo or interval sessions are what really improve your speed as a runner. The right training companion for these sessions is essential to help you get the most out of them while not getting injured. After having tried multiple shoes which I would class as tempo shoes, I really enjoyed running in the Adidas Adios 8. I came to appreciate the low stack and lightweight feel of them. However, the real showstopper this year is the On Cloudflow 4. I wasn’t sure what to expect when trying these shoes but let me tell you, they are a real treat to run in. The lightweight feel of them paired with the roomy toe box and dampening yet responsive foam is such a special combination. Props to you On!


The most kilometres go to the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite 2. It is a firmer but very responsive and snappy ride. I took it for a lot of hill and sprint workouts. I even did some fast runs on light trails with them because the outsole is exceptionally grippy!


For me, it is the Cloudmonster once again or if it is a long tempo run close to a marathon distance (min 30km) then I will use the Cloudboom Echo 3 for the responsiveness and the lightness.


I’ve not used them a ton of times for this kind of session, but the few I did with the HOKA Rocket X 2 this year were a blast. Maybe even my favourite sessions of the year thanks to this crazy shoe. A perfect fit, a breathable upper, bouncy and high energy return midsole. In one word per-fec-tion. It should be noted that I have not had the opportunity to test the Clouflow 4 and the adidas Adios 8.

Adidas Adios 8 Carousel 3 road shoes of the year 2023
Cloudflow 4 Carousel 4 road shoes of the year 2023

adidas Adios 8

On Cloudflow 4

Saucony Endorphin Pro

PUMA Deviate Nitro Elite 2

On Cloudboom Echo 3

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Surprise of the Year:

A slightly different category. Some of us have had our minds changed on a brand or even a model of shoe. We’ve all been pleasantly surprised by something which we didn’t think would float our boats this year. 


What has come on our radar and tickled our fancy in this road shoes of the year 2023 list?


Alex – HOKA Cielo Road

Andy – Saucony Triumph RFG

Ivan – adidas Boston 12

Josh – New Balance SC Elite v3

Silke – Li-Ning Feidian Challenger 3

Theo – Nnormal Kboix

Tim – HOKA Rocket X2

Surprise of the Year 2023


Hoka’s lineup. They hit it out of the park with pretty much every shoe I tested. Two of them are in other categories of this article. But basically all of the products I tried could have won a standalone category. The Cielo Road was very close behind the Adios 8 for workout shoe of the year, and had Hoka as a whole not been in this surprise category, I would have gone for the Cielo FlyX spikes. The only area of improvement is probably on the daily trainer side of things where the Clifton doesn’t seem to be up there against most of the max cushioned shoes recently released.


Saucony Triumph RFG. A huge, massively engineered shoe which packs Rolls-Royce levels of comfort onto the foot. Whilst not ever going to be my race shoe, it can pick up the pace even on runs when needed. It has become a Sunday long run favourite as it has an easy roll for my footstrike and really, really protects the legs from pounding and pressure. The only downside of the shoe is the price. However, new shoes are always coming out and old ones are being discounted. I think I might stock up!


The revival of the cherished Adidas Boston in the form of the Boston 12 marks a significant improvement over its predecessors, particularly versions 10 and 11, which faced some challenges. Departing from the rigidity of its recent iterations, the Boston 12 has seamlessly captured the essence of its earlier models, now presenting itself as a comfortable and responsive trainer with an uptempo flair. This was in fierce competition with the Saucony Kinvara Pro, which has also really impressed me by being super protective and offering a smooth ride with its rocker design. In contrast, the Boston offers a no-nonsense simplicity, along with versatility and an added “punch”.


Having heard mixed opinions of the New Balance SC Elite v3 I wasn’t sure what to expect from them. Initially I didn’t see them as a comfortable shoe which I would use in my training sessions. I don’t think they meet my personal criteria as being a race day shoe. Personally, they just aren’t fast enough for that. I have, however, found them to be an incredible tempo shoe. Running at or just below race pace for an extended period in training is where these shoes shine, the upper isn’t too restricting and the shoes almost seem to disappear under foot. I look forward to trying the NB SC Elite v4 in 2024 and seeing how it compares!


Li Ning Feidian Challenger 3! I did not expect anything from the shoe, but it surprised me. The balance of squish and bounce shines on tempo runs and the grip made it easy to use this shoe on wet tarmac and in slippery corners.


The concept of the Nnormal Kboix. I can’t wait to see if this concept will be a success but I love the idea of a single pair of shoes which can be adapted on the fly to suit my needs on the trails.


I will also pick the HOKA Rocket X 2 for this section. I’ve tested a few HOKA before 2023 and wasn’t really enthusiastic about them. But I should admit that the 2023 line-up is quite impressive and the Rocket X 2  is no exception to this new rule.

Carousel 3 roadshoes of the year 2023
Cielo Road Intro road shoes of the year 2023

HOKA Cielo Road

Saucony Triumph RFG

adidas Boston 12

New Balance SC Elite v3

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Race Shoe of the Year:

A more straightforward category next on our road shoes of the year 2023 list. The hero shoe, the most expensive on the rack (usually). Our speed slippers for the special occasion when we put ourselves to the test and want something we can trust to propel us towards our limits.


What is your race day weapon?


Alex – HOKA Rocket X2

Andy – Nike Vaporfly 3

Ivan – adidas Adios Pro 3

Josh – Nike Vaporfly v1

Silke – Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro

Theo – On Cloudboom Echo 3

Tim – Nike Vaporfly v1

Race Shoe of the Year 2023


I will go with the Hoka Rocket X 2. The fit is the best I have experienced in a race shoe and that’s already a big upside. It is snug but in a way that makes me wonder whether the last used was designed with a 3D scan of my feet. Per-fec-tion I’m telling you. The ride is all you can expect of a Peba-midsole: springy, energetic, bouncy. A late but pronounced rocker makes it very suitable for most distances for me, although I’m not sure I would take it up to the marathon. 


With the cancellation of our road relay season, I have only run a few 5ks this year on the road. For these, I have used the VaporFly 3. Whilst not, for me, as aggressive and rapid feeling as the original or the second version, it has done me well when needed and I hope that the VF 4 comes with an improved upper fit at least. If only the Alphafly 3 had been released this side of the new year.


Well, choosing the right running shoe can be a bit challenging, but my preferred weapon of choice remains the initial version of the Nike Vaporfly Next%. The snug fit and aggressive design align more with my running preferences and style compared to the features in the latest version. Nevertheless, another shoe that has caught my attention this year and is gradually earning my favour is the Adidas Adios Pro 3. While it requires a bit more investment in terms of effort, the returns are substantial. Despite not achieving a perfect fit and being slightly heavier than the Vaporfly, the Adios Pro 3 offers significantly enhanced underfoot protection without compromising on a highly propulsive ride. When considering only the most recent releases in the racing shoe category, the Adidas Adios Pro 3 would be my top choice.


Offering the best lockdown, snappiness, and performance. The Nike Vaporfly Next% still take the top place for 2023’s shoe of the year. Even though they are a few years old now they still haven’t stopped impressing me. Becoming rarer and rarer to pick up nowadays they are a true gem. The plushness and energy returning capabilities of ZoomX is something which I am still trying to find in other super foams of other brands. While they don’t quite match the comfort of the Vaporfly, an honourable mention for this year is the Asics Metaspeed Sky+. Having run my first half marathon in these shoes I find the rocker on them and the position of the plate to work well with my longer stride length and forefoot running gait.


I did no street races this year. But I would have loved to run a half marathon in the Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro. I did some faster long runs with it and it felt just like I wasn’t even touching the ground when running with it.


Cloudboom Echo 3: super light and stable but also responsive. I loved them during my races. It is a great evolution from the Echo boom 2 which is why it makes my road shoes of the year 2023 race day favourite!


I’m cheating a bit here as the last time I ran in the Nike Vaporfly 1 was in 2022, but it remains in my opinion the best racing shoe I’ve ever worn. I’m not sure it’s needed to present this shoe again, but as Josh said: snappiness, and performance are the key words.

Cloudboom Echo 3 Ride road shoes of the year 2023
vaporfly 3 ride road shoes of the year 2023

HOKA Rocket X2

Nike Vaporfly 3

adidas Adios Pro 3

ASICS Metaspeed Sky +

Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro

On Cloudboom Echo 3

Alex Filitti Meta Circle


29 years old

183cm (6′) – 68kg (148lbs)

Mid/Forefoot striker – Stride runner

Moderate pronator




30 years old

169cm (5’5″) – 57kg (125lbs)

Heel/Midfoot striker – Cadence runner

Moderate pronator



49 years old

167cm (5’4″) – 55kg (121lbs)

Midfoot strike 





45 years old

173cm (5’8″) – 66kg (145lbs)

Forefoot striker – (Very) high cadence runner





47 years old

180cm (5’9″) – 63kg (138lbs)

Midfoot striker – Cadence runner

Mild pronator


Josh corporate picture


20 years old

178cm (5′ 10″) – 65kg (143lbs)

Mid/Forefoot striker – Stride runner



30 years old

178cm (5’8″) – 63kg (139lbs)

Midfoot striker – Stride runner

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