What Running Shoes Do Ironman Triathletes Wear?

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Ironman – hands down one of the toughest most grueling races you will ever take part in. Not for the faint heated, the triathlon consists of 3.8km swimming, 180km cycling and 42.2km running.

No doubt if you’ve set your sights on Ironman, you have a training plan in action. Getting the most out of your training however means investing in the right gear that helps you step up when you need it most.


If you want the best tri-specific running shoes you can get, it helps to know what Ironman pros are already wearing. Every year the worlds most dedicated athletes gather to take part in the renowned race. Whilst lots of contenders wear usual running trainers, shoes made for triathletes offer several benefits over their counterparts.

This article will look deeper into what trainers are popular for current triathletes taking part in the Ironman and why they may be chosen. You’ll find some distinctive differences along your path of discovery such as drainage systems and quick-tying laces. These unique features make the trainers stand head and shoulders above ordinary running shoes and fall into the performance category.

What Triathletes Wear for Running @ Ironman 2016

In Hawaii Ironman, athletes Frodeno and Ryf secured winning places in the championships running with ASICS. Beating last year’s records, the triathletes sported the ASICS DS Performer and the ASICS Super J33-2. Both these models ranked highly on stability.

Let’s first check out some of the features of the ASICS Super J33-2 for women:

This lightweight shoe is jam packed with features fit for a serious triathlete wanting a natural feel whilst running. Coming closer to the ground for a minimal feel, the FluidAxis technology is created for the foot shape of runners who overpronate.

It also offers less control and more freedom as the new mid/outsole is designed to manage the reaction forces from each stage in the gait cycle. No matter which direction you turn, this feature keeps muscle groups stable. Overall, a smart shoe that adapts to an over-pronators stride.

The seamless mesh upper and rear-foot gel cushioning give feet stability whilst the low heel creates freedom of movement in training. Coming with more width in the shoe box there’s also more wiggle room for toes.


Now let’s look at the ASICS DS Performer for men: 

Using the term ‘featherweight’ to describe the DS Performer, ASICS have delivered a truly stand out shoe for triathletes. Engineered for performance and professional racing, they offer a more minimal run. So long as you’ve adjusted to being closer to the ground in training, you’ll have a smooth transition.

With the ASICS classic rearfoot gel cushioning, the edge is taken off the impact and shock is evenly spread throughout the feet. Designed for lengthy races such as the Ironman, DuoMax technology offers support in the midsole when your muscles start to fatigue. If you want relief during the race, its gentle mesh upper and absence of seams cater for comfort.


Keep running efficiently late into the race with stabilizing tech in the midsole and outsole. And stay cool from start to finish line with breathable Magic Sole tech in the forefoot.

These trainers may have been on the feet of the world’s Ironman champions but what are the other options? What about the other popular triathlete running shoes that saw athletes through the running phases of the race? Let’s have a look at some of the figures published in Lava Magazine:

Brand  Men  Women  Total
 1. ASICS  17%  17%  17%
 2. Hoka One One  16%  16%  16%
 3. Saucony  12%  14%  13%
 4. Brooks   8%   9%   8%
 5. New Balance   8%   7%   8%
 6. Newton   8%   7%   8%
 7. Adidas   8%   6%   7%
 8. Nike   6%   7%   6%
 9. Mizuno   5%   5%   5%

Shoes brands worn by Ironman World Championships athletes (2016)

It’s fascinating to analyze this chart and see the jump between most commonly worn to least common. It’s even more fascinating to note that both world-class champions wore the most popular brand on the list. This isn’t always the case though as with some winners, what they are wearing has no direct connection to what other runners are wearing.

When it comes to running shoes however, especially for triathlon, there is no such thing as one size fits all. You need to choose what’s best for your specific needs and running style. So we have pulled information on other commonly worn running shoes by Ironman Triathletes. This way you see the bigger picture of what’s out there and what may suit you best.

Top Tip: when searching for your triathlete shoes, remember one of the most important things is performance. How are those extra grams shredded to make the shoe as light as possible? Are the materials breathable with quality rubber for better grip?

What are some other top tri-specific running shoes Ironmen triathletes are wearing?

1. Adidas Ultra Boost ST


For a stable and responsive run over a long distance, the Adidas Ultra really delivers the boost you need. Its foamy midsole creates a cushioned yet stable ride whilst the lightness makes the trainer highly responsive.

Featuring a thermoplastic side support to increase this stability, the heel counter provides further security at the back of the feet. The Ultra Boost also offers flexibility with a knitted upper which adds to the shoes breathability.

2. LunarTempo 2 by Nike

Nike has come through with a light, responsive trainer which gives triathletes access to a firm yet resilient run. Built for performance, its Lunarlon foam runs from heel to toe for ultimate protection and comfort for long distance races.

The agility and responsiveness of the LunarTempo also makes it applicable for shorter sprints within training. Mesh uppers combine with synthetics for a flexible forefoot movement.

3. Hoka One One

The Vanquish 2 is an updated model of the Hoka One One and comes in a lighter form by 2 ounces compared to its prior model. This provides a smoother more responsive run for triathletes whilst its cradle structure ensures feet are cushioned by a double-layer foamy inner.

With a thicker midsole, the weight still remains light and the shoe caters for an easy landing and powerful take-off.

4. New Balance 1500v1  


New Balance has managed to design a light trainer with a medial post in the midsole without adding noticeable weight.  This extra bit of stability makes the 1500v1 an attractive option for triathletes alongside its Revlite EVA cushioning and 6mm drop.

Every centimeter is designed for effortless transitions from the entire gait cycle. The upper mesh features synthetic overlay strips to make a stronger more durable shoe and has cleverly been fused (not stitched) to decrease weight.

5. On Cloudracer

Weighing a mere 240 grams thanks to its distinctive outsole which features 18 nodes that help you get lower to the ground whilst effectively dissipating shock.  With a thin, breathable upper your feet get great circulation and can easily pick up speed when you need a boost.

6. Brooks Pure Connect 4

Brooks Pure Connect is there to keep your fast-paced movements flowing throughout your run with its improvements that line up force through the ankles upon impact. With a comfy no-sew overlay upper to contribute to its lightweight feel, the Connect 4’s plush cushioning provides comfort too.

7. ASICS Gel-Noosa Tri 11

The Noosa Tri is designed to carry triathletes through a race and keeps a natural movement flowing. The seamless design is made from engineered mesh so can run comfortably without socks whilst feeling secure.

Coming with elastic laces you get the quickest changeover possible during the race so you don’t waste any time. Lighter than the prior models you will find the Gel Noosa a brilliant triathlon running companion.

With a bit of research and time spent looking at the finer details, you can soon come to an accurate conclusion of which shoe will suit you best. As you weigh up your options, you’ll see how each trainer can presents you with all you need for your Ironman journey.

Melissa Hudson

Melissa Hudson