The Fastest Pro Run Shoes in Kona

If you've been around triathlon long enough, you've heard the phrase "bike for show, run for dough" tossed around. Most often, it's held true at the IRONMAN World Championships, where a blisteringly fast run split can catapult you to victory -- or in some cases, just a paycheck.

This year, though, almost a third of the top run performances in Kona came from athletes outside of earning a paycheck. Still, the two fastest runs on the day saw those athletes springboard up the rankings -- and in one case, establish a new run course record. Here's the shoes that powered those record runs, with numerous brands represented.

All Images: Slowtwitch

Fastest Run: Anne Haug
Run Split: 2:48:23 (course record)
Finish Position: 2
Run Shoe: Nike Zoom AlphaFly NEXT%

Haug has traditionally worn Nike's original carbon-plated shoe, the VaporFly, and used it to great success (including the year she won the IRONMAN World Championships). She moved into the AlphaFly this year, which features more stack height. Clearly no problem for Haug, as she now owns the record for fastest run split.

#2 Run: Chelsea Sodaro
Run Split: 2:53:02
Finish Position: 6
Run Shoe: On Prototype

Sodaro was well down the order coming off the bike, more than 20 minutes from Lucy Charles-Barclay's lead. Undeterred, Sodaro began mowing through the field on the run, coming up less than two minutes short of catching Daniela Ryf for fifth.

Sodaro's On shoes look to be a lower stack version of the prototype Gustav Iden wore prior to IRONMAN's alignment with World Triathlon on shoe rules. You can hear more about Sodaro's 2023 season on our podcast.

#3 Run: Laura Philipp
Run Split: 2:55:24
Finish Position: 3
Run Shoe: New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite

Philipp's used a third fastest bike and run to overcome a sizable swim deficit, making a decisive move early in the bike to bridge and then continue to hold position on the run. Philipp's worn New Balance the last few years. The FuelCell SuperComp Elite uses a familiar pattern -- 4mm drop, highly cushioned foam, carbon plate -- but with a slightly wider platform underfoot. It flies under the radar. It shouldn't. It's a damn good shoe.

#4 Run: Lucy Charles-Barclay
Run Split: 2:57:38 (course record)
Finish Position: 1
Run Shoe: Asics MetaSpeed Sky+

The 2023 IRONMAN World Champion has worn Asics for the bulk of her long-course career, and moved into the MetaSpeed Sky series shoes when first-released in 2021. Charles-Barclay mentioned the shoe as being a helpful part of her recovery from a metatarsal fracture earlier in the year, in part due to the stiff carbon plate in the forefoot. Whatever it is, the combination of Charles-Barclay and this shoe works -- she's been running faster than ever, including a by-far best run split in Kona for her this year.

#5 Run: Svenja Thoes
Run Split: 3:01:07
Finish Position: 14
Run Shoe: Blacked Out

Thoes had to scramble to take home prize money, finding herself further down the order than Sodaro coming off of the bike. She did so brilliantly, nearly breaking three hours for the marathon -- it would have been her second sub-three hour IM marathon ever.

Thoes raced in a completely blacked out shoe that looks suspiciously like either a Saucony Endorphin Elite or a Nike AlphaFly. Thoes typically wears Altra running shoes. We could not confirm the model.

#6 Run: Sarah True
Run Split: 3:02:09
Finish Position: 8
Run Shoe: Nike AlphaFly 2

Fellow Tundra Division athlete True had a well-rounded day to finish in the top 10 in Kona for the first time since 2018. True had a lot of new equipment this year for both the bike and run. It was the current generation AlphaFly on her feet this year in Kona.

#7 Run: Daniela Ryf
Run Split: 3:02:11
Finish Position: 5
Run Shoe: HOKA Rocket X Prototype

Ryf, a long-time Asics athlete, finally moved into a carbon-plated run shoe this year after holding out for years. Ryf received a prototype of the next generation Carbon Rocket X, which featured a new iteration of HOKA's super soft foam and carbon plate, mated to a current generation Rocket X 2 upper. The combination seemed to work -- like clockwork when healthy, Ryf runs somewhere between 2:57 and 3:03 in Kona.

#8 Run: Skye Moench
Run Split: 3:02:40
Finish Position: 7
Run Shoe: Saucony Endorphin Elite

Moench backed up her 9th place 2022 performance with an improvement this year, some of which can be attributed to her run -- to date, her marathon time in Kona was her second-fastest IM run ever. (That's since been shattered by Moench's record-breaking performance at IRONMAN Florida.)

The Endorphin Elite is a curious shoe in Saucony's line-up. It is narrower under the mid foot versus the rest of the Endorphin line, while also abandoning some of the hallmark Saucony fit characteristics. That said, the combination clearly works for Moench.

#9 Run: Leonie Konczalla
Run Split: 3:03:31
Finish Position: 24
Run Shoe: On CloudBoom Echo

The first of our non-top 15 athletes, Konczalla (who also happens to be a surgeon) didn't have the day she wanted on the swim and bike, but rallied for an extremely fast marathon at the end of the day. Unfortunately, we didn't get a photo of her on the day.

#10 Run: Taylor Knibb
Run Split: 3:05:13
Finish Position: 4
Run Shoe: Nike Zoom AlphaFly 2

Knibb continued to break the mold of what's possible in a first trip to Kona, holding onto second until the exit of the Natural Energy Lab and nearly holding on for a debut podium. Knibb was another athlete in Nike's ever popular AlphaFly.

#11 Run: Laura Jansen
Run Split: 3:06:14
Finish Position: 19
Run Shoe: Saucony Endorphin Pro

The second of our non-money winners, Jansen was another athlete caught out coming out of the water and left a significant deficit to fight out of for the remainder of the day. Jansen's Endorphin Pro is my preferred race shoe out of the Saucony line-up, with a slightly broader mid foot region giving more stability to the platform, despite the soft foam and carbon plate.

#12 Run: Penny Slater
Run Split: 3:08:08
Finish Position: 13
Run Shoe: On Cloudboom Echo

Slater earned her paycheck with the 12th fastest run of the day. She, too, utilized On's carbon-plated shoe. If you prefer a firmer ride out of your race day footwear and a slender fit around the foot, this is one of your better options.

#13 Run: Hannah Berry
Run Split: 3:08:39
Finish Position: 11
Run Shoe: Asics MetaSpeed Sky

Berry's balanced performance -- top 15 worthy splits across all three disciplines -- saw her take home a paycheck in her first IRONMAN World Championship. Like Charles-Barclay, Berry runs in the MetaSpeed Sky -- according to Asics, it's better for athlete's who increase speed by increasing stride length (versus the Edge, which is for athletes who increase speed through a mix of stride length and cadence).

#14 Run: Laura Zimmerman
Run Split: 3:08:49
Finish Position: 22
Run Shoe: HOKA Rocket X 2

Zimmerman's swim was her undoing at a chance at a paycheck. Still, she fought back for the next eight hours of her day. Her run in Kona this year is her fastest IRONMAN World Championships marathon. The Rocket X 2 she used here was one of the most popular shoes in 2022, despite it then being labelled a prototype, and for good reason: if you respond well to carbon shoes but need more midsole width, this is a great option.

#15 Run: Jen Annett
Run Split: 3:10:16
Finish Position: 23
Run Shoe: Nike Zoom AlphaFly

Annett's fastest Kona run of her career came this year. She's another AlphaFly wearer. Like Moench, she also backed up her run in Hawaii with a strong race in Florida, running faster there than she did in Kona.