My wife love Brooks - she is on her third generation of Brooks Ravenna, having run the first two into the ground. It's the only shoe she runs in.
I don't have a lot of brand loyalty - my current running shoe rotation includes entries from Salomon and Saucony, Asics and Adidas, Nike and ... I've run out of shoes.
But I've never run in a pair of Brooks before.
Armed with a 50% off discount, I was determined to make it count and buy a Marathon SuperShoe with it. The shop in question had exactly one SuperShoe left in my size: The Brooks Hyperion Elite 2.
Regular Retail Price: £210
Toppy's Lucky Day Price: £105
And just like that, I had my first pair of non-Nike SuperShoes. I've run in Nike's Vaporfly 4%, Vaporfly Next%, and AlphaFly Next% ... those shoes started a new era in running footwear and have dominated the podium for years. How would the Brooks entry stack up?
Before we review info: These shoes were bought with my own money, and nobody is paying me to review the shoes. These shoes are reviewed after 26 miles, and two runs - but no races due to COVID.
This review might be updated at a future date if my opinion changes after more mileage and/or racing in the shoes.
The specs, according to Brooks:
- 215.5 g
- 8mm drop
- Stack height increased by 2mm, which I believe make it 37mm in the heel
Opening the box, picking them up, and putting them on to check the sizing, I had a few thoughts:
These are very pretty shoes. I really do like the way they look.
The shoes don't feel light enough. Their listed 215.5g is - I think - lighter than the Alphafly Next% (Nike don't give an official weigh-in), but they feel heavier both in the hand and on the foot. I remember picking up the Alphafly and marvelling at how light they felt.
But the moment I pick up the (smaller) Hyperion Elite 2, it doesn't feel as light as I expect it to be. Maybe there's some sort of marketing-design-genius coming from Nike, but the Brooks racers feel heftier than a shoe that I described as "too much shoe".
That said, once on the feet these are definitely very comfortable shoes. More comfortable to just have them on my feet and walk around my living room than any of the Nike marathon racers.
Although comfortable, they don't feel like a SuperShoe to me. The Vaporfly 4% felt like they were trying to throw me forward with every step, even walking around in them. The Vaporfly Next% and Alphafly Next% both feel like I'm walking on some sort of bouncy marshmallow substance.
The Brooks Hyperion Elite 2, with its DNA Flash midsole? It feels like it might be a Saucony Kinvara. Now, I really love the Kinvara, but it's not what I put on my feet on race day.
But who cares how it feels - how does it run?
Test 1: Progression
My first run in the shoes was a progression run (click here to see it on Strava) - I started out easy, and gradually accelerated to a pace that was arguably threshold (if you think my legs should have been fresh after a break) or arguably 10k race pace (if you think I probably lost a bit of fitness from having taken a break).
In any case, the shoes performed well. Having thought they lacked the supershoe magic of Nikes, I was very concerned with the easy miles - the shoe was way too comfortable. It wasn't driving me to be faster.
But as I sped up, I found them to be very responsive.
Comparison is inevitable, and it's pretty obvious: these shoes aren't as fast as Nike's ZoomX foam marathon racing shoes. But they are fast, and they're also both more comfortable and more stable than Nike's offerings.
Test 2: The Long Run
I was hoping for Test 2 to be a race - I managed to get a (socially distanced) Half Marathon in my calendar, only for COVID cases to surge and force the cancellation of the race.
Instead, I went for a long run to check out London's Christmas lights.
While this doesn't quite measure up to a race test, it does let us see how it performs on extended mileage.
And your reviewer was a little disappointed.
Again, the shoes were comfortable - I had a little bit of rubbing at the achilles, but that's almost certainly just me not having the lacing quite right yet, as it's something that I frequently experience on my first long run in a new shoe.
But late in the run, when it felt I was running abut 8:10 pace, I'd hit a mile split and find it was ... an 8:10 mile.
Sounds OK, but that's not the SuperShoe experience I'm used to. To compare, the following week I was running in Nike's Tempo Next%: after running several miles in the 7:30s, my legs were starting to fatigue and I was sure the next mile would be around 7:45. Instead, my watch told me I had just run a 7:29 mile, and I continued to hold on to that 7:30s pace until hitting the inevitable uphill in order to return home.
And the Tempo Next% isn't even a racing shoe - it's a training companion (the equivalent to the Hyperion Tempo in the Brooks lineup).
All this is to say that my experience with SuperShoes is that they make the miles feel easier than they normally are, particularly late in the run. This results in being pleasantly surprised by mile splits.
The Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 didn't provide that experience. They're still a nice, cushioned, responsive shoe - you just shouldn't expect too much of them.
So, the big question: should you buy this shoe?
If you have the opportunity to get them at £105, absolutely. They are comfortable, cushioned, and responsive. You can use them from anything from a recovery run to a race, and they'll be good to you. These were an absolute steal at the price.
At the regular retail of £210? I wouldn't pick them up again.
If you're looking to race in a shoe, you can pick up the Vaporfly Next% (my favourite race shoe) from Nike for £240. If you're spending over £200 looking for a racing edge, that extra £30 isn't where you should blink.
Alternatively, the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro are £170 - £40 less. I haven't had the chance to review these yet, but results from the pros suggest that this is a proper high performance shoe. Again, if you're looking to pay a premium for performance, paying an extra £40 for an inferior shoe doesn't make a lot of sense.
And if you're looking for an all-rounder kind of shoe, rather than a high performance racer, then that £210 price tag is simply eye-watering.
With that said, the stability and comfort in this shoe was a bit surprising after trying the Nike offerings. I didn't know that shoes with this kind of stack height could be this stable and handle corners this well. If you have trouble with other SuperShoes because the stack height is too unstable, these could work for you.
Overall, the Toppy suggestion is Don't Buy - the performance benefit doesn't match the competition or the price tag.