Saucony Endorphin Elite (a review)

Welcome to the Toppy Review of Saucony's latest road racer.

Updated with Part Two and Conclusions on 14 March, after racing in the shoe for the first time.

At least one further update to come in May.

Part One: The Unboxing

The Saucony Endorphin Elite came in a plain black box, looking very unassuming.

Initial impressions:

Colour: Photos of the "slime green" don't do it justice. It properly assaults the eye.

Fit: True to size - I'm wearing my usual UK 8 size, and it fits comfortably.

Comfort: The real test will be in the running, but this is certainly in the running for "most comfortable supershoe". I can tell just by lacing it up that I find it better than the Nike and Adidas products I've had the opportunity of trying. Without running, I can't be sure, but expect that it will exceed the Endorphin Pro 2 and New Balance Fuel Cell Elite 2. My gold standard for "supershoe" comfort is the Brooks Hyperion Elite 2, which (while it underwhelms from a performance perspective) I just love lacing up for a long run. I'm interested to learn if this is in that category.

Performance: Haha, just kidding. I've walked across the living room and jumped three times.

Toppy's Thoughts

The two most disappointing things about this shoe are the colour and the name.

The slime green, of course, is reminiscent of the first colourway that Nike had for the Vaporfly Next%. A very similar green to Nike's electric green that was everywhere back when the Vaporfly was the only game in town.

The name Elite is a direct rip-off of how Puma names their top-end road racing shoe. Molly Seidel had the Deviate Nitro Elite on her feet when she won the bronze medal at Tokyo 2020.

This stuff is so sadly unoriginal that I have to think it's on purpose: have the colour remind people of the most desirable marathon racing shoe of all time, with a name that links the product (however tenuously) with America's most popular marathoner.

That said, I care relatively little about the colour of the shoe, and even less about the name. What I'm hoping for is a Nike-supershoe level of performance, with greater comfort.

I'm confident the second half of that is there ... we'll get a feel for the performance in a workout or two over the next week, and then - if all is well - test it properly in a 10k race next weekend.

Part Two: In Action

I'm back! It's now three weeks later, and I've run in the shoe twice - having done a 4x1600m on the track, and a 10k road race. And I'm happy to report that this shoe is the real deal.

I was fairly sure that was the case when I did a few strides in them before my 4x1600m workout. Runners of a certain vintage will remember how the Nike Vaporfly 4% felt when they were worn for the first time. It didn't feel like running normally did, but like the shoes were trying to propel you forward with every step.

The Saucony Endorphin Elite is now the second shoe to give me that feeling.

For my 4x1600 workout, all my reps were in the top-10 of all time for 1600m reps. And looking back through my training history to figure this out, I could also see that every other top-10 entry was either a "too fast on the first one" or "smash the last rep". Here, I finished feeling like I could have done another 1-2 at the same pace.

And the 10k? I set a 6 second PB. Which doesn't sound huge on its own, but it's nearly 90 seconds faster than my previous 10k race (in Vaporfly Next%) six weeks earlier.

But is it the shoes?

This is the real question. Smashing workouts and PBs is great - but since that 10k six weeks earlier, I've been smashing it at the track, and routinely putting together some of the best workouts I've ever had.

So doing it again with that 4x1600m isn't surprising, nor is having a fantastic race off that training.

So it's not entirely clear what shoe makes me fastest on my feet: the Vaporfly, Alphafly, or Endorphin Elite. But that's huge - I've tried supershoes from Nike, Adidas, Brooks, New Balance, and Saucony (NB: not the latest version, in all cases) and this is the first one that isn't a Nike that competes in terms of performance.


The Saucony Endorphin Elite is the real deal, and has taken over from the Nike Alphafly as my racing shoe of choice. It's comparable in terms of energy return, but is lighter, corners better, and doesn't carry the risk of a "flat tire". And while mileage may vary, I find the Nike shoes uncomfortable, and the Saucony is an improvement there as well.

That said, there's more to come: I've not yet run further than 10k in the shoe, so I'm not sure this will apply to longer races. The Endorphin Elite will be on my feet at my next Half Marathon, and I'll report back to see how it holds up.

It's also worth noting that, unless you can swing a significant discount or have money to burn, you probably shouldn't buy the Endorphin Elite. At £280, it's simply way too expensive - with the Vaporfly 3 now out, you can find v2 for under £160. Expect similar deals on the Alphafly when v3 of that shoe drops later in the year.

TL;DR: Great shoe. Does what it does on the tin. But probably not worth the premium price.

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