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Road Running Shoes • February 16, 2024

Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 Review: Even Bett-R, Even Strong-R

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What You Need To Know


9.3 oz. (265 g) for a US M10.5

Stack Height / Drop

40 mm in heel, 32 mm in forefoot (8 mm drop)

Best For

Boldly going where no Puma has gone before

Key Features

Aliphatic ETPU midsole, carbon fiber PWRPlate, Pumagrip outsole, mesh upper

On The Run
The upper fits like a glove... a tight glove Aliphatic ETPU feels excellent underfoot Well, Puma certainly made a stylistic choice


Introduction to the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2

THOMAS: When Benjamin Buford Blue, aka Bubba, offered Forrest Gump a seat next to him on the bus, audiences had no idea how pivotal that gesture would be in shaping Forrest’s future. We just saw Bubba’s generous lower lip, which visually made Bubba look like the village idiot. Where am I going with this? Oh, right. Like Bubba, the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2’s carbon plate juts out like a lower lip on the front of the shoe, which leaves me with some questions. Will this odd look have a massive impact on running performance? Or is it just making the Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 look weird?

Puma hasn’t been afraid to make ugly shoes if they see a performance benefit. The Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 is no exception. Like a prop from The Grinch movies, the shoe is the oddest-looking race day option this year. Despite its appearance, I can’t deny that it’s fun to run in and may have one of the best non-Peba-based race day foams.

Speaking of foams, the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 uses one that I had to Google. It’s called aliphatic ETPU. While big brands in the US favor Peba, Chinese sporting shoe brands like Li-Ning and Anta have been using aliphatic ETPU in their race day shoes, and Puma claims the foam has a 93% energy return. While I can’t scientifically back that up, the foam does have a lively rebound. Sandwiched between the foam, a sturdy carbon fiber PWRPLATE sits further from the foot than most plates. The cushioning on top of the plate shoe still allows for a soft feeling on the front of the shoe, and the plate provides the stiffening stability you need to feel propulsive through the stride.

The non-stretchy mesh upper fits well and is airy, and it has a softer elastic tongue and collar with two pillows in the heel counter for comfort. I’ll note that the upper is pretty snug, so you might want to bump up a half-size from your usual. My size US 10.5 weighs 9.35 oz./265 grams.

MEAGHAN: Puma sent us the Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 in a matching bright yellow backpack. I figured I’d use the shoes about as much as the backpack, so I left them hanging on a coat rack (for nearly a month). That all changed when I ran into Mike Ko (aka Kofuzi) at the Olympic Trials in Orlando. He was doing a workout in the shoe and said I had to try it because he and I have similar tastes in shoes, and he was enjoying his pair quite a bit.

The day I got home, I unzipped the backpack and laced them up. I was shocked at the soft step-in feel. It didn’t match the generally harsh aesthetic one bit. I jogged around the living room… so much bounce (and loud grippy noises). It was time to take this cat out on the roads…

What we like about the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2

THOMAS: Despite the appearance of the Fast-R Nitro Elite 2, the shoe feels fast and bouncy. The upper fits as well as the original Fast-R, maybe even better. Considering our team gave the Fast-R rave reviews for its best-in-class race-upper, that’s saying something.

Puma softened the heel in this version, creating a more cohesive transition than the previous model and adding to an overall smooth experience. With the carbon plate further from the foot than some other plated racers, you get more cushioning under the palm of your foot. Besides the comfort, this shift gives a bouncy feeling that I like. I can’t vouch for Puma’s claim that the extended lip on the plate extends your stride, but the plate is noticeable. During intervals, the shoe made paces seem sustainable.

MEAGHAN: I usually love to start with aesthetics, but we’ll save that for another section. Instead, let’s jump back to that step-in feeling that I cannot believe is so soft. Thomas talked about the aliphatic ETPU earlier (I still have no idea what that is), and I can tell you that it feels great underfoot. In general, the shoes feel much softer in both the heel and forefoot. While the carbon fiber plate is actually thicker and larger than the previous version, it sits far enough below the foot that it doesn’t feel too rigid. Like the original, this shoe comes to life when you pick up the pace. I found the faster I was running, the faster I wanted to run.

The upper is a very light mesh that hugs the foot well. Yes, it takes a little maneuvering to get on, but once it’s laced up, the Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 fits like a glove.

Do I even need to mention the Pumagrip rubber? The stuff is gold — best traction of them all.

Shop Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 - Men Shop Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 - Women

What we don’t like about the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2

THOMAS: I mentioned the shoe’s look and that you’ll want to try both your regular size and go a half-size up. I have yet to talk about the weight. Weighing in at 9.35 oz, the Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 is heavy for a race shoe. With multiple lighter options, why would I choose a shoe that weighs multiple ounces more than the competition?

MEAGHAN: One of the main reasons I didn’t lace this shoe up for so long is because it was hard to take seriously. How could something that looks so ridiculous actually perform well? (I mean, it does perform really well) I love that Puma is so bold with its designs, but it lost me with the plate extending past the forefoot. Surely there was another way to make that look… better?

Aesthetics aside, my other knock is the weight. My US W7.5 is just a bit heavier than I’d like for race day.

Shop Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 - Men Shop Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 - Women

Final thoughts on the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2

THOMAS: The Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 is among the best non-Peba racers I have tried. It has the bounce and pop you want in a race day shoe. The shoe stands out with its unique look and is perfect for runners who want to swim against the trends. Between the weight and the style, I wouldn’t be confident choosing the Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 to squeeze out my best effort for a marathon.

Weight and cushioning are the two most significant factors when I select a race-day shoe. The cushioning on the Fast-R 2 feels right, but it doesn’t make up for the weight entirely. That said, the athletes running for Puma are doing just fine in their shoes. “That’s all I have to say about that” — Forrest Gump. As for the extended plate in the Fast-R, my guess is it won’t be as impactful on the industry as finding a seat next to Bubba.

MEAGHAN: I’m honestly shocked at how much I enjoyed running the Fast-R Nitro Elite 2. This shoe is bouncy and fun, and if you can get over the looks, it makes for a great race day option. My preference would be to use this for the shorter, faster distances (5K, 10K), but there’s plenty of cushioning for the marathon.

You can pick up the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 for $260 on February 22 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.

Shop Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 - Men Shop Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite 2 - Women

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Thomas Neuberger
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As the founder of Believe in the Run, Thomas’s goal is to help runners pick the shoes and gear that will make their running experience the best that it can be. 

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Fav. Distance


  • 10:28

    50 Mile
  • 5:43

  • 3:20

  • 1:36

    Half Marathon
meaghan nyc marathon
Meaghan Murray
Boss Lady
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Meaghan signed up for her first marathon three weeks before the race, because it was $10 more than the half she planned to run. She learned everything in running the hard way. Now a USATF & UESCA certified run coach, she loves encouraging friends to go for big goals as she continues to chase faster times. She enjoys a hot cup of coffee, a cold martini, and making bagels for friends and family.

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