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General Running • July 2, 2024

Check Out the Trail Running Shoes Worn at the Western States 100 (2024)

western states - feature

What You Need To Know

The Race

2024 Western States Endurance Run

The List

Breakdown of the footwear worn by the top 10 men and women during the race

Brands

Hoka, Nike, Adidas, and more

western states - jim walmsley

Jim Walmsley, winner of Western States

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Waiting atop the escarpment for the first runners

Race Weapons

Northern California is a perpetual tinder box, but the burn ban was lifted for one day in June as the 2024 Western States Endurance Run showcased some of the fastest trail athletes on the planet. At the end of the day, both the men’s and women’s races blazed a hundred-mile trail from Olympic Valley to Auburn, setting near-records for both divisions in a hotly contested race with podium spots up for grabs until the final quarter-mile around the track at Placer High. 

As always, shoe choices were front and center, a showcase of the latest and greatest in trail shoe technology. Gone are the days of Pearl Izumi and Montrail (the number 2 and 3 brands at the 2014 WSER); the name of the game now is lightweight racing with super foams underfoot  and carbon plates or fiberglass rods wedged between.

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Hoka Tecton X 2.5, the model worn by third-place finisher Hayden Hawks

The top finishers and their accompanying times are clear evidence that the shoe game has changed and it’s only getting better. From the custom Hoka prototype worn on the feet of winner Jim Walmsley on the men’s side to the carbon-plated North Face Vectiv Pro that crossed the finish line with Katie Schide, the footwear now is made to go farther, faster. It’s also apparent the big boys are going all-in– what used to be afterthought for Adidas and Nike is now a focus of their running segment. 

For reference, take a look at the collective tallies for the brands worn by the top 10 athletes on both the men’s and women’s side.

graph

Unsurprisingly, Hoka holds the top spot. For the past 10 years, title sponsor Hoka has held that status, as runners have relied on the brand that put trail comfort on the map for ultrarunners. The Speedgoat or Mafate were the go-to choices for years, but the Tecton X has solidified its spot as a serious race day contender by offering speed and comfort in a singular package. While Walmsley wore his own all-white custom pair (see slide #3 below), third-place men’s finisher Hayden Hawks ran in the limited-edition Tecton X 2.5.

 

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After years of mediocrity, you can mark 2024 as the year Adidas Terrex took things seriously. From the Terrex Agravic 3 to the Terrex Agravic Speed to the finally available Terrex Agravic Speed Ultra, Adidas has finally given trail the respect it deserves. The Speed Ultra was the shoe worn by 2023 winner Tom Evans and it was also the shoe worn by three of the top 10 runners on the women’s side this year. It’s a lightweight, fast, and responsive shoe that feels like one of the first true super shoes for trails.

Adidas Terrex Agravic Speed Ultra - feature

Adidas Terrex Agravic Speed Ultra

Of course, there’s Nike. Perennially featuring the best designs but the worst outsoles, Nike has been creeping up in market share. They’ve improved in all aspects, most notably with outsole grip as Vibram has finally found its way underfoot. In the case of the Nike Ultrafly, a thick slab of ZoomX foam gives supreme comfort over long distances, while the carbon plates gives it the bounce and speed it deserves on anything that feels remotely like a road.

Nike Ultrafly featured image

Nike Ultrafly

And let us not forget The North Face, which has quietly been putting out some absolute gems on the trail side of things. When we say their shoes used to suck, we mean it. When we say their shoes are absolutely incredible now, we also mean it. Katie Schide agrees, as she just ran the second-fastest time ever in the Vectiv Pro.

The North Face Summit Vectiv Pro 2

Lastly, there’s the ever-reliable Salomon, which snuck into the ten spot on both sides with the S/Lab Genesis. The upcoming Courtney Dauwalter signature version was seen on the feet of Chris Myers. We recently wore the standard version of the Genesis for the Broken Arrow 11K and we gotta say– it’s a great shoe for getting out there.

western states - courtney genesis

Salomon S/Lab Genesis worn by Chris Myers, 10th place finisher

western states - courtney tongue

Sorry, one more– Craft showed up big time on the feet of Ida Nillson, who finished 5th on the women’s side and pulled in a master’s course record with a time of 16:56:52.

Full finisher survey results will be posted to the WSER website in the coming weeks, but you should still go there even now because it’s fun to check out the trends in footwear and gear dating back to 2014. The biggest surprise? Injinji is holding strong AF in the sock segment. We gotta give respect where respect is due, so shout-out to the toe gloves for keeping us blister free over the past decade.

As the world of trail running continues to see an explosion of growth, we can only expect to see an arms race of race day shoes similar to what we’ve seen in road running. This was a big year for the trail segment as brands push into the future, but the entire scene is gaining steam and  we can assure you that things are evolving and will continue to get better, faster, and stronger in the years to come.

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Comments

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. eddie says:

    you’re missing whatever North Face proto this is!!

    https://youtu.be/hvDOTBDqxGU?si=8NDpF3mb_j_o28e8&t=31

  2. Dickens Rivers says:

    Still waiting for a writer to give sizes worn. I wear a 13 wide and there’s no help in reading what brand without reading what size.

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Robbe Reddinger
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Robbe is the senior editor of Believe in the Run. He loves going on weird routes through Baltimore, finding trash on the ground, and running with the Faster Bastards. At home in the city, but country at heart. Loves his two boys more than anything. Has the weakest ankles in the game.

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