Endorphin Elite Review - Ann Ashworth


Early last week I was asked to write a review of the new Endorphin Elite.  One of the reasons why it’s taken me so long to write this up is because these shoes have, quite literally, left me speechless.

Reels and reviews of Saucony’s latest racing shoe have been flooding my social media the last two weeks.  Endorsed and promoted by top US-athlete, Parker Stinson, who placed 4th at the Houston Half Marathon and, shortly thereafter, set a new US-record over 25km... both while wearing the Endorphin Elites... it’s becoming clear that these new super shoes are something special.  Add to that the rave review penned by US run-focused media company Believe in the Run (@believeintherun) and I can understand why runners are chomping at the bit to get hold of these babies.

I’ll let you in on my little secret... I’ve actually had a pair since early October 2022 (although mine are pretty pink, not the vibrant green mambas currently available)... I’ve run in them several times... I’ve even raced in them already... and I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that these are the lightest and fastest shoes I have ever worn.

For example, having just start to run again after recovering from my severe back injury that benched me at Comrades, I took the Elites out for a little spin – 18km from home to the Durban beachfront, a route that I usually average at about 4min20/km on easy days.  Well... that morning it was struggle to hold myself back at 4min04/km.  A week later, not being in any kind of shape at all, I wore the elites for the Hollywood Bets Durban Summer 10km, clocking 36 minutes.  I had absolutely no business running that pace, given my level of fitness... it could only have been the shoes.

Compared to the Endorphin Pro 3, the new Elite is lighter with a more pronounced curve from mid-sole to toe.  You can really feel the speedroll technology propelling you forward with each step.  The Elites aren’t quite as “poppy” as the Pro 3’s (which sometimes make me feel like I’m running on pogo sticks) but they’re bouncy enough to compliment the roll and make each step feel soft and less laboured.  Compared to the Endorphin Pro 2’s, both the Pro 3s and the Elites give runner’s serious bounce.

I particularly appreciate how stable the shoe feels without needing to be boat-like.  All four iterations of the Saucony super shoe – the Pros and the Elite – look like normal running shoes.  They’re neither excessively wide nor curved inward as though you’re running on a wire, which means fewer achilles issues and less risk of an ankle roll, particularly when taking corners.  Having said that, I do find the Elite quite slippery on wet roads, especially if I hit a piece of painted tarmac, and so I’d be hesitant to wear them in rainy conditions.  One look at the underside of the shoe will tell you why – there’s almost no tread in the sole, one of the designers’ weight saving strategies.  As is the case with the Pro 3, the sole of the shoe is indented from the mid-sole to the heel, creating a furrow.  Presumably also a weight-saving strategy, airflow in this area helps to keep your feet cool and dry... unless it’s a wet and rainy day... in which case the furrow is going to funnel water directly into your socks.

I really like the Elite upper, particularly compared to the Pro 3s which has quite a wide mesh-type fabric akin to netting (which great in terms of weight, breathability and staying dry).  The Elites use an ultra-fine weave similar to that found on the Nike Vaporfly but softer, which means its less likely to rub blisters or hot spots over time.  I also really like the designers’ use of structured fabric around the heel and arch in lieu of the traditional fixed padding – this saves weight and makes the shoe feel like a particularly fast extension of your own foot rather than something being worn. 

The tongue of the shoe, similar to the Pro 3s, is a very soft and light, almost leather-like inner, which is fixed to the inner midsole.  The mesh-like design (again) saves weight and facilitates airflow to one of the hottest areas of the foot while racing.  What all this breathable mesh means, however, is that you need to colour coordinate your socks to your shoes...

Perhaps the only thing I didn’t immediately like about the Elites are the laces, which are pretty old-school.  I can’t remember when last running shoes used cotton laces which can easily be dirtied and become knotted.  Despite my initial skepticism, I actually don’t mind the laces as much as I had expected – the softness of lace serves as a great contrast to the structured fabric and allows you to lace up fairly tightly (or firmly) to ensure a snug fit.  I don’t recommend tying double bows in your laces, but any risk of the laces working themselves free can be counteracted by simply tucking the ends in underneath the laced section as you would if you were trail running.

All in all, the Endorphin Elite tops my list of favourite shoes of all time and I’ll be using these beauties to chase all my dreams this year.  I highly recommend investing in a pair of Elites if you’re serious about smashing goals in 2023!

**** Subsequent to this review Ann ran a 2:37 Seville Marathon on the 19th of Feb and her husband (pictured) ran a 2:30 ****


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