Jens Andersen, the founder of RunRepeat.com, believes that runners are spending too much money on running shoes for too little benefit. "People buy three times as expensive shoes to get eight percent less satisfied," said the statistician and former competitive runner. "This makes me question the consumerism we are experiencing towards premium running shoes."
His ad-free, cost-free website reviews more than 390 running shoes from 24 brands. It has more than 100,000 user reviews and 2,500 expert reviews. Some key findings from his site:
1. The 10 most expensive running shoes with an average list price of $181 rated worse than the 10 cheapest running shoes with an average list price of $61.
2. Running specialist brands are rated higher than running shoes from broad sports brands.
3. The three best rated brands are Skechers, Saucony and VibramFiveFingers. The three worst brands are New Balance, Adidas and Reebok.
My colleague Kristen Painter, who is a runner and used to work in a retail speciality running store, cautioned against putting too much influence is a high rating. No one brand or model of shoes is right for everyone, she said. The site is not a good starting spot for novice runners who may not have yet determined the best type of shoes for their feet. She recommends spending time in a specialty store that can do a foot assessment and ask about your mileage, needs, joint issues, and pronation level.
Like any site with ratings and reviews (Yelp, TripAdvisor, Consumer Reports), you'll need to spend some time reading full reviews to find comments that may be triggers for you (high arch, pronation etc). The site does not spell out those factors well enough.
If nothing else, it's a fun exercise to see where your shoes fall in the ratings. (Kristen's were 89th out of 391.) I got a chuckle out of the fact that even though Andersen said that cheaper shoes are better overall, the top five rated shoes for runners with neutral pronation are all more than $100. They are in order (#1 to #5): Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra SG ($160), Nike Lunar Pacer ($110), Asics Gel Nimbus ($150), Saucony Triumph TSO ($150) and Mizuno Wave Creation ($160).
You can get slightly different results if you choose to get the ratings based on terrain, arch support or heel to toe drop.