The 7 Most Crazy Running Shoes in 2023

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CRAZY running shoes can come in all shapes and sizes, but usually, they have some feature that’s very different from the norm and makes them stand out from the crowd.

This month, we saw the launch of a new shoe from adidas, the adizero adios pro evo 1. Perhaps the craziest thing about this shoe was the price, along with its recommended lifespan. 

At a cost of $500 (£400 / €500) and with a lifespan limited to just one marathon and ‘preparation’, the Evo 1 is the most expensive running shoe ever made.

Here, I’m taking a look at some of my personal favorites among the craziest running shoes made.

best crazy shoes

The 7 Best Crazy Shoes in 2023

  1. Adidas Adizero adios pro evo 1

2. Nike Mayfly

3. Nike Air Max

4. Nike Air Max Scorpion

5. Adidas adizero Prime x 2.0 Strung

6. Mizuno Enerzy

7. Puma Fastroid

The Best Crazy Shoes

#1. Adidas Adizero adios pro evo 1

Weight: approx. 135g / 4.76oz

Adidas Adizero adios pro evo 1

Launched in the lead-up to the 2023 Berlin Marathon, the Evo 1 caught the attention of the public due to its high price.

Previously, the most expensive road racing model was the Nike Alphafly at £280. The adidas Evo 1 made the Alphafly look like somewhat of a bargain and with its advertised lifespan of just one race, it was immediately seen as the most expensive and perhaps extravagant shoe ever!

With a 40mm stack of Lightstrike Pro foam, the shoe features a carbon plate, as opposed to the carbon-infused rods of previous adidas racing models, but somehow it manages to keep its weight down to just 135g.

The shoe had a limited production run of just 521 pairs and if you were lucky enough to win an opportunity to buy a pair, you could eventually part ways with your $500.

Being available to purchase is one of the conditions World Athletics makes in order for shoes to be deemed ‘legal’. Other conditions are a stack height of under 40mm and any ‘plate’ can only be placed on a single plane. The Evo 1 therefore ticks all the boxes.

A ‘liquid rubber’ outsole is used, a process that keeps the sole weight and thickness to a minimum via a process that ‘paints’ the sole into place. Along with a single-layer upper, all weight-saving opportunities have been taken advantage of.

#2. Nike Mayfly

Weight: approx. 145g / 5.1oz

Nike Mayfly

The extremely low weight and limited use recommendations of the adidas Evo 1 immediately reminded me of the Nike Mayfly. Launched in 2003, the Mayfly seemed crazy at the time mainly due to its price. Unlike the high price of the Evo 1, the Mayfly went on sale at just £25!

Supplied in a drawstring shoe bag made from recycled materials, the box also contained a warning label and details of how to return the shoes to be recycled themselves. The label read ‘limited to 100km’, but at just £25, they were so much better value than the adidas!

A simple design, the shoe was made up of a single layer of CMA cushioning with a 25mm stack. It had two small pieces of outsole rubber, one on the lateral edge of the heel, the other in the centre of the midfoot. 

The Mayfly’s upper was gossamer thin, so thin that it had very little structure. This shoe was all about low weight and built for the ‘biomechanically gifted’: you really needed to be efficient to get the best out of these.

Like the insect the shoe was named after (that has a one-day lifespan), the Mayfly shoe also had a limited life of availability.

Only on sale for around a year, the shoe was withdrawn from the Nike range. It did return a few years later, but at a higher price and with a little more substance to it to increase its more fashion-focused appeal.

#3. Nike Air Max

Weight: 400g / 14.1oz

Nike Air Max

Originally launched in 1987, the Air Max was a breakthrough shoe from Nike as it was the first shoe to successfully utilize the Air technology.

Previous Air shoes such as the Tailwind did use the Air bag cushioning but suffered from failures to both the air and the polyurethane midsole.

Launched as a serious, technical running shoe, the Air Max offered never-before-experienced levels of cushioning. The PU midsole did make the shoe a little heavy at around 400g. (The ones pictured are a 2023 version and weigh 449g in a UK9.5)

The Air Max with its visible air was ground-breaking at the time and paved the way forward for Nike and Air cushioning. The shoe is style available today as the Air Max 1 although it is now more of a fashioning-focused model.

#4. Nike Air Max Scorpion

Weight: 485g / 17oz

Nike Air Max Scorpion

While on the subject of Nike, these shoes recently caught my eye!

The Air Max Scorpion takes Air cushioning to the next level and beyond.

With a deep 50mm stack made up of a full-length air unit, the cushioned feel is simply amazing and literally like walking on air. 

The shoes do feel a little too heavy for anything more than a couple of miles, but they are actually quite stable. That stability comes from the broad footprint of the cushioning that surrounds every bit of the feet. 

#5. Adidas adizero Prime x 2.0 Strung

Weight: 338g / 11.9oz

Adidas adizero Prime x 2.0 Strung

As far as currently available, technical running shoes are concerned, the Prime X has to be one of the craziest.

Officialy banned for use in competition, its high, 50mm stack and double carbon plates mean it doesn’t meet World Athletics’ criteria for use.

Outside of competition, the shoe does make a great training shoe. The triple layers of Lightstrike Pro foam contain two carbon-infused plates. This combination of deep stack and twin plates makes for the most incredibly cushioning and responsive ride

An aggressive forefoot rocker contributes further to the forward propulsive effect of the other elements and means the shoe feels better and better the faster you go.

The upper uses the brand’s ‘strung’ manufacturing technique. A series of yarns bound together in a single layer to create strength and structure in a single layer that is incredibly light but strong. 

Continental rubber is used on the sole of the shoe and provides good coverage as well as the now-renowned traction in any condition.  

The Prime X is an amazing shoe in terms of performance and perhaps one that is used by adidas to experiment and push the boundaries of possibilities in the development of future models. It’s banned, it’s fast and it’s crazy!

#6. Mizuno Enerzy

Weight: 400g / 14.1oz

Mizuno Enerzy

Released as a concept shoe in 2020, the Enerzy model from Mizuno was designed to showcase their new cushioning foam, Enerzy.

Enerzy cushioning can now be found in many of the brand’s shoes including the Wave Rider, Wave Inspire and Skyrise models. It’s a soft, plush, and responsive foam and in this model, it makes up the entire midsole.

The 55mm stack of foam surrounds the foot to create a stable feel. Again, although this isn’t intended for running, it is actually runnable and feels great, albeit for very short runs. 

The ENERZY foam is around 17% softer and provides around 15% more energy return than previously used foams from the brand (CM-EVA).

In this shoe two versions of the foam are used, a ‘standard’ ENERZY to create the outer element, with a softer ENERZY core. The foam in the core of the shoe is even softer and returns over 50% more energy than CM-EVA.

In this model, a knitted sock-like stretch mesh upper is used and provides a great, snug fit without detracting from the massively oversized midsole. 

It’s a very eye-catching model and perhaps still remains one of the craziest-looking models ever in that it still remains very distinctive in its design.

#7. Puma Fastroid

Weight: 360g / 12.7oz

Puma Fastroid

Looking like a FAST-R Nitro Elite on steroids, this pumped-up model was initially released as a limited-edition promotional model but it is now on sale again.

‘NOT COMPETITION APPROVED’ is printed onto the midsole, which I measure at a whopping 65mm in the heel (around 55mm forefoot). 

Clearly demonstrating that if you are going to break the rules you should really push the boat out. 

Whilst you are able to run in the shoe, it begins to feel a little unstable at any hint of a turn or bump in the ground, so perhaps we should keep this model for casual use.

Taking its design features from the Fast-R Nitro Elite, it uses the same de-coupled heel and forefoot with a carbon plate to connect the two sections. Using Nitro foam in both the rear and forefoot it also hints at the soon-to-be-released Fast-R Nitro Elite 2.

While more of a junction of fashion and function, the shoe has been made in the same manner as the running-specific version, and to all intents and purposes, it feels very similar, simply much bigger.

The foam and carbon plate are the same and the upper has the same stretch, sock-like fit. 

On the short run, the cushioning and energy return feel quite spectacular (if a little unstable) and it rides in a similar manner to the adidas Prime X. Yes, it is a little overbroad, but as a project to highly the brand’s technology it’s crazy and incredibly good fun.

Photo of author
Paul Freary really does have a lifetime of experience as an athlete. Paul’s father, Mike was British record holder over 10,000m in 1966, so Paul was almost born to run. With best times ranging from 3:56 for the mile to 13:55 for 5k, and ran 2:40 at the 2023 Berlin Marathon at age 55. Having worked with several leading brands as well as in retail he also knows running footwear inside out and also has experience in gait analysis and orthotics. Paul writes regular running shoe reviews for our site and our Youtube channel!

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