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Race Review: Skechers GOrun Speed Elite Hyper


The Skechers GOrun Speed Elite Hyper is one of the many "super shoe" carbon-plated racers that has dropped this year. While it is continually tempting to figure out which half/full marathon carbon-plated racer is best, it is prudent to remember that, just like trainers, each shoe is going to offer a ride that is going to better suit different individual runners. As a non-elite runner, I have been particularly interested to see how each of these elite racing shoes performs for the non-elite, or who I like to refer to as "the other 98% of the running community".

This review is going to detail the performance of the Speed Elite Hyper during my most recent half marathon. I will be including details of the race and results, but know that the complexity of performance outcomes cannot be simplified down to the shoe. Physical training, mental preparation, race day conditions, etc. will all impact the performance outcome. Believe it or not, a shoe won't turn you into the runner of your dreams overnight. However, the shoe on your foot is still very important on race day. The goal of this review is to detail how the Speed Elite Hyper performed throughout the race, add details regarding testing beyond race day, and a little into my inner psyche during the race as well.

Race Day Details

I had originally registered to run the Tobacco Road Half Marathon in Cary, NC. This race was an out and back style race that included about 5 miles of paved course and around 8 miles on crushed/packed gravel on a rail-to-trail course. Touted as "Flat. Fast. Fun.", I thought it may be the perfect race for me to attempt to break the 1.5 hour mark for the half marathon for the first time. Since 2017 I have tried twice, and sadly failed both attempts, once finishing in 1:34:11 at the Madison Half Marathon and the other finishing in 1:45+ at the Wildcat Half Marathon in Wild Rose, WI (that race day story is one for another time).  

As with most races during the time that I am writing this, my scheduled half marathon was cancelled due to safety measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shout out to the race director of this event for doing part to keep people safe and for transferring all entries to next year. What a time to be a race director...woof.

Despite the race being cancelled, I decided to set out on the American Tobacco Trail in my Speed Elites outside of Durham to try and break the 1.5 hour mark on my own. As with all of us who had races cancelled, I wanted to use the training and try out the Speed Elite even though the official event was no longer. 

Race day and the course turned out to be gorgeous:
Temperature: 55 deg
Wind: 4-6 mph NE
Coverage: partly sunny
Elevation: 345 ft
Course: mostly paved with about 1/2 mile of crushed gravel due to construction

Shoe Details

First, let's nail down some details of the shoe. For our full multiple tester review on the Speed Elite that breaks down all the details, click HERE. I will go into how these components performed during the race, but here is the basic break down:

Weight: 6.0oz in men's size 9
Stack Height: 19mm (forefoot), 23mm (heel)
Drop: 4mm

MIDSOLE: The midsole of this shoe is HYPER BURST exclusively throughout the heel to the midfoot, and then has a carbon infused winglet plate that spans from the midfoot up through the forefoot. The winglet plate is split medially and laterally through the midfoot and joins into a single plate towards the forefoot. You can see that it thickens near the metatarsal heads for rigidity and has a significant toe spring.

OUTSOLE: The outsole of this shoe was designed to decrease weight as much as possible. There is strategically placed GOODYEAR rubber, but it is quite minimal in location and thickness. The rest is an exposed HYPER BURST.  

UPPER/FIT: A mono-mesh upper, similar to the one utilized in the GOmeb Speed 6 HYPER, tops off the Speed Elite. There is no heel counter, but has some additional padding in the heel to pad the achilles. The lacing system utilizes thin laces with some minor stretching. This is a race day shoe, and the fit is dialed in, yet has room for toe splay and does fit beautifully true to size. As it is currently only offered in full sizes, I would say it is worth waiting for your exact size. If you like your fit in the Razor 3, you'll like that size in the Speed Elite as well. It will be a bit more snug with less volume than the Razor 3, but that's why it is for race day.

Training Note

I mentioned this above, but the actual training has a lot more to do with the outcome than the shoe itself. Just a little background on my prep for this week. My training consisted of running 20-27 miles per week (usually around 22.5) over 3-4 runs per week (usually 3). This milage is significantly lower than I used for previous attempts. Now, I'm not advocating that people should necessarily run less milage for their half or full marathon training, but milage is not the only factor. Some people will have more success with high milage, and others may have success with less. Learn yourself as a runner and play into your strengths.

I wore the Speed Elites for 3 other runs prior the the half marathon: a 1 mile workout, a 3 mile tempo at the end of a long run, and a 9 mile tempo. In the first mile workout, I could feel the lateral winglet pushing into my foot. However, once I strapped them back on for my next workout I never felt it again. Using the shoe for a few runs prior to the race made me confident the shoe would go the distance.

The Start (miles 1-3): Cautiously Optimistic

The Psyche: Let's start with my mental game before the run began. I have a mental pre-race "ritual" that a friend helped me develop that I won't fully go into, but I was working to remain positive and repeat positive things about how the race was going to go. However, that didn't keep remembering the two other failed attempts out of the back of my mind...and this wouldn't be the first time those thoughts would surface. But come on, the weather was beautiful, I had my wife next to me, and we were ready to roll.

The Shoe: The Speed Elite were smooth as silk to start out this race. The 4mm drop feels much less aggressive than other shoes that I've worn that have even a 6mm drop. As a heel striker, the full HYPER BURST rear foot allows combined with the rocker sole allows for a smooth, cushioned, and responsive landing. Transitioning to the winglet plate (which really came into play at the end) provided a very quick and propulsive toe off, also thanks to the toe spring. The toe spring was not too aggressive and caused no irritation to the metatarsal joints. Lastly, this shoe is incredibly light with the amount of cushion and rebound it provides (while still giving some ground feel). I was off to a good start.

Note: inaccurate eleavation
The Run: Best thing about my beginning was that I didn't go out too fast, a terrible habit of mine. It probably helped that there weren't thousands of people running beside me, but I still had a large amount of adrenaline running through my veins...I was excited to meet this goal. So again, I was pleased that I didn't go out too fast. About 0.6 miles in I turned to my wife and said, "shoot....I gotta pee". I had just gone before we left, but alas, this was still the case. Oh well, gotta keep running. Mile 3 was a full mile of gradual climbing (2-3% grade), and I knew I didn't want to push too much. The Speed Elite felt very smooth on the slight climb, which could be in part due to the toe spring and firm nature of the plate. There were more steep hills throughout the run, and the Speed Elite felt great on all of them.

The Middle (miles 3-9): Optimistic yet Realistic

The Psyche: Not too much to report here. I was in the zone during all of these miles. When I would periodically check my watch (infrequently) I was hitting my paces and trying to focus on continuing to run smoothly and effortlessly -- without overthinking. Realistically, I knew my previous attempts started falling apart between miles 9-10, so even though I was trying to avoid letting that negatively effect me, it was still looming there in the back of my mind and I knew I couldn't get too cocky about how I was currently feeling.

Forefoot Outsole: 25 miles
Rearfoot Outsole: 25 miles
The Shoe: The upper of the Speed Elite breathes very well. I live in Wisconsin where my training was done in 0-20 deg F for the most part. Even 50 degrees F was quite warm and my body had to adjust, but the monomesh upper kept my feet cool. The lockdown of the upper, given that it is non-flex, is really nice and the thin laces (which have a slight stretch) lock down really well without any heel slippage and without causing any irritation over the top of the foot. Again, the fit of this shoe is dialed in. I have a moderate foot width, and the midfoot locked down great with still some room for toe splay in the toe box. The grip of the Speed Elite worked well, too. I had about a half mile of packed gravel due to some construction, and was not feeling like I was slipping, despite the small coverage of the outsole with rubber.

The Run: These miles were pretty much like clockwork, hitting my goal times around 6:40/mile. The turnaround ended up occurring on a relatively "steep" section (6% grade), so it took a little to get back into rhythm, but I found it and returned to hitting my goal splits.

The Second Middle (miles 9-10): You've Got to be Kidding

Psyche: Sometimes it's the little things that can start getting to you. First, I knew that these two miles were the ones where things typically started falling apart for me in the past, so that was still pestering. But in addition, my GPS watch started to get wonky. On the path I was running were mile markers every 0.25 miles, and I knew when my watch was supposed to tell me when I hit a mile. I found myself passing the marker where I was supposed to hit my next mile, and my watch stayed silent. I looked down and it was saying that I was running a 10:30min/mile and I was 0.1 away from the mile marker I was supposed to have just passed. For some reason, even though I knew I just needed to get back to the starting point to finish, this really threw my mental game. I was relying too much on the watch for confirmation that I was on pace instead of listening to my body to keep pace and push to the best pace I could keep to finish well. Lesson learned for a future race -- your body is king, not the watch. By the time I got to mile 11 my watch was 0.2 miles behind the markers on the road. I was beyond frustrated. The gradual climbs felt steeper, the pace felt hard to keep and my legs felt heavy, and for some reason all the birds stopped singing (not really).

The Shoe: In these two miles, the Speed Elite was the only bright spot. Despite my legs feeling heavy, the HYPER BURST continued to provide high cushion and now the winglet plates really started to shine. For a racing flat, the midfoot is a decent width (not too narrow), and the winglet plates provided a lot of stability for my tired and seemingly heavy legs. I never once felt like I was "falling off" the shoe, turns felt stable, and the transition from cushioned heel to rigid forefoot helped with continued propulsion.

Who knows what these miles really were...

The Run: Despite the way I was feeling, I was still (pretty much) hitting my splits, even with "losing" 0.2 miles during this time. The bright spot of was knowing that I was about to hit a 1 mile descent. Let's go.

The Finish (mile 10-13): This Is Gonna Happen

The Psyche: A one mile gradual decline couldn't have come at a better time. Mentally I was able to return to thinking about running as effortlessly as possible and was able to let go of everything going on with my watch. The mile decline was the perfect reset for the final 5K. Here we go.

The Shoe: One last word on the responsiveness of this shoe. The HYPER BURST did not change one bit from mile 1 to 13.1, and the smooth transition remained as well. Additionally, there was adequate room in the forefoot for any swelling and splaying of my feet that occurred. Although my legs did not have a lot of life left in them, the shoe had tons left. For many, this shoe will work great as a half marathon shoe, and for many others as a full marathon racer.

Note: GPS still going crazy at mile 11-12
The Run: Remember how I felt I had to pee during mile 1? Well, mile 12 is where it came to a head. I had to pull off the trail for a quick restroom break. Thankfully by this time, I knew my goal was still in reach. Even with that stop, I pulled through mile 13 with time to spare. Just 0.1 miles left to go.

Results/Conclusion (13-13.1): Mission Accomplished!

After two years of trying to break the 1.5 hour half marathon, I finally did it! "Official" finish time was 1:29:01, which included me running until my watch clocked 13.1 (which took running past the trail head where we started by 0.1-0.2 miles). So...who knows what my actual time was, but I didn't care. I would have taken 1:29:59. Finishing the run ended up feeling like a lot bigger deal than I anticipated. One of the things I love about running is that I fail at it...a lot. Facing failure, in running and other things in life, always has a lot to teach me. I was so thankful in that moment for my running friends who push me during running (shout out to the Point Forward Running Club), my wife for supporting my passion for running, and for even being blessed with the ability to run and enjoy running (I know that physical health is never a given). Finally overcoming a previous failure was a huge confidence boost for my running future, and I can't wait to keep training. 

Now for some Speed Elite conclusions. This is a really fast shoe. Outside of this race, my other training runs showed me that it would be a great option for anything from a 5K up to the marathon. It has a wonderful combination of weight, cushion, and responsiveness. For those who want some cushion but want some ground connection and not have a huge stack underneath, this may be the best "super shoe" option for you. Finally, the Speed Elite proved to not be only for the elite, but also for "the other 98%".

Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Masters in Anatomy and Clinical Health Science
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

Dr. Nathan Brown is a 155 lb male with notable PRs of 19:18 5K, 39:25 10K, 1:29 half marathon, and 3:54 marathon. He typically runs between 20-40 miles per week at a variety of paces from 8-8:30 min/mile for recovery runs to 6-6:45 min/mile for tempo runs. He typically prefers shoes that provide some cushioning underfoot but still maintain a more firm and responsive feel. Current goals for 2020 are to break the 1.5 hour half marathon (CHECK) and 3:30 marathon.

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles or Central Wisconsin area, we are currently taking clients for running evaluations.

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