It's the ultimate test, putting the $20 billion running shoe business through its paces -- which keep up with the hype, which are left way behind and is it more than money you risk losing by choosing the wrong runner?
A big question mark looms over the billion dollar industry and it's endless claims: aero-dynamic, NASA intelligent foam, stability, motion control, air, gel, springs, computerisation. How things have changed from the days of the 80's high tops, where looking cool was the only thing that mattered.
Now consumers are bombarded with technology that is meant to stop injuries in their tracks. With all the latest shoe innovations, you'd think injuries would have decreased in the last 40 years -- not so. 60% of recreational runners are still injured at least once a year
Doctor Craig Richards from the University of Newcastle says you can't always believe what's on the box. "We currently don't know whether cushioning in a running shoe is good or bad for you or whether a heel raise in a running shoe is good or bad for you", he said.
But Simon Bartold, a podiatrist for ASICs research says, "I think that there's enormous evidence that they're good for you".
And Simon says they've found cheap and cheerful doesn't always win the race. "There are absolutely better features with more expensive shoes. They've been researched extensively, they have a lot more in the shoe and they're built for performance and mileage basically", he said.
"We've been doing extensive wear testing for the past decade, so we know what works for the runner", said Lisa Holmes, Editor of Runner's World Magazine.
Lisa wants to set the story straight. They've independently tested 350 different runners -- ranging from budget to blow out -- so that your next purchase doesn't have to be a marathon ordeal. "It really is finding a shoe that fits your foot and your style of running", Lisa said.
Each shoe was subject to various mechanical and user review testing, looking at fit, comfort, stability, flexibility, cushioning, and ride.
And here are the results:
Editor's choice, retailing at $199.95 was the Brookes Revema 2.
"It's a fantastic fit and the upper locks nicely onto the foot, like glue". Lisa said.
Best debut shoe, retailing at $229.95, was the K Swiss Kwicky Blade.
"This one really stood out for us because of it is seam free fore foot which helps to prevent blisters and abrasions", Lisa said.
Best buy on the market, retailing at $159.5 was the Saucony Progrid Kinvara 2.
"This is a good value for money shoe; it's a great shoe for runners wanting transition into a minimalist product", Lisa said.
For those sick of spending cash on footwear, they could always follow the latest trend and go nude. "To help strengthen the foot, barefoot running is a good option", Lisa said.
The argument is based on the theory that we ran barefoot some ten thousand years ago and experts say it could help us gain strength and increase movement -- just not on concrete.
"We are not living 10,000 years ago and we're not running on varied terrain, we're running on cement or bitumen", Simon said.
"For somebody to jump up out of their office chair and go barefoot running, I think there is no evidence to say that that is beneficial. Its madness", he added.
So, if you're a more traditional kind of runner, Lisa says when looking for the perfect fit: "Get the shoes on your feet, see how they fit and how they feel Take them for a short run, because a shoe that feels comfy in store, can feel completely different on the road".