An Ultra-Runner Reviews The Alleged “Best Running Shoe Ever”

adidas are making stupendously bold claims about their latest shoes – ultra-runner Kieran Alger finds out if they're true with his adidas Ultra Boost review

Yohan Blake, Wilson Kipsang, Tori Bowie, Ajee Wilson and Jenn Suhr at the Ultra Boost launch in New York

You have to be pretty confident to tell the world that your new product is the “greatest running shoe ever” – but that’s exactly what adidas has done. Can the adidas Ultra Boost really be that good? Reeally though?

First up, let’s get one thing straight: choosing a running shoe is ultimately a personal thing. What works for me could be blister-inducing for you. So if you’re hoping that I’ll tell you whether or not you should buy a pair of adidas Ultra Boost, you should probably take yourself to a running shop and find out for yourself.

Still here? Good. What I can tell you about is my experience of running with the new Ultra Boost – and, of course, why adidas is making such big claims.

The adidas Ultra Boost is the latest running shoe to feature the German shoe giant’s innovative TPU sole technology, which first surfaced back in 2013. It’s the stuff that looks a bit like polystyrene, and the Ultra Boost has plenty of it. Like, a lot.

What Is TPU Sole Technology?

The soles of normal running shoes and trainers tend to be made from EPA. The problem with EPA is that, as you clock up the miles, it becomes gets compacted, and the cushioning you get from your shoes decreases.

Ask a barefoot-running convert and they’ll probably tell you this is a good thing but we won’t get into that debate. Fact is, if you like a soft landing then EPA gives you less of this over time.

Drop a golf ball onto TPU and it’ll bounce higher than its starting point

This is where Boost foam comes in. The soles of the adidas Boosts are packed with thousands of little bubbles made from thermoplastic polyurethane, or TPU. TPU is known for being strong and elastic. Drop a golf ball onto a square of it from waist height and it’ll bounce higher than its starting point.

The adidas Ultra Boost. And no, that’s not polystyrene

The Ultra Boost shoe has 20 per cent more TPU than adidas’ earlier Energy Boost shoes. What that means for your running is that when your foot hits the ground, the TPU foam recycles energy that would usually be lost in sound, heat and vibration, back into  powering your stride.

So you get a nice little bouncy boost from every foot strike – hence the name.

According to adidas executive Eric Liedtke, this new system has answered athletes’ “call for more energy”.

David Villa in adidas Ultra Boost

Adidas Ultra Boost Review: The Verdict

There’s no doubt that this is a good running shoe. The combination of adidas Primeknit with a stitched-in sock liner makes for a glove-like fit that’s extremely comfortable. The Ultra Boost pass the important first-feel test – slip them on and you (almost) forget they’re there.

People with slightly broader feet might find them a little tight, if worn them for long periods – I know I did. However, unless you’re planning on running an ultra-marathon in them, this shouldn’t be an issue.

The overall sensation is that you’re being propelled along the pavement

And then there’s the Boost. If you like running in a cushioned shoe, this won’t disappoint. The Boost foam almost entirely eliminates the feeling of hard ground contact. In its place you get loads of bounce with each foot strike. The overall sensation is that you’re being propelled along the pavement, using less energy than normal.

For me personally, it’s too much. I prefer the more minimal ride of the adidas Adizero Adios Boost, which also features the innovative TPU foam but far less of it. If you like to feel connected to the ground you’re running on, I don’t think the Boost is for you.

If you like to feel connected to the ground, Ultra Boost aren’t for you

That said, this will be a popular shoe. It’s light but sturdy and supportive, it looks good, and it undoubtedly puts a spring in your step.

Is it literally “the greatest running shoe ever”? Wellll… That’s for you to decide.

How We Tested The Ultra Boost

I used the adidas Boost on a series of five runs, including road and treadmill run. I covered varying distances, up to ten miles. I also wore them for two full days going about my normal business.


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