Runners are creatures of habit. Same socks on race day, same pre-workout snack, same routes retraced week after week. When even small disruptions like a broken waist pack can throw off a routine, imagine the panic when a shoe company decides to discontinue a favorite sneaker.
Once a shoe earns a spot in the rotation — through a highly personal calculus of race finishes, total miles, PRs, and successful workouts — runners will find a way to keep it there, even if it means scouring the Internet for new-old pairs and ordering by the half-dozen. But sometimes a sneaker just gets away. Here, five notable running shoes from years past, and the infatuated runners who still covet them.
New Balance Vazee Pace v2
“These were light but had stability, so it felt like they were good across all distances, especially longer ones. I ran the Hartford marathon [in them], where I hit my first Olympic Trial Qualifier and got an eight-minute PR. Since then, I’ve had four pairs and ran a couple marathons in them.” — Sam Roecker, Olympic “A” Standard Marathoner
Notable Feature: Quick, snappy and durable
Brooks Racer ST 5
“I would only use this shoe for track workouts and races, buying a new version of the shoe one to two weeks out from race day to ensure it felt fresh on my feet. Some runners don’t believe in wearing new shoes on race day, but because I knew it well enough, I liked having as much cushioning as possible. I have yet to find my new, lightweight, cozy race shoe, but I’m optimistic I’ll find one prior to my next marathon in May.” — Chris Heuisler, Global Run Concierge, Westin Hotels & Resorts
Notable Feature: Low-profile, affordable and stable
Asics Gel-Kayano 21
“The Kayano 21s were the perfect width. My toes never felt scrunched together, and they provided the exact stability I needed to get through my runs. I ran my first and second marathons in them. The colors were great, too — bright. I think I owned four pairs of the same color combo. The Kayano 21 was made for my foot, and I’ve had such a hard time since finding a shoe that fits as well.” — Alex Weissner, Cofounder, bRUNch Running
Notable Feature: Out-of-the-box comfort and high cushioning
Nike Pegasus 2002
“The Nike Pegasus was my first running shoe ever. I got a pair back in 1984 when I started [running] track. I probably bought ten to twelve pairs of the 2002s. It was my favorite shoe. It fit well and was breathable. I developed a hip injury after they took the shoe from $90 to $85.” — John Honerkamp, Founder, Run Kamp
Notable Feature: Soft mesh upper and roomy last
Hoka One One Clifton 1
“The Hoka One One Clifton 1 was the shoe I kept coming back to. I still have both of my original pairs, for those nostalgic days. While durability was lackluster, the road running experience was game-changing. Unfortunately, the shoe changed considerably in future iterations. Even the Clifton 1 re-release from Hoka last year didn’t quite live up to the original experience. Oh, how I miss these shoes!” — Ethan Newberry, Owner, The Ginger Runner
Notable Feature: Light, yet super cushioned, slim tongue
Adidas Adizero Adios 3
“I still remember my first run in these. It was supposed to be a relaxed 5K, but the pace picked up — I was flying, and it felt incredible. Good for training and racing. It was a more traditional-looking shoe but still sexy with a seriousness all runners appreciate. I’ve had about eight pairs. I’m currently training in one and have two fresh pairs in the boxes; I also have a retired pair for trips to the coffee shop or grocery store.” — Steve Dutko, Marathoner, Black Roses NYC
Notable Feature: Dependable, with reliable traction and a thin Boost midsole
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.