Each spring thousands of elite runners hit the pavement in Boston, aiming to win, get a personal best, or just take a victory lap after a successful running year (after all, this is one of a handful of marathons in the country that have competitive cut-off times). As with all running, the gear is minimal — with little more than singlets, short shorts, and a watch. Then there are the shoes. The most important piece of gear among athletes is one of the most diverse. You’ll find everything from thick, supportive soles to ultra-minimal racing flats on the feet of participants. But what do the pros — and more importantly, winners — wear?
From Meb Keflezighi (2014) to Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot (’03, ’06, ’07, ’08), we looked over the shoes of the past winners to see what secrets the elites hold in their choice. From the past 12 years, Nike was the clear big winner (with seven of the 12 wearing the Swoosh), Adidas was in a distant second with two, and one-off winners include New Balance, Fila, and Skechers. While all the shoes were fairly minimal, they also came with enough padding to make it through 26.2 miles of hard pounding. Still, the main thing this footwear had in common was that they were attached to pros who put in serious, hard miles, all year long.