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Ever since the Nike Vaporfly 4% burst on to the scene in 2016, the running world has been waiting for a response from Adidas. After all, before the Nike Vaporfly line started to dominate, Adidas’s Adios and Boston models were among the best running shoes available for long-distance racing.
It’s taken a while, but Adidas has finally launched its own high-stacked racing shoe, the Adizero Adios Pro – not to be confused with the Adizero Pro, which has a carbon plate but is a lower-profile shoe with a firmer ride. Although the Adios Pro doesn’t have a carbon plate in the midsole, it does have some novel carbon tech.
There are five carbon-infused EnergyRods in the midsole, which line up with the metatarsal bones of your foot. There’s also a nylon and carbon-fibre heel plate in the midsole to provide stability as you land and to improve your running economy.
Key to the success of any carbon plate shoe is the foam it’s paired with. Nike’s bouncy PEBA-based ZoomX foam is the best on the market, though it’s rivalled by similarly impressive proprietary forms from Saucony and Brooks.
The Lightstrike Pro foam used in the Adios Pro certainly impressed me, although Adidas representatives wouldn’t confirm what it’s made of. The shoe is lightweight despite the high 39mm stack height at the heel (it’s 30.5mm at the forefoot, giving the shoe an 8.5mm drop), which is close to the 40mm racing limit set by World Athletics. My UK size 9 weighed 231g, a couple of grams lighter than the Nike Alphafly.
As well as being lightweight, the Lightstrike Pro foam is soft and springy, much like Nike’s ZoomX foam. I found that there’s a little less pop off the forefoot than I get from the Vaporfly NEXT% and Alphafly, but the Adios Pro is still very fast, comfortable and more stable than Nike’s shoes – perhaps because the EnergyRods allow your feet to move more naturally than a single carbon plate does.
I’ve used the Adios Pro for a range of runs, but mostly focused on fast stuff to assess its racing credentials. The key test runs were an hour-long progression run where I moved my pace from a starting point of 4min 20sec per km to run at 3min 45sec for the final half hour, a fast 5K completed in 16min 32sec, and an interval session running 2km, 400m and 200m reps.
I was pleasantly surprised by how well it performed on the 5K and the short reps. Despite the high stack the Adios Pro felt pretty nimble, and helped to rock me onto my forefoot and hold the fast pace.
After that 5K in the shoe I switched to the Nike Vaporfly NEXT% to do another 5K straight away and the Nike did feel noticeably lighter, so that would still be my preference for short stuff.
However, I think the Adios Pro will excel over longer distances. On longer runs I found that the design really helps to maintain a good pace, and at half marathon or marathon distance it should be terrific.
The upper on the Adios Pro is made of Adidas’s Celermesh, which allows for a snug but comfortable fit. The toe box isn’t particularly roomy, but unlike past Adidas racers like the Adios where I’d have to go up half a size, I found the Adios Pro fits true to size.
Kudos to Adidas for the stonking pink and light blue colourway as well. It’s definitely the best-looking high-stack super shoe I’ve come across.
Although the outsole rubber uses the same colours, I’m less impressed by it. The wafer-thin, patternless rubber grips surprisingly well, but I have doubts about its durability. I think the Adios Pro will be a shoe to reserve for race day to prolong its lifespan.
That’s not uncommon in a race shoe though – and at least the Adios Pro is, at £170, cheaper than most of its rivals: it’s £240 for the Vaporfly, £260 for the Alphafly, £190 for the Saucony Endorphin Pro and £210 for the Brooks Hyperion Elite 2. It’s still not pocket change, but it’s nice to see Adidas not going along with the rampant inflation in racing shoe prices.
The relative value is the Adios Pro’s ace in the hole, because I’d still lean towards the Nike Alphafly or Vaporfly as the best carbon racer available. Those are much more expensive, though, and the Adios matches the performance of other top carbon shoes like the Saucony Endorphin Pro and Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 while being cheaper. Given the potentially short life of that outsole, you might lose that value in the long run, but still, the Adios Pro gets Adidas back in the game. About time.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.