Since its launch last year the Nike Vaporfly 4% has established itself as a game-changing running shoe, especially for those seeking to set a marathon PB. In fact, the only real problem with the Vaporfly is that it’s very hard to come by, selling out in the blink of an eye on the few occasions it has been made available.
There are a few reasons for the Vaporfly’s success but one of the main ones is the ZoomX foam in the midsole which is soft, responsive and very light – everything you could want when running fast for a long period. Until now ZoomX has only been used in the Vaporfly 4% and Vaporfly Elite shoes (the latter being even more tricky to come by for the amateur athlete), but the new Pegasus Turbo shoe will bring the material to a much wider audience.
The story behind the Pegasus Turbo is that Nike’s elite athletes wanted a shoe that felt like the Vaporfly 4% for their training, but ditched the carbon plate in the sole which made the shoe a little too firm for easy efforts. The Turbo is therefore pegged as an everyday trainer by Nike, but after a few runs in the Pegasus Turbo I can say with little hesitation that what might make for an easy day trainer for the likes of Eliud Kipchoge makes for a great all-rounder trainer/racer for everyone else.
The ZoomX foam in the midsole and the featherweight upper both contribute to the lightness of the Pegasus Turbo – 238g (men’s size 9) compared to the standard Pegasus 35’s 281g. But the numbers do little to explain how light it really feels on the foot. It’s a shoe that makes you want to run all day, because it somehow doesn’t feel taxing to keep picking up your feet.
Despite its lightweight frame, comfort is central to how enjoyable the Turbo is to run in. I used it for three days on the trot straight after a weekend when my feet had been completely wrecked by walking 100km (an absurd charity event, never do it) and I was dreading how running might feel. The stack of ZoomX and React cushioning on the Turbo dispelled all concerns within the first few steps. It’s bouncy, soft and even somewhat plush, not at all what you’d expect from such a light shoe.
I slowly increased my speed through my first run in the Turbo and the ride never strayed from being comfortable and bouncy, but I was more surprised by how good they felt on the track the next day. I did a range of distances – one mile, 400m and 200m reps – and when going all-out on the shorter sprints in particular, the heel-to-toe transition and pop off the toe felt fast and smooth like a racing shoe, only without the firm feel of the ground beneath you that racers give.
I thought the Turbo would really excel on long runs and it didn’t disappoint. I took it out for a 90-minute session in the woods – it’s not an ideal trail shoe, but the hot summer had baked Epping Forest dry enough for road shoes – and maintaining a steady-to-fast pace throughout was very comfortable. With this shoe I found that, however hard the run felt, glancing down at my watch usually revealed I was running slightly faster than I thought.
The bounce in the stride is more noticeable over longer distances. The ZoomX foam feels similar to Adidas’s Boost foam, but the shoe is far lighter than a Boost shoe with equivalent amounts of cushioning like the UltraBoost, which only adds to the spring in your step.
As a result, it’s undoubtedly a good option for marathon or half marathon runners who want more cushioning than that found in a typical racer but don’t want the extra heft or overly soft feel that often comes with cushioning. That’s assuming you, like most people, don’t have a few pairs of the Vaporfly 4% stashed at the back of your wardrobe.
The upper is exceptional as well – so lightweight that it virtually disappears when you start running. I had no concerns about it being too snug or not tight enough to stop the foot slipping around, but it’s worth noting that it’s a roomier fit and if you do want it to be a bit snugger around the foot then maybe go half a size down.
I was disappointed by the Pegasus 35, which I found too firm to excel on easy runs and too hefty to fly through speedier sessions. In many ways, the Pegasus Turbo is exactly what I’d wished the Pegasus 35 was – a lightweight, comfortable but pacy daily trainer that will also be a great choice for longer races for most runners.
There’s only really two negatives to the shoe, as far as I can tell so far. One is the racing stripe, which is a colour called Hot Punch and just, well, not great. The other is the price – at £159.95 it’s a step away from the excellent value the Pegasus line has usually been known for (the Pegasus 35 is £104.95). It’s not completely out of step with high-end running shoes, and the long-lasting React foam on the sole in combination with the ZoomX should mean that the Turbo will be durable, but £160 is still a lot of moolah. That said, if you’re looking for an all-rounder trainer/racer and don’t mind pink racing stripes, it’s definitely the shoe I’d go for right now.
Buy from Nike (opens in new tab) | £159.95
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.
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