While having two or three pairs of shoes in rotation is a luxury that not every runner will experience, there is undoubtedly a special feeling to pulling on a shoe you own specifically for running fast in, whether it’s for a track workout or a race.
The Brooks Hyperion is that kind of shoe – a thoroughbred racing flat that has no truck with easy days. When you lace this shoe up, you’d better be planning to run fast.
It’s a fast shoe because of its low weight (181g for men’s, though this varies with size), responsive cushioning and propulsive pods on the forefoot outsole to ensure an explosive toe-off.
I tested out the Hyperion mostly on the track with a series of workouts of varying lengths, along with a couple of tempo runs on the road. I also used it for some long warm-ups and warm-downs, and one run at an easy pace to see how it felt at slow speeds – not great, as you’d expect from a lightweight racing flat. It’s firm and a little flat when you’re jogging along, and you definitely feel the lack of cushioning.
When you use it for its intended purpose, however, the Hyperion is a joy. It’s bouncier than I expected it to be given the small slither of cushioning on the bottom, and the heel-to-toe transition is seriously rapid.
The upper is also tremendous. It’s like pulling on a slipper, with the woven material providing a sock-like fit that’s still breathable owing to the lightweight fabric and holes near the front of the shoe. The longest run I used the Hyperion for was just over 19km and I didn’t have any problems with the upper with regards to rubbing or tightness.
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During two of my track workouts, I swapped the Hyperion in for another shoe after a few reps, and the difference made me appreciate it all the more. It’s true that the shoes I used alongside it – the Saucony Kinvara 10 and the On Cloudswift – are both all-rounder options designed for covering a variety of distances at a range of paces rather that flat-out speedsters, but the change did show the benefits of having something like the Hyperion in your locker for fast days. There are great all-rounder shoes that do a solid job across all kinds of running – the Kinvara is one, as is Brooks’s own Launch 6 and my favourite, the Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo – but they still can’t match the Hyperion for how responsive, light and downright speedy it feels.
However, that speed naturally comes at the cost of cushioning and limits how much you can use the Hyperion. After using it twice in three days – for a long track workout of three sets of five 1km reps, and then an 8km tempo run on the road – my legs felt noticeably more fatigued than if I’d opted for more cushioned racing shoes like the Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit or Reebok Floatride Run Fast.
I’d probably keep it for track workouts and then 5K and 10K races, though the Hyperion would work well for a half marathon too, as long as you had ample time to recover afterwards. Lightweight, speedy runners with an efficient running style might even fancy the Hyperion as a marathon option, although it’s definitely not as cushioned as I’d like for 42.2km personally.
This is a shoe designed for faster, shorter runs, and it is terrific fun to use for those runs. If you’re not convinced by the idea of having more than one running shoe in your arsenal, this isn’t a shoe for you – using it for every run won’t be great for the shoe or your body. But if you keep a slot in your rotation for a racing shoe, the Hyperion is up there with the best.
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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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