NB 860v3

Central Park is the ultimate runner’s dream. With 15+ miles of dedicated running trails (and many more unmarked), it’s a safe haven for city dwellers looking to escape the surrounding madness for a while and burn off the day’s stress.

The park has something for every type of runner. It offers up a variety of terrain—from the soft cinder pathway of the reservoir, to the paved lanes of the outer loop, and beyond. It ranges in a wide range of difficulty—from avid to elite, all running in harmony as a community of sorts.

Hundreds of runners (perhaps even thousands) burn rubber on the Central Park loops each and everyday. No matter what time you show up, you're likely to see runners out there doing their thing. Not surprisingly, each runner has his or her own running style, particularly when it comes to type of running shoe.

So to investigate the sneaker choices of Central Park runners, we set out on a long, seemingly impossible quest to catalog the mixed bag of running shoes park runners lace up in—and more importantly, why. Because if there’s one thing we learned during this investigation, it’s that Central Park runners know their shit.

Being as it’s prime running season, over the course of three weeks, the Sneaker Report team posted up at popular running spots throughout the park during peak hours (10am-3pm, and 7pm-10pm) to collect sneaker data. Some runners willingly stopped and flashed us a pose, while others had to be chased and stalked in the name of research.

In addition, we walked into running specialty stores around the greater Central Park area to get professional insight as to what park runners wear on their feet, and why. As a general consensus, the two most popular brands are Asics and Brooks Running, though, the single most popular model (based on numbers alone) may take you by surprise. These are The Most Popular Running Shoes in New York’s Central Park.

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Asics Gel DS Trainer 18

No. 40 - Asics GEL-DS Trainer 18

Times spotted: 5
Type of runner: Easy to spot in this green colorway, the GEL-DS runners were seriously committed to making the best time. Four out of five were men and going very fast around Central Park's main loop.

Brooks PureCadence

No. 39 - Brooks PureCadence 2

Times spotted: 6
Type of runner: This middle-of-the-road Pure Project shoe from Brooks had a decent showing at the park, most of these were spotted running off the beaten path.

Merrell Run Bare Access 2

No. 38 - Merrell Bare Run Access 2

Times spotted: 6
Type of runner: Hippies and seasoned runners went for the Merrell. Surprisingly only one out of six were bare-chested.

New Balance Leadville 1210

No. 37 - New Balance Leadville 1210

Times spotted: 6
Type of runner: Young men, dudes who either are in it for the long haul as the shoe intended, or simply liked the rugged look and went for it.

Nike Dual Fusion Run

No. 36 - Nike Dual Fusion Run

Times spotted: 7
Type of runner: The no-nonsense college boy that's probably interning here for the summer is this Nike's no. 1 consumer, as a neutral, lightweight shoe in sensible colors.

NB 860v3

No. 35 - New Balance 860v3

Times spotted: 7
Type of runner: This shoe was from the New York Marathon 2012, the one that never happened on account of Hurricane Sandy. So these runners either were a) supposed to run the marathon and just got these shoes instead or 2) unknowingly picked them up at a discount price this year.

Here's one runner's take on the NB 860v3: "The girl at the store talked me into getting these. I usually wear the 668's for stability. These are light, but I still haven't made up my mind about them."

Saucony Fastwitch

No. 34 - Saucony Fastwitch 6

Times spotted: 7
Type of runner: Runners who know what they want and what they are doing go for the Fastwitch, a favorite among elite marathoners this year.

 adidas Energy Boost

No. 33 - adidas Energy Boost

Times spotted: 8
Type of runner: A wide range picked up the adidas Boost this year, most pairs looked still-fresh on the feet of young men and women.

On Running Cloud

No. 32 - On Running Cloud

Times spotted: 8
Type of runner: Solely middle-aged men

Nike Flyknit Lunar

No. 31 - Nike Flyknit Lunar

Times spotted: 9
Type of runner: This shoe is for the cool kids who are committed to their run, for this Nike it's more than the cool look that kept runners going. Most were spotted running sans socks as the shoe intended.

Nike Zoom Vomero 7

No. 30 - Nike Zoom Vomero 7

Times spotted: 9
Type of runner: This shoe seems to attract the Type A crowd, every runner spotted in this shoe looked perfectly outfitted for the summer heat.

The latest version of the shoe, the Vomero 8, is starting to make its way onto the feet of Central Park runners slowly but surely. In the mean time, runners have been sticking to the previous version of the neutral shoe from the Swoosh.

Nike Anodyne DS

No. 29 - Nike Anodyne DS

Times spotted: 9
Type of runner: The type of runner that walks into a store and wants a Nike shoe at the lowest price. Not to knock on these people too much, but we spotted a surprising number of this moderately-price running shoe.

The Nike Anodyne DS is the most popular running shoe you've never head of.

Brooks Adrenaline GTX

No. 28 - Brooks Adrenaline GTX

Times spotted: 10
Type of runner: This shoe was mostly spotted on young men that looked like they were using running as a cross training activity. Basketball shorts, baseball hats, and a "where do I go?" look were the biggest signifiers here.

Nike Free TR Fit 2

No. 27 - Nike Free TR Fit 2

Times spotted: 10
Type of runner: Professional looking women love the TR. Though not a running shoe (marketed as a gym training shoe) the TR is hard to spot because of it's limitless colorway options, but we managed to spot a few on runner's feet.

Brooks Cascadia

No. 26 - Brooks Cascadia 7

Times spotted: 10
Type of runner: Young to middle aged men love this shoe, hooked by it's outdoor-appropriate look or incredible comfort, or both.


No. 25 - Newton Gravity

Times spotted: 10
Type of runner: Moms and Dads of Central Park have a favorite brand, and it's Newton Running.

Vibram FiveFingers

No. 24 - Vibram FiveFingers

Times spotted: 11
Type of runner: Mostly spotted on middle aged, seasoned runners, the above picture was of the sole female runner we spotted in the toe separation slip-ons. Here's what she had to say: "I alternate between shoes pretty regularly, but the Vibram's are my go-to choice when I just want to get in a couple of miles after work."

Nike Zoom Elite 5

No. 23 - Nike Zoom Elite 5

Times spotted: 11
Type of runner: Most young men and women with the occasional elite runner, this easy-to-spot shoe always looked well worn.

Mizuno Wave Prophecy 2

No. 22 - Mizuno Wave Prophecy 2

Times spotted: 11
Type of runner: Almost completely spotted on men, the Prophecy 2 either caught the eye of seasoned runners or first timers looking for extra inspiration to get out there. Props to both for sporting this suspension sole.

Nike Tailwind 3

No. 21 - Nike Tailwind 3

Times spotted: 12
Type of runner: The off duty basketball player looking to squeeze in some cross-training without ruining his rep.

Surprisingly, we spotted many different versions of the Nike Tailwind, including the most recent Tailwind 5, and the 3 seen above.

Nike Lunarglide 3

No. 20 - Nike Lunarglide+ 3

Times spotted: 13
Type of runner: Calling all over-thirty Hypebeasts. This Lunarglide+ is usually worn with an unconventional running sock (see above), a Nike Fuelband, small tattoos of arrows and pens and junk, and a smug attitude.

New Balance 990v3

No. 19 - New Balance 990v3

Times spotted: 13
Type of runner: Typically known as a "Dad shoe," we spotted this standard NB on a lot of younger men that looked in shape but clueless that cotton shirts are no longer the go-to for running. No comment on those laces though.

Saucony Guide 6

No. 18 - Saucony Guide 6

Times spotted: 14
Type of runner: The women of yuppie-ville love this shoe. Affordable and just supportive enough, we peeped alot of pinks and green combos on the Guide 6.

Asics Gel Nimbus 14

No. 17 - Asics GEL-Nimbus 14

Times spotted: 14
Type of runner: Young to middle aged professional looking men seem to love this shoe, more than half looked like they were overdue for a new pair.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 9

No. 16 - Mizuno Wave Inspire 9

Times spotted: 14
Type of runner: Runners who know what they are doing and do it well.

The Wave Inspire seems to be a favorite for runners who prefer the unpaved trail. According to one runner: "I've worn the last three versions of the Wave Inspire, and I love them all. They have good stability, and more importantly, don't give me any blisters."

Nike Free 5

No. 15 - Nike Free 5.0

Times spotted: 15
Type of runner: By far one of the most popular shoes in the US for casual wear, the Nike Free can be found in the park on middle aged men looking to triumph over their beer guts or super cute college girls.

Brooks PureConnect 2

No. 14 - Brooks PureConnect 2

Times spotted: 17
Type of runner: Everyone from college boys to the seasoned elite seem to love this shoe, this sequel Brooks PureProject has built up a vast following in NYC.

Nike Air Pegasus

No. 13 - Nike Air Pegasus+ 29

Times spotted: 17
Type of runner: Intermediate-to-elite level runners, mostly male went for this shoe, a model that is much talked about among Nike elite athletes.

New Balance 890v2

No. 12 - New Balance 890v2

Times spotted: 18
Type of runner: Young women love this shoe. The colors are great, it looks fast, and they are a super light model. A quintessential summer runner found it's way onto our list with a whooping 18 sightings, mostly in the bright yellow colorway (not pictured).

Saucony Hurricane 14

No. 11 - Saucony Hurricane 14

Times spotted: 18
Type of runner: Intermediate level runners, more women than men went for the Hurricane. Overall, women seemed to pick up Saucony more then men in Central Park.

Brooks Launch

No. 10 - Brooks Launch

Times spotted: 19
Type of runner: Mostly middle-aged men with a lot of miles under their belt sported this classic looking Brooks model.

Asics Gel Nimbus 15

No. 9 - Asics Gel Nimbus 15

Times Spotted: 21
Type of Runner: Seasoned runners and older guys looking to get back into shape this summer sprung for the Nimbus, a dependable looking shoe.

Asics Gel Kayano 19

No. 8 - Asics Gel-Kayano 19

Times spotted: 21
Type of runner: A wide range of runner types, mostly beginner-to-moderate level love this shoe as they've probably owned a previous version of the Kayano series and stuck with it.

Mizuno Wave Elixir 7

No. 7 - Mizuno Wave Elixir 7

Times spotted: 22
Type of runner: Seasoned runners, mostly male looking to flaunt their stripes this season.

Asics GT2000

No. 6 - Asics GT2000

Times spotted: 25
Type of runner: Mostly young-to-middle aged men, with a few female runners sprinkled in here and there went for this dependable runner.

"The GT-2000 is a hybrid of sorts. It's the perfect shoe for someone who needs the support and stability, just in a more lightweight package." -Super Runner's Shop

Brooks Ghost 5

No. 5 - Brooks Ghost 5

Times spotted: 25
Type of runner: The older set latched on the Ghost 5 running shoe from what we noticed in the park.

At NYC specialty running stores, many employees mentioned this shoe as a best-seller not just for Brooks, but overall, across all brands. They attribute this to the fact that the Ghost is a neutral running shoe with the ideal amount of cushioning. That's what we call an easy sell.

Brooks Glycerin 10

No. 4 - Brooks Glycerin 10

Times spotted: 30
Type of runner: This is a great shoe, and the smartest seem to know it. Everyone we saw in this shoe looked like they were some form of super nerd. Signifiers? Witty science themed tees, performance shades, and super technical socks.

It was a surprise to see so much of the Brooks Glycerin, though we get why. The shoe is made for multi-terrain use and fits like a glove. Both the Glycerin 10 and the 11 seem to be getting it done of Central Park runners.

Mizuno Wave Rider 16

No. 3 - Mizuno Wave Rider 16

Times spotted: 31
Type of runner: Everyone loves the Wave Rider, men and women, young and old. Most that we talked to had owned a previous model of the Wave Rider and plan to pick up the next one when the time comes.

The Mizuno Wave Rider 16 has mass appeal—not to mention a hell of a reputation for top-tier performance. Mizuno did an excellent job with branding the shoe and giving it a street-friendly look. Simply put, the Wave Rider 16 is one of those shoes you put on and all you want to do is run, forever.

Saucony Kinvara 3

No. 2 - Saucony Kinvara 3

Times spotted: 40
Type of runner: Another super popular shoe in the park, everyone loves the Kinvara from the super fit and fast (wait, was that another Kinvara?) to the beginners looking to improve.

The second best running shoe of all time also happens to be the second most popular running shoe at Central Park. Coincidence. Probably, but we like to think there's more to it. The Kinvara 3 is as pure a running shoe as they come. And despite the arrival of the latest model, runners have stuck with the 3.

Nike Free 3

No. 1 - Nike Free 3.0

Times spotted: 41
Type of runner: This shoe has a mixed fan base, mostly young-to-middle aged males and females can be spotted in this minimal Nike Free option. According to one runner: "I love the shoe's light weight and flexibility. Also, It was the closest shoes to the door this morning."

So there you have it, the most popular running shoe spotted in Central Park this summer was a Nike Free. This shouldn't come as a surprise as most consumers pick up a Free first to check out the flexible feel. Besides people love the way they look. After all, if there's one thing Nike knows, it's marketing. Just call it the "Summer of the Free."

"For support, stay away from Nike. Nike is all about being cute, they're not serious running shoes." - Anonymous