They are called "triathletes," some say, because they'll "tri" anything that might shave a second or two off their race times -- no matter how far-fetched or astronomically priced. As triathlon participation has boomed, so has the market for pushing-the-envelope, swim-bike-run products that satisfy the insatiable need for speed. Some of them, such as the four below, actually work.
-- Roy M. Wallack
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No need for socks
Zoot Ultra Race running shoes: Minimalist, ultralight racing shoes designed for speedy, sock-free, bike-to-run transitions and less fatigue in long, hot events.
Likes: Fast, comfortable, effective. The seamless interior won't chafe bare feet, so you don't need to put on socks, saving at least 10 to 15 seconds. Drainage holes in the soles keep the shoes close to their feathery 9 ounces, minimizing the speed-sapping puddling up and weight doubling that occurs when you dump cups of water over your head at aid stations.
Dislikes: Slow runners who heel-strike may not like the lack of cushioning in the heel. (But the shoes are fine for fast runners who land mid-foot or forefoot.)
Price: $130. (760) 477-2299; www.zootsports.com.