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REVIEW: Putting the Mizuno Wave Rider 16 to the Ultimate Test, Running the Marathon

Category: Running (neutral)
Best For: All Season Running, Pronators with a fast pace.
Key Feature: Mizuno’s legendary Wave Plate technology
Weight: 10 ounces

The Wave Rider 16’s most notable difference from its predecessor is the eye-catching new look. Starring the Mizuno logo against sunburst-inspired bonded seams on a mesh upper, the 16 looks smoother than any of the previous editions.

From my previous chat with Mizuno’s Product Director of Running, Rod Foley, I knew this was to be expected from the brand. Mizuno has rolled out a new edition of the Wave Rider every year since its debut in 1997, making major changes (like the jump from the original to the second edition, which introduced the Wave Plate technology) every few years with slight updates to the upper sprinkled in between. Along with a new look, the 16 comes in a lighter frame at 10 ounces.

Wave Rider fans are a minimal bunch (when it comes to the upper), opting for “just what you need and nothing more” packed into a smooth ride and comfortable fit. The traditional build supports light pronators to neutral runners as they transition from heel to toe with just a touch of medial support. The combination of Smoothride Engineering, Dynamotion Fit, and Mizuno Wave plate midsole technology make for a fresh-to-death combo, an occasional feat in the performance shoe world.

Deciding to put the WR16 to the ultimate test, I laced them up the morning of the Pittsburgh Marathon, after training in them for about a month. As is the case with most races, the first half flew by without a thought about my shoes. Around mile 18, fatigue forced me to focus again on the finer points of the Wave Rider. As a mid-foot striker that tends to revert back to my heel-striking ways on longer runs, the heel-to-toe transition is super smooth and great for tackling hills on the incline or rapid decline. Sweaty toes benefit from the breathable mesh, as did arches (nothing feels better than wind between your toes around mile 22), and the padded heel offers subtle comfort.

If you prefer a larger toe box, the Wave Rider 16 is a great choice for short to middle distance runs, especially at a fast clip. But if you’re sensitive to things touching your toes during longer distances, you may want to try out a shoe with less of a heel to toe drop or a larger toe box.

Bottom Line: The Mizuno Wave Rider 16 is an excellent pick for slight pronators or neutral runners that are looking for a comfortable, effective running shoe—no fuss, no frill. Side-stepping market gimmicks for distracting features it can bounce! It can bend! It’s a Shapeshifter! It’s made of Flubber! Mizuno stays true to its roots, continuing to improve upon their most successful running shoe, the Wave Rider.

Calvy Click is the Editor-in-Chief of Sneaker Report. When she isn’t writing about performance footwear and apparel, you can find her running around Manhattan to Rick Ross anthems. 

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  • Eric

    I was wondering if you had any recommendations for shoes with less heel/toe drop and a larger toe box. Other than going to the extreme of zero drop shoes, I am having a hard time finding something them. Thanks.

  • Eric

    I was wondering if you had any recommendations for shoes with less heel/toe drop and a larger toe box. Other than going to the extreme of zero drop shoes, I am having a hard time finding something them. Thanks.

    • hannuzzo

      maybe try the new Mizuno Wave Sayonara: they feature I believe 9mm drop and an especially large toe box is reported.

  • primotapia

    I’ve been putting a ton of mileage on my Elixir 7s but have noticed that my feet tend to ache on longer 10+ mile runs. Do you think the Wave Riders may remedy this?

  • JayeWonder

    These shoes seem to do the trick. Got them for 66 bucks so I guess I can’t expect but so much!

  • Lkrisp

    Has anyone had the experience of these shoes breaking down quickly? I bought a pair and loved them put probably 150 miles on them and then my ankles started to ache when I ran. Bought a new pair and they felt great – no ankle pain.