Nike Lunar Racer 3 Review

The Nike Lunar Racer 3 is an interesting shoe that has the potential to be a versatile option for longer road races such as 10km, half-marathons and marathons. Unlike other marathon racing shoes they will likely suit a wide range of ability and pace levels.

The reason for that line of thinking is that the Lunar Racer is considerably more flexible and cushioned than other marathon racers such as the Adidas Adios 2 – which I’d generally recommend for those looking to run under or near three hours for the marathon.

Nike Lunar Racer 3

Nike Lunar Racer 3

In terms of flexibility, by the highly scientific measure of me bending them in half and twisting them side to side, I’d say they’re slightly more flexible out of the box than the Saucony Kinvara 4 – that said the Kinvara loosens up well over time. I’m not 100% sure what will happen to the Lunar Racer 3 after it has more than 100km on the clock – let me know if you do.

Who can run in this shoe?

The Lunar Racer strikes me as being a reasonable option for 3.30 down and perhaps even up to four hours at a pinch. They can be worn by the quicker marathoners too. I captured a local sub 2.20 runner in the Melbourne Marathon a couple of years ago wearing a previous version of this shoe. Are you wearing them for marathons? If so did they feel right for your pace and ability level?

Melbourne Marathon

It’s a light shoe, but very generously cushioned – too much so for maintaining feel for the ground or a snappy stride if you’re running on trails, grass or the track in my opinion. But on the unyielding hard surfaces that marathons usually involve it could be comforting to have that extra cushion under foot.

Good choice for heel-strikers

I’m not one to advocate that one foot contact posture is better or worse than another, but it’s an indisputable fact that the majority of runners do make contact heel first. Heel-striking doesn’t stop you running fast as I discussed in a previous post.

A lot of shoe marketing spin talks about having a good ‘heel-toe transition’ and I must admit I don’t really know what that means, but I did notice that heel-striking in the Lunar Racer felt pretty comfortable. I’m almost convinced that heel-striking in the Lunar Racer felt better than running with a forefoot running pattern.

Snug fit, Flywire & profile

They fit snug – especially through the forefoot so if you’re worried about or need a lot of room upfront then perhaps this isn’t the shoe for you. I can just squeeze in, but only because the upper is a loose weave and flexible type of material that stretches to the shape of my wide forefoot.

Nike Lunar Racer 3 Review top

I noticed the Flywire less in these than I do in the Free 5.0 where I think it’s a bit of an unnecessary addition to a shoe not designed for speed work – usually in shoes made for faster running a more ‘locked-down’ feel is desirable.

I did make sure I loosened the laces on my Lunar Racers from the bottom to the top so I could maximise room for my foot – this takes the tight Flywire feel away somewhat, so it’s worth trying them on with laces loosened-up when in the store.

At a 7mm drop they’re not super flat but feel a bit flatter (as you’d expect) than the 10mm drop Adios 2. I’ve not yet had the chance to check out the new Boost version to compare the feel of the ramp.

Nike Lunar Racer 3 Review Sole


I had a pair of the first iteration of these shoes and I didn’t love them, even though they developed a good following at the time. They were ok without blowing my mind, but I have to say version 1 was the most comfortable pair of gardening shoes I ever owned.

This latest iteration has a bit more stiffness and spring than the original, which is a good thing in a shoe designed for racing. The upper is also much nicer in this version than the plastic feeling original. A bit more coverage for the sole should also help with wear but I wouldn’t expect this shoe to last as well as a regular trainer.


Overall I like this shoe and I’m pretty convinced it’ll suit a wide range of runners in the marathon and other road racing events. Keep it for faster running and racing on harder surfaces where it’ll do it’s best work.

As ever I’m keen to hear feedback on what you think. Have you run in the Lunar Racer 3 and what were your experiences? Send me a tweet or drop a comment below.

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4 Responses to Nike Lunar Racer 3 Review

  1. bob October 4, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    I’m glad somebody admitted that they don’t know what “good heel to toe transition” means. I don’t either. It’s another one of those things that gets repeated unthinkingly.

    • Brian October 4, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

      Thanks Bob, it’s one of many overused industry sound bites.

  2. Thor Saunders October 3, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    Hi Brian
    Has the addition of the flywire added any upper support? I was reccommended the first version of this shoe and found the extra cushioning combined with the unsupportive upper exaserbated ankle issues I was having at the time.

    • Brian October 3, 2013 at 10:25 am #

      G’day Thor. Yep the Flywire will lock you down a bit more than the first version of these and the cushioning is firmer and less prone to collapse so overall a more stable shoe. Probably not one to rush into doing a lot of miles in if you’ve got ankle problems.