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SHAPE Shoe Awards 2013

Saucony Kinvara 3

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Best for: Speed

At 6.7 ounces (nearly 2 ounces lighter than most running shoes), the Kinvara is a featherweight. The stretchy upper hugs your foot, which made one tester feel "nimble and agile." A staffer training for a half marathon called it her "favorite speed workout shoe." ($100;

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Asics Gel-Kayano 19

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Best for: Distance

Set your sights on a marathon? Here's your training partner. Firmer foam at the arch of the midsole prevents feet from rolling in too much (overpronating), halting joint pain. Despite the stability, there's no bulk here—our runners called the Kayano "super-light" and "flexible." ($150;

Merrell Mix Master Move Glide

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Best for: Minimalists

Manufacturers claim this design (the heel and forefoot are nearly even) promotes a natural stride that improves your pace—and our testers agreed. The "crazy-breathable" upper makes this shoe ideal for warm temps. ($95;

Adidas Energy Boost

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Best for: Cushioning

Conquer concrete in these sneaks. The midsole is made up of air-filled capsules that absorb impact and improve energy return. During long sessions, the well-ventilated upper eliminates blister-causing hot spots. ($150,

Brooks Cascadia 8

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Best for: Rugged paths

Confidently scramble over rocks or barrel down a slick hillside—the toothy outsole keeps you steady. A plastic layer under the midsole and the durable upper protect your feet from sticks, stones, and snags. ($120;

The North Face Hyper-Track Guide

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Best for: Mixed terrain

With "flexibility in all the right places" and a seamless upper, this shoe feels comfy right out of the box. The outsole's rubber pods increase traction, and nearly every tester praised the high arch for supporting their feet mile after mile. ($120;

Nike Free TR Fit 3

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Best for: Multitasking

Even though testers said this shoe "feels like going barefoot," they were pleasantly surprised by its cushioning and stability. Rubber pods at the heel and forefoot absorb shock and provide grip indoors and out. Plus, the stretchy mesh upper cradles your arch to keep your foot stable. (from $95;

Reebok Dance UR Lead Mid

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Best for: Dance classes

Bust a move in these leather and mesh high-tops. The outsole's pivot point (that blue circle) makes it easy to change direction and spin, while its deep grooves improve flexibility. When you catch some air, the midsole softens the impact, and the heel collar supports wobbly ankles. Bonus: The style looks retro-cool! ($85;

Ecco Biom Lite

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Best for: Everyday wear

Testers declared this "slipper-like sneaker," which comes in seven color options, perfect for errands around town. The super-thin outsole provides great grip—even on damp sidewalks—and reportedly increases the workload on foot muscles. But the slim design has another perk: This shoe easily packs down, making it ideal for travel. ($130;

New Balance 1765

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Best for: Walking workouts

Move quickly for miles in this sleek roadster. The "awesome heel cushioning" and breezy mesh upper keep your feet happy when you pick up the pace. On longer outings, you'll appreciate the arch-side support that stops feet from rolling inward—even when you're tired. ($120;

Mizuno Wave Rider 16

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Honorable mention for: Running

The soft upper creates a glove-like fit. "I could wear these all day," said one tester. When you're pounding the pavement, a wave-shaped plate in the midsole works like a car's suspension to disperse impact. ($115;

Salomon Sense Mantra

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Honorable mention for: Trail running

Quick-pull laces result in a fantastic fit that makes this shoe feel like "second skin," enthused one tester. And although the Mantra is bendy enough for skirting obstacles, it offers ample support too. ($120;

Rykä Influence

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Honorable mention for: Cross-training

Cardio queens praised this shoe's breathability, while boot-camp devotees raved about its stable feel. Control comes from a pronation-preventing post at the arch and the overlapping design of the upper—both keep your foot locked down. ($80;

Prospecs Power 405

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Honorable mention for: Walking

Those funky pink bars between the mid- and outsole compress and expand as you walk, cushioning impact and adding a welcome spring to your step. "This shoe made power-walking more fun," said one tester. ($150;