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On Cloudboom Strike: First Run in a Boston-Winning Super Shoe

The prototype that rocked the shoe head rumor mill is the Alphafly alternative we needed from On.
On Cloudboom Strike running shoe
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Today, the running shoe brand On launched its latest super shoe, the Cloudboom Strike. The shoe has just been announced, but it already has a major win under its belt with a pre-release win at the 2024 Boston Marathon on the feet of runner Hellen Obiri. Obiri took the hyper-fast shoes over the finish line in 2:22:37.

I had the opportunity to test the On Cloudboom Strike before its release. While the production version of the shoe I tested is slightly different than Obiri’s race shoe, it’s very similar. What follows are my first impressions of the latest super shoe to hit the marketplace.

Hellen Obiri and the On Cloudboom at the 2024 Boston Marathon

As Hellen Obiri, the Kenyan marathoner, crossed this year’s Boston Marathon finish line in first place for the second year in a row, many people were moved. Obiri, 34, is a mom who never envisioned herself as a marathon runner. She excelled in middle distance events before joining what was then an upstart track team, the On Athletics Club (OTC), when the brand barely had race shoes at all. Several club members shuttled the few prototype pairs of track spikes as carry-on luggage to international events like contraband. 

Since those ragtag days of the OTC’s founding, the team has pulled in other incredible runners. But Obiri still sets the team’s standard in the marathon. Yared Nuguse (United States), Ollie Hoare (Australia), and Geordie Beamish (New Zealand) — who, along with Obiri, live and train in Boulder, Colo. — are Olympics-bound in distance events from the 1,500 to the steeple. Obiri will be the sole team rep in the marathon. 

As she did in Boston this spring, Obiri will be wearing On’s new super shoe, the Cloudboom Strike.

On Cloudboom Strike running shoe
(Photo/Craig Randall)

In short: The On Cloudboom Strike is a full-fledged super shoe. It uses a highly rockered shape for fast running on your mid- to forefoot with a barely legal stack height for maximum energy absorption. The hybrid midsole that On calls “drop in construction” puts a ton of stack in the Pebax insole, which pairs with a carbon fiber speedboard.

On’s previous attempt at a super shoe — the Cloudboom Echo 3 — came with a disclaimer on the box that said: “Lifespan = good for four marathons.” Further testing and race usage will define the Cloudboom Strike’s longevity. Chances are it will exist in that rare air of supreme performance in a high-priced, highly disposable package.

With the Cloudboom Strike, On will finally rub elbows with super shoe stalwarts like Nike, adidas, and Puma. It gives consumers more choice for race-day footwear and positions the Swiss brand as a distinct, Olympic-grade rival. In Paris, we will have a chance to see how one of the sport’s best will compete in the Cloudboom Strike.

On Cloudboom Strike


  • Price $280
  • Available July 11, 2024
  • Midsole height 39.5 mm to 35.5 mm
  • Midsole drop 4 mm
  • Weight 210g (EU M 42), 169g (EU W 38)


  • Fast and fun — generating speed feels easier than it should
  • Beautiful ombre color is stylish
  • Unlike other super shoes that create a lot of noise, these are quiet against the ground
  • This adds another very competitive option beyond Nike and adidas that runners can use for superior race-day performance


  • My sample has extremely long laces that require many knots to keep out of the way
  • These are very expensive shoes, creeping close to $300

Cloudboom Strike ‘Palpably Different’

The promise of a super shoe is simple: speed, efficiency, and fresher legs. Like the aforementioned Nike Alphafly, just putting the Cloudboom Strike on your feet — without moving — elicits a proprioceptive feel that is palpably different from that of a standard running shoe. 

The mind and body connection is instantly tickled, too — within a few strides, your pace starts to lift and the incredible energy return keeps encouraging it. It’s the blessing and curse of testing a super shoe like this one; the gravitational pull to push yourself is immense — it’s very bad for running on your easy days, though it’s so fun. 

Let’s look at the details. 

But first, it’s worth noting that the consumer version of the Cloudboom replaces the unique all-white, one-piece, laceless upper that turned so many heads when Obiri dropped her rivals on Boylston Street. In its place, you’ll find a more conventional laced upper. So, don’t expect to see Obiri’s exact shoe when shopping for the Cloudboom.

On Cloudboom: Bending the Super Shoe Rules

If you haven’t been paying attention, World Athletics is the governing body for professional running. It is responsible for regulating footwear. 

Super shoes’ competitive advantage has meant that World Athletics imposes an evolving list of rules for the use of shoes in competition. One area that is strictly regulated is stack height, with a rule that permits no higher than 40 mm. The Cloudboom Strike just squeaks under that rule with a stack of 39.5 mm in the heel and 35.5 mm. It has 4 mm of drop. 

Many brands stay within the stack height limitations by maximizing the insole. By beefing up the insole, they provide a massive chunk of foam underfoot for cushion and rebound.

On Cloudboom Strike running shoe
(Photo/Craig Randall)

The Cloudboom Strike’s removable insole does this exactly. It adds a ton of cushion with what On calls “drop-in” construction. Just to see how much additional stack it adds, I pulled out the insole and put the shoe on top of it. This produced a shockingly tall shoe with something like 45 mm of stack.

To hide this rule-breaking volume, On maximized the stack height of the Pebax-Helium Hyperfoam layer. This is one piece in the pie of energy return — while staying within the regulatory framework. 

On Cloudboom Strike running shoe and insole
The thick midsole of the On Cloudboom Strike; (photo/Craig Randall)

There are two other critical pieces that make this shoe so fast. 

One is the full-length carbon fiber plate that sits inside On’s Speedboard. The Speedboard is familiar tech within On’s shoe lineup, but the Cloudboom Strike Speedboard uses carbon — not plastic — to boost the responsiveness at fast paces. 

Many of us find that the real benefits of super shoes go beyond speed are comfort, cushion, and recovery. On uses another one of its familiar technologies — Cloudtec — to achieve this. The Cloudtec channel system with a decoupled platform — higher in the rear — allows independent deformation and increased loading and release. It’s helpful for absorbing the ebbs and flows of a footstrike. 

Quieter Footstrike

If you’ve run in the Alphafly 3, you’re familiar with the whomp, whomp, whomp sound the shoe makes. It’s loud. Dogs leap out of your way in fear, and folks you pass double-take in confusion. Mercifully, the Cloudboom strike, despite its very Alphafly-like look and feel, is quiet and discreet on the road. 

I really hoped the production/consumer version of this shoe would have had the same upper as the one Obiri famously wore for the Boston Marathon (dubbed the “Cloudboom Strike LS Kuota”). But it’s likely that that shoe had some custom engineering specifically for her foot since it appeared to be laceless. It’s probably not conducive to a mass-market shoe.

The consumer version of the Cloudboom Strike has a one-piece, semi-transparent mesh, which is great for breathability. It’s incredibly handsome with its ombre colorway. On’s “cage system” leverages overlays to increase support in critical areas, and a specially molded heel fits perfectly.


The bottom line is that for marathon racing, this is a shoe that you must consider. The super shoe effect can be boiled down to this: It feels like you can lock in a faster pace than you’re normally capable of. You can just park it there like it’s cruise control. You’re going with the speed, not perpetually fighting for it. 

The Cloudboom Strike is expensive and designed for race day. But if you have the bucks and can use it more often, this is a shoe you’ll want to do your training in as well. 

It’s a toss-up between the Cloudboom Strike and the tried-and-true Alphafly 3 for my next races. This is a good problem to have!

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Craig Randall

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