SPRING SHOE BUYER’S GUIDE

ROAD- RUN­NING SHOES ARE LIGHTER: ONLY THREE OF THE SHOES WE’VE TESTED THIS SPRING WEIGH MORE THAN 300G, AND SEVEN WEIGH LESS THAN 250G. THAT’S BE­CAUSE BRANDS SUCH AS UN­DER AR­MOUR HAVE MADE SHOES FROM THIN­NER, STRONGER MA­TE­RI­ALS, AND OTH­ERS SUCH AS PUMA HA

Runner's World South Africa - - Contents - BY RYAN SCOTT

Our team of wear - testers put the lat­est mod­els through their paces on roads around the coun­try, to help you find your per­fect pair.

New Bal­ance Sonic Fuel Core R2 200

It’s an all-new de­sign and look from New Bal­ance. Most no­tably, the new BOA fit sys­tem takes the place of tra­di­tional lac­ing, much like the Puma Disc sys­tem we saw re-in­tro­duced in 2016. Tight­en­ing and ad­just­ing the sys­tem for a spe­cific fit hap­pens with a few click­ing ro­ta­tions to lock the foot down se­curely and com­fort­ably, via an over­lay strap. (The two re­lease mech­a­nisms, at 180° departures from each other, were a lit­tle less user-friendly.) The rest of the shoe’s im­pres­sive per­for­mance is rem­i­nis­cent of the NB Vazee Pace; so fans of that shoe will def­i­nitely en­joy this new op­tion, which is also good for per­for­mance train­ing over all dis­tances.

weight: 243g

“TRA­DI­TIONAL TRAIL SHOE BRANDS SUCH AS SALOMON AND HOKA NOW HAVE ES­TAB­LISHED ROAD SHOES.

Skech­ers GOmeb Speed 4 R1 849

Firm and fast, the GOmeb Speed 4 is best suited to tempo runs and road races – though if you’re an ef­fi­cient run­ner like Meb Ke­flezighi, you can get away with rac­ing a marathon in it. To cre­ate a snappy, go-fast feel­ing, Skech­ers uses a ther­mo­plas­tic plate em­bed­ded in the mid­sole foam. That’s un­changed from the ear­lier ver­sion, but just about ev­ery­thing else you see has been up­dated. The up­per is now flat-knit with hot-melt yarn, to pro­vide a se­cure, com­fort­able fit. And the sole is no longer the pil­lar de­sign that has marked Skech­ers shoes since their launch. In­stead, the sole makes full ground con­tact and has a durable, 2mm-thick web of rub­ber for trac­tion on the heel and fore­foot. weight: 192g

Skech­ers GORUN 5 R1 499

Skech­ers stuck with ‘4’ as the model num­ber for two years, be­cause tweaks to the last ver­sion were too mi­nor to war­rant a new digit. This year, some smart up­dates have re­fined the fit and un­der­foot feel of an al­ready sound shoe. An up­dated cir­cu­lar-knit up­per brings the ma­te­ri­als closer to the foot, while am­ple vent­ing lets the shoe breathe – much as we’re see­ing with all of the en­gi­neered-mesh up­pers. Testers raved about the fit, which re­mained com­fort­able even at the end of a long run, when feet are swollen. The bot­tom of the shoe also has a new look, with a thin web of rub­ber re­plac­ing the pods of ear­lier mod­els. This gives the shoe more sur­face con­tact with the pave­ment. weight: 213g

Salomon S- Lab Sonic 2 R2 599

This sea­son we’re tak­ing note of Salomon’s new Vibe tech­nol­ogy, which – like com­pres­sion socks – is aimed at re­duc­ing mus­cle vi­bra­tion, to help avoid in­jury; but at the same time, it in­creases energy re­turn. This hap­pens in the mid­sole, where soft, light­weight Opal cush­ion­ing in­ter­acts with springy En­er­gyCell ma­te­ri­als. This is also the first Salomon shoe to in­clude a geo­met­ric de­cou­pling mech­a­nism, which helps with a smoother ride as your foot tran­si­tions. End­ofit tech­nol­ogy has been used to cre­ate a light, un­com­pli­cated up­per, which of­fers high-per­for­mance road run­ners a se­cure fit. Testers found the Sonic best suited to nar­rower feet.

weight: 216g

Salm­ing En Route R2 720

The name may be brand-new in South Africa, but this Swedish com­pany has been build­ing shoes for court sports such as touch rugby and squash for a long time. Now they’ve turned to cre­at­ing un­struc­tured, low-to-the-ground, firm and light­weight run­ning shoes – such as the racy Salm­ing Race 5, for PB-chasers. This new En Route model has a more main­stream form than some of the ear­lier Salm­ing road shoes, with a soft heel and plas­tic tor­sion unit in the mid­foot for added struc­ture. The mid­sole fea­tures Salm­ing’s ver­sion of a bouncy EVA. For a train­ing and long-dis­tance shoe, it’s light­weight, and the thin up­per helps keep the foot cool.

weight: 255g

Brooks Launch 4 R2 149

A peppy daily trainer from Brooks, the Launch has a firm heel and flex­i­ble fore­foot that en­ables you to run fast when the mood strikes. This up­date has more blown rub­ber in the fore­foot than the pre­vi­ous ver­sion, de­liv­er­ing a softer (and qui­eter) land­ing, while also shav­ing off some weight. An ex­tra flex groove up front makes the shoe bend much more eas­ily for a shoe this thick, which helps make the move­ment from heel to toe-off a lot smoother, and more ef­fi­cient and ag­ile. The tran­si­tion area of the shoe has a rigid, X-shaped band of rub­ber, which pro­vides tor­sional rigid­ity. weight: 218g

Asics FuzeX Lyte 2 R1 400

We’ve found a zippy shoe for those up­tempo days when you feel you need the shoes to match your speed, but which will still give you ver­sa­til­ity. The mid­sole and out­sole re­main largely un­touched from the first ver­sion, de­liv­er­ing mod­er­ately soft cush­ion­ing from heel to toe. The up­per, how­ever, gets a new mesh pack­age that wear-testers re­ported was roomy enough to re­main com­fort­able on long runs, but com­pli­ant enough to be pulled tight if you have a nar­rower foot. It’s not the tra­di­tional shape and struc­ture of the Asics shoes we know so well, but this change in shape – with a wider fore­foot, and very few sta­bil­ity fea­tures – will ap­peal to those look­ing to run on a va­ri­ety of sur­faces. weight: 258g

Puma Speed 300 Ig­nite 2 R2 000

The toe- off point of the Speed Ig­nite (which used to be the Faas 300 Speed) has always been a dis­tin­guish­ing as­pect of this shoe. When look­ing for a smooth tran­si­tion in the last point of con­tact with the run­ning sur­face, an ex­ag­ger­ated up­turn, like the one found in the Propul­sion Zone+ of this shoe, and a lit­tle less foam from the mid­sole, help to make the process more ef­fi­cient. A one-piece up­per and longer lac­ing area help lock the foot down; but testers us­ing both this shoe and the Ig­nite Netfit com­mented how use­ful the new lac­ing sys­tem would be, to give an even more spe­cific fit. To in­clude the word ‘Speed’ in a shoe’s name means it has to be light; this shoe ticks that box, weigh­ing in at just... weight: 220g.

“THE SPEED 300 IS LIKELY TO IN­COR­PO­RATE THE NETFIT SYS­TEM IN THE NEXT UP­DATE.

“THIS WAS MY FIRST RUN IN REEBOKS – I’M LOV­ING THEM MORE AND MORE EACH TIME, IN­CREAS­ING DIS­TANCE FROM A CAU­TIOUS 5KM UP TO 15KM. – LISA ABDELLAH,

RW DEPUTY ED­I­TOR

Ree­bok Supreme Floa­tride R2 499

Ree­bok con­tin­ues its strong re­turn to per­for­mance run­ning with the all­new Floa­tride. The high­light here is an ex­cep­tion­ally bouncy and light­weight mid­sole. In re­cent years, ev­ery brand has been whip­ping up its own ver­sion of a high-energy-re­turn foam, and Ree­bok is call­ing its ma­te­rial Float Foam. In the lab, the shoe de­liv­ered in­cred­i­ble energy re­turn scores, on par with some of the most cush­ioned adi­das Boost shoes we’ve mea­sured. On the road, that trans­lates into a well-cush­ioned, re­spon­sive ride that makes you want to run fast. The up­per could use a lit­tle re­fine­ment, say some of our testers; the stretchy knit used in the front half of the shoe didn’t de­liver quite enough sup­port for a few of our run­ners. The moulded fab­ric in the back half, how­ever, does a good job of keep­ing your heel cen­tred over the mid­sole. weight: 260g

Un­der Ar­mour Thread­borne For­tis R2 199

The Thread­borne presents an up­per which re­minded us a lot of a nar­rower ver­sion of the ever-pop­u­lar Nike Free range. The idea is to let the shoe eas­ily take on the shape of the foot, rather than the other way around. The Thread­borne fab­ric is the finest knit we have ever seen on a shoe; it looks at­trac­tive, and con­trib­utes to the light­weight na­ture of the one-piece up­per. The lock­down at the lac­ing sec­tor of the mid­foot was the most com­fort­able of all those tested – this is due to fine ny­lon yarn, which has eye­lets that feel al­most part of the tongue. They in­te­grate with the in­ter­nal an­kle bootie to cre­ate a com­fort­able, snug wrap around the foot. weight: 268g

Hoka One One Clifton 4 R2 150

The Clifton, which has be­come a light­weight train­ing shoe and rac­ing op­tion as well as a long-run shoe for a lot of high-mileage run­ners, has un­der­gone a com­plete over­haul. One re­sult is that it looks sleeker – most no­tice­ably due to a line of paint on the mid­sole that makes the shoe look like it’s closer to the ground, giv­ing the appearance of a more tra­di­tional shoe. The foam has changed too: you may sense a firmer ride un­der­foot. Hoka One One has tried to make this shoe more durable, so it won’t crush out as much as ear­lier ver­sions did – yet ev­ery tester who picked up the shoe was sur­prised at how lit­tle it weighed. weight: 263g

Un­der Ar­mour Charged Ban­dit 3 R1 999

At first glance, the light­weight look of the Ban­dit gives the im­pres­sion that it won’t de­liver much cush­ion­ing, but the firm heel and fore­foot are very soft, and the new dual-den­sity-charged mid­sole helps with a smooth tran­si­tion to toe-off. The third ver­sion of the shoe is even lighter than the last, and it keeps the foot locked down with foot-form-hug­ging SpeedForm fab­ric and an ex­ter­nal heel counter. For such a good­look­ing shoe, it’s a pity the plas­tic heel cup needs to be so prom­i­nent, as it de­tracts from the aes­thet­ics of the shoe while do­ing its job of se­cur­ing the foot. A full cov­er­ing of high­abra­sion-re­sis­tant rub­ber on the out­sole adds some ro­bust at­tributes where you need them most on a shoe. One last change is the pro­file, which has dropped from 10mm to 8mm from heel to toe. weight: 260g

Brooks Ravenna 8 R2 299

The Ravenna has long been a mod­er­ately sup­port­ive and cush­ioned shoe, ca­pa­ble of han­dling both long runs and tempo runs with ease. This year, Brooks is la­belling it as one of its ‘En­er­gize’ shoes, rec­om­mend­ing it as the sta­bil­ity sis­ter shoe to the Launch (see page 51). The shoes now share a num­ber of sim­i­lar­i­ties, such as 5.5mm of blown rub­ber in the fore­foot for a softer ride and springier toe-off, and an X-shaped patch of rub­ber in the mid­foot that smooths the gap be­tween heel and fore­foot. A new air mesh is more breath­able than pre­vi­ous ver­sions, but the up­per still has plenty of struc­ture to hold the foot steady, thanks to an ad­justable strap that locks into the laces. weight: 297g

“YES, THE WORD ‘ CLIFTON’ IN THE NAME OF HOKA ONE ONE’S FLAG­SHIP SHOE REFERS TO THE CAPE TOWN BEACH - A FAVOURITE OF HOKA FOUNDER NI­CO­LAS MERMOUD.

Asics GT- 2000 5 R2 300

We were ex­cited about the di­rec­tion the GT-2000 4 took a year ago; and given that the mid­sole and out­sole are un­changed, we like the fifth it­er­a­tion of this se­ries too. “Long-time lovers of the 2000 will love this one,” says Rizqa Campa, a 45-year-old tester from BoKaap, who has run in ver­sions of the GT-2000 since 1996. “It has always been a sta­ple of my run­ning. The shoe isn’t any­thing fancy, which is good for me, but it pro­vides all-round good sup­port, and is com­fort­able for pound­ing out the kilo­me­tres.” Other testers echoed those sen­ti­ments, and praised the shoe’s com­fort. A seam­less, breath­able up­per wraps the foot smoothly.

weight: 277g

“BEST FOR OVERPRONATORS - WHEN FOOT LANDS ON OUT­SIDE OF HEEL, THEN ROLLS IN­WARD EX­CES­SIVELY, TRANS­FER­RING WEIGHT TO IN­NER EDGE IN­STEAD OF THE BALL OF THE FOOT.

Sau­cony Ride 10 R2 400

“The Ride 10 has a great com­bi­na­tion of cush­ion­ing and flex­i­bil­ity, and is still light­weight,” says Bill Har­ris, a fast masters run­ner from Pretoria. “As a re­sult, I found the shoe to be very ver­sa­tile for all-round use; able to slog out a win­ter long run, but also up to the task of toe­ing the line for a 10-K race.” That’s ex­actly the kind of ex­pe­ri­ence Sau­cony was shoot­ing for in this up­date – it fo­cuses on the un­der­foot ex­pe­ri­ence, and im­prov­ing the fit of the up­per. Sau­cony re­moved the sec­ond layer of Land­ing Zone foam and up­graded the mid­sole foam. In the lab, we found both ar­eas to be a bit firmer than be­fore, but it still of­fers plenty of cush­ion­ing with­out sac­ri­fic­ing re­spon­sive­ness. We also found the shoe far more flex­i­ble, which a num­ber of testers noted pos­i­tively in their as­sess­ments. The up­per now fea­tures an en­gi­neered mesh in the fore­foot that can ex­pand a lit­tle to ac­com­mo­date wider or swollen feet – both of which are com­mon at the end of a long road run.

weight: 280g

“A NEW RE­QUIRE­MENT FOR MANY IS VER­SA­TIL­ITY. THIS STARTS WITH LIGHT WEIGHT AND IN­CLUDES EASY ADAPT­ABIL­ITY TO DIF­FER­ENT SUR­FACES, AS IN THE RIDE 10 AND THE ADI­DAS PURE BOOST DPR.

Nike Air Zoom Pe­ga­sus 34 R2 000 The lat­est it­er­a­tion of the Pe­ga­sus, the Nike Air Zoom Pe­ga­sus 34, fea­tures a de­sign in­spired by Olympic cham­pion Mo Farah. The orig­i­nal shoe was a 1983 vin­tage, which makes it the same age as Mo! The nos­tal­gia just keeps on com­ing with the waf­fle-lug out­sole that char­ac­terises Nike’s her­itage. Zoom Air units in the rear­foot and fore­foot, the Fit­sole sock­liner, and the Cush­ion Foam mid­sole cre­ate the soft, re­spon­sive ride so many look for in this shoe. There were big changes from ver­sion 32 to 33, but only one ma­jor change from ver­sion 33 to 34 – the one-piece en­gi­neered mesh up­per is a full re-de­sign, and is kept locked down at the mid­foot by the Fly­wire lac­ing sys­tem. It’s also a lit­tle lighter, at... weight: 283g.

New Bal­ance 880 V7 R2 200

Wear-testers gave this do-it-all daily trainer high marks for cush­ion­ing, com­fort, fit and ride. Much of that is at­trib­ut­able to the ex­tremely soft heel and bendy fore­foot. Credit bet­ter seg­men­ta­tion of the out­sole rub­ber and deep flex grooves in the mid­sole for the im­prove­ment in flex­i­bil­ity. “I found the 880 to be a mix of two of my favourite shoes,” said An­drew Pes­tana, a PhD stu­dent from Beth­le­hem. “They fit snugly and were flex­i­ble like my Mizuno Wave Rid­ers, while also pro­vid­ing the sup­port and cush­ion­ing of my Brooks Glyc­erins.” weight: 314g

adi­das Su­per­nova ST R1 999

The Su­per­nova ST re­places the Su­per­nova Se­quence in adi­das’ per­for­mance run­ning line. It’s the sta­bil­ity sis­ter to the Su­per­nova; a plush, neu­tral shoe. And just like that model, the ST has a boat­load of Boost un­der the foot for a soft run. But we’ve no­ticed it’s nowhere near as marsh­mal­lowy-soft. The ST is a fair bit firmer in both heel and fore­foot, giv­ing you a se­cure, sta­ble ride. The sta­bil­ity comes via a few fea­tures: first, the EVA rim that lines the top edge of the shoe is ex­tended fur­ther back on the me­dial (in­ner) edge, past the arch and un­der the heel. And the heel counter is shaped to give a lit­tle more sup­port on the me­dial side. Fi­nally, the mid­sole is more dense where you’d typ­i­cally find a me­dial post – they’ve packed more Boost into the in­ner edge of the shoe, un­der your heel and arch. That cre­ates a smoother sen­sa­tion, so you won’t even no­tice the sta­bil­is­ing com­po­nent is there. weight: 326g

Puma Ig­nite Netfit R2 600

Netfit is Puma’s new tech­nol­ogy. It im­proves the fit of the shoe via a fish­net­like struc­ture that wraps around the en­tire up­per. The cool thing about it is that you can tweak the lac­ing, al­low­ing you to dial in your fit – and the com­bi­na­tions are end­less. Fore­foot too wide for you? Bring the laces down and thread them into the lower eye­lets, to take up some vol­ume. If you need more sup­port from the up­per, bring the laces down a lit­tle fur­ther and pull them tighter on the in­side. Heel slip­page? Bring the top laces back a lit­tle fur­ther, and then tighten and pull up through the heel. The out­sole is made of Ig­nite foam, which was in­tro­duced last year. When you bend it, it snaps back, so you get that lively toe-off. weight: 304g

“LAUNCHED THIS YEAR, THE NETFIT OF­FERS A MORE SPE­CIFIC AND PER­SONAL FIT – AND AN OP­POR­TU­NITY TO GET CRE­ATIVE WITH YOUR LAC­ING, TOO.

PHO­TO­GRAPHS BY JAMES GARAGHTY

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