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Kasumigaura Marathon 2016

When \\\\\\\"blustery\\\\\\\" wasn\\\\\\\'t even the right word. Read the race report here!

31st Marathon and my 6th Consecutive GCAM. Race report here.

 

Nike Zoom Speed Lite ST+ 3

Hot pink or fuchsia? I didn’t know the difference between the two so I looked this site up. Before we get into the review, a public service announcement: This is a ‘loud’ shoe. It’s as bright as the orangey Kinvara ViziPro . You’ll definitely be noticed.

With me gravitating towards lighter shoes, I was thrilled to be passed the Zoom Speed Lite (let’s shorten it to ZSL) a month ago by Nike Sales Malaysia’s Wan Ozairi. I promised him that I’d thrash the shoe, meaning I’d put it through a series of runs to really test it out.

So, what better than a long run the very next day. A 26K long run. It was a risk for sure to take new rubbers on a run that long but I figured if the proverbial @hit hits the fan, I could always change shoes back at the car. Looping the bird park route provided me with that safety net. As it turned out, I had no problems with the ZSL even after extending the run to Hartamas and back.

Dont let the tapered forefoot fool you.

Don't let the tapered forefoot fool you.

Since the 26K, I’ve worn it for runs ranging from 10K to 23K in distance and having logged close to 100K in them, the ZSL is really staking a claim as my marathon shoe alongside the Kinvara and Brooks Pure Connect. While I wore the Kinvara during last month’s River Jungle Marathon, I’ve not taken the ZSL and the Pure Connect to the 30K point and beyond in training. Other than their lightness and loud colours, both shoes are quite different. If I could hasten a guess, the ZSL is a smidge heavier than the Kinvara and Pure Connect. I think my guess of 9oz won’t be far off. The ZSL is by far not a minimalist shoe. I reckon it still has a 9mm heel drop at least (I didn’t measure), as opposed to Kinvara and Connect’s 4mm.

Starting as always with the upper, you’ll notice that other than the thin webbing that wraps around the mesh which provides some structural integrity to the upper, there’s little else. A narrow piece of synthetic leather that runs down from the lace to the front of the shoe reminds me of that found on the Zoom Miler, Zoom Victory (point of note: the Victory wasn’t a low-profile shoe either but it was very firm), and Lunaracer 1. I’d prefer a heel section that’s less stiff though. I was initially a bit skeptical that the fit will be poor since the shoe appears to be very tapered at the toe area but it turned out to be not the case. In fact, the ZSL has more room for the toes than the Lunaracers will ever have. The ZSL’s tongue isn’t gusseted so do ensure proper fit when lacing up. I found that excluding the top-most eyelets gave me the most comfortable fitting.

A closer look at the fuse-inspired overlays.

A closer look at the fuse-inspired overlays.

The small medial post.

The small medial post.

The shoe’s midsole is dual density, with a tiny medial post. There’s also a TPU midfoot shank which I felt reduced the flexibility somewhat. You guessed it: I’d prefer that both the post and shank be removed. That’ll shave off another 1.5oz at least. But the masses will find the inclusion of both features helpful I suppose. Heel strikers will note the presence of a softer heel crash pad. Low profile Zoom Air unit in the heel section provides responsive cushioning for this segment of runners as well.

Zoom zoom!

Zoom zoom!

The outsole reminds me of the Zoom Elite of old. Check the next 2 photos out. The blue section of the forefoot outsole look similar, don’t they? Even the BRS1000 heel plug bear some similarities. Other areas of the outsole are made of blown rubber. The Zoom Elite was a favourite of many recreational racers. But as the series progressed and perhaps over-engineered, many felt that it was deviating from its roots of being a lightweight performance trainer. The 10oz (see how heavy it got?!) Zoom Elite 4 has since been replaced with the Lunar Elite. That’s a bit of history for you :) !

Now comes my take on the ZSL after some miles in them.

The positives

  • Reasonably lightweight, a wide range of folks could run in them. If they can get past the colours :)
  • Responsive.
  • I could land mid to forefoot rather easily despite the greater heel drop than say, the Pure Connect.
  • No problems going the distance. I will test them out during next Sunday’s 30K. After watching the 2011 Gold Coast Airport Marathon highlights I think Jason Hartmann, one of the pacers, wore the ZSL.
  • True to size. Surprisingly roomier in the forefoot than initially thought.

Could be better

  • Removal of the medial post and TPU shank but it’s a personal preference.
  • Lower heel to toe drop.
  • Another 1.5oz off the weight.
  • For some, the colour. The ZSL isn’t the only fuchsia coloured shoe in the current Nike collection in the country. The Zoom Spyder LT is also of similar colour but much much lighter and bare bones. In fact I think the Spyder is an awesome shoe but one that the masses can’t wear over 10K.

As I’ve mentioned the ZSL pretty much performed well. I felt a bit of rubbing, but no blistering, on my right archilles during the first run but after replacing my socks there wasn’t a problem. After a second 22K run, my right calf felt a little sore.

You can use a marker pen to write your PR timing on the reflective heel strip.

You can use a marker pen to write your PR timing on the reflective heel strip.

Nike’s racing shoes are uncommon on our shores. Let’s say you’re a Nike fan and are looking for a pair of fast shoes to race in. Your options would be the Zoom Streak XC 2 (not sold here however) for up to the 5K distance, the Zoom Spyder LT for up to 10K races. Anything longer you might want to consider the Lunar Elite. We’ve never seen the Katana on our shores, nor the Zoom Marathoner. The Lunaracer is also long gone. The Speed Lite is, in my opinion, positioned between the Spyder and Elite. Many will be able to wear it rather comfortably for quicker runs and races. It’s not easy to find the Speed Lite though. You’ll have to head to the Nike boutique at The Pavilion to test them out. While you’re there, do check out the Spyder LT too. I’ve since put in close to 100K in the shoes and up till this point, they have my recommendation.

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