Category Archives: Running Shoes
The NUC is happening this weekend. Standards are raised for this year’s edition – its 2nd year running – and to qualify for the finisher swags, one would have to tackle at least 50K. I’ve only gone up Nuang once (Trans Nuang epic recap here) and that was achieved in a totally different condition than presently. The terrain was impossibly slick with deep ruts on the ground cut by heavy rainfall ready to trap some poor ankles.
Now that we’re deep into a drought season with temps nudging at 40 Celcius everyday, the same paths up the 530m CP will be bone dry. The ruts will still be there and it will be hard going for most runners. There’s also a chance of bush fires, reported over the last few days. Other than staying well hydrated, carrying too much additional weight won’t make sense. One would already be working against the harsh weather and long and challenging ascent/descent afterall. It was with those considerations in mind that I thought about what shoes I should be going with. For awhile I thought of sacrificing a little efficiency by going with the Fellraiser but after sleeping on it for a few nights, I’m beginning to feel that taking that beast out on Sunday would be akin to bringing a howitzer into an urban warfare setting.
The choice naturally narrowed down to 2 low-drop shoes. One is light, has great cushioning, roomy toebox and 4mm drop. The other has a touch less cushioning resulting in a more responsive ride, possesses a roomy toebox, 4mm drop and aggressive lugs. And those 2 shoes would be the Wildhorse and GObionic Trail. They go well with my favorite Drymax socks too. I believe they should excel on the dry trails and therefore would accompany me to Nuang.
My gear’s all packed which is quite an easy thing to do since I’m keeping everything simple, and it does get easier as one does more of such long haul events. The drive to Pangsun will be very early since the race starts 6:30am. I’ll need to catch some good sleep these few nights.
If you’re going to Nuang this weekend, be it to run or to support, don’t hesitate to scream, “You worm!” and go all Gunny on me. I’ll need the extra shot in the arm to get me through hell, but go easy with the waterguns, ok?
The running shoe industry is indeed a strange one. Bare bone and minimalist footwear saw unprecedented growth over the last few years. Nearly every runner worth his shods know terms like offset, heel-to-toe drop, proprioception. Over the years, the term minimalist is generally used to describe shoes that have single digit drop numbers, flexible, lightweight and without superfluous gimmicks. Within that segment, there are shoes of many flavours from the relatively cushy (GOrun models, Virrata, Kinvara, Free) to the ones that offer firmer ride (like those by Merrell, Inov-8, and Skechers GObionic). The shoe market then sort of corrected itself over the last few months, and the term maximalist started to be bandied around. Read Pete Larsen’s good take on the whole thing here.
Skechers with their suitably named GOrun Ultra (GRU) fits into the thicker and cushier segment of shoes which maintains a reasonable amount of low offset, flexibility and lightweight qualities. Whether all that qualify the GRU as a maximalist, if there’s such a term, I’ll leave that debate to the marketers and experts.
It hasn’t been easy but over the last 2 years, Skechers have been gaining many fans with their light, low drop, flexible and responsive GOrun series. Other than the mentioned features, more importantly as a runner, I like how they fit my feet – roomy toe box that doesn’t pack my digits like sardines. Traditionally, the GOruns have always ride closer to the ground, with the exception of the GOrun Ride (GRR), Skechers’ thickest shoe prior to the Ultra. Even then the GRR’s stack height is lesser than the models produced by other shoe companies (see table below, measurements collated from Runningwarehouse). The Ultra now takes over the mantle as the thickest shoe in Skechers Performance inventory. How then does it match up with the rest of the mainstream shoes? How’s the ride? Is it stable? Does it slow down the wearer? Is it a shoe to run speedwork in? I’m a runner and chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re one too. Therefore you’ll be interested in how the shoe performs over brand because at the end of the day, would you rather run well or run injured?
While the GRU is designed to meet the demands of going long on the trails AND road, I see it primarily as a road shoe. There are several long road runs that I’ve signed up which would be perfect for the GRU. Just like for the GOrun 3, GOMeb Speed 2 and GOrun Ride 3, I opted to size up the GRU to US10 to allow for some foot swelling.
Visual rundown of the GRU will tell you that the shoe has been designed to follow a more conventional path, albeit with 65% more midsole. There are a little more overlays and plush padding to pamper your feet. The integrated tongue even looks similar to that of Salomon Fellraiser. A cursory look could in fact mistake the GRU for a Salomon. The GRU comes with a removable sockliner, which if used, will give the shoe an 8mm offset. Without it, the offset measurement is halved. It’s very important for the buyer to know if he/she will be wearing shoe with or without the sockliner as there are tangible differences in fit and sizing. If in doubt, go with the sockliner like I did.
The upper is constructed with 4-way stretch mesh which should allow plenty of room. The shoe laces are thicker than those found on the GOruns. They’re also stiff and a little too long as can be seen from the photo above, although I opted for parallel lacing instead of crisscross here. The full contact Resagrip outsole is given an aggressive treatment with large lugs which look like nuts screwed into the bottom. The outsole sits on top of a thick pillowy Resalyte midsole.
I logged a few runs in the GRU from 5K to 21K prior to Titi 50. The shoes felt great right from the start and concerns of the thick midsole messing up the gait was non-existent. The ride was exceptionally smooth and quiet. I kept thinking how this would be a Spec Ops operator’s ideal shoe. No one would hear you creeping up on them. In fact I tested this theory out and managed to surprise a few walkers at the park. Sorry! I noticed a teensy bit of heel slippage on my first run which could be attributed to the larger shoe but once I adjusted the lacing a little, it was no longer an issue. I also made sure that I ran over rocks, steel grating and grass. The GRU didn’t slip once and pretty much absorbed whatever harshness thrown its way. You could say that my feet felt pampered.
A 21K at Ammah Hill presented a longer test and again the GRU took it all in stride. Only when I pushed the pace towards the end of the long did I miss the responsive ride of the GOMeb Speed 2. You could still run fast in the GRU but I’ll say that a sleeker shoe will get that job done better.
The final test would be Titi, 50K over endless ascents and descents. As it turned out the GRU did well, certainly better than the wearer who bonked halfway through. Other than the usual tightness and soreness of the quads and calves, the soles of my feet still felt fine after the 50. Not a single hotspot and blister. No black toenails either. The thicker Drymax socks definitely worked well with the GRU. The outsole however took a bashing at the lateral heel area, with the foam nearly completely sheared off.
In wrapping up this post, I’d say that the GRU is the shoe to check out if you run plenty of miles and like the soft feel of shoes. It provides an ultra quiet and smooth ride in an upper that breathes and fits well. There are also shoes of similar traits out there but the GRU makes a stronger case for runners who like a bit more room in the toe box as well as a great fitting upper. Durability could be better since this is a high mileage shoe. Time will tell if Skechers will eventually add a bit more durability in this area for future GOrun models.
Disclosure: The Skechers GOrun Ultra is a media sample provided by Skechers Malaysia and the review was done after I’ve logged close to 100K in the shoes. The GRU is already available in Skechers stores in the country and retails for RM419 and RM399 for the men and women models respectively.
With several long runs coming up, I was keeping an eye out for shoes that offer some measure of comfort while retaining that roomy toebox and low heel offset, namely the GOultra and GOrun Ride 3. So when the WhatsApp message from Skechers showed a entirely different shoe, I was really caught by surprise.
I’ve seen several photos of Meb wearing the gold color version of the Speed 2 and thought it was only produced for him. Little did I know that the Skechers GOmeb Speed 2 New York Limited Edition (GS2) would be produced in very limited quantities worldwide, something like in the hundreds. In the ASPAC region, only 40 were allocated and you could say that I’m one lucky fella.
Essentially the GS2 shares the same GOspeed (review here) DNA. Fast, responsive and snug fitting. There are, however, small changes here and there that would make the wear experience a better one, IMHO. Let’s get on with it. Warning: There’s no unboxing video here because unlike GPS watches, the objective of a shoe review is merely to get it out of the box and start running in them. The proof is in the wear experience. I also don’t know how an “unboxing review” works. A post is either of an unboxing or a review. As far as I know, one can’t “review an unboxing” hahaha! Anyways, this isn’t an grammar blog because I do commit atrocious errors as well.
The upper sees the biggest changes. The open mesh and synthetic overlays have been replaced by thinly welded ones. The mesh is now more closed than the earlier version while the material used for the tongue is somewhat like neoprene, although I suspect it isn’t. Despite the closer stitching and construction, the shoe retains a large measure of breathability. I’ve worn the shoe a few times with no issues of overheating and hotspots. I’m looking forward to testing it out on a MP 30K.
The GS2 has a Resalyte midsole which I suspect has been re-tweaked to ride a little softer. It was apparent right from the moment you slide your foot in. The size of the DuPont Hytrel stability plate has been reduced and that probably contributed to the more forgiving experience. Another plus is in the area of flexibility which sees a welcome improvement. Finally, the outsole has the same number of sensors with the same placements of rubber plugs.
Now, here comes the big difference. I’ve had to go up a full size to US10 in the GS2. Fellow runner Nick also had to upsize, so I’d strongly suggest trying out the shoes before buying. Interestingly, as you can see from the following photos, the weight increase is only 0.2oz despite the full size increase (sockliners are not removable). Which means that, given the same size, the GS2 would probably be a shade lighter than the original.
I’ve only worn the GS2 for a couple of short runs and I can’t wait to take them longer. Over 10Ks, the shoe is still a fast ride, quite impossible to go slow in them, like strapping yourself in a performance car. It’s a lot more comfortable than the first version and very wearable for races up to the half marathon. I like a bit more cushioning in my shoes, and I’ve found that the original is a bit too stiff and hard for my liking. This version is just about right and I’m hoping it’s suitable for a slowpoke marathoner like me for the 42K. If you’ve worn and liked the original GOspeed, you’ll like the GS2.
Disclaimer: The Skechers GOmeb Speed 2 New York Limited Edition is a review pair kindly provided by Skechers Malaysia. Opinions stated are my own.
Up till 2012, the only trail shoe I’ve ever had was the venerable Brooks Cascadia 4 (review here). One thing led to another in 2013 and trail shoes starting jostling for precious space in my cabinet. They’re the Montrail Rogue Racer (review), Mountain Masochist, Skechers GOtrail (review), Asics Fuji Racer 2 (review), Fuji Attack 2 (review), Nike Zoom Wildhorse, Skechers GObionic Trail before coming to a halt with the Salomon Fellraiser. Other than the Skechers and Asics, the rest were out-of-pocket purchases.
Over the months, I’ve developed my personal favorites and I thought I’d share this with you. Do note that my selection below is based on several criterias:
- Lightweight (10oz and below)
- Lowdrop (10mm and below)
- Roomy toebox
Skechers GObionic Trail (GBT)
For quick and speedy runs, you won’t go wrong with the GBT. It’s got well spaced out lugs with adequate responsive cushioning that even had me wearing them on the road a few times. There’s no rock plate underneath so you’ll definitely feel the stones through the soles. Shortening your strides and staying nimble instead of simply pounding away will enhance your running experience. I’ve no complains on the fit and its lack of weight makes slogging uphill a little easier than if you’re wearing a heavyweight. I’ll be running in the GBT for Nuang Ultra Challenge happening this March.
Suggestion: None so far but the laces could be improved for easier lacing. My initial review of the GBT here.
Nike Zoom Wildhorse (NZW)
As good as the GBT is, I had some reservations about going with it for 100K. The purchase of the NZW was specifically made for purposes of TNF HK. Since I needed to know the characteristics of the shoe, if it could provide the cushioning and support for the ultra, I put it through the wringer. Did I learn a few things about the shoe!
Firstly, the NZW is unlike any mainstream shoes Nike has produced. Based on the Nike Free last, the NZW has a simple construction, is lightweight with a roomy forefoot plus a cushy ride in a 4mm drop package. There’s much to like about it except it’s traction. Adequate for mild single tracks and dry conditions, the shoe simply can’t handle wet and slick grounds. It drains well though. Despite hitting the deck so many times during the wet Trans Nuang, I went with it for my race shoe in Hong Kong. Underestimating the weather and terrain, I fell victim yet again, slipping and sliding down the later parts of CP4 which cost me precious time. The pointy foam lugs around the heel are too small and not aggressive enough to offer braking ability down a wet slope. In fair weather, however, the NZW is hard to beat.
Suggestion: Tweak the outsole. You can read my review of the NZW here.
Salomon Fellraiser (FR)
The FR was not intended to be a purchase mainly because Salomon shoes are typically constricted up front. That criteria ensured that the brand, despite its humongous popularity, will not find a place in my rotation. The FR is a bit different in that it has a roomier toebox and seemingly bottomless traction. The big discount offered at that time only served to nudged me into parting with just over RM300. Unlike the simpler construction philosophy adopted for the brand’s lightweight models like the S-Lab Ultra and Mantra, The FR is built like a tank. There’s much overlays and criteria like flexibility and weight are sacrificed for protection and tremendous degree of traction. If your confidence isn’t boosted just knowing the deep chevron lugs will keep you vertical, I don’t know what will. Indeed how quickly you scale or descend the hills and mountains will boil down to how well-trained you are. With the FR, the issue of grip will no longer exist. The question becomes, “Can you handle the terrain?”. All else being equal, the FR will provide that extra edge on slick conditions and over ultra distances. There’s a good amount of cushioning in the 7mm drop shoe as well. The downside, as mentioned, is the reduced flexibility, heavier weight (nudging 10.2oz for my size US10) and the ease with which trail debris enter the shoe.
Suggestion: Lose the thick tongue, simplify the upper, improve the gusset around the tongue.
The conclusion you can draw out of this post is that there’s no perfect trail shoe. Instead each has its own strengths and weaknesses depending on the trail and weather condition. Having more than a pair gives the runner better options and in some cases result in a safer run too.
Now that we’re into a new year, do you have any shoes that you’re really looking forward to?
Fall is finally in many parts of the world and major shoe companies are releasing weather resistant and high visibility versions of their popular models. Skechers chose the GOrun Ride 2 (GRR2) and GOwalk 2 to receive the photoluminescent (PL) treatment. According to Wikipedia, PL “describes the phenomenon of light emission from any form of matter after the absorption of photons”. From this you’d have correctly guessed that to activate the glow of the GRR2, you will need to expose the shoe to any form of light source – the stronger the exposure and longer the duration the better.The GRR2 retains largely its predecessor’s smooth and light ride traits, one which I very much like. Added to the fact that I do most of my runs in low light and dark conditions, this combo is too tempting to pass up.
As can be expected the GRR 2 Nite Owl is a very close replica of the GRR 2, with the exception of the upper mesh and of course the PL treated strips. Therefore I won’t talk much about the inherent characteristics except to point you to my review of the original GRR via the link below.
When Skechers Malaysia handed the GRR 2 Nite Owl to me, it was already too late to adopt it as my race shoe for the Men’s Health/Shape Night Run (race report). I wore the GOspeed aka GOmeb instead). The next opportunity came quickly enough when I felt confident enough to take it for a 24K first run in the Back 2 Endurance event. As recommended, I prepped the shoe by sunning it for a few hours the day before. The feel of the GRR 2 Nite Owl felt very similar to the original GRR (quick take here) and the shoe adequately absorbed the hard pavements of the Lake Gardens. However, the US9 prove to be slightly small, which is truly perplexing since I wear a similar size GRR. For some reason my toes were ramming the front of the Nite Owl and there were some measure of pain and discomfort that would result in some blisters under those nails.
As if to prove that marathoners can be a little hard headed, I wore them again for the Putrajaya Night Marathon (race report) albeit with thin socks. I noticed that the glow lasted for about 4 hours after 6 hours of light exposure during the day. Pretty decent return. I’ve since logged over 100K (including long runs of 24, 42 and 30Ks) in the GRR 2 Nite Owl and other than the personal sizing issue, I’ve nothing against the shoe. Go half a size up for me, and the problem will be solved. It’s after all based on the well received GRR and having good visibility added to it is a bonus to us who run under the moonlight. The photo above only manages to capture an approximate effect of the glow. For a better idea, head on to Happiefeet’s blog where he posted several better photos.
The GOrun Ride Nite Owl will be in-stores soon and will retail for RM429 for the men’s version and RM399 for the women’s version.
Disclaimer: The GRR 2 Nite Owl is a review pair kindly provided by Skechers Malaysia. Opinions stated are my own after over 100K logged in them.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Brooks Running Company Unveils the Ultimate Plush Ride that Tunes to Every Runner
The Brooks Transcend Revolutionizes How Runners Experience Stability and Cushioning
Seattle, Wash. – Aug. 2, 2013 – Brooks Running Company today unveiled the newest addition to its award-‐winning footwear line: the Transcend. Designed from the ground up based on runner insight and biomechanics, the Transcend delivers the ultimate smooth ride: cushioned, effortless, plush and completely tuned to you.
“During the development of PureProject and our efforts to define the Feel experience, we realized there are a number of runners who crave the opposite end of the spectrum, which we call Float,” said Jon Teipen, Brooks Footwear Product Line Manager. “Transcend is the first shoe that addresses this, driven by new technology that delivers a smooth ride with support that kicks in only when you need it, acting as a safety net that helps your body stay in a balanced position throughout the run.”
The Transcend is a traditional “support” shoe and complements the Brooks Adrenaline GTS, the best-‐selling shoe in the support category at Specialty Running Stores and the best-‐selling Brooks shoe across all channels for units sold this year, according to Leisure Trends. In addition, the Transcend enters the market at a time when the support category has wind at its back – as Leisure Trends measures it up 10 percent year-‐to-‐date in retail dollars sold across channels*.
The Transcend features five key technologies that work together to provide its unique ride:
- Super DNA – this advanced cushioning material provides the ultimate smooth ride that smartly adapts to your every stride.
- Guide Rails – specialized plates built into the midsole revolutionize traditional stability by allowing your hips, knees and joints to move along their unique motion path while you run – all without any traditional posts.
- Ideal Pressure Zones – transform the traditional idea of comfort by minimizing localized pressure evenly in the heel, midfoot and forefoot.
- Ideal Heel – aligns your stride naturally and easily.
- Plush upper – a combination of premium materials conforms to your foot for a custom, lush fit.
About Brooks Running Company
Brooks Running Company designs and markets running-‐specific performance footwear, apparel and accessories in more than 60 countries worldwide. Brooks’ mission is to inspire everyone to run and be active by creating innovative gear that keeps them running longer, farther, and faster. Brooks’ mission is supported by its Run Happy philosophy, a quest to celebrate and champion the sport of running and all runners everywhere. Brooks, founded 1914, is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and headquartered in Seattle, Wash.
For more information, please contact:
Brooks Running Company
Like many who have worn the shoe, I’ve found the Skechers GOBionic to be one of the most accessible and best fitting 0-4mm drop shoes out there. I’ve put the GOBionic from walkabouts to short runs up to 10K as part of continuous strengthening routine and I very much like the grey colour too. Now, the company has combined the trail design cues from the first generation of Skechers debut trail shoe, the GO Trail, with the GOBionic. However there are more GOBionic traits (such as the last, toe box design, tongue) than the GO Trail in the newly launched GOBionic Trail (GBT) – at least that’s how I see it. Nevertheless, the result presents a pleasant surprise for me, from the cosmetic to the wear experience.
All the good things we’ve come to know about the Skechers Performance range are still there – flexible and fast ride, low drop, wide forefoot and soft upper in a lightweight package. The upper design took a dramatic turn with the spider web-like tendrils glued to the top a honeycomb mesh upper. While the upper may not seem to be breathable, I can vouch that the opposite is true. The fluorescent yellow laces aren’t as easy to pull through the loops and I suspect they’re easily frayed but they don’t seem to irritate the top of the feet. The tongue of the GBT is gusseted and have very minimal padding, which really isn’t an issue. The same minimalist treatment extends to the padding around the collar and lack of a plastic heel counter. Remove the thin OrthoLite (anti-microbial to inhibit odor) sockliner and you instantly convert the 4mm drop to a zero. Naturally that changes the running dynamics as well in terms of ground feel. 4 reflective trims provide a measure of visibility.
The Resalyte mid and outsole appear to be a one-piece construction. The center arch section in the midsole is sculpted very nicely for weight reduction. 4 lugs occupy the outside of this section. Throughout the shoe, the lugs are spaced far apart from each other and as a result you won’t get pebbles lodged there. The tiny serrations on each lug provides very good traction on all the surfaces I’ve run on. The depth of each lug provided ample cushioning for a “Bionic”. I’d go so far as to say there’s a bit more cushioning on tap than the original GoTrail. With the barely there rock diffusion plates, running over mildly rocky terrain shouldn’t result in any yelps. Remove the sockliner and the feel would change, naturally.
I mentioned earlier that I love the fit of the GOBionic but as it’s more than my usual tolerance of minimalism hence my use of only up to 10K. If you ask me how the GBT feels like, I’ll ask you to imagine a build up and rugged version GOBionic. As a result, cushioning that leans more the firmer side is felt throughout the shoe. I was confident enough that after wearing the GBT to work on Friday, to take the shoe out for a spin on the road this morning. You read that right – road. Incidentally our regular route presented plenty of opportunities to get a little off-road of the milder kind. There were also some stretches of freshly dug up pavements where rocks, pebbles and sand were present. The GBT dealt with these comfortably enough and the rocks and stones were sufficiently dampened. Wearers of the Five Fingers and Merrell should have no issues with the GBT and should be able to take them to trail marathon distances if they want slightly more protection and cushioning. Wearers of 6-8mm shoes will have no problems for distances of 21-25K on the trail, longer if the trails are smooth.
Heel striking isn’t easy, nor comfortable, in these babies. Best way to enjoy as usual is to shorten and quicken your strides. Total distance covered was just short of 15K because everyone had an eye on the long run tomorrow. The shoe breathes very well so other than mileage clocked, I had no blisters to take home. If you’re looking for a trail shoe, the GBT is a big improvement over the GO Trail. The better build quality is apparent in the stitch work all-round. On top of that, you get the excellent fit of the GOBionic and all the Skechers DNA.
I’m aware that this take is very much prelim and I’ll need to take the GOBionic Trail to where it belongs to see how it performs. Meanwhile, it’s a thumbs up from me for this door-to-trail shoe!
Disclaimer: The GOBionic Trail was provided to me for review by Skechers Malaysia but opinions here are my own. Further take on the shoe will be posted after more miles in them on the trails.