I’ve put more miles following my first review [read it here] of the Ultra Boost (UB), specifically clocking a total of 65K in them. Therefore it’s time to put my thoughts into a follow-up take on the shoe. For the most part, things are pretty much the way there wer per my initial take.
The ride experience of the UB sees no change. 65K isn’t plenty of miles for a pair of running shoes after all. Furthermore, the Boost midsole is widely regarded as being one of the most stable (in terms of characteristics) and durable in the market today. I believe you’ll get the smooth, protective and enjoyable feel throughout the lifespan of the shoe. In fact, I reckon the midsole to outlast the outsole, which show a little wear on the nubs. The thing is this – outsole design in the form of nubs or nipples will wear off quicker than conventional threads. Less surface are in contact with the ground and therefore whatever wear and tear would be more apparent. This does not necessarily mean that the rubber isn’t durable, however. It’s just because of the design.
Other than the smooth silky ride, the Ultra Boost did pretty well in terms of breathability. This isn’t so much of a concern for runners in temperate countries but in hot and muggy Malaysia, how well the shoe “breathes” is a huge factor. In the photo below, you can see the green of my socks peeping through the knitting – air just passes right through. Needless to say, I very much prefer this knitted upper to the TechFit one on my retired Energy Boost (EB).
There are a few areas where the UB could do better. Firstly, the weight. The UB would surely be one of the shoes I’d reach out for if I’m attempting a road ultra due to its fit, cushioning and impact protection but the thought of carrying that much weight over 60K or more is quite daunting. The PrimeKnit yarn, the plastic lacing system, the substantial heel counter and midsole shank all conspire to weigh the shoe down. Perhaps adidas sees the market differently but I’m all for using less material in production.
The Stretch Web outsole could definitely be improved. It doesn’t do well on wet surfaces at all due to the minimal ground contact by the nubs. They seem to be susceptible to quick wear-off especially on the feet of runners who scrape the bottom of their shoes with each step.
Last but not least, the premium pricing of the UB presents a hurdle to most runners. For the masses, there are thankfully many options available. The EB (now version 2) which rides firmer in the forefoot is a popular alternative. The Glide Boost would also be a viable option if providing a more stable platform. These are the more substantial shoes if you’re so inclined. The lighter ones would be the Tempo Boost, Boston Boost and Adios Boost. More models are being updated to the Boost midsole, so the choices available can only become more bewildering.
However, if you intend to invest in the Ultra Boost, I’d suggest that you upsize by half from your usual adidas sizing. I wear a 10 but opted for a 10.5 for the UB which gives me more room in the toe box.
To read my review of the other adidas Boost models, check out my gear review page.
Disclaimer: The adidas Ultra Boost is a media sample provided courtesy of Adidas (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. The Ultra Boost is already available at Adidas boutiques in the country, retailing for RM650.
Hot on the heels of a shoe review, comes… another shoe review! This time it’s the premium-priced (let’s not beat around the bush) latest Boosted model from the German sporting giant. The Ultra Boost (UB) is a new addition to the expanding range of shoes from adidas featuring the midsole which debuted in the Energy Boost back in 2013.
Since I’ve clued you in on the UB’s premium positioning, let’s get that part out of the way, shall we? It retails for RM650, which means it shares the upper echelon pricing as the adios Boost, adistar Boost and Springblade Drive 2.0. I view shoes in this price bucket as niche. Sometimes companies do turn POC (Proof of Concept) projects into production runs although this may not have been the intention of the UB creators. According to adidas, the goal was to “create a shoe that unleashes the full potential of the amazing BOOST foam while at the same time ensuring an unsurpassed adaptable fit in the upper.” ARAMIS system (same tech used by NASA, Boeing and leading aerospace and automotive industries) was used to measure and map out zones of higher and lower deformation which can be as much as 10mm in the forefoot area just before push off. The upper wasn’t only the area to be scrutinized since the outsole is one large high-stress part of a shoe. You can read the interesting story that went behind the conception of the Ultra Boost here.
The result? Foot-conforming PrimeKnit upper and Stretch Web outsole as well as other complementary components you see below. The video that follows shows the assembly process.
When I picked up the Ultra Boost the first time, it felt like a substantial shoe. I’d opted for a US10.5, up from my regular US10 because of my past experience with the Energy Boost (EB) and Boston Boost 5 (BB5) which both ran a little tight in the toe box. It’s bulkier than my recently blooded shoes and accentuated by exaggerated upward spring on both ends. The UB also has a very prominent heel tab.
The PrimeKnit upper is just as impressive. Not only you can see that the high stress areas are reinforced by close weaving but the whole upper fits like a bootie negating the need to lace up tight as you would a traditional shoe. If there’s a purpose for the long heel tab, it’s to allow you to grab and pull when putting the shoe on. The fit is very snug, very sock-like and almost immediately you’ll feel as if there’s a slight midfoot bump reminiscent of the out of production Skechers GOrun 3. The upper stretches in every direction and thus is more accommodating than say, the Boston Boost upper. Due to a low toe box, the upper could be felt rubbing on my big toe – I’ll cover this in a moment. The step-in feel is plush and walking around in the UB is extremely smooth, unlike the Energy Boost and the performance oriented Boston Boost.
In evaluating it, I was determined from the very first run to really put the shoe through the wringer. I would be a bit more lenient if it is a sub-RM450 but well, it’s not. My first run was a 6K, which covered a wide variety of surfaces on straights and twisty paths between Jalan Binjai-KLCC Park-Mandarin Oriental Hotel driveway-Pinang-Kia Peng-Stonor. Surfaces covered were tarmac, concrete, tiles, bricked pavements, synthetic track, grass and packed earth sections. Conditions were warm and humid, with no rain that evening. The plan was to have a slow and easy recovery run what with 2 quality back-to-back sessions over the weekend. The Ultra Boost blew those plans away. Once the body warmed up after 1.5K, the pace just kicked in. I was conscious at the back of my mind to reel back the pace yet at the same time I wanted to put the shoe through the challenge.
Anyone would’ve had no problems believing me had I reported that this bulky (and heavy) shoe stood no chance on the twisty and congested (it was packed with tourists and I had to slalomed my way through) route I took that day. But the UB was anything but that. It had to be the snug upper which totally locked down the foot despite the frequent directional changes. The low toe-box turned out to be a non-issue due to its highly stretchable properties. The designers well and truly got that part right. Because it was unbelievable, I went a second round. At a faster pace. Same eye opening experience. I had to remind myself that it was my easy day and stop at the end of the second loop.
It was still too early to form any judgment. The next day, I pulled on the UBs again. The menu was an easy 10K and again I failed to keep to the plan of going slow. This time, I took another newly mapped route that’s turning into a personal favorite: Binjai-Tun Razak-U-Thant-Ampang Hilir-Raintree Club-back to the KLCC Park. It had poured like crazy but slowed to a light drizzle as I started off. This second run would reveal much more about the shoes, both good and bad.
First, the good. The shoe pretty much retained all the positive attributes I experienced the day before, from the smooth and quick transition, fit and the upper breathability. The bad? The almost non-existent traction on the wet surfaces especially on the tiled and brick pavements. The little rounded nubs which are also spaced quite apart are simply not for such running conditions. I walked around corners and up the pedestrian bridges to avoid face-planting on my run. The Ultra Boost’s outsole feels nowhere near as assured as the BB5’s Continental rubber. The other thing worth mentioning is that while the PrimeKnit upper is very breathable, it’s also susceptible in letting in rainwater. It’s not a unique attribute of the UB but a trade-off of ultra breathable uppers.
The two most recent runs were both slower, one a 6K and the other a 16K on the hard pavements and sidewalks of Putrajaya. The Boost midsole offer the necessary protection for my legs and I appreciated the bouncy feel in all my strides. In all my runs in the Ultra Boost, there had been no chafing, hotspots or any rubbing, even by the extended heel pull tab. Because the tongue is integrated to the upper, there’s no slipping and sliding.
Reviewing the Ultra Boost has really been more about the wear experience than looking its inherently unflattering specs in terms of weight and pricing. I admit that I had some apprehension going in to the review but am glad to have some doubts struck off for the most part. I’ll put more miles into them before returning with a wrap-up take on the shoe.
Disclosure: The adidas Ultra Boost is a media sample provided courtesy of Adidas (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. Initial review is based after running and walking in them for close to 42K. The Ultra Boost is already available at Adidas boutiques in the country, retailing for RM650.
The Breakthru and Zealot ISO are 2 completely new “faces” to Saucony’s lineup late ’14/early ’15. They join a loaded range that’s either already here or coming to Malaysia, consisting of the updated Mirage 5, Ride 7 and Guide 8, and revamped Triumph ISO and Hurricane ISO. Throw the versatile and ever popular Kinvara 5 (K5) into the mix, the shoe shopper may be forgiven for being a little confused as to where the Breakthru stands. Despite just logging around 30K in the Breakthru, I think it’s time to put out this review before the shoe hits the shelves in the coming month (yup, the shoe’s not on sale in the country just yet). I don’t think my opinions will change much, if any at all, over the course of the shoe’s lifespan, so let’s get going.
The Breakthru is a little hard to peg down. It’s heavier and has an offset greater than the K5, yet tuned more like a racer compared to the cushier K5. The Breakthru’s shares the 8mm offset of Saucony’s support and higher end cushioning models. It weighs 8.7oz for my US10 to the K5’s 7.8oz.
The Breakthru is an undeniably striking shoe, with a rad-looking upper that resembles that of the Endorphin Racer. Unlike the sandwich open mesh of the K5, the upper we get with the Breakthru is thinner and stiffer, with no give at all. As a result, your big toe may experience some rubbing on the upper when in a state of dorsiflexion. While this was something I occasionally felt when running in them, it had not resulted in any hotspots or blisters. I’ll need to put in longer distances in the shoes before confirming if this is going to be an issue.
FlexFilm and Pro-Lock are both absent in Breakthru. While I don’t miss the Pro-Lock, the use of traditional and thicker overlays add to the weight. The wide and padded tongue isn’t gusseted yet it worked very well at all speeds including the twists and turns at the track. Never once did they slip and slide.
Around the back, the shoe has a stiff heel counter. The RunDry padding on the collar isn’t overly built up and is as comfortable as the K5’s.
There are some differences in the removable insoles. The K5 gets the softer and thicker SK-41 (more perforations and flex grooves cut into them as well) while the Breakthru settles with a noticeably thinner SK-51.
If you’ve not guessed already, the Breakthru is a neutral shoe, so there’s no medial posting (internal nor external). The midsole comprises of SSL (Saucony Super Lite) single density EVA foam with the Powergrid encased within.
Flip the shoe over and you’ll see why the Breakthru weighs more than the K5 – much more rubber. IBR+ injection blown rubber and XT900 carbon rubber while less exposed foam than the K5. Notice the 2 parallel black strips in the medial arch area? They’re not torsion shanks but thin rubber strips which in my opinion serve no functions. I hope they’ll be omitted in the next update. While durability should go up several notches, weight takes a hit with close to an ounce more than the K5. It is still a light and go-fast package though, make no mistake.
With the technical part of the review out of the way, let’s get to the wear experience. The thing which impressed me most when I laced the shoes up the first time was the fit in the midfoot region. The upper just wraps around the midsection really well – snug without being over tight. As the laces are secured, they pull at the blue overlays around the midfoot area and you get the really good lockdown from midfoot to the heel. The toebox is a little less roomy than the K5’s, probably because the upper mesh doesn’t stretch. Prospective buyer should test both the actual and a half size up to be sure of the fit.
The Breakthru also has the feel of a racing flat. It’s light, responsive, and each gait cycle has a snappy take to it. There’s a sense of immediacy to the running. The heel cushioning is not in the region of the K5, GR4 or the Boston Boost’s but more forgiving than the GOSpeed 3’s. The forefoot feels a little like a thicker version of the Boston Boost’s which means quickly pushing off the balls of your feet isn’t going to be a problem.
I’ve logged a handful of short quick runs, a 10K and a track session in them and encountered no negatives. As mentioned, no blisters, no hotspots. They certainly felt better going fast than slow, that’s for sure.
Saucony loyalists now have 2 choices when looking for a pair of lightweight neutral shoes which can double up for training and racing duties. If you prefer a softer feel in a 7.9oz (US10) package, go for the K5. If something firmer is what you seek, the Breakthru. Want something plusher? The Zealot ISO, Ride 7, and Triumph ISO should tickle your fancy depending on your budget. If you’re mechanically blessed and training to chase a big PR, give the A6 an audition.
Disclaimer: The Saucony Breakthru is a sample pair provided courtesy of Saucony Malaysia. It is expected to be available from Running Lab, Stadium and RSH outlets in April/May 2015.
One of the most exciting things about reviewing products is having your preconception smashed to smithereens. This can be a positive or negative experience, of course. We expect great things from the giants and are little lenient with the upstarts in the industry. The last time I was pleasantly surprised was when Skechers debuted the GORun back in 2012 [review here].
When Under Armour (UA) set up shop in KLCC recently, their first store in the country, I was fortunate enough to be invited for the store opening. Those who follow team sports (for example fans of BPL team Tottenham Hotspurs) will recognize the brand’s simple yet unique logo. If you’ve not heard of UA, you can read it up here.
Recently UA started making stronger surges into the running footwear segment which set quite a number of running geeks’ hearts aflutter. The Speedform has been around for at least a year but this year the Apollo and Gemini are the 2 providing the main thrust in sales numbers for the company. This review will focus on the Gemini but for a good take on the equally eye-catching, more minimalist Speedform RC Vent, head on to Nick’s review.
If there’s one thing that runners are raving about UA running shoes, it’s how they’re put together. The Gemini, like the RC Vent and Apollo, is constructed based on a near-seamless fashion. You can see from the photo below, provided by fellow shoe geek Seth Hasty of Granite City Running [Competitor covered the store opening in this article], that the shoe is basically made up of 3 parts. The mesh upper, the footbed, and the midsole/outsole. There’s an external heel counter that provide some structure at the rear, as you’ll see from the photos below.
UA’s product page will have all the marketing spiel so I’ll just breeze through the key features of the Gemini.
The visually striking Gemini is not what you’d classify a low-profiled shoe. It has a significant heel stack and has the disposition of a protective cushioned trainer as you can see from the series of photos below. The wear experience to me, however, is rather mixed. You will immediately feel the plushness stepping into the shoes. Heel to toe transition is very smooth and you feel as if you can walk the whole day in them.
There’s an airy feel to it which is expected since more than half of the upper are made of mesh so huge they appear like webbing. The 2-layer mesh is stretchy, so the seemingly low toebox height as seen in the profile photo below isn’t a good representation of how they really feel. US10 fits me fine if I wear a thin sock but I’d upsize by half should I go for a thicker one.
The Gemini has a slightly squarish toe box which suits runners with a wider forefoot, and the external toe guards looks like those from the Nike Presto. There are 6 reflective strips on each shoe, making it suitable for early morning/night running. The following 2 photos clearly show the 2-layer mesh adopted for the shoes. No rogue sand particles or pebbles have got in so far.
The tongue is wide which made slippage a non-issue. It’s made of the same mesh as the upper with an added strip of foam (similar to the collar material) at the top.
The heel cup is actually made of foam but there’s the exo-skeletal like heel counter to provide some semblance of structure. Even with the collar slanting into the achilles, I’ve not experienced any chafing, hot-spots, and rubbing in all my sessions in the shoes. They certainly fit more like socks than something stiff. In fact I’d say that they feel neoprene-like.
Peeping into the shoe, you’ll see the neat construction of the footbed. There’s no removable sockliner and that sort of thing here. Everything is integrated and one-piece. The construction method and technologies used allow the Gemini to be machine washable – instructions are clearly printed right there! The white dots around the collar are the silicone grippers that further secure the fit.
In the photo below, both my fingers were pointed to the welded seams, just about the only 2 you’d find on the Gemini.
Being a typical trainer, the Gemini’s weight reflects that too. I was surprised to see the US10 weighing in at 10.45oz because I thought they felt lighter. In my hands, the shoe’s weight felt a little unevenly distributed, with the heel section of the shoe feeling significantly heavier than the forefoot . This is an unusual comment, I know, since the heel stack is greater than the front and therefore would naturally be heavier. However I thought the forefoot to heel weight ratios felt a little lopsided. Mixing the use of the heavier foam in the heel section with more mesh (as seen on the tongue) will reduce the overall weight.
The Gemini feels like a 10mm offset/drop shoe like the Flyknit Lunar 2 (FL2), Pegasus 31, and Energy Boost whereas the actual drop is 8mm like that of the Ride 7. Nevertheless, such numbers are superfluous because what matters should be how it performs. We’ll get to that shortly.
The Gemini’s Charged midsole foam is touted to provide responsive cushioning. It sits on top of a thicker white layer and runs the full length of the shoe. The darker material is visible from the cutaway at the bottom of the shoe.
The outsole is both a mix of blown (blue sections) and carbon rubber (in the heel) as clearly seen below. There’s no midfoot TPU shank, no medial posting which means overall flexibility is pretty good for the Gemini. There are generous flex grooves in the forefoot and the outsole is decoupled. There are plenty of exposed foam in the outsole but durability remains to be seen as I’ve only logged 43K in them.
Now comes the most important part of the review – the wear experience. Folks are basically curious about a few important things:
So I’ll just cover the points above.
I normally wear a US10. Although the Gemini fits just nice, I’d have preferred a 10.5. Overall fit is excellent. The midfoot fits snugly as with the heel, while the forefoot opens up sufficiently to accommodate medium volume feet. It doesn’t get to the level of roominess of the GORun Ride 4 (GRR4) though.
Step-in feel, as mentioned before, is plush. So is walking around in them. The pronounced feel of the arch support disappears the moment I started running. So did the plush feeling. The immediate responsiveness of the Charged midsole dispels any notion that the Gemini offers a soft ride. It’s certainly not the Kinvara 5, or even the GORun 4. The Charge midsole provides less bounce than the Lunarlon and Boost materials of the FL2 and Energy Boost respectively. The “F” word (F for firmness!) kept popping up in my mind as I put mileage into the shoe. Perhaps with some breaking in, the midsole will soften up a little? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t find it uncomfortable, just stating my observation.
As in other training shoes with this level of midsole build up, road feel of the Gemini is muted. Regardless of the runner’s preference for a soft or firm ride, the heel striker will appreciate the smooth heel to toe transition. This plus the substantial use of blown rubber ensure that the shoe runs silent, huge contrast to the FL2.
Expectedly, breathability is excellent, with all the mesh. My feet stayed dry throughout my runs in muggy and hot Penang recently, and there were no hotspots either.
Those are my prelim thoughts and observations on the Gemini and so far, my lean is still towards a softer and lighter ride like the Kinvara 5 (K5), GORun 4 (GR4) and Boston 5 (B5). That’s certainly a matter of personal preference, of course. It doesn’t take away the fact that the Gemini is a solid offering from UA with many areas done right and a pair that I’d grab to log longer and slower miles in.
The Gemini isn’t what you’d call an affordable shoe. At RM538 full retail (I purchased it using a discount voucher), it’s a full RM100, and more, than the K5, GR4, Pegasus 31, and Boston 5, parking itself close to the just launched Flyknit Lunar 3 and Energy Boost 2.
It also goes up against asics’ stability offerings like the GT series and Kayano, or even the cushioned ones like the Cumulus and Nimbus. Ditto Brooks’ Adrenaline and Ravenna. Yet, the Gemini can hold its own, and IMHO, trumps the aforementioned asics and Brooks due to several factors. Firstly, the innovative use of materials and construction (made in a bra factory no less!) make the Gemini one of the best fitting shoe in the market today. Secondly, it’s a stable enough option for runners who wear heavier stability shoes with medial posting to migrate over to.
I was down with a bad bout of flu/cold/fever late January which floored me for 2 solid weeks. 2 solid weeks of inactivity and loss of a back-to-back over an extended holiday weekend! The cause was unclear but I suspect the lack of sleep depleted whatever’s left of my immunal defense system. The lack of sleep was a result of adjusting to the new school year. Instead of relying on the services of a school van this year, we’re now driving C2 to school. With the alarm going off at 5:50am, we’re getting less than 6 hours of sleep (even less if you’re looking at the deep sleep phase) on most nights. Sleeping earlier is impossible since we only reach home around 9:15pm (shakes fist at the KL traffic!) and be done with dinner and all the cleaning up at 10pm. Then there are the emails to clear, reading and some coaching of the kids to attend to. Even with no TV time, midnight comes too soon!
When marathon training is added into the mix, I was walking a tightrope. The rest, as the say, is history. I realized then that I’ve to pay more attention to my sleep patterns and make little adjustments here and there to my lifestyle. I no longer check my emails on a daily basis. I’ve also reduced my rice intake during dinner, only taking in mostly vegetables, some meat and soup, so that less food sit in the stomach that late into the day.
Sidebar: You only need to listen to this fascinating podcast by Coach Jay Johnson with Dr. Mike Dedekian to convince you on the importance of getting enough sleep, in the context of a growing kid or if you’re a runner in training. The impact of sleep on the endocrine system was also discussed. Look for Podcast 026 here.
Next, I downloaded some sleep tracking apps for the iPhone. Sleep Time logs the usual metrics such as duration of light and deep sleep, REM. You can even choose to fall asleep to music. There is, of course, an alarm function. Smart Alarm does the same thing but includes a sound recorder feature. You’ll find out the next day if you’ve mumbled or revealed any secrets at any point of the night. Somniloquy may have negative effects on the sleep quality. I found it spooky listening to the voice recording the next day. What if you recorded something which really isn’t from this dimension? Right, I may have a hyperactive imagination.
Which led me to research some wristworn wearables from Jawbone, Fitbit, Garmin, and Samsung. Pretty soon, the Apple Watch will be thrown into the ring as well. Typically these wearables offer silent vibrating alarms, tracks activities and sleep while the more expensive ones have preset reminders to get you off your chair to keep you active. Some even link to your smartphone in providing you with alerts and some rudimentary messaging features. The problem is I found that not only are these devices expensive (RM499 and above), they’re rather buggy in many areas from user experience to syncing with the phone. RM499 is RM400 more than my tolerance for a nice-to-have item.
A note on the silent alarm: I can’t help but be enthused by this feature. No more waking up the spouse when my weekend alarm goes off at 4:15am!
It was through digging around for information that I discovered the Mi Band. Everyone, in this region at least, knows the company Xiaomi. They’ve sold millions of their very affordable and highly spec’ed Android phones and tablets, and powerbanks, modelling much of their design and marketing after Apple’s. Which tech company doesn’t, right?
The price of the Mi Band was what first caught my eye. The “princely” price tag of RM59 had me refreshing my browser just to be sure I wasn’t seeing it wrong. The specs were impressive as you can see from the screen grabs below. You can head to the product page to read up more.
Other than the price, here are the other features:
Being the cheapo, I ordered 2 units to take advantage of the free shipping above RM100, with the other unit going to my colleague. Delivery was quick and I received the package in 4 business days. The first thing you’ve to ensure is that the unit is fully charged. To do that, just pop the sensor out from the hypoallergenic silicone band and pop the suppository-shaped (!) sensor into the proprietory USB charging housing. The 3 LED indicators will tell you the status of the charging level. A full charge took me around 2 hours.
Next was to download the free Mi Fit app from the iTunes App Store before pairing the phone and band. This was easily and quickly done by hard tapping the band to wake it up. Finally, I did some customization such as personal info, alarm options, LED color preference. I didn’t change the defaulted 8,000-step goal just so that I can get a feel of the metrics. Again, the updates were easily and seamlessly synced to the band – no manual intervention needed. Naturally you need to ensure that you’ve enabled Bluetooth on your phone prior to the sync.
Firmware updates are also accomplished via Bluetooth. You will be prompted by the Mi Fit app whenever that is required. With all that done (within 5 minutes, really), you’re good to go. Nothing else needs to be done. When it’s time for bed, there’s no need to enable the sleep tracking mode simply because it somehow knows.
I’ve had the Mi Band for less than a week and there’s little to complain. With the exception of 2 days, I’ve been meeting my daily activity goals of 8,000 steps (I noted that that approximates to around a 6K run) whenever I run. All 3 LEDs will flash and the band will vibrate when the said goal is met. I’ll need to jack the goal upwards when the meat of marathon training starts in March. Though I’m seeing some improvement, I can still do better in the sleep department. There are some negatives of course (see end of review), one of which is the claimed LED status display where it’s suppose to show you a lit LED for every 1/3 of daily goal achieved. Doesn’t work. However at the cost of 6 Starbucks latte, I’m not complaining much.
Will gear like the Mi Band and smartphone apps help you sleep better? I don’t think so. But with numbers attached to your nightly downtime, you’ll be able to tell how well you’re resting further allowing you to adjust your routine and lifestyle accordingly. For a sleep deprived person like me, that’s very helpful.
I’ve sat on this review for the longest time. Somehow just didn’t get to it. Now that I’ve logged over 123km in these, I’d better get this dusted!
The uninitiated will often mistake the Boston 5 (B5) for the Adios Boost 2 (AB2), and they can be forgiven for that. The Adios, along with Nike Zoom Streak, was of course the racing flat of choice amongst world-class elites. Both the B5 and AB2 share similar colorway – red and black. Additionally, both shoes’ upper have strips of Tirrenina Suede for overlays. The material feels luxurious to the touch. Look closer, however, and you’ll see that the AB2 is a lower profiled shoe. Flip them over and you’ll also see the vast difference in outsole design.
So what of the B5 then?
Other than the fiery colorway, the B5 is quite an unassuming shoe, design-wise. Simple in construction, not overly engineered, and doesn’t have overlay overkill. It’s also extremely breathable – you can see through the open mesh. Water gets into the shoe as quickly as it drains out. No pebbles have found their way into the shoes thus far . There’s not a single reflective element either. You can say that the B5 is purpose-built to get the non-elite runner (elites would probably have opted for the Adios) from point A to B as quickly as possible, nothing fancy, no blings.
Where necessary, such as around the collar and tongue (non-gusseted), there’s sufficient padding to be had. Although it doesn’t slip, I’d have preferred a slightly longer tongue. If you peek under the tongue on the left shoe, you’ll notice the “Boston Runs As One” print, a nod to the Boston One Fund. Interestingly, the shoe comes with a little note warning of potential color transfer. I’ve yet to experience any of that sort. And since I don’t run without socks, the exposed seams are non-issues to me.
Typical of adidas shoes, the B5 has a tapered forefoot. While I fit OK in a US10, upsizing by half would’ve given my toes a more relaxed fit. A snug midfoot gives the shoe a decidedly performance feel. Per the Running Warehouse site, the B5 has a stack height of 26mm/16mm for a 10mm drop. The 10mm certainly doesn’t feel as pronounced as that of the Flyknit Lunar 2’s.
The B5 weighs in at 8.85oz for my US10 which hits the sweet spot for a performance trainer/racer. Lacing up a pair will make you want to take off. Ride characteristics is without a doubt on the firm end of the scale, especially in the forefoot. Not as firm as the Adios’ tiny Quickstrike bits but it’s still a snappy ride that you’ll get. Heel cushioning is more than enough in my opinion. I found myself landing in the midfoot a lot in these babies, so much so the heel cushioning is rather wasted. The midfoot Torsion shank adds some measure of structure and stiffness in that region. Much has been written on the Boost midsole – something which adidas is gradually converting their legacy shoes to. My personal experience with Boost has been positive. While not the lightest midsole material (it’s actually quite dense), I’ve found it to be very stable insofar as the retention of cushioning properties in various weather conditions down to low 10s Celcius. It’s also durable. Other than the Takumi Sen, Takumi Ren, Adios and the Boston 5, the other “Boosted” models aren’t that lightweight.
Traction accorded by the Continental rubber outsole was excellent. Not once did I slip during the course of a drizzly morning spent on hill repeats. I’ve logged over 123km in the B5 with minimal signs of wear and tear. It’s an excellent shoe for faster paced workouts such as tempo and long intervals. I’ve raced several good Half Marathons in them and could probably take them up to 30K distances with no issues. For the Marathon, my preference still leans towards something that offers a more forgiving ride like the Kinvara 5 (K5).
With all the rave reviews reported by nearly every wearer out there, there are still a few areas I wish of the shoe:
There are certainly no shortages of excellent marathon shoes out there in the local market today. For one who desires a lightweight sub 9oz ride with a blend of responsive cushioning, the choices are mind-boggling. Other than the B5, K5, Lunaracer 3, and DS Racer 10, you now have the GR4. In a couple of months’ time, there’s the Saucony Breakthru. It all comes down to fitting requirements and personal preference.
The adidas adizero Boston 5 Boost retails for RM420 and can be found at selected adidas boutiques in the country.
While the GORun Ultra (GRU) may seem to have been around for a number of years, it’s hard to imagine that the thickest shoe in the Skechers Performance range only made its debut a year ago. In fact, I got my hands on v1 in time for the 2014 Titi 50. 2014 saw 2 releases of the GRU, the v1 (reviewed here) and the Nite Owl version (reviewed here). Both the v1 and Nite Owl brought me to the finish lines of Titi, P50 and many long slow training runs with no injuries.
A year on, it was time for an update on the GRU and that came out of the blue a couple of weeks back. I knew an update was forthcoming and have even read the early reviews of some shoe geeks in the States but didn’t expect to find the GRU2 on our shores that soon after the Stateside release. I opted for the black-yellow colorway because I thought they looked pretty badass. Nick’s blue/lime green shods look pretty sweet too.
The GRU2 is essentially the same shoe as the v1. Sure you get the flashy upper (which I’ll dig in shortly) but everything else is the same. From the Resalyte midsole down to the outsole and position of the plugs. As with all the company’s performance models, the GRU2 comes with extra laces and removable Agion infused sockliners.
Because the GRU2 sees no changes other than the cosmetics, the wearer will still enjoy the typical smooth and plush ride of the GRU. The toebox is generous in width and height, easily accommodating the runner’s swollen feet as they toiled under the hot sun and hard tarmac (painful memories of P50 are flooding back now!).
The GRU2’s flashy upper has been updated with the large Skechers S occupying most of the lateral and medial sides. Other motifs such as little triangular bits keep to the current theme of the performance series. What were previously basic strips of overlays and mesh are now complemented with larger pieces of synthetics. The heel counter now even sports a faux-kevlar piece. It appears that the mesh layer is more covered up in the GRU2 than earlier versions. I’ve not ran in the shoes yet, so the question about breathability remains to be seen.
The outsole configuration sees no change as you can see from the photo below. No addition of rubber plugs for added durability either.
The GRU2’s weight has been bumped up to over 10oz for my US10. It was 9.25oz on the GRU and 9.75oz on the GRU Nite Owl. The only explanation for this would be the use of the triangular design elements over the mesh underlay and the faux-kevlar heel counter. All these bits add up and the scale doesn’t lie.
I was a little disappointed with the update, honestly. The enhancements to the outsole that I thought should be introduced didn’t happen yet the upper was updated to the point where the weight was compromised. I’d have pretty much preferred the old upper and add a few thin rubber plugs to high-wear areas. As it stands I find the Nite Owl to be the most practical between the 3 iterations. However, if weight isn’t that much of a concern and a smooth and plush ride are what you seek, then the GRU2 warrants a tryout. For something lighter yet still providing a cushy ride, do also consider the GOrun Ride 4.
Disclosure: The Skechers GOrun Ultra is a media sample provided by Skechers Malaysia. The GRU2 is already available in Skechers stores in the country and retails for RM419 and RM399 for the men and women models respectively.
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