Nagano Marathon Race Report

A short a trip to Japan but what a trip it was as I caught the Sakura season and there was a marathon too! Read about the race here.

Gear Reviews

All the reviews here...

Trans Nuang 2013

5 runners. 42km. 16 hours. Elevation gain 2,878 meters / 9,442 feet. All here.

Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2014 Race Report

After a long long wait, I finally nailed it. Full story here...

 

Category Archives: Running Shoes

Shoe Review: Saucony Triumph ISO

This shoe review was submitted by Choon Yuen.

I have been asked about a few weeks ago whether I’m interested to review a yet to be launched running shoes in the local market. I thought WOW!! Me? Review shoes? I need to give myself a few pitches and slaps on the face to see if I were dreaming. It is truly a rare opportunity (secretly hoping more will come my way) to try out and write about a new shoe, without a second thought I said yes to the opportunity and whet goo goo goo ga ga about it LOL. I was very excited to say the least and took the opportunity on my off day from work to pick up the shoes and immediately. Met up with Frank, gave me a short introduction of the shoes and off I go for heat training that afternoon on the spanking new shoes. I had no prior experience running in any Saucony shoes albeit very good reviews on some of the shoes they produced e.g. the Kinvara series, so after clocking more than 60km over the past 3 weeks in the new Saucony Triumph ISO, it’s time for me to put my thoughts on the shoe on a clean sheet of paper without any bias opinion.


Saucony Triumph ISO is an 8mm drop shoe with a stack height of 31mm (Heel), 23mm (Forefoot). It’s a very well cushioned neutral shoe with a new upper fit ISOFIT technology which we will be going into a little bit more in details as we go along. The forefoot area of the upper is made of mesh material with visible large cut out for breathability purposes, which is then sewed to the ISOFIT at the midfoot area.

The ISOFIT upper wraps the feet adequately creating a sock-like feel for comfort and adaptability to the shape of your feet. It gives a nice wrap around holding the feet in place, preventing the feet from sliding around which could happened especially if you up-sizing the shoe size. The PWRGRID+ form grid midsole is taking charge in providing impact protection cushioning every stride on a longer run. The outsole comes with xt900 rubber near the heel area for durability while iBR+ is used for the forefoot area for further cushioning. At 10 oz on a US size 9, the shoe does very well in the weight department considering the amount of cushion Saucony puts in.

Ultra padded heel collar.

Although this is a well cushioned shoe, on the contrary the ride of the shoe gave sufficient ground feel making it somewhat responsive and yet giving runners a comfortable ride. This is evidence especially when you are running at a moderate to an easy pace run, but putting in some speed to the shoes immediately it feels a tad heavier which is weird giving that it only weighs 10oz. I suspect this is down to the amount of energy absorbed and returned by the midsole, having said that I’m just being picky and is not actually a deal breaker as this is not designed to be a racing flat. Breathability is not a problem for the hot and humid weather in this part of the world as you can see from the pictures below you can clearly see the “open pores”.

Headlamp in the shoe to demonstrate the open mesh.

There are a few areas that I would wish for on an already good shoe. The inability to flex much has thrown in some constrain to the shoes as it gives rigid feel to the shoe and may not necessary work out well for everyone. Some weight can be taken away from the ridiculously cushioned at the achilles area which is really unnecessary and overkill. Finally the width of the forefoot is a bit tight, however you can always up-size the shoe as the ISOFIT will still effectively prevent your feet from sliding around.

My final thought on the shoe. The Saucony Triumph ISO is a decent shoe and it should excel in 3 types of running conditions. First of all, if you are thinking of increasing your mileage on the long run day, the shoe will gives you plenty of cushions keeping your feet away from impact fatigue. Secondly after a fast and furious race be it a road or trail race, it also works very well for your recovery run. Lastly if you are new to running, you won’t go wrong with Saucony Triumph ISO. However, this is not a fast shoe and if you are looking for a PB record breaking or a speed work type of shoes, this is not the shoe for you.

The Triumph ISO will be available at Running Lab sometime in May onwards retailing for RM469.

adidas Ultra Boost: After 65K

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).

Peek-a-boo!

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.

The joined plastic strips used to secure the lacing are rather thick.

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.

adidas Ultra Boost: First Impressions

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.

Photo source: adidas blog

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.

At 11.35oz for the US10.5, the Ultra Boost won’t find itself in the lightweight category.

 

The high toe-spring and low toe-box can be clearly seen in this photo. In reality I didn’t substantially feel the effects of both the attributes. In fact, toe-springs are very obvious in shoes with knitted upper, just have a look at the Nike Free Flyknit.

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.

The hard external split heel counter is very substantial. It goes without saying that the bulk contributed to the weight of the shoe.

The removable insoles which are thinner than the Energy Boost’s. You can quite clearly see my footprint on the bottom unit. It may appear that I’ve too much room up front but due to the shoe construction, the fit was actually just nice.

There’s a thin layer of felt-like material under the removable insole.

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.

The upper which fits like a bootie. The 2 large pieces of plastic on either side holding the laces and providing some structural integrity are the other reasons why the UB goes above 11oz.

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.

The outsole lip of the Energy Boost makes a return on the Ultra Boost.

The Stretch Web outsole. As your foot strikes the ground, the outsole stretches along with the midsole compression. resulting in a buttery smooth ride. This photo also shows the midsole cutout with the small embedded torsion bar that pops out a little on the medial side.

Medial shot showing the little medial post. As with most Boosted models, the midsole “jut-out” in the heel is quite substantial.

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.

Shoe Review: Saucony Breakthru

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.

Closeup of the tightly woven mesh.

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’s a slight midsole flaring on the lateral side. For a lightweight shoe, the Breakthru is rather stable.

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.

K5 insole (top) compares to the Breakthru’s

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.

SSL and Powergrid combo

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.

Full contact outsole.

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.

Medial view

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.

Lateral view

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.

Press Release: Puma Ready To ‘Ignite’ Malaysia

PUMA READY TO ‘IGNITE’ MALAYSIA
Innovative New Foam Maximizes Energy Return, Comfort & Durability

KUALA LUMPUR (12 March 2015) – Comfort, long lasting and energy return are the three key elements of PUMA IGNITE!

Following its global launch in New York on 12 February 2015, PUMA Ignite is now available in all PUMA retail store and distributors throughout Malaysia beginning today.

The ultimate running shoe which features an innovative foam technology that makes it the most responsive running shoe, the birth of PUMA Ignite was the result of a nine-year research and development programme.

PUMA Ignite was launched today by Tim Tham, Assistant Marketing Manager of PUMA Malaysia in 1 Utama Shopping Centre and witnessed by PUMA “FRIENDS”.

Tim Tham, PUMA Malaysia Assistant Marketing Manager (standing fourth from left) together with PUMA “FRIENDS” at the launch of the PUMA “IGNITE”.

PUMA IGNITE is the perfect example that coincides with their latest tagline PUMA’s ForeverFaster. Powering every stride is IGNITE foam, proprietary foam that provides responsive cushioning, optimal rebound and comfort. Strategically placed in the heel of the shoe is ForEverFoam — a compound used heavily in the automotive industry.

This premium foam in the shoe is what sets IGNITE apart and makes it one of a kind. This foam compound is what gives the shoe maximum durability. This material which results in long – lasting durability is special and it is entirely new to the market.

PUMA’s new aim is to strengthen its running platform with the advantage of IGNITE. The shoe is the ideal pair for everyday running.

“Our vision is to create a running community. We have the best shoe for you to get “IGNITED” and never look back anymore. We are aiming to become the top sports brand once again. I am confident with the launch of PUMA Ignite, we are one step closer to our vision,” said Tham.

In conjunction with the PUMA Ignite launch, PUMA will be launching their latest 21 Days Challenge for all Malaysians to join them and create the next ‘big thing’ on social media platforms. The objective of this campaign is to encourage all Malaysians to be involved in running activities and keep the momentum going for 21 days in a row, snap a picture of every session and upload it onto your social media account Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and redeem your prize.

The first 100 participants who completes this challenge, will win a limited edition PUMA Ignite running tee shirt.

PUMA Ignite is worn by Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world. As quoted by Bolt during the global launch in New York last month, he says “IGNITE is a great a running shoe, along with PUMA spikes, I spend a lot of time training in this shoe as well and it really helps to sustain my energy levels. I love IGNITE for that.”

The much anticipated Puma ‘IGNITE’ will go on sale across Malaysia, effective today. The PUMA ‘IGNITE’ will be priced at RM429.

PUMA
PUMA is one of the world’s leading Sports Brands, designing, developing, selling and marketing footwear, apparel and accessories. For over 65 years, PUMA has established a history of making fast product designs for the fastest athletes on the planet. PUMA offers performance and sport-inspired lifestyle products in categories such as Football, Running, Training and Fitness, Golf, and Motorsports. It engages in exciting collaborations with renowned design brands such as Alexander McQueen and Mihara Yasuhiro to bring innovative and fast designs to the sports world. The PUMA Group owns the brands PUMA, Cobra Golf, Tretorn, Dobotex and Brandon. The company distributes its products in more than 120 countries, employs more than 10,000 people worldwide, and is headquartered in Herzogenaurach/Germany. For more information, please visit http://www.puma.com.

____________________________________________________________________________

Released by Shekhinah PR on behalf of PUMA Malaysia.

For further information please contact:

Christopher Raj
Shekhinah PR / 012 – 2161 881
chris@shekhinah.my

Pratik Kothari
Shekhinah PR / 014 – 252 6663
pratik@shekhinah.my

Andrew Jason
Shekhinah PR / 013 – 365 8431
jason@shekhinah.my

Shoe Review: Under Armour Speedform Gemini

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.

Photo courtesy of Granite City Running.

UA’s product page will have all the marketing spiel so I’ll just breeze through the key features of the Gemini.

  1. Near seamless construction that really locks the feet in. There should be no problems going sockless if you’re that sort of a runner. The seams are welded with Bemis tape, the type used to seal tough wearing apparels and gear without added weight.
  2. The fit around the collar is very good. There are silicone grippers around the internal collar that secures the feet, preventing any slippage.
  3. The one-piece footbed that is truly well made.
  4. 8mm offset.

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.

External heel counter with a vertical reflective strip.

Soft and pliable. The external heel counter maintains just enough structural form to the section.

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.

Enough rubber to provide durability.

Now comes the most important part of the review – the wear experience. Folks are basically curious about a few important things:

  • How they fit? Is it true to size?
  • Ride. Is it soft, very firm? Any road feel? How does it compare to <insert any popular shoe here>?

So I’ll just cover the points above.

Fit
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.

Ride
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.

Press Release: adidas Unveils Ultra Boost, the Greatest Running Shoe Ever

Kuala Lumpur (12 February, 2015) – The Energy Running revolution has taken a bold new step as adidas unveiled the greatest running shoe ever, Ultra BOOST. adidas developed Ultra BOOST using ARAMIS’ 3D shape and surface measurement to provide a fully adaptable running experience. The ARAMIS system is also used by top engineering institutions like NASA, Boeing and BMW to measure crash tests, vibration analysis and durability studies. Ultra BOOST intuitively adjusts to a runner’s stride delivering the unrivalled Energy Return of BOOST™, superior support and adaptive comfort over hundreds of kilometres, in virtually any environment.


UNRIVALLED ENERGY RETURN
Ultra BOOST features 20 percent more* BOOST cushioning material, the highest Energy Return cushioning in the running industry, and has eliminated the traditional EVA midsole for more direct contact to provide the ultimate expression of BOOST. Made of thousands of unique energy capsules, BOOST delivers a consistent performance over hundreds of kilometres, in virtually any condition.

ADAPTIVE COMFORT
To complement the unrivalled Energy Return of BOOST, Ultra BOOST features an innovative update to adidas’ PRIMEKNIT technology built to reach new heights of comfort, support and style.

A runner’s foot can remarkably expand up to 10 mm or more in width while running. When restrained, this expansion can cause severe discomfort, friction and the leading injury in running, blisters. Unlike other leading knit technologies the innovative PRIMKENIT pattern of Ultra BOOST provides comfortable support in less expansive areas of the foot and adaptive stretch where it’s needed to deliver maximum comfort.

“Each technology featured in Ultra BOOST was built to complement each other providing energized adaptability through a customized fit, look and feel,” said Ben Herath, Vice President of Design for adidas running. “While we’ve taken innovation to the next level, the sleek silhouette of Ultra BOOST is built to look as good as it performs.”


ENERGY HARNESSED
One of the most advanced features of Ultra BOOST is the Stretch Web outsole that adapts and stretches to your foot strike and movement. The perforated elastic design harnesses and maximizes the Energy of BOOST without restricting any of its qualities. The unique appearance of the Stretch Web outsole is the perfect look to complement the eye-catching Energy capsules of BOOST.


SUPERIOR SUPPORT
Ultra BOOST also features an entirely new heel construction that frees the natural movement of the Achilles tendon. A carefully tuned external heel counter comfortably cradles the foot and adapts to the high extension of the Achilles. A new featherweight sock liner adapts to the runner’s natural foot form, for a customized fit and feel.

Ultra BOOST also boasts a new dual-density TORSION® SYSTEM, embedded into the shoe’s base. This allows more independent movement between heel and forefoot for superior stability and a smooth, more controlled run.

Your greatest run ever awaits. adidas Ultra BOOST will be available at adidas Sports Performance stores on 25th February 2015 at the retail price of RM650.

Join the adidas Energy running movement by following:

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

facebook.com/adidasMY ; facebook.com/adidasRunning

twitter.com/adidasMY ; twitter.com/adidasrunning

instagram.com/adidasrunning

WEBPAGE

adidas.com.my/ultraboost

HASHTAG

#ultraboost #boostyourrun #adidasmy

 

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About adidas Malaysia
adidas was incorporated in Germany in 1949 by Adolf Dassler in Herzogenaurach, Germany – a name that stands for competence in all sectors of sports around the globe. The permanent passion for innovation, to give athletes the best products to support their ambitions, has turned adidas into a global powerhouse and market leader, making us one of the world’s most widely recognized brand symbols, the three stripes of adidas.

With the incorporation of adidas Malaysia in 1994, and over the years, the adidas brand continued to go through major product introductions, technological advancements and on enhanced brand positioning, making the three stripes brand a credible and premiere sports brand in the world.

The brand attitude of “All In or Nothing” encapsulates the vision and goal of adidas Malaysia in continuing to capture the essence of being the leader in the sporting goods market in Malaysia.

For additional information and assistance, please contact: 

Adidas (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd.
Samantha Chan
Tel: +603 7494 9512
Samantha.Chan@adidas.com

ROOTS Asia Pacific (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd.
Charmaine Goh / Kimbelle Lee
Tel: +603 7494 0292
charmaine.goh@rootsasia.com / kimbelle.lee@rootsasia.com

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