The very first Lunaracer was revealed to the Malaysian market in 2008 as the competition shoe to the Lunar Trainer. Even though, they’re both retired for a long time, both pairs of these shoes are safely stored in a collectible box full of running memorabilia I’ve accumulated over the years.
Running in the early versions of the Lunaracer is a bit of a love-hate relationship for me. What works:
What wasn’t done right:
I’m not the only one. You only need to check on the Internet to find that many have the same opinion. Despite the negatives, I was willing to trade the discomfort for the lightness and cushioning it offered during the marathon.
Nearly 5 years after the first version, 2 years after the second, a year after the re-issuance of the first version, the Oregon company has finally refreshed the series. Targeted for end January 2013 release, the Lunaracer+ 3 (LR3) features a completely revamped upper but retained the mid and outsole from the earlier version. One wouldn’t have realized the LR3 to be a LR.
The redesigned upper is softer and much more breathable. Nike however clarified with me that they’re not of the same material as the Zoom Flyknit Racer’s (5.6oz). The other conspicuous change is the move from the very thin embedded Flywire fibers to the exposed and thicker strands, now called Dynamic Flywire. Rather than giving you a stiff wraparound the midfoot, you can now lace up per your preference. Overall build quality is very good, improved from the recent reissue. The shoe lays flat on the ground and doesn’t wobble around.
I was hesitant when I saw that the review pair’s size is US9.5 as I could only fit into a US10.5 of the earlier versions. Nevertheless, 9.5 was OK perhaps due to the softer and more breathable upper which provides a bit more give to the toes. US10 would be ideal for me. As you can see from the photo above, there’s visually little to separate both the new and old versions in terms of sizing despite the drop in a full size.
Structurally, there aren’t much stiff material used on the upper. As described above, the Flywire is now moved externally. The toebox and heel counter are all supported by thin plastics which doesn’t reduce wear comfort or cut into the skin.
The little dots you see on the Dynamic Flywire strands are actually reflective elements, and together with the large strip down the heel section, the shoe is very visible in low light conditions.
The following 2 photos show the broader tongue and more substantial heel tab of the LR3. The minimal padding used in the earlier version is retained. A wider tongue means less chances of it slipping sideways during the process of running. The notch on the heel tab will theoretically reduce the chance of scraping into the wearer’s skin. I’ll be able to verify this as I dig into the shoes over the next few weeks.
If there’s one thing I could tweak, that would be the stock sockliner. While many would love the anatomical aspect of it, I’d rather a flatter option. I’ll look out for alternatives out there as a manner to tweak my ride. Having a flatter sockliner will create a little bit more space up front while reducing a bit of weight – you’ve already seen that the sockliner adds close to an ounce to the shoe.
Flip the shoe over and there’s no difference to the arrangement of the lugs and materials used. This wasn’t a problem area, so it needs no change. I will nevertheless still keep the LR3 for MP long runs and races to minimize the wear and tear.
I’ve taken the LR3 on a few quick runs throughout the week and it didn’t disappoint. My runs were done alternating the stock sockliner as well as the replacement thin and flat Scholl insoles (RM18).
The following are my observations:
The Lunaracer has been my favorite racing shoe for the marathon since its introduction in 2008 – help yourself to the reviews of the earlier versions here. The current version 3 is the best so far and retains the positive elements of the shoe while improving the troublespots which has been the upper.
Suffice to say that I’ll be wearing it only for key long runs and special races. With this positive step forward for the Lunaracer, will Nike be bringing back the Pegasus Racer or the Skylon TC? The Nike Lunaracer+ 3 will be on the shelves end January and will retail for RM449.
Disclaimer: Review unit of the Lunaracer+ 3 was provided by Nike Sales Malaysia. In the interest of full disclosure, the company is also a regular advertiser on this blog as well as on RunnersMalaysia but the inputs and comparisons were all mine – afterall I’ve been wearing them since the original version!
In what seems like a throwback to 2008, a memorable year of running for me, I was recently and fortuitously reacquainted with an old friend in the form of the Nike Lunaracer. Though no longer available in Malaysia and rare in nearby Singapore, the first generation of Lunaracer is still sold in the U.S. One can get it for as low as USD70 from some online sites.
The shoe was sourced by an old buddie in Singapore and hand couriered back to me by another friend who happened to be in the Lion City. Talk about the alignment of the stars, huh? Some of you might know of my fondness for the Lunaracer and with my hunt for the racing shoe for Tokyo, this discovery couldn’t have been better.
The Lunaracer isn’t a perfect shoe by far simply because there isn’t a perfect shoe. Its fit is a little narrow as with most Nikes and the stiff collar may chafe and cut you raw. However it’s blessed with a barely there weight (5.5oz) yet offering enough protection in its ride. To prevent chafing, I tape up the ankle and ensure that the socks reach above the collar line. To minimize the overly snug fit, I tweak the lacing configuration. There’s not many makes of shoes out there which excites me, the most recent nice experience being the Brooks Pure Flow which offers a good ride but at the expense of weight. You’ll have your favourites for sure, but the Lunaracer is one that’s been proven for me. The Buckeyeoutdoors training log crashed sometime last year and I lost all the data, but if memory serves me, I logged close to 500K in them, with the NYC Marathon being its last. I believe I can squeeze more miles out of this new pair, now that my running gait has improved.
The updated Lunaracer 2 was a disappointment to me. Due to the reworked collar (to alleviate the chafing issues of the first version) and addition of rubber plugs, the weight moved upwards by an ounce. Nevertheless it wasn’t for these that I’ve less love for the 2. It somehow felt different from the original. The build quality was a little off too. At 243KM logged, it remains an active pair from speedwork to long runs. For a better visual comparison of both versions, check out this post.
Now that the Lunaracer is on board, my hunt for shoes is over. The yellow will be accompanying the green to Japan. The Pure Flow will be my walking shoe but really, either pair are race worthy should one be lost in transit. Tip: When traveling abroad for a race, ensure redundancy especially when dealing with checked-in luggage. All that’s left is just to enjoy Japan for what it has to offer, from the race experience, culture, food, sights and people!
This has been a long outstanding review. You can even guess when the photos were taken from one of the shots. But the days have been like that, zipping past at breakneck speed and before you know it, we’re halfway past January!
Since I’ve reviewed the Lunaracer+ (L1) before [review here], I want to be pithy with this review of the Lunaracer 2+ (L2). Most of you who follow this blog will know that the L1 was my favorite racing shoe. Imagine my exasperation when I initially thought that there will be no further development of the racer. It was either to hoard the shoes (not easy since it was brought in in limited quantities) or wear it only for special races, a strategy which I eventually adopted. Imagine my delight when L2 came into the market with several improvements. The price was still prohibitive so I held back my purchase till it went on clearance late last year, which was about time since I needed a racing shoe for the Penang Bridge Marathon.
A short test run was all I needed in the L2 before the marathon, such was my confidence in them. Finished the race in a time that I was very happy with, with no blisters to show despite running the race in pouring rain.
Now let’s get on with the shoes.
A cursory look suggests that the LR1 and LR2 are quite similar with no drastic changes made. After all the upper and midsole materials are still the same. That observation is only half true because while the appearance suggests so, there are subtle improvements which were put in specifically to address the problem areas of LR1.
Look closer and you’ll notice the more pronounced arch area in the midsole of the LR2. I’ve never had any issues with the arch area of the original racer so this change is irrelevant to me provided they don’t cause any irritation to the area. The next 4 changes are much appreciated, however. Nike moved the welding of the upper to the outside, minimalizing the chance of rubbing for the wearer. Look at the internal yellow strips of the LR1 versus the external gray overlays of the LR2. Then there’s the added padding around the collar and tongue areas which will prevent blistering around the archilles. I had a particularly painful episode on the archilles when training in the LR1 some years back, so the padding coupled with the notched heel tab will be well received by most .
Thirdly, the strands of Flywire supporting the heel cup have been removed which I think is great. The newer shoe is much more flexible because of the exclusion. In place of the Flywire, a stripped down version of the traditional heel cup is employed.
Lastly the LR2 should be more durable with the greater use of hard wearing rubber on the outsole. As a result the LR1’s 5oz weight have gone up by an ounce. I didn’t feel the weight increase when I wore the shoes. Make no mistake, the LR2 is still a very lightweight racer so runners needing much more support may need to look at the LunarGlide 2 or LunarEclipse+ instead.
The ride of LR2 is very similar to its predecessor – fast and smooth. Impact protection remains superb in such a light shoe. As I’ve not raced in hot conditions yet in the LR2 I can’t comment on its breathability, though I never had problems of that sort in the LR1. If there’s one thing I’d like to see is the increase in the height of the toebox but the future of the Lunaracer remains known only to Nike. I hope the series continues to be improved on but for the time being, the LR2 is my racing shoe of choice for races up to the marathon distance. For longer distances, there’s a new favorite but you’ll have to wait for the review as I’m getting the miles in them first.
If you’re lucky, you can still find the heavily discounted Lunaracer 2+ (about RM260) at selected Nike boutiques around the Klang Valley.
My love affair with the Lunar series continue with the trialing of the Lunaracer+. Being one half of the 2 models released by Nike which feature the space age Lunarlite foam, the racer took my running experience to another level.
When Wong (EKIN with Nike Sales Malaysia) handed me the shoebox, I had to shake it to ensure that the shoes were inside and when I opened the package to reveal the shoes, my colleagues were astounded by its lightness. One remarked that if thrown at someone across the room, the shoes may not reach their destination and if used to smack someone, it may not cause any pain! While I won’t try out the latter theory, I certainly want to test them out as quickly as I can. I made a visual inspection of the shoes and saw that the midsole construction looks that of the Trainer [review]. The main difference is on the upper. Instead of the Trainer’s white mesh, the racers sport a grey white translucent paper-like material. No visible stitching are seen. In their place, certain stress points had additional strips of yellow suede “welded” or crimped to the upper. Threads of Flywire interlaced the upper material providing just enough structure to support the shoe shape and the wearer. The sockliner is a thin foam and under the left piece is the spot for the Nike+ sensor. The outsole difference is less apparent. What’s obvious are the more liberal application of the BRS1000 and solid rubber plugs for better durability.
I made the right call by opting for 1/2 a size larger for the racer. The shoe fits like a glove and here’s where the next difference lies – their lack of weight. At 5.5oz, they are nearly half the weight of the already lightweight Trainers. The racers are low profile (see Notes section) and you’ll feel your calves walking around in them. With a planned 21K the next day, I limited my first run to a 5K and try as hard as I might, I had a hard time slowing down! I didn’t know if it’s the build, weight or material I just automatically ran in a light and efficient manner. Tap and go, tap and go. More mid to forefoot landing than on the heel. I simply went faster and couldn’t wait for the tougher run the next morning. 21K later, I was astounded. My calves and shins were just a bit sore but that was the legs adjusting to the lower ride. Since the first 2 runs, I’ve put the pair to some really hardcore workouts which included back to back long runs at different pace. The racers defy logic – mad science at work.
Consider the following facts:
1) I’ve not worn any kind of shoes below 9oz. I’m just not biomechanically efficient enough. Yet I was happily running in these 5.5oz babies chewing up the miles.
2) The legs didn’t feel trashed. I managed 166K mileage over 9 days which included 3 back to back long runs and several shorter workouts with only a day’s rest. The longest run completed so far in them was a 32K done at marathon pace.
3) Durability is top-notch. After over 100Ks in them, even the “nipples” on the outsoles are still there. Pulling on the racers give you a boost of confidence. You run lighter and faster. I saw my running form improved and ran faster in training than in race. They totally eclipse my hitherto favorite, the Lunar Trainer and that’s saying a lot, since the Trainers can certainly hold their own. The Trainers are better ventilated. It felt warmer in the racer. I spoke to Wong and he confirmed that said that this could be due to the upper material used to support the utilization of the Flywire. The typical mesh won’t hold the fibers, so a stronger material was used. In conclusion, all I can say is that I’m completely bowled over by the racers. Prior to them, there is no way on earth that I can wear shoes this light but they have everything a weekend warrior needs. I’m all the more efficient and faster runner because of it. If you think the Trainers are good, wait till you try the racers. It dispels the notion that a shoe this minimum and light can’t be worn by non-elites. But you’ve got to wait just a wee bit. Both the Lunar Trainer and Lunaracer are now available at the Nike stores.
As you can see from the photos on the left and bottom, the shoe is really holding up with the mileage work. I’ve since logged over 170K in them and the outsole looks just a little worn, which is really good for a racing shoe. Needless to say the shoe is Nike+ enabled, so you can wear it with a Nike+ Sportband.
The Lunaracer is definitely built like a racer. According to a shoe techie, the racer’s heel is 6mm higher than the forefoot. The racer’s forefoot is 16mm while the rear is 22mm. The forefoot-heel ratio of 6mm is half of a typical training shoe’s build. The Nike Free 3.0 is 19/23 (4), Free 4.0 is 17.5/23.5 (6), Vaporfly 21/33 (12).
For: Efficient, lightweight runner seeking an ultralight, responsive yet stable cushioned shoe for speedwork and racing.
Not for: Runners seeking more stability should look to Nike’s stability models such as Structure Triax and Equalon. A bit of pinching on the right shoe when toeing off. Some may encounter rubbing as well.
Bottomline: Wear socks that protect the heel and instep area, especially where the shoe flexes. Experiment with various lacing configuration. The Lunaracer is the shoe you’ll want to wear if you’re gunning for a personal best.
For more photos, check out the published review here.
A poor week mileage wise with no signs of changing. A consolation is that the quality runs were still there but that’s not good enough – not by my standards. The level of excitement has been going steadily up to be sure, as the day draws near. So to address my lack of workout today and in the future (I’ve had for weeks observed the trend of work eating into my running routine), I made a decision to invest in a spinning bike. There were some resistance to be sure but I told my wife that either she agrees with my purchase or put up with a grouchy and totally unfit husband. With the money, I could’ve part financed the purchase of a plasma TV or a DSLR but health and fitness go above those 2 nice-to-haves. I just have to arrest the slide in my workout frequency. And the bike is a proven machine to ensure that my aerobic fitness and strength don’t evaporate. It’s much cheaper than a treadmill, requiring less space, generates less noise while providing low impact workouts. That’s my machine below. I expect it to be delivered on Wednesday, allowing me to get back into the mileage groove very quickly at this critical stage.
I ran 8K on Thursday and 5K on Friday before this morning’s 21K. The Thursday run was good but I encountered the annoying runner who literally brushed everyone as he passed. At first I thought that he intentionally run close to me just to brushed me but I observed that he did the same to everyone. He could’ve easily just run wide. So I decided to harassed him and give him back some of the medicine he dished out. I was already 5K into my run, so I took it as a tempo part of my workout. I picked up my pace and stuck to his butt. I made sure he knew of my presence by periodically scraping my shoes. I’d draw very near to him – to his side, then to his heels. I felt strong and in control and I had energy and speed on tap. Just when I could’ve passed him, I pulled back just to annoy him. When he picked up pace, I’d draw level with him. At that pace, he lasted only 1 lap while I went on for 2 more Ks. I may sound like a mean fellow but this runner is worst. He’d been spotted relieving himself at the park indiscretely. He also parks his 4×4 illegally and treated the other park users with disdain. In short this man is a brute.
I had a nice surprise on Friday as I finally got hold of a test pair of Nike’s Lunaracer. Before that day, I’d never ran in a shoe that’s this light. The Lunaracer weighs in at a measly 5.5 oz. The lightest shoe that I’ve ever worn was the Nike Pegasus Racer of the early ’90s and the 9 oz cousin of the Lunaracer, the Lunar Trainer. 5.5 oz isn’t the typical territory of daily trainers and even racers for middle of the packers, only for the elites. But the Lunaracer is not your typical shoe. To get a feel of it, I immediately took it for a 5K. I will leave the specifics to the review. Suffice to say that I kept checking myself not to go too fast as I logged the most consistent splits in months. To say that I was totally floored by the wear experience is an understatement. More was to come as I took it for a 21K this morning. The mere fact that I was able to wear a shoe this light over the distance is already an amazement. I’m already looking forward to take them for a series of hard back to backs over the next 2 weeks, and only then will I sit down to write the report.
Despite a hectic schedule, nothing was going to stop me from attending the Nike Lunar Trainer and Racer briefing at the Nike Sales office. To me at least, these duo act are even more revolutionary than the Zoom Victory, which is already quite a happening shoe. Therefore please indulge me if this seems like an extended writeup here. I entered the briefing somewhat informed as I’ve been tracking various running forums on user feedback. The shoes have been launched on limited distribution in the United States. I’m incidentally reading Geoff Hollister’s book Out of Nowhere: The Inside Story of How Nike Marketed the Culture of Running and I’ve to say that what Nike is doing right now certainly epitomizes the traditions and the visions of Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman.
My lunch that day consisted only of a slice of pizza and a bun at 3pm. I was still mildly hungry when I was walking with Loke and Geraldine to the Nike office but daren’t eat anything more in anticipation of the 5K run following the briefing. We were greeted by Alison Lee, Nike Sales Malaysia’s Marketing Communication Manager soon after we stepped into the cool waiting area. Incidentally the décor was all about the upcoming Beijing Olympics. A section of the floor was even painted to look like a running track.
Read the rest of the report here.
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