Shoe Review: New Balance 880

New Balance 880

BAKGROUNDER:

Neutral Cushioning Shoe

  • Recommended for neutral runners looking for support, cushioning and a responsive ride.
  • An excellent shoe for fast-paced training or logging long distances
  • Weight: 10.9 oz

About a year ago, New Balance offered a low-key shoe called the NB759. It wasn’t very technical and despite its simplicity, it attracted a lot of following a runners appreciated its responsive, well-cushioned ride. Its direct descendant, the New Balance 880 doesn’t appear to be too special either. But looks can be deceiving because peso for peso, the NB880 is an excellent shoe and perhaps one of New Balance’s best road shoe.

A little more expensive than the venerable NB759, the new NB880 is essentially the same shoe with two minor differences: First, the 880’s midsole incorporates a stability web shank that makes it a notch stiffer but gives more support to the shoe. Secondly, it has incorporated NB’s ACTEVA Lite midsole which makes the shoe essentially lighter and provides great cushioning and shock absorption.

I’m confident enough to impart what the 880 can do as it has already logged about 80 kms since I got them last January. I like it so much that I am now using them exclusively for races, from 10k to the half-marathon distances. So much for that in a while.

CONSTRUCTION

I like the soft materials used for the upper which has plenty of open mesh and runs constant from the forefoot to the heel area. The tongue has a larger open mesh with soft cushioning underneath that hugs the top of the foot comfortably.

The outsoles are fairly aggressive that would adjust well in many surfaces. The hard rubber provided great traction on pavements and even on wet dirt roads. The midsole is made up of NB’s Acteva Light and the Stability Web. The Stability Web stretches from the arch to the heel portion which locks down the arch and gives some heft of stability at the medial port.

It almost looks like a stability running shoe except for the segmented “N-ergy” on the arch’s upper midsole that gives the shoe a noticeable rebound and produces a soft ride.

FIT and FEEL

This is probably the 880’s strongest point, its secured fit and comfortable feel. The forefoot, the upper and the heel area seem to mold into my feet like a perfect globe. The feeling was like wearing a made-to-order shoe. With the right socks and just the right amount of pressure when lacing the shoe, it was “love at first fit” and I just couldn’t wait to give it a spin out on the road.

PERFORMANCE

Just as I had expected, the 880 was light enough, it had a plush ride and I felt the softness from the midfoot to toe-off. Running felt very comfortable and the easy agility was evident, one I would compare with the great hugging Saucony Pro-Grid Ride that I had a few years ago.

The shoe felt responsive on forays of short and long runs. It is well cushioned and for a neutral shoe, it has a solid base for support. Until recently, it’s been almost impossible for me to find a good training shoe that I could dabble with into a racing shoe. The 880 is one example of why that’s no longer the case. In fact as I earlier mentioned, I am now using this exclusively for races and I intend to get another pair of this model before it gets phased-out.

CONCLUSION

Although the 880 is a durable cushioned shoe for the neutral runner, it’s light enough to be used as a fast paced trainer or racing shoe. And as a neutral shoe, it has a sturdy medial post making it surprisingly stable—enough for a wide range of runners. It is also an ideal long-distance training shoe for just about any level or type of runner, which I highly recommend!

New Balance Trail Adventure Race

As i write this piece, many good things have already been written and said about last Sunday’s New Balance Trail Adventure race and i echo most of the positive sentiments. To those who had their first trail run, i’m sure running it was a gruelling one but no less satisfying as it brought many to a new level of personal challenge. I had wanted to run the longer 15k distance but as i was still tending a sore plantar faciitis, i opted to join the 10k race instead. 

Nothing compares to running on virgin trails complete with deep wood, open sceneries on single track paths and the sparkling Nuvali river enclave. Sunday’s route was entirely different from the “dry-run” we had three weeks ago, hosted by the race sponsors themselves as we didn’t get to the knee-deep parts of the river and didn’t even see the cascading waterfalls. 

Nevertheless, the solitude, stunning sceneries and tough going as you made your way through the edges all made up for it. Reaching the river, what follows is a slow trek on either the rocks or the river itself that separates the cautious from the bold-headed! I was in the cautious group. 

The lush fauna carpeting the mountain river made it difficult to concentrate on speed when all you want to do is stop and take a picture of the beautiful surroundings. Running buddy, June Santiago did exactly that, took his time to take photo shots of the scenery as he did with us runners while we were in motion, as you would see in the pictures below. 

The last kilometer brought us back to the paved roads of Abrio as we passed the Lakeside Evozone where we crossed a wooden bridge for a strong kick to the finish at Solenad. 

Overall, the race was well-organized, the route exciting and scenic and the feminine wash (again) at the finish was aplenty. However, they should have added another water station at the race course to benefit those who did not bring hydration fluids with them as the two water stations made available were far in between.

Here are some of the photos taken by June Santiago:

with BR, Ka Totoy and Luis

A kilometer after the start

Still going strong

Reaching the river

We were all walking at this time

The walkways were very slippery

One single file on the tracks

There were some slip ups on the wet trail so we had to move very slowly

Some of the views along the river

Some runners did the right thing, charging right through the river

Nearing the river's end

The vertical climb, holding on to tree trunks, roots, branches and the ground itself

Stopping to chat with a runner

At the 8th km mark

The finish at 1:20:24

June and Rio

Running The Trails Of Nuvali

The notion of trails conjures up jaunts in old-growth, secluded forests that goes through wild sceneries of rolling terrain alongside gently flowing rivers and cascading waterfalls. Except…i was running right smack on the waters of a flowing river, this time! 

Last Sunday, having been invited by Ann Tajonera, Assistant Brand Manager of New Balance, Planet Sports, Inc., i had the pleasure of joining 22 other trail runners try-out a 15km trail in the Nuvali Headlands in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, parts of which will be used during the New Balance- Trail Adventure Run this coming June 20th. It was also an opportunity to practice in its truest form the art of Chi Running (CR) and no less than certified instructor Lit Onrubia was on hand to lead the charges, giving tips during the run and between rest breaks. 

This particular trail was mapped-out by Neville Manaois of Second Wind. The first half of the route featured mostly single track paths and weaves through rolling, open view sceneries. The trails offer excellent footing, a pleasant scenery although it could be hot in the open except that we had perfect weather during the early morning run. 

The second-half of the trail was more scenic, running through light forest, wider tracks but not too technical. However, all that changed when we were led into a deep, sharp descent towards a ridge and a river channel of lush wilderness. The river run was going to be the highlight of this trail. We were only able to run some shallow stretches of water as we were reduced to threading the waters which at some sections were knee deep high. It was slippery on the rocks and one false move, we were down on our knees on the water! For starters, these were some of the pictures taken:

Lit Onrubia giving instructions before the run

Neville Manaois giving a short briefing of the trail

Start of the run at about 5:00am

On one of the course's uphills

Sprinting runners behind me

Lit giving instructions on how to attack the downhills...

...and the uphills

More tips on running form

Our first water break after 3 kms

Off we go again

Running on a single track

Time out for a picture!

The wide, open plains of Nuvali

Past grazing cows on the left

One more briefing before we head for the river

At the 10k mark

Another hole to get through

Ann's all too excited to reach the river

Final assault of the river

Finally reaching the river's embankment

Lit giving tips on river running

Getting our feet wet!

Threading on the slippery rocks. Neville (in red) doing a balancing act

Deep inside the levee. I'm way back still taking shots

A stop at a cascading waterfalls

We were all wet at this point

We all sank ankle high, sometimes knee deep

Poor trail shoe!

A deep ravine on the right side

The group on our way back to Manila

I was just content in threading the river trail very slowly as i ran/walked most of the route shooting away pictures. Runners were passing me but i didn’t mind. I was able to reach a female runner ahead of me and we decided to run the last kilometer together. 

Finally, we saw the finish area as we gently jogged the end of our run. Hallelujah! I learned a tremendous deal on this particular trail run and i thank Lit for the invaluable tips. Foremost among the various techniques Lit imparted are: 

—  Be loose on the “downhills.” Posture your body on a sitting-like position and focus on a faster cadence, keeping your feet soft, light and nimble while keeping shoulders relaxed. Drive down hard if you want. 

—  Focus on maintaining “effort” level and not pace. 

—  Take it easy on single tracks, but go fast on wider lanes. 

—  Let your arms do the work on uphills and lift-up your head. 

—  When running through rivers, attack the shallow parts without minding if your shoes get wet. If tiny stones and sand get the insides of your shoe, don’t hesitate to stop and remove them to avoid blisters. 

—  If racing on trails, shoot corners/bends. It means sprint past the corners when runners behind you can’t see you and you should be able to increase the distance between you and the runners following you. 

Over-all, it was another fun trail run that should be experienced by all trail enthusiasts!