Shoe Review: New Balance 610 Trail Shoe

PROFILE:

Trail Shoe:

  • Smooth comfortable ride with adequate cushioning
  • Great traction whether in smooth or technical trails
  • Lightweight but exceptionally cushioned ride
  • Weight: 10.9 oz (size 9, M)

New Balance 610 Trail Shoe

I’ve seen this trail shoe model on many of my trail runner friends who swear by its dependability, comfort and durability, not to mention the bargain price made available in many running stores carrying the New Balance shoe brand.  It’s one of the most popular trail running shoes which i’ve worn and tested in about a dozen trail runs and races.

The New Balance 610 is a totally dependable performance trail shoe that does not budge on any surface that’s subjected to whether on rough roads, basic trails, rocky terrain or the occasional river crossings. It cuts through very nicely even on the most gnarly of trails and has enough cushioning to bump off rocks and muddy trails.

CONSTRUCTION:

The shoe has a light, synthetic upper mesh which is comfortable on the toes and gives adequate support. The mid-sole is composed of an injection-molded eva foam (IMEVA) giving it a firm yet flexible cushioning. However, i found the outer layer of the midsole to be soft as some scrapes and scratches were evident which is probably due to the constant scraping on rocks and other rough edges.

Mesh-panelled upper

The outsole has a high-traction thread made of Ndurance rubber which gives it a very durable quality and has multi-directional triangular lugs for sticky traction on most surfaces. I’ve logged-in about 100++ kms in this shoe and so far, the outsoles have been holding up very well with no issues regarding durability. The ankle collars are adequately padded with a lace up system that has string eyelets in the first 2 holes which gives it a somewhat secure fit.

Ndurance outsoles

FIT AND FEEL:

Straight out of the box, the NB 610 has a nice feel, has adequate room in the toe box (i wear 2E widths) and there is no rubbing in the inner edges whatsoever. No pinched feeling as well! The lacing system does help a lot in locking-in the feet and the padded heel counter added to the comfort when i started to walk in it.

Putting it on for the first time, the feeling is like wearing a familiar shoe that you have broken-in and worn for several times and felt very comfortable that you won’t think its new.

PERFORMANCE:

The NB 610 has been put through its paces in several trail runs from 10-k up to 30k distances like the Nuvali Rock and Road Trail Race, all PIMCO Trail Races in Tanay, test runs in Tanay and Miyamit,  Timberland Heights runs, the recent Salomon X-trail run at Hamilo Coast and many other trails outside of the city. This means running in all trail conditions and i’m giving it high marks for its versatility and adaptability.

It shines in all surfaces and treks well in river crossings. The shoe sheds water very quickly except when small sands and pebbles gets inside the shoe that i have to completely stop and remove the shoe of its debris. The shoe doesn’t lose its cushioning and stays very breathable even in hot weather running.

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION:

A great all-around trail shoe that doesn’t disappoint and i wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to all hard-core and beginner trail runners. Neutral and slight over-pronators will enjoy the high performance ride and do-everything versatility of this trail shoe.

(I bought this shoe at a bargain price of less than P3,000.00 at the New Balance Store branch at Shangrila Mall, Edsa).

Note: There’s a newer version of this shoe, the NB 610V2 which i hope to have and review in the future.

Shoe Review: Adidas Response Stability 4

BACKGROUNDER:

Stability Trainer:

  • For runners who need good medial and lateral support and midsole cushioning
  • Great moderate pronation control that can be felt guiding and correcting the foot while in motion.
  • Stable ride with adequate amount of cushioning
  • Weight: 11.5 oz (size 9 1/2)

Adidas already has one of the best stability shoes in the market, the Supernova Sequence and it’s latest incarnation is the Sequence 5. I had some very good experience with their Sequence 3 model which i first tested 2 years ago and i would say that it was of the best stability shoe i ever had and i’m still using it up to this day.

It would be easy to overlook this new RESPONSE STABILITY 4 model because of the more popular Sequence but the Response Stability 4 is just as great! This is the first time i’m testing this series and i’m pretty satisfied with it’s performance so far.

Even though it doesn’t have the flashy upper and the pleasing look of the Sequence, the Response Stability series is still one of the mainstays of the Adidas line because of its hordes of followers.

CONSTRUCTION:

Construction wise, most of Adida’s newer models don’t deviate much from its predecessors. The designs are simple, but very well constructed and this particular model has a wider 3 stripes design with a thin reflectorized strip that runs across the middle of each stripe.

The upper has synthetic overlays that enhance durability and support. The medial post of the Stability 4 called Pro-Moderator is very visible with its colored (red) lining that runs at the arch of the mid-sole. The Adiprene, Adidas’ elastic inserts located at the forefoot and heel gives the shoe its propulsion and cushioning from impact to toe-off.

This model still uses its ADIWEAR blown-rubber outsole which gives it high-wear durability.

FIT and FEEL:

Now for the first time, i found an Adidas model that is wide-bodied than any of their other models i’ve tried. I particularly like the roomy toe-box which an adidas wearer should know is not one of their strong points and i’m now even using thick socks on this pair which posed no cramping and adjusting inside.

It has more than adequate cushioning on the midsole and tongue and similar to the Sequence, the fit is comfortable, snug but not too controlling.

PERFORMANCE:

This shoe had its baptism of fire on the hot concrete roads around Mall of Asia to Roxas Blvd and Macapagal Avenue. Cushioning was very adequate running on hard concrete without feeling any soreness right after the 17 km run. Again, at the asphalt jungle of Ortigas Center this time, the shoe felt responsive and during the downhill crest along Julia Vargas Street, the foothold came firm and stable but did not impinge my gait nor foot stride.

I also like the smooth ride of this shoe and the consistent cushioning whether i adjust to heel striking or whenever it goes mid to forefoot strike when i go uphills.

At 11.8 oz, this shoe is by no means very light but that’s counter balanced by the easy flexing smoothness and its ability to rev-up to higher speeds when necessary. Oh yeah, you try to rev-up when you know that your lagging behind your friends! The medial-post did its job well as i didn’t feel any “rock and roll” problems inside the shoe even when running on uneven surface.

CONCLUSION and RECOMMENDATION:

The Response Stability 4 gets high marks from me for its support, cushioning and comfort.

I would recommend this for mild to moderate over-pronators, stability- oriented runners who wants a blend of cushioning and stability.

Shoe Review: Diadora Mythos Samurai III

BACKGROUNDER:

Neutral Lightweight Shoe:

  • Recommended for about any type of runner who needs medial support and stability
  • Good second shoe for long-slow distance runs, fast-paced training and short to mid-distance racing
  • Geared towards heel strikers that offers propulsion from heel transition to toe-off
  • Weight: 10.5 oz.

I’ve been using this Diadora model for the past 5 months now and i seem to be holding off its review in favor of other running shoes which are more recent. This is not to say that this ain’t worthy enough to be given its due credit. Fact is, the Mythos Samurai III would be able to compete with other top running shoes in the market, technically and functionally.

CONSTRUCTION:

The first thing you’ll notice about this model is its flashy color combination of gray, blue and orange which gives it an attractive appeal. However, more than aesthetics, the shoe seems to be well-constructed–the design, stitching, quality of materials are all top-notch!

The upper is made of nylon airmesh, the midsole is of molded Elaston, a kind of EVA foam. The outsole is of blown Flexoft rubber located in the forefoot while the heel area is made out of Duratech waterproof compound.

FIT AND FEEL:

This shoe has had 80 to 100kms of running into it and i’ve tried it in all surfaces like asphalt, concrete, oval track, soft and technical trails and it has complemented perfectly well to all these surfaces.

Getting into the shoe posed no problem–once you’re in, you’re locked in. There’s enough room for your feet to breathe inside. However, even with their so called Elaston Eva midsole and the Flexoft/Duratech rubber and air outsole, i didn’t find that the Mythos Samurai III has a particularly cushioned feel.

Even the removable insole which is made of thin plastic Eva foam didn’t do much to cushion the shoe. Nevertheless, it still had enough bounce to make the ride more comfortable.

PERFORMANCE:

Performance wise, the Samurai III has a lot to offer. Being light, the shoe is very responsive specially on fast-paced running. Surprising too was how well it adapted to trails as the outsoles were aggressive enough to take those off-road surfaces.  I’ve used them also on a couple of 10k races and the shoes responded very well to steady-paced running and sprints with no discomforts, whatsoever.

CONCLUSION:

Though the Mythos Samurai III is a light, responsive and flexible shoe, it has a sturdy medial post making it surprisingly stable–enough for a wide range of runners. Even if it’s not cushioned enough, it’s still an agile and versatile shoe and good enough for racing. Its ideal for 10k to 21k distances for just about any level or type of runner. Moreover, it’s readily available locally at Royal Sporting House branches at a sale price of no more than P2,700.00/pair,  a very good deal if i may add!

Shoe Review: Reebok Realflex Transition

The Realflex Transition

BACKGROUNDER

LIGHTWEIGHT TRAINER:

  • Recommended for bio-mechanically efficient runners, heel to midfoot strikers who need a light, well-cushioned shoe for fast-paced training or racing.
  • Could be used as an everyday running shoe on paved roads, the track and simple dirt roads
  • Weight 6.5 oz.

Sometime ago in a blog post i did about Reebok, i rued that their running shoes were under-represented in the local running scene as most of their models were catered exclusively to aerobics, gym or basketball enthusiasts. Where were their “Premier” models like their Verona KFS,  Fusion 2, the Phoenix and Trinity models? I didn’t see them sold anywhere locally, even when most of them were rated by Runners World Magazine as its Editor’s Choice, Best Buy or Best Debut picks.

Instead, they came out with blazing marketing blitz on their Zigtech and Easy Tone model, which would later cause the US Federal Trade Commission to order the company to refund a hefty sum to buyers for false advertising on their Easy Tone model.

While the Easy Tone, a toning/walking shoe, that  purportedly provided extra tone and strength to leg and buttock muscles was viewed as a false claim by the FTC, the Zigtech on the other hand sold very well although real runners were still not convinced as to its worth as a true running shoe. However, it had its share of glowing reviews and many runners swear to its admirable performance and have used it in marathons and ultra races.

The Reebok Realflex comes in a time when minimalist shoes are the rage and runners would like to try everything that would allow them to run as naturally as their bodies would allow. While not a minimalist shoe per se, the Realflex Transition might be a transition shoe for minimalist running as it is lightweight, very flexible and and all-around trainer.

I was skeptical with this shoe right out of the box but my perception changed when i was able to run on it on varying distances, speed and terrain.

CONSTRUCTION:
  • Over-all, the Realflex Transition has minimalist construction, the upper is made of synthetic layers with breathable mesh and suede leather around the outer forefoot area and heel cup.
  • This is probably Reebok’s training shoe at the extreme lightweight end of the spectrum and the Realflex takes the minimalist concept as far as construction goes.
  • The shoes’ interior, from the heel to the midfoot area is well padded and the removable insole is thick and cushiony. The outsole is engineered with independent multi-directional “nodes” strategically positioned to give additional cushioning.
 FIT AND FEEL:
  • The Realflex has a nice, snug fit. It’s one of the most flexible shoes i have ever tested. I like the footing which is soft but firm and there are no irritation issues with the upper and even on the heel-counter which is somewhat high.
  • Like i mentioned earlier, the insoles are super thick which looks and feels like an orthotic and gives it a somewhat bouncy ride. Its lightness is palpable as you can immediately discern that this is made for tempo, intervals, fartleks, hill repetitions and racing.

PERFORMANCE:

I was amazed at the lightweight feeling and the cushioning was major, like somewhat of an over-kill. The responsiveness was robust, the upper is seemless and the shoe performed like a racing flat and it glided well on pavements as well as on dirt roads.

The nodes provided great traction and when cruising up hills, it provided some extra bounce which helped to push me up on the inclines. The Realflex performance was solid but then, i would like to put it more on its paces like on technical trails and see how it performs. The slugs are pretty aggressive but because of its soft, flexible built, i have some doubts as to its durability and longevity.

CONCLUSION:

My initial impression of the Realflex Transition is overwhelmingly positive. The slight stability bars along the edges provided some control and the outsole package of the shoe were just fine. The shoes’ interiors are comfortable and well-padded. It is also quite light thanks to its minimalist composite materials of the upper.

It’s nice to see Reebok make conventional running shoes once in a while even if the Realflex main features are borrowed from concepts of minimalist shoes. However, i would like to think that Adidas (the owners of Reebok) would still want to develop newer innovations on their own brand and would rather spend a bigger allocation of funds for their shoes’ development to enhance a better, lighter and mainstream shoes for serious runners. I venture that Reebok would still be concentrating more on shoes geared towards a wider scope of athletes and cross-trainers for their avid users which for many, is still a good thing.

My thanks to Reebok, Philippines and to local Reebok ambassador, Blas Tiangco for letting me try-out this shoe.

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!

Shoe Review: Mizuno Wave Prophecy

BACKGROUNDER:

NEUTRAL CUSHIONING SHOE

  • Recommended for neutral runners to slight overpronators who want a high-performance ride and maximum versatility of high-speed training to week-end high-mileage runs.
  • Excellent shoe for heel or midfoot strikers that offers a soft cushiony transition ride from heel to toe-off
  • Uses Wave Plate cushioning instead of a midsole foam for greater shock absorption and easy toe-off
  • Weight: 12.8 Oz.

Mizuno Wave Prophecy

This is the first time for me to review a pair of Mizuno running shoes although i own old pairs of their Wave Elixir-2 and the Wave Precision-9, the latter which i purchased about 3 years ago. I like the Wave Elixir model very much as it was light and responsive while the Precision-9 did not perform as well as its midsole outlived its use faster than the life of its outsole. Both were very durable, though those were the last pairs of Mizuno i bought since then.

Last week, i was pleasantly surprised to hear from Timmy (of Mizuno Philippines) that we were finally going to test-run their newest model, the Mizuno Wave Prophecy which had been advised to us of its pending release since last year.

CONSTRUCTION:

The Wave Prophecy is a massive piece of engineering, with a bridge-like plastic plate that extends from the heel up to the toes of the sole. These plates called the Infinity Wave Plates are two inter-connected plates, stacked together and molded at different densities. It acts like an energy return system that absorbs shock, maintain stability and pushes off efficiently.

The overlays are properly positioned, the heel counter well padded and the stitching are well done. The soft inner mesh are designed with red, black and white color strips and they did a good job in showing some flair in the over-all aesthetics of the shoe.

The outsoles are fairly aggressive that would work well on many surfaces. Also, the sock-fit insoles are removable, conforms with the shape of the foot and is well cushioned.

FIT AND FEEL:

Do not be disheartened if you can’t get into the shoe on your first try. The shoe seems to be narrow that you couldn’t slide your foot easily inside. This is because the tongue has two garter stretch connected at each side to the base of the underfoot that may block the foot when sliding in. The trick is to pull the tongue up while slipping your foot into the shoe.

Personally, i would have preferred to do without those elastic garters and instead, have those lace-on eyelets on top of the tongue, as with many regular shoes.

The arch seems to be a little narrow and too controlling–maybe the result of the garters securing the foot snugly. Thank God the forefoot space is accommodating enough. Also, you could physically feel a lump of cushioning in the ball of the foot which is likely brought about by the addition of the AP+ insert located at the side of the forefoot.

PERFORMANCE:

Scheduling a run amidst a brewing typhoon would not be an ideal time to test run a new shoe but still, i wanted to be done with my first impressions. And true to my fears, it began to rain lightly just after the 3km mark so i had to stop at a nearby shed as i didn’t want to get my shoes wet this early! (Ugh..nice timing!) Luckily, the rain stopped after a few minutes so i continued my run. I was scheduled to do a 16k run.

The first 3 kms was an easy run and immediately, i noticed the comfort, starting with the soft landing on the heel and continuing with a smooth roll-through to the forefoot. Although the shoe, at 12.8 oz was mid-heavy, the ride was plush, insulating and particularly soft in the midfoot.

At times, the shoe felt bouncy but its surprisingly stable enough even when charging up on hilly terrains. Though it was not as light as i wished it to be, the Wave Prophecy was responsive, specially in the midfoot and forefoot and nimble enough that i thought would be ideal for really long runs.

When the rain started to pour on during the last 3 kilometers, the shoe maintained its agility but like any shoe that have been drenched by continuous rains, i had to drag it along as it became heavy with water.

CONCLUSION:

  • The Wave Prophecy does serve up an ultra-smooth ride in a package that blends soft cushioning with a slight amount of stability. It would be an ideal everyday trainer, able to cover long distances or shorter, fast work-outs.
  • I like the heel to toe transition of this shoe, noting the cushioned heel strike to the stiff yet soft toe-off which seem effortless.
  • This shoe is on the heavy side but that’s counter-balanced by the easy flexing smoothness of the forefoot and its ability to glide easily to faster speeds when necessary.
  • The full-length Wave Plate, the Dymotion Fit materials that shrinks and expands with your foot and the great looking aesthetics of the shoe do their job well and are all winners!

I’m looking forward to running more miles in them and hopefully, on dry weather!

Shoe Review: On-Running Cloudsurfer

BACKGROUNDER:

Lightweight Cushioned Shoe:

  • For efficient runners, forefoot strikers and underpronators who want good cushioning and a light flexible ride
  • Good second shoe for fast-paced training, racing and long distance runs
  • Won the Avansa Over-all award at the recent ISPO Brand New 2010 Awards for Innovation in Sports
  • Weight: 10.0 oz (estimate)

Engineered in Switzerland, made in China.

Well, the production in China is mostly a given, where majority of running shoes (or nearly all of them) are made there but the ON-Running shoe has its roots in Switzerland and no less than the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Testing and Research has tested and acknowledged the cushioning capabilities of this shoe.

The ON is relatively new in the market making its debut at the International Trade Fair for Sports Equipment and Fashion in Munich last year. It is presently available in Europe, the United States, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia and developed by Ironman Triathlon Champion Olivier Bernhard and endorsed by former New York Marathon Champion Tegla Laroupe.

I was able to test run this shoe last week and the model i have is the “Cloudsurfer”. The fact that this shoe has nothing to do with surfing, it was created to simulate a glide-like soft landing and to make a powerful push-off with the help of its lugs.

CONSTRUCTION:

The Cloudsurfer is one radical-looking running shoe that i’ve tried. Its big advance: to land as soft as landing in soft ground and to push off effectively by using its 3D CLOUDTEC Cushioning technology which are pieces of circular rubber lugs they call “clouds” embedded on the outsole. That’s right, the outsole! ON shoes has become one of the first shoes to take the cushioning battle to the outsole. Gimmick or not? Not.

ON shoes accomplishes this with 13 circular “clouds”, 9 of which are located in the forefoot area and 4 much sturdier clouds on the heel side. With these, the clouds compresses, locks and rebounds for a powerful push-off and compresses back to a very cushioned landing.

Aesthetically, the shoes are very well built with a lightweight mesh fabric while the panels are wide enough for cooling ventilation.  The sock-fit insole are removable and well cushioned to conform to the shape of the foot for comfort and support. The collar and tongue are well padded as the stitching and overlays are very well done.

FIT AND FEEL:

There’s no problem getting into the shoe, so once you’re in, you’re locked-in. The pull-up tab on the heel was not necessary, in my opinion. The fit is snug and wraps around your foot nice and comfortable. It flexes in the forefoot and is flexible enough for both forefoot and heel strikers. The inside feel is roomy and did not overheat even when used in hot weather.

PERFORMANCE:

The ON is a solid workhorse and running an initial 13k on asphalt and concrete on my first try did not pose any inconvenience, whatsoever. The ride was smooth, transition was very responsive and there are times when you don’t feel the ground as those “clouds” may have been doing its job in dissipating the shock.

The light, glove-like feel seem to float on fast-paces and even running on cement (which i hate and try to avoid) seem to be inconsequential as your concentration remains to moving fast and efficiently, as possible.

The following day was my tempo and interval day and tried to see how responsive it was on faster-paced running. True to form, it is light, agile and very receptive. From a tartan track to a dirt track and back on the roads, the ON did show its adaptiveness and i’m tempted to try it on a trail one of these days.

HIGHEST AND BEST USE:

High marks for this shoe! On a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest, i’ll rate this at 4.5. Ideal for efficient runners who want a responsive, lightweight trainer and a good second shoe for fast work-outs or as a well-cushioned racing shoe.

CONCERN:

This shoe doesn’t come cheap and will be lumped with other expensive running shoes like the Newton and Somnio. So with the price, the questions are: Are the rubber clouds durable enough and for how long will they last? I’m sure there have been tests on longevity and durability conducted on this and would like to know of the outcome. So, the jury is still out, as for now. The On-Running shoe will be available at Chris Sports in early September, 2011.

She's Chris Sports' Marketing Manager Arleen Lindo giving my test pair last week. Thanks, Arleen!