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July 2015

Latest in running footwear

Running shoe brands are constantly working on new ways to help runners by developing their respective technologies and materials. YAMKELA MKEBE spoke with suppliers to find out what’s in their shoes

Brands want what’s good for the runner’s foot … after all, runners will stop supporting a brand that makes shoes that hurt or are uncomfortable. Brands have been putting their years’ of experience with athletes to good use by continually developing their technologies to support, cushion, etc. the foot.

Suppliers offer a peek into their latest running shoe ranges and explain what technologies are in their shoes.

Adidas

Boost, adidas’ energy-returning cushioning, has now been engineered into a 100% boostmidsole in a new range of footwear: Ultra boost. “This will ensure that the athlete is kept charged with every step with an endless supply of light, fast, well cushioned energy,” says Geoff Batch of adidas SA.

Primeknit has now been launched into the Ultra boost forefoot, to adapt to the foot’s natural expansion and to help reduce irritation. “The Bootee construction provides a comfortable sock-like fit, with a featherweight sockliner that adapts to the foot for a customized fit and feel,” explains Batch. A highly elastic, snug-fitting heel with an external heel counter offers natural achilles movement, stability and comfort. An all new energy-harnessing stretch web outsole adapts and stretches with your foot strike and movement.

“With all these revolutionary and innovative features, the wearer may be in for his greatest run yet, in what is believed to be the greatest shoe ever made,” says Batch.

ASICS

ASICS has introduced their new Fluidride 2.0 system in the new Nimbus 17 model and will filter this technology through to all their top models going forward, says Dawid Visser of ASICS SA. “This dual density midsole technology is based on two types of EVA. Combined, they give the athlete a comfortable cushioned ride.” The top layer is made of Super SpEVA, which is softer under foot and gives the foot a nice soft bed to mould into when the wearer slips his foot into the shoe. Super Solyte, on the bottom layer, is 30% lighter than Super SpEVA and slightly firmer for shock attenuation and to give more feedback from the road. This new midsole absorbs shock better and has better proprioception from the road than previous models, says Visser.

Nimbus 17 also has a new engineered seamless upper called Fluidfit. This material is constructed in such a way as to give support in the right areas, but flexes and stretches in the appropriate areas to cater for natural unrestricted foot movement during the gait cycle, explains Visser.

“There is more focus on bright colours as the trend seems to be going this way,” he says. “This caters for the younger market and also doubles up for safety visibility reasons.”

Brooks

“Step into new worlds of comfort with the Glycerin 13,” says Michelle Chowles of local Brooks distributor, SBR Agencies. “We’ve pushed the limits of our 3D Fit Print technology to create a newly enhanced, seamless upper for streamlined support.” The 3D Fit Print utilises screen printing technology to apply engineered structure to the upper. The new dynamic saddle wraps the foot in secure comfort and the updated wraparound collar adds the finishing touch for a “perfect blend of ideal fit and plush comfort”. Underfoot, the Super DNA midsole provides 25% more cushion than the brand’s regular DNA for a smooth ride. Ideal Pressure Zones in the outsole optimise pressure distribution from heel to forefoot and the rounded heel helps keep the body in its ideal alignment. The curvature in the heel works to align the body by shifting the contact point forward, so that as the foot hits the ground, there is a greater clearance distance under the middle of the heel. “It therefore aligns force through the center of the ankle joint, reducing internal stress on the body,” explains Chowles.

“The new Ghost 8 hits the trifecta of balance, cushion, and light weight,” says Chowles. The new engineered mesh upper offers improved fit and function, which provides structure where it’s needed and breathability where it’s wanted. The upper is now virtually seamless, which means an even more comfortable, sock-like fit. While retaining its Omega Flex Grooves for optimised flexibility, the shoe has been updated with a new full-length Segmented Crash Pad for ultra-smooth heel-to-toe transitions. The Segmented Crash Pad midsole consists of fully integrated shock absorbers that are independent, yet completely integrated to work together to customise the wearer’s individual lay down to provide the right amount of cushion and seamless transition for each individual, maximising the effort put into each stride. BioMoGo DNA in the midsole offers adaptive cushioning and responsiveness. “It all comes together to make the Ghost 8 a scary good ride,” says Chowles.

“Prepare for lift-off! The Launch 2 is here and ready to go boldly into a great new running experience!,” exclaims Chowles. “We’ve taken everything your customers love about the original Launch and made it even more awesome.” The innovative BioMoGo DNA midsole responds to every step, providing adaptive cushioning, stride after stride, while the Segmented Crash Pad delivers smooth heel-to-toe transitions. The Air Mesh upper keeps the foot nicely ventilated and synthetic overlay materials add no-sew support.

“The Ravenna 6 rides the line between neutral and support,” explains Chowles. In the midsole, it features BioMoGo DNA and an extended Segmented Crash Pad, while the adjustable saddle wrapping from heel to midfoot provides a snug fit.

The Adrenaline GTS 15 features a blended BioMoGo DNA midsole, full-length segmented crash pad and the Progressive Diagonal Rollbar, which provides reassuring stability. The virtually seamless upper has a comfy sock-like feel and moisture-managing materials keep feet dryer while on the run.

“For a lightweight ride with plenty of cushion, look no further than the PureFlow 4,” says Chowles. “It boasts all the features wanted in a high-performance running shoe: a rounded heel for a smoother stride, improved Toe Flex for better alignment, a wider Nav Band in the upper for a snug fit — all wrapped up in a slick new design that brings loads of style with no added weight.”

Brooks’ trail portfolio also features exciting footwear. “Over hill, over dale, when hitting the dusty trail, hit it in the Cascadia 10,” suggests Chowles. “It is built with a four-point pivot system that acts like a personalised suspension system on tricky terrain, and a ballistic rock shield to protect the foot from trail hazards.” The Segmented Crash Pad and BioMoGo DNA midsole provide smooth transition and adaptive cushioning, and the asymmetrical saddle construction in the upper, moisture management fabric and hydrophobic foam all come together to create a rugged, comfortable “trail-running super shoe”.

The rugged new PureGrit 4 blends the secure grip of climbing shoes with the comfort of lightweight running shoes. “They connect the wearer to the terrain and protects from its tricky elements,” says Chowles. Aggressive hex lugs on the outsole provide maximum grip and the ballistic rock shield protects the foot. A toe guard provides protection and added traction when the trail gets steep.

New Balance

With Zante, New Balance is expanding their Fresh Foam platform. “It is our new softest midsole technology aimed at the metropolitan runner wanting to experience a speedier ride,” says John Andrew of New Balance.

Their new Vazee platform is all about speed and light weight, and targets the metropolitan athlete and running loyalist with two great new styles, which will be available during the third quarter 2016, he adds. Vazee Pace is a long distance lightweight trainer and the Vazee Rush is more versatile, for gym and running, “but with speed built into the recipe”.

Vazee is all about speed and Fresh Faom is all about softness, explains Andrew.

Most of the materials used are becoming more performance-based with light weight top of mind. Uppers will include detailed No Sew overlays to lock the foot in place, but that keeps the upper much lighter than the old traditional synthetic overlays, Andrew explains. “New Balance plays with different materials to get the right combination where they not only work well to support the foot, but also adds to the cosmetic appeal.”

The colours used on New Balance’s running range include bright pops on the shoes. “Colour pallets are all about the type of story you are telling these days,” says Andrew.

PUMA

One of the major technologies that we launched in April, and will continue with throughout the season, is PWRCOOL, says James Mullen of PUMA SA. “Comfortemp, a thermoregulation material, is found in the tongue lining and sockliner, which helps keep the body at an optimal temperature that preserves energy”, he explains. “Athletes can focus that extra energy to be faster.” The IGNITE PWRCOOL and FAAS 500 v4 PWRCOOL shoes feature this material.

PUMA has a long history of working with Jamaican athletes and this offered the perfect hot environment to test PWRCOOL during the development process. “Lving and training in Jamaica is a wonderful thing, but the heat is challenging and at times pretty exhausting,” says Olympic medalist Hansle Parchment. “PWRCOOL is a great technology to help counter that. I like it, the IGNITE PWRCOOL shoe is particularly cool.”

The IGNITE PWRCOOL combines the cushioning of IGNITE Foam with the cooling technology of PWRCOOL to provide step-in comfort and promote long lasting performance. IGNITE Foam is a superior cushioning material that disperses impact, while providing optimal responsiveness.

Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, trains in IGNITE PWRCOOL to help regulate his body temperature.

The FAAS 500 v4 PWRCOOL is designed for the everyday runner with new tooling to create lightweight cushioning.

PUMA will also be expanding their IGNITE running and training shoe collection by introducing two new styles into the market in July and August. Additionally, they will also update the upper on the IGNITE mesh to be more flexible and breathable than previous models.

In the FAAS range, PUMA is introducing a new stability model during late Q3 to complement the FAAS 300 S, which was launched this year in March. “The new model is built for the runner who is looking for moderate support with a high cushioned midsole,” says Mullen.

Skechers

Skechers — the brand worn by Meb Keflezighi: 2014 Boston Marathon winner, Olympic silver medalist (Athens 2004) and three-time US national champion in cross-country running (2001, 2002, 2009) — has several exciting developments in the running shoe range.

“The GOrun Ultra Road is the ultimate neutral cushioned running shoe,” says Yusuf Vadi of Footwear Trading, local distributor of Skechers. It features the lightweight and breathable Performance FITknit material on its upper, which provides a supportive and comfortable fit.

“It’s our latest innovation in breathability.” The perforated insole and strategically placed drainage technology system in the outsole allows unrestricted air and water flow, “providing the utmost in breathability and comfort,” explains Vadi. The dual-density Resalyte midsole has drainage perforations and the Resalyte technology for lightweight comfort and flexibility, that provides a soft responsive ride. For a smooth transition, traction and durability, Skechers has added high abrasion rubber to the GOimpulse sensors in the outsole.

The latest addition to the Skechers performance line, the GOrun 4 is a 4mm drop (without the insole) neutral cushion shoe. It features an ultralight, strong and virtually seamless upper for snug, comfortable and supportive fit. The M-Strike technology promotes a more efficient, mid-foot strike and the new Resalyte Power Pillar cushioning.

Another new addition, the lightweight Gorun Ride 4, is ideal for those who require more comfort and support. The new upper design provides a lightweight construction that secures the foot and moves with the wearer’s stride. The shoe also features the Resalyte cushioning, the same outsole as the one consumers have come to love on the GOrun Ride 3, a custome fit insole (for minimum ride remove the insole, for more support wear it) and a 4mm drop without the insole.

The GOrun Strada, a neutral cushion shoe with added structure, features a layered support zone on the upper: the material overlays work together to provide extera support. The outsole has a two-piece construction, consisting of Resalyte midsole cushioning and Resagrip traction control. Resagrip offers high traction that holds up for a long period of time under extended wear, and provides stability. “This helps with the mid-foot strike landing and the nice transition from landing to toe-off,” says Vadi. GOrun Strada also features the M-Strike technology and Power Pillars, which provide stability for a soft and responsive ride.

Skechers’ GOrun Vortex features a lightweight and breathable two-toned mesh upper, full-length Goga Mat technology on the insole that provides high-rebound cushioning with a responsive feedback and comfort, and the Resagrip technology in the mid- and outsole. The Goga mat, inspired by yoga mats, delivers high-rebound cushioning with a responsive feedback and maximum comfort.

The new range features bright, neon colours, Vadi points out. “We have made use of contrasting combinations, such as orange and green, pink and turquoise, or coral and lime.”




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