Searching for Shoes: Return to a Past Love

Ready to go - new shoes and matching shirt! (Yes, I am VERY fashion-conscious.)

Ready to go – new shoes and matching shirt! (Yes, I am VERY fashion-conscious.)

First run since the Gnaw Bone 50K tonight! Coming on the heels of two ultras, and having just recovered from the cold I caught last week, it was predictably challenging. It was also about 85 degrees out there – not easy on a body still used to winter temps. But one part of me was comfortable; my feet, shod in a pair of the new Saucony Kinvara 5.

(Disclaimer: as much as I would love to be, I have not been compensated by Saucony, its retailers, or its minions in any way for this review. I bought the shoes, and I like them, so hence this post.)

I’ve been shopping around for new warm weather road shoes for a while. At first I thought I’d replace my well-used Brooks Pure Flows, so I tried the Pure Flow 2 and Pure Flow 3 at a local running store during a visiting Brooks “Happy Island” tour. But as has happened with many “next model” shoes I like, they just didn’t fit well. (See my lament on this trend in my earlier post on minimalist running.)

Sorry, I'm having trouble associating running with deep-sea adventure.

Sorry, I’m having trouble associating running with deep-sea adventure.

Other brands I tried had the same issues. Either the toe box was too cramped, or the heel was loose, or the midfoot area was too narrow. But I liked my pair of Saucony Virratas, and I read good things about the Virrata 2, so I headed up to Running Lab to try some on.

Oops. “We don’t carry the Virrata 2,” the manager told me. “Too many people were bringing them back.” It seems the foam was breaking down too quickly, reducing the useful life of the shoes. But Coach Marie suggested the new Kinvara 5. I’d run my first marathon in the original Kinvaras, and liked the light weight and low heel-to-toe drop. But the Kinvara 2 and 3 had not been comfortable, and the Kinvara 4 was too narrow, so I wasn’t hopeful. But I said what the hell.

Left, the original Kinvara. Right, the new Kinvara 5. Slightly taller, slightly thicker, but lighter.

Left, the original Kinvara. Right, the new Kinvara 5 – slightly taller, slightly thicker, but actually lighter.

Pleasant surprise! They fit well all the way round, and didn’t squeeze my midfoot. A few strides on the treadmill, and I was sold. Tonight I tossed them on and went out for a moderately fast 6 miles. Yup, these are keepers. In many ways they remind me of the Trigon 5 Ride, the first running shoe I truly loved – to the point where I searched the Internet for weeks to scrounge up one more pair. (Please don’t ask about the Ride 2 and the Ride 3. You can guess.)

The Kinvara 5 have more heel padding and a more breathable mesh upper - both really nice changes.

The Kinvara 5 has more heel cushion and a more breathable mesh upper – both really nice changes.

For another, more comprehensive review of the Kinvara 5, check out this post from Runblogger. (Note: he got a free pair. How do I get a gig like that?)

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