Saucony Kinvara 7
The Kinvara is marathon-running royalty, with previous editions beloved of runners the world over. The latest batch keeps the 4mm heel-to-toe drop, lightweight feel (218g) and flashy looks. However, it runs a little firmer than its predecessor, which some runners may dislike. A “Pro lock” system keeps the laces tight in the middle as well as the top, and the shoe achieves the difficult feat of feeling quick and comfortable. All in all, a great option for efficient runners who are still pushin’ for some cushion. Long live the Kin, indeed.
Pearl Izumi E:Motion Road N2V2
Pearl Izumi’s ‘no bells and whistles’ approach has garnered a loyal following. And fans of its neutral running shoe range will be pleased to know that the latest addition, the N2 V2, maintains the breathable, lightweight upper – made using 3-D print technology (no seams) – and just enough energy-returning cushioning. The traction is limited but, as the name suggests, this is very much a road-only shoe. For those looking for a highly dependable option, the N2 V2 will ensure over the 13.1 miles are drama-free.
Adidas Adizero Adios Boost 3
Lightweight, flexible and snazzy, this shoe will score highly with the speed snakes among you. Like a Formula One car, everything unnecessary has been stripped away in a bid to reduce weight and boost speed. This translates to a perforated upper and a responsive Boost midsole. A slightly roomier toebox would be a welcome addition, while the 9mm heel-to-toe drop will displease members of the minimalist mafia. However, there’s a reason this shoe is the weapon of choice among many top runners: it’s a fast, fuss-free delight.
HOKA Clifton 2
If you’ve already run in the Clifton, you’ll be pleased to see its latest addition, with a firmer toe box and heel cushioning plus a no-sew Speedframe upper design. This neutral shoe is packed full of cushioning to absorb the shock of hard tarmac surfaces, but is equally at home off road. We found them supportive and comfortable – you still get 29mm of EVA cushioning under the heel – but also unbelievably light to run in. The over-sized midsole might look cumbersome, but believe us when we tell you that it’s something of a joy to run in.
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante
Easy on the eye, with comfort to boot, the Fresh Foam Zante is a neutral-shoe lover’s dream. Fresh foam technology cushions the foot, without restricting movement or speed. A thick, structured upper lends itself to stability, but does come at the cost of flexibility, although that’s a minor concern for an otherwise impressive design. New Balance’s latest release is a rare blend of comfort, style and performance – acting as a lightweight racing shoe for PB-getters, while doubling up as a durable and supportive option.
Brooks Launch 3
The Brooks Launch 3 is a sub-300g shoe that punches above its weight in terms of stability (despite being a neutral shoe) and relative cushioning. This leaves it sitting somewhere in between a high-mileage training shoe and an out-and-out racing flat. Most of the weight-saving has come from the upper, which is thin and breathable but reinforced in the right places for durability. As well as having a roomy toe box, this is the type of shoe you could race a marathon in without sacrificing too much comfort.
The Fate is Newton’s first truly neutral trainer, offering a little more underfoot protection than some of the line’s slinkier models. The heel-to-toe drop, though, remains a relatively minimal 4.5mm – making the shoe a useful option for those looking to transition to a more natural style. Newton’s trademark ‘pop’ wedge on the outsole aims to encourage a mid/forefoot strike, but it feels less obtrusive than in previous versions. The toe box is roomy and the upper breathable without feeling flimsy. A great half-marathon option.
Asics Gel Hyperspeed 6
If you’re a PB hopeful, or just a generally pacey runner with designs on a speedy marathon time, you might take a chance on the Asics Gel Hyperspeed 6. Flexible, feather-light and with great traction, these things are built for speed. There’s just enough room in the toe-box to allow toes to splay, and we experienced no ‘hot spots’ or blisters while running in these. However, there’s not a lot of cushioning underfoot so you’d be advised to run a half-marathon, or up the pre-race mileage in these, before risking them for the full Monty.
inov-8 F-lite 195
The efficient, light-footed runner would do well to add these to his arsenal. As with most inov-8 shoes, there’s the offer of a precision or standard fit, the latter giving you ample room for the toes to splay on longer runs. The outsole is thin and flexible and, combined with the 3mm drop, they really do encourage that mid-to-forefoot strike. A slightly flabby tongue means you may want to lace up tighter than normal to prevent them coming loose, but otherwise this is a paired-back shoe showing that simple really is best.