Home > Run Shoes

Buyer’s Guide 2010: Lightweight Trainers/ Racing Flats

We look at some of the speedy shoe choices for faster training and racing.

Most triathletes hardly need a bulky shoe with excessive support for most of their running, a fact that hasn’t been lost on many of the major players in the running shoe industry these days. Never has there been so many shoes on the market that manage to combine light weight, support and durability. Here’s our look at some of the speedy shoe choices you have for your faster training and racing this triathlon season.

adiZero Tempo – $140

Combining performance and stability, the Tempo is a great shoe for those who are looking for more support for shorter distance racing and could be the perfect shoe for a marathon at the end of an Ironman. Suitable for mild pronators, this shoe manages to combine very light weight with the performance characteristics we’re used to seeing in the adiZero series. With a combination of adiPRENE+ in the front and adiPRENE in the rear, the Tempo manages to provide lots of cushioning and support in an extremely lightweight shoe that offers an air-mesh upper and dual-layer sock liner.

adiZero Boston – $140

Whether you’re running the Boston Marathon or a speedy half at the end of a 70.3, the adiZero Boston will get you to the line in a hurry. The adiPRENE+ used in the forefoot is designed to cushion on landing while that and the TORSION SYSTEM provides lots of responsiveness and stability as you toe off. There’s adiPRENE in the heel for cushioning, a blown rubber outsole for durability and an air-mesh upper for excellent ventilation. Transitions are easy thanks to the non-slip lining and dual-layer adiLite/respoEVA sockliner.  This shoe is perfect for fast moving, mid-foot-landing, triathletes and suitable for virtually any distance.

Gel Noosa Tri 5 – $179

Named after the long-standing Australian race, the Noosa Tri 5 is the latest version of this flashy racing flat that has long been a favourite for our reviewers here at Triathlon Magazine Canada. The triathlon-specific features include elastic laces that fit into Asics’ Aymmetrical Lacing Design that provides a snug, customized fit along with an extremely comfortable upper that makes sockless transitions a breeze. For a shoe this light, there’s a surprising amount of cushioning and support thanks to the DuoMax midsole that remains flexible enough for fast running.

Streak SL – $150
Pearl Izumi

A neutral racing flat, the Streak SL is super-light, but offers a surprising amount of cushion thanks to the High Rebound SKYDEX forefoot pad and SKYDEX heel crash pad. (If you’re feeling SKYDEX’d out, suffice it to say that there’s an impressive amount of cushioning.) Pearl Izumi has pulled out all the stops on this shoe, including flex grooves that provide lots of flexibility and a full-blown rubber outsole with a carbon rubber heel crash pad. The seamless race upper seals the deal for this shoe, making it an excellent choice for barefoot triathlon running.

Ultra Race 2 – $180

Designed specifically for faster transitions and for running off the bike, the Zoot Ultra Race 2 improves on the original Ultra Race, which was already one of our favorites. The synthetic upper is comfortable, supportive and breathable. Designed to be worn without socks, the Dri-Lex fabric used inside the shoe has anti-microbial Smart Silver to battle moisture, odor and to reduce hot spots that can turn into blisters. Triathletes love the quick lace system and heel tab that make transitions a breeze. The shoe performs every bit as well on the roads, too, thanks to the CarbonSpan+ which provides just the right amount of stability.

Grid Fastwitch 4 – $129

New this spring, the impressively lightweight Grid Fastwitch 4 manages to provide enough support for triathlon runs. Whether you’re doing your tempo runs or a transition at the end of a tri, the Fastwitch 4 provides lots of cushioning and responsiveness thanks to the dual density SUPER LITE EVA. There’s a very breathable mesh upper for those hot training or racing days, too. The XT-900 carbon rubber outsole provides lots of traction without sacrificing durability and  the flashy yellow colour will ensure that you’ll look fast and make a statement out on the run course this season.

Grid Tangent 4 – $139

For those looking for a bit more support and stability than you’ll find in the Fastwitch 4 there’s the Grid Tangent 4, which adds a tiny bit of weight, support and cushioning thanks to the HRC Strobel Board and Ionic Grid Cushioning. It has dual density SSL (Saucony Super Lite) EVA and an SRC impact Zone to absorb shock while helping you toe off the shoe for fast running. The Tangent 4 manages all that and still remains a very lightweight shoe. Combined with the comfortable mesh upper, it remains the perfect shoe for tempo training runs or triathlon races of any distance.

A 1.2 – $220

Designed for marathon and triathlon use, the Biom A 1.2 is designed for serious runners who intend to run fast. The anatomically shaped last provides a perfect fit. Designed to duplicate barefoot running, the low profile feels very natural and dynamic. The direct-injected PU midsole is extremely light and is permanently bonded to the upper. The rounded heel provides a natural landing point that is centred under the heel. The shank system on the sole stabilizes the foot without restricting that “bare-foot feel,” while the biomechanical sole construction and anatomically placed flex grooves supports the body’s preferred running motion. If you like the feeling of running bare foot, you’ll fly in the A 1.2s.

Wave Musha 2 – $120

Featuring a lightweight and responsive midsole, the feather-weight Wave Musha 2 somehow manages to provide lots of cushioning thanks the Mizuno’s Wave technology that dispenses impact uniformly over the length of the midsole. That same technology provides a surprising amount of support since the shoe won’t collapse medially or laterally, a feature that’s enhanced by the durable blown/solid X10 carbon rubber outsole. The new AIRmesh breathable upper has fewer overlays to increase comfort and reduce weight. You’ll be blown away at how light this shoe feels while remaining extremely responsive and supportive.

MR 769 – $120
New Balance

This racing flat manages to incorporate lots of stability and cushioning in a remarkably light-weight package. The TS2 medial post helps prevent pronation, while the ACTEVA midsole with DTS in the heel and ABZORB in the forefoot that provides a comfortable landing whether you tend to land on your heel or mid-foot. Forefoot flex grooves ensure this shoe is super-quick as you toe-off. The lightning-dry lining fabric will be appreciated in T2 and out on the run course, too.