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4th place, age group M30-34, Kona qualification

3rd place, age group M30-34

3rd place, Finnish Championship

Winner, age group M30-34

2013 IRONMAN Kalmar
2nd place, age group M30-34, Kona qualification

Finisher in 9 hours 30 minutes

5th place, Finnish Championship

Winner, age group M30-34

More results here.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Saucony Running Shoes

After last season I started looking for a new running shoe brand for me to race and train in. I felt that Asics, that I used to wear, were starting to fall behind of the positive trend we are now seeing on the running shoe market. Shoes are being stripped down from unnecessary stability and pronation control features with the idea that the foot itself can do a better job at it.

While I liked the Hyperspeed 5 racing shoe, I failed to find a good shoe for everyday training in Asics' otherwise impressive lineup of shoes. First of all they all seemed to have an overly steep heel-to-toe drop of 12mm, which interfered with my gait, steering me towards heel striking. Second, the shoes were quite heavy and ridiculously expensive, at least here in Finland.

I had read good reviews about Saucony's shoes and really liked their designs so I decided to give them a go. I bought a pair of Kinvara 4 New York Marathon special editions and haven't looked back.

Kinvara 4

Weight: 224grams (size 9)
Heel drop: 4mm

Regular version of the Kinvara 4

My feet felt at home right away in the fourth iteration of the highly praised Kinvara. The shoe is light enough to be raced and yet sufficiently cushioned for everyday use. The low heel drop encourages to midfoot strike and has increased my cadence a bit, both of these factors reducing the impact forces to the foot.

The upper fits snugly and is made out of a breathable mesh. There are no hot spots inside the shoe and I wouldn't hesitate to run them without socks. The flexible sole is made from EVA+ foam with some rubber added to places of higher wear. The shoe has good traction on dry and wet surfaces. The design of the shoe stands out from the mass and as with most Saucony shoes, there are plenty of color options available.

There's really nothing that I can think of that I wouldn't like about this shoe. It quickly became my go-to everyday shoe from occasional track workouts to 20+km long runs. I haven't had a single problem with them and can wholeheartedly recommend them to most runners.

Virrata 2

Weight: 190grams (size 9)
Heel drop: 0mm

After my good experience with the Kinvaras, I decided to try another raved-about shoe from the Saucony lineup. The Virrata 2 is in many ways quite similar shoe as the Kinvara, but it goes a bit further with the heel drop reduced to zero and it's even lighter.

The upper is made of similar mesh as the Kinvaras and the very flexible sole with a triangular lug pattern also uses EVA+ foam. Rubber is used only sparingly in strategic spots to reduce weight. The bright green/red color scheme I got might cause some innocent pedestrian a migraine but at least it's only very temporary as I'll speed away in these babies.

Instructed by some review, I got the Virratas half a size bigger than the Kinvaras and found the fit to be perfect and sock-like. There is a tad more room in the forefoot allowing the foot to splay while in contact with the ground. After an initial couple of consecutive runs in Virratas, I felt my Achilles getting just a bit sore from the extra work they were getting because of the lowered heels. I let them rest for the next two or so runs in the Kinvaras and then returned to Virratas and haven't had an issue since. I've now used the Virratas on long runs, during speed work and everything in between. The ride is soft and well cushioned even though the shoes are in the racing flat category by their weight.

There is only one problem with the Virratas that comes to mind and that's the difficulty to choose between them and the Kinvaras when going out for a run. Saucony has managed to create two great allround performers!

Type A6

Weight: 156grams (size 9)
Heel drop: 4mm

Even though both the Kinvara 4 and the Virrata 2 can double as a racer at least on the longer distances, I wanted also a purpose built pure racing flat in my arsenal. I was lucky enough to get my hands on the completely overhauled Type A6 racer, whose previous incarnations have been regulars on the podiums in races of up to ironman distance.

Once again, the upper is of breathable mesh with a seamless construction which is nice for everyone who likes to run without socks. The sole has a special EVA blend with rubber surface to give plenty of traction. There are drain holes which is almost a requirement for me as I tend to soak myself in water in every aidstation during triathlons in my bid to keep core temperature down. Additionally, there's another welcome feature for triathlons in the form of string loops on the heel and on the tongue that can be used to quickly pull the shoes on in T2. The heel drop is a modest 4mm.

The fit is perfect for me in the same size as the Virrata 2. Type A6 feels like an extension of the foot and gives a firm but responsive ride. Thus far I've ran a couple of track sessions and one road race with the A6 and can't complain. It feels fast and literally encourages you to run harder!

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