After a little break, Ultra168 is back to work, or rather fun as we call it and we hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends. Whether you chose to have a break or carry on running, the New Year is just around the corner and I’m sure we’re all planning our races for 2013.
For one of our final reviews for 2012, we welcome back one of our guest reviewers, Caine Warburton, a Queensland-based ultra runner and coach who’s featured regularly on our pages, and we’d like to thank him for his support and of course all the others who have written for us in 2012. For this review, Caine has very kindly looked at the new Adidas Adipure Gazelle shoes, a road minimal shoe which is one of three shoes Adidas have in their new minimal range. Take it away Caine…
Until recently most major shoe manufactures had been slow to adapt to this rise in the minimal mentality. However things are starting to change, Adidas recently jumped on the minimal band wagon producing 3 shoes which they claim will have a more “natural” feel.
The Adipure Gazelle is one of those 3 shoes in their “natural running” line up along with the “Motion” and “Adapt”. The Gazelle is the middle of the three shoes in terms of ‘minimalistness’ and perhaps the best one suited to minimal road running.
The Gazelle is true to size and fits as per your usual shoe size, no surprises there.
Being a minimal shoe heel drop and with cushioning still a hot topic, the Gazelle sports a 17mm foot bed with a 7 mm heel to toe drop. Whilst these are somewhat conservative figures in the world of minimalism the shoe was designed for the road and is the middle (in terms of cushioning and drop) of the “Adi-pure” range. The 17mm cushioning and 7mm drop provide a nice step down from the Motion without getting into the extremes of the Adapt.
A unique design of the Gazelle is the upper, as opposed to the usual mesh/fabric upper that is solid and holds form the Gazelle uses a synthetic 4 way stretch fabric called “tech fit” it is form fitting, lays flatter on top of the foot and has elastic properties giving it the ability to conform around the upper foot. This can be an unusual feeling at first but seems to disappear once you take that first step. Due to the design and softness of this upper I found sockless running is the best choice in the shoe.
Despite the Gazelles narrow profile and traditional lacing system it sports a very roomy toe box. I believe the toe box has been designed to allow for a more natural toe spread while running and even with my wide size 12 pontoon feet I found it to be more than accommodating. Further more the lacing provides a snug fit around the instep and across the top of the foot giving that sense of security in contrast to the room toe box. The Gazelle also boasts a non-ridged heal cup, typical of minimal shoes which can sometimes be a talking point for those of us who suffer Achilles irritation.
Adidas have really preempted who will be using this shoe by only providing grip tread on the midfoot/forefoot of the sole leavening the heel of the shoe as a plain slightly resistant “adi- wear” foam. Whilst this design works well and keeps overall weight down it hammers home the running style the shoe is pitched at leaving little room for those with prominent heel strike running form.
An odd addition to the Gazelle are the two tiny Velcro straps (on the heel and tongue). From what I can gather (from promotional material) these are designed to assist in the putting on of the shoe, though I have not yet used them nor see any need to, at the worst they provide an interesting talking point.
On the Run
In action the Gazelle performed how I expected. It provided detailed feedback from the road via the foot and allowed the foot to strike and move through a natural motion without any inhibiting factors. I have used this shoe for both road runs and grass track work outs. I did notice that the minimal grip provided on the shoe failed to provide me with confidence when running fast on the dewy grass of my local track, however the road grip could not be faulted and I found that the rougher surface to stick to the better grip the shoe got, not dissimilar to a rock climbing shoe.
As expected the 11mm of foam under the forefoot increased the amount of impact felt from the road over a standard pair of racing flats but was much less severe than other minimal shoes such as Vibrams Fives. The Gazelle has no medial support and is very flat under foot, which in my opinion is a good quality in a pair of minimal shoes, however needs to be watched carefully by those who have pro-nation issues or questionable form.
The Gazelles are made out of a new type of material (well first I’ve seen) and I am not sure of its longevity. So far I am two months down and 100km in and have not noticed any wear, apart from a small reduction in midfoot tread depth. The “TechFit” upper appears to be glued onto the sole and stitched onto the lacing harness. Whether the glue proves to be an issue later in the shoe life I am not sure but so far so good. I would however recommend not trail running in these shoes as the upper would be susceptible to stick punctures, and the sole isn’t really cut out for that type of running. I will note here as well that the inner sole of the Gazelle is not intended to be removed as it is glued in place, no real issue but a nice to know.
The End Verdict
I find the Gazelle to be a worthy stand alone minimal road running shoe. It has the design and features to keep veteran minimalist’s interested whilst retaining some “plush” for longer distances or those who are in the earlier stages of their minimal running transitions. I would not recommend this shoe to those who have questionable running form or major pro-nation or foot issues without professional advice or supervision. As with any shoe of this type, a progression into your training and the possession of sound running form is key to reaping the full benefits. I can see this shoe being useful for minimal runners in most distances up to 40-50km without to many issues and personally see this shoe as a race day go to for my shorter 21.1km and under road races.
But Wait…. What About the Motion you ask?
Well at the time this review went to print I hadn’t managed to find a pair of Motions in my size. I did however manage to get a brief hands on with a pair and found a few things initially. From first impressions the Motion appears to be in the same category of shoe as the Nike Free, however I noticed it did sport a more ridged midsole than the Free’s. It retains the same “Tech-Fit” upper as the Gazelle and a heel drop of 11mm. I hope to track down a pair in my size in the near future and will keep you all posted as to their performance.