New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Trail Review – Over 500 KM later…
I am not an overly sentimental person.
In fact, I was an alarming child for my parents because I never had a special teddy bear or blanket that I needed for comfort.
This lack of sentiment arises as I am preparing to move for the fourth and final time this year and have no problem shedding myself of extra things that just sit in the corner. If I haven’t thought of them over the summer, they are GONE.
Want to know what garners some sentimental value for me?
I am not a big fan of doing shoe reviews when a pair of shoes just comes out, which does ruin the point from a marketing point of view. However, I think the true review comes after you have put the maximum of miles on a pair, where you have lugged them half way around the world and challenged their seams and soles on mountains, rivers and crushing downhills.
Holes appear from that particularly technical decent in the Laurel Highlands or the insole is never the same from that river crossing in the west. THIS is when the true character of a shoe comes out.
My trail shoe for the past two racing seasons has been the Fresh Foam 980 Trail that uses the New Balance foam technology and it feels like a road shoe with an impossibly stable grip thanks to lizard like tread on the bottom of it. You can read my original review here.
After putting an obscene amount of miles on this shoe and leaving them behind in a Colorado hotel after they officially and completely died on me, here are my thoughts.
Sole: I love the fresh foam technology of New Balance. These shoes feel like road shoes which means they are light and swift so when I am racing and hit flat stretches of trail, I can really go. They are amazingly light and I was especially struck by this when I swapped it out one day with a heavier pair (which was another brand) in Transrockies. Even at the near end of their lives, they provided amazing cushioning for some grueling descents in the mountains.
Upper: I LOVE the look of these shoes and since I wear a lot of lime green, I found I could colour coordinate nicely. I would wear them as street shoes in a pinch and still got compliments which is rare for trail shoes, especially.
My only complaint of the shoe is the longevity of the shoe materials but this was more a result of the way I fitted them. (See below) You have to make sure they are fitted to your foot properly which means sizing up or else your toes will eventually ruin the shoe materials. I chatted with New Balance and they mentioned that this shouldn’t happen so I am assuming it was incorrect fitting, a LOT of miles and beating the life out of them with rugged terrain, multiple rounds in the washing machine and running through rivers. I am HARD on my shoes and gear – this is why they have me testing it out!
The Fit: This shoe fits snugly so I recommend going up a half or full size. I did not obey this rule with this pair and my shoes probably had more holes as a result. My next pair will be an 8.5.
Overall? This is an incredible shoe. I wore it for the first time at a race with no negative results. They are a cushioned, stable trail shoe with the right amount of lightness for people who want to run or race trails.
I am currently testing out the Fresh Foam Hierro in size 8 and loving them just as much.
They have the same fresh foam technology and fit true to size. They are comfortable, light and I recently raced 5 Peaks Dundas Enduro Course in them with no problems. I will do a full review of them when they have reached at least 500 KM but if you have any questions on them in the meantime, send me a message.
While we are talking shoe testing, I am training for some speedy, hilly fall half marathons, so I need to keep the track workouts happening. I am currently doing my speed training in the New Balance Vazee (French for LET’S GO!)
It’s a snappy, responsive shoe that is light but super comfortable and I am getting faster and faster in them. I have tested them out on the track and back country roads so far and am loving them. Although they are a speed shoe, they are capable of distance as well, although I am not planning on racing more than a half marathon on them at a time. I will do a full review when they have reached at least 300 KM but, as above, if you have questions, just send me an email!
Do you attach sentimental value to your running shoes?
What has been your favourite pair?