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?
I still have my pair of shoes that I ran my first marathon in. I think I’ll always have them 🙂 I used to be a diehard Saucony girl, but lately I feel like they’ve changed the toe box across the board, and they no longer love my feet like they used to. SO! I’m in the market for a new brand to love… Perhaps I’ll have to give New Balance a whirl in the near future 🙂
P.s. you are my hero
You need to try New Balance! Also, as soon as I move next week, I want to have you over. I have some stuff for you. 🙂
Sounds great! I have something small for you as well (gear surplus, lol). I’m free until Saturday, good luck with your move my dear! Get in touch when you’re settled 🙂
Thanks my dear. September is a little hairy but as soon as the dust settles, we will get together!
Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat says
Jess, I think you have stress tested those Fresh Foam Zantes more than anyone else ever will! I love mine (mainly the sole) but like you, I probably should have sized up because my toes do push against the upper quite a bit more than I think they should. Also like you, I tend to like to develop a bit of a relationship with my shoes before reviewing them. 🙂 (That’s probably also why I haven’t yet cut my race chip from this year’s Seawheeze out of my latest pair of Asics GT-2000s….. #memories! And PS. you win hands down for the best race photos ever. Hot dayumm!
I love that you still have the race chip on your Asics. LOL. Amazing!
That’s some impressive mileage you’re getting out of those shoes. The Vibram outsole looks cool and must help on the trails. I found I only got about 200k out of my Zante’s on roads. They developed holes inside the shoes’ heel in less than two month’s use. And the upper stretched out a ton as well but that’s to be expected from the shoes that feature flexible uppers these days. They were great for speed work but didn’t have enough support or cushion for my long runs. The Rev Lite foam on the Vazee is supposed to be longer lasting but we’ll see. I imagine I’d get 400-600k out of them. I don’t love the design of the heel counter though. It looks like they lifted it from the Nike Lunarglides from a few season’s ago and I had a pair and didn’t like the heel design on the at all. They weren’t rigid enough and caved in quickly. But I like the Vazee’s roomy toebox. I love shoe-talk as you can see;)
Haha, come and talk shoes anytime you want! I have been using my Zante’s on a mixture of gravel and concrete so they have preserved well for 300 KM. I am at the point where I have started swapping them in as walking shoes and if I am somewhere that requires running, I will go for it. I don’t have the holes in my heel or stretched upper, but I do find that with the distance running, it does compress the foam over time. They truthfully aren’t a distance shoe, but I find I can use them as such without injuries as long as they are new enough.
Vazee is a little more rigid as you said. Keep me posted on how yours work for you!