At the starting line of the 2011 Women's race.
The USATF National Club Cross Country Championship will be taking place this weekend in Lexington, Kentucky. Some of the best club teams in the nation will race over the beautiful course in Masterson Station Park for the chance to call themselves the best cross country club in the nation. The schedule features five races, totaling more than 100 teams and 1,200 runners.
Expected to be in the hunt for an Open Men’s Team title will be the Asics Aggies Running Club. Head Coach Joe Rubio (co-owner of Running Warehouse) trains his club out of our home base of San Luis Obispo. All indications are that they are even stronger than last year when they placed 3rd in the overall team standings. Also looking to improve upon a great 3rd place finish from last year is Aggie runner Phillip Reid, who will be in the mix to take home the individual title.
Just announced is Alan Webb’s entry into the race. We expect the American record holder in the mile to bring out a lot of fans and generate a lot of buzz in the race. For those of you who want to do more than spectate, a community 6k race also will be held. If you are in the Lexington area this weekend, come out, get a run in, watch some great teams race, and support the sport of cross country.
Photo credits (from left):pac-12.com; flickriver.com; Texastech.com; TrackTownPhoto.com; Runnersworld.com; Madison.com
If excitement is what you want to see in a cross-country race, the women’s race is one you will want to keep your eye on. Both the individual and team races are promising to be close all the way to the finish.
After a dominant performance in last weekend’s west regionals, Jordan Hasay (a local favorite here in SLO) seems to be back in top form. Hasay has improved every race after a shaky start and we hope this trend can continue into the weekend.
Still, one slip can change the outcome of the individual race and there are a handful of seasoned veterans and rising stars that could take the title. Laura Hollander, a true freshman running for Cal Poly, has a very no-nonsense racing style. She takes the pace out hard and forces other runners to run her race. Because of this tactic, Hollander has become a freshman phenom and is expected to place high at nationals with an outside chance of taking it all.
However, Jordan Hasay knows how to race in all conditions and last weekend Hasay delivered Hollander’s first loss of the year at western regionals. Another runner expected to be in the mix will be Betsy Saina of Iowa state. After placing 2nd behind Hollander at Wisconsin, you can bet she won’t let her out of her sights this time around. Read more…
Brooks Green Silence in 4 New Colors for Fall '11 (Men's on the left, women's on the right)
A standard practice in the running shoe industry is to forgo any technical updates to a shoe model and instead do a color update (color up). This generally happens at the halfway point between the initial product introduction and the introduction of the replacement model, or sometimes occurs as a “new” model. Shown here are two examples of color ups for the Brooks racing line. The Brooks Green Silence is a mid-season cosmetic introduction whereas the Brooks Mach 13 Racer has a new number designation to go along with the cosmetic update.
A trend in the industry has been adding bright colors to the midsoles of popular models as well as adding brightly colored uppers to the mix. Both are in display in the new Green Silence for Fall 2011. You shouldn’t be too surprised if you see these colorful Green Silence Racers appearing out of a Nissan Leaf on the feet of a potential Starbucks customer who look like they’ve never run a step in their life. With the color combos shown above, we’re guessing Brooks is going for some retail placement, outside the traditional running specialty channel, that appeals to the Green crowd.
Brooks Mach 13. Spiked and Spikeless Models Available. (Women's above, Men's shown in inset)
Sometimes a company is very happy with a current shoe and instead of doing anything drastic for the updated version, they leave it technically unchanged, spiff up the cosmetics and call it the next number down the line. Such is the case with the new Brooks Mach 13. Same shoe, but with a new wild appearance. In regard to this new look, our staff is torn. Some think it’s great, others not so much. Definitely a case of divisive styling.
Both the Brooks Green Silence and Brooks Mach 13 will remain unchanged from the current versions in terms of midsole, outsole, upper materials and fit, the only change is in the cosmetics, in which case Brooks is not playing it safe. The new Green Silence and Mach 13′s are definitely going to have a love or hate factor surrounding them. Like ‘em or not, expect both at Running Warehouse in July 2011.
Saucony Kinvara 2 for Women
The Saucony Kinvara was one of the hottest shoes in 2010, which normally is a very good thing. The problem comes around a year later when the updated version is due. Tradition dictates that you “improve” the model every 12-24 months, yet you have a shoe that is killing it, as it is. What do you do? If you’re smart, you make almost no changes, add the next numeral to the name and call it good. This is exactly what Saucony has done with the update to the wildly popular Saucony Kinvara. The Kinvara 2 is nearly identical to the original which should please all the current fans or at the very least, not upset many.
The Kinvara 2 sports updates to the upper only. The midsole, outsole, heel drop, all the good things that people have come to love about the current Kinvara remain unchanged. To improve the fit, the sub-epidermal skeleton overlay pattern, which primarily sits over the midfoot of the current Kinvara, has the most forward “arm” and lengthened it and moved forward, which should help secure the foot better. A new Monomesh replaces the current Open Mesh upper. The Monomesh should offer similar levels of breathability while keeping unwanted stuff out.
As easily seen, very little has been changed. A few upper tweaks, the number 2 added to the name, several new color combinations, the midsole, outsole and price unchanged and its all good. The Kinvara 2 should continue to please those who love the current model and attract legions of new ones as well. The Kinvara 2 comes in at a projected 7.7 oz for a men’s size 9.0 (6.7 oz for a women’s 8.0) and a suggested retail price of $90.00. Look for the Saucony Kinvara 2 to be available at Running Warehouse in May 2011.
Saucony Kilkenny XC4 for Men
One of the nice bright spots for Saucony in the recent past has been the sales of their cross country racing flats and spikes, in particular the Saucony Kilkenny, which has been an industry sales leader the last two seasons. Cross Country racing shoes don’t sell in particularly large numbers, but they do tend to show up on the feet of young high school runners and if your goal is to reinvent your brand to appeal not only to the traditional middle-aged jogger, but to their youngster as well, you need to get into this arena and make yourself relevant. This was an important step in Saucony’s plan to reinvent themselves several seasons ago. Now a few short years later, they are one of the hippest brands in the industry.
The Kilkenny sells very well and has a solid following, but the shoe was getting stale. Since the Kilkenny has been so successful, any update has to deal with the challenge of not screwing up a good thing. The Kilkenny XC4 got it right. By leaving the midsole unchanged, the feel of the Kilkenny XC4 remains familiar. To freshen up the shoe, a lighter weight air mesh upper, similar to the Kinvara, has been used and synthetic suede overlays complete the new look. Both of changes should make the shoe more breathable and comfortable. The plate switches from a 6 pin configuration to a 4 pin design which should offer similar levels of traction but increase flexibility and comfort.
Overall a nice update. The new Kilkenny XC4 should attract new fans with its bold colors. The $55 MSRP flat is projected to come in for men at 6.4 oz (women 6.0 oz) while the $60 MSRP spike is at 6.7 oz (women 6.3 oz). Expect to see men’s and women’s versions at Running Warehouse in June 2011.
The Updated New Balance 1190 for Men
New Balance is getting serious about the running specialty channel again, in a big way. The company has re-focused their energy on reestablishing the company as a serious running brand. To this end, they are coming to market with model updates that are very much in tune with the trends currently happening in the industry. The new 1190 is one such model that clearly shows the future direction of the brand.
The Updated New Balance 1190 for Women
The 1190 is the update to the current 905, a lightweight, slightly-posted, go-fast trainer. While the 905 is a nice shoe, it’s not keeping pace with the Asics DS Trainer, Mizuno Elixir and Nike Lunar Elite. It’s stale look and vanilla feel is better suited to the masses, where the shoe should be targeting the niche. The New Balance 1190 looks to correct this misdirection.
Starting with the graphics, the shoe now looks fast or at least different. The 1190 removes the raised sidewalls of the 905, which gives the the shoe a much more competitive stance. Add a new No-Sew welded and seamless upper that features soft suede overlays and you are on your way to having a trainer that closely mimics the fit of a racing flat.
The midsole showcases the new REV-Lite Foam midsole material at 21mm/9mm heights to ensure the shoe is light and responsive. Add a small Stability Post for the mild to moderate overpronator and you have a really nice shoe for faster paced training, tempo runs or an ideal option for the runner who doesn’t feel comfortable racing long distances in a minimal racer. The outsole is made of blown rubber which provides great grip and added responsiveness. A new shape should provide better support and help with the heel-toe transition. All of these changes contribute to one of the finest model updates of the season.
The 1190 has an MSRP of $115 and is projected to come in at a reported 9.2 oz in a men’s size 9.5. The New Balance 1190 is scheduled to arrive at Running Warehouse in July 2011.
Saucony PowerGrid Cortana for Men
What happens when Saucony applies principles of minimalism to a shoe that ain’t so minimal? The world is about to find out this Summer with the introduction of the Saucony PowerGrid Cortana. Saucony clearly understands minimalism, when it is defined by the “less is more” concept and small heel-toe drops. The Saucony Kinvara is a perfect example of this philosophy. With its light weight, simple upper and 4mm heel-toe drop, the Kinvara was the right product at the right time. Sales have been terrific and the shoe has received rave reviews. Saucony has decided to strike while the iron is hot and fill in available market niches with other low heel-toe drop shoes as evidenced by the upcoming Mirage (4mm heel-toe drop), which is basically a slightly supportive Kinvara and the Hattori (zero drop), which gets you close to being barefoot.
The new Cortana applies the 4mm heel-toe drop and light weight concept from the Kinvara, to the high-end, max feature, all the bells and whistles category of trainers. It starts with a new midsole composition and features PowerGrid with PowerFoam, an injected molded, lighter and more responsive midsole than the SSL-EVA and ProGrid package that you’ll find in other Saucony models, such as the Triumph and Hurricane. The Cortana also differs from the the other Saucony 4mm drop shoes by providing an additional SRC cushioning unit in the landing area of the heel that ties this shoe in with the more traditional shoes in the Saucony line. Sauc-fit: replaces arch lock and improves midfoot and heel fit of the upper. The outsole/midsole features a fairly built up area beneath the medial arch that looks to add pronation control to the shoe. However, Saucony labels the Cortana as Supportive Cushioning, which means it is likely to be best suited for neutral runners or slight over-pronators. The jury is still out on this, but we think it will likely be better for mild to moderate over-pronators.
The PowerGrid Cortana has a predicted weight under 11 oz in a men’s size 9.0 and is scheduled to arrive at Running Warehouse in July 2011 with a full retail price of $135. Although not first to market, the Zoot Kane and Kalani are maximum featured shoes under 11. oz, the Cortana does add a new twist to the premium class of shoes by not only being light weight, but also having a low heel-toe drop. Will it be a success? Only time will tell, but if it feels anything like the Kinvara then Saucony is about to turn the industry on its ear.
Nike Zoom Waffle XC 9 for Men
The legendary shoe Bill Bowerman destroyed his wife’s waffle iron to develop nearly 40 years ago and the shoe that helped launch the Nike empire is being updated again this coming Fall. This latest update will no doubt be an athlete favorite. All of the key elements of the shoe that help keep it an industry leader are present in this 2011 edition. Featherweight, fantastic use of the latest upper materials, aggressive outsole and off the charts graphics make this a very sweet shoe. Add a jaw dropping low price and you have a slam dunk.
Nike Jana Star Waffle 5 for Women
The entire Waffle lineup is actually 4 slightly different versions of the same basic shoe. There are spiked and spikeless Waffle models with men’s and women’s versions of each. The men’s is broken up into the spiked model named the Nike Zoom Waffle XC 9, while the spikeless model is called the Zoom Waffle Racer 8. On the women’s side, the spiked version is dubbed the Nike Jana Star XC 5, while the spikeless version is named the Jana Star Waffle 5.
All models feature a lightweight, flexible tight mesh upper with 3D puffscreen overlays in key areas for added support. The fit in the forefoot has been widened up slightly over the Zoom Victory XC to accommodate a wider cross section of athletes. The midsole featured is Compression Molded Flashlon, the same material available on the Zoom Victory XC. The updated Waffle line features a slightly more filled in midsole, under the arch area, which should feel better to a larger cross section of athletes that are not used to the extremely curved last of the Victory XC and past Waffles.
While not as ultra-light as the Zoom Victory XC, the new lineup of Waffles is certainly not heavy by any means. The shoe is less than an ounce heavier than the Zoom Victory XC, has the same midsole material, similar upper treatment sans Flywire and a slightly more filled in arch at nearly half the price of the Zoom Victory XC. The new Zoom Waffle lineup is an absolute bargain. Expect it to arrive at Running Warehouse in July 2011 with a list price of $50 for the spikeless and $60 for the spiked models.
Saucony Hattori Men's Shoe
For Fall 2011 Saucony looks to build on the success of their minimal lineup of shoes, lead by the Kinvara, with the introduction of the Hattori. The Hattori will be the most minimal shoe in the Saucony line and one that has its target squarely set on grabbing market share from various smaller shoe brands that have their own ideas on what constitutes a minimal shoe.
The new Hattori is a zero drop running shoe that sports a reported midsole height of 10 mm and weighs in at a reported 4.5 oz for a men’s size 9.0. The upper features ultralite mesh with synthetic exoskeleton lockdowns and soft suede overlays. A velcro closure replaces traditional laces and another velcro strap around the heel offers additional customized fit options. The midsole is made up of compression molded EVA that features XT-900 outsole compounds in key wear areas.
Being very light, extremely flexible and while 10mm may sound thick, the shoe is indeed quite thin, and is thus a viable option to runners seeking a more “barefoot” running experience. Additionally, the Hattori should prove a compelling offer to runners looking to transition from the 4mm heel-toe drop of the Kinvara, Mirage and new Cortana or as a different option for fans of minimalist shoes that are currently in the market. The release date for the Hattori has the shoes tentatively slated to be available at Running Warehouse on May 1, 2011. The new Hattori will have a list price of $80.
The RW Team just returned from a few days in Austin, Texas attending The Running Event, an annual trade show open to running specialty retailers from around the country. It features all of the top brands displaying many of their newest products and concepts. Here’s an overview of some of the new products we found of particular interest.