Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lost track of New Balance

So, I go away for the holidays and take a break from obsessively following running and running shoe content online and look what happens! I seem to have totally lost track of what New Balance is up to. All of a sudden, there is a new Minimus shoe that I have never heard of!

As you may know, I am a fan of the new Minimus line. The 10 series was impressive. I owned the Minimus Trail MT10's. A great shoe but the band accross the metatarsils is just too tight for me since my stress fracture healed with more bone. I still own the Minimus Road MR10's which are also a nice shoe but nowhere near as good a shoe as the MT10 and I have had a lot of issues with them giving my blisters. You are meant to be able to go sock–less but I have to wear socks. I was always sock–less in the MT10's and never had an issue. The Minimus Wellness MW10's were really intriguing to me. If I had money to burn, I would totally have purchased a pair of these for recovery. As it is, I have to justify running shoe purchases to my wife and this usage is off the radar. I don't blame her. If you don't run a lot, it's hard to understand usages and rotation. A shoe that went under the radar was the MO10. It looks like the MT10 but has a waterproof upper. It's called a multi-sport which is just confusing. It isn't as well advertised on the New Balance site as the other shoes.
MT10
MR10
MW10
MO10

I was a little lost with the 20 series but then it kinda made sense after I did a little research. The MT20 is a less premium shoe than the MT10 that New Balance distributes to big box stores. Obviously, they are not going to make that public. The MX20 is a cross training shoe. Neither shoe held any interest for me. Not knocking them because I never tried them.
MT20
MX20
The new news on the Minimus front was the 00 series. I have been following that for a while. They are coming in March. The 10's and 20's were all 4mm drop but New Balance decided to introduce a zero drop range. I was really excited because the MR00's have some real padding to protect you for longer runs. I'm all for minimalism but my old feet need some protection. Plus, it may be natural to run barefoot but it really isn't natural to pound your feet on asphalt day after day.

MT00's
MR00's
Just as I was getting used to the idea of waiting to see the 00's, I discovered that Anton Krupicka and other ultra runners had helped New Balance evolve the old MT101 to create the new MT110. It is a 4mm drop shoe with more protection than the MT00 including a rockplate to help protect the foot. People who have tested it say it is a fantastic shoe. One thing is clear though, it is not as cool looking as the rest of the new Minimus range IMHO. Having said that, it is still a good looking shoe and the silver is oddly appealing to me. The MT110 just came out. For some reason, the New Balance website only has women's but you can get men's at Running Warehouse and other places. New Balance Chicago stores have them. New Balance Chicago shared this link on iRunFar.com on their Facebook page about the making of MT110. It's an interesting read.
MT110
The one that completely threw me when I got back from my vacation was the MT1010. I had no idea that this was on the horizon. I felt cheated. I felt like New Balance is keeping secrets from me. It is a 4mm drop shoe that has more padding than the MT110 and stylistically, it fits in with the other Minimus 00 designs. It's pretty funky. I think this would be a better shoe for me if I was running over very rocky ground. I'd go with the MT110 for a less aggressive surface. You can find out more about it at irunfar.com. It's worth checking it out just to see the colorways. The MT1010 is meant to be released in late summer. I'd love to see an MR1010 (road version). I think it could be a contender against the Saucony Kinvara's for me.

MT1010
What amazes me is that if you want information about New Balance's running shoe pipeline, you have to randomly discover it on blogs and running sites. NewBalance.com is always way behind. If I was New Balance, I would take control of that. The most dependable information about your shoes should always come from the the brand. I still think leaking stuff is a good strategy but after the cat is out of the bag, people will go to your site to get the scoop. Also, I'd love to see some sort of genealogy map. Clearly there is a numbering strategy and it's helpful to understand it. It's also useful to know which ones are still in production.

Based on the new lineup, this is the way I would go with my shoe selection...

  • MT00 - Probably too lightweight for me but an awesome active summer shoe
  • MR00 - Shorter distance shoes for speed work and strengthening.
  • Saucony Kinvara - I am still loving these for distance. Waiting for the MR1010 :)
  • MT110 - For smoother trails. I am anxious to spend my gift certificate on these.
  • MT1010 - For aggressive trails these seem awesome.
Hey New Balance, if you are listening, I take an 8.5. Maybe some new shoes will make–up for you ignoring me last year :)

3 comments:

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  3. Simon--
    I, too,stumbled onto your blog just as NB Chicago did (it actually was an Ann Trason search that did it. Nice defense). I, too am amazed at the NB carelessness at putting out info. I was in the NYC NB"Flagship" store asking about the 110s in December and they were not aware of the shoe much less when it was to arrive. Pointing at a picture of Mister 110AK himself, I was like "you know the shoe that he helped design."
    The response "Oh, that Jesus looking guy. What's his name?"

    Finally got my pair online (still no EE widths at the NYC NB store) and ran 50k the second time I put them on. They are, in a word: Genius!

    All of which is to say, I am the race director of the Tryon Farm Trail 10/50K Run which is happening in Michigan City, IN just an hour from Chicago on May 12. If you want to make it out we'd like to sponsor your entry. You can ready me throughout the tryonfarm.com website which links to race info.
    Cheers
    Will Noonan

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