New Balance + Names…Wha???
By Chris MacLeod
Call it Christmas in April, because this week we received not one but TWO brand new shoes from New Balance. And these guys are sweet.
The Fresh Foam Zante
Let’s all take a moment to review that name. That’s right – it’s a NAME. Yes, NB is still numbering all their shoes (this one is officially the 1980), but finally, FINALLY, you don’t have to try to remember whether you were in the 870, the 880, the 2001, the 42, etc.
And that’s not even the most exciting thing about it! Some Rogue staffers got a preview of this shoe last fall, and it’s the first one that EVERYONE – from Travis to Sarah to Carolyn to James, loved. LOVED. We lobbied hard to bring this one in…until we realized that we were all lobbying for the same thing!
New Balance advertises this guy as a “supportive sock” that both “look[s] fast and feel[s] fast”. We’d say that’s spot on! The midsole uses the same Fresh Foam compound introduced in the 980, and the soft yet responsive material really shines in a shoe designed for speed.
Wearers of the 1400 will find the Zante a touch more cushioned, but it retains all the pop that has made that shoe a speedwork staple. Thanks to the more built-up outsole, Zante also has a more noticeable arch support than any previous New Balance racer.
And what about that “supportive sock” comment? The upper is a super soft, slightly stretchy material that really does feel almost slipper-like on your foot. We don’t necessarily recommend running sockless, but you could. The toe box is also blessedly wide, making this a shoe that can fit a wider variety of foot shapes than some of its competitors.
The Fresh Foam Boracay (980v2)
Okay, maybe slightly less exciting than a brand new shoe, but the Boracay (version 2 of the original “Fresh Foam”, the 980), is still a sleek update that improves on an already good thing.
Fear not, Boracay retains 980’s best features: soft-firm responsiveness, a relatively stiff/rigid feel for good energy return, and the combination of durability and low drop that makes it one of the few low-drop shoes we can truly call a long-distance runner. For the new version, NB addressed a couple complaints about the original – v2 is a touch wider and the upper just slightly thinner and more breathable.
In short, lovers of the 980v1 should be able to update without issue, so come on in and try the new Boracay today!
Chris MacLeod is a retail manager at Rogue Running Cedar Park, a [running and book] nerd and is inexplicably always cold despite hailing from Chicago. She has a love affair with the Windy-City Marathon and stokes that affair training with The Morning Show. You can find her and her expert opinions on shoes, gu’s and all things retail in the shop or at her blog, runningfiesta.com.