Thursday, November 12, 2015

First Impressions Guest Review: ASICS MetaRun. A High End "Concept" Running Shoe

Guest Review by Derek Li

Editor's Note: I am thrilled to offer this guest first runs review of the just revealed limited edition ASICS MetaRun by fellow blogger Derek Li from Singapore. Derek's run bio is at the end of the review. He has had a pair for a week  and has run and evaluated them.  Exciting new midsole, cushioning, carbon stability plate and upper technologies on board this $250 limited edition stability shoe. It is really a concept car you can buy with ASICS testing out innovations which may show up elsewhere in the line . 

How do they run? Derek gives us his impressions.
Asics MetaRun Photo Credit: Derek Li

ASICS strikes me as a brand that wants to maintain that traditional feel in a running shoe. Indeed, their most popular racers in Japan, e.g. the Tarther Japan (one of only a handful of their running shoes still made in Japan, with the others being outsourced to China), have only undergone upper updates for the past 14 years ever since the first release in 2000. That has got to be some kind of record. It is difficult to deviate from a formula that clearly sells. If you look at the shoe counts at the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii over the last couple of years, ASICS has consistently come out on top, all this despite minimalist/maximalist trends.
A brief comparison:

2013
2014
2015
ASICS
17.5%
17.7%
17.5%
Saucony
16.5%
14.5%
14.3%
Hoka
1.9%
6.0%
11.6%

It really does make one wonder; maybe people just want a predictable durable trainer!

NEW TECHNOLOGIES
I can only imagine how hard it is to get funding to develop new technologies at ASICS, but they’ve done it. The MetaRun took two years to develop, which incidentally coincides with how long BASF and Adidas have had Boost on the market. In that process, they created two main new technologies: a new Hybrid Gel called X Gel, and a new midsole EVA foam called Flytefoam. They also introduced a carbon fibre medial stability plate and came up with a new one layer upper and a new heel counter. It is a support running shoe. I’ve had the shoe for a week now, and managed to get a few runs in it. Here are my initial thoughts

LOOKS
Asics MetaRun Photo Credit: Derek Li


With the MetaRun, they have gone with a Black/Gold/Onyx colour scheme that exudes sleek elegance. I almost couldn’t bear to put it through its first run which happened to be on a rainy day. Despite the dark tones, the heel-cup does sport a multi-tone reflective fa├žade that should work well to reflect car beams in low light conditions.

WEIGHT
Asics MetaRun Photo Credit: Derek Li

The Metarun in US9.5 weighs 310g (10.94 oz) (Editor's Note: a size 9 should weigh about 10.5 oz) on my scale, and that puts it in line with a Hoka Stinson Lite or a Brooks Transcend. That is probably the upper limit of what I would want to use for long or easy runs. At 310g, it is still lighter than the ASICS Kayano or GT2000 though and could potentially fill the gap between the DS Trainer and these stability trainers. 

UPPER
Asics MetaRun Photo Credit: Derek Li
Asics MetaRun Photo Credit: Derek Li
ASICS in general make pretty good uppers. I like their no-nonsense racing uppers in the Hyperspeed and Blazingfast, and the slightly elastic uppers seen in the latest DS Trainers were a big step in the right direction. With the MetaRun, they went with a single layer asymmetrical FluidFit upper with a perforated mesh appearance. I would categorize this as a medium to high volume shoe. The toebox is certainly roomy and maybe even just a tad long for its size, sort of like a cross between a Hoka Huaka (length) and a Lunartempo (width – if you size up 0.5). The midfoot arch structure is low as well and would be a good option for people with lower arches.
Asics MetaRun Photo Credit: Derek Li

The heel counter is very plush, though I would consider this a high volume heel, and I did have some issues with heel slippage before adjusting the lace tension. The heel counter purports to have memory foam to improve fit but I haven’t had enough time in the shoe to see it work.

RIDE AND COMPARISONS

Asics MetaRun Photo Credit: Derek Li
I should preface this by saying I run almost exclusively in Neutral shoes, although I’ve never had problems with shoes like the Brooks Ravenna or Transcend. The MetaRun is a support shoe, by virtual of the carbon medial stability plate (AdaptTruss) and the Duomax system on the medial side.  The heel stack is at 30mm the toe 20mm, so a 10mm drop shoe. Despite it being designed as a support shoe, I did not find that this impeded my running style in any way and I think this shoe could work for neutral runners, much like the Brooks Ravenna. One of the things I like about this shoe is that it feels lighter than it weighs. It is an ounce heavier than a Hoka Huaka or a UA Gemini but they feel like they are in the same weight range when shod. I had the same impression with the Brooks Transcend when it first came out. The Transcend 1 and the Glycerin 11 were roughly the same weight, but the Glycerin felt noticeably heavier and I think it might have something to do with the weight distribution of the shoe. 
ASICS MetaRun Photo Credit: Derek Li
This shoe feels very much middle-of-the-road in terms of heel cushioning, probably closest to the UA Gemini, firmer than a Huaka/Energy Boost but not as firm as a Nike Zoom Elite. The midfoot and forefoot are noticeably softer and bouncier with a feel similar to Hoka’s RMAT, though there is more ground feel than the Huaka, possibly due to a lower stack height in the forefoot. Heel strikers may find this shoe overly firm in the heel as a long run shoe, but it should work well as a daily trainer. It probably suits midfoot strikers best as this landing pattern really accentuates the properties of the Flytefoam and gives a nice smooth transition and toe-off.

CONCLUSIONS

I’ll be putting more miles in this shoe in the coming weeks, to see how it fares in terms of durability, and also to see if the shoe softens up a little more in the heel. As is, I think it works well as a daily trainer, but I’m still undecided if it will work well for 16-20 milers, as I generally prefer a softer heel for long runs.  By way of comparison, I have used a combination of the Hoka Stinson and Clifton/Odyssey, and the Adidas Energy Boost for my long runs in the past year. The new Flytefoam is promising, and offers more bounce than the existing Solyte foam (which is used extensively in the ever popular Tarthers). I would love to see this technology trickle down to their uptempo shoes. 

Editor's Note: More information at Competitor Magazine's fine overview here where they say MetaRun will be in limited availability on November 28, $250 MSRP. They quote what one can assume are ASICS stats:
"Compared to ASICS’ flagship shoe, the GEL-Kayano 21, the MetaRun is 20 grams lighter, at 310g total shoe weight (10.9 ounces), exhibits 30 percent lower foam density in the FlyteFoam midsole, has increased stability (28 percent more in the rearfoot, 15 percent midfoot), has improved static (44 precent lateral and 26 percent medial) and dynamic fit (12 and 15 percent respectively), and an 18 percent increase in rearfoot cushioning."

Derek Li Run Bio
Derek Li is a family physician by profession, and has been running marathons for the past three years. He started running for triathlon training in 2003, and now focuses purely on running in a bid to run all the Marathon Majors. In his free time, he likes to review running shoes and related products at his blog Running Commentary.

6 comments:

Jeff Valliere said...

Wow, $250, that might be a new benchmark high retail price. Aside from the carbon fiber, what do you think sets this shoe apart from other shoes that are $100 or more dollars less? I am having trouble figuring this one out. Anyways, great review, I had never heard of this shoe.

mik said...

@jeff, go check out some of the high end New Balance stuff, make this look like a bargin. EG M2002, M2040v1, M2040v2

Howie said...

$250? What a joke of a price. Laughable.

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Mujahid Mauthoor said...

As a neutral runner I would stick to the nimbus line. The nimbus 19 also boasts a jacquard upper as well as flyte foam in terms of cushioning.

Mujahid Mauthoor said...

As a neutral runner I would stick to the nimbus line. The nimbus 19 also boasts a jacquard upper as well as flyte foam in terms of cushioning.