Friday, April 11, 2014

Brooks Cascadia 9 Disappointment

Remember that run a few days ago with Bristol? On Tuesday, I took her out for an easy 5 miler (that nearly killed her) so I could start to break in a new pair of Brooks Cascadia 9s. Back at my 100K last month, I killed my Cascadia 7s and rewarded myself with a new pair of 9s. Well, while they did fit snug, I made the decision on Wednesday to call Brooks then ship them back for a full refund. This redesign of the shoe is extremely disappointing to me. I have been wearing Cascadias for a long time and have worn several iterations of them. The 7's were top notch as were the 6's. This time, they widened the toe box...a LOT...and made the shoe a tad bit longer. I'm a size 12 in any pair of Brooks I wear...but not these. When I tightened the shoe up as it should be, the toe box area on my right foot got "wavy" which is wrong. This typically only happens in a pair of New Balance shoes that are known for their wide toe box. My suspicion is that the left didn't fold at all because I have my trusty bunion there which makes that foot wider. The shoe didn't slip...but that folding proves a poor fit. No matter how much I tried to justify keeping them, my fear was that during a muddy, soaking wet trail race, this shoe would really loosen up and create a potentially race ending situation. Poor fit leads to friction leads to chafing leads to blisters > leads to dropping out and/or lots of pain. So, by Wednesday afternoon, the shoes were boxed up and headed back to Brooks' headquarters in Washington state. The nice thing about Brooks when you purchase directly is their return policy...30 days, no questions asked return policy...and free shipping. You simply click on one button in your online order history which generates a USPS pre-paid shipping label. Print it, tape it on, and drop off at the post office. It's that easy. I debated getting a size 11 1/2 but I really don't think it'll stop the buckling. I'd have less room north of my toes but the width is the width and I don't think a 1/2 size is going to stop it. Like I said, I'm extremely disappointed in this redesign. This is my go-to shoe for the long haul ultra marathon. I do have a few pair of first generation Pure Grit trail shoes so I'll be wearing those tomorrow. Had I not had those, I'm not sure what I'd be doing for tomorrow.

Leaning forward, I guess it's time to venture away from Brooks for the first time in years for a new trail shoe. Ugh. If you're a runner, you know how much this stinks. Once you find a shoe that's perfect, the worst thing that can happen is often a total overhaul of the shoe...and they screw it up. I do have a small glimmer of hope for the new Pure Grit, version 3 that is being released in June. The original version that I have is a great shoe but has next to no traction. In extreme mud or ice, it would be a bad, bad choice. The new version is a total overhaul of the shoe which keeps the shoe minimal but adds distinctive lugs to the I'm encouraged! I will table my re-purchase until then and simply lean on my first generation Pure Grits until then...but keep my eye open for a traditional trail shoe replacement. Got a suggestion? I'd love to hear it! I'm a neutral, size 12, average width runner.

Here is a really good review of the upcoming Pure Grit 3 and what we can expect. Pretty sharp looking, too! I love the new lugs and their multi-directions. Read the'll notice other new great features, too, like a rock plate and bringing those lugs up the front and off to the sides. PLEASE, Brooks....make it fit true to size!!!! Don't ruin it!

Here's to drinking lots of water today and smart eating...and a good night's rest tonight. 28th ultra marathon on the trails of Mohican State Park. Should be sunny and in the upper 60s to low 70s. Looking forward to it!

Run Happy and Hammer On, friends!

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