Big changes to the bread and butter shoe - did they get it right?
The GT has been on the best-seller list since before I got my first pair of GT-2030's in the late '90s. I'm used to seeing annual tweaks. This year, the updates are something more.
The Guidance Trusstic System replaces the Space Trusstic System. This superb arch support along with the strategic positioning of the duo-max post has been the reason the GT has been a staple with so many runners. During my examination of the shoe, the new system seems to allow a little more torsion flexibility than the old. If this doesn't retain the stability the older GT was famous for, Asics will have a dog on their hands.
Asics also increased the gel content in both the forefoot and heel of this version. I was anxious to try it.
The upper felt more flexible than the upper of the previous version as well. This was good. The upper had morphed in the last few versions to being too stiff for my liking. There is a support strap over the bunion area, but it appears to be a flexible strap so I don't think it will cause many bunion-blessed runners a problem.
The shoe felt lighter than I remembered. I weighed my size 11. It came in at 11.5 oz. That's at more than ounce lighter than the previous model. This puts it in the same weight ballpark as the DS trainer, but with much more stability. With the weight significantly lowered, something had to go.
That something was the toe box. The front of the shoe was narrowed and the width of the upper at the ball of the foot had narrowed by 3/16 of an inch (my measurement). The outsole, front and back, is narrower as well. This gives the shoe a more streamlined look. It's not a narrow-cut shoe, but the luxurious width is gone. So that's where the weight went!
I had heard somewhere that the heel to forefoot aspect ratio had been lowered. I checked Asics website, but found no data on this. I took a caliper and measured myself. A crude technique to be sure - I came up with about 11 mm, the same I had measured with my previous pair of GTs. So I concluded that there has been no significant change in the aspect ratio. The height of cushioning under the foot had not changed either. So cushioning has NOT been sacrificed to save weight.
Oh yes, one more big change - the familiar white/blue is NOT available as a color option! That will shake up the faithful!
One hallmark of the GT is the cushy feel underfoot. The new GT does not disappoint. Still has that characteristic "springiness."
Fans of the old GT will notice the narrower cut of the forefoot immediately. I still had sufficient room across the width of my foot and my toes were fine. Still it was a more glove-like fit rather than the spacious fit of GTs of yore.
The shoe retains the smooth transition from heel to forefoot to toe-off throughout the stride that I was accustomed to. The arch wraps the foot securely and there is no sense that your foot is sliding around. The heel has been narrowed slightly as well. It fit well, and did not slip up and down as I walked in them. But of course, the old ones hadn't either.
I mentioned the more flexible upper earlier. I definitely liked this change. It will allow the shoe to adapt more easily to individual foot shapes.
I was looking for signals that the new arch support had altered the feel of the shoe. No difference under my foot. Just a nice even fit with no pressure points anywhere.
The shoe fit true to size.
Thursday, Carmel, IN - "Enjoying Fall in the Indiana Countryside"
Fresh from the box, I took it out for 11 miles. It is a long-distance trainer after all!
I land on the outside of my foot somewhere between the heel and midfoot. I expect a stability shoe to be firm on the outside of the heel to get me planted quickly and then to support my arch as I transition through my stride. The shoe delivers. The additional gel under the foot provides a cushy ride, but I honestly could not quantify just how much it had changed from before. It was about 50 degrees out, and the cool temps always make a shoe feel firmer. The transition to the forefoot is smooth and the supports on the upper were non-intrusive during the push-off. Concerns I had about the performance of the new Guidance Trusstic Arch system were eliminated.
Another measure is whether or not my left knee protests after a hard workout. Inadequate stability will lead to discomfort. My knee was quiet, so the support was definitely there and was proper for my stride.
I was impressed with the shoe, but was lamenting the loss of the old wider fit. I don't want to wear a glove as my long distance trainer. I want to forget I have it on.
Saturday, NAPA Valley CA - "Entering Wine County"
As an experiment, I loosened the laces significantly - to where they were slack in laces between the eyelets and just tight enough to keep the shoe on my foot, and hit the pavement in wine country. The temperature was just about 80 degrees compared to the lower 50s in Carmel earlier in the week.
BINGO. I found the secret to the shoe, at least for me. The loosened lacing strategy came close to replicating the feel of the previous GT. The first mile and a half was on concrete sidewalks as I headed out of town toward the vineyards. The added gel gave the shoe a superbly soft landing. A soft landing on concrete! Aided no doubt by the 80 degree temp, but still, very impressive. The looser shoe felt great, or perhaps I should say I didn't feel it. The shoe still stayed on my foot very nicely and my heel never slipped. Soon I was amid the grapes and before I knew it I was at 3.5 miles and it was time to turn around - lest dinner plans be sacrificed.
Monday, NAPA Valley, CA - "Can't Get Enough Wine Country"
I Tacked on another 8 miles, ran past the Andretti Vineyard, and stopped by later for a tasting. Alas, Mario wasn't there. But the shoe still made me happy - as did the wine.
So in summary, this is a really nice shoe. The stability is very good and every bit equivalent to previous models. The lighter weight makes it feel a little faster, which is nice, but not so important to me in long distance trainer. The super-loose lacing seems to be a good way to make up for the lost width. I'd personally rather have the slightly wider old shoe, but it seems everyone is cutting weight from their shoes at the expense of width. The fit now kind of reminds me of the DS trainer but with more stability.
My old GT's have been reassigned to lawn duty!
I recommend this shoe for a runner with low-to-medium arches seeking good stability in a long distance trainer. In addition to being a trainer however, it's now light enough that you might consider it for a longer race, like a half or full marathon -- particularly if you are looking to skew the balance of comfort and performance to the comfort side without totally sacrificing performance. Lace loosely my friends!
Doug Balogh is a regular race age division winner, the 2010 Southern Indiana Classic Marathon Champion, and the current USA Track & Field National Champion 10K Trail Racer in the 60-64 age group.