These shoes are the new zero drop offering from Mizuno. Currently, they have two shoes in the chute coming in Jan/Fed 2013. The Evo Cursoris (the shoe in this review) and the Evo Levitas (which is basically the same as the Cursoris, but less built up - more of a racer from what I understand).
I have to commend Mizuno for taking a step in this direction. The vast majority of companies out there simply churn out "barefoot shoes" and do not make a real attempt at putting out a running shoe with a zero heel to toe drop without following the barefoot trend. Now, that sounds a bit harsh and I want to take a moment to clarify. There's nothing wrong with barefoot running, and I'm utilized it myself in some of my training. My comment above was simply meant to point out that "zero drop" and "barefoot" (or minimalist or whatever you want to classify it as) are not necessarily the same thing. "Barefoot" doesn't necessarily work for everyone, so having a shoe that is built up a bit but still maintains the benefits of having zero heel to toe drop (allowing, in my opinion, for a more natural run) is a good thing.
Apologies in advance for the cell phone pics - the shoes had a few miles on them at the time I took these.
The very first impression I got when I saw this shoe was it's complete lack of a heel. Now, don't misunderstand what I mean by that. The shoe has a heel, but it's not in the traditional sense where the same bottom sole goes from toe to heel like in other shoes.
Here's a picture that somewhat illustrates what I mean:
|Firm "traction" on the forefoot and just the same EVA with no traction throughout the heel.|
|Traction/firm rubber in the forefoot.|
As you can see, the traction that is in the mid/forefoot doesn't extend throughout the arch and into the heel. Instead, you have the EVA that the sole is built out of that encompasses the heel completely. This is done, I assume, to encourage more of a forefoot strike and give a firmer toe off during the run. When running, I didn't really notice it (I'm a forefoot/slightly midfoot striker), but it does make the shoes a hair uncomfortable to just stroll around and walk in. Keep in mind though, these are designed and marketed as running shoes - so taking them to the market isn't exactly what Mizuno had in mind when they put these out.
The shoes are pretty lightweight (Runningwarehouse.com has them listed at 7.5 oz, which sounds about right). They aren't a "barefoot" shoe and have a decent amount of cushioning (Runningwarehouse.com says 18mm from toe to heel).
All in all, I feel that it is a pretty good shoe. Things I liked about the shoe:
- The firm forefoot gave a great, springy toe-off which really benefits the forefoot striker. In the latter miles of long runs, this is a great benefit as (at least for me) form tends to take a backseat as legs begin to get tired.
- The upper around the forefoot is an "open mesh" - which does wonders for keeping your feet cool (and keeping the shoe light).
|Mesh Upper in the forefoot keeps feet cool and happy.|
- The upper does a good job of "wrapping" around the foot without supporting/hindering it. It creates a feel of not having a shoe on your foot - which is a good thing.
- The tongue is comfortable and low profile, which is a problem a lot of shoes cannot seem to get right. It's comfortable with you not knowing it's there, which is a good thing.
|Tongue has a low profile on your foot. However, if worn without socks, the tongue also feels uncomfortable. Sockless wear is not recommended.|
There were a couple of things that I disliked about the shoe:
- The seams in the shoe would not allow me to wear it without socks (without risking blisters). I began developing blisters on my feet the two times I attempted it. This is somewhat of a bummer, because I wanted to give these a run in a sprint or olympic triathlon. Now, keep in mind that this is a negative for me - but may not be a negative for some other people. Everyone's foot is different and it's entirely possible that it can work sockless right out of the box for some people. In addition, people have had success in the past with "conditioning" their feet to accept a shoe without socks. This usually involves blisters, and I wasn't able to afford any down time in my training to test that theory out with these shoes.
- The material put across the toe is a bit weird and funky, and was able to be felt (in a bad, somewhat annoying, way) during my long runs. I'm guessing this material is there to add structure to the shoe, but it just seems odd to have an asymmetrical stripe of material across the toe box like that. On longer runs, it became somewhat of an issue as my big toe would push against it. No blisters or pain or anything, just an annoyance. I'm not sure what I would suggest to fix it - as I'm guessing that material has to be there to prolong the longevity of the shoe.
|Material on toe box.|
Again, all in all - a great shoe. They fit extremely well and the run in them is smooth. They seem pretty durable (mine have next to no wear and I've ran in them for all my road runs since I got them). The only thing I've had to do was swap out the insert (which I would have never done except Mizuno provided me with three of them). I could see myself using these as trainers, but probably not much more than that. If I'm racing, I'll probably still use the Mizuno Wave Universe (at 3.8 oz) mainly due to it's lightness and the fact that I can wear it without socks comfortably. For triathlons, I would lean to a more triathlon-specific shoe. However, as a lightweight trainer - Mizuno has really stepped up with this offering. This shoe shines in that regard.
I'd recommend these shoes for the neutral runner who is looking for a lightweight, zero drop trainer that they could also feasibly race in. I'm sure they'll be available wherever you can currently get Mizuno's shoes and they come out in January/February of 2013.
If you have any questions, leave me a comment below and I'll be happy to answer it the best I can.