With plenty of road races coming up this Autumn I came to the conclusion that my Brooks Green Silence are done for; they’ve served me well and I was on my fourth pair. I probably did one too many races in these, though I’m prone to being far too nostalgic at times, especially since I ran personal bests in the half marathon, 20 miles and marathon in them. As the shoes have been discontinued I was forced to change and I have been weighing up whether to get the New Balance 1500, Brooks ST5 and Saucony Fastwitch.
Again, I was guided by nostalgia in selecting the Fastwitch, but running is all about embracing the things that make you tick… well that’s what I tell myself anyway!!! Prior to my spell as a Brooks athlete I was racing in the Fastwitch 3 throughout 2008/09; I still have them, saved and preserved in a smelly “cupboard of fame” with some other sentimental models!
Having been such a big fan of the earlier version, would I be in for a big let down? It’s something I felt when I bought The Verve’s comeback album a few years ago and any fans of Star Wars have probably felt this way for over a decade, but, back to running… I’m happy to report that the shoe is actually an improvement! The weight seems fairly similar, however, the upper is far more comfortable, there’s less stitching on the upper with more bonded seams (FlexFilm), thus further reducing the risk of discomfort. There’s also considerably more forefoot cushioning, but with a lightweight EVA material (SSL EVA) and 4mm heel-to-toe offset, the shoe is still low profile and responsive. Another feature that saves weight (also in my old pair) is the drainage holes, making the shoes more breathable, or as we find up North, they dry quicker when wet!
As a marathon runner with a less than perfect gait, the support in the medial arch is very useful. Whilst I can race in very lightweight shoes in shorter distances, I find that the onset of muscle pains, joint aches and stiffness creeps in beyond half marathon distances. Though it’s only mild support, this is adequate enough for most people as far as race shoes go, the upper also has reinforced overlays around the mid-foot, meaning that when you lace them up properly they secure the foot in the shoe.
I have used this pair for a few weeks now and it has been my shoe of choice for hard runs, progression runs and now that I’m well into my thirties, I also have to use them for track sessions now that I can’t hack it in spikes! If there is one slight criticism, it’s that the tongue does move ever so slightly, but I’ve had no problem from this at all, even on my progression runs over 20 miles.
To summarise, if you want a solid and sturdy race shoe for distances of 10k upwards then this would be a perfect choice. It would also make a great “first time” race shoe for those used to heavier mileage footwear, as it’s not as harsh as the more stripped down Brooks T7 (my favourite shorter distance racer) or Saucony Type A.