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TrackSpikesSp2011FINAL_Layout 1 2/28/11 9:08 AM Page 1

Track & Field Spikes

by Cregg Weinmann

T

he 2011 track season is upon us. As in other pre-Olympic years, there are some new products being rolled out to serve the annual championships, as well as the anticipation of what will be coming out for the 2012 London Olympic Games. The usual players have new and updated products; only Reebok stands pat. adidas and Mizuno have minor updates, while ASICS, Brooks, New Balance, Puma, and Saucony present new offerings for athletes at all levels. Here we review 8 of the best, most representative shoes, and highlight 8 more to give a well-rounded overview of what’s available.

adidas adiZero Avanti 3 $110

ASICS Prima Diva Sprint 2 $100

The Avanti is a name familiar to athletes from a generation ago when it was the adidas entry-level offering found in abundance on tracks across the U.S. The 2011 offering is designed for high-end performance and is now the pinnacle of adidas distance spikes. The airmesh upper lines up the foot over the spike plate to maximize traction, and the green colorway suggests Oregon’s influence in the track & field world. The effective, 6-spike distance plate has been proven over several seasons. This update is largely the same as the original adiZero Avanti, with minor adjustments to the upper to center the foot over the full-length EVA, which offers a touch of cushion. The mesh upper and perforations in the midsole and spike plate allow for water to drain quickly. The overall result is a quality product that delivers performance.

The Prima Diva Sprint emerges in Round 2 with a major renovation and ugraded features. Developed in cooperation with Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones, it’s designed to be ASICS’ best women’s sprint spike. The Diva 2 trades up from the Turbo Phantom spike plate to the same plate as the Japan Lite-ning, ASICS’ top-of-the-line sprint shoe—which is to say, from a stiff, 7-spike plate to the nimble 6-spike plate. It also saves some weight while better accommodating the female foot for which the shoe is intended. The zippered shroud both improves aerodynamics and snugs the fit for improved performance. A thin, full-length layer of EVA adds its measure of comfort to the shoe.

UPDATED Sizes: unisex 4–13,14,15 Weight: 5.9 oz. (w/spikes, men’s 11) Spikes: 6, replaceable Upper: mesh, synthetic overlays Innersole: sheet EVA Midsole: full-length CM-EVA Outersole: full-length thermoplastic spike plate Recommended for: 1500–10,000 meters, steeplechase; synthetic surfaces

UPDATED Sizes: women’s 5–11,12 Weight: 6.4 oz. (w/spikes, women’s 8) Spikes: 6, replaceable Upper: mesh, synthetic leather shroud Innersole: sheet EVA Midsole: full-length EVA Outersole: full-length thermoplastic spike plate Recommended for: 100–400 meters, hurdles; synthetic surfaces

Brooks PR MD $60

Mizuno Geo-Silencer 3 $110

The PR series replaces the entry-level spikes that Brooks has offered for the past decade. Here each component has been upgraded which explains the price nudge of $5. The PR MD features a new 6-spike, Pebax plate with a sharkskin TPU outersole, each providing performance-enhancing grip. A thin, full-length layer of EVA is capped by a slightly built-up heel pad for protection in the jumping events or when fatigue causes a less-than-efficient footstrike on the track. The improvement in its entry range—which also includes a PR Sprint and PR LD—boosts Brooks track & field to a new level, and is well worth the price.

The Geo-Silencer has been Mizuno’s top middle distance shoe for almost 5 years. The Geo Silencer 3 is a color-up from last season’s Silencer 2, which debuted an update to the upper that has been maintained in version 3. The spike plate is 3⁄4-length nylon with a PUimpregnated polyester laminate. It creates a hard-toothed, grippy heel that’s been proven in numerous Mizuno spikes from past seasons. Six spike wells and three permanent pins provide the forefoot traction, and this season features newly shaped spikes with fluted ridges to improve the response on synthetic rubber tracks. The synthetic leather upper snugs the foot nicely with traditional lacing and internal webbing and features a hook-and-loop strap at the top of the laces for extra security.

NEW Sizes: men’s 5–13,14,15; women 6–12 Weight: 5.7 oz. (w/spikes, men’s 11); 4.7 oz. (w/spikes, women’s 8) Spikes: 6, replaceable Upper: mesh, synthetic overlays Innersole: sheet EVA Midsole: full-length sheet EVA Outersole: combination Pebax spike plate, thermoplastic sharkskin (heel) Recommended for: 400–1500 meters, hurdles; synthetic surfaces

UPDATED Sizes: unisex 5–13 Weight: 6.6 oz. (w/spikes, men’s 11) Spikes: 6, replaceable; 3, permanent Upper: synthetic leather Innersole: sheet EVA Midsole: full-length CM-EVA Outersole: full-length thermoplastic spike plate Recommended for: 400–1500 meters, hurdles; synthetic surfaces


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Track & Field Spikes

(continued)

New Balance MD800 $100

Nike Zoom Superfly R3 $120

The introduction of the MD800 rounds out the top-end track offerings for New Balance, where the middle distances had been a bit overlooked until it added some top-flight competitors, including Maggie Vessey. The MD800 is built on a new full-length spike plate of Pebax nylon and carbon fiber that’s light, strong, and responsive. The midsole is molded ActEVA Lite that provides better cushioning than expected for a middle-distance shoe. In fact, the midsole makes it suitable for events from 800 meters on up to 5000 meters. The seamless upper is fully lined with lightweight synthetic suede for sockless use. The exterior has HF-welded overlays in the forefoot and a tough woven mesh that combine to supply good support to the racing foot.

The Superfly was once the epitome of sprinting technology and it continues to heavily influence the industry because it works. The spike plate is the same power sprint platform Nike developed around a decade ago molded from Pebax nylon for its light weight, responsive feel, and durability. The midsole is a wedge of Phylon for just enough cushioning. The upper is where the real changes can be seen. Fuse technology—HFwelded supports across the entire upper that create a web of ultra light support—and a hook-and-loop lock-down strap over the metatarsals make the upper equally supportive with considerably less bulk. The result is a responsive sprint spike that manages both power and speed.

NEW Sizes: men 4–13,14; women 5–10,11 Weight: 5.7 oz. (w/spikes, men’s 11); 4.6 oz. (w/spikes, women’s 8) Spikes: 6, replaceable Upper: mesh, welded synthetic overlays, full synthetic suede lining Innersole: sheet EVA Midsole: full-length molded ActEVA Lite (EVA) Outersole: full-length Pebax spike plate, carbon fiber insert Recommended for: 800–5000 meters & up, hurdles; synthetic surfaces

UPDATED Sizes: unisex 5.5–13,14 Weight: 7.3 oz. (w/spikes, men’s 11) Spikes: 8, replaceable Upper: mesh, welded synthetic overlays Innersole: sheet EVA Midsole: full-length Phylon (EVA) Outersole: full-length Pebax spike plate Recommended for: 100–400 meters, hurdles; synthetic surfaces

Puma SLX Zone $110

Saucony Showdown $100

The SLX Zone is a new relative to the wellestablished Harambi. It shares the same upper pattern—though here it’s a new open mesh—and the same midsole: a nice, cushy layer that softens the effects of synthetic tracks. The outersole shows divergence from its sibling, as the plate provides a weight savings by eliminating much of the thermoplastic and using only three small sharkskin patches that cover about 30% of the outersole. The perimeter of the forefoot features 4 spike wells that encircle a forefoot of polyester-backed TPU embossed with dozens of tiny, plussign–shaped lugs for additional grip. The combination of light weight, cushioning, great flexibility, and effective traction make the SLX Zone a good distance spike choice.

The Showdown is both a new shoe and a new category for Saucony track & field. Developed in collaboration with Olympian Wallace Spearman, the Showdown is Saucony’s first high-end sprint spike. The upper is a minimesh enclosed in a zippered shroud, which offers a supportive fit and provides some “speedy” aesthetics. The midsole and outersole combine Saucony’s Flexion plate, a TPU device that aids touchdown and propulsion, with a Pebax spike plate that offers light weight and durability. Here it’s configured for power sprinting with a brawny 10-spike arrangement of Christmas tree elements to maximize traction. This is a quality addition to the well-rounded Saucony track lineup.

NEW Sizes: unisex 5.5–12,13,14 Weight: 5.0 oz. (w/spikes, men’s 11) Spikes: 4, replaceable Upper: mesh, synthetic suede overlays Innersole: sheet EVA Midsole: full-length CM-EVA Outersole: polyester-backed thermoplastic perimeter (forefoot), sharkskin (center forefoot, heel) Recommended for: 1500 meters & up, steeplechase; synthetic surfaces

FOR MORE SPRING 2011 SPIKE PREVIEWS, SEE NEXT PAGE.

NEW Sizes: men 7–13,14; women 5–11,12 Weight: 9.0 oz. (w/spikes, men’s 11); 7.4 oz. (w/spikes, women’s 8) Spikes: 10, replaceable Upper: mesh, zippered synthetic leather shroud Innersole: sheet EVA Midsole: Flexion Plate TPU Outersole: full-length Pebax spike plate Recommended for: 100–400 meters, hurdles; synthetic surfaces


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Track & Field Spikes THE REST OF THE SHOES WE PREVIEWED FOR SPRING 2011 Brooks PR LD $60 NEW Sizes: men 5–13,14,15; women 6–12 Weight: 5.7 oz. (w/spikes, men’s 11); 4.7 oz. (w/spikes, women’s 8) Spikes: 6, replaceable Upper: mesh, synthetic overlays Innersole: sheet EVA Midsole: fulllength sheet EVA Outersole: combination Pebax spike plate (forefoot), thermoplastic sharkskin (heel) Recommended for: 1500 meters & up, hurdles & jumps; synthetic surfaces

Puma TFX Distance 3 $65 UPDATED Sizes: men 7–12,13; women 6–11,12 Weight: 7.1 oz. (w/spikes, men’s 11); 6.7 oz. (w/spikes, women’s 8) Spikes: 7, replaceable Upper: mesh, synthetic overlays Innersole: sheet EVA Midsole: full-length sheet EVA Outersole: 3⁄4–length thermoplastic spike plate, rubber (heel) Recommended for: 800–5000 meters & up, hurdles & jumps; natural & synthetic surfaces

Brooks PR Sprint $60 NEW Sizes: men 5–13,14, 15; women 6–12 Weight: 6.3 oz. (w/spikes, men’s 11); 5.2 oz. (w/spikes, women’s 8) Spikes: 6, replaceable Upper: mesh, zippered shroud, synthetic overlays Innersole: sheet EVA Midsole: fulllength sheet EVA Outersole: combination Pebax spike plate, theromoplastic sharkskin (heel) Recommended for: 100–400 meters; synthetic surfaces

Puma TFX Sprint 3 $65 UPDATED Sizes: men 7–12,13; women 6–11,12 Weight: 6.8 oz. (w/spikes, men’s 11); 6.1 oz. (w/spikes, women’s 8) Spikes: 7, replaceable Upper: mesh, synthetic overlays Innersole: sheet EVA Midsole: full-length sheet EVA Outersole: 3⁄4-length thermoplastic spike plate, rubber (heel) Recommended for: 100–400 meters; natural & synthetic surfaces

Nike MaxCat 3 $110 UPDATED Sizes: unisex 4–13, 14,15 Weight: 6.5 oz. (w/spikes, men’s 11) Spikes: 5, replaceable Upper: mesh, welded synthetic overlays Innersole: sheet EVA Midsole: full-length Phylon (EVA) Outersole: Pebax spike plate (forefoot), TPU matrix (heel) Recommended for: 100–400 meters, hurdles; synthetic surfaces

Saucony Spitfire $65 NEW Sizes: men 7–13,14; women 5–11,12 Weight: 7.9 oz. (w/spikes, men’s 11); 6.4 oz. (w/spikes, women’s 8) Spikes: 7, replaceable Upper: mesh, synthetic overlays Innersole: sheet EVA Midsole: full-length EVA Outersole: full-length Pebax spike plate Recommended for: 100–400 meters; synthetic surfaces

Nike Zoom W 3 $75 UPDATED Sizes: women 5.5–12 Weight: 5.4 oz. (w/spikes, women’s 8) Spikes: 5, replaceable Upper: mesh, welded synthetic overlays Innersole: sheet EVA Midsole: full-length Phylon (EVA) Outersole: fulllength Pebax spike plate Recommended for: 800–5000 meters & up, hurdles; synthetic surfaces

Saucony Velocity 4 $60 UPDATED Sizes: men 7–13,14; women 5–11,12 Weight: 7.7 oz. (w/ spikes, men’s 11); 6.3 oz. (w/spikes, women’s 8) Spikes: 7, replaceable Upper: mesh, synthetic overlays Innersole: sheet EVA Midsole: full-length sheet EVA Outersole: Pebax spike plate, carbon rubber (heel) Recommended for: 800–3200 meters, hurdles & jumps; natural & synthetic surfaces s

Cregg Weinmann is footwear and running products reviewer for running network LLC. He can be reached via e-mail at shuz2run@lightspeed.net. Copyright © 2011 by running network LLC. all rights reserved. no part of this article may be stored, copied, or reprinted without prior written permission of running network LLC. reprinted here with permission.


2011 Track Spike Review