It’s the new trail shoe on the OCR block, infinitely better looking than the (admittedly incredible) iRocks, lighter than anything I’ve owned before, and enough to make you feel like some kind of celebrity when you’ve got them on after a race. “OMG Who are you wearing?” “Errr… Asics, actually.”
Such was my brand loyalty to Nike before branching out into trail shoes, I have never owned a pair of Asics, but after taking the Gel Fuji-Runnegade out over the past few weeks, I’m beginning to regret all previous footwear choices.
The first time I put them on, I was impressed at how easy it is to stretch the gaiter and get my foot in. The shoe doesn’t feel particularly narrow or tight anyway, and my toes can wiggle about freely. The only fly in the ointment as far as comfort was concerned was the stiffness of the upper, which dug a little into my toes when I extended them. This was remedied by wearing them outside on a walk. Once. After this they became THE most comfortable trainers, despite their minimal build. Underfoot, you don’t feel the lugs, even though they are quite aggressive. I’ve run them over metal, wood, tarmac, track, gravel and grass and there wasn’t a single surface on which the lugs poked at me through the sole. The sole itself is flexible, and you can almost feel the lugs melt into the ground before popping back up as you stride. They really hug the floor, so the grip is pretty phenomenal even on steep mud slopes. I am not sure I trust them as much as I do the Salomon Fellraisers in slick mud, but I think this has something to do with the physical weight of the shoes. I am not used to light trainers, and this might be why I don’t have as much faith just yet. I did run them up a very steep slope without slipping, despite there having been a landslide there recently. Unwise.
Whilst they are not going to provide the toughest ankle support on account of the shoe structure starting just above the heel, they do feel incredibly sturdy and supportive. This is surprising given how light they are, but I feel a lot of that stability comes from the sole. Nevertheless, my ankles don’t turn horribly in them.
Whilst they are new, they have been pretty durable so far – I half expected them to wear on the upper upon foot extension, but they have softened up and seem to be made of pretty strong stuff. Time will tell whether the glue holds and the sole remains attached, particularly at the toe-cap as I attack walls and the like, but so far, so fancy.
The lacing system brings me back to the more traditional whinges about loosening, however they are flat, and haven’t come undone on me during training. I’ll have to put them through the Wild Forest Gym test when I’m back down South, but in the meantime, I have really high hopes for these shoes.
As far as drainage goes – they come out absolutely on top of all shoes I own. There’s nothing to them really, and as the main cushioning in the sole is gel rather than foam, they don’t squelch after even the deepest of puddles.
So far, there is almost nothing wrong with this shoe other than the £100 price tag, but with various discounts and sales knocking around, there’s no reason you shouldn’t get them for around £50-60. I wear a UK 4 in normal shoes and usually go for a UK 5 in trainers, so gambled buying these online. Luckily, they fit true to size, and I will love them LONG TIME. The one criticism I have is that the insole tries to make a bid for freedom when you take them off, which isn’t really a big deal as you may be taking them out for cleaning anyway, but just be aware that they might dry bent, so make sure they’re smoothed out after a wet run.
So far, top marks to Asics for a long overdue OCR-worthy shoe. As for the Runnegade, I see no evidence of any ill behaviour.