After going through 4 pair of the 980 Fresh Foams, I was convinced I had found my ideal trainer and aimed to stock up on them before they were replaced. However, once the cold (very cold) and snowy (very snowy) months were in effect, I realized that they broke down, literally fell apart, after getting soaked and cold a few times. So, to get through the winter I picked up a pair of Saucony Breakthru. At first I loved the Saucony’s, and I still don’t really hate them, but they aren’t my cup of tea overall. So, enter the Boracay. I’ve already had my eye on the release date of the New Balance Zante (just happened) a Fresh Foam shoe that has been bred for speed. In my mind and various person’s descriptions, it’s what the 1400 V2 should have been (a shoe I initially loved, but grew to view as one of the worst updates ever) However, before the Zante was released, they came out with a shoe to replace the current 980 Foams, the Boracay. It addresses a couple things about the previous model that weren’t great. First off, my personal gripe with the degrading upper material has been addressed and replaced with what feels to be a more durable substance and more flexible. It also has more durable lacing set up and softer feel underfoot. Unlike the 1400 V2, this is an example of a replacement that gets it right!
Weight: The old 980 Fresh Foams weighed in at 8.9 oz and really did feel quite light on the foot. Probably due to the neutral design with the single foam section in the sole and the low heel-to-toe drop of 4 mm. The Boracay weigh in at 9.3 oz, yet somehow feel even lighter. Chock it up to the new smooth and consistent cushioning maybe, but these things are like wearing around a pair of slippers. Actual weight isn’t as important to me as the feel of the shoe when my legs already feel heavy and I’m very impressed with the consistent cushioning and light rebound of these guys when running on pretty trashed legs (re: after 15 miles of long interval speedwork)
Shape: This area might be the best improvement for me; a new “two-way stretch air mesh” upper allows my toes to stretch out against the side of the shoe without being constricted. I’ve mentioned a few times how I have a weird shaped foot that doesn’t fit well in many toe boxes, but these remind me of the upper on the new Adidas Ultra Boost and that is a very good thing. Like the original Foams, the rest of the shoe also conforms to my feet great and feels nice and snug, running true to size. The outsole has received a slight change too, with the shallow lugs being elongated on the ball of the foot, rather than the same oval pattern across the entire bottom. Not sure if it makes a big difference, but it seems to lend to a more stable strike when running forward. 😉
Lightness on foot (can I run fast in them?): On this question my answer would probably be no. While they do feel light and smooth, they are definitely not designed with running fast in mind. It’s not the weight that’s a problem though, it’s simply the cushioning and comfort. They ride so smooth that it’s not a firm enough plant to really drive hard off of. However, this is in no way a complaint as the very reason I wanted these shoes was to have a great everyday trainer to wear on my easy and recovery runs. To that end, they fulfill my needs perfectly.
Design: Say what you will about the bright and flashy shoes that seem to firmly be the trend now, but I fully support them! I can’t stand the boring white and black sneakers that old folks love. My last couple pair of 980 Fresh Foam were a dull gray with yellow mid-sole and I was so not impressed with that. As you can see in the pictures, these guys look like you’re wearing some cool ocean scene on your feet. Not quite as cool as the coral color on the last Foams though. I should note that the three other color choices do utilize grey as the primary color. Blech.
Longevity: I’ve honestly only put about 50-60 miles on these guys yet since I picked them up a week ago, but I see no wear at all yet. I tended to drag the front of the sole occasionally on the older Foams, but haven’t had that issue on these. In fact, the wording on the inner liner hasn’t even been worn at all yet. The Ortholite insole in the Boracay has more cushion then previous shoes also, a noticeable feature too. Top Tip: If you aren’t already pulling the insole out after you get your shoes wet, start now! I didn’t for the longest time and it definitely speeds up drying time and thus longevity. I will update again in month when I’ve most likely used these things up. But if they’re anything like the old 980 Foams, I’ll get a solid 400 miles out of them and then still use them for the occasional shorter run down the road.
Stay tuned for when I pick up the Zante as I’m sure I’ll want to compare and contrast against the fast running designed New Balance models and now the Boracay, too. I also might put a review together of the Asics Hyper Speed 6 that I’ve worn in my last couple workouts and will wear in a half marathon tomorrow. They are looking like my shoe of choice for Boston at the moment, sorry New Balance!
Just for the record, I am a big New Balance fan, but have not been given any shoes to wear-test or review by any retailers or shoe companies. Simply like to put my opinion out there as someone who’s fairly particular about the shoes I run in. However, I’d be more than willing to review some specific models given the right encouragement! *hint hint*