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Running Shoe Review: Topo Runventure

Topo-Athletic-Runventure

Is the Topo Runventure simply a trail running shoe or is it more?

Topo Athletic produces three types of shoes: for the road, for the gym, and for the trail. Topo makes three trail shoes: the MT (Mountain Trainer), the Oterro, and the Runventure. I decided to try out the Runventure, supplied by the company.

Topo Runventure-M-1

The Topo Runventure (sometimes listed online as the RunVenture or Run Venture) is a relatively lightweight minimalist-style trail runner. The shoe weighs 8.9 ounces and has a heel drop of only 2mm on a 19mm platform. What this means is that the shoe feels low to the ground, like a Merrell trail running shoe, and its structure encourages mid-foot landings: one actually lands on the lower forefoot or higher mid-foot.

When first putting on the shoe it feels comfortable to walk in, although the fit is a bit snug. A tight fit will likely be appreciated by the great majority of trail runners, although some, no doubt, will wish for a looser overall fit. The shoe is built on a semi-curved last, and presumably is slip-lasted although that’s not certain since the insole is glued onto the shoe’s base, racing-flat style.

Initially I was worried that the shoe looks short, a half-size up from walking shoe size, but there’s plenty of space upfront for toes – so much so that one’s toes may feel like they’re on vacation! Splay away at will. The minor downside of the Runventure’s somewhat unique experience is that the model has a quasi-Eskimo shoe appearance. Better this than black or lost toenails.

There’s a flex groove in the forefoot that provides a surprising amount of flexibility for a trail shoe. This will be appreciated by those with inflexible feet, and those whose toes like to grab – or attempt to grab, at the surface below.

The Runventure feels great when blasting away on a gravel-covered dirt trail. It’s not a quick-feeling shoe but it’s very steady and protective. If blindfolded, I would have guessed that I was wearing a Nike trail running shoe. That feel may be enhanced by the Nike-type one piece sole, meaning that the heel strike feels indistinct (although, interestingly, one feels the heel when walking in this shoe). The heel cushioning is not substantial but it is sufficient.

The shoe feels quicker on asphalt where it supplies an unexpected bounce and energy return dividend. It feels fast, like a typical lightweight trainer, on concrete. On a hard rock dirt trail, the Runventure is stable, secure and protective, thanks to having a molded full-length midsole rock plate – yes, that’s a thermoplastic urethane (TPU) plate – placed between the midsole and outsole.

On a hard-packed dirt trail, the shoe is an off-road version of a Mazda Miata/MX-5 – it will take you where you want to go, quickly and almost instinctively. The Runventure makes for a very confident striker on a track. While the shoe won’t let you bounce on your toes, you can land on your heels or on the mid-foot or on the balls of your feet. Thanks to the TPU plate, one’s metatarsals are well protected.

Topo Runventure sole

The success of the shoe in dealing with multiple surfaces is due in part to a hybrid “All Terrain Sole” that’s nubby enough for urban and country trails but flat enough for city surfaces. The Runventure shines on a fire road; in fact, it’s my all-time favorite fire road runner! While you may encounter a few big rocks or tree roots on such a trail, the shoe’s protective construction means that your feet will not wind up beaten up or bruised. This translates into piece of mind, and additional miles in the training log.

You may note that I moved back and forth between many types of surfaces in testing this shoe. That’s because its hybrid nature allows one to do so. It’s actually both a trail and road shoe; a town, country and city model.

Verdict:

The Topo Runventure will work well for runners who like a well-rounded, versatile shoe that they can use to walk, run or train in no matter where they are or where they’re headed. And this, undoubtedly, includes the gym.

If you’ve run in Merrell trail shoes but feel the need for more cushioning, protection and stability, the Runventure should do the trick. It’s a minimalist-style shoe that feels more mainstream and traditional in action. As a result, most runners should be able to use the Runventure as both a training shoe and a 5K to marathon distance shoe.

It should be kept in mind that the Runventure was produced for trail running. Those who attack their local nature trails, fire roads and dirt trails on weekends may find that it meets their needs quite well. And some who run ultramarathons may find that the shoe will comfortably transport them anywhere from 5K to 50 miles, or more.

Highly recommended.

Joseph Arellano

This review first appeared on the Blogcritics site:

http://blogcritics.org/running-shoe-review-topo-runventure/

The Topo Runventure sells for $110.00.

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SCN1042-ORBK

A running shoe review! We take a look at the new Saucony Fastwitch 6 racing flat.

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On the Run

A review of the Mizuno Wave Precision Running Shoe.

The Nike Air Pegasus was the best-selling shoe of the late 1980s and early 90s.   It seemed to have everything going for it, from a slightly curved last that fit most everyone, to a firm polyurethane heel, soft blown rubber up front, and just a smidgen of pronation control.   The exposed air in the heel made runners feel like they were going to run faster, even if it was just a gimmick.

That beloved Pegasus was such a great shoe that I’ve been searching for its replacement ever since.   There are Nike Air Pegasus+ 28 and 29 models out now but there’s not much about them reminiscent of the original.   They offer a bouncy ride that seems to be directed to the youngest runners, and styling that appears to satisfy someone’s odd need for the 70s.

I’ve never been able to wear a pair of Mizuno runners since running stores have not carried my size.   But on my most recent trip to the local emporium, the salesman urged me to try the shoes he runs in, the Mizuno Wave Precision 13.   In this case, 13 is a lucky number!

Apart from the color scheme (more on that later), the Wave Precision comes off as the soulful heir to the “back in the day” Pegasus.   It offers a nice, slightly curved last that will fit most feet – size up a half-size – a firm heel in the back, soft rubber up front, and – perhaps best of all – a minimal helping of stability.   The stability comes from the built-in wave support in the midsole.   It’s just enough to keep your foot straight but not enough to alter your foot strike; as compared to the Nike Zoom Structure+ 15 which pushes back too much.   Like the Pegasus of old, it appears to offer something for everyone, whether they’re heel, mid-foot or front-foot strikers.   (I plead guilty to being a heel striker and I love the firmness of the heel on the Wave Precision 13.)

Are there any flaws with this model?   Yes, perhaps two…  The heel counter that protects the Achilles tendon is a bit firm and you may feel it after a long run; although this confirms that it’s performing its intended purpose.   And then there’s the matter of the colors.   Mizuno calls the standard (and only) color scheme Fluorite/Gypsum/Dress Blue.   It may strike some males as being somewhat feminine.   My wife calls them, “the cartoon shoes”, for which I’ve had no witty comeback.   Let’s just hope that Mizuno provides a restrained option in the future.   I have a feeling that a lot of the owners of the current Wave Precision 13 will be ordering another pair when the new color scheme(s) arrive.

If you’re a runner who can’t afford a time machine to take you back to the late 80s/early 90s – and the joy of running in ye-olde-tyme Pegasus running shoe – you can instead consider springing for a pair of Mizuno Wave Precision 13s.   A splendid time is guaranteed for all!

Joseph Arellano

This article was originally posted on the Blogcritics Sports site at: http://blogcritics.org/sports/article/on-the-run1/ .   These running shoes, which retail for $109.99, were purchased by the reviewer.   

Note: This site will periodically feature reviews of products other than books, although it will remain as primarily a book review blog.

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