Monday, April 2, 2012

Stingers, Kinvaras or Hattori's? A hard choice to make

Hard to argue with success
I'm less than two weeks away from running my fourth consecutive Marcie Mazzola race.  The first time I ran it was in 2009 when the distance was 4 miles. The course was shortened the next year to 5K to increase the number of participants. What didn't change was the big hill on Woodhull Road that makes up a good part of the first mile. After three races along that course, I'm actually looking forward to the hill challenge this year.

Once runners get past the big hill, the course reverts to a net negative elevation, providing some great opportunities to let loose on the downhills. I'm on the fence about which running shoes I'll use for this race, but I'm thinking it may be between my latest two pairs: the Spira Stinger XLT's and the Saucony Kinvara 3's.

I've done my last two long runs in the Spiras and they have performed exceedingly well. I was prepared to dismiss them as a gimmick when offered the opportunity to test them on Runner's Tech Review and I'm glad I stayed open minded. Make no mistake about this shoe - it's lightweight, comfortable, supportive and responsive.

The Kinvara 3's are also very nice. I loved my original Kinvaras but found the Kinvara 2's less appealing each time I tried them on. To be fair, I never ran in them, so I don't really know how they'd have performed. I do know that the Kinvara 3's feel more like the original and, with their 4mm ramp angle, suit my preference for a lower platform. I have had noticeable irritation in one foot when running in these shoes, but I suspect it's as much a foot issue as it is a shoe problem.

It's hard to determine which of these shoes would serve me better for a fast 5K. Perhaps I'll simply opt for door #3 and run with the venerable Hattori's. These shoes, despite over 300 miles on their thin soles, still deliver one of the best running experiences I've ever encountered.

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