New Balance Fresh Foam Boracay Review

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In search of new shoes, I checked my options by first looking at brands I hadn’t tried yet. But that idea that quickly over turned when I laid eyes on New Balance’s update to the 980 Fresh Foam. I remember trying last year’s model at work (for those who don’t know, I work at Fleet Feet) and was extremely impressed because it didn’t feel like a New Balance shoe. I said to myself, “Self, my feet are actually comfortable in a New Balance shoe.” Then the heavens opened up and I knelt one knee to say “I do”. But really, the catch of the Fresh Foam are its differences to its New Balance relatives. No weirdly shaped upper contour, no arch support placed far back on the heel, no cushioning feeling rock solid. It’s a new breed of New Balance that should be continued for the sake of runners!

After remembering my good experience jogging around the store with the original Fresh Foam – I decided to give the update an honest attempt.

Cushioning

The Fresh Foam Boracay is named after a beach in the Philippines, a beautiful beach too. Assuming the name, New Balance must have intended this shoe to feel like walking on a soft sandy beach, however they’ve missed the mark. After putting fifty miles into the shoe, it’s more firm and responsive than soft and squishy. Even out of the box, you’ll notice the springy give from the midsole. It’s not a bad feeling! In fact, I prefer my shoes to give me more control during my toe offs and less feeling like you have to fight your feet sinking. As a side note, New Balance should advertise their shoe differently if they’re going to compare it to running on a beach. A trampoline maybe?

After doing a fifteen mile long run last week, the shoe performed great until ten miles in. The problem was at that point my legs were tired and needed more give from pounding the road. So be weary that ten miles plus, you may start to wish you had a softer shoe.

On downhills, it’s no Hoka by any stretch, but it provides a decent amount of protection. I’ve let my legs fly on a 13% grade road downhill and my feet are still attached, so I call it safe if you enjoy tearing down slopes.

Upper

No sew upper construction is a God send. Its slipper feel is another differing factor that makes it such a great shoe. Above the toes are plastic overlays that help the upper retain its shape. It reminds me of the wave design on the Kinvara 3, subtle and aesthetically pleasing. There is reflective shiny plastic that wraps around the front and heel for night time visibility. Bottom of the tongue is elastic and allows you to pull it over your foot without bunching – something I enjoy doing every time I lace up. The tongue is soft and sits evenly on your foot without any problems. I would describe it as meaty, but I welcome that with arms wide because it’s comfortable. The upper is my favorite part of this shoe. I have a medium width foot and enjoy the overall wrap. If your feet are wide, the shoe does come in other widths, thanks NB!

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Performance

In my shoe lineup at the moment, I’ve been using the Boracay for medium/long runs. Not the best I’ve experienced for the job just recently coming off the Nimbus 16, but significantly lighter. The shoe weights in at 9.0oz, which is appreciated for those longer distances. I wouldn’t recommend this shoe for long distance marathon training, it’s simply not soft enough to provide protection. It’s stack height 22mm (Heel) and 18mm (Forefoot). A 4mm drop in this package is impressive. Lately I’ve been trying to keep my drops 6mm and under for natural running’s sake. Another note, the outsole is extremely grippy. On the roads, you can take turns on a dime. I tried them on the trails yesterday and they performed like any road shoe would, typical mud sliding in the wet parts.

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Update Changes

The biggest update to the 980v2 is the upper, which I believe to be slightly wider in the toe box. The midsole’s convex and concave polygons have been enlarged and more consistently placed. Interestingly, when New Balance was first designing this shoe, they constructed the prototype with a 3D printer. By analyzing where people strike the majority of the time while running determined the placement of the polygonal shapes on the midsole. The addition of that elastic tongue base is a nice feature that makes slipping the tongue over your foot more enjoyable. Weight wise, the shoe is identical to its predecessor.

Overall

I would recommend this shoe for anyone looking for a daily trainer who is planning on running a half marathon or anything less. It’s a great shoe and I hope New Balance continues the Fresh Foam line because it’s the best shoe they’ve produced.

8/10

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Runners that inspire me

I thought of making a list of runners who inspire me to run and to continue pounding ground. These aren’t in any particular order of importance – all equal playing field!

1. Kilian Jornet

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Who is he: Kilian is currently the best endurance runner of this generation. Let me tell you why. I recently read his biography, Run or Die, which is worth a read if you’re only mildly interested in running. Kilian recently ran Matterhorn in 2 hours and 52 minutes and Mont Blanc just under 5 hours – both world records. If you look at the results of the international races skyrunning races in the past 8 years, he has won the majority of them. The man is a 120 lb spanish beast! A little side note, skyrunning is running 2,000 meters above sea level, where is the air you ask? There is none! That’s what makes his mountaineer accomplishments and ultra race wins all the more impressive. I’m not giving him nearly enough credit, but Kilian is a running legend. Did I mention he is sponsored by Salomon? Yeah they’re cool!

Please indulge yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRl0PjiPnyM

Why he inspires me: Kilian has harbored a love of the mountains and being outside since he was a wee tot. I have a similar spiritual connection to being active outside and using the world as my infinite playground. I can relate to Kilian’s long admiration for the outdoors. His running philosophy has pushed me to reinvent myself as a runner. I originally exclusively loved running roads, straight aways, urban places, mostly ordinary running routes. But, after witnessing videos of Kilian’s races and long wilderness runs – I’ve found reasons to tear up the trails for once and be competitive about it. Just because you’re running on rocks, roots, and kissing tree branches doesn’t mean you can’t go FAST!

2. Anton Krupicka

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Who is he: JESUS! No unfortunately he isn’t a running Jesus, although that would be strangely appropriate wouldn’t it? Tony is a well known American ultra runner. He has won the famous Leadville 100 twice, the Miwok 100k, the Rocky Raccoon 100 Miler, and several more. Get this, Tony ran his first marathon when he was twelve. You can conclude he never stopped running since he was hooked. He lives in Boulder, CO where he trains on the never ending Rocky mountain trails. What is astounding is that he trains himself, no strings attached. If I were to compare him to another runner, I’d say Kilian Jornet because they are equally attached to mountain running, however they’re polar opposites in terms of training work ethic and personality. Tony is the most laid back runner you’ll come across who actually win races. He is also a minimalist runner, no shirt and zero drop New Balance shoes!

Check out him cutting shoes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3lhdeLrjZs

Why he inspires me: Tony’s running philosophy is what you call all-natural and hippie-like. For God’s sake, the guy doesn’t even stretch! And not because he’s against it…it’s because he’s lazy. What is that?! It’s too funny. When it comes to training mileage for the week, he has discarded the idea of reaching mileage goals. Usually runners are so anal about mileage and pace that we begin to foam at the mouth because it’s important right? Tony doesn’t care. He likes the idea of tracking his altitude gain only. And pace? Doesn’t exist to him, just get the job done. To the top of the mountain then get to the next summit. This way of thinking is so against the grain that it gets me excited at just the thought. Tony has taught me to ignore the pace on long runs, no matter how eager beaver I am to run 6:15 pace. He put the enjoyment back into running when you’re too focused on numbers and splits.

3. Corey Hahnl

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Who is he: What you say?! Just a guy who likes to run and run competitively at college level cross country and track. Now this isn’t just any guy. Corey has been running since freshmen year of high school. He was number 1 on my high school cross country team, and he ran the mile and 4×800 like a pro. It’s hard being number one and he can attest to that.

Why he inspires me: I met Corey senior year of high school when I decided to join the cross country team. At the time, watching him run was unreal for me, the rookie, because he was blazing fast. I’ll never forget how he influenced our team to run more, upwards to 10 miles plus, which is unheard of for an up and coming like myself. Our coach would scold Corey for “making” the team run more than they should. Although, he was evidence that mileage and hard work…well, works! He’ll shrug off this compliment, but I’ll say it anyway. There are elements that encouraged me to continue running, however, I like to think he inspired me the most to hone my running skill and pursue improvement. I know I know touchy feely! But he’s my bro and favorite dude to run with.

4. Ethan Newberry

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Who is he: The Ginger Runner! Ethan is a running ultra enthusiast, gear junkie, and youtuber. What’s cool is he is a ginger and he has a soul! Make no mistake, Ethan is one funny dude. He is best known for his gear/shoe reviews on youtube where he discusses running stuffs.

Why he inspires me: Ethan isn’t afraid of experimenting with new brands. There are a lot of brand biased runners out there that are married to their favorite model of shoe they swap out every six months, which is fine. However, what if there’s something out there that’s better for you? You’ll never know what’s good until you start trying different running brands. Ethan has also been on the ultra marathon scene since last year. It’s inspiring to watch an average dude do some incredible things on the trails. It gives the message, “Hey I’m not a drop dead amazing running, but I can finish a 62 mile race!” I’d love to run with this guy in the future.

Here’s his youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheGingerRunner

There’s my list folks! Thanks for reading. Just a short update on the running. I ran the treadmill today with no pain after my two week break, which felt Soooo good. Despite my hatred for running stationary, I have to say treadmills are easier on the body and in my case is a good thing. I’m still going ahead with receiving some physical therapy in the coming weeks so this pain goes away and stays away for good.