At the recent Kona Wolrd Ironman Championship 2010, K-Swiss officially introduced an arsenal of super light running shoes cater for racing, training and recovery. And thanks to them, I had the privilege of trying out the all new racer, the K-Swiss Blade-Light Race and to race in them at my recent Powerman Malaysia 2010. And after a 28KM long run and race with it, it's about time to give my review on it.
The K-Swiss Blade-Light Race weighting in at 245 grams (men size US9), is a no frill minimalist racing shoe built with just meshes, overlays, rubbers, velcro and a few plastic. Nothing mumbo jumbo about it, though the inspiration of getting it design is rather "special" in a way. The construction of the shoe is all similiar with it's other 2 siblings, the Blade-Light Run (trainer) and the Blade-Light Recover (recovery compression shoe). It shares the same outsole and what is the difference is just the upper.
Lateral view of the shoe...
Medial view of the shoe...
The way the cheetah runs, fastest land animal on earth is the inspiration behind the blade designs. A close look on the blade designs on the outsole reveal 2 sets of blades. The forefoot area has its blade pointing 45 degrees to the back while the mid to hell area has it's blade pointing 45 degrees to the front. The idea is conceive from when the cheetah runs, the front legs are pointing to the back, while the hind legs to the front, hence the design of the blades. It may sound weird but it does really work if you are are mid to forefoot striker. The blade compresses and the energy return can be felt, at least for me hence a very responsive ride. The only downside of the blade designs is that it picks up small pebbles easily hence getting stuck in between.
The outsole construction is based on the K-Swiss exclusive K-EVA rubber with the Aosta II blown rubber covering one quarter of it. Therefore, three quarter of it is exposed K-EVA which may prompt a quicker wear and tear, especially for mid and forefoot strikers. And located in between the outsole and the insole, a layer of Superfoam EVA is stitched to the footbed for the extra cushioning hence double density foam goodness.
Superfoam on the footbed. Notice the ventilation holes for the extra breathablility...
And not to be miss is the 10 drainage ports on the outsole, part of the Flow Cool System to keep water out of the shoes. The ports are on a small side compared to the K-Swiss K-Ona C, but it still does it's job well. As for the main Flow Cool System, it's still located on the toe box and collar area, keeping the feet well ventilated and wet socks at bay.
The meshes and overlays are built on a 1 piece seamless construction, hence the good news for triathletes, no socks required! It's pillow soft but yet thin meshes will keep the feet really comfortable, just like wearing a well cushioned socks. As for the velcro fastener, it will shave seconds off during the transition. I swear by this for during my Powerman Malaysia 2010, I just slip the shoes on and off easily, on or off the velcro went, and off I went. Just don't try to get the velcro aligned properly as this is very subjective due to the different width of our feet. And when the feet swells up after all the pounding, just loosen the velcro and you are ready to go again. A downside on the velcro fastener is probably the inability to fasten a timing chip on it. Therefore, an ankle band to hold the timing chip is really required here for those using this shoe for pure running purposes only. One little cool feature is the pulley on the collar. Really like this nifty feature as it allows ease of putting the shoe on. In goes the feet, a little pull from the pulley, velcro on and you are ready to go! Fast!
Something werid about the fit though is the space around the toe-box. Even with my regular size on, the extra space on the toe-box is about at least half a thumb in length. A quick check with some K-Swiss athletes around the world and also some wearers showed similiar results. Whether is this a good thing or not, I had no trouble with it, though a triathlete I know did mention about problems during tackling of turns and corners where the toes tend to move around.
Overall, the K-Swiss Blade-Light Race is a fast and comfortable shoe indeed. Not only it's responsive, it will also help shave time off during transition and probably races too. And you don't need to worry about laces coming undone. The downside, the outsole wears out quickly too. Whether a 10KM, marathon distance or anything beyond, I'm pretty confident that this shoe will be able to stand up to the challenges.
The K-Swiss Blade-Light Race retails at a recommended selling price of RM369.00 and can be found at K-Swiss official store at Runnerz Circle.