Minimalist Shoes from Skechers? Or is the GoRun Yet Another Nike Free or Reebok RealFlex?
In what will come as no surprise to anyone (Who's paying attention) is a new "minimalistic" shoe from Skechers — the Skechers GoRun.
UPDATE with a quote from "Design Guy" in comments — Design Guy is apparently from Skechers, and spent 15 months designing (and testing) the GoRun. See below.
That Skechers would introduce a new shoe that rides the coattails of the barefoot/natural running movement was likely a foregone conclusion given the popularity of the Nike Free line and the recently released Reebok RealFlex, which you'll recall "perfected" natural running.
And we all know that Skechers is ever the innovative shoe manufacturer. Just take the Skechers Shape-ups, for example. Here, Skechers basically
copied imitated the oddly not-barefoot-yet-marketed-that-way, super-soled rocker shoes from MBT, marketed them to the masses*, and encouraged countless individuals to buy into the notion that footwear can magically make you fit. Mind, Skechers is being sued by one woman who claims the Shape-Ups "catastrophically" injured her.
All snarkiness aside, what is the Skechers GoRun? Is it a minimalist shoe? What's the deal with bald guys and barefoot shoes? Speculate on the answers to these questionad and more with a bit of marketing magic after the jump!
Start by taking the four minutes to watch this video of Christian Burke, who is an ultra runner from California who recently placed 2nd in the Born to Run 100K (wearing Skechers GoRun prototype shoes):
Here's what I consider the money quote from the video:
People are trying to figure out what's important to minimalist runners. This thing takes a completely new approach and this is the only shoe that I know of that gives me a surface on my midfoot to run on. This shoe is so soft and it conforms to my foot so well and any turn, any change in direction, any thing, any type of terrain it really molds to my foot just the way I want it.
That's about as close as you're going to get to barefoot running.
We've talked a lot about barefoot running, and specifically what it takes to make a "barefoot running shoe" or minimalist running shoe. When you get right down to it, getting close to barefoot running while wearing shoes is as simple as getting out of the way of the naked foot: let the foot function as naturally as possible (given something unnatural is attached to it). Let it flex. Let it feel. Don't force it to land a certain way. Etc.
Will the Skechers GoRun get out of the way of the foot and let it function naturally? I don't know. It's also unclear what the heel-to-toe drop on the GoRun is. I'd just about put money on the GoRun not being a zero-drop shoe.
And what is this midfoot surface that Christian Burke refers to? Based on Burke's flexing of the GoRun sole, it certainly appears to have the "nobby" look of a Nike Free or a Reebok RealFlex — particularly at the midfoot, where we see a criss-cross pattern of extra beefy nobs. What's the deal?
I don't have many answers to these questions. What I do know is that in addition to Christian Burke's endoresment (Burke set the Guinness World Record for his sand run at Hermosa Beach) Skechers has also signed Meb Keflezighi, the 2001 NYC Marathon winner and silver medal Olympian (Athens 2004) as a consultant for the shoes. You can see him pictured wearing them at the Skechers blog, which oddly tells us little about the GoRuns other than this allusion to their midfoot strike technology:
Keflezighi will be running in the World Marathon Majors (including the 2001 ING New York City Marathon), road races, and Olympic Trials through August 2012 exclusively in SKECHERS Fitness performance footwear featuring the Company's innovative SmartShoe(TM) mid-foot strike technology for serious athletes and active enthusiasts. Keflezighi will also be consulting on the development of performance product and SKECHERS expects to coordinate the launches of exciting new competition-ready running lines with his professional racing appearances.
"SKECHERS' new performance shoes change the way I run for the better," said Keflezighi. "I've been a heel strike runner my entire life, but I am now wearing SKECHERS to maximize the efficiency of my foot strike. My shoes are my most essential piece of equipment and right now SKECHERS has the footwear I need to succeed. I'm excited to be partnering with this groundbreaking company."
I can't say I know much about Keflezighi though he's certainly an accomplished runner. And Christian Burke? He seems like a nice enough chap and I'm not just saying that as a fellow bald man (What's up with all of us minimalist footwear fans being bald? Chris McDougall, Barefoot Ted, the Reebok RealFlex guy ... it's either bald or crazy haired like NB Minimus Trail spokesman Anton Krupicka or the Godfather of Barefoot Running Barefoot Ken Bob).
I'll stop the speculation and snarkiness here. Hey, the Skechers GoRun could be awesome. It's yet another wanna be minimalist shoe. Whether it will be or not is yet to be determined. What do you think?
Update - Availability! The Skechers GoRun is available for sale. It looks like it's retailing for $80 online (e.g. Champ's).
UPDATE From Skechers GoRun designer! Per a comment below from "design guy," who apparently worked on the design of the Skechers GoRun, we learn the following:
Since there is so much interest in the Go Run & very little in the way of technical details I thoughtI'd clear things up, seeing as how I designed the shoe. Fist off this shoe took over 15 months to design & test, through three rounds of hundreds of runners. We wanted to build the ultimate barefoot shoe & started way before the Reeflex shoe ever surfaced. The shoe has a 4MM drop & offers more protection than a 5 fingers etc. We have a heel geometry that forces correct running form (midfoot strike) not pods like newton. Stay tuned for more info......
Given Skechers is ramping up their marketing materials and signing some big names in running, I'm suddenly reminded of bumping into Evander Holyfield in Atlanta-Hartsfield Jackson Airport. He was wearing Skechers, too. Shape-Ups.
What say you?
H/T to Joshua for alerting me to this news!