Some Nitro Served on a Plate

The world’s elite athletes are all running in plated shoes these days, because very simply put, they make you faster, and if you have that same need for speed, you should give the PUMA Deviate Nitro a try. Ed Sean Falconer gives his views on the latest PUMA shoe.

Over the years, I have found it interesting to watch the development of the tech in PUMA’s shoes. One of their projects that stood out for me was Mobium technology – introduced around 2013, if my memory serves – which featured a thin figure-of-eight bungee cord built into the midsole, which contracted and stretched with your foot to give the shoe better rebound properties. It was an interesting concept that unfortunately didn’t really hit the spot with the running market, but I give PUMA points for trying something new.

Now PUMA have come out with the Deviate NITRO, which the company describes as a “max cushion shoe with improved efficiency for long runs.” But that’s just marketing speak, and could just as easily describe every other running shoe on the market. No, the real story here is the new tech, and it starts with the carbon-composite plate embedded in a nitrogen-infused midsole!

Riding the Plate Wave

The midsole is made from PUMA’s new NITRO foam, which is a supercritical material that provides a lighter and bouncier ride than previous midsole materials from PUMA, even their IGNITE foam. In layman’s terms, they pump nitrogen into the compound as it is formed and baked, which then creates subtle bubbling that ensures better cushioning and springiness in the midsole.

PUMA then added the carbon-infused INNOPLATE, sandwiched between two layers of NITRO and running till midway in the forefoot. This plate is designed to really make your toe-off ‘pop’ as the shoe helps to propel you forwards… much like PUMA’s Mobium band was designed to do, but this is so much more effective and efficient!

When I ran in the shoe, I found it a little on the rigid side at slow speeds, but that’s understandable – this shoe is designed to help you go faster, after all. Once you get up even a little speed, and pivot ever so slightly more forward than you may be used to doing, those plates really kick in. Overall, I felt the shoe gave me the right balance between soft cushioning on landing and a snappy take-off.

The tooling of the shoe is rounded off by a PUMAGRIP outsole, which is particularly effective in the forefoot to ensure firm grip on the road as that plate does its ‘slingshot’ act. After all, the last thing you’d want with that extra power is loss of traction, like an over-revved car spinning its wheels. The stack height drop is 8mm (32mm in the heel, 24mm at the toe), which is pretty standard stuff for a well cushioned running shoe.

My Only Criticism…

The mesh upper of this shoe is breathable and looks both modern and cool – and personally, I love the bright orange colour, because I like my running shoes to look fast! The upper has minimal overlays, which is good – while they provide structure and form to an upper, they can make it less flexible and giving, and I think this shoe has just the right amount.

Furthermore, I like that the tongue has minimal padding and is gusseted (attached to the footbed), meaning it stays in place throughout your run, but at the same time my wider foot found the forefoot area roomy and comfy enough. That’s an important consideration for me, given that PUMA did build some of its shoes on a narrow last in years gone by, which I found too tight.

However, there was one part of the upper that rubbed me up the wrong way at first. The first time I put on the shoes, I noticed slippage in the collar around my ankle, and I put this down to the interesting design of an unpadded collar with two prominent pads a little lower down that wrap each side of the heel. I also found that the slightly harder upper edge of the heel cup area was digging into my Achilles. I therefore put the laces through the extra eyelets closest to the ankle and synched them really tight, and that took care of the slippage, and to a large extent the Achilles irritation as well, but I did find that thicker socks were better.

…But the Ride Solves That!

That said, once I got up to speed in the shoes, I quickly forgot about the collar, because the performance of the rest of the shoe was so good! This shoe seems to promote forefoot striking and a quicker toe-off, and thus the collar of the shoe doesn’t play nearly as prominent a role as it would if you were heel-striking and squishing down on your heels. So, my take on this is that each individual runner will need to experiment with lacing and socks to find the most comfortable fit, and when you get that right, you will feel the real benefit of these shoes and their snappy forefoot.

 

Get Them Here: The PUMA Deviate Nitro retails for a recommended R3999 and is available from PUMA stores and at PUMA.com

Under Armour Unveils Its Fastest Performance Running Shoe Yet!

Tested for over 11,000 miles, the UA Flow Velociti Wind is the latest chapter in running innovation with a disruptive design and all-in-one cushioning system that eliminates the rubber outsole.

What is the flow state? The feeling you get when you could keep running for miles. The feeling of wanting to keep going one more mile – because you feel so good. The feeling of light, effortless speed. The feeling of the wind at your back. Every runner is searching for that flow state.

Under Armour is inspired by our elite run athletes and is constantly pursuing the most innovative solutions to help them get better. In a sport where every second counts, the Under Armour team sought to create a lightweight yet supportive shoe that would perform for elite runners in their most taxing workouts. The team focused on a simple idea: how can we create a shoe that’s built for speed and breaking barriers? Could they remove the heaviest part of the shoe – the outsole, without sacrificing durability or traction?

After three years, over 17 rounds of raw material testing, 9 rounds of biomechanical testing, 15 rounds of shoe testing, and over 11,000 miles of wear testing – they did it. Introducing the all-new UA Flow midsole.

UA Flow Velociti Wind

UA Flow is a responsive, grippy, and supportive singular-foam compound that eliminates the rubber outsole, enabling Under Armour to create an innovative, high-traction running shoe with nothing on the market like it today. UA Flow makes its debut in the running category with the UA Flow Velociti Wind, a high-performance running shoe offering.

The UA Flow Velociti Wind was designed and engineered to provide great responsiveness and energy return, grippy traction so you can run with confidence, and a ground-breaking super-engineered upper solution, UA Warp, that moulds perfectly to the human form to unlock performance. The UA Flow Velociti Wind is designed for speed over longer distances – putting the wind at your back with every stride.


CREATED TO HELP RUNNERS REACH THEIR FLOW STATE 

UA Flow came from the minds of our Footwear Innovation Team in Portland, Oregon, who partnered with some of the world’s best material science companies to bring a completely new footwear experience. They focused on the simple idea: how could they make it feel like the wind is at your back with every stride? The solution: think outside the box by eliminating the traditional rubber outsole completely, all while providing comfort, flexibility and traction with every step.

“Flow is smooth in every sense of the word. It’s a smooth experience while running in the shoes. It’s a smooth feeling when going through the entire gate cycle and foot strike. And it also feels smooth in the sense that it is lacking distraction. There’s nothing there that is getting in the way of you and your flow state.” – Tom Luedecke, Creative Director of Footwear Innovation.

The development of UA Flow was executed in partnership between Dow and the Under Armour team including Innovation, Product Design, Biomechanics, Athlete and Consumer Insights groups, and many others – with over 50 people involved in collectively bringing this new technology to fruition. Over 130 elite athletes ran more than 11,000 miles during the product wear testing phase of the UA Flow development process.

The UA Flow midsole technology made its debut in the basketball category with the launch of Stephen Curry’s signature shoe, the Curry Flow 8, under his new namesake brand. Working with the basketball legend meant the performance team could leverage their learnings across categories, and design footwear solutions for elite basketball and run athletes.

“When I wear the UA Flow Velociti Wind, it feels like nothing’s weighing me down.” – Morgan McDonald, UA Pro Runner


WHAT IS UA FLOW?

UA Flow disrupts the design of a traditional running shoe by completely eliminating the rubber outsole, reducing the 2-3 ounces of weight that it adds, on average, from a traditional running shoe. UA Flow is the lightest midsole technology in UA’s current running line-up, bringing unparalleled lightweight cushion and long-lasting technology to the run category. The foam has naturally sticky traction, so traditional bulky overlays of the past aren’t needed.

UA Flow debuts in the run category with the UA Flow Velociti Wind, a lightweight performance running shoe designed for runners who seek a neutral platform with a go-to fast feel. At just 8.5oz (men’s size 9), this shoe is a solution for runners looking for speed and support in their tempo workouts, fast-paced long runs, and longer road races.

“These shoes feel weightless, almost as if there’s nothing there. Hitting flow state in a workout is much easier
when you have a shoe that moulds really well to your foot, is responsive to the ground, and is so lightweight, because I have no distractions.” – Madeline Kopp, UA Pro Runner

ALL NEW FEATURES CREATE A SHOE MADE FOR PERSONAL BESTS

UA Warp is a ground-breaking upper that moulds perfectly to the human form to unlock performance. It features supporting tapes that act like seatbelts on the foot, placed precisely where our biomechanists found them to be most helpful for a runner. The tapes are in tension when you need them and relax when you don’t – eliminating any buckling and pinch points from traditional uppers built with continuous materials.

The UA Warp upper then moves in unison with the foot, supporting it in each step to help unlock performance by improving the efficiency of the foot to shoe interface in each stride. UA Warp locks you onto the UA Flow midsole without getting in the way of the foot’s natural movement.

The UA Flow Velociti Wind helps runners grip the surface better and run with confidence, with unparalleled traction. Flow’s rubberless outsole provides higher traction than traditional compounds to grip the surface better. Even without a traditional outsole, wear testers found that UA Flow performed in any condition they faced – from wet cement to uneven gravel and variable roads.

“UA Flow is another huge leap forward for Under Armour—and it opens up the possibilities for future models and seasons,” said Josh Rattet, Under Armour Vice President of Global Footwear. “We have been deliberate and focused on our quest to build an authentic and credible run brand over the past few years, and the UA Flow Velociti Wind is truly a testament to our team’s commitment to creating solutions to make all runners better.”

PRODUCT DNA:

  • Weight: Men’s 9 – 8.5oz (214g) / Women’s 7 – 8.02oz (227g)
  • Price: R3499
  • Heel: 26mm
  • Forefoot: 18mm
  • Offset: 8mm

The UA Flow Velociti Wind will be available to the SA Market from the 18th of March and will be available on www.underarmour.co.za and Premium UA Brand Houses across the country.

Oh So Close!

So what do you do when you’ve shattered the Comrades Marathon women’s record, won the Two Oceans Marathon in near-record time, and posted the fastest marathon by a South African in years? You go after the SA Marathon record… and you don’t let a global pandemic get in the way. That’s what Gerda Steyn did in the recent London Marathon. – BY SEAN FALCONER