When my man Mark from Mizuno delivered the Hitogami to me a few weeks back, I was thankful for both his generosity and that I’d remembered to wear my wicking underwear. The excitement was such that there was an involuntary release of one or more bodily fluids. Since I first heard about the Hitogami, way back in the day, or June maybe, I have been mentally and physically preparing for the inevitable emotional rollercoaster that new shoes bring.
You know what I’m talking about. You wait and wait and wait and wait and waitandwaitandwaitandwait for whatever it is your waiting for, and then you get them and put them on you’re so excited and full of oxytocin that you just go around hugging shit. For no reason. And then when that wears off you go through this real mild depression, like when your favorite comb ever snags a tooth on your back pocket and you have to cancel your date with that girl from the food truck. And then you go full on into Irrationaltown and make an Instagram page for all the hoarded shoes you just bought in case they get discontinued and then you decide that maybe couponing is a good idea. That’s damn near standard issue, in my world.
I was excited about the Hitogami for a few reasons. First, they’d dumped the Musha, in which I’d experienced many a brilliant run1 and wearing them made me ejaculate serotonin straight outta my tear ducts. So I needed a replacement. Second, recently Mizuno have made big efforts to go in some pretty creative and unMizuno-like directions with their shoes. And that was a huge turn on. Mizuno have always been a pretty conservative company, both in product design and marketing. And aesthetics. Their updates were generally safe and it was rare that anything Mizuno made ever bombed. coughRider14cough And since Mizuno decided–against my pleas to replace the Musha with the Kudos2–to release the Hitogami instead, I needed to be in them. And third, there is that whole, you know, fetish thing that we’ve talked about but promised not to talk about ever again.
In the past I’d worn many a Mizuno, always kinda leaning toward the lighter and lower models. Probably my favorite has been the Revolver, at least of the Wave models, and since then I’ve been a Musha man. I dig the Ekiden as well, and wear them when I host my own personal Hakone in my neighborhood.3 The more trainery models, including the supercool Sayonara, are just too stiff in the rearfoot and make my Achilles and posterior tibialis tickle, but in the bad way. Serious lever action. And so I was really counting on the Hitogami to be the shit. I needed them to be. I know we’re not supposed to have expectations and all, but I was expecting the shit outta them.
So when Mark brought the Hitogami into the shop, my vision suddenly went tunnel and I started hyperventilating but I passed it off as cedar fever. And on top of that, it turns out that both Mark and I had eaten at the Burrito Wagon in Taos, back when it was in the bank parking lot. So there’s that.
The Hitogami were almost exactly what I’d wanted them to be. Of course, they’re lightweight. They’re in the marathon racer category, I’d say, like the 1400 and Adioseses. Mizuno have gone clever in their marketing and classify them as a performance trainer, so as not to scare off anyone who won’t step into a racer. Smart, those Runbirds. They’re lower profile: The stack is enough that you feel protected, but not so much that you can’t feel the ground. For those of you who think that the Hitogami’s 9mm offset, or whatever it is exactly, is too high, I’d still suggest that you give them a go. I think the offset is only important in relation to the whole shoe. I’ve run in some 4mm drop shoes that blew fish. Generally, I do prefer a lower shoe, but the most important thing to me is that the shoe disappears on my foot. That’s pretty much the all-encompassing, umbrella thing that I want. I love the Kinvara (3) and they’re 4mm. I also run a rotation of 1400, Cloudracer, Launch and A5 and…you see where this is going, don’t you? You don’t have to believe me, but believe Pete, who is a scientist and makes a living doing this.
The Hitogami disappeared on my foot by the time I was out the door. The fit is fairly snug, and feels like it was cut for my foot, which is about as good as it gets if you’re me. But they probably won’t work if you got a fatty fatty foot foot. That kind of snug. The welded overlays are really pretty solid and lock my foot down enough that I can see that being an issue for some. But with my foot, when I laced them up I knew—today is gonna be a good day. The feel, on my foot at least, is shrink-wrapped slipper.
Underneath, the midsole and outsole are responsive enough to race and protective enough to train. I’ve worn them on 90 minute trail runs, 4 mile tempos, easy neighborhood loops and a circuit on the track and they perform brilliantly in each situation. I really can’t compare the midsole of the Hitogami to the Musha, because it’s been a while since I’ve had a Musha on my foot, but I’d put them in the same general ballpark in terms of feel. It’s a solid, fast feel. Firm. Not Adios 2 firm—nothing is that firm—but firm nonetheless. And for those of you who absolutelywithoutfailgottahavelowdropordie, they feel lower than the 1400. Runningwarehouse lists them with a 1mm lower stack height than the 1400, but the offset feels lower to me, too, though they are listed as identical.
I’ve spoken with one Mizuno sponsored runner and he loves to do his faster, longer workouts in them, but says that they are probably too much shoe for him for racing shorter than marathon. At the U.S. half championships, I think he went with his old Ronin. And then Seth apparently wears them for just about anything up to and including Tex-Mex and tequila. I’d bet most people would find them too little shoe for everyday wear, but they work well for me in that capacity.
I think that anyone who is running more frequently than every other day should consider rotating shoes, and if you’re in that category, then this is a really, really good option. I’m of the belief that shoes like the Hitogami, the 1400 and the Launch are all so well done that they should be the templates off which the other shoes in their respective lines are designed. New Balance kindasorta have the 1600/1400/890 trinity, and Mizuno now have the Ekiden, Hitogami and Sayonara similarly aligned. The Hitogami are, in my opinion, a more than worthy replacement for the Musha, and, probably, what the Rider should be, albeit with the added cushioning. (The only way they could improve on the Hitogami is if they took the Wave plate from the rearfoot/midfoot and moved it to midfoot/forefoot. But that’s for another post. I’m serious.) And they look way cool, too, in the black, blue and hot pink. Tell me that people won’t talk to you when you wear those while you’re standing in line for ramen. And I’d wear the white pair too. And the pink, should they every make those for men. I’d wear those bad girls with my sash.
1I should be in marketing.
3I just really like wearing a sash.