The ASICS Hyperspeed. That’s what it feels like. The Hyperspeed. Well, not exactly but pretty damn close. At least, in the forefoot. Maybe a little more solid than that. I don’t know, but they’re pretty damn close.
The Skechers GORun 2, or GR2 if you’re lazy, are the lighter, faster, lower profile version of the daily trainer, GORun Ride, and the softer, more substantial version of the racer, GORun Speed, if you can follow all that. They’re the ones that you saw on that commercial where that dude is out on the Serengeti and, because he’s wearing Skechers, chases down this cheetah who is all up in this gazelle’s shit and then the dude and the gazelle become friends and give each other a hipster fist bump, except they don’t do the blow it up part, and then they find out that their kids go to the same Montessori school and have peanut allergies. That one. Anyway, it was the introduction to the masses and to the run snobs that Skechers are making running shoes that aren’t, you know, crap. I know you saw it, because it aired during the Super Bowl, which is pretty significant if you’re into, you know, commercials and shit. I’m really not. Don’t watch the sport much anymore. It got too, I don’t know, football for me. I can tell you who won only because my in-laws live in Baltimore and I like the way they say “O’s.” And then the year before that, I think it was the Mavs, but beyond that, I can’t remember.
So, um, what were we talking about? Right. The GR2. Josh over there at Skechers sent me a pair to run in because I asked him to after I’d seen B. Mort wearing them. B. Mort is this guy who runs in our group and who is the kind of fit that you can hear. Like if you and some friends are hanging out on a patio, and you think you hear the distant scream of a Formula One car about two miles away, and you look up from your avocado margarita and B. Mort is standing there. That kind of fit. Anyway, B. Mort runs in the 2:30’s on 50 or 60 miles a week and so since I can get pretty covetous, I had to get myself a pair.
I was, how do we put this delicately, very excited to receive them. The kind of excited that when you put them on your mind kind of wanders off into movies of you, in your Skechers, dropping the rabbits at the London Marathon and winning in what would have been a world best time except you had to stop and sit in on the djembe with the Clash, who were—how weird is this?–playing on Birdcage Walk to entertain the runners as they went by. The little armadillo was there too. And then my wife was banging on the bathroom door saying, How loooong are you going to be in there? and so I had to come out and show her my new kicks. That kind of excited.
And let’s just say that the GR2 they sent me, well they’re not subtly colored. I’m pretty sure that my Lasik was reversed by the bright colors. They won’t go unnoticed. If you were wearing them when you were part of the Donner party, you’d have made it out. I’m pretty sure they’re visible by satellite.
When I got them, we were in the midst of perfect Austin spring weather. The humidity is down below liquid%, the skies are Italian-national-team-jersey blue; when you’re standing in the sun you can’t help but think that you’ve achieved total consciousness—by osmosis–and if you’re in the shade, it’s just cool enough that you might want to put on a belt. Ridiculously beautiful. So I wore my new GR2 sockless, because I felt so, I don’t know, liberated or something. Often I repeat that the most important thing to look for in a good running shoe is that it should disappear on your feet. These do. They were gone. The upper is just a bit stretchy, super airy, with no awkward overlays or seams. They’re gone. I’m not sure that there is a more comfortable upper available, and if there is, I can’t remember it right now. The upper sits on a moderately broad, straight last lends itself to an ample fit—not super snug, and absolutely not baggy. They should accommodate all but the most elephantine of feet. There is no heel counter, so the feel is less shoe-like and more moccasin, which is at first run a little unusual, but then I never noticed that again.
The midsole, ah the midsole. Unencumbered by technological ridiculousness—there is no proprietary drop-in bullshit–it is soft, simple EVA, though just resilient enough not to bottom out. Go up a little higher and you’ll see that I mentioned that they feel kinda Hyperspeedish in the forefoot. Hyperspeedesque. They are like that, but more protective. The Hyperspeed have long been a favorite for racing, and I’d put them as one of the very best—they’re sooooooo smooth—except that all the drainage holes in the forefoot don’t help the durability or the responsiveness.1 If those holes were filled in, they’d be way better. The last pair I had I filled in all the holes with Shoe Goo. I can’t remember exactly how they felt, but at least I didn’t get water up in the shoes whenever I ran through puddles.
The GR2 are pretty soft, softer than I prefer usually, but the composition of the EVA is such that there is a hint of responsiveness, especially where you’re moving along quick like. I’m trying to think of a way to describe the feeling of the midsole. It’s the Hyperspeed, but not. It’s not a thinner Pegasus. It’s not a Kinvara—that’s a different soft. It’s like a more viscous Gummi Bears. The original ones. The German ones, not the knock-offs. The real ones. They’re like the Hyperspeed if the Hyperspeed had a little more under the midfoot, a little more contour. And so the midfoot bump that seems to be the question mark for some is really a non-issue for me. It feels no more or less structured than a more traditional shoe, though I think because the transition is so clean, it becomes less of something you might notice. It is less so than the GORun Ride and more so than the Speed, if that is any sort of help.
I mean, I keep making comparisons, but really there isn’t much to compare them to. They’re that good. And I’m really kinda surprised that I like something that soft. I mean, if I could combine them and the Speed—you know, almostbutnotquite as firm as the GRS, you’d have the smoothest, best fitting Kinvara ever. They’re soft, but not bloopy soft, if you know what I mean. It might be that a lower offset helps, or that there is some contour underfoot, I don’t know, but I’ve got to admit that maybe I should be a little more open minded about my anti-bloopness. It just goes to prove that there are many different combinations of midsole design that can be effective and you just gotta go with what disappears.
I’ve been running in them now for a few weeks—them, and the GR Speed—and I think it is now safe to say that Skechers, for all their past Shape Up transgressions, are making real–and real legit–running shoes. One of my first thoughts when I run in something new is, Would Lydiard have liked them? That’s kinda my go-to question. He’d have liked these, I’m pretty sure. He liked shoes that let the foot move, that were flexible. These are that, to be sure. A good designer can make a great shoe out of very little. These are great shoes.
I hope that the owners, the shareholders or whatever, don’t get too impatient with the run specialty community and stick around for a while. Run specialty tends to move a little slow at times—they’re thinking numbers first and foremost—and certainly when it comes to brands that might be viewed as poseurs or carpetbaggers. It might take some time for run specialty to accept the brand, but if they accept the product first, I think they’d be good to go. There seems to be acceptance of brands like Altra which are pretty niche, so I think that something a little more mainstream—maybe too mainstream?—can serve a place on the walls of the hallowed run specialty shops.
1The Hyperspeed are a Tiger Paw wanna-be. Remember the Tiger Paws? The all white ones? That’s what I’m talking about. The Hyperspeed are good, but they’re just not the Tiger Paw. They Hyperspeed are your favorite rock band after they get sober.