Friday, April 22, 2016

The Zoot Makai - Not Just for Triathletes!

I've been wearing Zoot products for as long as I've been doing triathlons, which is a long time.   Their products used to be geared 100% to triathletes but over the years they've really branched out embraced all 3 sports by creating top notch gear for each leg of the race.  Where they've really made some inroads is in their shoes.  For years, Zoot shoes were what were known as a "quick entry" shoe that had elastic laces and a seamless upper.  It was something you could literally just pull on and go.  No need to tie up laces.  Because transitions are where you find free speed!  You don't want to fuss with laces.

Some of their shoes do come with the option for regular laces and speed laces.  The old Ultra Kiawe was one of them.  Others, like the Solana and the Diego have regular laces.  The Solana was actually voted  Best Debut by Runner's World when it was launched back in 2015.  It's been my go to Zoot shoe since it came out.  I just replaced the regular laces with race laces and BOOM, I'm race ready.

I was content to continue training in my Solanas this year until I saw pictures of the new Zoot Makai.  Oh boy.  Now I know you're not supposed to pick a shoe based on how it looks.  But lets be real, good looks help, right???  Being a Zoot sponsored athlete, I get the opportunity to purchase items at a substantial discount so I thought, why not?  Let's give these puppies a go.

I'm a sucker for brightly coloured shoes so these ticked that box right off the bat.  

I slipped them on and adjusted the laces.  The first thing I noticed was the smoothness of the upper.  Zoot does seamless technology really well.  This shoe completely nails it.  There is not a single seam anywhere across the top and sides of the shoe.  Some other shoe brands do a seamless liner but there are still seams / detailing on the outside of the shoe and those can irritate your feet and cause hot spots.   Zoot kept it clean with this shoe.

Look Ma, no seams!!!

Secondly, the lacing system is really easy to use.  You just pull the toggle and adjust as required.

It is surprisingly secure without having to be done up too tightly.   I was a little concerned when I first put them on and started to walk around but with a few toggle adjustments, they were perfect.  The true test was when I went out for my first run in them.  They didn't budge.  And I didn't have a single blister.

Now let's talk about the things you DON'T see here, namely the technology in the shoe.  The shoe has a molded 3D heel counter for excellent heel support.  Zoot's seamless technology is called BareFit and it is one of the things that makes this shoe so good.  The shoe, like most Zoot shoes, fits like a glove.  It fits close to the foot and it feels supportive and stable while remaining light and responsive. It doesn't feel sloppy or soft.  My foot felt snug and secure, even through a 2 hour run.

Zoot's shoes have always felt very zippy and responsive and I'm chalking that up to the other proprietary technology in their shoes.  It's called Z-Bound and it's found in the sole of the shoe from the heel to the toe.  Z-Bound essentially rebounds a runner's energy reducing stress and fatigue.  I can honestly say this stuff works because I did my longest run in 2 years in these shoes and I thought for sure my legs would feel brutal.  They didn't.  I was especially surprised at how good my legs felt the next day.

A few other key features to note:  the mesh upper is incredibly breathable.  There is a medial post for some guidance and the shoe features an 8mm drop.   The shoe is geared towards a runner with neutral foot mechanics and a medium arch.   It also comes with regular laces if the quick lace system isn't your thing.

This is going to be my go to shoe for my A race in Tremblant this year.  I haven't tested it barefoot yet  but will do so once the weather gets better.  If my feet stay blister free when I go sock less, I'll be using it for my short course races as well.

Even if you don't swim or bike before you run, that doesn't mean that you should over look Zoot as a shoe option.   I can't say enough about their shoes (or their other products for that matter).  I've been wearing them since I started in triathlon over 10 years ago.  If you're in the market for a new pair of racing shoes, take a look at Zoot!

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