The Adidas Adizero Adios line of marathon racers has always been a top pick among long-distance athletes around the world. It’s light and responsive, like a racer should be, yet well-cushioned and supportive enough to handle long distances.
The first Adios I used back in 2012 was the Adizero Adios 2. It was the best pair of shoes I’d ever worn at that time; I set my 2.4km, 10km, 21.1km and 42km PBs with them. Ever since, I’ve faithfully replaced the pair with newer iterations of the series (Adios Boost 1, Adios Boost 2), until last week when one side of my Adios Boost 2s sprung a huge crack on the upper mesh. With the Standard Chartered Marathon around the corner, I decided that I had to replace them.
Sadly, Adidas has stopped bringing in the series to Singapore for now and I had to scout around for a suitable alternative –these would be my first non-Adizero running shoes in 5 years. After trying out various models from several brands, I settled for the “Newton Fate II”. It was less of a racer and more of a trainer, but also designed from the ground up for long-distance running.
Adidas uses its proprietary “Boost” cushioning technology in its midsole that’s meant to give a soft yet snappy ride. The two adjectives rarely go together in the context of running shoes – you’d usually have to compromise some speed for comfort. When Adidas made bold claims about its new technology, I was naturally very skeptical until I tried it myself. The styrofoam-like material gives an incredible bounce to the ride that’s very yielding but not wallowy at the same time. It gets better the faster you go and it feels especially great at a 3.30 – 4.00 min/km pace, i.e. sub-9 min 2.4km speed. Here’s the problem – it feels as if the shoes were designed for great speed and any advantage fades away the slower you go.
The Newtons, on the other hand, have traditional EVA foam in the midsole area. They’re not without fanciful technology though – there are 5 “point of power” (P.O.P) lugs situated at the midfoot area that allow for easier forefoot strike and greater energy-return.
Difference in shoe profile
The presence of the lugs results in a very low heel-to-toe differential of only 4.5mm, which is half of the Adizero’s 9mm. What this means is that forefoot or midfoot runners don’t have to point their feet too far downwards (like tip-toeing) when running. A lower heel-to-toe differential means the shoes conform more to the natural shape of your feet, and allow you to run whatever style you wish (forefoot, midfoot, heel). At the same time, most runners who are used to the standard running shoes (typically 12mm differential) would find the Newtons very “flat”.
How do they feel like on the road?
I’ve done slightly over 20km in the Newtons already and on first impression, the Newtons are more comfortable – the materials feel more substantial and the inside of the toe-box seems less scratchy. At the same time, the Adizeros are noticeably lighter, giving you the urge to increase speed.
The most obvious difference is the way the shoes feel on touchdown – the Adizeros’ cushioning is mostly situated at the rear which almost tempts you to strike with your heels. This, coupled with the 9mm heel-to-toe differential, makes it difficult to land on the midfoot. I actually preferred the older generations (non-boost) of the Adizeros – the cushioning was pretty much the same throughout the midsole, giving you a consistent feel of the ground, and smoother transition between strike and toe-off. The new ones are more responsive and faster, but only when you touch down on the heels.
The Newtons, on the other hand, have huge lugs at the front that gives you a nice firm touchdown near the midfoot area. Not surprisingly, the presence of the lugs felt a little odd at first, and it took me several kilometres to get used to their presence. Also, the cushioning doesn’t feel as bouncy, or snappy, as the Adizeros and they wouldn’t be my shoes of choice for a 2.4km run. However, they are really comfortable and confidence-inspring for longer distances. The ride is smooth from strike to toe-off, a little like the Adizeros of yesteryear. Landing on the midfoot also felt really natural and the traction is right up there with Adidas. I will do a long-term update when I clock more mileage in the coming weeks.
So, should you get one? If you’re a mid/forefoot runner and are looking for a reasonably fast pair of marathon shoes that still offers a decent level of cushioning and support, the Newton Fate II should definitely be on your shortlist. Just don’t expect them to perform like racers.