Friday, September 13, 2013

Gear Review: Asics Gel Fuji Trainer 2

Asics Gel Fuji Trainer 2
 The Asics Gel Fuji Trainer 2 is the best trail shoe I have ever had to return. Twice. Lets start the story from the beginning. I am coming to the last 50 miles or so on my favorite trail shoe to date, Saucony Progrid Xodus 3.0 so that means I better start breaking in a new shoe as the old one fades out. The Xodus has apparently been discontinued. The trail version of my beloved Kinvara 3 is the all new Kinvara TR2 but that is too narrow as is the Saucony Peregrine. Saucony is out. My next favorite brand is Brooks and the Cascadia is better suited for a heel striking heavyweight compared to what I am looking for. The Brooks Pure Grit 1 & 2 are both suppose to have pretty lousy grip. Brooks are out. My next stop was Asics and they had a shoe that looked perfect on paper for what I wanted.

 The Fuji Trainer 2 seems to have appeared out of nowhere. Where was the Fuji Trainer 1? Available only overseas where it sold quite well. A few tweaks and the US market gets the Trainer 2. This is a very light weight shoe weighing in at 9.7oz. It has a good amount of padding under foot with a stack height of 25mm at the heel and 19mm at the forefoot. Those squishy sounding numbers made me think the shoe would be a great candidate for very long trail runs. Which is all I seem to be doing lately as I train up for 3 big races over the next 3 months. The 6mm heel drop (Runners World says 7.4mm) was a little more than I would like but definetly not a deal breaker. The shoe was said to have excellent grip in all conditions and so I was sold. I found a light weight trail racing shoe with just enough padding and a lower heel drop than most trail shoes, awesome.

 Online I got some conflicting info. Most sites said the shoe runs large, order a 1/2 size down but when compared to the Saucony Exodus in a size 11 the website says order a half size larger! So I went to the store and bought the 11.5. In the store it felt roomy and comfortable so I bought them on sale for $89. My first run was a road trail combo with 4.5 miles of road and 4.5 miles of trails. This shoe was huge on my foot and the god awful lacing system makes it impossible to tighten the shoe down. Hot spots and heel slippage had me back at the store the next day swapping those out for a smaller size 11. My first run was the same road trail combo route as the day before and this time the shoe seemed to fit better but not great. I stopped after just 2 minutes of running and tightened the shoes down as tight as I could because it felt a little sloppy and the heel was still slipping. Once again the laces in conjunction with those lace loops is just awful. You can not tighten the shoe down but I worked at it a moment and got them as tight as I could. You tuck the laces up into the lace garage sewn onto the tongue of the shoe and that keeps you from snagging or untying your shoes. With the laces wrenched down to the best of my abilities the shoe fit better in the toe box but my heels were still slipping. A mile or two later and my right foot had pins and needles from being too tight somewhere on the shoe but baggy in the collar area and a blister piston on my heels.

 I finished that run and concluded that the shoe was indeed light and had great grip. It felt amazing underfoot but had the worst laces and lacing system ever. The shoe collar area was enormous and the lacing system did nothing to help. The heel cup is much too wide for me. Lastly I thought; this is the best shoe I've ever had to walk away from.

 Look for this shoe to get better with age and wait till Asics irons out the issues before trying this shoe. I think it has great promise but the flaws are to great at this point to count this as a keeper.

 My searched continued for a replacement for my beloved Xodus.  My two road shoes are 0mm drop and 4mm drop; so why not do the same with my trail shoes. In walks the Mizuno Wave Evo Ferus. Stay tuned for my review once I get a few more runs in on them. My first run didn't have me rushing back to the store this time. Quite the contrary, so who knows, this maybe the shoe to take me through 3 brutal races this fall.