Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Zoot Makai Shoes

I've been racing and training in Zoot Makai shoes since joining Team Zoot Tri Europe this season; having accumulated a fair few miles on various terrain, and races from 10K to marathon, I felt it was worth jotting down some thoughts.


I've not had a shoe designed for sockless use before; though I've run sockless a lot and as a result spent most of last year with blistered, bleeding feet. Putting on the Makais was therefore a whole new experience - like settling into a comfy sofa. Since then I've accumulated quite a few miles both socked and sockless - and they definitely remain the most comfortable running shoes I've used. I've avoided my normal blisters; though have occasionally picked up one on the heel due to the shoe's stiffness (see later).


Sizing seems accurate, which was a slight disappointment to me. Despite having dropped from a UK15/16 to a UK14 since I took up running (which I attribute to the development of arches), I found the largest size (a US14) has my big toes touching the end of the toebox. Luckily (?) I have no nails on my big toes any more so it's not a massive problem but I'd prefer if Zoot made a slightly larger size!


356g compares well with my other main training shoe (Nike Free 3.0, 344g) but is a little heavier than my previous race shoe (Saucony Kinvara, 325g). Please remember the size before remarking how heavy that seems! According to fellrnr the weight difference is worth about half a minute over a marathon, although it may well be made up for from improved cushioning in long races.


The 'sofa' aspect of the lining extends to the cushioning; I've not had any sore feet despite using them up to iron distance (marathon run). After the Outlaw I actually carried on wearing them for most of the rest of the day which is not something I can say about previous shoes.


I like my shoes to be very flexible; unfortunately the cushioning offered by the Makais means they lack slightly here. As I "toe-off" I can feel my heel lifting from the footbed as the shoe tries to retain its shape. This, in combination with the built-up rear (for the heel tab) has meant I've had blisters on the back of my heel a couple of times from rubbing it up and down - so I've been wearing socks with them where possible.


These will cope with flat dirt tracks and a bit of gravel well enough, but they're unfortunately not trail shoes (I know, I've tried!).

Speed in transition

They're designed for triathletes and this extends to the lacing system which was already elasticated. As shipped there is a tendency for the small toggle to slide when you pull the shoe open - which means you have to add an extra step of pulling the elastic tight again before exiting T2. However, knotting the laces (once you've established the best length for comfort) avoids that entirely.


I've really enjoyed racing in these shoes. For me I'd prefer something a bit larger and with a bit more flexibility - the guys at Zoot UK have suggested I try the Laguna or Solana 2 to solve the second problem (unfortunately I don't think my feet will shrink any further!). The comfort for long distances is excellent; I've been mostly fairly long this season and have been happy to have the Zoot Makais on my feet.

NB: Full disclosure - as a member of Team Zoot Tri Europe I bought these at a discount; however looking online you can probably get them for something similar!

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