The ASICS Metaracer is the company’s newest, and fastest, road-racing shoe. The carbon-plated, Sunrise Red shoe is lower in profile when compared to the other road-racing shoes on the market, making it one of the lightest in the business. At 190 grams for a men’s size 9, this shoe strikes an impressive balance between light and springy. This is exactly what a runner wants to be on a marathon start line, and for as long as possible during the race.
That’s the main goal of this ASICS shoe: they’re looking to help marathoners feel fresh so they have more to give at the back end of the race. This shoe is designed with kilometre 30 in mind.
Shoe type: Neutral
Weight: 190 g (men’s size 9)
Drop: 9 mm
MSRP: CDN $260.00
Available: June 26, 2020
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The three-part midsole
The secret sauce of the Metaracer is the three-part cushioning system in the midsole. First, there’s the Guidesole technology, which is designed to promote efficiency. Guidesole gives the shoe a noticeable rocker, which improves a runner’s toe off, which in turn reduces the load on the calf muscle by up to 20 per cent. Less wear and tear on the body means less wasted energy, which can make for better times over the course of a marathon. The rocker pushes you forward, but doesn’t feel like it controls your movement. The rolling motion takes pressure off the big toe, which by extension takes pressure off the entire chain of muscles.
Part two of the cushioning system is the Flytefoam midsole. This is the company’s lightest version of the Flytefoam, a foam they use across multiple shoes. The foam is extremely responsive, to complement the Guidesole technology that it sits under. This is the protective layer of cushioning.
Part three is the carbon plate. Like many other carbon-plated shoes, ASICS uses a plate that runs through the entire shoe to give Flytefoam the structure it needs to perform. While the midsole is made of three parts, this shoe has a considerably lower stack height than other carbon-plated models. This shoe looks closer to a traditional racing flat that any other plated marathon shoe on the market.
The wet grip outsole
With racing shoes, especially carbon-plated racing shoes, one of the chief complaints from runners has been poor grip when the roads get wet. This is largely due to the weight that’s saved from using a minimal outsole. Usually a heavier outsole means a more durable one, so when racing shoes are concerned about conserving weight, the outsole is a place they can save.
ASICS took this problem and created an outsole that’s both durable and thin, so thin at the back of the shoe that it can barely be seen from the profile view. This outsole packs a big punch by using the brand’s wet grip rubber–a sole that becomes tackier as the ground gets wet. When put to the test on a wet run, I didn’t feel my feet slipping at all, which is very good news. This is an impressive outsole.
The stiffer-than-usual upper
Many racing shoes have transitioned to a knit upper. Knit has its benefits if the shoe fits you perfectly–it’s comfortable and highly breathable. However, if a shoe is a little wide for your foot, it’s hard to make a knit shoe fit just right. ASICS went with an engineered mesh over a knit, a choice I like. They also decided on a traditional lacing system. Another point for ASICS, in my books.
The upper is very light, promoting breathability, but isn’t as pliable as a knit upper would’ve been. For some runners this could be a drawback, but for the narrow-footed among us, this is a major win. There’s only one colourway, Sunrise Red, which symbolizes the city of Tokyo and the nation of Japan. The shoe was set to be used at the upcoming Olympic Games that have since been delayed one year.
If you’re a runner who’s hoping to line up for a fall marathon, consider doing so in the Metaracer. It’s a very bouncy shoe that really does feel like it’s saving your legs from the forces of running. This shoe will especially interest those looking for a carbon-plated marathon shoe, but who also want a relatively minimal stack height. This is for the kind of runner who likes to feel closer to the ground and still likes their more traditional (not carbon-plated) racing flats.