Decisions, Decisions

Last week I got a very surprising, and most welcome, email from the lovely parkrun organisers. In its brief message was a congratulations for being nominated as parkrunner of the month for Cranleigh parkrun. It was truly out of the blue, and really quite humbling that my efforts to run just that little bit quicker had been noticed.

It did create something of a dilemma, however. You see, I am not short of a pair of running shoes or two, and Lyndsey keeps mentioning this bizarre idea that for every new pair I get, another pair can go in the bin – I think you can tell that she is not a runner.

Despite having a month to use my sweatshop voucher, I was keen to get looking quickly and turned to twitter for advice. Brooks Cascadia 10 was the quickest response from Bryan, and it was a fair shout as I really liked the 7’s that I used a few moons ago. My issue with that was that I am now moving my focus to the October marathon in Frankfurt and I am not sure I have much need for trail shoes. So then he suggested more Ghosts. This was another good shout as I enjoyed the 5’s that I used to wear and gave some serious thought to going in this direction.

We headed up to Woking on Sunday and began the search for sweatshop, having never been to the town before. Once we’d finally located it the friendly store assistant didn’t know what hit her

“Can I help you with anything?” she asked.

“Well….” I said, “I have this voucher from parkrun, but I’m just not sure what to get”

“OK, that’s great, congratulations – what do you need?”


not much, you see, I have these” pointing to the ASICS DS20s on my feet, “and I use them on the track. I am training for a marathon now and I use the Brooks Glycerin for the longer stuff. I am not sure that I would use the Asics for a marathon.”


“But then, I also have Brooks T7 racers, Mach 14 spikes, Asics Gel-Glorify, 4 pairs of different Salomons, Brooks Cascadias, and Mammut 201s”

“oh, so you don’t need anything then!!”

“Not so much. How about something between these” (the DS20) “and the Glycerin?”

“Hmm, not sure that really exists, but let’s see what we can find…”


In the end I tried on a pair of Nike Pegasus 32, which I surprisingly really liked. I don’t know why, but I have never laced up a pair of Nike trainers before and they were actually pretty comfortable as I jogged up and down the shop in them. Next up I tried a pair of the latest Brooks Ghost, which interestingly I could tell weren’t going to be quite right as they were actually a little baggy across the toe area as I pulled the laces taut. So they came off fairy quickly.

Finally, I tried on a pair of New Balance FreshFoam 980 Boracay. Instantly these felt great on my feet and although they looked narrow, the width seemed perfect. I set off down the shop and was torn between these and the Nikes. I put one of each on, and before I even got to the other end of the shop I knew which ones were my favourites.


New Balance FreshFoam 980 Boracay
New Balance FreshFoam 980 Boracay

Never tried a pair of New Balance shoes on before, but I don’t know why as my first impressions of these are super positive. Interestingly, there is absolutely no built in support structures under the shoe as the midsole is entirely foam, however the different convex and concave hexagonal structures that surround the midsole foam control how responsive the support is. It’s all very clever.

New Balance FreshFoam 980 lateral view
The convex structures offer more support on the lateral side of the shoe
New Balance Fresh Foam 980 from the front
Narrow, but a surprisingly comfortable fit
Ahhh, fresh
Ahhh, fresh. And the Concave structures here afford a little more flexibility


Full length outsole with what appears to be a decent tread pattern for road use.
Full length outsole with what appears to be a decent tread pattern for road use.


I’ve only used them once this week, on a short 5km run on Monday. The felt light and fast, and super comfortable. But I must remember to try and ease into them fairly gently: they only have a 4mm drop. This is significantly less than the Glycerin and DS20 that make up the bulk of my training miles, though it is the same as the Salomon S-Lab Ultras that I do my trail running in.


I look forward to really racking up some miles in these bad boys and I will report back with my findings once I have added some training to them.

They get the seal of approval from Delilah too.


Bryan was not so supportive though:


3 thoughts on “Decisions, Decisions

  1. Congratulations on the parkrun prize. It sounds like you have a great collection of trainers! New Balance are about the only brand of trainers I’ve never tried.

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