New Balance Fresh Foam Zante & Vazee Pace Review

That’s right, this is a two-for-the-price-of-one dealio!

A little while back (not long before I ran the Frankfurt Marathon) I wrote a running shoe review for the New Balance Fresh Foam Boracay. I was totally won over by the shoe, despite my hesitations regarding the lifespan of the outsole, and was going to run the marathon in it. In the end, I actually decided to treat myself to some Fresh Foam Zante trainers not long before race day. Don’t worry, I wasn’t that guy, you know the one who wears new shoes on race day; I did put a handful of miles in the shoes in the few weeks before the race and decided there and then that I was going to go with the new ones!

First up I’ll be looking at the Zante, if you want to skip to the Vazee Pace review then you can click here.

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante

 

Here is what New Balance have to say about the shoe:

Personal bests are meant to be broken. Break yours with the all-new Fresh Foam Zante. Featuring an impossibly smooth heel-to-toe transition and an explosive toe spring for an overall faster ride, giving you the opportunity to turn personal bests into personal betters.

Designed from data gathered from fast runners, Fresh Foam Zante has an aggressive toe spring that delivers a quick, incredibly smooth heel to toe transition. Nothing is on the shoe that doesn’t need to be, making it feel like an extension of your foot.

COMPETITOR MAGAZINE’S “2015 Road Shoe of the Year”
TRIATHLETE MAGAZINE’S “Best in Class” award winner
RUNNING NETWORK’S “Best Performance Shoe” Award Winner
  • 6 mm drop
  • Molded sockliner
  • No-sew material application

Here are my thoughts about the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante:

Straight from the box, these shoes feel light, responsive and kind of exciting. The fit is not all that dissimilar to the Boracay, but despite having less of the Fresh Foam cushioning in the midsole it has a slightly higher drop (compared to the 4mm that was on the Boracay.) They feel remarkably similar in many ways actually, but the Zante was simply slicker and felt faster; the Boracay felt more like a distance shoe.

However, the Zante is just as much a shoe for distance, as I discovered at the Frankfurt Marathon as I used it on race day and after having a wash I immediately put it back on and walked back to the airport. No hotspots, no blisters, no pain.

I suppose if I have a negative, it may be that the shoe would feel too narrow for a few runners. I feel quite well supported by it, and I was grateful that New Balance had done away with the overlay that sat over my toe on the Boracay and there is nothing like this that bothers the foot on the Zante.

The outsole of the shoe is identical to the Boracay in terms of its styling, but that appears to be where the similarity ends as the Boracay reached the end of its life at about the 300 mile mark tearing through the front of the outsole. The outsole on the Zante is far more robust; I wouldn’t be surprised if it lasted another 150 miles on top of the 350+ that I have completed so far.

The upper on the Fresh Foam Zante is made from a light fabric which is highly breathable, but seems pretty tough as there are no obvious signs of wear and tear. The shoes dry out pretty quickly and fit really nicely.

New Balance have just announced v2 of the the Fresh Foam Zante, and it looks really good! I am not sure I’ll be trying it for a while though as I still have an untouched pair of Zantes in the cupboard waiting to replace the model I am currently wearing; I saw them on offer and snapped up a pair in advance knowing how well they treated my feet.

 


 

New Balance Vazee Pace

 

At Christmas, aware that one day I would need something to replace the Zante, I chanced upon an excellent deal on a pair of New Balance Vazee Pace shoes. I had seen and heard a lot about the shoe as a potential successor to the Zante, so I threw some cash at the website and took receipt a little while later of some shiny new shoes. Since then I have interspersed them with my use of the Zante, generally using them on shorter runs but for no real reason other than I don’t feel like I need to wear them out before the Zante.

Here is what New Balance have to say about the shoe:

REVlite foam in the midsole cushioning helps energize each step while the sleek, bootie-like design wraps your foot like a second skin. Everything you need for speed is here and nothing you don’t, removing every obstacle in your way to your next personal best.
  • 6 mm drop
  • Bootie construction
  • Deconstructed heel counter
  • No-sew material application
  • Podular outsole
  • REVlite midsole foam

 

Here are my thoughts about the New Balance Vazee Pace:

The Boracay were my first foray into the New Balance shoe line, and the Zante came next. I hadn’t run in a New Balance shoe that wasn’t based on the Fresh Foam chassis, so I was interested to see what differences the REVlite midsole offers.

An innovative foam compound providing the same responsiveness and durability of New Balance foams 30% heavier. REVlite offers a lightweight ride without minimizing construction or sacrificing underfoot cushioning or stability.

In all honesty, to my highly-uneducated mind, there was little difference at all, and though maybe the REVlite doesn’t feel quite so springy or responsive as the Fresh Foam, it certainly feels well cushioned.

There are a few similarities between the Vazee Pace and the Zante; the drop is the same, and the shoes are manufactured with the use of overlays rather than any extraneous stitching that might cause rubbing.

The differences include the obvious midsole materials, but also the structure of the midsole and outsole. On the Vazee Pace you can see the ridges to allow the shoe to flex to a greater degree and the different patterns on the pods.

For me, the biggest difference comes in the width of the toebox. As I mentioned above, the toebox on the Zante might feel a little restrictive to some runners, but on the Vazee Pace I find perhaps a little too much room for movement. Shuffling the laces has helped a little, but when I get tired and my form changes a little, or when I wear them to run purely in anticlockwise loops around the track again and again, I can feel the slightest hint of hotspots forming on the ball of my foot as it slips around a bit.

This is a minor niggle though. On the whole, I thoroughly enjoy the Vazee Pace and I look forward to adding many more miles to these shoes. Whether or not I choose to run any of my marathons in them this year remains to be seen, especially with the fresh pair of Zantes hiding in my cupboard and the announcement of v2, but I would certainly recommend them as a viable option for any marathon runner.The deconstructed heel counter is an interesting touch – it has been created in such a way that there is an element of support on offer from the heel counter, but it is far more minimal than in many other shoes on the market and there is a sense that once you have tied the laces it kind of disappears.

You can pick up a pair of the New Balance Vazee Pace shoes via the website here. Don’t forget that if you sign up to their mailing list you can also get 15% off.

For both shoes, I wear a UK 9.5, as I would in any running shoe, and I find that these New Balance trainers fit perfectly to size.

 

Have you run in either the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante, or the Vazee Pace? What did you think of them?

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4 thoughts on “New Balance Fresh Foam Zante & Vazee Pace Review

  1. Thks for the review. I will be running my virgin Marathon in two weeks time. Not sure I should be using my worn out Zante or my default Adidas Adios 2. On test-run, the Adios 2 gave me pain on my right 2nd & 3rd toes. Like you, I have another Zante pair hidden in the cabinet. After reading your review, decided to quickly break-in my new Zante and use it for my 1st marathon come 07-Aug-16. On the Vazee, never try before and may just try out a pair in future.

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