The New Balance 729 running shoe is billed as a neutral lightweight performance shoe, and kit is certainly that and more.

One of the first things you notice when slipping it on is the width and room provided. New Balance have always been providers of a selection of width fittings, but even the basic last shape is well suited to the distance runner. This wide ‘footprint’ also provides a good traction platform and the use of blown rubber also adds to the grip and cushioning.

A wedge of  Ndruance rubber on the heel ensures that this section is hardwearing  and three flex grooves give could flexibility for faster work.

The relatively low profile midsole gives the stability that is normally a trade off for cushioning. In this case however the use of  ‘abzorb’ pads under the forefoot and heel, ensure that there is sufficient impact cushioning, even for a forefoot runner who normally suffers from metatarsal pain.

The sculpted midsole provides a natural toe-off action, which helps maintain the natural running action.

Although there is a ‘bridge’ in the midsole area beneath the arch, this has some flexibility making the shoe suitable for midfoot runners.  Too few of the shoes imported into South Africa have flexibility in this area, and I believe this has resulted in many runners having calf problems in particular.

The open mesh upper makes for a lighweight and airy shoe, even when sweat or rain would turn many other shoes into weight-training boots. The wide range of lace holes allow the flexibility to choose a lacing style that firmly holds the shoe in place, and the finish of materials and uppers definitely match the high standards that have come to be expected from New balance.

In coming to the above conclusions, the shoe has done over 500kms of running at different paces, from fartlek work to those long slow runs that punctuate marathon training. It has been taken off-road and in both wet and dry conditions, and in all cases has performed admirably.

In conclusion, this is a shoe which the neutral runner will find comfortable not only for training, but also for the longer racing events. With it’s low profile it may even suit those with only minor pronation and supination problems, and the Abzorb features may prove very attractive to those who normally get metatarsal pain in long runs.


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