Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Brooks Frunners : PureProject PureGrit In Action

This will be a pretty detailed review of the Brooks PureProject shoes that I received last week from Brooks Malaysia. The Brooks PureProject according to Brooks Malaysia website stated that it is a shoe that will "feel more for less. Marketed as a "minimalist" shoe, the PureProject brought a whole load of innovations and technology typically found in much higher end shoes. I will spare you all the details which you can read at website. I was given a pair of Brooks PureGrit trail shoes and I was allowed to choose the colors. Naturally it has to be the most striking color - Orange.
You have to agree with me and my choice of color ain't it?

Preamble : The Technology
Last week, you learnt about Brooks BioMoGo technology. This week I will introduce the Brooks DNA technology. It claims to have 30% better cushioning than standard EVA material which also claims to provide up to two times the energy return upon maximum impact. What i believe is that this DNA took over the older Brooks Hydroflow technology. And it could only mean one good thing - Feel More For Less. With the DNA technology, you can expect soft comfort when you want it, firm support when you need it. Working with BioMoGo, Brooks DNA responds to your every step, dispersing impact and providing ideal comfort and protection as the pace changes.

Defying Newton Law?
It is no brainer to see Brooks incorporating this technology into the Pure Project. The minimalist outlook with thinner outsole does give the impression that the shoe will not provide cushioning as needed.

First Impression of PureGrit
To be utterly frank, i was not convinced. The thinner outsole and the not too convincing lugs did raised my eyebrow. Weighing in at 8.9oz or 252grams, this shoe is light compared to my old Cascadia5 which comes in at 12oz or 340grams. Those 90 grams make a lot of differences after a loooong run.
Designed with Scott Jurek's feedback
But i was intrigued. A shoe made in collaboration and feedback from world class trail runner Scott Jurek has got to hold some weight (no pun intended). Technicality of the shoes says it has a 4mm drop - that is a 15mm at the heel and a 11mm at the forefoot. Giving this shoe an almost "flat" profile. Compare this to the Cascadia5 22-10 which gives a 12mm drop. 
Trail Hugger Meet Tree Hugger. PureGrit has BioMoGo technology too.
PureGrit, with the 4mm drop is not exactly "minimalist" (as they are usually zero drop) but it provides a chance for me to see just how well this model (PureGrit) will live up to it's name.
With a "band" across the top of the shoe that will "hug" your feet like glove
I wore this shoe last Friday to work - and instantly i knew many noticed. With a shoe this bright and striking, it takes very little effort for it to be noticed - especially when you are working in a building that houses a gym. I took it that it was also to "break in" the shoe.
Looked good with a pair of Jeans.
Day 1 : 18.5km Test Run
I decided to run to the park and then continue to run Bukit Kiara trail. That should give me enough feel to how this shoe will react both on the pavement and in the trail. 
Unsure how the shoe will feel, i took the safe way in by running with a pair of socks. I do not wear socks for trail run as i do not like the additional sweat-soaked garment on my feet. Suffice to say, I do not need to go into a waterbody to waterlog the shoe.
Very Gay. Pastel top and Orange Shoe. What's missing is a big bag. Oh wait....
Initial feel of the shoe were surprisingly plush for the minimal cushioning. Running the pavement/road was pretty surprising and springy for a shoe with only 11mm on the forefoot. Since I have changed my stride to fore foot/mid foot landing, i believe the transition to be able to run this way properly allowed me to be comfy with the shoe. With the thinner crash pad/hell, it will not allow heel striker their usual heel-strike. Which could be both good and bad. 
Forefoot and Mid foot - effortlessly
Good in the sense that they will start to re-learn to land correctly while running and activate the calf and hamstring while running. Bad in the sense of people not knowing why they are wearing a minimalist (or near minimalist) shoe to run and expect the same reaction from their usual heel-strike. I would advise those considering to know what they are getting themselves into with minimalist shoes or risk injury.
The first 11km was completed in a decent 56minutes - that was least unexpected for myself. I still felt fresh and was ready for the trail run. Perhaps the DNA did provide the said energy return and cushioning that helped to conserve energy. By the way, i was running on fumes. The shoe, despite marketed as a trail specific shoes, actually felt good on the pavement/road. No issues with traction (obviously) and the support was good too. Must experiment to see if this shoe will allow an extended road running of at least 21km.
In the Trail We Go!
Right after the 11km, i joined a group of usual runners for a workout in Bukit Kiara trail. I was pretty excited to see how this show will hold up. To remember the points on how the shoes reacts to the ground would be too much of a mental work - apart from having to concentrate while running the technical path. So, i did what i been doing best. Video it. Here is a short one of me running the Office trail. A 1.4km route that provides a good warm up for the trail.
My intention that day was to really push the shoe and myself to the maximum. I intend to sprint all downhill and run all uphill. In fact, at one point of the run down 2K loop, i had to keep up with the shoe. No joke. Going down 2K in the fastest speed I've recorded so far 3:20 pace (or 18kmh) for about 1minute busting up to 168bpm or my 90% - and that was just the downhill portion. As much as possible, i give commentary on how the shoe was performing.
Happy with my run that far, i went up TwinPeak to run down Dirty Deeds. By then it was almost 5km covered. The elevation lost from TwinPeak to the junction was about 92m over 760m which gives a 8.92% gradient. 
All For The Fun Of The Review
It took me about 2minutes to run down this portion at average 4:00 pace. Here is a shoe's perspective on how i ran down and bounces off the trails on the PureGrit. 
The run then ended and i clocked the maiden 7.5km in the trail with the Brooks PureGrit. What was more awesome was that my daughter was running in the park with my wife. She was wearing her Ghost4.
Brooks Family
Verdict Day 1 : Traction
Day 1 of the testing came out well. The shoe provided good traction despite the "looked less than aggressive" lugs. However, traction are lost on surfaces such as wet bigger (and not gravel, so i am talking about stone the size length or width of your feet, or bigger) stone or on hard smooth surface (i.e. wet tiled surface). Traction was superb on loose and compacted soil, both damp and dry condition (it rained the day before).
Verdict Day 1 : Fit
I took the PureGrit to be the same size as my Cascadia5 and it fits well (US 11 or EU45). The band across the top of the foot did not bother me. There were report by users (mostly friends) that say the band were constrictive. It could be a few factors such as their feet anatomy or trying the shoes without socks or during early morning (when the feet is at the smallest aka not swelled). My socks were wet, so was the shoe. But there were minimal squishy feel to it.
Verdict Day 1 : Cushioning
The Brooks DNA technology speaks for itself. Never had i been more impressed with the level of cushioning despite the thickness of the midsole. True to it's claim, when it was used on the road, the shoes adapt to the lighter less high impact (due to lower transient time) by being firmer. It completely changed once in the trails as i jumped and step/side-step the obstacle and land harder with more control over different surface. It actually absorbed the impact slightly better than my old Cascadia5, not entirely sure if it is because of the new shoe vs old shoe, but i believe the knees do not lie. Moreover, i felt that the taking off or re-bounce was pretty significant that i had to control my speed while running down aggressively.
Actual condition after 18.5km of run on road and trails. Shoe was slightly "bruised".
Day 2 : 21km Extended Test Run
The menu of the day was to run to the park from home, run Bukit Kiara and then run home. Instead of a 11km like Day 1, i split the first run to just 7km on the road. One of the reason was that i woke up late and has to run faster. The 7km was covered in 37:33, which was ain't too bad. This time however, i decided to do the training without any socks.
No socks. Icky? It's ok, it's my feet and my shoe anyway
I met up with Shang at the park for the run and we went off soon after. The pace was set and I have all intention to punish the shoe further by running more aggressively after knowing how the traction will be like in the PureGrit. With more confidence that the "Feel More with Less" concept, i intended to push myself a bit harder and longer in the trails.
As there were only the two of us, i intended to do the classic Lungbuster which is a straight 2km climb from the park all the way to the top of TwinPeak. 
Shangpion running up relentlessly
The mid-section before i hit the main trail of Twinpeak is a killer with almost 63m gain over 200meters make it an almost impossible run for me. HR is high at this point of the hike. The PureGrit was holding up well as it slowly gets sweat-logged as i perspire to keep up with my heart. It was an awesome-very-alive feeling. It was then a run up TwinPeak, down DirtyDeeds, across Snake&Ladder and back to the junction with the guardhouse and hut. I then re-enter the trail taking the 2K route, down Apollo and up Mission before re-emerging back to the junction. Many would had known to get down to Apollo, you would need to go down the Terrace - which is a three steps drop down, well, terrace. I took turn after a mountain biker, charged down...and...rolled all over the trails.
Not too graceful. But could be i was concentrating to balance and film at the same time. I came out a little bruised on the right knee and side of my calf. It was, however, fun. The thing about being aware of your own movement is that you will tend to see things in slow motion as you fall - and know exactly how to  roll to break the fall. :)
Erosion caused by mountain bikers dragging their brakes down the slope - it shows the "lack of control and ability"
From the loop, i entered the 4K and ran in reverse to exit at Magic Carpet before re-entering LungBuster midway to run down to the park. A nice 9km clocked in the trails covered in about 1:11:31. Looked like a sub 1-hour 10km in the trails will come soon.
Running Home
From there onwards, I ran home knowing I had a good high intensity training in the trails. Drenched in sweat and wet to the shoes, the slower than usual run home was attributed to running empty and not saving any during the trail runs. I now know my limit to replenish with food at KM16 and above. The effort to run that 9km in trails was like running a fast 12km on the road. So, looked like my body will ask for some food by KM20 if i run on road alone. Total was 21km, covered in 2:19:09. Pretty decent considering the intensity i put in.
Totally drenched - as you can see, someone might think i pee-ed in my shorts.
Verdict Day 2 : Traction
It rained heavily the day before and the trail was muckier than usual. It was a good choice running the trails on Day 2 as it allowed me to feel how the shoe hold up against stickier and messier elements. Good to report that the grip was positive. However, same applies for grip over stones and hard surface above.
Verdict Day 2 : Fit
No socks. Not really a problem. However, I did feel the front upper liner to be brushing against my toes. Was worried about blisters forming but it did not. Perhaps one or two more run in this sock-less would solve the problem. Will update as appropriate.
Verdict Day 2 : Cushioning
No suprises despite the shoe drenched in sweat. It functioned as well as Day 1. I am still impressed how the shoe cushioned despite the thin sole. 

Brooks PureProject PureGrit - Works well on Road. Works Better in Trails. Feel More With Less
Much worries were expressed by potential users about the PureGrit not offering sufficient grip in the trails. The review over 39km with 16.5km in the trails proved otherwise. The shoe was put through it's pace and was made to sweat and fight for grip under various different condition and technical descent. Compared to the tested Cascadia5 (which i have been using), The Brooks PureGrit lives up to the name - but careful over those slippery big rocks and RUN HAPPY!
In case some of you missed it. Brooks is currently having a trade in Promotion of RM150 on new models available at the Brooks outlet. You can get a pair of PureGrit for RM429-RM150=RM279 which is a bargain. Head on over to the nearest Brooks store to view them up close!


  1. bro where can i buy brooks shoes?

    1. bro,
      if u stay nearby the Curve. There's one Brooks shop at the top level.

  2. Fariz - thanks!

    Johnny - you can find the shops and seller here:
    You can also buy online and the same discount applies!