The Saucony Powergrid Cortana has been hailed as the minimalist shoe for the masses, since most shoes that simulate the barefoot running feel are too risky for runners used to being guided and cushioned by padded, conventional running shoes and their high-set heels. This shoe, however, is said to comfortably and securely bridge the gap from conventional running to natural running for anyone looking to explore that territory.
This neutral runner from Saucony is of standard width and mildly light weight, riding on feet at a low 10.8 oz. for men and 8.6 oz. for women. The main feature of this shoe is the heel. It is lower to the ground than most shoes of the conventional genre, which encourages the runner to run with a forefoot strike as opposed to a heel strike. This form of running is said to be safer and less prone to creating injuries for the runner, as shock and impact from the heel is eliminated. The design also features no notched near the mid-sole to encourage full ground contact and pull the runner closer to a natural gait.
The other distinguishing feature of this Saucony trainer is the powerfoam material, which is super lightweight, but provides an enormous amount of energy return. The shoe also has a great deal of overlay to lock the foot in place and provide support. Saucony previously put out a shoe of similar features called the Kinvara, and its warm reception by runners is what inspired the design of the Saucony Powergrid Cortana.
Users were skeptical of Saucony’s attempt to stand in the no-man’s land between barefoot running and conventional running, but many users have been proven wrong, much to their satisfaction. The Saucony Powergrid Cortana went on to win a number of awards from reputable running organizations across the board, including “Best New Show” from Running Network’s 2011 Fall Shoe Review, “Gear of the Year” from Outside Buyer’s Guide 2011, and Best Day View from the September 2011 issue of Runner’s World Magazine.
This award-winning ride has equally doused fears and skepticism surrounding the new hybrid genre of natural, flat-foot running and high-heel conventional running. Experienced runners noted the shoe ran well in all terrains, from treadmills to trails and everything in between. Other runners felt this shoe stood a level above other shoes in its class, and were impressed by its speed and comfort.
Distance runners were initially skeptical of its ability to survive high-mileage runs, but were proven wrong when the shoe held up. Dissatisfied users were present, however, as some agreed that the tongue of the shoe was problematic in that it slid around too much and created a pinching discomfort around the foot. Others thought the toe box was too narrow and created blisters and hot spots on the outer edges of the toes, which at its worst can be detrimental to a smooth run. Users who did not like the toe box said the shoe could use more room for the feet to spread, since it is a natural running simulator.
Others claimed that their arches rolled in uncomfortable when running in this shoe. On the flipside, fans of the genre agreed that it did what it claimed to do in correcting bad gaits that occurred at the end of runs, when runners became sloppy and tired. They also noted that it had more body and a fuller feel than most shoes in its class. Online running blog sites said the Saucony Powergrid Cortana actually defeats problems associated with free-run style shoes, particularly in how the powerfoam material is able to take an enormous amount of impact that comes from running so close to the ground.
The powerfoam was even said to condense, as runs became longer, like an organism that contracts on impact. Some users warn newer runners looking to explore the territory of barefoot running, as there are risks of injury associated with transitioning from guided high-heel shoes to shoes with a heel that is almost touching the ground. Runners new to the shoe described the initial fit as that of a slipper.
The price of the Saucony Powergrid Cortana is $145 retail, which is higher than most shoes in its class. Users, however, had no complaints with the pricing and said the shoe was worth it.
This shoe is an excellent guide for runners looking to explore barefoot, natural running and correct their gait. The movement toward forefoot striking as a form of running will aid many runners in their avoidance of injury, and this ride is proven as one of the more dependable and durable shoes to do the job.
Recommended for new runners of forefoot striking gaits and experienced runners looking to get comfortable mileage out of their barefoot-style runs without compromising durability in the distance.
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