Even with all the newcomers to the natural running market over the last few years, Newton’s unique design stands alone. They also enjoy one of the most loyal and rabid fan bases out there, whom I’ve fondly taken to calling the Newton Army for the way they’ve descended upon product reviews I’ve posted here (in a good way, of course), as well as for their willingness to engage in verbal battle with anyone who questions the performance benefits of the distinctive shoes.
Although their footwear is by no means minimalist, Newton has been one of the leading proponents of natural running technique for the past several years, offering instructional seminars and videos about proper running form to anyone and everyone who would listen. Much of that knowledge was downloaded into company co-founder Danny Abshire’s outstanding book (see my review here ), which has enjoyed ongoing success since its release in early 2011.
So Newton clearly is a prime mover in the natural running Renaissance, and many of their new customers quickly become customers for life. However, one of the largest barriers to entry for many potential Newton recruits has been the steep price tag for most of their models. To entice those folks to finally take the plunge and try their product, Newton has launched the 60 Days of Better campaign.
The deal is this: you can buy a pair of Newton shoes between September 1 and October 31, and try them risk-free for up to 60 days. If you don’t like them or aren’t entirely converted to the Newton Way, you can return the shoes for a refund. There’s a little bit of fine print - the shoes have to be purchased through the website, and you have to live in the US or Canada – but for the most part the deal is pretty straightforward, and could be your best chance to test the shoes if you’ve been on the fence about trying them.
To pique my interest in promoting the campaign, Newton offered a pair of Distancia (or Distance; newton uses the names interchangeably) neutral trainers, which I’ve been looking to test for a while, mainly because they’re the lightest shoe Newton offers.
Although I fully embrace the biomechanics and endorse the design of Newton shoes*, one of my biggest complaints about the company’s lineup is how heavy they are. When you’re used to running in 5-oz moccasins or Vibrams, strapping on the 9-oz Gravity or especially the 11-oz Terra Momentus feels something like affixing a brick to your feet.
(*the details of which I'm not going into here, because I've previously done so in my original Gravity review )
Therefore, with a weight of 7.8 oz, the Distancia seemed destined to be my favorite Newton model, and my testing (albeit with relatively limited mileage compared to my normal standards, thanks to my post-Leadville lethargy) has confirmed it. All of the biomechanics are the same, and all of the comfort is there – in fact, I’ve exclusively worn these sockless without any blisters or hot spots.
All of the Newton flair for color is there as well; the Distancia comes in day-glo yellow for men or bright powder blue for women. This is one of those “love it or hate it” things about Newton shoes, and I, um … probably shouldn’t say what side of the argument I fall on.
The Distancia’s upper is definitely the most breatheable of any Newton shoe I’ve worn, and would be great for staying ventilated during warm summer months or drying quickly during long foul-weather outings.
Aside from the weight, here’s my other complaint about Newtons: there’s extremely little heel to toe flexibility in the midsole area. I’m not exactly sure how Newton could accomplish this without compromising the action/reaction forefoot lugs, but I do feel that there’s more foot constriction in these than any other footwear I use.
It’s also odd for me to wear a shoe with such a large standing height, at 24mm in the heel and 21mm in the forefoot (which results in a 3mm drop, for all you math-challenged folks out there). As I’ve already mentioned, Newton isn’t anything close to a minimalist shoe – but to their credit, they’ve never claimed to be. Rather, the shoe is all about the biomechanics, and about a natural running alternative to break the standard running shoe mold.
The Newton Distance retails for $155 from the company website , and remember that you can test them yourself for up to 60 days during the company’s 60 Days of Better campaign from now until October 31.
*Product provided by Newton Running
**If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at email@example.com .
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