Here is ON's latest and lightest shoe model the CLOUDRUSH. Out the box, I like the way they look, but some words on the shoes have me feeling uneasy. Engineering...CLOUDTEC...hmmm...these words are red flags for me when looking for running shoes. I am a skeptical buyer to say the least because all too often the pitch from shoe makers comes across as too good to be true and down right absurd. Just type in "gravity defying shoes" into your web search and you'll quickly see a host of my favorite offenders.
When the shoemaker is selling the shoe on the idea that human foot (or body) is not adequate in its own form and function, that's when they've lost me as a customer. Commonly these synthetic "marvels" of engineering claim to be a functional addition that the feet need or can benefit significantly from when worn. This a platform deeply rooted in the shoe industry's vast (and unending) history of false advertising.
However, I was led to the CLOUDRUSH by a trusted source (and friend), and even though the name for ON's midsole and outsole material seems gimmicky, and suggestive that the feeling of wearing their shoes is liken to moving atop of clouds...well anyway...you get my point. Skepticism aside, I laced up, and began my assessment.
1. Lightweight: yes
2. Minimal Heel to Toe Drop: yes, 5mm.
3. Flexible: yes, could almost roll the shoe into a ball.
4. Minimal stack height: Yes, 21mm heel & 16mm forefoot.
4. Anatomical Shape: no - not for my feet. not wide enough for my toe splay and too much upward toe spring.
Due to the aspects of shape and toe spring being slightly off I knew at best this shoe would serve me in short distance running only. Otherwise, the inward and upward force on my toes could make for additional time spent training (reversing these effects with toe spacers and soft tissue therapy). If I could make alterations to this shoe, I would make it wider in the toe box and use different material and manufacturing steps to reduce the toe spring. OESH shoes is a great example of a manufacturing method aimed at reducing toe spring. Hopefully, they'll make a men's shoe in the future.
Now that the fitting assessment is done, time for the movement assessment. Run.
Alright, so I've never run on clouds before...and I'm sure if I ever do it will not feel like these shoes, but HOLY SMOKES, these feel GREAT on the road. Surprisingly to me, they felt like an extension of my feet and not an addition to my feet. Light and springy, I bounced along without interruption. The midsole and outsole combine for an overall soft feel, soft but not squishy soft. On several runs, I removed sock liner to reduce the overall stack of the shoe, in order to increase ground feel. Since I know this a short distance shoe for me, I figured my barefoot would be able to handle direct contact to this stitching inside the shoe.
While I didn't mind the sock liner, I did like the feel of having it out better. *The toe print of my big toe is proof that the toe box is not wide enough for me.
This was my first experience with an ON shoe because up to this point all of their models had too narrow a toe box and a bit too much cushion. While the CLOUDRUSH was also narrow for me, the lower weight, drop, and stack height did allow me to experience one of their shoes. And the experience was a very good one!
So if you're someone who typically likes the feel of light and flexible racing flat, this is a shoe to try. Especially if you would like a subtle springiness added to your shoe, which you get from the CLOUDRUSH.
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