For those of you who didn’t know New Balance has started to make a concerted effort into the barefoot running shoe space. Up until now Nike and their Nike Free shoes have been the lone “big” shoe company who offered a minimalist shoe choice. However, New Balance with their 100 line and 800 line of shoes have started to show that they are starting to get serious about offering a flatter, less supported shoe than their running shoes have been traditionally known for.
Right on the heels of the New Balance 100 line (where we recently we featured our first impressions of the New Balance MT100) we’ve learned that this coming October that they’ll be releasing the follow up to that shoe, the New Balance 101 (or for men, New Balance MT101, or women, New Balance WT101). So what’s in store for the New Balance 101? It’s still a trail running shoe, but apparently they’ve taken many of the suggestions and feedback they had received on the 100’s and implemented them into the new shoe. From the official New Balance 101 press release:
The New Balance 101 is the perfect trail racing shoe for runners looking for a â€œminimalisticâ€ shoe, reminiscent of a â€œbarefootâ€ running experience. The stream-lined upper features overlays on the lateral side to hold feet in place through downhill runs and very few internal seams help to eliminate irritation even when the shoes are worn without socks. A thin protective ROCKSTOP© plate in the outsole protects feet from punctures and disperses shock without sacrificing the natural running feel. The New Balance 101 is equipped to deliver a smooth and responsive ride on any trail.
The other thing that’s nice about New Balance is their dedication to making sure actual runners (both casual and professional) are involved in the development and design process. This was no different in the design and improvements made in the 101 line of shoes:
Team New Balance trail runners, Kyle Skaggs and Anton Krupicka, provided inspiration and design direction for the MT/WT101 Skaggs, winner and course record holder of the Hardrock 100 Endurance Run and Krupicka, two-time winner of the Leadville 100, tested the 101 throughout the design and development process, bringing the â€œultra runningâ€ mindset to every aspect of the shoes. Their insights helped to utilize a revised manufacturing process to create a smoother heel counter to reduce irritation. Even the insole bares the mark of the NB Ambassadors; the bandana printed sock liner is in honor of Tony Kupricka, who wears a bandana during all of his runs.
We’ll have more news about the New Balance 101’s as we learn more. For now keep an eye out for them October 2010.