Somewhat lost in the heavy marketing being put into the Kinvara's release was the recent release of another shoe by Saucony that might appeal even more to minimalist runners - the Saucony Grid Type A4 racing flat. A reader just sent me an e-mail (thanks Todd!) indicating that he tried out the Grid Type A4 and thinks very highly of it as a midfoot/forefoot striking shoe. For Saucony fans concerned about the overall sole height of the Kinvara (assuming there are people besides me who actually pay attention to things like this!), the Grid Type A4 might just be the shoe for you. The A4 is not only lighter than the Kinvara (it weighs in at 6.3oz vs. the Kinvara's 7.7oz - both values for men's size 9), but it's sole sits closer to the ground (13mm heel cushion, 9mm forefoot cushion in the A4 vs. 18mm/14mm in the Kinvara). With a heel-toe drop of only 4mm, the Grid Type A4 does seem like a promising candidate for midfoot/forefoot striking runners.
One of the unique and interesting features of the A4 is the fact that it has a drainage system built into the sole - if you look at the picture below, you can see the oval-shaped holes circling the inner portion of the sole. I can think of several races in my recent past where these would have come in very handy.
Don't know much else about this shoe (other than that it seems overpriced for a flat at an MSRP of $95.00 - Update: thanks to Lisa in the comments for pointing out that it's selling for $79.95 at Running Warehouse), but it looks like it has the potential to be another strong offering from Saucony - if you've tried it and have thoughts, feel free to leave a comment.
Update 6/7/10: Below are some initial thoughts that a reader, Todd L., sent to me regarding his experience with the Grid Type A4.
"I just got back from my first run in them and although it's a little early to give a thorough review, I must say that if they continue to feel/perform like they did today, they will definitely be my primary running shoe for a long time to come. I've gone through countless sneakers (Brooks Launch, Nike Free Run+, Saucony Kinvara, and Newtons, most recently) in an effort to find the right shoe for me. Along the way I learned that for me the biggest obstacle was the raised heel that most running shoes seem to have. Getting rid of a big heel allowed me to start running in a more natural barefoot-like" form. The A4's, while they have a very similar heel/forefoot differential to the Kinvara's, (4mm), are a little closer to the ground and have a little less cushioning but it seems just cushy enough to be very comfortable. Compared to the Kinvara's, I think these might be a better choice for someone really trying to run more forefoot and really feel the ground to gain feedback and stay on top of their form."
Update 9/16/2010: A reader (thanks Gilbert!) indicated that he has some concerns with durability on the Grid Type A4. After 215 miles, this is what the sole of his shoe looks like:
Hard to know if this is idiosyncratic to his gait (appears to be a forefoot striking wear pattern), but thought I'd share for your information.
For more on the Grid Type A4, check out the video below from Running Warehouse:
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