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R.I.P. Running Shoes: Brooks to Discontinue the Launch and Green Silence

brooks_launch_mensWe runners can sometimes develop special bonds with certain pairs of shoes. They might be a shoe we set a PR in, or the shoe we wore in our first Boston Marathon. These are shoes that we hang on to and keep in our closets because they retain special meaning, and the thought of dumping them in the trash is simply too much to bear. I have a few of these shoes myself – among them I would include the Saucony Kinvaras that I wore on the day I qualified for Boston, the Nike Free 3.0 v1 that were my first “minimalist” running shoe, and the Brooks Launch.

The Brooks Launch was a shoe that I wore concurrently with those original Nike Frees back in 2009-2010. they were a favorite among the circle of running friends that I had met on dailymile.com, and I had a breakthrough marathon at Disney in January 2010 with the Launch on my feet – it was the first marathon in which I managed to avoid the dreaded “wall.”

Thus, I felt a twinge of sadness when I learned that the Launch, along with the Brooks Green Silence, is set to be discontinued in early 2013. I’d read reports of its impending demise on the Runner’s World shoe forum, and then had it confirmed by a reader who contacted Brooks customer service and reported the following (thanks Brad!):

“I have spent a bunch of time on instant chat with Brooks customer support the last few days to confirm that the Launch is going to be discontinued in January of 2013. When I pressed them as to the reason why this great shoe is being killed off, they basically told me that even though there are a “passionate group” of Launch fans (myself included), the sales volume for the Launch does not warrant continuing the manufacturing production of this shoe. They also are killing off the Green Silence for the same reason in Jan of 2013.

I have been told multiple times by Brooks that the Pure Flow is the “replacement” for the Launch, but unfortunately these 2 shoes are very different in fit, design, features, feel, and performance.

I am a bit surprised that Brooks came out with this latest new color scheme for the launch (the orange and yellow); considering they were already planning to kill the model.  So it appears that Brooks is leaving no options for “middle of the road” lightweight and more minimal in design neutral trainers like the Launch, with their only options being the low heel toe drop Pure line or their more built up and heavier “traditional trainer” models.  Their customer service rep confirmed this gap in their product offering and told me to stay tuned for future updates to the Pure line that MIGHT be a closer approximation to the venerable Launch model.”

Now, the Launch is not a shoe I run in these days, nor is the Green Silence, but both hold a place in my running history, and the Launch in particular was a fine shoe. It filled that niche between traditional trainer and lightweight racer, and it served me well during it’s time on my feet. I’d been surprised that neither the Launch nor the Green Silence received any kind of update in the past two years (aside from new color options) – this is fairly unusual in this day and age. Perhaps it was an early warning sign of their impending demise. I still know a lot of runners who use and think highly of both of these shoes, but in a market where running shoe “success” probably hinges more on mall and “big box” sporting goods store sales than sales to actual runners, profit was not sufficient for Brooks to maintain these shoes in its line. As a runner, this is perhaps what saddens me the most.

Personally, I would have loved to have seen Brooks drop the Launch to an 8mm offset, thus shaving off a bit more weight, and position it as a lighter competitor to a shoe like the recently released, and newly 8mm drop, Saucony Ride 5.

Anyway, if you’re a fan of either the Brooks Launch or Green Silence, looks like it may be time to stock up before they are gone. Or, perhaps we need to start a “save the Launch!” campaign. What do you think?

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. Have purchased 6 pairs of GSs in the past year, leaving awesomely positive reviews on their site everytime, and can’t beleive they’re doing this to me.  Going online tomorrow and stocking up with at least 2 more pair.  Did see where they are coming with a Pure Blitz(?) in 2013.  I don’t know, the GSs just fit my feet  perfectly.

  2. Only just discovered the Green Silence, an awesome shoe with the added bonus of the environmental benefits. Do the new Pure range replicate these?

    • The Pure (and nearly all the Brooks shoes, if memory serves) have the biodegradable misdole (biomogo), so the worst offender in terms of taking up landfill space isn’t in the Pure line.

      • Sarah Swiss says:

         The PureProject line midsole is made up of a DNA/BioMogo blend. it actually “greener” then the core lines midsoles as it avoids cut outs for DNA drop ins and this also does not need glues to hold the drop ins into place.

    • Emilie Reas says:

      I’ve been running in the GS for over a year and absolutely love it. I tried the Pure Connect hoping it wold be a comparable alternative and hated it. For a “minimalist” shoe the Connect actually felt like more shoe than the GS. Way too much arch support and the heel upper literally poked my achilles and really bothered me. If anyone comes across a good GS replacement, please share!

      • Sarah Swiss says:

         The PureConnect is actually built on curved last, which is different from the rest of the PureProject shoes. You might want to try the PureFlow as a replacement to the Green Silence. Also Spring 13 Brooks is coming out with the PureDrift which also might be something to try as a replacement for the Green Silence.

  3. Pure Flow is definitely NOT the Launch. Way too bouncy…like running on foam! Booo!

    • Brad Patterson says:

      Completely agree. When I told the customer service rep this exact same comment, he didn’t have an answer for me. He basically just said, “Well, wait for some updates to the Pure Flow, we might be coming up with something closer to the Launch in the future”.

  4. A Little Bird says:

    Brooks is doing a wear test on the Launch starting in a few days. So I don’t think they’re really discontinued. Or at least they won’t be for long.

  5. i ran more than 1000 km in my red/orange launch that i have discovered thanks to your blog. I was wondering when Brooks will bring us the V2… I was hoping a lighter, flater version, a “pure launch” maybe… 

  6. Leslie Farnsworth says:

    Ugh! My stock of the Launch is down to one pair with only about 200 miles left on them. What have everyone been using as a replacement shoe that they love? I’m open to any brand. I used to be loyal to Brooks–in fact, I’ve only EVER run in Brooks–but I’m open to other brands given the Launch discontinuation.

  7. I ran my first race of any kind in the Launch.

    I’m onto more minimal shoes now, but it was a great shoe for training and racing all the same.  It never felt like it got in the way.

  8. Ryan Green says:

    Save the Launch!! That was the shoe that  started that my move to running more naturally (love my Merrell Bare Access and Newton Gravity).  I would also like to see it down a 8mm drop and maybe form up the midsole a bit for better ground feel.

  9. Brandon Marshall says:

    It’s a sad day :-( I love my Green Silences but have been interested in trying out another shoe at some point, so maybe the is the motivation I needed. This Pure Blitz that John mentions below sounds intriguing. Anyone have any more information about that? I’ve heard about the Pure Drift, but no Blitz at this point.

  10. Sandbagger says:

    I’m a big fan of The Green Silence. It is the best shoe I’ve ever owned. I set half and full marathon PRs in these shoes and hate to see them go. I think Brooks went too far with the crazy color schemes and many just never tried them due to that.

  11. Not convinced by Brooks’ mimalist Pure range so losing the Launch and Green Silence may lessen my brand loyalty. I hope there aren’t plans to discontinue the ST5 racer. We don’t all want to follow the minimalist fad.

    • You call it a fad, then you say losing the Green Silence would “lessen your brand loyalty”. Which is it?? are you a fan or not?? just because you don’t embrace mid-foot, fore-foot running, doesn’t make it a fad.

    • Brad Patterson says:

      I specifically asked Brooks if they were killing off the ST5 and they told me they were not. I also asked the customer service rep if he thought the ST5 would make a good Launch replacement, since the specs & design of both shoes is very similar. He told me that it MIGHT make a good replacement, but warned that the support features of the ST5 might cause me problems since I normally run in neutral shoes.

  12. The Green Silence is the fastest shoe I have ever run in.  It allows me to run with any form I am capable of.  The heel is low enough that I am not forced to land on the heel but the shoes has enough cushion to brake with the heels going downhill if I want to.  Very flexible and snug enough to prevent slippage inside shoe without squashing my toes.  I have actually used them as the model to compare at running warehouse shoeftr.  Any shoe that is tighter, I don’t buy because the Green Silence fit  is as snug as I want to go.  Perfect shoe for a Clydesdale to race in.

  13. Ctrawick3 says:

    Nooooooooooo!!!!!!!

    Not my Green Silence…. please dont do that…..

    Suicide prevention hotline, here i come…

  14. A bit sad to hear this, although I don’t run in either anymore. The Launch was a shared passion!

  15. I’d just get an Inov-8.  Flat, fast, and oh so cool.  Small company that just knows how to make awesome minimalist footwear.

  16. Rocco11 says:

    Deanna/Becki at the Runner’s World website turned me on to the Launch with her fantastic review, and it quickly became my favorite all time shoe.  Amazing shoe, “forgiving” and functional are the words that best describe this wonderful shoe.  Brooks is making a huge misstep here, IMO.

  17. William Arnette says:

    A sad excuse to buy new shoes.  

    The local Fleet Feet carried the GS for a while and have had random people also wearing them strike up conversation with me in the grocery store about how awesome the shoe is.  Really wish more people tried the GS. 

    Makes me even less thrilled that this is probably being done to widen the underwhelming pure line up. 

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