I’ve been flooded by questions over the past week or so about the new racing flat that Skechers is about to release. The shoe is officially called the Skechers GoRun Speed, but has also been variously referred to as the GoRace or GoMeb. Given my wear testing relationship with the Skechers design team, I was given a pair of the GoRun Speed last summer, not too long before Meb Keflezghi ran in the shoes in the Olympic Marathon. I was asked not to formally comment on the shoe until given a green light by Skechers – that green light just flashed, so it’s time for my review of the shoe!
The GR Speed is a shoe that was designed specifically as a marathon racing shoe for Meb Keflezghi. Meb worked directly with the design team to make a shoe that matched his exact preferences for the 26.2 mile distance, and the production shoes are as far as I can tell the exact shoe that Meb wore in the London Olympics (if there are differences, I was not informed of them).
The most common question I’ve gotten about the GoRun Speed is “How does it differ from the standard GoRun?” The answer is that the GoRun Speed is very much a typical racing flat. In fact, it’s probably the most conventional running shoe that Skechers has made thus far – for one thing, it lacks the distinct sensation of a midfoot bump found in the GoRun (though it does have arch support).
I ran in the GoRun Speed a bunch last summer in order to give feedback to the design team, and my response at the time was that it seemed like a finished product. Aside from personal preferences (which I’ll get to below), I really had nothing to complain about or any major improvements to suggest. I guess when a shoe is made for an Olympian, it pretty much has to be ready to go!
In preparation to write this review, I pulled the shoes back out and have since completed my last three runs in them – these included a 6 mile progressive run down to 5K pace, and an 11 miler over hills. The goal was to get a refresher on how the shoes performed in various running circumstances.
Upper, Interior, and Fit
With regard to fit, the GR Speed is definitely a snugger shoe than the GoRun and GoRun 2. This is typical of racing flats in general – I like a snugger fit for speed and racing, and a narrower sole also cuts down weight due to the need for less sole material underfoot. The fit on my average width foot is fine, but if you have wide feet you may want to pass on these. I’d compare the forefoot width to the Brooks T7, or maybe a tad wider than the New Balance RC1600. I have not had any hot spot or blister issues with this shoe, but have not used it sockless very much.
The upper of the GR Speed is a synthetic mesh with lots of welded overlays. It’s a bit rougher internally in the region of the mid-to forefoot compared to the GoRun. The interior of the heel is lined by a felt-like material (I’m terrible at identifying fabrics) and is soft against the skin. The sockliner is glued down – I have not made an attempt to remove it.
The sole of the GoRun Speed is where it really differentiates itself from the regular GoRun. The Speed does have a slight rocker and a slightly greater thickness in the region of the midfoot, but it’s far less pronounced than in the GoRun. GR Speed sole dimensions are 14mm forefoot, 19.5mm midfoot, 18mm heel. The biggest difference has to do with feel – the midsole of the speed is very firm and far stiffer than that of the GoRun. The sole feel is similar to the adidas Adios 2 or New Balance RC1600 (the latter is probably the closest equivalent shoe overall among those I’ve run in). My preference would be for a bit less stack height in a shoe this firm, and I told the Skechers team this when I first ran in the shoe, but they told me that the structure of this sole was exactly what Meb had requested for a marathon shoe (who am I to argue with Meb!).
Sole stiffness of the GoRun Speed is enhanced by the presence of a TPU plastic plate embedded in the sole (composed of Hytrel from Dupont if you like specifics on the materials). This plate can be seen via a cutout on the bottom of the sole (see photo at left). The outsole consists of isolated round rubber pods – durability so far for me has been good (the photos here are taken after about 40-50 miles of running in the shoe).
Those of you familiar with the ride of the standard GoRun will find this to be quite a different shoe. As mentioned above, the sole is both stiff and firm, much like many other road flats (particularly those made by adidas and New Balance). I like these qualities in a speed shoe, but I’m not sure if I could tolerate the level of firmness in the GoRun Speed for a full marathon – I probably have about 40 pounds on Meb, and my feet were feeling it after 11 miles on roads in the GoRun Speed. However, for speed workouts or races up to half-marathon distance these would work out nicely. They are quite responsive, and clearly build for the sole purpose of running fast. I would not recommend the GR Speeds for long, easy runs, though that may be an individual response given that I am not a wispy runner!
The Skechers GoRun speed is a genuine, traditionally styled racing flat that is probably the most conventional performance running shoe produced by Skechers thus far. This is one that would not at all be out of place in the racing flat section on the walls of a specialty running shop, and competes very well with other offerings in the category. If you like a shoe that is snug fitting, firm, and stiff for speed-work and racing, this is definitely one to consider.
Caleb Masland provides another take on the Skechers GoRun Speed here (he’ll be racing Boston in the shoe this year).