Mizuno Cursoris Zero Drop Running Shoe Review: One of My Top Shoes of the Year So Far

Mizuno CursorisI’m woefully behind on reviewing shoes in my ever-growing collection, so my goal over the next few weeks is to knock out as many as I can for shoes I’ve run in so far this year. I figured I’d start with a personal favorite – the Mizuno Cursoris.

Earlier this year Mizuno released two zero-drop running shoes, the Cursoris and the Levitas. I published a guest review of the two shoes by my friend Frederic, and based on his comments I was really intrigued by the Cursoris and had to try it for myself. I’m glad that I did as I would rank it among the best shoes I have run in this year! (Disclosure: these shoes were provided free-of-charge for review purposes by a Mizuno rep with a lot of tattoos)

Basic Specs

The Mizuno Cursoris weighs in at just over 7oz in my size 10. It’s a zero drop shoe with a stack height of 18mm heel, 18mm forefoot. Though I have gone up to a 10.5 in many shoes, the Cursoris is roomy in even a size 10 on my feet, so they may even run a bit big.

Mizuno Cursoris sideMizuno Cursoris medial

Upper Construction and Fit

Simply stated, the fit of the Mizuno Cursoris is near perfect on my average width foot. It’s snug through the heel and midfoot (there is mild arch support), and opens up into an ample toebox. I’d go so far as to say that this is one of the best fitting shoes that I own – supremely comfortable. The toebox in particular really shines – the upper in the region of the forefoot is composed of a stretchy, open mesh that breathes incredibly well. It’s so open that debris can get in the shoe if you go off-road, but I’ll take that trade-off for a cool ride in the summer. I wish more shoes would take this approach with breathability – the closest comparison I can think of is the old Newton Distance.

The rest of the upper is very simple – no heel counter, smooth interior finish suitable for sockless running, and a removable insole (unfinished below). The upper hugs the foot well without being overly structured or obtrusive. I really can’t say enough positive things about it – I’d rank it up there alongside the Nike Free 3.0 v5 in terms of upper design.

Mizuno Cursoris top

Sole

When it comes to shoe soles, I like different feels for different purposes. For form work I like minimal cushion. For speed I like a firm, responsive sole. For casual and long running I prefer a softer sole. The Cursoris definitely fits in the latter category. I’ve seen the sole feel of the Mizuno Cursoris described as like running on a padded gym floor. This is a pretty accurate description – it feels soft yet the stack height is such that it’s not pillowy. For me it’s a near perfect shoe for long, easy runs or recovery runs. It’s also incredibly comfortable for just wearing out and about. This is a bit of a departure from other zero drop shoes which tend to be fairly firm (e.g., the Merrell Bare Access, Altra Instinct, New Balance MR00, etc.). If you want a zero drop shoe with a soft sole, the Cursoris should be among the top shoes on your list to try (along with the Saucony Virrata and Altra Torin).

Mizuno Cursoris sole

Given that the sole is soft, I would not classify the Cursoris as being a responsive shoe. It’s not a shoe I would reach for to race a 5K on the road.

On concern I’ve heard about the Cursoris has to do with sole durability. the sole has rubber in all of the right spots – heel (the orange heel patch is rubber, not EVA), across the forefoot, and up through the big toe. However, some have had issues with the exposed areas of EVA breaking down quickly. I have noticed that abrasion of the EVA in the forefoot area tends to form little “tabs” in the forefoot that you can pick off. However, with 50 miles on my pair the wear is nothing I’m overly concerned about (see photo below). If you tend to chew up the forefoot on your shoes you may want to consider this before purchasing this shoe.

CIMG5470

Conclusions

I’ve run about 50 miles in the Mizuno Cursoris and have put in several double-digit mileage runs. I have had nothing but positive experiences with this shoe, and among zero drop cushioned shoes it’s one of my top picks. In fact, if I had to keep only two shoes in this category it would probably be the Cursoris and the Saucony Virrata. I think that highly of it!

The Mizuno Cursoris can be purchased at Running Warehouse (some colors currently on clearance at a great price) and Zappos (some on clearance here as well). Outside the US they can be purchased at Sportsshoes.com.

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. David Burns says:

    Pete how does it compare to the viratta in softness, I hated the viratta too soft for me.

  2. Marc Schwartz says:

    Nice review Pete. Looks like your wear pattern is similar to mine.

    A question. Mizuno lists the stack height as 12mm/12mm on their web site (link to mizunousa.com…. Running Warehouse shows 18mm/18mm (http://www.runningwarehouse.co….

    Did you measure yours with calipers? Just wondering which is correct.

    If 18mm/18mm, then it is the same as the Virrata, but if not, it is considerably thinner, albeit still with good cushioning in comparison.

  3. Tim Barrett says:

    I currently have two pairs of the Cursoris and I love them. They are the best shoe for my long runs that I have found. I have nearly 600 miles between the two pairs and still going strong. They have held up well after the initial wear, which was similar to what you show here. I have been pain and injury free since I started running in the Cursoris. I can’t say enough about them. I highly recommend them.

  4. Surfing Vol says:

    Even though I am killing the lateral forefoot outsole on my orange Cursoris, I just bought another pair (different colorway) from RunningWarehouse — about $70 with the RunBlogger discount! These shoes are that comfortable! Womens’s Cursoris are also on sale — I bought a pair for my secretary.

  5. Stéphane says:

    I’m a bit torn about the Cursoris. I bought it as an alternative to my BA2s because I wanted something with a softer cushioning for some of my longer runs and they happened to be quite cheap on Wiggle.

    While I agree about the fit and comfort part I’m quite concerned about the shoe’s durability and I share Dan H’s opinion about the lack of some rubber under the central part of the forefoot (it actually looks like Mizuno forgot to add the rubber on that peeling pod in the middle.) It is not serious that the EVA is peeling off after barely a week of running in them.

    That being said my main concern is the fact that all that comfort and cushioning gives you a misleading sense of security. Ground feel is poor at best (for a minimalist shoe) and flexibility could really be improved. These flaws are not a big deal in a more structured shoe like the Kinvara 3, but they become a serious issue in the Cursoris because they deprive you of a lot of the feedback needed to adequately balance yourself. While running at an easy pace things are fine, but the shoe becomes quite sloppy when attempting to sprint or even run at threshold pace.

    After running in them for a week (about 50 miles) at different paces I have developed a somewhat worrying pain on the external lower part of my ankles, something that has never happened while running 300+ miles in the BA2s.

    I guess from now on I’ll be careful and only use them for easy long run, as they do give the impression you could run in them forever.

  6. Shawn T. says:

    Hi Pete, I’ve been looking forward to your review of these! How would you compare these to the Virratas?

  7. Paulo Reyes Santos says:

    Hi there, Pete. Like to know which would you recommend: Cursoris or MR00? Criteria would be durability and long distance comfort.

  8. Steve Tremblay says:

    How to compare the Cursorie with Altra Instinct for the fit and for the flexibility ?

  9. Gianluca Gaggio Gaggioli says:

    I tried Virrata and Cursoris, good shoes, but New Balance MT00 is more flexible and “suede” on the feet.

  10. Brian Edmison says:

    Sole durability indeed. After 200 miles the areas you described are more or less worn completely off. Another friend with these shoes describes the same issue. I’ll consider coming back to these down the road if they figure it out.

  11. And for a contrasting viewpoint on these shoes:

    I have to disagree that it has rubber in all the right spots. The foam piece in the center furthest from the front of the shoe was almost completely gone on my pair after only 80 miles. Very disappointing for a $120 shoe.

    The toe box is too sloppy for my foot also. And the cushioning is too soft. For the first 50 miles, I felt like I was going to trip on nothing, and sometimes I did.

    I’m looking for something else to replace them currently, as they have 150 miles on them now, and look destroyed.

    • Stéphane says:

      While I agree that some rubber is lacking on the soles of the Cursoris, the fact that that central pod was gone after only 80 miles should probably tell you something about the way your feet hit the ground.
      I know seeing that pod starting to peel off after 50 miles has reminded me I need to work on being lighter on my feet.

      • I believe I’m hitting the ground how I want to. I connect somewhere on the those outer rubber pods, and roll inward to the inner rubber pods as my foot comes all the way down. Unfortunately, they put a foam pod there in the middle, so it is getting shredded. How much does that screw up my foot strike/transition? I have no idea. But I have noticed some ankle pain also. I completely agree with your other comment on not being able to sprint in them as well.

        Take a look at the Brook Puredrift. I think they did a better job of selective rubberizing, though I haven’t run in them myself to know for sure.

        I would love to run in the BA2 as you mentioned above, but it has too much arch support for me.

        • Stéphane says:

          I did not mean my comment about your foot strike to be disparaging. I certainly don’t have enough data to be able to say anything about the mechanics of it in itself. But maybe there’s too much friction at ground contact or during lift/push off, and that would partly explain why the EVA is peeling off so quickly. That’s how I interpret it in my case and if anything, I’m glad the Cursoris made me think of that (although the Vapor Gloves do the same thing in what I believe to be a much better way.) You have to focus on the positive. :)

          As for the BA2s, I was worried about the arch support as well, but to me it disappeared completely while running. The way the Merrell shoes contour your feet is something I like a lot about them. The Vapor Glove and even more so the Trail Glove have the best midfoot fit of any shoes I have tried.

          • I have a pair of BA2s sitting in a box waiting to be returned. You are tempting more sorely to go for a run in them. I’ll wait until I receive my Topo RTs before I decide.

            I’m pretty picky about arch support. Kinvaras caused me serious pain, and most people say the arch support isn’t even noticeable.

          • Stéphane says:

            You know your tolerance to arch support better than I do. I haven’t had any problem with the arch support in the Kinvaras. All I can say is that the BA2s are the cushioned minimalist shoes I enjoy running in the most. But I haven’t tried a whole lot of them so far.

        • It sounds like your foot strike is similar to mine. I didn’t run in the cursoris, but did in the Levitas. I had to return them due to ankle pain. I typically land on the outside edge of my forefoot, roll the rest down, and kiss the ground with my heel before pushing off.

          In the Levitas, my ankles started to really bother me after a few runs and I have not had the same issue in the road glove 2′s (less padding than the ba2′s)

          The arch support in the road glove 2′s is very similar to the ba2′s and I was worried about them at first. I don’t even notice them anymore and I have extremely flat feet.

          Hope this helps

      • Pete Larson says:

        I’ve heard that Mizuno is adding rubber in that area in the next version of the Cursoris. Wear is very much individual and dependent on aspects of our stride, which is why other commenters here report getting 200-300 miles on them without much issue. We all wear shoes down a bit differently. I have abrasion in that area at 50 miles, but nothing I’m overly concerned about. Adding a rubber patch should be an easy fix in v2.
        Sent from my iPad

        • Stéphane says:

          I believe I’ll probably manage to pull 200-300 miles out of them as well. Still, I can’t help but remember that the durability of more traditional shoes tends to be much better. I used to easily get twice that many miles out of my old pairs of Adidas. The outsoles were made of rubber that seemed to be indestructible.
          I can imagine you not being too concerned about durability. With all the pairs you test I imagine you don’t often run 300 miles in any given one. :)

          • Pete Larson says:

            Yeah, I’m lucky to break 100 miles on any pair these days :) Durability is where I openly admit to limitations as a reviewer, simply too hard to review a lot of shoes and put lots of miles on all of them.
            Sent from my iPad

  12. Which would you choose for an everyday trainer, say 10 miles a day on pavements – the Virrata or the Cursoris?

    • Pete Larson says:

      If you have a wide forefoot, Cursoris, if you have a narrower forefoot, Virrata. I ran my Spring marathon in the Virrata and they were great, but definitely a snugger fit. Not sure I’d run a marathon in the Cursoris.
      Sent from my iPad

      • Thanks for your detailed answer. By the way- like Marc Schwartz above, I’m confused too- what is the true stack height of the Cursoris?

  13. Greg Strosaker says:

    I love these shoes as well, the fit is exactly as you describe, I’m not that interested in a purely minimalist firm-soled shoe (yet, at least), so the cushioning level agrees with me as well. I do wear them for both speed work and recovery runs and would confidently turn to them for any race up to a half marathon at this point. And I agree on the wear pattern too – I have about 100 miles on mine now and started seeing what you show after the first two or three runs. I was concerned but the sole hasn’t seemed to deteriorate any further since that point.

    The thing that amazes me about Mizuno shoes (and especially this one) is how they can put a plastic plate in the middle of the stack yet somehow still deliver a soft enough feel.

  14. michael says:

    does anyone have comparison with adipure gazelle? similar? very different?

  15. Scott Douglas says:

    How can you have done 50 miles and “several” runs of at least 10 miles in them?

  16. Andrew Bentley says:

    HI Pete,

    I’m currently doing longer runs in a Wave Universe 4 and I’m looking for something with a bit more cushioning + a 4mm drop.

    I have been considering both the Mizuno Cursoris and the Skechers GoRun2 as potential options. Runners world measured the cursoris and found it had a 4mm offset, not zero as stated by Mizuno so that’s why it’s in.

    How would you say that the Mizuno’s and the Skechers compare?

    Thanks

    Andrew

  17. I got stuck on a trip with no running kit and found a pair of these at a clearance store and had a blast in them tonight. First 0 drop tend to got for the 3-6 range typically

  18. I just got a pair of these yesterday (pretty big discount at Running Wearhouse), and I’m so torn. The left one is almost perfect – it could be my marathon shoe. The right one, not quite so much: I noticed the arch there, and my big toe kept hitting the front. While I might be able to go up a bit (I’m in a 12 in these, a 12.5 in my Skoras and Skechers), I’m worried about losing the perfect fit on my left foot.

    I don’t really want to buy two pairs in order to run with a 12 on my left foot and a 12.5 on my right foot… Really not sure what I should do.

    I love my Skoras, but I don’t see doing a marathon in them – I’m a bit too big to run that long in something quite so minimal.

    Any thoughts?

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