New Balance Continues Its Fresh Foam Technology With Zante Pursuit
Initial impressions after clocking 40km on this 5th generation Zante: lightweight, comfortable upper fit but firm ride and reduced cushioning.
The New Balance Fresh Foam Zante series has honestly been a hit-and-miss affair for me. When it was first introduced around 2015, I was attracted to its blue-and-pink colours to give it a shot; previously I was an ardent fan of New Balance’s cushioned 1080 series.
That first generation Zante was light, responsive and lasted me through several marathons and multisport races. The second generation did not fit as well as the first, but it was still comfortable enough for marathon distances, and I had worn it for the Sydney marathon back in 2016. My third generation Zante - a New York Marathon limited edition - had comparably lesser cushioning and firmer soles.
Nevertheless, I ran the Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur marathons in those pair. And then decided that I had enough of the Zante unless the brand did something about this model. When the fourth generation came into the market, most reviews deduced that it was salvaging some reputation of earlier generations, but was nowhere as good as its first generation.
So, when I received the invitation to the Zante Pursuit launch, understandably I was excited. For this fifth generation, New Balance decided to do away with the “v5” or version 5 moniker. Instead, the brand decided to add 3 variants to the Zante collection: Pursuit, Solas and Trainer. Solas variant is the lightest, followed by Pursuit; Trainer is not available in Singapore.
About 40 members of the media and running community were gathered at BeatX Studio on 30 January. After a brief warm-up session, we did a short run through Raffles Place, The Promontory, Marina Bay Sands and ended the run at Sky Deck, Singapore Flyer.
This was followed an adrenaline pumping, fat burning bounce workout on trampolines. It was a good, fun workout but in all honesty, I was yearning for more product information and showcase of the Zante Pursuit.
Without having a good sense of why the fifth generation Zante has now morphed into three variants, and the usage positioning of each of variant, I thought I would reserve judgement and put the Zante Pursuit through the paces, literally.
Let us first have a look at the specifications of the New Balance Zante Pursuit.
Highlights of NB Zante Pursuit
- 6 mm drop
- Bootie construction for a custom-like fit
- Fresh Foam innovative midsole created from a single piece of foam
- No-sew material application
- Synthetic/mesh upper
- Translucent rubber
The New Balance Fresh Foam Zante Pursuit collection is available in Deep Ozone Blue, Light Aluminum, Black, Energy Red and Mineral Green for men, and Voltage Violet, Light Aluminum, Black, Air and Cashmere for women.
My Humble Runs
I am in no way a fast runner but I do enjoy my long runs. I clock just under four and a half hours for the full marathon, and I weigh about 63 kg. Every shoe reacts differently to each runner depending on so many variables; so I thought it would be good to set up the above conditions at the onset.
As a lead up to a marathon coming up in April, I chose to immediately give the Zante Pursuit a go during my long slow distance (LSD) Saturday morning runs for 30 km at an average 6:07 min/km pace, taking 3:04 hours in total. This took place on tarmac surface along East Coast Park through to bayfront area and back.
In the initial kilometres, I felt that the Hypoknit - New Balance speak for knitted upper - had a relatively good fit and was breathable. The lace eyelets were of good quality, so they did not provide tension on part of the feet. The 6mm drop felt natural, and the rather low stack height was pronounced on every pounce. There was no “bounce” for this Zante Pursuit.
The ride though was not plush. There was a lack of cushioning and the crystal rubber outsole was hard and inflexible. As my mileage increased, the comfort correspondingly decreased. The Zante Pursuit was breathable, but the ride was a tad too firm for me to last a full marathon. My feet were relatively sore at the end of that run.
I chose my second run to be around Bedok Reservoir Park. A single loop consisted of 4.3km over a mix of tarmac and gravel surfaces. That distance took me 21:10 mins at 4:52 min/km pace. For this short distance run, the Zante Pursuit felt better on me than on my first run. Perhaps, the hard outsole did provide some protection on the mixed surfaces, and the short distance masked the level of cushioning that I had required.
On my third run, I did 10x 200m intervals around the track. In my opinion, the Zante Pursuit was not responsive nor light enough for fast runs; I would let other New Balance models take over that duty.
What Is The Zante Pursuit Intended For?
After three runs of varying distances, I am still wanting the optimised use of the Zante Pursuit. Could it be a case of this “user problem” of not wearing it for its intended usage? Or could it be that the Zante collection has expanded the fifth generation into three variants that now they each have a narrow, very specific usage?
Regardless, if New Balance can grant me only one wish, it would be to have a reissue of the very first generation Fresh Foam Zante because - to borrow a phrase from Marie Kondo - it will “spark joy” all over again!
The Fresh Foam Zante Pursuit (RRPS$179) is available at all New Balance stores islandwide.