Pablo Picasso was famously quoted “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist”. Perhaps, this applies to a talented painter, sculptor, poet, playwright that he is, but what about to mere mortals like us?

About a month ago, I had to break my own rules when it comes to running. Not that I was forced to make a choice, but rather the option presented made me brave enough to break my own rules. But a smart one? Only time would tell.

Lately, Adidas has been very busy with its combat against marine pollution cause Run For The Oceans 2018 program in partnership with Parley For The Oceans organisation. For the record, Adidas raised US$1 million in donations for this initiative. To walk the talk, it is also continually expanding its Adidas Parley range of footwear, where each shoe contains 11 plastic bottles’ worth of recycled plastic.

So, in late June, when Adidas introduced the new Ultraboost Parley June and invited me to have a review, it really as a no brainer for running junkie like me. I had already planned to run the Gold Coast Marathon then. Adidas Ultraboost range of footwear provides a 100% energy return – its highest among the Boost range – making it suitable for long distance runs. And the Parley factor makes for a wonderful pollution combat intent.

All seems well until I realised that the shoes would only be a delivered about a week prior to race day, and that I’ll break my own set of rules that I have been advocating to fellow running friends, the most basic of which is “Never to try anything new on race day”!. So, I thought I have run often enough to break the rules, and to pray that I would run fuss-free and injury-free without a proper break-in.

Gold Coast Marathon. Checked!

Initial Impressions

I had requested for a size EUR43, but was provided a EUR 43 ½. The shoes felt afull size bigger, there was just too much room and my risks of chafing and blisters would be high. I was also told that the shoes would stretch further upon use. Fortunately, my request for a size smaller was kindly accepted by Adidas, and I was a provided with a size down, a EUR 42 2/3. Complicated and perplexing not to have an integer-based sizing.

The new pair did feel a bit tight around my pinkie toes, but the shoes now feel snugged, and I am confident the knitted materials would stretch to the contours of my feet over time.

Ultraboost Parley Key Specifications

  • adidas primeknit textile upper; supportive midfoot cage; fitcounter heel for unrestricted fit
  • flexible stretchweb outsole; continental rubber outsole for extraordinary traction in wet and dry conditions; stabilizing torsion system
  • midsole drop: 10 mm (heel: 29 mm, forefoot: 19 mm)
  • recommended for: long, urban runs; arch type: normal

Nevertheless, in my feeble attempt to break the shoes in, I wore the shoes – walking, not running – in the few days leading to race day, as I set to overcome the psychological factor of wearing something new for a marathon.

Well molded heels

The “Break The Rules” Test

This year’s Gold Coast Marathon was the scene to test this pair of Adidas Ultraboost Parley. Statistics had shown that 60% of runners achieved their personal best timings on this flat course. I was not too hopeful to better my timings, as I was not at my prime given that the marathon was two weeks after the Hari Raya festivities, and I had taken some weeks off from running during the fasting period. Nevertheless, it was my third full road marathon for the year and while not being exactly fast, I did have hopes that this Adidas Ultraboost Parley could make my marathon, or break it.

The weather condition on race morning was reasonably favourable. Just under 20 degree Celsius, cool morning breeze and some parts of the roads were still wet from overnight passing showers.

Immediately from the start, the shoes felt bouncy and comfortable. I did feel my pinkie toes rubbing against the inner walls of the shoes for the first five kilometres o so, but those then went away as the distances extended. Honestly, I did not give much thought to the Continental Rubber soles initially, as it could possibly be a marketing gimmick more than anything else. However, I was very impressed with the level of traction offered on some wet slippery portions on the course.

While at one of the water stations, there was a bit of drama. Someone threw his cup on the road, and I happened to be on its path. The cup still had water in it and splashed onto my right shoes. I had this lingering feeling that the thick knitted upper would soak water for a while, but alas, it was able to wick the water away

As I put on more distance on the course, I still felt I had fresh legs on me. The Fitcounter molded heel counter – a unique Adidas feature – provided lots of comfort for my heels. However, the 8-eyelet shoelaces meant that lacing styles are limited.

My personal preference is for lacing that reduces heel slippage, and I could not have this option on me.

In the final ten kilometres of the race, cramps set in, and I alternated between jogging and walking. No issues with the pair of shoes; rather it was a user problem, duh. Upon completion, I quickly removed the shoes to check for any black toes or swells; nothing to report, all went well! And this included my completion timing too, within the shorter duration of my usual range. So, I did break my own rules by running a full marathon without breaking in the shoes – just like an artist. But I would not advocate this risky practice in normal circumstances.

Continental Rubber for ultimate traction

The Good

  • Comfortable for long distance running. 10mm drop but does not look the part
  • Bouncy and energy efficient, thus reduces fatigue and quickens recovery
  • Snug fit
  • Grippy soles

The Not-so-good

  • Sizing and fit needs to be accurate. Suggest to try shoes at retail stores and not make online purchase
  • Upper knit is quite thick. May feel hot in Singapre’s humid conditions. Suggest to wear thin, non-cushioned socks

Would I Recommend It?

Absolutely! This is one pair of very comfortable shoes for long distance running. Compared to the other Boost models, I suggest investing in this Ultraboost model if you have the appetite for an only pair at home. While elite runners may choose the Ultraboost Parley as their training shoes and switch to racers on race day, a citizen runner like me is a happy camper just to complete marathons in one piece sans injuries. It sure helps too knowing it is done with materials from recycled waste that is good for the oceans.

Have you gotten your own UltraBOOST Parley?

Iskandar Shahril

Iskandar has a soft spot to run overseas and in ultra distance events. He is currently smitten by the trail running bug and foresees multi stage racing to be his next poison. If he’s not competing on foot, you’ll likely to bump into him racing on four wheels.

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