NRC Full Shoe Review

Brooks Mach 12


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Review Summary

by Pete Larson, of RunBlogger

Amid the rush of new so-called minimalist shoes hitting the market, it’s easy to overlook the fact that just about every shoe manufacturer already makes shoes that fit pretty squarely in this category (depending on how you define minimalist - some prefer to call these "reduced" or "transitional" shoes). In fact, current offerings in the road and spikeless cross-country flat lineups may be far more “minimal” than many of the so-called “minimalist” shoes currently being produced. What’s more, many of these shoes can be purchased for half the price (or less) of some of the more heavily marketed minimalist offerings,

Its predecessor, The Mach 11 has a low heel, only a 4mm heel-to-toe drop, and is very lightweight (7.1 oz in men’s size 9); and it fits fairly narrow in the midfoot and heel. I have now put in about 35 miles in the Mach 12, and am ready to render my review.

The Mach 12 is a complete redesign in terms of both appearance and construction. While it is still a narrow shoe and might not be well suited for a wide foot, the Mach 12 fits my foot better and is noticeably wider in the midfoot – it locks onto my foot like a glove. Like the Mach 11, the Mach 12 rides very close to the ground. Given the low heel, this would be a good choice for someone trying to transition to a more midfoot (entire sole) or forefoot gait. Brooks also managed to shave a full ounce of the weight of the Mach 12 (6.0 oz in size 9), making it one of the lightest shoes that I own – this is a huge plus for me.

My only complaint about the Mach 12 is the exaggerated toe spring (the upturning of the toe). I generally don’t mind a bit of toe spring, but in the Mach 12 it is noticeable when I put them on, but less so when I’m actually running.

I have nothing but good things to say when it comes to the performance of the Mach 12. It’s a great shoe to run in, it handles mixed terrain well, and it doesn’t get in the way too much when I try to work on moving my landing more toward my mid/forefoot (the presence of a slight heel raise does make it a bit harder than in my VFF Bikilas though). For example, I took them to the track last week and did 20x200 intervals at about 5:40 min/mile pace and was able to shorten my stride and land on the forefoot almost the entire time – it’s a near perfect shoe for speedwork.

Yesterday afternoon I did my 20 mile long run in them over very hilly terrain (wasn’t planned, they were the only shoes I had with me when I decided to go) – while I wouldn’t recommend them as a marathon shoe unless you are very well adapted to a low-drop shoe with little cushion, I made it through the 20 miles without much trouble.

Lately, the Mach 12 has also been one of my racing shoes of choice. I finished second overall in a small, local 5K in them (my best ever finishing place), and I set a 4-mile PR in them on a very hilly course in early July.. Their light weight and low ride makes them an ideal shoe for running fast! Plus, being able to purchase a low drop shoe that is built close to the ground for less than $50 makes the Mach 12 a great choice for anyone wishing to experiment with less shoe without breaking the bank.

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