Most helpful critical review
38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Not the minimalist marathoner's shoe I was looking for
on February 3, 2013
As a minimalist marathoner who keeps switching between Five Fingers, Hattori (most < 14mi runs) and Kinvara (on long runs and very high volume weeks) my first reaction to the Virrata was "Hallelujah!" and I immediately bought a pair.
After a week of running in them I can't say they're a clear winner however, I feel the sole is too thick (i.e. soft) and would have preferred a ground feel that's more similar to the firmer feeling grid type A5 (which has a 12-16mm sole compared to 18mm end-to-end on Virrata). I also don't like the goofy (thump-y, a bit like gymnastic shoes) sound the soles makes on hard even surfaces, which Hattori owners will recognize. Durability of the upper mesh has been the biggest issue I've had with Kinvaras, not sure if the Virrata's 2-mesh design will be any better. It does feel more breathable and airy than the Kinvara's and certainly the Hattori's.
The difference between 4mm (Kinvara) and 0mm (Virrata) heel-to-toe drop is immediately noticeable feeling more natural, but I could also feel my calves getting tired at the end of a 21mi long run. Not sure what I prefer for those type of runs yet.
In short I think it's great to see Saucony continue to release minimalistic shoes in general and fill the gap between Hattori and Kinvara specifically, but the Virrata is too soft and cushiony for me. I would have preferred a beefed up version of the Hattori. Considering the commercial success of similar shoes to the Virrata (like Newton's MV2), I'm sure many others will prefer the softer ride for long runs.
EDIT June 2013: I retired a pair of these after about 500mi. Like Kinvaras I owned before, the EVA sole under the balls of my feet gradually starts to compress which gradually caused the middle of the sole to push into my arch and irritate.
I raced my spring marathon (Rotterdam) in Saucony Grid type A5s, still my favorite street racers (excellent grip, response and breathability).
Toes pierced one layer of mesh but the upper mesh is still intact.
Won't be buying a new pair.