Jenny: People always freak when a shoe company discontinues THEIR SHOE. I’m sure Ascend lovers were skeptical when Mizuno decided to rid their line of it (along with like 5 others this year!). What replaced the Ascend were two trail specific shoes: The Kazan and The Hayate. I’ll be reviewing the former…
I’m picky about my trail shoes. I have found very few that I like and even fewer that haven’t given me a hot spot on my big toe. Most of my miles are asphalt, pea gravel and concrete but the majority of my races are trail, so I’m always on the hunt for the perfect shoe. In the recent past, I’ve run in the Brooks Pure Grit, Saucony Kinvara Trail and Pearl Izumi N1 Trail–the Pearl being my fave. I was skeptical of trying a shoe with such a high heel to toe offset (12 mm according to Running Warehouse) but it didn’t seem to bother me on the trails. I did find that it messed with my gait on the road, however–maybe not so much my gait but I felt something in my achilles, which is rare with my shoe choices. Yes, I took the trail shoe on the road for the sake of comparison. I had run in the Ascend on the road, so thought it was only fair to give it a go in the Kazan. I did wear it around to walk in for a couple days and I have to say, it was a very comfortable “lifestyle” shoe. I’m on my feet for 8+ hours on concrete and my feet didn’t feel fatigued at the end of the day.
I’m usually a true 8 in all shoes running but the 7.5 worked alright for this shoe. I don’t think it necessarily ran that big but with the comfy seamless upper, it fit nicely…snug but not tight, narrower than it’s predecessor. There is a stitched toecap that sometimes messes with me but lengthwise these hit just right for me. It’s lighter, too–8oz, opposed to 9.5 with the ascend. I think all the missing sewn seams cut down on the weight, as well as a trimmed down outsole.
Stein: The Mizuno Wave Kazan was plush and enjoyable. Bombing down rocky declines, sailing over roots and rocks, and running through streams and mud were always comfortable due to the midsole’s blown foam, aggressive outsole lugs and the thoughtfully constructed upper. The upper was designed with a very comfortable toebox allowing my feet to splay and move naturally. I ran several miles on the road and the Kazan felt great (at first) even when waterlogged. The Kazan feels really stable. On the trail these shoes felt fast and even without a rock plate they were highly effective in tough spots.
Jenny: They’re a little psychedelic with Chinese Blue-Alaskan Red-Purple Passion…yeah, hippie swirls and all. I’ve come to embrace weird color combos and realize that soon enough they’ll be covered in mud so it’s not a deal breaker.
Stein: Out of the box, there was some heel slip and I had to lace them all the way to the top to fix it. Heel to toe drop gave me an experience that was far from my normal; none-the-less the plush ride seemed to mostly make up for it. On the road my stride was affected by the 12mm heel-to-toe grade, with a lot more heel striking and clunkiness than I am used to. While this is a good trail shoe they may not be appropriate if you have many miles of road in your training run or race.
Jenny: I thought that they handled well on the trails–responsive, with a flexible sole, bending in the forefoot and not so much in the arch, as the Ascend had. There was plenty of tread but not ridiculously aggressive where running on different surfaces felt jarring. It’s a trail shoe and not intended for road running but with small stretches of it, very doable.
This seems to be a great lighter weight, more responsive alternative to a stiff Brooks Cascadia with a similar heel to toe drop…I still prefer a more “minimal” shoe but felt plenty protected from the elements in the Kazan. I couldn’t find anywhere that it had a rockplate and based on where it flexed, I doubt it has one. The tread was such that I didn’t feel like it was needed and would’ve only added to the weight.
If you’re looking for a trail shoe that runs more like a road shoe, the Kazan is worth giving a try.
Stein: Since these shoes are fairly flexible (blown foam soles with no shank in the arch area), they feel really good. I tend to get caught up in the stiffness of a shoe marketed with built-in “stability” or “support” – but these shoes never tried to control my gait. The Mizuno Wave Kazan is a good mid-distance trail shoe and seems to fit true to size. They are comfortable, with great padding and overall trail traction is awesome. While this was my first Mizuno, I’m looking forward to wearing more of this brand in the future.