Thomas: Rail vodka gets the job done if you need a mixed drink. If you’re a freshman in college it probably still works for you, even without a mixer. However, there comes a time when you want something that doesn’t feel like a Russian fighter jet turned on its afterburners on the way down your throat.
I’m not gonna say the Saucony Type A9 is a plastic jug of Sobieski, but in an age of cushioned light trainers, a traditional racing flat like the Type A9 can go down a little harsh and leave you feeling banged up the next day. That said, sometimes it’s still fun to party like the old days.
Dave: In terms of racing flats, Reebok did it well last year coming out with the Run Fast Pro. An old school, don’t-even-wear-a-sock type of shoe to burn the turns at the oval office or become that local 5K age group hero. Granted, that shoe cost $250, but what super shoe doesn’t these days.
It’s now Saucony’s turn with the Type A9, albeit at a much lower price point. I gotta admit, this entire series of shoes from them is new to me. The lightest I go is with the Kinvara, and for short volume work, I go with the Skechers Meb or Reebok Run Fast Pro.
I was excited to see what these guys have been up to over the years in the racing department. Rumor has it Jared Ward is working closely with the team in Boston. I like that dude a lot, if only for the fact that he may have the greatest mustache in running.
Thomas: Racing flats are fun! The Saucony Type A9 slides on like a glass slipper with one of the best uppers of any kind of running shoe. The magic is in the lacing system. On both the lateral and medial side, the laces lock into a stretchy, velvety perforated material. With a wide and thin tongue, the soft sides work with the lacing to create a phenomenal fit over the arch.
The collar slings low under your ankle bone and sweeps back up on the heel counter with a touch of padding for comfort. The one-ply mesh breathes nicely and is given structure from welded-on stripes. I would love to see this upper paired with a Kinvara midsole.
The outsole on the Type A9 is an improvement over previous models with more rubber coverage and a smoother feel. On the track, I had lots of grip, and on the roads, the A9 cruised through my stride.
Mine weighed in at 6.55 oz./177 grams for a size 10.5 and has a 4mm drop.
Dave: It’s loud. I like that in a racer. We had a saying back in the high school track days: “If you’re gonna rock a wild color, you better back it up.” The Type A9 is bold. It makes a statement. The shoe is clearly intended for the runner who can still bring it. I’m not sure if I still “bring it,” but this shoe makes me feel like I can.
Sizing runs a tad small on my US 9. Sockless I’m golden, but with a normally-padded sock, you may want to go up a half. The open mesh, combined with Flex Firm overlays (new for 2019), feels really nice. A racer should mold the foot. This does.
When I slipped it on, I was ready to haul. Or so I thought.
Thomas: I am spoiled. With the variety of shoes we’ve gotten over the years, I’m dialed into what I like. And I like a little bit of comfort. I know it’s a racing flat, but I still like more cushion in my speed day shoes.
I ran a tempo run and a track workout in these. Both runs were fun and fast-paced. However, the issue I had with the shoes is how my legs felt afterward, which is to say— beat up. Reebok Run Fast and Nike Streak 6 (oh how I miss you) are both lower stack shoes with a more forgiving midsole. This shoe is better suited to lighter faster runners running shorter distances.
Dave: The midsole on this shoe is made out of an SSL EVA compound. The pop is there off the forefoot, so it has that going for it, but I struggled to get to the forefoot in the first place. I attempted a few workouts on the road as well as the track (felt better at the track) and all left me going to my backup pair mid-workout. It just wasn’t working for me.
It has all the tooling to make it a monster, but it needs much more power from the midsole. Compare this to a Reebok Run Fast Pro, and Pro blows it away with PEBAX. It’s just more fun and more smooth.
Saucony claims the Type A9 has the capability to handle a full mary. I don’t even think Jared Ward would race 42k+ in this. It’s just too minimal and better handled for those quick repeats, especially on the track.
Where will you like this shoe? Road Fartlek, 400m repeats, 5K to 15K tops, depending on runner biomechanics. Maybe a broken Tempo on the track.
Dave: Disappointed. I wanted to like this baby. It just doesn’t agree with my foot. I can see the Type A9 working well for the high school 1-2 miler.
Back to Reebok.
Thomas: As I mentioned earlier, these shoes are built for faster, lighter runners, and probably younger too. Young enough that if you still pre-game with rail vodka, these may be the shoe for you. Otherwise, if you got the rubles, go with the Reebok Run Fast Pro.
You can pick up the Saucony A9 from Running Warehouse for $89.95 using the shop link below.Shop Saucony Type A9