When Believe in the Run was sent the Virrata to review we posted our first impressions. Stein Langlie and Peter Stuart give the Saucony Virrata a more thorough review.
Peter: Let me say first that I’ve not particularly felt the need to move to a zero drop shoe. I’ve run in 12mm drop, 8mm drop and 4mm drop and don’t particularly feel that I have to find a way to get to zero. That said, I find that the balls of my feet get fatigued after 20 miles in most shoes. I had planned to train in the Kinvara and race in the A5, and while I feel the A5 is fast, there’s just not quite enough under the forefoot for me to feel comfortable racing over a half marathon in them. I’m sure I could do it, but I was hoping to find something light and fast that still had plenty of cushioning. Enter the Virrata.
Stripped down to strong. The Virrata is our lightest and most flexible training shoe and allows your foot to move naturally. We removed everything that isn’t helping your run improve. What remains is a feather-light, ultra flexible shoe with advanced cushioning that promotes a powerful stride and allows your foot to move the way it was meant to. Built on a 0mm offset, this shoe lets your feet do the work while providing plenty of protection from the road. The breathable mesh upper makes the shoe incredible lightweight and quick-drying to run in wet weather conditions. Weight: 6.5oz.
Breathable Mono Mesh
Internal Bootie Construction
HydraMAX™ Collar lining
Collar lining material combines superior moisture wicking properties with a plush feel for comfort
High Abrasion EVA (EVA+)
High Abrasion EVA foam that is a lighter alternative to rubber in the midsole and outsole construction
Premium carbon rubber outsole material that offers exceptional traction and high-wear properties
Triangular Lug Design
Provides traction and durability
GEOMETRY: Offset: 0mm, Heel: 18mm, Forefoot: 18mm
WEIGHTS: Men: 6.5 oz, Women: 6.0 oz
SIZES: Men: 7-13, 14, 15, Women: 5-12
Stein: I was fortunate to review the Saucony Virrata. This shoe is flashy and looks pretty slick with its two upper layers; an internal booty to keep the tongue in place and provide a “sock-like” fit, and a second external mesh to provide support while releasing heat and moisture. The outer see-through-layer is visually stunning because the shoe changes appearance from different angles. The Virrata’s ride is smooth and always feels good. Some folks might even consider these a “recovery trainer” because of the soft-yet-light combination.
The insole is soft but firm and the Virrata feels very natural with zero drop. My first run was seven miles and it went by quickly; these things are as fast they look! With every run, I notice how light they are, and at 6.5 oz you can’t find another “feather-weight” with such a plush ride. The Virrata also feels great on longer runs. These shoes are flexible and have a supple foot bed that will keep your feet happy no matter the distance.
Peter: The Virrata is super flexible and super light. Disappears underfoot (for the most part—one glaring disclaimer for me below) and feels effortless to run in. They are really nicely cushioned. They’re kind cushy but don’t abandon all road feel. They’re a really nice mix of cushion, lightness and flexibility. In fact, side to side they make the Kinvara feel a little clunky.
Peter: I had some real problems with the sizing of the Virrata. I know fit is a personal issue and I wish these shoes had fit me better. In my usual size they were fine length-wise, but too narrow across the mid-foot and caused a bit of a hot spot on the outside of one of my feet. I sized up by a half size and hoped for the best, but the shoe felt a bit big overall and still hurt a bit on the outside of my foot. Generally Saucony shoes fit me really well, so this was a surprise. They (by crude measurement) run more narrow than the Kinvara or the ride.
Stein: With 78 miles on these shoes I’m seeing significant wear on the triangular lugs in the outsole, particularly the midfoot/outside-edge area (I supinate slightly). These shoes are great on a rail-trail or gravel situation but I have been running them primarily on asphalt and cement like most city-dwellers. The deep transverse flex grooves and cushy-yet-supportive sole provides a great ride but I am still concerned that the liberal use “EVA+” sole material might not hold up past 200 miles. I would expect more strategic use of the “XT-900-Premium” carbon rubber outsole material; the Kinvara 3 for instance seems to protect high-wear areas better. I will report back on durability after another 150 miles or so.
I also wish the toe-box was a little roomier and someone with a wide foot may be disappointed. The Virrata feels a too snug in the midfoot (compared to the Kinvara 3) and the two-layer-construction seems to stiffen the upper more than I’d like. On a 21-mile run both feet had a little toe cramping in the big-toe area and I really noticed the narrowness while I was stopped to stretch the feet. Despite the slightly narrow toe-feel the Saucony Virrata is totally stable on straights and corners.
Stein: The stock black laces were OK for walking around the house but I slapped on a bright red set of Lock-Laces before my first run. These “stretchy” laces almost guarantee a great fit for any running shoe so they are compulsory for my foot comfort and shoe comparison needs.
This shoe is a perfect “transition” shoe for people who want to experiment with lower (or zero) drop shoes. With the built-in arch support of the insole and snug fit the Virrata feels like a running shoe “should”. The Virrata does not attempt to mimic other zero-drop shoes either (compared with my experiences in zero-drop Altra, Merrell and Sketchers shoes). With the Virrata, Saucony has offered edgy color combinations and a sleek design using very breathable materials. The shoe really dazzles. All runners, especially Kinvara enthusiasts, will enjoy this shoe. In the future I’d like to try all of Saucony’s running shoes to compare and contrast further.
Peter: I really wanted to love this shoe. More flexible and lighter than the Kinvara, more cushioning than the A5—sounded perfect—like the holy grail of marathon shoes. Sadly, it just didn’t fit me that well. I doubled back on my run today just to change out to a different. Shoe. Looks like my quest for the perfect shoe continues on…
If nothing else, please donate to www.stayclassy.org/peterstuart I am running the LA Marathon on March 17 to raise money for the Pablove Foundation—raising money to fight pediatric cancer. Check my page out and contribute if you can.
Peter (@theloudmouse) is a runner, triathlete, shoe addict and psychotherapist in Los Angeles, California. There, I said it. Admitting that I have a problem is the first step, right? For the past several years I’ve been on a search for the perfect shoe. I know I’m an addict because every time I think I’ve found the ‘perfect’ shoe and convince myself (and my wife) that I’m done, my mind starts to wander and I start to think that there just might be a shoe out there that’s a little better for me—that fits a little better, disappears underfoot a bit more, that miraculously keeps mile 22 of a marathon from hurting, etc. Sometimes I run in a shoe for a week before starting to dream of other shoes, sometimes it’s several months (as it has been with the Saucony Kinvara 3). Sadly, sometimes I start researching new shoes while the ones I’ve ordered are still in transit. It’s a problem. I’ve been addicted to much more expensive and destructive things in my life—so this last bastion of madness is somewhat acceptable to me. All of this is to say that I think about running shoes a lot—and I’ve run in lots of them. In the past couple of years I’ve run decent mileage in Saucony Kinvara 2 and 3, Fastwitch 4 and 5, Ride, Guide and A5; Mizuno Wave Rider 13 and Precision 12; K-Swiss Kwicky Blade Light and Kona; Brooks Pure Cadence and Flow, Brooks Green Silence, New Balance 890 Versions 1 and 2 the NB RC 1400 and Newton Distance. I’ve liked some, loved some and some…not so much.