Posted by: Joe English | January 1, 2009

2008 Product of the Year: Nike LunarRacer+ Running Shoe

Nike LunarRacer+

Nike LunarRacer+

Running Advice and News announces our product of the year for 2008: the Nike LunarRacer+ Running Shoe.

Nike has simply elevated the bar for the design of racing shoes with a shoe that is unbelievably light-weight, yet provides enough cushion to race at the marathon distance. The shoe is an engineering marvel that combines both new types of materials and new methods of shoe design to produce what should be considered one of the most remarkable shoes on the market today.

We award our Product of the Year distinction to only one product each year. It is given to a product that advances the sport of running and is revolutionary in its utility to runners. In 2007, we gave the award to the Nuun Active Hydration drink, because it is far and away one of the best products to re-hydrate runners while racing and training. For our 2008 pick, we choose a running shoe that is like no other — the most revolutionary racing shoe that has been created in decades.

What’s so special about the Nike LunarRacer+?
For many competitive runners looking to move to a lighter shoe for racing, there simply has not been a good solution. Many traditional “racing flats” provide so little cushioning that they would either unduly fatigue most runners or even worse potentially injure them by giving them shin splints or stress fractures. In fact, most competitive non-elite runners will race marathons in either a light-weight trainer or even their standard weight training shoes. Racing flats have been left to those with perfect biomechanics, runners who don’t weight much, or the super-fast.

In 2008, Nike introduced a new racing shoe for distance running and the marathon specifically called the Nike LunarRacer+ running shoe. The new shoe brought together Nike’s “Flywire” technology, which it had debuted in middle-distance track shoes, and its “Lunarlite” foam for cushioning. The combination makes a shoe that is very, very light, but also provides a good amount of cushion and support under the entire foot.

The first time that you pick up a shoe box with a pair of LunarRacer’s in it, you might think the box is empty. When my shoes were delivered by a friend, he told me that he had opened the box to check, because he thought one of the shoes might have been missing. The LunarRacer weighs in at 5.5 ounces, which is just over 1/4 of a pound. They are so light that people have told me that they “can’t believe” how light they are and that they are “just amazed” when they pick them up for the first time. As one runner wrote in an on-line forum: “The shoes are super light. I think they weigh as much as my iPhone”

The LunarRacer+ fits snuggly around the foot. The upper is an airy mesh that is cut close to the foot, not leaving much room for anything but your foot and light sock. The shoe uses a standard lacing system to keep itself in place. The upper contains Nike’s Flywire technology, which is a system of very thin, light-weight, cables that run up and down and diagonally across the upper. These tiny cables provide support to the foot, they way that a cable system provides support to a suspension bridge.

As the technology’s creator Nike’s Jay Meschter explained to Sneakerfreaker.com, “We started to realize the relationship of the bottom of the upper. Because you have an upper that’s holding the foot accurately, when you put on firm outsoles, they compromise the fit. With a compliant, moveable outsole, you can actually feel the cable all the way around the foot instead of just landing on this hard plank on the bottom of your foot, which causes the Flywire upper to tent out to the side.” The solution was to mate the Flywire technology onto a soft Lunarlite foam cushion underneath.

The light-weight Lunarlite foam stretches from front to back to provide an almost uniform cushion under the entire foot. Because the shoe is made for faster runners, the presence of a fair amount of cushion under the fore-foot will help many runners who need a bit more cushion under the ball of their foot.

Taking the LunarRacer+ for a Test-drive
Taking off with the LunarRacer+ for a run, you might find that the shoe sounds a little different than any shoe that you’ve ever run in before. It doesn’t have the throaty sound of a well cushioned running shoe, nor does it produces the brick-like pounding sound of a racing flat on the pavement. The shoe provides a sure-footed ride, without the sound of foam being compressed like a full-cushioned shoe.

Personally, I have logged at least three to four hundred miles in a pair of these shoes and have run them on synthetic and dirt tracks, grass, packed dirt and gravel trails and pavement. I find that they provide a very comfortable ride for doing fast-paced training and they don’t leave my legs with the beaten-up feeling that a racing flat would on the same types of runs. As a more heavily built runner (175 pounds), I have never been able to run in a racing flat without injuring myself. The LunarRacer+ is the first very light-weight shoe that has ever allowed me to do my fast-training and have my legs feel great afterward.

We took note of the LunarRacer+ this fall as more and more of the bright-yellow shoes started appearing on athletes from the Portland Marathon to the New York City Marathon and in shorter road races as well. We are now seeing them on the track, on the grass and anywhere where you’ll find faster runners doing their training and they all seem to agree that these shoes are “great”.

As one runner wrote in an on-line forum: “These shoes are positively the shoes of the future.”

We highly recommend the Nike LunarRacer+ running shoe for runners who want to step up to a very light-weight racing and training shoe, but need some cushioning at the same time. These shoes offer the perfect balance between the two.

MSRP: $100.00
Available from Nike.com by clicking here.

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon USA
Managing Editor, Running Advice and News
http://www.running-advice.com

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Responses

  1. Hey Coach Joe,
    Have you tried the Nike Lunar Trainer? If so, is there much of a difference between the Trainer and Racer? I love the Lunar Trainer but would like a little more support.


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