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New Balance Fresh Foam Review and Launch Party

To help promote their new Fresh Foam 980 shoes, New Balance hosted a test run and launch party at Big Peach Running Co., my favorite running store.

New Balance Fresh Foam 980

Men’s New Balance Fresh Foam 980

New Balance Fresh Foam Review

It seems that every couple of weeks, there’s a new running shoe coming out that promises to change everything. The shoe is bathed in plenty of marketing spin. The Science of Soft (because all other shoes are are wizardry). But the shoe does genuinely back up the marketing with a solid product.

New Balance Fresh Foam Shoes

Sportin’ Shoes

I’ve been looking for a good workhorse shoe for a while–one that is soft enough for a long run, but light and responsive enough to still crank out a quality effort and pace. It’s hard to that blend because many of the high-cushion shoes come out bulky, while the low-profile shoes are just too firm.

The Fresh Foam 980 feels like a nice hybrid of the two styles. It was a very comfortable ride, but I didn’t feel like I was sinking in. I could feel the road, but it was more of a tap than a smack or a pounding. My foot felt pretty well supported and cradled in the shoe and it felt true to size, with a fairly roomy toe box.

My only complaint about the shoe is just that they don’t yet offer a stability version. If they had one, I would have bought a pair that night. This model still felt comfortable to me, but I just didn’t want to chance it.

Test Run in New Balance Fresh Foam

The best way to evaluate a pair of running shoes is to run in them, of course. So we went out on a 3-mile test run in the shoes. We had even had two-time Olympian Barbara Parker, who I had met previously at the RunDisney Atlanta Meetup, as a special guest.

New Balance Representatives

Team Fresh Foam! Brian Dugan, Barbara Parker, Me, Sean Burris

We ran at a pretty casual pace for the first three miles and then picked it up on mile three. I got a chance to talk to Barbara a bit and she gave me some advice on training, shoe choice and running form. We also discussed the shoes. We both agreed that the shoes are really nice–comfortable and cushioning, but very responsive.

We came right up on the store and I was watching the mileage. Just about 3 miles. Barbara asked where we were and we both decided we wanted to hit 3 miles exactly. Right as we hit the front door, my GPS said 2.99. No, no, this won’t do. We threw the door open and stepped in, just a few steps, and my watch beeped for 3 miles. Done!

Barbara’s husband looked at us with our dramatic entrance and asked if we were racing. We both responded: “No, we had to hit 3 miles!” But looking back on that moment, I really wish we had raced just one bit of the run. She would have left me in her dust, but I can’t imagine ever getting the chance to race an Olympic runner again. If I do get the chance, I’m there,  eagerly prepared to be handily beaten.

Launch Party

After the run, we all joined New Balance for a fun launch party, complete with a DJ. What a great time! They catered the event with food and beer. And of course, plenty of promotional items tied to the shoes such as chemistry flasks (science) and marshmallows (soft)–Science of Soft.

New Balance Fresh Foam Promo Items

Let’s make excellent happen. And drink scientific beer.

They had a live feed with the shoe engineers and anyone could ask a question by tweeting with their hashtag: #FreshFoam or #FreshFoamATL. I asked about additional versions coming out and they responded that they have a Fresh Foam trail shoe version coming out in July.

This was a great evening and New Balance and Big Peach put on a great launch to promote the shoe. My thanks to them for the event.

Running group at Brookhaven Big Peach Running Co

Big Thanks to New Balance and Big Peach Brookhaven

Note: This was a public event and I received no financial compensation for this post. My thoughts are my own without any influence from others. Except they gave me food and drink. That makes me happy.

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