There has been a trend in running shoes lately where a lot of folks are switching to more natural footwear. Admittedly there is a level of comfort that all the technology seems to get in the way of when it comes to show construction, however it’s usually there for a reason. Namely, research and development. As a result, in the running community there seems to be more injuries for some resulting from the use of these kinds of footwear. This development has not been lost on Saucony (manufacturer of their own ‘natural’ shoe, the Kinvara).
The Saucony Cortana 3 combines the low-set features of the ‘natural’ construction with a more padded ride like you might find on the Saucony Triumph. Runners who are looking for heel contact will be satisfied here, and it also delivers a degree of cushioning that can keep down the body counts.
This shoe has a complete layer of Saucony’s Powergrid throughout the shoe as opposed to only in the heel. This makes for a shoe that is not as heavy, but also increases shock absorption. One aspect of the Powergrid is that it emphasizes weight reduction while being lighter than most shock systems.
For those who are looking for a different experience altogether, this is an optimal shoe to lace up. Transitions to a lower differential can sometimes lead to lower leg issues in the calf and achilles in particular, and this shoe strikes a solid note in alleviating some of those concerns. Of course technique must be addressed here, because a lower shoe requires more strength in the lower leg, and natural running is associated with forefoot strikes and a lower base encourages this technique in a more natural manner. The Cortana supports this transition while at the same time featuring some of the technology you would find in conventional running kicks.
Featuring a segment called the SRC Impact Zone, it actually is to be found in most running shoes. It basically adds flexibility and reinforces the transition from heel to toe in the gait. Some runners who transition from a high-offset to low will experience fatigue, and this shoe is designed for that change.
The outsole of the shoe is constructed from Saucony’s iBR instead of a foam outsole. The shape of this shoe does in fact limit it’s target audience as it is not available in widths. It doesn’t particularly accommodate wide and extra wide feet even though there is the FlexFilm and Sauc-Fit features that add some flexibility for different foot shapes. It does however have a nice locked-down feel. Still the key feature being the 4mm drop means that there are some consequences of running with this shoe though you wont have as many issues as running with a ‘natural’ shoe. All the same, don’t expect to make a painless switch from one style to the next; whether we are talking about the style of running or the style of shoe.
At $150 the durability might be a concern, however it is in fact an exceptional balance of both worlds. It hold up very well against premium and lightweight shoes, though it’s lack of widths does limit the market somewhat. At any rate it looks to be a great addition to the equipment of any serious runner.