I was happy when my former running coach, Eric Orton, said he had a line of shoes coming out. Eric taught me the importance of cadence, running economy, running-specific leg, core and glute strength (in other words, everything I know). I am all ears when Eric suggests a shoe, so him 'making' a shoe! Even better! <<--in summary, I had high expectations.
The first Born2Run shoe is road shoe available in red or flourescent yellow. The zero drop (0mm heel to midfoot differential) has become a requirement for running shoes for me. The shoe is very lightweight at about 7ounces, comparable to Merrells or the latest Vibrams. When I saw the stack height I feared there would be little ground feel. The split toe, or cloven sole, seemed novel. I have Vibram five fingers and Zem Gears so I'm no stranger to having things between my toes.
I chose a true to size for me. Sizing is a little bit of a science to me. It's not about where your toe lands in the front of the shoe, it's about lining up the flexible part of the shoe with the flexible part of your foot <see pic>. My toes' bend lines up with the natural bend in the shoe (as measured from the heel) perfectly. <In summary the distance from your heel to your toes' hinge point should match the hinge point of the shoe>. Fortunately, in this case, this shoe is flexible enough that if you're off a bit it won't matter.
Putting the shoe on I first noticed how thin the material between my toe was! It was unnoticeable. As is explained repeatedly on mobilitywod.com, the gap between my big toe and the rest of my toes gets bigger as my feet get stronger - the cloven shoe helps with that. Some people with weaknesses or tightly crammed toes may not find this as natural a fit as I did. I then noticed even though the stack height is tall, the material is thin enough that I had great ground feel. I could tell if I was standing on a quarter. The shoe comes with two pairs of tabi socks, so i paired them together. I then tried my injinji toe socks and found them to also be a great fit, unobtrusive even.
My first day of wearing them, I took them though a crossfit workout that included box jumps, rope climbs, weightlifting, and running with weights. The shoe performed very well and didn't slip when sweaty. In fact, the upper gripped the rope well! The shoe also gave good lateral stability and didn't roll across my foot the way Softstar runamocs, or Zem Gears do for such workouts.
So far I have run in them on paved trails, roads, sidewalks and track for 5-9 mile runs. My feet felt a little tight post-run; I think I'm calling upon more foot muscles with these shoes than I need for my Merrell trail gloves. Whenever I feel sore, I'll change shoes the next day and swap back and forth. I haven't needed to do that in my B2Rs. I've ran with them for 4 days in a row and counting, hill repeats, hard intervals, recovery. All good!
Fit, ground feel, flexibility are all A+. No seams inside to annoy me, achilles tendon guard is low and flexible. Can not be improved. My two tiny complaints:
a.) my laptop cable has once gotten caught in between the toe seam! I took a couple steps and yanked the cord out (thank goodness it was a Mac - magnetic connector!)
b.) this little liner at the bottom worked its way out of the shoe as I ran! <see pic> it was travelling up my heel during my speed workout day. Funny that i'll blame the shoe, although it's probably my form - my problem! ;)
I look forward to beating these shoes up some more and talking more about their longevity.
Below is a quick, unnarrated vid showing the difference in heft and flexibility between the Brooks True Grit and the B2R Road shoe. Notice the True Grit's split toe is really artificial, just a slice in the tread.