The Newton Distance Elite sits on an original Newton frame, one that predates the current popformatting. Built for their Elite racing team, this shoe is designed as a racing flat of sorts, one that comes before the MV series but is still in production. It has the traditional set of four lugs, lugs that are less than subtle, and an original Newton look. That said, the shoe resembles the Newton Distance, and while I was not a big fan of the original model, I took to this version a little more. A bit more lightweight, a bit more flexible, I find that this shoe has more of a natural feel on the foot than the original Distance models. I could run more the way I wanted to and did not feel like I was overstriding.
The Elite has a racer build, no rubber on the heel, nearly flat heel to toe with a 2mm drop, asymmetrical lacing (the rage in shoes now). On the road it has pop, a bit of bounce, especially in the mid-foot. There is ample padding, but such padding prevents one from feeling the road; if you want feel, these are not your shoes. You know what is there, but you do not have full understanding with all of the padding and air filled compartments in the way.
Proprioception is more difficult—one must pay attention to their surrounds for they may not feel it. With this fact in mind, trail running is more difficult than my traditional shoes of choice and I have often eschewed using the model when I wanted to give them a whirl in the rotation, especially since many of my runs are multi-surface endeavors.
In terms of speed, they are great for the steady tempo run, the long race where you run one speed for a long time—think 10k and up. I’ve used them for a half marathon, and while I found them clunky at times, they raced well, had great bounce, and they did not bother my feet. Yet, when it comes to intervals they feel too big, as if there is too much shoe there for acceleration and speed fluctuations. Bouncing in and out of 400’s does not feel comfortable, and is not the shoe’s strong suit.
- Lightweight model, very little to tote around at 7.2 for the pair.
- Only a 2mm heel drop, so a little pressure is taken off the calf muscles in comparison to a completely neutral shoe.
- Decent amount of padding for a minimalist shoe, enough to allow for heavy road running at pace. You do not feel the shoe the next day.
- Extremely breathable, a Florida must. Shoe companies who do not recognize this fact are really getting things wrong.
- A general lack of flexibility. The shoe can flex when body weight force is applied, but it is more of a rigid model than I typically prefer.
- A lack of rubber on the heel. I know these shoes are made for forefoot landers, but even when running in such a pattern, people should at the very least kiss their heel to the ground. The heel is all foam and thus evaporates quickly from friction. Perhaps the racer build accounts for such construction?
- Insanely long laces. Recycled materials or not, tie them tight, double knot them, tuck them in, they still get in the way.
- Tight Achilles fit. The shoe feels tight, unbendable in that area.