Saucony Fastwitch 3/4 Review
Update: I wrote this article about the FT3 and Saucony have since released the follow-up Fastwitch 4. It's fractionally lighter than the old version but the same great plush fit is there and I can detect no difference in the shape of the shoe. There's no chance of not being noticed in a pair of these which may not be to everyone's taste but personally I love the bright colour!
Still a favourite shoe for me - the old one wasn't broke and for once they've not tried to fix it!
If you enjoy racing and want to get your times down I strongly recommend getting yourself a pair of racing shoes for the job. Because you're constantly lifting your shoes off the ground against gravity, gramme for gramme a weight saving here is much more effective than saving it anywhere else. There is also something special about putting on a pair of performance shoes for that target race which can just boost your mental state a notch and improve the chances of that elusive pb!
The Fastwitch has been my choice for speedwork and racing for several years now. There used to be two variants of the shoe in its previous incarnation; the 'Speed' intended for races up to 10k in length and the 'Endurance' aimed at longer distances up to the half marathon and beyond. The Endurance boasted a small medial post (ie had some stability features) and additional cushioning.The Fastwitch 3 comes in just one variant with a stripped-down design reminiscent of the 'Speed' but with the medial post of the 'Endurance'. The shoe weighs a mere 210g - lighter than the old Endurance model and light enough to feel like you're almost running barefoot when you're used to bashing out the majority of your miles, as I do, in a Mizuno Wave Rider/Saucony Ride-weight shoe at 100g or so heavier.
The shoe is very comfortable to wear - slipper-like really. There is a soft material around the back of the shoe that feels surprisingly plush and little structure to the upper so that it moulds to the shape of your foot very quickly.
As you'd expect from a racing shoe, weight savings have been made wherever possible. The upper is a lightweight mesh and the cushioning both to the forefoot and under the heel is stripped down. The forefoot outsole features islands of blown rubber cushioning and around the heel the crashpad is arranged in the form of a horseshoe. Land on a stone under your forefoot and you will certainly know about it!
Because of the lightweight materials used on the outsole you wouldn't expect this shoe to last as well as your standard trainer and it doesn't. However I have consistently achieved 250-300 miles from a pair which I consider excellent, especially given the price. I also do a lot of my running on a riverside trail which is covered with small, loose stone chippings - probably the worst possible surface if you're looking to extend the life of the shoe as much as possible! The photo shows a new shoe alongside a shoe that's run 259 miles for comparison.
I run predominantly on my forefoot, especially during races and I find that the heel barely wears at all whereas the forefoot takes the brunt of the punishment. The effect from the medial post is extremely mild partly because it's very small but also because the more you run on your forefoot the less benefit you get from this type of feature. It does however add some structure to the shoe and I would prefer it was there rather than not.
I use this shoe for marathons but am 64kg and running sub 2:40 pace. I'd strongly suggest trying them in a shorter race first - preferably a half - if you're planning on using them for the marathon if you're much heavier or are spending much more time on your feet during the race.
In short this is an excellent shoe for a value price.Andrew