Shoe of the Week: Asics MetaRacer
Asics' entry into the carbon-fiber wars is a light, low-to-the-ground, energetic racing flat.
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Asics MetaRacer Review
Weights: 6.7 oz. (men’s size 9), 5.5 oz. (women’s size 7)
Heel-Toe Offset: 9mm (24mm heel, 15mm forefoot)
ASICS was the last of the big brands to roll out its carbon-fiber plated distance-racing shoe this year, but it was definitely worth the wait. It debuted on the feet of key ASICS athletes at the U.S. Olympic Trials in February, including Sara Hall, Lindsay Flanagan and Emma Bates, but it only became available to purchase on June 26.
The genesis for the MetaRacer lies in the firm GuideSole rocker technology and toe-spring design that ASICS debuted last year in the MetaRide, GlideRide and EvoRide shoes. But unlike those staunch and sturdy trainers, the MetaRacer is a light, low-stack-height, very energetic racing flat. It’s built on a platform of two different soft foams, but it’s the curvy carbon-fiber plate and the rocker geometry that’s the special sauce.
Although the GuideSole technology has been in development for years, everything about this shoe is new. ASICS says it incorporated a Cellulose Nanofiber into the low-durometer Flytefoam compound that allows it to offer both shock-absorbing cushioning and a bouncy, energetic demeanor that pairs with the curved carbon-fiber plate and the significant toe-spring design that results in a fluid rolling sensation throughout the gait cycle. The monofilament, hydrophobic upper is perforated for optimal breathability and fits snug around the foot similar to how track spikes fit and feel. The heel is reinforced with a lightweight, flexible plastic frame, while a breathable, minimalistic tongue and a drainage port in the toe box round out the MetaRacer’s race-ready design.
This Shoe is for You If…
You’re looking for a light and fast, carbon-fiber racing flat with a good amount of proprioceptive feel for the ground, you’ll appreciate the shape and feel of the MetaRacer. In contrast to the high-off-the-ground sensation of the Hoka CarbonX and Nike Vaporfly family, the relatively low stack heights of the MetaRacer give it a close-to-the-ground feeling much the way the ASICS DS-Racer did for years.
I’ve been running in the MetaRacer since late February when I received a production model for wear-testing. I’ve run moderate to fast speed work sessions on the track, tempo runs of varying lengths on the road and a few fartlek-style workouts. Having run all of the carbon-fiber shoes on the market, I immediately appreciated the fit and feel of the MetaRacer for how different it was. The low-slung sensation feels more natural and less bouncy than some of its contemporaries in my opinion. It feels moderately soft at slower speeds, but moderately firm and springy at faster speeds. Accordingly, I found the shoe felt smoother and more efficient at speeds faster than 6-minute mile pace and extremely smooth and efficient at 5:20 pace. It felt okay but less fluid at speeds slower than 7:30/mile pace, partially because of the soft sensation in the heel at those paces.
The Bottom Line
The MetaRacer is fast, fluid and fun. It’s different than the original carbon-fiber plate shoes, but can still cover the half marathon and marathon distances effectively. But it also seems more viable for shorter, faster races and workouts. Based on my wear-testing, I would definitely consider wearing it for mile races on the road, as well as 400m to mile repeats on the track and 5K and 10K races. Although it’s clear that the springy, max cushioned shoes with carbon-fiber plates are effective, it seems that ASICS has found a lower-to-the-ground design paradigm that works well, too.