Kinvara 3, Spira Stinger faceoff

Kinvara 3’s – a worthy successor to the original
Spira Stinger XLT’s – light, fast and comfortable

With less than six days until the LI Half Marathon, I’m still undecided about which shoes to use for the race. Six months ago I wouldn’t have hesitated to go with my Hattori’s, but I haven’t run with them much over the last two months. I’m not sure how those flat, non-cushioned shoes would feel after 13.1 hard miles, especially with my recent issues with mid-foot pain.

It has really come down to two shoes to wear – the Saucony Kinvara 3 and the Spira Stinger XLT. The Kinvara 3 is a minimal running shoe that I’d anticipated for a year, only to be initially disappointed when I finally ran in them. My issues, it turned out, were not with the shoes, but with the foot inside. An acute pain along my left mid-foot was actually a slight injury that has since healed.

The other candidate shoe, from Spira, has been a delightful surprise. I agreed to evaluate this model on Runner’s Tech Review, thinking they were the type of gimmicky running shoes I often lampoon. It turns out that the Spiras are one of the most comfortable and runnable lightweight shoes I’ve ever encountered. As far as their promise of slicing 15 seconds per mile off my pace, I’m not so sure I’m seeing that benefit. But the Stingers have carried me well over many 8+ mile runs.

I wore both pairs on my runs this past weekend and I’m definitely leaning toward the Kinvaras. While the Spiras have their energetic “Waveform” technology, the Kinvara 3’s feel like my original Kinvaras, the highest compliment I can give to a running shoe. Saturday’s 12 miler was grueling, but my feet felt great. The light weight and low platform of the Kinvara 3’s have almost convinced me to go that way. Almost.

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