|Ian Adamson at Newton Labs|
I’ve been a fan of Ian Adamson forever. For you young ‘uns out there who might not know who he is, let me spell it out: He is the most successful adventure racer of all time with seven world championship wins, 22 world championship podium finishes, 18 international adventure race championship titles and Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at the ESPN X-Games. He is a three time world record holder for endurance kayaking (262 miles in 24 hours.) Ian has competed internationally in adventure racing, triathlon, canoeing, kayaking, orienteering and sailing.
I used to watch him on TV during EcoChallenge coverage. So to say I was excited to sit down with him at Newton Running Labs while in Boulder, where he’s director of R & D, would be an understatement. I wanted to delve into exactly why Newton’s are all the rage–what are these shoes really all about? Ian answered all my questions and I left feeling enlightened (and ok, a little starstruck too!). Here’s snapshot of what I learned:
Newton doesn’t claim to be a minimalist shoe company. There’s still cushion in there, but not the kind of built-up nonsense (EVO foam) you find in traditional running shoes. What Newton does that sets it apart is provide a zero-drop shoe, meaning you won’t have a bigger heel height than forefoot height.
Why is this important? Because it will allow you to find your midfoot/forefoot when running. HOWEVER–putting on a Newton shoe will not make you a forefoot/midfoot striker. It can help, yes, but you’ve got to do the rest. As Ian said, it’s like buying a new golf club–it’s a tool but not a magic bullet.
I also asked Ian about the high price point of a Newton, often in the $150 range. He explained that Newton uses a two-step manufacturing process, which adds in a good deal of cost.The materials that go into a Newton shoe are also different from traditional running shoes. The foams or gels that most companies use are cheap by comparison to the lugs on the bottom of a Newton shoe, which the company claims delivers an energy return other shoes won’t.
What does Newton do with the profits it makes? In many cases, gives back to charities such as Trickle Up and One World Running. Newton also funds its share of studies, like one they’re doing with children afflicted with cerebral palsy, and others that deal with the role of shoes in proper running form.
Newton has also been a big proponent of proper running education. Just about any given weekend you can find a free two-hour Newton running clinic somewhere in the country (check the web site for more deets on one near you).
The bottom line–I look at Newton’s as an ideal transition shoe for people curious about natural running. It can also serve as a good race shoe for those who run barefoot or minimalist but don’t want to race that way. Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, owner of Two Rivers Treads in Shepherdstown, WV, and a 2:30ish marathoner at the age of 44, is a great example of this in action as you’ll always find him in Newton’s on race day.
Speaking of Mark, a big thanks to him for arranging my time with Ian; and thanks to Ian for taking the time with me. You made my day!