Road testing the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v13 with Hunter Athletics
Editor’s note: This feature is brought to you by New Balance and the brand-new Fresh Foam X 1080v13, which drops on 13 October. Follow us over the next couple of months as New Balance supports a group of everyday runners, drawn from leading run crews across Australia and New Zealand, to take on the New York City Marathon.
New Balance makes no bones about where the legendary Fresh Foam X 1080 sits in its roster. They say, “If we only made one running shoe, that shoe would be the 1080. What makes the 1080 unique isn’t just that it’s the best running shoe we make, it’s also the most versatile.”
The best and the most versatile. Dang. Obviously there’s something in those claims, because the 1080 is a shoe so popular it’s about to hit its 13th iteration. We’ve managed to get our hands on a few pairs ahead of their hotly anticipated release next month. To help you decide whether this is the shoe for you, we put the 1080v13 to the test with four runners from Melbourne crew Hunter Athletics.
(Sidebar: if you’re interested in Hunter, it all begins with their legendary early morning Track Tuesdays at Olympic Park. “Just show up, be friendly, and run hard,” as they say on the website.)
“I converted to New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080s from another brand earlier this year – on recommendation from a friend – and haven’t looked back.”
To get back on track, New Balance calls the v13 a consistent progression from the v12. So you know your feet are in good hands – so to speak – with one of the great all-round running shoes. Built on the Fresh Foam X midsole (containing at least 3% bio-based content made from renewable resources), the shoe’s “pinnacle underfoot cushioning experience” remains. Those who want to know what has changed should concentrate on the “updated midsole mapping, which applies more foam to wider areas of the midsole and increases flexibility at the narrower points”.
That’s applied to a 6mm drop over a rocker contour finished with a seductive topographic texture on the sides of the sole. The high-stack midsole is protected by an NDurance rubber outsole for durability in high-wear areas. The lightweight shoe is finished with an engineered Hypoknit mesh upper, for a more streamlined overall design.
It all sounds incredibly promising – what do some of the Hunter regulars make of it?
Four-time Olympic mogul skier Britt Cox is no stranger to intensive training.
“I did a lot of running as cross-training throughout my career as an elite freestyle skier and always loved it, so I’ve been running since my teens,” Britt says.
Since shelving her competitive skis, Britt has been involved in various roles in sports broadcasting and is looking ahead to taking up a new corporate role in 2024.
“Now that I’ve retired from competitive skiing, I have continued to run and enjoyed the sense of community it provides and the opportunity to scratch my competitive itch,” she says.
“A few friends introduced me to Hunter four years ago when I spent some time off-snow rehabbing a shoulder injury. It was amazing to be welcomed into a community while I was missing my sport and my teammates. This same sense of community that helped me while I was injured during my skiing career has been invaluable over the past 12 months as I adjust to life after elite sport.
“Being an amateur runner has been humbling, but I’ve been enjoying the fast growth curve, and the Hunter community has been both inspiring and encouraging.”
She’s now training for her first Olympic-distance triathlon, The Noosa Tri, in early November.
“As a newbie to triathlon, I haven’t got any previous times of my own to compare with. That being said, the competitor in me will be chasing smooth transitions and a time that will give me a stretched challenge to beat next year.”
Britt had been running in a previous version of the 1080 for the past few months, so she was keen to try out its next generation.
“I converted to New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080s from another brand earlier this year – on recommendation from a friend – and haven’t looked back. The new v13 feels like an elevated version of this shoe I’ve come to love. The bliss point of running shoes!”
Britt says she was impressed by both the cushioning and stability.
“Mogul skiing has taken a big toll on my joints over the course of my career, so the cushioning of a running shoe is a really important element to me. This shoe ticks that box.”
“The stability of the shoe is excellent. This would have been the perfect shoe for my pre-ski warm-up, which involved a lot of change-of-direction agility work and plyometrics,” Britt says.
The 1080v13 would cover for everything from short intensive sessions to long runs, Britt reckons.
“I’m stoked to have found a shoe that is not only feels perfectly suited to my feet but is also perfect for the type of runner that I am. I can use this shoe for shorter interval sessions and for my longer endurance runs.
“The Fresh Foam X 1080v13 is a great shoe for anyone who loves running, but especially for those who are looking for a versatile shoe that will provide comfort for long runs and responsiveness for faster pace work.”
Living in South Yarra, Adrian is a senior buyer in the retail sector. He’s been running for as long as he can remember but until recently that was in the context of keeping fit for the sports field.
“I played sports growing up, so running has always been part of my life in some way, shape or form. But it’s probably been the last two to three years when I’ve really developed a passion for the sport and the lifestyle it brings,” Adrian says.
A chance encounter in 2020 introduced him to Hunter. “Right place, right time one Tuesday morning at Olympic Park. It was truly inspiring to see so many people running together. I had to be a part of it, and I haven’t looked back since,” he says.
Currently, he's training for the Chicago Marathon next month. “I want to have fun and enjoy the experience but also to bring home a PB and break three hours. I’ll give it my best shot.”
When it comes to the 1080v13, Adrian says, “It’s a good-looking shoe. It’s chunky, soft and comfortable.” That comfort comes from the famed Fresh Foam X midsole. It’s updated mapping is based on 3D motion and pressure mapping from real athletes to create the best balance between cushioning and stability.
“It’s light, spongy and supportive,” Adrian says. He was surprised that such a comfortable ride could feel so fast.
“You can really feel the rocker shape when landing which provides that quick bounce. It’s much faster than I expected.”
The Hypoknit air mesh upper also met with approval. “The elastic top of the forefoot creates a secure fit. Not too firm but firm enough to not cause movement,” Adrian says.
Adrian says he’s looking forward to using the shoe for his easy mid to long runs, and that the 1080v13 should suit “anyone who loves to stay active, whether it be short runs, long runs or for everyday casual wear”.
A content manager for the AFL Players’ Association, Jenna Fulton has been running since primary school, beginning with cross country and Little Athletics.
“From there, I got into triathlon towards the end of primary school and did that for a while. When I quit triathlon at 19, I stopped running for a couple of years due to trying other sports and some injuries.
“When I started back up running in 2018–19, it was due to a great running culture at my old work and from there I just learned to love it again and was able to use it to do challenges for Movember and stuff like that.”
Jenna only moved to Melbourne from the Gold Coast around three months ago; she was introduced to Hunter by a friend.
“My good friend and Hunter legend Anna Coldham had to do some strong persuading to get me there – I assumed I was too slow and unfit – but I went down to Track Tuesday and haven't looked back.”
She’s currently training for the Melbourne Half Marathon. “I haven't actually gotten to a start line to race a half before due to injury or unforeseen circumstances, so I'm excited to give it a crack and see how I go.”
“Super comfy” is how Jenna describes the 1080v13. “They've definitely got some great bounce to them,” she says.
That energy return doesn’t compromise stability, though. “I've had some tendinopathy issues in the last few weeks and I enjoy how stable the shoe feels for that.”
Jenna is prone to blisters but she felt confident in the 1080v13’s fit, lockdown and upper.
“I love having a shoe where you don't have to think about them while you’re running, if that makes sense. I haven't had to really wonder if I'm going to get a blister or if something isn't comfortable or if they're heavy. They're just a worry-free shoe!”
She says sees the v13 filling a spot in her rotation for long runs as well as recovery runs. She would recommend them to anyone who is just starting out and looking for comfort while building up their distances; they’ll also suit those who are already clocking solid miles but who crave more comfort from their daily ride.
Architect Pravish Prakash began running with a social group from his gym in his previous home of Hobart about a decade ago, before he moved to Melbourne.
These days he lines up for races on the mainland and the Apple Isle. He’s booked spots in the Run Prix half marathon at Albert Park (24 September), the Melbourne Half three weeks later (15 October) and then the Burnie Ten a fortnight later on 29 October.
Hoping to go sub-80 in those two half marathons, Pravish says the bonds he’s formed at Hunter are seeing him through this busy block of races.
“I spotted Track Tuesday on my morning run around Olympic Park and via Instagram. I decided to turn up one Tuesday and enjoyed the welcoming encouragement from everyone.”
Pravish says he’ll use the 1080v13 three or four times a week in his daily rotation.
“The Fresh Foam X 1080v13 is one of the most comfortable shoes I've run in. The upper cradles my foot well, and the stability is great for my easy daily runs.”
“To my mind, the 1080 is a great shoe for anybody looking for an easy daily or a long weekend run. It’s an all-rounder, for anybody who is new to running or for somebody who runs daily.”
Thanks, Hunter crew. The Fresh Foam X 1080v13 is available from 13 October. Head over to the New Balance site to register your interest.