In early October, I got my pair of Brooks PureConnect. I took them right out for a six mile run and posted my initial thoughts. Overall, I thought they were OK, but I wasn't totally sold. I liked the way they looked, the 4mm heel-to-toe drop and the way they fit my funny shaped feet. But I thought they felt heavy for a 7.2 ounce shoe, were a little bulkier than the shoes I usually run in and was hoping for a more flexible shoe.
Since then, I've run over 150 miles in the shoes and feel like it's an appropriate time to update my thoughts. I thought they were a good looking shoe out of the box, but they really show dirt well too:
This shoe has really grown on me. In large part that's because, like most Brooks running shoes, it really fits my feet well - better than nearly any other shoe I've tried. However, I have changed my mind about one thing regarding the fit - the toe box is much narrower than I initially thought. I think that my initial impression of roominess was because they the shape of toebox has length in the center to comfortably fit my extra long middle toes. But the more I've run in them, the more I've noticed that the toe box is a bit narrow and tight. This doesn't bother me a ton, but I do notice it and wish it were a little wider.
One of my biggest initial concerns was that they felt bulky and heavy. But I'm over that. They still don't feel nearly as fast as my New Balance MT 101 or K-Swiss K-Ruuz. That means that these shoes wouldn't be my choice for speedwork or a race. But they've been great for everyday training.
I do a fair amount of my weekly mileage on trails and fireroads. The traction off-road is fine and the shoes are great on fireroads. The upper and sole have held up well so far.
The soles do leave a bit to be desired on rocky trails. Toward the end of one seven mile run on a rocky trail (Sullivan Canyon), the bottoms of my feet were a bit achy from pointy rocks poking into the sole. Also, the "gaps" in the foam in the forefoot of the sole are the perfect size for rocks to get stuck in.
It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's damn annoying. But if I have to choose between taking a little weight out of the sole and occasionally getting a rock stuck in there, so far, I'll deal with the rocks.
My other complaint - and I think this is part of my issue with the comfort (just because it fits my foot, doesn't necessarily make it comfortable) - is that the midfoot of the shoe isn't flexible. And as I've gotten used to wearing more flexible shoes, I think the stiff sole of the PureConnect makes my feet achy.
Finally, I still don't know what that split toe design does. I don't notice any benefit from it, but since it doesn't bother me or seem to have any detrimental effect, I guess I don't really care.
After saying all of that, I can sum this review up in one sentence: The PureConnect might have its flaws, but I did just order a second pair and am planning on running in them at the NorthFace Endurance Challenge Championship 50 mile this weekend in San Francisco. If I'm choosing to run 50 miles in them, there's gotta be a lot good about them!
There are plenty of other reviews of the PureConnect online, mostly pretty mixed. Here are some of the ones I enjoyed reading: Jeroen Van Geelen on Slowtwitch, Runblogger and The Middle Miles.