Lest you think otherwise, there is more than just one brand creating maximalist running shoes. Secondly, not all maximalist shoes were created the same. Altra has been in the maximalist game for a few years now and the Olympus 1.5 is a great update to what was already a pretty good shoe. The new version continues to offer a great balance of softness and structure without being mushy or overly ambiguous. Yes, it’s very high off the ground and the proprioceptive feel for the ground is a bit muted, but the exceptional fit—which includes a secure heel, a wide, foot-shaped toe box and a dynamic lacing interface (with elastic eyelets that allow for a semi-customizable fit)—allow it to be fairly nimble for such a big shoe. The ride is soft-ish (but not marshmallowly) but also structured and stable with a little bit of an energetic pop to it (thanks to the second layer of A-Bound foam and the significant toe spring design of the front of the shoe). Although it’s a trail running shoe and best for mild to moderate trails, our wear-testers found that it worked quite well on paved roads, concrete bike paths and gravel roads, too, because the outsole tread (although enhanced from the first version) is very subtle and unobtrusive. Like all Altra shoes, it has a “zero-drop” profile, which means the foot sits on a level platform from the heel to the forefoot. That might take some getting used to for some runners, although this shoe seemed to have less of an adjustment period because of the rolling sensation from the beveled heel to the dramatic toe spring shape at the forefoot.
The Olympus isn’t a lightweight shoe—and some of our wear-testers thought it was a tad heavy—but it doesn’t run “clunky” as some heavier shoes do because of all that’s packed into the design. Our wear-testers loved this shoe for long runs, especially on multi-hour routes in the mountains. While they deemed it a good option for long-distance racing, it’s definitely not a shoe for faster running over short distances. “It’s a great long-haul shoe for the trails,” said wear-tester Dave McCormick. “It’s comfortable and forgiving from start to finish.” Said wear-tester C.J. Welter: “It’s definitely a different kind of feeling, but one that I got used to pretty quickly,” he said. “I’m new to ultrarunning and maximalist shoes, but I found this shoe to be quite agreeable for my experience level.”
This is the shoe for you if … You’re looking for a maximally cushioned shoe for long runs on roads or mild to moderate trails.
Weights: 12.2 oz. (men’s), 10.7 oz. (women’s)
Heel-toe offset: 0mm; 36mm (heel), 36mm (forefoot)
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