The ON Cloudracer Review

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The Cloudracers

Brand:  ON Running

Name: Cloudracer

Color:  Orange/Silver for both men and women

Weight:  225 grams (about 0.5 lbs)

Drop:  5mm

Cool Extras:  Patented CloudTec technology

Price: $129

After finishing a 5k, my running partner asked me, “Ashley, why did we run a 6:40 first mile?” I told her that the shoes made me do it!  The best word to describe the ON Cloudracers is explosive.   If you have ever run in track spikes, you know the feeling.  It was a joy to recapture that insane feeling of speed that I haven’t had since running track in school.  It’s no surprise that many of ON Running’s athletes (Olympians too!) choose to race in the Cloudracers – these shoes are fast!

Overview

My box of Cloudracers arrived just in time for the start of my sprint-training month.  Elegantly packaged, the shoes come with a member card and an extra color of shoelaces.   The ON website says that these shoes were designed for race performance, but they also recommend the Cloudracer for sprint workouts.   ON describes these shoes as probably the fastest in the world; their patented CloudTec “cushions” on the bottoms of the shoes are designed to absorb both vertical and horizontal impact forces and deliver energy to the runner’s gait.  The Cloudracers are especially designed to transfer energy to the forefoot to create fast, forward movement.   Furthermore, an independent study (see video below) comparing standard running shoes to ON’s collection claims that running in these shoes lowers heart rate.  With high expectations, I was ready to put these shoes to the grind.  I had three goals for testing these shoes:  analyzing their performance on the track, seeing how they ran on blacktop, and letting them fly in a race.

 

Aesthetics

In a world of Gator blue and orange, these shoes fit right in.  I felt pretty flashy putting them on at the track.  One woman took a look at them and told me that she couldn’t believe how thin they were.  Sure enough, when you take the shoes out of the box, they appear to be a bit boxy, but when you put them on, the super thin, breathable mesh of the shoe conforms to your foot like a sock.  The artistic details on the Cloudracers make them more than a shoe – the huge reflective ON logo on the tongue, the little clouds on each of the CloudTec cushions, the words “Put Me On” on the end of each lace, and on the inside heel, a neat little message than reads:  “I fly you to the finish line, secret weapon may self-destruct after 222 km” – all the design elements of a good luck charm.

Performance

These shoes perform in races!

With a newly resurfaced University of Florida track, I was anxious to get the Cloudracers out on the rubber.  It has been a long time since I was able to run on an actual racing track, and combined with the Cloudracers, I was in heaven.  I broke in the Cloudracers with a set of 8 X 100 m with a focus on leg turnover.  Again, the closest feeling to running on a track in the Cloudracers is running in spikes.  Having done sprints many times in traditional shoes, when you finish a sprint, you just stop.  In these shoes, I had so much momentum that it took an additional 10 meters to come to a stop.  Needless to say, I was impressed.  My feet were not impressed with me the following morning though.  Waking up with some arch pain reminded me that these shoes were low drop and that they require a build-up of foot strength and stability to use them properly.  A few days later, I took them out onto the blacktop for some relaxed sprints.  The CloudTec cushion’s didn’t feel quite as bouncy as on the track, as expected, but they still had a lot of spring.  Because of the light amount of material on the Cloudracers, I did have to be careful of sticks, pinecones, and rocks; if I ran over them, I certainly felt them, and it didn’t feel good.

After about three weeks of sprint training on both blacktop and the track in the Cloudracers, I felt that my feet were strong enough to race in them.  To see just how fast I could race in the Cloudracers, I tried a little trick.  The night before the 5k, I did a short sprint workout in my heavier traditional shoes, the idea being that when I kicked out at the start line, I would feel super light and be super fast.  The plan worked.  I lined up at the front of the pack and when the blowhorn went off, I went out fast.  I couldn’t believe the amount of momentum I had in the Cloudracers.  When my watched beeped at me for the first mile, I read out a pace of 6:40.  Speedy.  As I headed uphill to the finish line, I could still feel the extra spring in each of my tired steps propelling me forward.  I crossed in 20:08, and took home a 2nd place women’s title.  I was extremely impressed with the Cloudracer’s performance, and from now on, they will be my racing shoes for 5k and 10k distances.

The Breakdown

Pros

Flashiness – People will notice you in these shoes.  The Cloudracers are stylish down to the tips of the shoelaces.

Weight – These shoes come in at 0.5 lbs; insanely light, which equals insanely fast.

Technology – Sure, all shoes rave about their technology, but the CloudTec cushions are like nothing I have experienced in a running shoe before.  The only analogy I can make is running on a track with spikes on.

Cons

Shoelaces – Liz mentioned this in her review of the Cloudrunners, and I will mention it here too, the shoelaces are way too long.  I was nervous of them tripping me up while going fast.

Break-in Time – This isn’t so much a con but a word of warning.  To wear these shoes you need to have well developed stability (as there isn’t much supporting your foot) and strong feet.  For the non-rock climbers out there, I would recommend wearing other minimalist shoes to strengthen your feet before switching from a traditional shoe to a racing flat.  These shoes almost force you to run on your toes, so be aware that you may have some pain when you first run in them.

Heat – These shoes are designed to be very breathable, but at the end of sprints, and at the end of my race, my feet were on fire, to the point of being uncomfortable.  Perhaps it is due to friction with the running surface, too much movement of my foot in the shoe, or maybe just the wrong socks, but on multiple days of use, my feet were left feeling a bit friction burned.

Summary

If you are ready to diversify your shoe portfolio by adding a performance racing shoe, I highly recommend the ON Cloudracer.  The price is great for a racing flat ($129), and it is unlike any other shoe I have run in.  If you are an intermediate to advanced runner ready to win big at races, pick up a pair of Cloudracers and go get some medals!  You can purchase a pair of ON Cloudracers on their website.

On Running – ETH Zurich study from On on Vimeo.

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