Skechers GORun Ultra 2

While the GORun Ultra (GRU) may seem to have been around for a number of years, it’s hard to imagine that the thickest shoe in the Skechers Performance range only made its debut a year ago. In fact, I got my hands on v1 in time for the 2014 Titi 50. 2014 saw 2 releases of the GRU, the v1  and the Nite Owl version. Both the v1 and Nite Owl brought me to the finish lines of Titi, P50 and many long slow training runs with no injuries.

A year on, it was time for an update on the GRU and that came out of the blue a couple of weeks back. I knew an update was forthcoming and have even read the early reviews of some shoe geeks in the States but didn’t expect to find the GRU2 on our shores that soon after the Stateside release. I opted for the black-yellow colorway because I thought they looked pretty badass. Nick’s blue/lime green shods look pretty sweet too.

The GRU2 is essentially the same shoe as the v1. Sure you get the flashy upper (which I’ll dig in shortly) but everything else is the same. From the Resalyte midsole down to the outsole and position of the plugs. As with all the company’s performance models, the GRU2 comes with extra laces and removable Agion infused sockliners.

Because the GRU2 sees no changes other than the cosmetics, the wearer will still enjoy the typical smooth and plush ride of the GRU. The toebox is generous in width and height, easily accommodating the runner’s swollen feet as they toiled under the hot sun and hard tarmac (painful memories of P50 are flooding back now!).

The GRU2’s flashy upper has been updated with the large Skechers S occupying most of the lateral and medial sides. Other motifs such as little triangular bits keep to the current theme of the performance series. What were previously basic strips of overlays and mesh are now complemented with larger pieces of synthetics. The heel counter now even sports a faux-kevlar piece. It appears that the mesh layer is more covered up in the GRU2 than earlier versions. I’ve not ran in the shoes yet, so the question about breathability remains to be seen.

Same 2 reflective strips in the heel section.

The outsole configuration sees no change as you can see from the photo below. No addition of rubber plugs for added durability either.

Same outsole lug configuration. The lugs are interspersed every 2 rows with deeper flex grooves.
The piece of PU wrapping the heel counter looks like Kevlar but its not Kevlar.

The GRU2’s weight has been bumped up to over 10oz for my US10. It was 9.25oz on the GRU and 9.75oz on the GRU Nite Owl. The only explanation for this would be the use of the triangular design elements over the mesh underlay and the faux-kevlar heel counter. All these bits add up and the scale doesn’t lie.

I was a little disappointed with the update, honestly. The enhancements to the outsole that I thought should be introduced didn’t happen yet the upper was updated to the point where the weight was compromised. I’d have pretty much preferred the old upper and add a few thin rubber plugs to high-wear areas. As it stands I find the Nite Owl to be the most practical between the 3 iterations. However, if weight isn’t that much of a concern and a smooth and plush ride are what you seek, then the GRU2 warrants a tryout. For something lighter yet still providing a cushy ride, do also consider the GOrun Ride 4.

Disclosure: The Skechers GOrun Ultra is a media sample provided by Skechers Malaysia. The GRU2 is already available in Skechers stores in the country and retails for RM419 and RM399 for the men and women models respectively.

Originally published: Feb 9, 2015

Skechers GOrun Ultra Road

The GOrun Ultra has been Skechers’ softest riding shoe, its thick midsole sets it apart from its more cousins such as the GOrun 4, GOrun Ride 4 and GOMeb Speed. The GRU’s soft ride make it a popular shoe for long runs yet many may not know that the GRU was designed with the trails in mind. That, however, didn’t stop most fans from wearing the GRU over the course of road ultras more than in the trails. Among the few flavors of the GRU, I like the Nite Owl edition most. With the glow-in-the-dark upper, it’s the most practical shoe for the long slow runs for me, despite not being known for its durability.

There is now a road specific version of the GRU. Called simply the GOrun Ultra R (R denoting “Road”), runners who want a soft ride but can’t fit into a Hoka (which generally fits narrow) have a alternative.

The GRUR is built from the GRU platform and for the most part retains many of the characteristics of its predecessor in that it’s still a thicker shoe, very cushioned and geared to protect the wearer over long distances. The GRU platform a gradual increase in weight over the years. The original version weighed in at 9.25oz, the GRU2 breached the 10oz mark, coming in at 10.05oz. The GRUR is even heavier at 11.10oz. Only the Ultra Boost was heavier at 11.35oz albeit at a half size larger. There’s certainly no allusions then that the GRUR is meant to be a long haul shoe than a nimble feet performer.

There are differences, of course. The most striking of which is the Fitknit upper. The colorway is one of the best I’ve seen in an upper recently but I felt that Skechers missed out on making it great. You see, the knitted mesh is overly stiff to the touch. The GRUR still flexes and fits at the right places but the Fitknit is hardly as refined as that implemented in the GOrun Ride 3 Bolt. If a wearer dorsi-flexes his toes, they will feel the roughness of the Fitknit material on the inside. The knitted upper is also very breathable, which could pose  problem if you typically run on gravelly and dusty roads. I large pores will let dust, sand and small pebbles (not Nick’s pooch!) in. And you can peek right into the interior of the shoe.

Looking right into the interiors of the shoe.
Very porous side walls of the upper too. The large S logo isn’t reflective.
The interior part of the upper isn’t as soft as that of the Bolt. Best to wear socks with the GRUR.
2 lateral side drainage ports. Another 2 can be found on the medial side.

It goes without saying that water goes right in too but in this case, the GRUR has a trick up its sleeve in the form of 2 large (everything is large with the GRUR!) down-facing drainage ports on each side of the shoe. Positioned just below the perforated and removable sockliner, water will drain right off just as quickly. Weather’s been hazy and dry for the most part and I’ve been unable to test the drainage features out.

Reflective accents are plentiful.

There’s plenty of reflective detailing on call – 2 on each side of the heel counter, 2 in front of the toe box. Being a runner who hits the road at 5am on weekends, it’s a welcome feature. I fail to understand why shoe companies choose to omit this simple touch.

The GRUR employs a dual-density Resalyte foam midsole with the black layer you see in the photos noticeably softer than the orange layer. It has a 30mm/26mm heel/forefoot stack heights for a 4mm offset.

While there are exposed parts in the outsole there are no drainage ports located under the sole and since the shoe is of thicker stack heights, there’s a little bit of protection should you step on puddles. Water will definitely enter the shoe from the upper but not from the outsole.

Rubber plugs for high wear areas are present. I counted 21 nubs excluding the front rim bits. As the nubs are thin, I don’t think they’ll see extraordinarily long service. Nevertheless, the GRUR’s durability will still be several notches above the GRU’s.

The responsiveness is quite apparent. Make no mistake, the GRUR is still a soft shoe, just not as pillowy as the GRU. Personally I like the new tuning as it helps with faster pace running segment (I’ve logged a 6K at 5:10 pace in them) inserted into a more languid long run, without the sinking feeling. I’ve mentioned about the stiff upper which needs to be improved and the GRUR is certainly not a shoe to go sockless in. In fact, it’s best to go with medium bulk socks to add a little more comfort and protection to the twinky toes and nails. Other than the above, the GRUR is a purpose-built shoe for those long sweaty days on the roads which is equally suited for jaunts in the tropical thunderstorm when you simply can’t miss a workout.

Disclosure: The Skechers GOrun Ultra Road is a media sample provided by Skechers Malaysia. The GRUR will be retailing at RM499 and RM469 for the men and women models respectively and are expected to be available in Skechers stores in the country in mid-September.

Originally published: Sep 2, 2015