I just got a first run in the brand new ASICS Gel-Pursue. Short story: ASICS is making what I think is a welcome move into firmer, more responsive shoes. The brand has made a name for itself with some of the softest foam around. If you all you wanted was to land on pile of “ahhh” under each step, ASICS was the brand I’d send you to first. The downside of all that squish, obviously, is a really sluggish experience (think of the difference between running on pavement and running on soft sand). It was comfy, but runners looking for a more responsive ride had to look elsewhere.
The Gel-Pursue is ASICS’s (rather tentative) step toward a more responsive shoe in its neutral cushioning line. It’s lower to the ground than the brand’s flagship Gel-Nimbus and Gel-Cumulus shoes, and it uses a slightly higher density foam—slightly firmer SpEVA 55 as opposed to the marshmallowy SpEVA 45 found in the other ASICS cushioning shoes. For anyone familiar with ASICS, the change can be felt immediately, though if you didn’t know ASICS’s pampering ways, you probably would feel like it’s just another running shoe—not too firm, not to soft. My sense was SpEVA 55 brings the Gel-Pursue into line with what most other running shoes feel like in terms of midsole firmness.
Overall, the Gel-Pursue is a moderately heel-oriented, traditional running shoe. At 10.7 ounces, it doesn’t feel as light and quick on the turnover as, say, the Saucony Cortana 5. With the 10-mm drop, it is certainly better for heel strikers than midfoot strikers, though midfooters won’t be completely kicked to the curb. The heel is deep and soft (a real sinkhole for heavy landers) and the shoe has very good structure overall for heavier runners and those looking for a more supportive ride (without going for a blocky “structured” shoe). It doesn’t have the foam-wobble feel that some of the lightest neutral trainers have, like the Saucony Virrata or Kinvara.
Overall, I was only moderately impressed with the Gel-Pursue. It’s a smart move for ASICS, and a very good shoe, but it wasn’t exciting. It’s best for those who like the structured ASICS formula, and want just a little more pep in their stride, but not a lot.
One feature I personally find annoying: ASICS digs a deep groove along bottom of their shoes. They call it Guidance Line, and it’s designed to stabilize and direct your shoe’s compression and energy absorption in a more efficient, straight-forward line. The problem? You can feel it underfoot. Especially on thinner shoes, like the Gel-Pursue, the guidance line feels like a piece of the shoe is missing under your forefoot bones (metatarsal heads). It’s immediately noticeable and annoying (though not as bad as it was with the first Gel-Lyte 33 series). You can get used to it, but it’s always there.