Newton Distance III ReviewJune 27, 2014
- Much improved running comfort
- Low drop for a natural footstrike
- Comfortable sock-like upper
- The price: refinance the farm expensive
- A little squirrely on track curves
The Newton Distance III is considerably less cushioned than the comfort-oriented Gravity III. The Newton Distance III features the 5-lug forefoot, a terrific improvement in comfort that make little or no compromise in Newton’s mission of guiding your foot to the vaunted mid-foot strike. Whereas the old four lug models felt a little like cleated bicycle shoes, the five lugs in the new models are barely noticeable.
As a self-professed early adopter, I gave the original Newtons a go several years ago, drawn to its bright sock-like upper and its promised new technology to aid in footstrike. I wanted to like them—I even bought a second pair, a fluorescent pink number that raised funds for breast cancer research. But try as I might, I couldn’t warm up to that annoying bump under my forefoot. Even with a “proper” footstrike, those lugs never let up.
However, the new five-lug models—the Distance III and the Gravity III—have finally got it right. Adding that extra lug and slightly rearranging the placement underfoot helps realize the raison d’etre for the shoes: an aid for proper footstrike. The five lugs more naturally correspond to your foot’s anatomy, making for a more natural feel.
The Distance III is the lighter and nimble of the two and proved to be my favorite. It is a pure road shoe—the looser upper and the lug placement made for a little too much foot float on the track. But for everyday running and racing, the Distance III is hard to beat.
Coming in at $175 for the Gravity and $155 for the Distance, the Newtons are among the priciest shoes out there, even besting Hokas for stratospheric costs.
A simple mesh sock on top of a lightweight, yet protective sole is running shoe Nirvana, and the Newtons got it right. I’ve been running sockless in the Distance in anticipation of an upcoming half ironman, and the smooth inside makes socks unnecessary.
The unique lug construction of the Newton sole is perhaps only second to Hoka in terms of responsiveness. As your foot strikes the ground, the lugs compress, and as toe-off begins, the lugs recoil, aiding your forward motion. It’s subtle, but significant.
The Distance would be a great race day shoe for all but the heaviest of runners, who might prefer the sturdier Gravity. The Distance’s low profile, light weight, and 2mm heel-toe offset makes for a nimble go-fast shoe.
Quality of Materials
The simplicity of the upper belies the workmanship of both the Gravity and the Distance. These are top-of-the-line running shoes. Expect a longer life for the Gravity, owing to a reinforced heel and toe outsole.