On Sunday, October 7, 2012, I turned right onto Roosevelt Road from Michigan Avenue in the final stretch of the 2012 Chicago Marathon.
After crossing the finish line and leaving the marathon grounds, I headed home and removed the Brooks Pure Connect’s that I wore in the race, placing them in their original box.
After more than nine (9) months of service, including wearing them at the 2012 Boston and Chicago Marathons, the shoes were officially retired.
Nearly a year earlier, I adopted the Brooks Pure Flow, one of four (4) new shoes in Brooks’s Pure Project, featuring the Pure Connect, Pure Grit, Pure Flow, and Pure Cadence, designed to provide a more “natural feel and running experience.”
I used the Pure Flow’s in my final race of 2011; taking a calculated risk that paid off; finishing 27th overall (out of 508) in a competitive 5k event where I’d finished 60th in 2010.
The shoes made the biggest impact for me in the final mile of the race when I had to make a sharp left hand turn heading towards the finish line, because I didn’t have to slow down to make the turn like I would have in heavier and clunkier running shoes. I also blew by a number of runners in the event’s closing stretch and didn’t fade in the end from fatigue like I did in ’10.
However, despite being pleased with the Pure Flow’s initial results, I tested them in conjunction with another shoe similar to my old Nike Air Pegasus’s with the built-up heel and heavier overall weight; making a decision to adopt the Pure Flow as one of my primary training shoes in mid-December, 2011.
Compared to the Pegasus and the similarly-constructed test shoe, I ran better, faster, cleaner, and more responsively when I wore the Pure Flow’s, with a consistent midfoot strike and better overall turnover.
But there was the nagging voice in back of my head about the Brooks Pure Connect (also featuring a 4 mm heel-to-toe drop, similar to the Pure Flow) asking me questions I couldn’t answer: Why are they lighter than the Pure Flow? What’s better? What’s worse? What’s different? Why, why, why? What, what, what?
So in late-December, 2012, I acquired a pair of Pure Connect’s to test and there were two (2) things I noticed right away. First, the shoes were considerably snugger in the Connect’s upper than the Pure Flow. My left foot is slightly larger than my right and the Connect’s innate snugness became more pronounced. Runners considering adopting Pure Connect’s should probably visit a local running store to try them on or purchase shoes half a size larger than your normal fit if you’re not comfortable with an overall snug feel.
Secondly, at 7.1 ounces (compared with 8.71 ounces for the Pure Flow), the Brooks Pure Connect are among the lightest training shoes on the market and constructed with less-weighty materials than most shoes. The Pure Connect’s alternative construction came into play when the left ankle collar changed shape after being too aggressive initially trying them on, irritating my ankle. Eventually, I was able to “break in” the collar and haven’t experienced any further ankle discomfort, but runners accustomed to more cushioned collar padding need to be aware of the Connect’s lighter construction in that area.
Unexpectedly, compared to the Pure Flow, which I took to almost immediately, I didn’t “feel it” in my first two (2) Pure Connect test runs, so I shelved the shoes and gave them another shot a week later.
Proving the old adage about the “third time being the charm,” I had strong success in the Pure Connect’s, executing a progressive 5-mile training run that became better and better as the run continued. The run was so good, I actually didn’t want to stop after my scheduled 5-miles; way to get out of the training shoe dog house, Brooks.
Why in my opinion was the third run so comfortable? Surprisingly, the factors that initially worried me about the shoes, namely, the snug glove-like feel and the lighter weight/construction. My feet finally acclimated to the shoes, providing an opportunity to actively wear the lightest training shoes I’ve ever had in my active rotation.
I know what question you’re probably asking in back of your heads right now. Which Brooks shoe has the edge? The Pure Flow that I’d worn since October or the Pure Connect that emerged like Secretariat at the 1973 Belmont Stakes?
Initially, when I first posted this review in January, 2012, the Pure Connect had a slight advantage with me, largely because of the refreshing “bounce” that the shoe provided and the Pure Flow lacked.
However, as 2012′s event training advanced, the Pure Connect became my primary running and training shoe and the Pure Flow became more of a “general purpose” shoe that I’ve used for stair climbing (due to its rubberized sole) and for walking around.
I successfully used the Pure Connect for a 3-minute half marathon PR on April 1, and wore them at the now legendary Boston Marathon on April 16 (see the photo posted on the bottom; I’m in the closing stages of the event heading uphill).
Like many, I had high hopes before Boston in 2012: I was in prime physical condition, had run the course in 2011, and expected to benefit positively from wearing my Pure Connect’s in Beantown.
As many of you have likely heard, 2012′s Boston Marathon was a slug-fest, with temperatures that climbed to the low-90′s in the middle sections of the course and volunteer stations were littered with trampled beverage cups and slippery sections.
However, I have to give my props to Brooks about the Connect; I don’t remember my feet hurting once during the entire marathon.
My feet were the first thing to go during last year’s San Francisco and Marquette Marathons, so it was a welcome benefit to debut the Connect on the marathon level.
It was also a breeze to wash the accumulated Gatorade, road debris, and paper cup residue off the Connect’s sole’s after Boston as well.
However, that represented the shoe’s high water mark as their previously-refreshing “bounce” faded away by the 175-mile mark, reflecting what’s become the official “scouting report” for the shoes by other wearers who’ve contacted me over the past year: the most comfortable training and racing shoes most of us have ever worn, but pretty much “shot” around 200-miles.
In fact, only one runner in my network has reported that they’ve been able to reach the 250-mile mark with the Connect so far.
I started the 2012 Chicago Marathon with 185-miles on the shoe’s odometer and the first half of the marathon was as smooth as Boston had been shoe-wise. However, by mile-15, my left foot started to hurt, followed by my right foot a few miles later; closing the shoe’s official lifespan at 211-miles, 9-plus months, and 2 major marathons by the time I reached the finish line.
So now you have it, the full lifespan report of the Brooks Pure Connect from one of the shoe’s inaugural wearers.
They were by far the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn in the 8 (eight) marathons I’ve run so far. However, there’s strong evidence that the Connect is a one-marathon cycle training and racing shoe.
We’ll soon know if that’s really the case. Why???
The Pure Connect 2 has finally hit the general market and is now making the rounds in the running community.
One chapter ends, while another one begins.
Click here for my full review of the Brooks Pure Flow Men’s Running Shoe.
Brian Adkins is a Chicago-based runner, marathoner, endurance athlete, writer, editor, essayist, and independent scholar. You can contact Brian at: email@example.com