Friday, October 14, 2011

Review: Brooks Launch

Since y'all asked about those flashy shoes I was wearing at the 50K:  those are the Brooks Launch.

The Brooks Launch first came on the market late in the summer of 2009, immediately winning "Best Debut" from Runners' World.  This was right about the time I started running, and even though I was hearing lot of buzz about these shoes, I was worried that they might be too minimal starting out, so I began running in the Brooks Glycerin.

Happily, Brooks has not updated an already great thing: there is no "Brooks Launch 2."  They've simply changed the colors.  I bought my first pair of Brooks Launch in the summer of this year, and despite a variety of other shoes under my bed they quickly became my go-to shoe.  Shortly before the 50K, I retired my old black pair for a new pair in blue and silver (the best color scheme yet, in my opinion.)  Other than the laces, they are not quite as bright as they appear on some stores' web sites, and once you get them a little dirty, the color tones down even more.

The Launch is a lightweight, neutral shoe.  It isn't a minimal shoe by absolute standards, but it is relative to my old Glycerins.  It's weight comes in at just a feather over 9 oz.  According to the Brooks website, the shoe has a 9.5 mm heel-to-toe offset, while Running Warehouse measures it 12 mm.  Perhaps the difference is because the measurements were based on a different size of shoe?  In any case, that's less heel than the Glycerin, but more than the Green Silence.  For me, it was just the right amount of padding for a 50K on a soft surface -- I never thought about my feet at all during the run. 

I also appreciate the lightweight upper.  My feet don't even get damp when I run, which is a complaint I've had with many other shoes.  That, together with the roomy toe box, means I don't get any of the blisters that typically develop with other shoes.  (In fact, they only blister I got at all during the 50K was a on the middle toe of my left foot, and I don't blame that on the shoes.)  I once got caught in a rainstorm while running, and was pleased to find that the shoes drained easily, and that my feet were again dry soon after the rain ended.

The soles of the Brooks Launch have certainly proved to be more durable than the Kinvara 2s I ran in for a while.  As for the cushioning, though, they started to feel somewhat flat after 200 miles, which is the reason I bought the new pair.  I do weigh 190 lbs., but I wish I could get  more miles out of them.

My only other complaint is that I tend to get a good number of pebbles in my shoes when running off road; during the 50K I had to stop once to shake it out.  I'm not quite sure why this should be so -- perhaps it is being picked up in the soles of shoe (which contain a lot of narrow grooves) and then dropped in?

Other than that, though, they are super comfortable--soft on the inside, good laces, no pressure points, very flexible.  They're great for an easy trail ultra, and just as great for a 5K.

Finally, a shout-out for the fact that these shoes are relatively environmentally friendly, as far as running shoes go.  Kudos to Brooks for its use of recycled elements and for its work on developing biodegradable materials.

Any questions?


  1. Great review!
    I'm also a big fan of Launch (have 3 pairs), but after Brooks announced that Launch is over, I really don't know what to use in my next marathon. Do you have some idea?
    Best regards from Portugal

    Paulo Sousa

  2. Paulo,

    Thanks for dropping by! I'm very disappointed that the Launch is being discontinued. It has been a great shoe.

    I'm testing a few shoes, and will blog once I've found a good replacement. Until then, my plan is to stock up! Once there are clearance sale prices, I will buy 3 or 4 pairs and put them under my bed for future use . . .