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The ECCO Biom B running sneakers don’t look like ordinary running shoes, and they sure don’t feel like them either. The women’s version has a bright purple mesh upper, silver edging and yellow-green laces. They’re also available in a more subtle version, of purple and white Yak leather. Men’s Biom B sneakers are available in various combinations of orange and yellow-green.
These running shoes are lightweight, and provide less support than most runners expect. They are the result of what 45-year-old Danish company ECCO calls its Biom Project, involving intense study of foot structure and the biomechanics of running. Scientists scanned more than 2,500 feet to develop the foot shape, with the goal of creating running shoes that allow as natural a running stride as possible.
Runners will notice the soles are slightly higher in the back, to cushion the heel as it lands. The shape seems to propel the foot forward through the stride. The shoes have a low profile, putting the ball of the foot feels close to the ground. Feet feel unfettered. The lightweight one-piece sole unit has flexibility in the middle, to make pushing off for the next step easier.
The mesh uppers breathe well even on the hottest, muggiest days, and are water repellent. But the lighter support takes getting used to, and ECCO recommends a gradual training program, building over a series of weeks. Improved speed is almost inevitable.
The ECCO Biom is available in A, B and C styles, for super serious runners, fitness runners and casual runners. The mesh sneakers have a suggested retail price of $195, and the Yak leather versions sell for $220. By the way, the shoes are in European sizes, and run on the smaller side.
Karen Nitkin likes to run, hike, bike, camp and swim. She spends as much time as possible on these activities, while juggling a writing career, family life, and doing errands like laundry and going to the grocery store.
Nitkin lives in Maryland, where the relatively mild climate allows her to run and bike year-round. She also spends at least a few weeks each year in New Hampshire, camping and hiking in the White Mountains. She has set a goal of hiking all 48 New Hampshire peaks that are above 4,000 feet. As of the fall of 2010, she is at number 20, following an epic rain-drenched four-peak overnight in the Pemigewasset wilderness over the summer.
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