Say Sayonara to the Elixir
by Mark Gorski
Mizuno continues a hard push into running markets outside of its birthplace in Japan. Mizuno’s once conservative, let the products do the talking type marketing is long gone, especially in the western markets of the USA, Europe and Australia. Their face-to-face engagement and product education with runners at events throughout Australia has been welcomed, especially given that sponsorship dollars have dried up in recent times.
The Japanese giant has added plenty to its arsenal over the past 3-4 years; whilst keeping some flagship favorites such as Wave Rider and Wave Inspire.
A positive consequence of the minimal running shoe movement is that many runners have been introduced to a lighter style of running shoe. The Wave Elixir and Wave Precision were two Mizuno models that became very popular with a large portion of runners; they were light enough, cushioned enough, and supportive enough for a large range of people. Basically they were ‘enough shoe’ for most runners.
In Australia Mizuno has pushed the Wave Elixir super hard in not only specialty running retailers but in more mainstream footwear stores such as The Athlete’s Foot.
This huge marketing campaign led to such a massive uptake of the Elixir by consumers in Q3 & Q4 last year that Mizuno Australia simply didn’t have any stock left to give their retailers to sell. Personally I have worn the Elixir from version 5 to the latest and greatest version 8 and have recommended them to many customers and coaching clients.
For reasons I’m still trying to understand Mizuno has now killed of the Precision completely and the Elixir is done at the end of 2013. Both models have now been replaced by the Wave Sayonara that was launched in July 2013.
So far in Australia the uptake has been very positive, but I wonder whether this is purely on the back such great shoes like the Precision and Elixir? It may be a masterstroke by Mizuno if the Sayonara can combine the best of both worlds, but does it?
Other runners that have worn Mizuno’s before may agree ‘first feel’ isn’t something that Mizuno are obsessed about when designing their shoes. It’s how the shoes feel and perform when running in them that counts.
When trying on the Sayonara for the first time it was quickly evident that they fit half a size long. I’m a US 10.5 in every shoe I own but could easily wear a 10 in these as the 10.5 left me with too much room at the front. Not a massive issue, but something to keep in mind if buying online, which I don’t recommend if you haven’t run in a particular shoe before.
I know I’m repeating myself but if a store won’t let you have a little run in the shoes before you buy them (even just on a treadmill) then walk out and find a store that will. Walking and running in shoes are two very different things.
If you like to have a bit of width and depth in the toe box of your shoes then the Sayonara is fairly accommodating on this front. Again just too much for me personally as I’m keener on a more snug fit – but the width would suit those prefering a bit more space.
The other noticeable feature is the stiff, high heel counter which again I’m not super keen on and I found its depth here was too large meaning the heel counter rubbed underneath the lateral malleolus on both ankles.
If you’re a runner that is required to wear orthotics in all your shoes then the Sayonara would accommodate them very well but if you have foot that doesn’t take up a lot of volume in the shoe then I’d be looking elsewhere.
The Feel & Purpose
At only 230g for men and 190g for women the weight of the Sayonara is certainly a positive. Coupling the lightweight feel with a 10mm heel toe pitch and reasonable forefoot flexibility the Sayonara fits comfortably in the lightweight trainer category and could quite easily be used by many runners as a daily trainer, tempo running shoe or even a road racing shoe for those runners who don’t wish to go lighter or thinner than this.
For me personally I tried everything in the Sayonara, I jogged in it, did tempo runs, longer cruise intervals and even shorter faster intervals, but nothing made me want to pick them out of my shoe box again for another run. The only time I felt they performed well was when I was running between 3-3.20min/k pace, which isn’t going to help most runners out there in the real world! Maybe I was hoping for a stripped down version of the Wave Rider 16, which is a cracking shoe, but unfortunately not to be.
As I mentioned earlier in the piece the uptake of the Sayonara has been strong here in Australia but I really get the feeling this is due to its awesome predecessors, the Wave Elixir and Wave Precision, which Mizuno has decided to discontinue. I believe the Sayonara should have been an as well as shoe along with the Elixir and Precision and not an instead of shoe.
For all the runners that are devotees of the Precision and Elixir my advice is stock up on whatever you can now and wait and see if an improved fit and feel of the Sayonara version 2.0 makes it a more worthy replacement for these very popular shoes.
By Mark Gorski
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Brian’s two cents worth
I liked the profile, forefoot flexibility and relative simplicity of the Sayonara. As a first generation shoe it shows a lot of promise. I don’t have the background of running in the Elixir or Precision so I didn’t have a relative benchmark for comparison.
However, like Mark I couldn’t come to grips with the high, hard and unyielding heel counter that caused me to ditch the shoes two kilometres from home on a long run because of the incessant rubbing on the bony area underneath my ankle bone. The area was sore for a fortnight following so I’ve been reluctant to return to the Sayonara since.
My impressions of the shoe were that it was reasonable but not earth shatteringly good. The cushioning was flexible but didn’t give much ping off the road, the upper was nice and oddly the shoe seemed to run longer than normal sizing. Based on my limited experience of running in the Sayonara I’d stick to using it as a daily trainer rather than an up-tempo or race day shoe.
I’ve noticed a few runners punching out some Tweets about their positive experiences with this shoe so it may be a case of horses for courses. Perhaps Mark and I are the wrong horses for this particular shoe!
If you have any personal experience with the Sayonara please feel free to send me a Tweet or leave a comment below.
Anyone running in the Mizuno Sayonara? What do you think? Better than Elixer and/or Precision?
— Brian Martin (@BrianRunCoach) August 25, 2013
— Brad Patterson (@patterbt) September 25, 2013