Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 160 August 2023 | Page 63

Inspired by the Beetles

A stability shoe that can also be used by runners with neutral feet
question when I sat down with the folks at ASICS to discuss the shoe . They explained that the softer wedge is made from a springy , more energetic foam , and when combined with an increased heel bevel ( rounder heel ), sculpted lateral ( outer ) side of the midsole , and a wider footbed , it actually helps your foot to naturally pronate less . Basically , it bounces your foot back into place , and you get all the benefits of an anti-pronation shoe , but without needing a post !
Put to the Test
I will admit , I was extremely sceptical , because 25 years of experience with anti-pronation shoes said otherwise , and having a neutral foot , it was hard for me to test the concept properly myself , but every review I have read by over-pronators said that it works . In fact , they said that it works very well . One reviewer in the UK , who has many years of experience reviewing shoes and has actually run in a number of previous Kayano models as his preferred shoe , went so far as to say it never actually felt like an antipronation shoe , and yet , this is the best anti-pronation shoe he has ever run in . High praise indeed .
It should come as no surprise to hear me say the following : This was the first Kayano that I have truly enjoyed running in . That ’ s not because there was anything wrong with previous models , but more to do that my neutral feet and small build have always seen me gravitate towards lightweight neutral shoes , not the top of the range stability models . The simple reason that I really enjoyed this new Kayano is because it doesn ’ t actually feel like a stability shoe , more like a neutral shoe . While it is wider and more rigid than most of the shoes I normally run in , it offers more flex and therefore a faster ride than most of the stability models I have ever tested .
All this therefore begs the question whether the new Kayano can actually be worn by runners with neutral feet , and here I think the answer is a resounding yes … especially if you ’ re running longer distances like the marathon or beyond . This is because as we tire , we tend to start pronating a bit more than usual , and that support on the medial side of the shoe would then kick in . Sure , a neutral shoe with decent tech and structure will still do the job for you , but for the first time , you could actually consider trying the Kayano for your long runs and races . That said , this shoes is probably better suited to long training runs more so than racing , as it is built for comfort and support more so than quick , responsive racing or speedwork .
The Bottom Line
The new Kayano is a huge departure on what has come before in the Kayano family . It ’ s incredibly stable and supportive , when you need it , but also a shoe that neutral runners can use , and benefit from . You won ’ t have read that in too many shoe reviews before , but I suspect that other brands will be going this route as well . I think it goes without saying that if you are a long-time Kayano-wearer , you may find it hard to get used to this departure in design ethos , but give it a try , and I think you will be pleasantly surprised .
That all said , I think it ’ s only right that I put in a disclaimer here , stating that my opinion of this shoe ’ s versatility is subjective , and you may find yourself disagreeing completely after running in the shoe yourself . That ’ s why I will never simply say that all over-pronators can or should simply discard their traditional posted shoes in favour of this new design . The only way you ’ ll know if the shoe works for you is by giving it a test .
In the early 1990s , ASICS designer Toshikazu Kayano was tasked with making a cutting-edge running shoe inspired by the stag beetle ( Lucanos Cervus ). I have no idea why a beetle with deer-like horns was chosen for this , but Kayano the designer ended up with the original Gel-Kayano . Fortunately , he named it after himself , instead of the Gel-Beetle , or Gel-Lucanos , and since then it has gone through 29 updates and redesigns , culminating in the revolutionary 2023 design .
The Kayano 30 Anniversary colourway tested by the author
Images : Courtesy ASICS , University of Reading
The lateral ( outer ) side of the shoe The medial ( inner ) side of the shoe , showing the wedge of softer midsole foam under the arch
A wider footbed helps the shoe ’ s geometry to reduce over-pronation


The ASICS Gel-Kayano 30 arrived in SA stores on the 1st of July and retails at a recommended price of R3500 . You will find them at most leading running shoe retailers , including the ASICS Store at Canal Walk in Cape Town .