Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 160 August 2023 | Page 66

C o l u m n

Surfing on Clouds

Putting the On Cloud Cloudsurfer running shoe to the test was not just a first for me , but also a most enjoyable experience , as these shoes lived up to their name , making me feel like I was running on clouds . – BY RICHARD LASKEY


’ ve known about the somewhat different shoes from the On Cloud ( OC ) range for a number of years , after first seeing them up close at the Soweto Marathon Expo in 2018 or 2019 . ( Sorry , it feels like a lifetime ago , thanks to the COVID pandemic , so my memory is a little patchy on exact details .) What struck me immediately was the distinctive midsoles of the OC shoes , with their cushioning ‘ clouds ’ that compress when your foot lands , but somehow , I never managed to get a pair to test for myself until now .
So , when I recently received the Cloudsurfer model from Laura and Khutso at Tifosi , the importers of the brand , I was really looking forward to finally give them a test . To be honest , I had no idea what to expect , but with the Cloudsurfer classified as a neutral training shoe for distances from 5km to the marathon , it ticked the boxes with me , and I was keen to see what the ON midsole feels like and how the shoes perform .
My initial thoughts were that it is a good-looking shoe from an aesthetic side of things , but the midsole sole appear quite tall . Once laced up , though , I found the fit was true , and I felt no discomfort from the get-go . My first outing in these babies was an 11km undulating recovery run , and I was blown away by just how comfortable the Cloudsurfer felt – almost like they were molded to fit . The hollow pods in the midsole compress on impact , cushioning your foot , and it honestly felt like running on clouds . However , when picking up the pace and on longer runs , they did feel a bit less responsive and buoyant . I ’ m a neutral runner and very light on my feet , so these shoes suit me , but I think a heavier , ‘ harder ’ runner may find them less forgiving , especially on longer runs .
Studying the Clouds
Now for the tech . In the past , critics of the brand said that while all the shoes in the OC range had “ cloud ” in their names , the shoes did not all feel like running on soft pillowy clouds . The primary reason for this was because of their Speedboard , essentially a firm plate that increased stability and made the shoes feel stiffer , snappier and faster . This made the shoes great for speedwork or racing , but not for longer , slower runs .
The Cloudsurfer is the first OC shoe not to feature a Speedboard , and it also sees the regular CloudTec cushioning system replaced by the new CloudTec Phase technology in the Helion superfoam midsole . The way it works is that as your foot meets the ground , so the midsole compresses cloud by cloud , in phased sequence , to deliver a gentle heel-to-toe transition . This makes the shoe softer , and ensures a seriously comfortable run . Another big difference between the Cloudsurfer and other OC shoes is that there is an outersole layer of rubber underneath the cloud pods , which increases the comfort , stability and grip of the shoes .
The upper is the next point of comfort on these shoes , as it is well padded throughout and feel smooth on the inside , so your feet feel a bit spoilt . Sure , it can get a bit warm in there , but at least it ’ s comfy ! I really liked that the tongue is sewn in and just as well padded , holding the top of the foot snugly , and I also really liked the lacing system , with eyelets positioned wider than other shoes I have tested , which will definitely suit runners with broader feet . I found the foot lockdown of the shoe really good .
The forefoot and toe box are roomy and comfortable – no squashing of the toes here and accommodating of wider feet – while the collar around the heel is soft and padded . One of my few complaints was that the heel area could be a bit more rigid for the longer runs , when the ankles are tired and need that extra support . Last but not least , the Cloudsurfer has a 32mm heel height and 22m forefoot , giving the shoe an overall drop of 10mm , and a men ’ s sample size shoe weighs in at a relatively light 245g .
Lasting Impression
I really enjoyed running in the Cloudsurfer , as it provided an impressive amount of shock absorption , the upper was really comfortable , and the ride felt unique , like no other shoe I have run in . If you ’ ve never tried an On shoe and you ’ re curious about the brand , I recommend the Cloudsurfer as a great place to start , because it ’ s an innovative , comfortable and fun shoe to run in .


Available at Tifosi Sports and retail running stores at a recommended retail price of R2 999 . More info at www . tifosisports . co . za
66 ISSUE 160 | www . modernathlete . co . za