The styling on these Brooks race flats certainly make them memorable, but you may recognize the T7 from one place in particular. Chrissie Wellington was wearing a pair when she came from behind in 2011 to win her fourth Ironman World Championship title in Kona. In fact, she calls them "an amazing shoe". Here's why:
Unisex styling, two colors
Sizing: Available in men's sizes only. Women, order 1.5 size smaller than you usually wear.
Weight: 6.4 oz
Upper: Air Mesh, synthetic overlay
Heel-toe drop: 12mm
Retail: $85 www.brooksrunning.com
I believe, after testing the T7, this is an incredibly light-weight race flat built for a serious racer. It has minimal support and Brooks advises, " the vast majority of runners will not find it "enough shoe" for a full marathon. If you have a light frame and a biomechanically efficient stride, however, you may be able to get away with it. We suggest you work up to it in several half marathon-plus races beforehand to see how it works for you before running in it for a full marathon."
Taking their advisement into account, we set out to see if the T7 is worth the extra effort of working into the shoe. Brooks was right on. We found that for the average runner/triathlete, the T7 makes an excellent 5k or even 10k race shoe, and I do mean excellent. For those seasoned athletes, especially runners that have properly trained themselves as minimalist or barefoot runners with extensive mileage, this shoe is just what you need to provide the minimal support and protection to allow for your stride to perform how you've trained it.
Keep in mind this model has been designed for race use only. A high-end race flat is only going to last you 150 miles or so. I wouldn't do too many training runs, as it's light-weight enough that you may have problems with the tread wearing out before the rest of the shoe even begins to be compromised. We did find, however that it is really worth saving the shoe for race day. The upper fits like a glove and can hardly be felt while running as it moves with the mechanics of the foot. I would stay away from trail completely and even go so far as to avoid using it in races where there will be a dirt road portion; purely to preserve the shoe for future racing.
The cushion in the heel is surprisingly soft for a race flat and has extreme flexibility. I recommend wearing them barefoot for a perfect fit. While they have designed the shoe for biomechanically efficient runners, Brooks hasn't forgotten that they sponsor a few wicked fast heel-strikers themselves and have accommodated with the T7.
As far as the drop, I was surprised to read after my first run in them that it's 12mm; it certainly doesn't feel any different from my daily training shoes that have a 4mm drop. I think this is a testament as to why the flat feels so cushioned. It's built with an aggressive curved platform that makes the shoe feel fast. It's supposedly to provide aide for runners with high arches, but being a medium arched runner, I had no issues and felt no difference. That being said, I see no way to fit any kind of orthotics in this particular race flat and if that's a concern, you may have to look elsewhere.
Would I buy this shoe knowing I would use them only for race day? Yes. It's pretty common among runners to have a pair of flats set aside for this purpose. With all the equipment that triathletes have to purchase, it's an area that I've seen athletes skimp on and I believe it's a big mistake. There's no substitution for feeling fast and happy on race day. After all, that's why we train, right?
Test product provided, compliments of Brooks Running