Wednesday, 30 July 2014 23:02

Its been a while since we last reviewed a running gear and so here we are pounding the trails just to get you in the know of NewBalance's latest trail running shoe - the FreshFoam 980 Trail (S$169)! But should you trade in your running shoes for one of these? Read more to find out.

Pounding the pavement sometimes leaves you with smoke in the face, given Singapore’s traffic. And going round the track or staying on the treadmill reminds me too much of my dead hamster (that poor soul). Or if you’re like me, bound to the water, I have little business being out of my element. Except to take $400 from the government for the yearly IPPT.

Okay, I lied. I hit the track every other night with tears streaming in my wake cause it helps keep the weight down. If any of these sounds familiar to you (if it is, I’m totally judging), then you probably need an exciting alternative to keep you on your feet.


Why this particular pair?

Introducing trail running - taking the age-old familiar sport off the road onto all new terrain. Trail running offers a more scenic alternative, allowing you to enjoy Singapore’s many parks and park connectors. The change in terrain would also mean that you would need shoes that are better suited for it.

This pair is designed exactly for that. Right out of the box, which looks like you excavated it out from MacRitchie, you’ll find an insert that offers some tips and suggestions on the trails to explore in Singapore.

Comfort and Fit

Putting it on, you can immediately tell why it falls under the ‘maximal’ category, contrasting from the ‘minimal’ a la Vibram FiveFingers. Other than the very visible sole, the Trail version packs more cushioning so inserting your foot into it feels snug and tight.

Feel and Touch

The ‘Fresh Foam’ midsole aims at providing superior comfort. Just take a step, and you’ll feel that bounce. Oh the bounce! Brings to mind some lewd images. What this wonderful bounce gives you is a soft and supple (oh the puns) feel regardless of the terrain, making the transition between road and trail feel seamless.



Typically full cushioned shoes appear big (that’s what she said) due to the bottom support. The shoe has abundant sexy curves - convex hexagon at the heel with a concave mid foot, which helps maintain the bouncy cushioned movement. All that is packed in a surprisingly small package (that’s not what she said) with loud, luminous colours that will match your Illumi Run outfit perfectly.

Performance and Test Run

The recent opening of Jurong Eco Park was a perfect opportunity to test out the shoes. Straight out the door, I can feel the added support, which is important for people like me with leg injuries. To test it's capabilities off road, I took it to some lesser-known dirt tracks that fellow infantrymen would be familiar with.

At first I was a bit apprehensive about the traction, but the ridged studded bottom fared rather well on wet grass and mud. Splashing into puddles is also fine, as the upper meshing drains fairly quickly. All that padding does mean that it isn't as airy as those ultra light shoes, so it gets a little stuffy beyond mid-distance. Marching back, I wish these came in combat versions as standard SAF issue.



Living in an iconic garden city, it would be a waste not to explore the greenery that's behind every corner. There's no better way to do that than with FreshFoam 980 Trail that's the right tool for the job. If you're looking for subtle, maybe the colours are a bit loud. Though it's a good safety feature as you explore the dark trails at night. Unless you're... Never mind.

Available at all New Balance Concept Stores and selected authorized retailers.



Writer: M. Farhan Rais (@iisgHAN)

Farhan believes that if your boyfriend doesn't do sports, then you have a girlfriend. When not kindling his affairs with the gym and his mountain bike, he can be found wearing little at the pool, beach or Singapore's scenic fake water bodies. A tech geek at heart, he is easily tamed by offerings of hipster gourmet coffee.