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Running shoe review: Zoot Ultra Race 4.0

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Over the last 30 years Zoot has catered to triathletes, delivering performance race suits, wet suits, clothing and shoes perfect for a triathlon. But lately, Zoot has started to attract the attention of runners too, especially with a clothing line like the Zoot Ultra Run Icefil and shoes like the Zoot Ultra Race 4.0.

The Zoot Ultra Race 4.0 has a number of features developed specifically for triathlon: water drain holes on the bottom, a BOA quick closure system, a finger sized grip on the tongue to help pull the shoe on quickly during transitions. But the Ultra Race 4.0 offers enough features to make it a great shoe for people who purely run too.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Ultra Race 4.0 (other than the bright neon colors) is the fit. Many triathletes race sockless, allowing for quicker transitions. The UltraFit™ upper is made with TekSheen, a stretchy and breathable fabric that conforms to your foot.

The Ultra Race 4.0 is meant to be worn sockless, giving the shoe a glove-like fit that hugs your foot. The liner is extremely comfortable, and caused no hot spots on any of my runs.

The shoe can, however, feel tight, especially if you have a wide foot or need a little extra room in the toe box. If you want to wear the shoe with socks, you’ll definitely need to size up.

While a number of trail running shoes have used the BOA Dynamic Fit System in the past, Zoot adds this unique alternative to lacing to a road shoe: the Ultra Race 4.0.

The BOA Dynamic Fit System consists of a thin, stainless steel “lace” attached to a dial located toward the top of the tongue. To tighten the “lace,” you simply turn the dial clockwise. To loosen the “lace” you pull the dial out and the tension is released.

As you can imagine, the BOA system is great for triathlons where quick transitions are essential. The system works well for runners too, allowing you to get a custom fit that won’t loosen or come untied.

Weighing in at 7.9 ounces, the Ultra Race 4.0 is extremely lightweight and has a firm and nimble ride. The Z-Bound midsole provides plenty of protection and cushioning, without overdoing it. The outsole is curved, encouraging a mid-foot strike, with a natural toe off.

I recommend trying the shoe in a specialty running/tri store first. The tight fit may bother some runners, as could the fact that the shoe works best when worn without socks. But if you like a shoe that feels like an extension of your foot, has the unique BOA lacing system, and is incredibly lightweight and breathable, the Zoot Ultra Run 4.0 is the shoe for you.

The Zoot Ultra Race 4.0 is available online from Zoot for $150.

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