While the Newton Distance III won’t be for everyone, it is worth a test run if you’re looking for a lightweight neutral speed shoe. At first glance, the shoe looks odd. Your eye will immediately be drawn to the tread under the forefoot oddly protruding out from the rest of the sole. This is Newton’s patented Action/Reaction technology, which features the P.O.P1 Platform, aimed at absorbing impact and adding responsiveness. The idea here is that these “lugs” engage to activate trampoline membrane for energy return giving the runner some “pop” in their step.
At first, I was extremely wary of even testing these shoes. The odd tread was something completely different so I was worried it may cause an injury. Once on, the Distance III was quite comfortable. The soft breathable mesh upper felt good against my feet, even enough to go sockless. I did however have trouble getting the snug feeling I typically like, needing to lace up a bit tighter then normal and using all of the eyelets (which is unusual for me). I wouldn’t recommend this shoe for people with narrow feet.
The first few miles felt odd. The protruding P.O.P1 Platform was defiantly noticeable. With each step I noticed much more ground pressure on my forefoot compared to a similar running shoe in the neutral lightweight category. After about 3 miles I found the shoe started riding a bit smoother and noticed myself running much more on my forefoot.
Weighing in at 7 ounces, the Distance III is ideal for longer intervals and tempo runs. Due to the modest 2mm drop and the protruding P.O.P1 Platform I found myself using my calves more then usual. I would not recommend these as a daily trainer or even a long run shoe as it would be a lot for your calves to handle. These shoes are not suitable for heal strikers.
While most of my running was on paved paths I did venture onto dirt/gravel for a bit and these shoes failed miserably off a paved path. I very quickly got a rock stuck between two of the “lugs” of the P.O.P1 Platform, a big deal if I were in the middle of a hard workout or race. Be sure to stay on pavement while wearing these shoes.
I’ve always considered Newton to be more of a niche running shoe with a cult-like audience. Its niche is with runners with an open mind (and open wallet, retailing at $155) looking to add a lightweight shoe for intervals and tempo runs.
The Newton Distance III is a solid lightweight neutral shoe. It’s well made and comfortable. This was my first experience in a pair of Newton’s and generally speaking I was happy. I’m not about to switch my closet to all Newton’s but I’ll certainly pull the Distance III out once in awhile.
How I Tested:
Two runs, 8 and 6 miles around 7 min to 6:20 pace on mostly paved path with a little dirt/gravel in some sections. Did a few pickups to see how they felt at a faster pace.
Overall Comfort: 7
The Newton Distance III was quite comfortable. The soft breathable mesh upper felt good against my feet, even enough to go sockless.
While the soft pliable mesh upper was comfortable against my foot it didn’t provide the snug fit I’d hope. Even with wide feet I found I needed to use all the lace eyelets (which is rare for me) to get the shoe securely on my feet.
For a 7 ounce shoe the Distance III feels about average. While the P.O.P.1 Platform won’t be for everyone, it does promote mid-foot/forefoot striking helping produce greater push off for faster turnover. It’s certainly not a short interval shoe but may work longer tempos.
Energy Efficiency: 7
There certainly was a bit of bounce in the Distance III. The midsole is made up of Newton’s Action/Reaction technology, which they boost, absorbs impact and adds responsiveness.
Compared with other shoes in the Lightweight Trainer category the Newton Distance III, at 7 ounces I would say is average.
Best For: Midfoot strikers, Speed runs, Neutral runners & Wide feet
Bad For: Snow & ice, Heel strikers, Long runs, Serious and mild pronators, Heavier runners & Narrow feet