The Brooks Ghost 6′s came into my life through the shoe-to-runner equivalent of online dating. I was lonely and unshod, needing something different from the usual parade of can’t-commit minimalist models, or those too flat, worn, or flashy in their desire to be unique. I wanted a shoe I was comfortable in. One that made me feel light and more like myself. One worth sharing my life—and closet—with.
Looking for a quick route to shoe-love, I plugged my data into Brook’s Shoe Advisor, boasting the slogan “Find your Solemate” like a beacon of hope. I selected my gender (female), foot width (wide), weight (not telling), activity level (running, 45 minutes +), and terrain (roads), and within seconds, there was my handsome match. (Of course I’m not solely a road or long-distance runner, but I wanted to select the most widely applicable shoe.)
When the shoes showed up on my doorstep, the first thing I noticed was their traditional style. After a few years of rolling with the triathlon shoe crowd lately, the Ghost’s lack of fancy bells and whistles (quick-tie laces, slip-on styles, and flashy colors), reminded me of simpler times. (Can you say 8th-grade Reeboks?) The shoes put me at ease immediately.
I laced them up and took them to the gym for a tough treadmill session that included hills and speed work—not exactly a low-stress first date, but hey, if I was going to see these shoes again, they’d better pass the test of one of my hardest workouts of the week. Down an ounce from last year’s model, at 8.8 oz, they felt light and swift, cradling my foot with no extra bulk. They were surprisingly comfortable right out of box, as if the fit were meant to be. And there was plenty of room in the toebox for my wide forefoot.
Second and third dates
Unsure if our star-struck rendezvous was due to the treadmill’s cushioning effect (like going to a movie where you don’t have to talk much), I suggested a quick 20-minute transition run on paved streets. (You can’t take the triathlete out of this runner). Without the whir of the treadmill, I noticed how quiet the Ghosts were. Good listeners, if you will. My legs, tired from cycling, glided through the miles. Brooks replaced the plastic arch shank with foam and rubber in this year’s model, but rather than making the shoe too soft or squishy (which tends to tire my foot out), this shoe blends cushioning and flexibility—perfect for an “everyday mileage” shoe.
It was time to introduce the Ghosts to my friends. Our third date took us to a nearby trail, where their hidden minimalism surprised me. I like to feel the contours of the ground underneath me, not 2 feet away from it, as if running on pillows. Despite the shoe’s bulky-looking sole, the actual wear of this 12 mm drop (the heel was lowered from last year) is actually quite minimalist. It rolled easily under my feet, transferring motion unlike many other shoes I’ve worn.
Shoes for life
In short, the Ghosts just feel right. Others apparently think they’re a good catch, too—they were named “Editor’s Choice” in Runner’s World’s Fall Shoe Guide for the fourth year in a row. After many romantic treadmill sessions, group outings, and long runs on the beach, I can say honestly that this relationship has serious long haul potential. (Quite literally—they were my shoe of choice for last weekend’s Death Valley Trail Marathon, and held up just fine.) I’ve even taken them grocery shopping. The next step? Moving in together. I’ve even promised to clean up after them if they track in dirt.
Now that’s love.
Specs, courtesy of brooksrunning.com:
Weight: 8.8 oz
Midsole Drop: 12 mm
Shoe Category: Neutral
Arch: Medium High
Launch Date: June 1, 2013
Originally published at Women’s Adventure Magazine