Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz
My friends all have Porsches,
I must make amends…
Or so the song goes. But for me, I have always thought that the words to that song rang hollow. Why would you want a Mercedes Benz in preference to a Porsche? I’ll be honest, I would happily trade in the Hyundai Matrix that I am driving for either a Mercedes or a Porsche. But if I had a choice, it’d be the Porsche every time for me.
Why? Well my limited experience of Porsches is that the have a wonderful balance of raw speed and sportiness along with quite a decent level of comfort. Which is to say that they seem to be equally happy tearing around a twisty country lane as they are cruising along the motorway.
And so it is with the Saucony Cortana 3. This is a shoe that in my mind comes as close as possible to giving the wearer the cushioning, protection and comfort of a long-distance shoe, ready for a marathon and even beyond the classic distance and the lightness, responsiveness and grip of a shoe that will tear round a 5km Parkrun.
Initial impressions count
Straight out of the box, the shoe looks impressive. It is a tiger of a running shoe: all teeth and no nonsense. The welded overlays are something we are familiar with across much of the Saucony range now and in the Cortana 3 they play both an aesthetic and practical role, giving the shoe a wonderfully sleek look and ensuring there are as few stitched as possible. Indeed, shoving my hand inside the shoe revealed absolutely no seams at all, making this a very interesting option for triathletes and sockless runners alike.
The other things that I really like about this shoe are the Support Frame and the collar. The Support Frame is a moulded section at the back of the shoe that acts like an external heel-counter and aims to lock the heel in place. The idea is that this will provide a secure, stable fit and in my opinion it does just that. It is almost the antithesis of all the minimalist shoes with no structure around the heel, which I love for easy runs where I want my feet to work a little, but I am not pushing the pace. The Cortana is a shoe that has proven to be ideal for sessions and runs where I do want to push myself and not worry that my calves will be shot to pieces at the end. The shoe also had a very comfortable HydraMAX™ Collar Lining which is lovely and cushioned around the ankle and the top of the foot. Saucony tell me that this collar is also wicking, but I don’t think I get very sweaty ankles so I haven’t really had a chance to test this aspect of the shoe. If you do, please let me know and tell me how you deal with sweaty ankles.
Under the foot, the Cortana 3 has Saucony’s PowerGrid and iBR+ which are designed to provide an amazingly cushioned and at the same time responsive feel. Having worn the shoes for long runs as well as threshold sessions, I can confirm that the designers of this shoe have got that balance just right.
As with many of the shoes in the Saucony range now, the heel to toe drop is a very slim 4mm, which adds to the speedy feel of the shoe, promoting a more fore-foot running style. But the level of cushioning is such that the shoes don’t feel like a racing flat, so they are great for those easy runs, recovery runs and long runs.
So there you have it – the Saucony Cortana 3. I think that this is a really great shoe. It is about as close a shoe as I have found recently to one that can be used for almost everything. There are other shoes that I think inhabit the same space – the adidas Boston is one that springs to mind. And obviously if you run on the trails or you want to race in super-light racing flats, etc, then this shoe will not be the only shoe you need. But so far I have found that it has been the shoe I have pulled on for so many of my runs that I am hoping that the pair I have will last a good bit longer. It really is my Porsche… at least until I can afford a real one!