Best for: 100m - 400m
Star feature: FlexFilm upper and Pro-Lock lace system
Weight: 5.9 oz
First impressions are a big deal in all forms of life, and yes that includes sprint spike first impressions. Right off the bat you can tell that the Showdown 2 sprint spikes from Saucony mean business. You open a box to a flashy chrome green full-foot spike plate, which fades perfectly into a clean white upper, all accented by blue mesh stripes and laces. If this presentation alone isn't enough to convince you to sprint in them, your first on-foot impression will.
As a sprinter, you know what a good spike feels like on foot. It’s very tight, tough, hard and form fitting. Well let me tell you, this Show doesn't lack any of the credentials of an elite sprint spike. After a 20 minute warm up to get the legs lose, it’s time to slip out of some trainers, remove the socks, and slide into the Showdown 2. The combination of a sweaty foot and a rigid pair of brand new spikes made getting them on a bit more difficult than expected. The FlexFilm upper, which is a very tough synthetic material, makes the spike harder to stretch and maneuver, and once your foot is hot, the spike wants to grip your foot, not slide. This was the first sign of a good spike in my eyes. It’s sort of like the cockpit of a race car. It’s tough as all hell to get into the driver sear, but once you’re locked in, the only thing left to do is go fast.
As soon as I got my foot inside, my immediate reaction was “Woah, the arch support on these is incredible”. The full foot spike plate is extremely hard, and after its 10 spike toe configuration, the plate curves inward dramatically to lift the remainder of your foot in order to insure maximum energy being reverted back into the track. That inward curve and lift however, is more dramatic and prominent than any other spike I've put on. Once the spike is on foot, the last step is tying the laces. Saucony added a cool Pro-Lock lace system which did a good job at keeping the laces locked tight. Aside from the Pro-Lock system, another cool aspect of the Showdown 2 is the thick cotton tongue. Unlike other sprint spikes where the tongue is simply a thin piece of material in order to save some weight, Saucony made a power move and added some comfort. The thick cotton allowed me to pull my laces tighter and more comfortably on my bare foot. My only complaint about the laces is that they are entirely too long. Even with a triple knot my "bunny ears" were way to long and needed to be tucked inside.
After a few warm up strides in the spikes, my initial first impression of being blown away actually started to fade. The plate didn't feel as solid as I thought it was, the synthetic inner was rubbing on my heel and Achilles to where I began questioning my usual choice of going sock-less, and it didn't seem like the spikes were really gripping into track. It felt more like they were riding on top of the rubber, than actually digging into it. After a little taste of disappointment, I decided to give the spikes the benefit of the doubt. I’m only striding, I’m not going to be up on my toes completely, and maybe this is why I’m thinking the plate is weak. The spikes are brand new, right out of the box so I can’t expect a completely comfortable fit just yet. They’re not broken in, and like most new sports shoes, blisters are expected. As far as the spikes digging in, I was only warming up. I’m not exerting that much power just yet. So before all assumptions were made, I lined up on the start like for a 100m sprint with a completely open mind. I had to see what these spikes were made of.
After compressing myself down into the blocks, It all came down to how they were going to feel sprinting down the straight. About 50 meters through my sprint, all I could think was “Okay, these are fast” and right there I was sold. There was no more doubt that the plate was going to keep me on my toes, and there definitely wasn't any doubt that the spikes weren't digging in. As for a little rubbing on the heel, who cares at that point, adrenaline takes over, and a few wears will break them in. These spikes were great. My turnover speed was excellent, and the amount of time my foot was on the ground felt short-lived and very explosive.
Bottom Line: Style meets performance with the Showdown 2. If it’s time to step your game up from an intermediate level spike to an elite level, the Saucony Showdown 2 will exceed your expectations.