- Very light and snappy
- Stable compared with high-stack racers
- Good value
- Not as comfortable as modern super-shoes
- No carbon plate
A pure racing flat was once a key part of any obsessive runner’s shoe rotation. Stripped of the cushioning that most running shoes use to protect you from impacts, racing flats are lightweight and built to help you feel the ground underfoot as you pound your way to PBs.
However, brands are now increasingly successful at developing foams that allow you to have the best of both worlds – a cushioned shoe that's lightweight and still responsive enough to run fast in. The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly is the best example of this, and it’s now a common sight at the front of 5Ks and 10Ks, where once faster runners would all have been in pared-back racing flats.
But the Saucony Type A9 is an old-school racer of the highest quality. There’s no fat on the A9 at all. It weighs just 170g (men’s) and the cushioning is minimal. Speed is its business, and business is good.
When testing the A9, I used it mainly for track sessions and short tempo runs. It’s not a shoe for easy days, and I wouldn't wear it for races over 10K myself, though lighter, more efficient runners might fancy it as a race-day pick for half marathons or even the full 42.2km.
For interval work and pacy 5K/10K runs it’s great. The thin midsole allows you to feel the ground underfoot and the heel-to-toe transition is as snappy as they come. Compared with the Brooks Hyperion, another cracking racer, the Type A9 has a firmer ride, and I find the snug upper on the Hyperion more comfortable. Both are top-notch picks, though, and which one you’ll prefer will probably come down to your preference on the ride – the slightly more cushioned feel of the Hyperion (making it better suited to runs longer than 10K) or the snap of the Type A9.
The upper on the A9 is breathable and even when I cranked the laces for a proper locked-down fit, I didn’t find it rubbed or irritated my foot in any way. I’m also a fan of the flame-coloured design. If you’re going out to run quick, a bright colourway always seems apt to me.
The A9 is a great shoe for speed days and short races, and if you still prefer a shoe that gives your running a firm, foot-to-the-ground feel rather than a cushioned speedster like the Vaporfly, then I'd recommend it highly.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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