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Is there any sort of early adoption program that vendors offer for running shoes? The reason I ask is that in my case, I'm running a marathon at the end of May. Saucony is releasing the Kinvara 3 just two weeks before. I'd love the upgrade to the shoes, but two weeks is not a great amount of time to break in a shoe for a Marathon (in my opinion). So, it got me thinking. I wondered if any shoe manufacturer releases shoes to a "beta" group earlier on so they can get feedback, reviews, etc.

Are you aware of any or are you aware of a sporting goods store (running warehouse, dicks sporting goods, etc) that offer some sort of program?

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I doubt you'll have much luck with a vendor. I happen to work for a seller of running shoes and it is incredibly rare that we get stock of new generation styles well in advance of when we're allowed to sell them. Occasionally, we may get a single pair to evaluate, but that usually comes with pretty strict guidelines about the distribution or access to that sample pair.

Your best bet is going to be to go to the manufacturer directly, I expect. Those athletes with sponsorship deals generally have access to the new generation shoes prior to their street availability precisely for reviews, feedback, etc.

The Kinvara 3 is scheduled to be released on May 1st at the Boston Marathon, depending on how close to the end of May your marathon is, that might give you an extra week or so to break them in. Based on the updates to this generation, it doesn't appear that the break-in period will be that much different than that of the Kinvara 2, so if you're familiar and comfortable with that shoe, you should be able to gauge.

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Not really a direct answer to your question, but hopefully it helps: I never break in race shoes more than a week or two. My protocol for new shoes: wear them around the house the night I buy them. Take them for a shortish run (3-5 miles). Then take them for a longish run (10 miles). And you're done.

I agree that you probably won't get shoes early from the vendor, unless you are sponsored by them. If they are going to be released at Boston, something to do would be to find someone who is in Boston that week, and have them grab you up a pair or two, and Fed-Ex them to you.

  • Just to clarify, Mike, they should be available everywhere on May 1st - video link – Jacob G Feb 27 '12 at 2:16
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Brooks has a wear tester program, and so does New Balance as of the date of this answer. However, both programs are relatively selective, which is to say not everyone who signs up is included in the program. (In fact, it seems likely that many more people sign up than are accepted.)

I don't believe Saucony has a similar program, and if they did I doubt you would be able to control which models you were sent and when.

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