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Light Speed

Which featherweight running kicks are the best thing since bare feet?

Ask Fred Flintstone: Running barefoot can make you faster. To test the latest barefoot-inspired shoes, we had five runners log hundreds of miles in ’em. After they stopped crying, they gave us their thoughts.

1. Puma Faas 300 $85
These minimalist trainers are so light (7 oz.) we had to break out the special scale we used in college to weigh them.
RUNNERS SAID: Even though they’re stripped for speed, with nearly flat outsoles, our testers
found ’em super comfortable. “If Pheidippi­des had these, he might not have keeled over and died after running the first marathon,” said one. They also dug the street-ready throwback style.

2. Nike Free Run $85
THE LOWDOWN: These smart space shoes have a “full bootie” (heh) that wraps your precious footies in a one-piece laser-cut overlay, while a deep-grooved midsole provides Pussycat Doll–like flexibility.
RUNNERS SAID: “By the two-mile mark, the lack of padding makes my dogs bark,” claimed one. Others gave props to their Nike compatibility, which allows you to track distance, time, and calories burned via your iPod.

3. New Balance Minimus Road $90
At 6 oz. each, these crazy kicks are stripped down to the essentials—there isn’t even an insert. A nearly flat toe-to-heel drop forces you to take shorter strides, as if you were running without any shoes at all.
RUNNERS SAID: All the test­ers liked the increased road feel and didn’t mind the lack of cushioning. One said wearing ’em is like “going from a pickup to a Porsche.”

4. Adidas adiZero Aegis 2 $110

THE LOWDOWN: Though these wild-style rave-yellow trainers look funky, they’re the most traditional (and heaviest, at 9 oz.) kicks in our test. A super-sturdy heel and a high-rebound midsole boost support.
RUNNERS SAID: “They have the most cushion for the pushin’.” But more important: “They’re flashy enough to make ladies think you’re in shape even if you aren’t.”

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