If you’ve only thought about PUMA as a skateboarding shoe, wake up and smell the race bibs—PUMA has recommitted itself to running and routinely made carbon-plated sneakers that are improving upon themselves model after model, line after line. We are thoroughly impressed by the Deviate Nitro 2, an excellent race shoe.
The third largest sportswear manufacturer in the world, PUMA has a fascinating backstory. They were a splinter German brand formed by the dissolution of two brothers relationships, which also created ADIDAS at the time—1948. Famously, PUMA outfitted Jesse Owens at the Berlin Summer Olympics of 1936 and, after Owens defied Hitler and every other decimated opponent, sales spiked in their racing shoes.
Eventually, the company spread out well beyond running and got into basketball early, making shoes for Walt Frazier before Michael Jordan turned 10-years-old. Comfortable, stylish and cutting edge, the Puma shoes enjoyed a cultural cache that made them equally at home in Vogue, Thrasher and Runner’s World magazines, all at the same time.
In Canada, PUMA remained committed to running, and their most famous sponsored athlete was Andre De Grasse, who just yesterday earned his first top three finish in the 100-metre dash, clocking 10:21 and, like all elite Canadian runners, eying the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Amongst mere mortals, PUMA has also reentered the running scene in Canada. Officially sponsoring the groundbreaking Toronto Women’s Run Series, now called the Puma Toronto Women’s Run Series, the brand has highlighted the need to get female-first designed shoes on as many women as possible. Recently they hosted a night at The Runners Shop with our own Sabrina Young amongst industry leaders discussing the role of women in sport.
All of which is to say: PUMA is back and the Deviate NITRO 2 is proof positive on the brand’s ability to deliver first-rate racing shoes. The shoe is light, responsive and sturdy. Sometimes shoes with the carbon-plate almost seem to flimsy to wear. I don’t want $300 shoes to fall apart on me after three long runs. The Deviate NITRO 2—with a heel-to-toe drop of 8mm—has a custom foam that gets the mix right between substantial and non-invasive. Certainly a race issue, it also stabilizes the midsole, which I appreciate after stretching beyond 25K.
The shoes I tried had a special black-and-yellow colour pattern to mark the company’s 75th birthday, but all editions maintain the brand’s trademark cool. It’s good to have another brand in the mix making elite racing shoes and it’s nice to see a carbon-plated sneaker priced at $260. (Their top of the line model, the Fast R Nitro Elite, pictured below, retails for $350; as expected, it looks like it’s out of Star Wars).
Speaking to the company, I understand that PUMA intends on sticking with running in Canada for the long haul and that there’s more shoe innovations—and race series sponsorship—on the horizon.
My running partner, upon seeing my Deviate NITRO shoes, mentioned that he didn’t know PUMA made running shoes. Perhaps after more runners try these sneakers, and the company continues making noise—and Mr. De Grasse is able to recreate his 2016 Olympic magic—that won’t happen again.
For more information on the resurgent Puma, see ca.puma.com.