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Mizuno Wave Duel GTZ Review

For the number of Mizuno racing I have used (Ekiden, Universe, Musha, Emperor), I have always wondered why there was never a full wave plate utilized.  While these full plates are becoming more popular (Nike Vaporfly, Hoka CarbonX, Skechers Speed Elite Hyper), Mizuno was had a plate for years, but it only extended into the midfoot at the farthest.  This call has been answered in the form of two new, Japan only racing shoes: the Wave Duel series.  The Wave Duel is the more sturdy version with a little more midsole underneath and the Wave Duel GTZ is the lighter more aggressive racing shoe.  I decided to grab a pair through Global Rakuten to see how a non-carbon fiber, full length Mizuno Wave Plate felt.  I have not been disappointed.  For those looking for a responsive shoe without the excessive stiffness of carbon fiber but still featuring a full length plate, these are two shoes well worth checking out.  Let's start with the Wave Duel GTZ.


Specifications (per Mizuno Japan)
Weight: 5.9 oz (170g)
Stack Height: Not Provided
Drop: 5-8mm (exact amount not provided)
Classification: Racing Flat



HIGHLIGHTS

The lighter of two new Mizuno road racing shoes with a full length wave plate.  The full length plate makes for an extremely fast ride while an anatomic upper provides a secure fit with plenty of room in the forefoot.  The G3 outsole provides fantastic grip on the road that even excels on dirt and cross country courses.  The closer to the ground version of the Duel series, this shoe will work best from 5k to 10k for most, with more efficient runners taking this up to the half marathon.



FIT

The Mizuno Wave Duel GTZ fits me true to size (normal size 10.0 mens) with what initially felt like just a bit of extra room at the end. This is partially due to the wider forefoot, but also the lack of a toe guard.  The fit overall is medium in width in the heel and midfoot that opens up into a wider forefoot.  I did have to lace lock the heel to snug down the rearfoot, but had no issues with upper security even on quick turns on cross country courses. The airmesh upper is breathable but does a good job of keeping the foot on the platform. For those that need a bit more room or stretch in the upper, this one does it well.  The mild stretch plus the lack of a toe guard makes for an upper that disappears on your foot while training and racing.  I have zero issues with hot spots or rubbing, although I would not use the Wave Duel GTZ sockless due to seams at the rearfoot.  There is a heel counter present but it is a little more flexible than most.  I had no issues with my sensitive heel but those that are extra sensitive may want to be cautious.


RIDE

In typical Mizuno fashion, the ride is on the firmer side. The midsole, particularly in the forefoot feels thin while walking.  However, when running, the full length wave plate activates and provides additional energy return and protection.  This is not a cushioned shoes by any means, but will carry you decent distances at high speed.  For those familiar with Mizuno racing flats (Ekiden, Universe, etc), the ride is somewhat similar.  There is a little more underfoot in the heel and while firm, the wave plate does a great job of rolling you forward.  Unlike other Mizuno shoes, the plate actually carries you through the forefoot..  The forefoot is the best part of this shoe, as the wider/anatomic base combined with the plate creates a very stable, responsive and smooth feel.  The heel is slightly beveled and the nubs continue up the bevel.  This creates fantastic traction, especially on uneven terrain.  This is one of the many characteristics that made this a great shoe for my conservative return to cross country racing.


Although not listed, I would put the Mizuno Wave Duel GTZ at around a 4-5mm drop.  It does feel lower, but not so low that you will feel strain on your achilles.  I was impressed that this felt like a 5k-10k shoe, but have been able to use this for longer tempo runs without too much issue.


STABILITY

Being a racing flat, the Mizuno Wave Duel GTZ is a fairly neutral shoe.  The two major sources of stability, particularly in the forefoot, comes from the full length wave plate and wider last.  The base of the forefoot is surprisingly wide for a racing shoe and creates a very stable base to both land and push off from.  Combined with a plate that resists torsional rigidity,  this is a great shoe for someone who likes a responsive and stable ride up front.  The midfoot however is on the narrow side, which does make the middle part of the shoe a little bit more unstable during transitions, but overall the plate does a decent job of creating torsional rigidity and moving the body forward.

Image from Mizuno Japan

SPEED

While the Mizuno Wave Duel GTZ is billed as one of Mizuno's fastest shoes, it feels most at home for me during tempo runs.  I have used this shoe for a variety of things, from road tempos to track intervals to cross country racing.  The Wave Duel GTZ doesn't feel like the best shoe for all out speed, but excels at going faster for a little longer.  I have been surprised how fresh my legs feel after difficult or longer efforts.  That is why I consider the Wave Duel GTZ a great option for 10k races.  Many will find this shoe light enough for 5k races and track workouts.  I have had some success using them for cross country races thanks to the gripping outsole and my cautious transition to super light racing shoes.  I personally prefer them for slightly longer races as the plate and the sole provide enough cushion underfoot while still staying on the faster end of things.  I could definitely see lighter and efficient runners using this for the marathon, as many Japanese runners are known to do. 


DURABILITY

I am always concerned about durability when I see the G3 outsole nubs that are common in Mizuno racing shoes.  However, I have been impressed that after many hard miles on both road and cross country terrain, there is next to no wear on them.  Even in the heel, I have not dislodged any nubs.  These provide great traction on a variety of terrain, even on wet road.  As mentioned above, I have used these for several cross country races and even with stones, dirt and grass, the durability of both the upper and sole has been great.  The cushioning has remained fairly similar over the use.  The same firmer ride is present.  My only concern is that the wave plate feels like it is starting to get a little more flexible in the forefoot after 20 miles.  While this does make for a smooth toe-off, I am concerned about the loss of the snappy and stable forefoot feeling.


THOUGHTS AS A DPT 

I am extremely excited to finally see a full length wave plate from Mizuno.  The wave plate itself is an interesting design for shock absorption that lasts far longer than normal EVA.  However, from an anatomic perspective, if the wave plate is in some way trying to imitate the plantar fascia (the multiple bands of fascia underneath the foot that adds stability to multiple structures including the arches of the foot), then Mizuno was missing the mark by having it end in the midfoot.  The plantar fascia extends all the way to the toes in most human feet and acts as a force transmitter.  This is part of the windlass mechanism, an incredible piece of biomechanical engineering that dramatically increases the efficiency of human walking and running.

Image result for windlass mechanism
Image from physiopedia

The plantar fascia extends from the calcaneus (heel bone) all the way to the phalanges (toes).  During running and walking, as the individual transitions onto the forefoot and the toes extend, the plantar fascia is pulled taut, stabilizing the foot at the arches, midfoot and forefoot (this is one of the reasons extension range of motion of the toes is incredibly important).  This turns the foot from a flexible shock absorbing mechanism into a stiff and stable platform from which to push off and transition from.  The foot must be flexible at shock absorption (landing) to absorb force, but the ability to shift into a rigid lever from which to propel from is amazing.  The plantar fascia acts as a force transmitter and stabilizer as the calf and plantar flexor muscles propel the individual forward during terminal stance.  Given that this amazing mechanism exists, why not further support it with a full length wave plate?

  

RECOMMENDATIONS 

As mentioned above, I would appreciate from a stability standpoint if Mizuno would fill in the midfoot rather than creating potential instability from a narrow platform.  The wide forefoot platform does a great job of compensating for this, but that may smooth out transitions.

The full length wave plate is awesome, but I would love if it was a little stiffer in the GTZ version for versatility down to fast track intervals and mile to 5k races.  As mentioned above, the plate is great for tempo runs or longer efforts, but not enough for me personally during all out paces.  I think modifying the plate to better differentiate between the Wave Duel and Wave Duel GTZ would provide additional benefit.

Also Mizuno you should bring these to the US.  The Wave Sonic doesn't even touch the speed and fluidity of the Wave Duel series.



WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

For those looking for a great 5k to 10k racing shoe with a non-carbon fiber plate and a wider forefoot, the Wave Duel GTZ may be your shoe.  A unique ride that finally sees a full length wave plate combined with the classic wider forefoot Mizuno is usually known for.  A comfortable upper that should provide a little extra room for those who need it, this shoe will fit well for those with medium to wider feet (a 2E option is also available).  Unfortunately, the Wave Duel GTZ and Wave Duel are only available in Asia and some parts of Europe.  So for those in other countries, check out Global Rakuten or ask your local Mizuno rep to bring these to the US.  I was surprised that this has been my go to cross country shoe, making this far more versatile than expected.  This shoe is most at home on the roads and for those used to the Mizuno Wave, the full length Wave Plate is definitely worth checking out.  I hope Mizuno starts considering this design for more shoes.


GRADING

Fit                     9.5/10 (-0.5 for wider heel and required use of lace lock, great forefoot fit)
Ride                  9.5/10 (Firm but smooth ride.  -.5 for bare bones feel while walking in forefoot)
Stability            8.0/10 (Great stability in forefoot, -2 for narrow midfoot)
Speed                9.5/10 (-0.5 for lack of versatility down to mile to 5k pace)
Durability          9/10 (-1 for loss of snappiness of wave plate over 20 miles)

Total Score: 9.1/10

Thanks for reading!

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Dr. Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

***Disclaimer: These shoes were purchased for their full retail price through Global Rakuten and are currently available only in Asia and parts of Europe.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We put at least 50-75 miles on trainers and 10-25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. Currently I have 20 miles on my pair. My views are based on my extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.


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