A very bold hot pink and blue shoe dropped through my door. Does it run as fast as it looks?
Anta – Who are they?
Like many runners, until Bekele’s announcement and the third place in Berlin on the feet of Magdalena Sharui, I had never heard of Anta. The Hong Kong Chinese company has been producing shoes and apparel for their local markets for some time. But recently have been moving into more global settings. With Berlin and the acquisition of Bekele, they look to be on the up. Should we start to take notice? I have been putting their C202 v4.0 to the test over the past while. How do they face up against the best of the rest of the brands?
Weight in Altra’s sample size: 240g (8.5oz)
Stack height: 32mm heel and 28mm forefoot for a 4mm drop
C202 v4.0 Upper – Very Vaporweave
Aside from the very fancy pink, white and blue colour which I personally like but others may find a bit much. The upper really reminds me of the original Vaporly. It has that reinforced, very thin, ultra breathable feel. Despite the very obvious layers of reinforcement, it is still soft to the touch and causes no issues on the foot. In fact, I have found the fit and feel of the upper to be very pleasant.
The gusseted tongue wraps the foot very well and has minimal padding. However, this padding is well placed and stops any pressure from the laces from causing discomfort. The heel collar of the Anta C202 v4.0 is actually quite plush for a more speed oriented shoe. Here, the fabric is soft and well padded which helps it hold the heel tightly. This is where I have found the first downside of the shoe.
Over the past couple of weeks, we have had some rather biblical levels of rain in the UK. This has allowed me plenty of opportunity to test the C202 v4.0 in the wet. After each of these deluges, it has taken the heel collar of the shoe an inordinate amount of time to dry out. This is also because there are a couple of thicker, more vinyl feeling wraps around the heel. These add to its stoutness and water retention.
Dampness issues aside, the upper of the shoe is breathable, holds well and has given me no comfort issues. The fit is true to size and is actually very pleasant.
Lockdown is easy to achieve. The lacing system is quite simple and the laces are easy to tie and hold tight. A good start for a shoe which can be had for well under €100 on the Anta website.
C202 v 4.0 Midsole – Soft, Bouncy and Flexible
The Nitroedge midsole of the Anta C202 v4.0 is interesting. It is a lot softer than I was imagining it would be. Furthermore, it is also a lot more flexible than I thought a shoe with a carbon plate would be. To the touch, it feels about the same level of softness as the New Balance Rebel v2. This feeling also translates to the underfoot feel on the run. It offers a quite enjoyable and psringy ride. For me, this makes the C202 v4.0 a fairly versatile shoe, It is comfortable enough and good fun to use as a daily trainer but it also has the push and the spring to pick up the pace.
I’ve used the shoes for some shorter reps, my local running club’s long, hilly tempo run and plenty of daily running in between. In all facets, I have enjoyed the ride. It is comfortable at slower daily paces while it bounces and springs its way around a track or the roads when you want to push the pace. I don’t think that it will ever become my main race shoe as the flexibility and softness make it feel slightly more inefficient and less responsive than the very top tier race efforts offered by other brands. That being said, if the Rebel v2 and the Saucony Endorphin Speed had a child, it would probably be this shoe!
That being said, if you are not a fan of soft shoes, I would give this a miss. There are plenty of other options out there for a low priced, versatile tempo style shoe which are firmer and lighter. However, if you are looking for something different, this is a fun option.
C202 v4.0 Outsole – Wears in well
My first impression of the outsole on the C202 were not great at all. Stepping from my front door on a wet day, as soon as the rubber hit my wooden step I nearly slipped straight over. Not an encouraging start. However, that has been the only moment of worry the grip has given me. From the box, the rubber on the outsole felt hard and slippery. However, distance on the road has scuffed it up somewhat and removed the slickness and original firmness of the feel.
The rather natty pink and blue outsole has a cutaway in the middle which allows the midsole material and Flashplate to be seen. Other than that, the rubber is full coverage and has done well against wet leaves and a little bit of mud on the pavement. Along the forefoot, there are many grooves cut into the rubber which aid the flexibility of the shoe through the gait cycle. There is even seemingly a SpiderMan type logo cut into the forefoot, perhaps this aids the grip?
How will I be using the Anta C202 v4.0?
Overall, this is a fun shoe and a pleasant surprise. I have long wanted to try one of the collection of Chinese brands which seem to be becoming more available around the world. I wasn’t disappointed in this. Currently available for €88.93 on the Anta official website, this makes for a versatile, comfortable and low cost shoe.
Going forward, I will be using this shoe for both daily running and some speed sessions. It is not going to be my main race shoe but for a fartlek style run or some reps on the track, I will definitely be popping these on. With the signing of Bekele and their push to prominence, I am looking forward to seeing what else Anta come out with over the coming months. If they can keep their prices low and their levels of fun high, they could be a worthwhile investment for people who are looking for a leftfield choice for their feet.