The fifth instalment of the Spezial range launched last week and once again there was a mix of styles to suit a variety of tastes. Everyone went mad over the Manchester GT (as expected), while the Indoor Super sold well, but I’m going to focus on the Harwood which in my opinion was the pick of the bunch. The Harwood is actually based on a mid-80s running shoe called the ‘Seaside’. If the choice of Harwood as a title seems a little strange (named after a borough of Bolton in Greater Manchester), then think about the original choice. Maybe they were running out of names for shoes by the middle 80s, maybe the name was meant to conjure up images of early morning jogs on the beach or maybe it merely reflected the cross over between sports and leisure typical of the era – whatever the reason I quite like it and it fits along with equally inexplicable running shoe monikers such as ‘Jolly’, ‘Gipsy’, ‘Flip’ and ‘Zany’.
Name aside this is actually a well-developed shoe and showed the level of detail adidas were putting into budget runners in 1984 both in terms of technology and cosmetic appeal. The Seaside retailed at £20.99 which was less than half the price you what you would have to pay out for the Fire, ZX 600 or ZX 700.
The first thing you might notice about the shoes appearance is the use of accents in the detailing. Two colour blocks were quite standard on the detailing of stripes during this period but the heel accent is less usual. More than being merely aesthetic, the double heel offers further protection and stability. The use of contrasting tones can be either muted or bright dependent on the colourway of the ‘Seaside’ you are viewing (to my knowledge there were at least 9 colourways)
The upper is made oxford nylon and has velour trim in the usual places. The insole is a pre-moulded single piece designed by structural footwear specialists Texon. The midsole is made of two density EVA and sole is made from an extremely hard wearing carbon rubber. The block sole pattern on the outsole is concave to roll the foot into its correct position, while the design is a new type which adds flexibility. All in all it’s a tidy looking running shoe, more than suitable and resilient for long road runs.
The ‘Harwood’ is a close looking re-issue. The shape is pretty much perfect and the materials are of good quality and the colours are spot on. The only thing I could find which is different was the sole as they seem to have lifted the outsole pattern off the ZX 710. Why I am not sure, but possibly because the 710 has been re-issued recently, they had the tooling to hand. It doesn’t really detract from the shoe and it’s refreshing to see something a bit more obscure coming out of the archives. A thumbs up from me.