I tried the Altra VIA Olympus a few months ago and have been trying to get around to putting my thoughts down for a review. The VIA Olympus is a max-cushioned shoe designed for the road and set to compete among other max-cushioned shoes. Read more for the full review.
by Dave Martinez
The Altra VIA Olympus is a brand-new model not to be confused with the Olympus which is a trail shoe. What they do have in common are the plush midsole and 33 mm stack height. The VIA Olympus is positioned to compete with the Hoka Bondi and any other max-cushioned shoe currently available. So how does it stack up? My first run was a 5k demo run at a conversational pace. It definitely feels soft but not mushy. There is very little to no impact felt while running but I never felt like I was sinking into the shoe. As a matter of fact, it actually felt a bit responsive. During the final mile, there was a hill that I used to increase the pace and the VIA Olympus responded. Typically on hills, I’ll notice if a shoe can feel fast or if it feels like I’m running slower due to the steep grade. While the hill was still hard, I was able to pick up the pace. I like the combination of soft comfort for those easy runs but a responsive feel when I want to get a quicker leg turnover.
Altra VIA Olympus Specs
The VIA Olympus uses Altra’s “original” Footshape™ Fit which means it’s a bit wider. Something I did notice compared to the Altra Torin 6 that had a “standard” Footshape™ Fit. While wider, it never felt loose or sloppy. It also uses the Altra EGO™ MAX midsole which is the same as the Torin 6. The difference is that the VIA Olympus has an additional 5 mm of midsole for 33 mm total in stack height. Of course, the “balanced” platform means that there is 33 mm in the forefoot and heel for a zero-drop shoe. I will caution anyone going from a traditional shoe to a low or zero-drop shoe to make the transition slowly.
While the VIA Olympus uses the “original”/wider fit, it doesn’t feel big or loose on my feet. I like the additional room in the toe box and Altra shoes from several years ago felt a lot bigger and looser than they do now. There is a good amount of padding on the tongue and heel collar which helps secure the foot. It also provides a nice step-in feel that you would expect from a shoe labeled as max-cushioned. The heel felt a little loose at first but running the laces all the way to the top helped to secure the heel without having to resort to the “runners loop” lacing technique.
As soon as you step in, you get a sensation that it’s going to be a soft shoe. With the padding on the tongue and the heel collar, it almost feels like your entire foot is being wrapped in a protective bubble. Once you start running you definitely feel how soft it is. Rather, you don’t feel the ground underneath or the impact upon landing. It gives you the sensation that you can run a lot more miles than you’re used to.
While the VIA Olympus feels soft, it’s not mushy which is to say, you don’t feel like you’re sinking into the shoe. There is a hint of responsiveness when you pick up the pace. Of course, it’s not going to be as responsive as a carbon-plated shoe. It does take a little extra effort to pick up the pace but once you do, it’ll let you maintain a quick leg turnover. The rocker design felt familiar and suited my style of running.
Conclusion: Altra VIA Olympus
First of all, I want to caution anyone going to a zero-drop shoe from a traditional shoe. I was overly eager to put in some long miles for an upcoming race and it really did help. However, I ramped up my mileage quickly, going from 6-10 miles per week to more than 35 miles the following week. I experienced some tightness in the calves and some discomfort in the heel due to the Achilles. I was never sidelined from it as I massaged the calves/heels, stretched, and made sure I drank plenty of water to aid in recovery. That being said, I don’t feel I could have ramped up my mileage so quickly if it weren’t for the max cushioning in the VIA Olympus. So who is the VIA Olympus for or who would I recommend give it a try? I think the VIA Olympus is another tool in the runner’s toolbox. Could it be used as an everyday shoe? Yes. but there are probably better options for an everyday trainer. I plan on using the VIA Olympus as a long-run shoe or a recovery/easy-run shoe. I also think it would be a great option for anyone wanting a shoe for everyday walking or if you’re in a job that requires you to be on your feet all day. If I had to describe the VIA Olympus in one word, it would be comfort. I feel the intended purpose is to provide comfort.
The Altra VIA Olympus is available at select Big Peach Running Co. locations but it is available online.