Brooks Ravenna 11 Intro
Ravenna is the lightest, sleekest stability offering from Brooks, comparable to the neutral Launch but featuring the latest version of Guiderails® Holistic Support System.
It shares with the mid-cushioned Adrenaline (the Ghost with GuideRails®) and ultra-plush Transcend (the Glycerin with GuideRails®).
The GuideRails® function like an extended heel counter—that stiff piece around the heel of many running shoes to counter excess heel movement—by continuing to guide the foot as it moves through footstrike, with the goal of correcting knee alignment from the ankle up.
The unobtrusive guidance is there if you need it but easy to ignore when you don’t, which can be helpful for a regular pronated foot motion when muscles fatigue and for those who overpronate to a low-moderate degree
This method of foot guidance works for me, and it allows for a lighter shoe as well, from those with extra bulk in the midsole. Speaking of weight, the 11 is .4 oz. lighter per shoe than my half-size smaller in Ravenna 9.
Speaking of which, I really tried to make my preferred size work in past Brooks shoes as I do not like extra length in a shoe.
I finally grew tired of loosening the laces enough that I could convince myself that the 9.5 didn’t pinch my forefoot and went with size 10 for this year’s Ravenna 11, Adrenaline GTS 20, and Transcend 6.
The half-size bigger fit really well in the two shoes with more material around the heel collar.
When it comes to Ravenna, the trimmed down upper (+) means there’s slight movement in the heel (-), but for this shoe in particular.
I know going up was the best choice as smaller would have pinched at the ball of the foot. To explain, I’ll compare size 10 in Ravenna 11 to size 9.5 in the ASICS Gel-DS Trainer 24.
No surprise, Ravenna 11 is 8 mm longer than its smaller-size cousin, DS Trainer, with a 7 mm wider heel base and an 8 mm wider base at the ball of the foot.
Here’s where it get interesting: The shoes are the same width at the toe-end of the laces, measuring from where the upper attaches, and when the material is smashed flat, the half-size bigger Ravenna is .1 mm wider than the DS Trainer 24.
However, the DS Trainer’s material is more flexible, which allows the slight give I need to maintain the smaller shoe size.
The measurements verify what my fit experience told me: a half-size bigger Ravenna fits my forefoot like my regular size in DS Trainer, but it makes for a longer-fitting shoe with a less-secure heel fit.
The take-away for you is that if your entire foot is narrow, your regular size in Ravenna has a good chance of fitting well. If you have a narrow heel and medium forefoot, you’ll likely need a half size up.
The extra length (8 mm. from the DS Trainer) really is not that noticeable when running—I was surprised! But the heel has more give.
I have to use laces-lock lacing using the very top hole to decrease movement, which is uncomfortable on my ankle.
With a wider forefoot than heel, the DS Trainer in your regular size will better fit your foot like a glove, without pinching.
Further, between the Ravenna and DS Trainer, the DS is snappier, but the Ravenna combines more cushion (to a still responsive ride) with an outsole that banks outward from the upper more than the ASICS.
All this to say, DS feels more like an extension of the foot; Ravenna combines responsiveness with support in a more beefed-up (for a speed shoe) midsole.
Running 7 miles in Ravenna followed by 6 in Transcend, the brand’s most robust stability shoe, solidified my rating of 7 stars to Ravenna, while I gave Transcend 10. The differences in fit and ride influence the lower score.
With the same size for both shoes, Ravenna 11 has a smidgen more room in the heel.
Combine the extra heel movement with a less robust heel counter, and a dull ache sets in along the outside of my heel, a key indicator for me of poor heel support.
Take my last statement with one caveat: if you have a narrow foot throughout, your regular size in Ravenna will likely support you well, especially for faster, short to mid-distance efforts.
Ravenna seems to fit longer than Transcend though they are the same size. The plush heel in the latter holds the foot further forward in the shoe.
Also, Transcend’s design rocks me forward every footfall whereas Ravenna lacks this propulsion. Again, if my forefoot could take a smaller size, I think I’d have a very different experience in the shoe.
However, with the same size in Ravenna, Brooks’ stability speed shoe, Adrenaline, their speed/cushion stability hybrid, and Transcend, the plushed-out stability workhorse, I only get the fit issues in Ravenna.
Moving outside the brand, in addition to ASICS Gel-DS Trainer similar shoes include Adidas Adizero Tempo 9, Mizuno Wave Inspire, and Nike Structure.
Brooks Ravenna 11 First Impressions
Ravenna 11 arrived in the mail the day before my February 1 Snow Scamper trail 5k—back when the biggest concern was which shoe to wear (for this race, including snow shoes).
Rather than how close we stood to friends and fellow racers or if we were going to have the race at all.
A trail 5k through the snow was my first run in these lightweight shoes (with some ice cleats slipped over the tread), and the minimal upper plus stable base performed well.
After finishing, I strapped on my snow shoes and backtracked to complete the race with my daughters (ages 10 and 12), and found that snow shoes made it a little easier in the 2-3” crystalized landscape after all.
That’s helpful to know for next time, but I had no complaints about my first run in Ravenna 11. Repeated miles brought my fit issues more to the forefront.
We all know how quickly the world has changed; my half marathon this month is now a virtual run in the safety of our own contamination zones.
On that note, if you’re one of those new to running because of this pandemic, then Welcome!
Please be sure to follow the guidelines for outdoor exercise for your area.
Brooks Ravenna 11 Sole Unit
Brooks’ eco-friendly BioMoGo DNA midsole cushioning is a standard feature of the Ravenna line that remains unchanged in the 11.
This midsole is my favorite feature of Ravenna.
Light and snappy yet cushioned at the same time, BioMoGo DNA has the firm feel of ASICS Flytefoam but with a slight sense of buoyancy that provides a better cushion as the miles tic by.
GuideRails® arise out of the midsole to provide a bumper of sorts around both sides of the upper.
Think of the Rails acting like an extended heel counter—which is the hard piece around the heel of many shoe uppers to counter excess heel movement—to continue this aid (if needed) throughout footstrike.
It you took a few layers of marshmallows and smashed them flat, then surrounded them with a graham cracker . . . ok now I’m thinking about smores.
Anyone else been way too snacky lately? Back up; surround the smashed marshmallow midsole with plastic straws.
You’ve got a model for Ravenna’s midsole with Guiderails: firm with compressed-marshmallow buoyancy and guides along the sides to gently push back against horizontal motion.
(Tac on a slab of scored chocolate bar as the outsole . . . nevermind).
Ravenna’s outsole performs supremely well to grip the surface and transition the runner into toe-off, without bulk or excess weight.
The shoe’s Midfoot Transition Zone holds firm through the midfoot yet bends readily about 2/3 into the length, to provide smooth transition onto the toes.
The firm single-piece midsole is bordered by steadying guiderails on top and rebounding rubber segments below to provide a speed-focused ride underfoot. This aspect of Ravenna score high with me.
Brooks Ravenna 11 Upper Unit
It’s the unforgiving upper that loses points.
The light, single-layer mesh is appealing for its simplicity and breathability, and it works well with the shoe’s GuideRails®; however my forefoot needs some give, which this upper lacks.
The tongue attaches to the upper at the third lace eyelet which limits tongue slippage.
The moderate heel counter is adequate, and rises along the sides of the shoe insole work as extended rails to guide the foot forward.
I can be hard to please when it comes to upper fit as I like a close-fitting shoe with a narrow heel fit and firm heel counter.
Combined with a stable midfoot fit which moves into a low-volume toebox that nonetheless accommodates little “knobs” on both sides of my forefoot.
Lacking any stretch in the upper material, I had to go with my half-size up for Ravenna 11, which means the heel is not as close-fitting as I prefer.
All that said, an entirely narrow foot will do great in this shoe, and would likely give it a raving review. If that’s you, let us know in the comments!
Brooks Ravenna 11 Conclusion
I hope that this review finds you faithfully hitting the roads (or treadmill) to help manage the stress and grief of our times.
Running can allow for some normalcy amidst upheaval and help us bring calm to friends and family.
The Ravenna 11 will bring some spring to your step if you want to get back out there or keep on with your routine.
The inflexible upper makes it fit a narrow foot best, and the responsive, supportive, and grippy sole unit encourages a light step in up to 10K races—or even a half marathon, for those with low-moderate support needs.
If you like/dislike this version of Ravenna, let us know why in the comments.
Also fill our RSG community in on the ways that running has helped you to cope in the past months, especially if you are a healthcare worker facing the current pandemic on the front lines. (If that’s you—thank you!)
Let’s link (virtual) arms while “running in step” and get through this. Keep making the world a better place, runner friends (even if that means by distancing)!
We purchased a pair of Brooks Ravenna 11 from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.
Brooks Ravenna 11 Price Comparison
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