There's little room for denial that Altra, that friendly footwear company out of Utah, made a big splash in 2012 and stole some precious marketshare in the minimalist footwear category from players who have been in the industry much longer. With specific respect to the zero-drop minimalist category, cofounder Golden Harper and his partners saw a big problem with competitors' shoes and sought to fix that themselves: the fit.
Altra The One Zero Drop Running Shoe

The logic goes like this: if the first thing your foot does when it hits the ground is expand to absorb shock, and the first thing your toes do is splay out in a fan pattern for much the same purpose, why are all of these other guys making shoes that wrap and trap your feet?

It's a fair question, and while without a doubt there are biomechanical and engineering reasons behind the fit and design of footwear, it stands to reason that there is room for a paradigm shift in footwear fit characteristics as runners become more efficient and more aware of their form and footstrike.

Hence, you get the Altra fit. Characteristically wide-as-a-barn-door in the toebox, Altra shoes are designed to allow the toes to splay and the foot to expand the way it's designed to (26 bones, 33 joints, muscle, tendon, and ligament; yeah, your foot is engineered).

And with a range of distance trainers designed on that same platform, Altra carved out a little stronghold in the zero-drop category last year, chipping away at the industry stalwarts like the Saucony Hattori, New Balance Minimus Zero, the VFF Bikila, and relative newcomers like Innov-8.

Enter "The One," Altra's answer to the speed equation. Runners who dug on The Instinct but found it a bit cumbersome on the track or in a tempo/race environment will find their pleas answered in The One, due 4/1/13 in stores.

Nominally 3mm lower in overall stack height (18mm) than the Instinct and weighing 7.3oz to the Instinct's 8.8oz, The One is intended to be lighter, faster, and more responsive than its daily trainer counterpart.

From the Altra website:

Introducing The One™ by Altra - a fast, light, cushioned, do-it-all performance shoe. From a casual 7-mile run, a marathon PR, or mile repeats, this shoe delivers a comfortable, cushioned performance. The cushioned midsole allows for maximum responsive energy return while the SpeedPod™ outsole maps the bones of the foot for a natural flex. Plus, the Zero Drop™ design allows for natural loading of the calf and Achilles while optimizing the landing angle to ensure maximum power with minimal impact. The One™ is the one shoe to handle any run on any occasion. 

Technical Stuff
  • Ideal Uses: Running, Road Racing, Speed Work
  • Designed to Reduce: Your PR, Shin Splints, Knee Pain, Forefoot Pain, Bunions
  • Platform: Zero Drop™ Platform, Foot-Shaped Toe Box, Natural Ride System
  • Weight: 7.3 oz
  • Stack Height: 18 mm
  • Midsole: Blended EVA/AltraBound™
  • Outsole: Blown Rubber SpeedPod
  • Insole: 5mm Contour
  • Upper: Lightweight Quick-Dry Air Mesh
Ignoring all of the trademarked technologies and general running shoe geekery, what you can expect from The One is simply this: everything you loved about the Instinct, minus 3mm and 1.5oz. 

For $100, runners who love Altra would be wise to give The One a spin. Available in stores on 4/1/13.