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Zero-Drop, Max-Cushion: Altra Via Olympus 2 Review

A softer midsole in this sophomore shoe hits the sweet spot of zero-drop and max-cushioned.
a tester taking a step in the Altra Via Olympus 2 on sidewalk pavementThe Via Olympus 2 is Altra's max cushion road running shoe; (photo/M.T. Elliott)
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Thanks to the Via Olympus 2, I spent the latter half of this year running more miles in a zero-drop shoe than I ever have before.

After taking some time away from running, I was more open to zero-drop shoes, as it would be less of an adjustment than jumping in from a full season of running in 4mm-drop shoes. If your winter runs are short and focused more on maintaining a baseline, these are an enticement to try out zero-drop shoes.

For background, the Via Olympus is Altra’s roadie take on the Olympus, its max cushion trail shoe, now in its fifth edition. They share the same footshape, 33mm stack height, and similar uppers. However, the Via Olympus has a more emphasized rockered shape, a bouncier midsole, and swaps lugs for an entirely new outsole with generous grooves for greater flex and to cut weight.

I tested the initial run of the Olympus and found them intriguing, but a little sloppy when pivoting and not as cushioned as they looked. Apparently, I was not alone.

The biggest change to the Via Olympus 2 is that there’s more cushioning underfoot, especially under the forefoot. Like other Altra shoes, my toes feel a kind of grip ahead of a more cushioned footbed. The cushioning under the heel is forgiving without being squishy, and is still probably more firm than other max cushion shoes on the market.

In short: Altra softened the Via Olympus 2 midsole cushioning to more align with what runners expected from its fattest road shoe. For fans of zero-drop, the higher stack and rockered shape make the Via Olympus 2s a top consideration for long-distance road running.

Altra Via Olympus 2


  • Claimed weight 11.4 oz.
  • Verified weight 11.4 oz. (men's size 9)
  • Upper Engineered mesh
  • Midsole Altra EGO MAX
  • Outsole Rubber
  • Cushion level High
  • Stack height 33 mm
  • Drop 0 mm
  • Price $165


  • Lots of improvement from prior model
  • Great level of cushioning for a zero-drop shoe
  • Comfortable
  • Tongue and laces stay put


  • Grooves in the outsole easily pick up rocks
  • Boring color options
  • Still not as soft as other max cushions

What’s New?

Altra Via Olympus 2 side and rear view
(Photo/M.T. Elliott)

My critiques of the debut Via Olympus were that it was an overly firm ride for what I expected from a max cushioned shoe, and found some slop in the fit when pivoting.

That has changed in the Via Olympus — which is why you’re seeing this review. The EGO Max midsole is still not the softest midsole, but the updated shoe now has a softer landing with a good amount of energy return — which is helped by the rocker shape, too.

I can’t confirm whether the extra cushion is where this shoe picked up weight from its predecessor, but if so, it’s a most welcome 0.4 ounces.

Via Olympus Running Performance

Comfort and Fit

The Via Olympus 2 and the cushioning felt broken-in soft right out of the box. The shoe looks higher than it fits, which is true of other max-cushioned shoes, too. The high-sided soles add to the overall stability of the design.

The heel collar is rigid enough to give support, and I had no issues with rubbing or stiffness there. Any issues with my feet sliding around while pivoting and turning appear to have been resolved in the sophomore Olympus.

I’ll also note that the tongue stayed in place and the shoelaces stayed tied, even when I didn’t double-knot them. (Yes, this is still a nag with other shoes out on the market.)

Altra Via Olympus 2 max cushion road running
Testing the shoes on a winter jog on mixed pavement and road; (photo/M.T. Elliott)

Ride and Durability

Altra may tout this as its highest stack of cushioning, but I hesitate to call it max cushion, at least not when compared to brands like HOKA. There’s a lot of midsole underneath, but it’s not the most cushioned. As noted above, the cushioning under the toebox, where my feet strike most often, definitely felt softer than under the heel — which makes sense to me. And both felt softer than the previous model.

That firmer-than-expected midsole provides ample rebound, which along with the rocker shape makes the Via Olympus 2 peppy enough for running drills like pick-ups (at least for runners who train in maximal shoes).

Yes, these are road running shoes, but my training runs take place on a mix of asphalt, sidewalk, packed dirt, and crushed gravel. The Via Olympus 2 performed well on all of those surfaces. I dare say they performed better than lugged trail shoes on patches of leftover snow and mud, as they provided more surface contact and the sole’s flex grooves acted as siping for the muck.

Altra Via Olympus footshape and tread
A view of the tread (post-testing) and general footshape of the latest Olympus 2; (photo/M.T. Elliott)

After 100 miles in them, the exterior of the midsole has minor cracks from use, yet maintains its cushion underfoot. The outsole seems little worse for the wear, with tread still visible on the smallest segments of the sole and under the heel. That’s a sign of more durability than many max-cushion shoes that use foam on the sole and past Altra road shoes I’ve tested.

Additionally, I predict my pair will finish out their lifespan as walking shoes.

Who It’s For: In Conclusion

Anyone who has looked away from Altra because they want a more cushioned road running shoe should now take a second look. The standard Altra foot shape accommodates wider feet, and the zero-drop is always an adjustment for runners used to 4mm drop shoes. Winter miles are all the more reason to tackle that adjustment.

And if you’re already a fan of Altra and want a max-cushion road running shoe and everyday trainer, I doubt you’ll top the Via Olympus 2.

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