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“End of 2010” Shoe Review

December 27, 2010

“Your gear must not fail you”.

This was my mantra as I searched for the right shoes and apparel for the Oil Creek 100 ultramarathon. I know it sounds uber-dramatic, but I basically had to focus on the following scenario:

Its mile 85. I’m rounding a bend in the course and all of a sudden I’m faced with an open plain. The temperature suddenly drops 20 degrees, the wind is now in my face, and it starts to rain. The open plain I’m about to run across extends for 5 miles.

Again, I know uber-dramatic, but I actually almost faced this “perfect storm” type of situation at the Oil Creek 100, so I was glad I had tested my gear like a crazy man :).

This situation above also describes what the Leadville 100 may be like. In a word, I had to mercilessly critique my gear, because the right gear was going to make a difference between getting through or DNF’ing. If it didn’t pass the test in practice runs, out in the garbage/donated it went. Also, having shoes and gear that can stand up to harsh environments like this, means that they will do the job for runs of any distance.

As a result, I am happy to have found shoes that successfully got me through the OIl Creek 100. Following is a review of shoes that can be found at Urban Athletics stores in Manhattan. They extend beyond the trails and describe road shoes as well. Enjoy!

New Balance 101:

I used the New Balance 100 (the predesesor to the 101) during the race.

Although its a racing flat, this line of trail racing shoes from New Balance are tough as nails! It took whatever abuse the technical trail threw its way, plus the torsion effects of me falling on my face :0, and held up: Sticks, rocks, roots, uneven forces…plus I didn’t blister at all!

The 101’s (shown above) are roomier, which is a nice update. The rock plate underneath does a great protection job, and the padded toe is a God-send when rocks and roots try to make their aquaintance with your toes.

For a trail race that has some paved sections, these are it, hands down.

Adidas Rocket:

This is the penultimate road racing shoe, with very classic styling. The fit around the heel is super comfortable, and there is no heel slip at all as a result. The wrap around the foot is super comfortable as well, and it seems to conform to the foot better than many other racers out there. The semi-rigidity in the midfoot provides a lot of response.

Plus, these shoes are super tough! For fun I took it out on a 40 mile road / trail run, and not one tear or structural weakness showed up.

A great road racing shoe for many distances!

Asics Nimbus 12:

I wore these for a month after the Oil Creek 100, as I needed a lot of cushioning under my arches, as they were really hurting. This shoe is super comfortable. Its perfect for a person who wants a traditional neutral gaited training shoe. Plus, it has a touch of support for people who slightly over-pronate. The Nimbus is on its 12th update, which says some great things about the longevity and popularity of these shoes among the general running population. Its a perfect high mileage road trainer.

Saucony Kinvara:

This is Saucony’s initial entry into the minimalist market. When I tested it out, it felt great right away. For me, its a great higher mileage shoe as I’m used to training in minimal shoes.  It would be a good partner shoe to beefier training shoes, for people who want to break into the more minimal approach. It has enough cushioning to use every day or every other day, and is also light and responsive enough to use as a racing shoe.

In addition, one of the color schemes (shown in the photo) is a high-visibility orange color for safety, which is a huge plus for night time running.

So those are some of my favorite shoes. I hope that this helps some of you who are looking for your next pair. Enjoy the last week of 2010!

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