It was a perfect Minnesota fall morning for trail running. A light rain the previous night had dampend the ground and all of the leaves have left the trees. The trails in Theo Wirth Park are fairly well used, so they are mostly hard pack dirt. The mountain bike single-track trails are a blast and make up the majority of the trail mileage. The cross-country skiing trails are much more challenging as far as the hills go, but are set up for groomed skiing so they are wide and well maintained (boring?).
The conditions proved a great testing ground for my new trail runners: the New Balance MT100s. We covered a great combination of ground conditions, mud, sand, hard-pack, grass, and blacktop. The only surface where I noticeably lost my footing was on wet leaves, but spikes are the only thing that will beat a layer of slick leaves. The low nubs (see pic in previous post) provide ample traction in all directions. In fact the heel seems to be designed perfectly for braking or controlling descents.
The biggest thing about these shoes is their low profile and minimalist feel. They feel like a set of cross country flats with a (very) slightly more developed heel. The low heel provides outstanding control and stability, minimizing the risk of the dreaded ankle roll. (Just say no to high heels! -I’m talking about running shoes.) If you are a heavy heel striker, these probably won’t work for you; the NB MT100s are designed for the mid to forfoot striker.
The forefoot of the shoe contains a flexible plastic plate “RockStop” designed to prevent stone bruses, etc. It certainly performed that well. In fact, that was probably the biggest thing separating these from a set of cross country flats. It does prevent some of the trail feel that purists may desire, but the protection may be worth it. Personally, I hope it breaks in and softens up a bit.
My last set of trail shoes were a water-resistant fabric, so the first puddle that I stepped in surprised me when my foot immediately felt cold and wet. But the shoes were dry (enough) by the next time I thought about it. I’m still weighing the water-resistant vs quick dry attributes.
Overall, I’m really happy with the MT100s. I’m excited to get them really dirty at the Living History Farms Cross Country Race this weekend.
Sorry for the long post, but if you made it this far, you might be interested in the other component of the test run: the REI Trail Running Gaiters. Now this is probably over the line of necessary running accessories, but something I thought could be a worth while addition. My wife likes to call them leg warmers. Another friend offered to knit me a set of leg warmers.
Anyway, nothing sucks more than a handful of sand, twigs, bugs, snow, grit, tears of loneliness, and other such debris of the trail getting in to your shoe in the midst of a beautiful or competitive trail run. So I have decided to employ a set of gaiters.
It came down to the Inov8 Debris Gaiter and the REI Trail Running Gaiter. I chose the REI gaiter for versatility and availablity. I can also use these while winter hiking to keep snow out of my boots, and they were sold at my local REI. Depending on the weather, I may pick up a set of the Inov8s for my ultra in February.
The REI gaiters are made of a softshell material that is very flexible and feels great against the skin. One of my concerns was that this would be irritating on my legs when worn for a long period. I don’t have any concerns about it now; the material is quite soft and compliant. They are water restant and breateable, but I think they would be a little too hot in the summer. I imagine these are going to be awesome in the winter, keeping the Minnesota snow out and the heat in.
Wow, I let this one get a little long. Thanks for those who stuck around to the end. Let me know your thoughts.