Open Source Athlete - November Edition

Sunday, 6th November 2011

My own shoe review.

As a Saucony sponsored athlete, I am fortunate in that I get a certain number of shoes per year in which I can absolutely thrash on trails and road, without needing to make one or two pairs last me a year.

I have decided to write my own shoe review because I often get asked what shoes I wear when? For example, training shoes vs trail shoes vs racing flats.

From the first week of January this year until today, I have put around 4,390km's of running through my legs. Living in Cairns which is an extreme tropical environment, lifespans of certain materials and items are greatly reduced, due to the heat, humidity and a thing called the "wet season".

Another component which adds to the destruction of a running shoe, is the weight of a runner. Heavy runners put a lot more force through a shoe, and tend to wear out the inner sole and any remaining absorption the shoe had. As a way to minimise extra washing, I took to running without socks a few years back. I walk everywhere barefoot and have subsequently over the years developed a pair of feet that look something like Frodo's out of Lord of the Rings.

So, bring in a 90kg runner with gnarly islander feet, add in summer conditions with 3 weeks of solid rain and a Category 5 cyclone, and you can quickly see how one would chew through running shoes at a rate of knots.

However, I have had major success with the Saucony ProGrid Kinvara. These guys have dominated my shoe selection since around April. The Kinvara's are an extremely light weight, minimalist shoe designed to be a responsive training shoe but versatile enough to double as a race shoe of choice. 

The break through for me was at the Angeles Crest 100 in July. A 100 mile (160km) trail race in the San Gabriel Mountains, California. I had done all my training in Kinvara's, but was nervous about attacking a technical trail race of that distance in a pair of light weight, minimalist shoes. I ran for 27 hours and 24 minutes and managed to get away with a slight blister under the ball of foot. I was really impressed at how well the shoes stood up to the test. The course has vast section of shale and rock. My feet did not sustain any bruising, and the outer's remained intact.

Since then, I have put a decent amount of mileage through a few pairs of Kinvara's to the point that I am comfortable enough to take a pair out of the box and race in them that morning. Which is what I did for the Glasshouse 100 - my third and final 100 mile race for the year. On race morning I was practically removing the inner packing from the shoes, sliding my barefeet in, and toeing the line. Again, zero wear and tear on my feet, and the shoes held up for the race. I am still running in the same pair of shoes that I raced in at the GH100, although am alternating with a second pair. The point is is that the shoes have an amazing ability to withstand a massive amount of punishment.

The shoe is versatile enough to transition from a fast road run to a technical trail all in the same session. Not a lot can beat that.

Happy feet.


#3 Tim Gavan 2012-03-15 14:05
Hi, Im pretty sure I am about to commit, especially in light of you being a bigger guy. can I ask, when you fit your shoes do you select a bigger size for the longer runs? Ive read theory that says chose a size thats a thumb width longer than your foot. any ideas? my current saucony triumphs are half a thumb longer but ive got a nice set of black toes and not much nail - i suspect becasue of foot movement? thoughts? thanks...tim
#2 MTTFL 2011-11-17 20:36
Hi Stu,
I agree with your comments on the aesthetics and the price range. They are definitely competitively priced.

#1 Stu 2011-11-17 19:46
Hi Mike,
Can totally vouch for the kinarva's. Bought a pair a few months back and immediately fell for them, lightweight, look good and reasonably priced! They put some top end runners to shame! Still yet to wear a pair of socks and still yet to acquire a blister. Although my mileage is on a different scale to yours, the Kinarva's are definitely something we have in common!


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