So It would be my preference to continue this trend for the two 100 mile races I am competing in in the next month ( Lakeland 100 and UTMB). However I discovered last year at the Lakeland 100 that it may be necessary to have slightly more protection over this distance. Back then I wore the F-lite 230s and although I got around the course in one piece, my feet took a serious battering because of the extremely rough underfoot coditions. To be fair to the shoes, no one ever said they were designed for this type of event but I am so used to the light feel of the shoes, I now find it hard to wear anything else and anything heavier or with more cushioning feel like clogs on my feet. Que Inov8's new Trailroc range of shoes. There are 3 versions - the 235's which are zero drop, the 245's which have a 3mm differential and the 255's which are a 6mm drop. Before I go any further I will just say these are just my initial impressions and I haven't put a huge amount of mileage on the shoes yet
Protection: They definately have a little extra forefoot protection which is so important for a 100 mile trail race over rough terrain. I know when I get tired, I'm not going to be able to keep avoiding those sharp rocks that litter the course and I have ended up with bruising on my feet on very long runs. My initial impression with these is that the level of protection is adequate, without dulling proprioception too much. The lugs add a little extra protection as they are slightly more aggressive than the F-lites. The rand around the toe is slightly harder than the f-lites but does not narrow the toe box which is another plus!
Grip: So far I have only run on my local forest trails which are ridiculously muddy and slippy at the moment. They performed quite well on this terrain though and I felt like I had adequate grip without actually noticing the lug heigth too much, which is why they may transfer well between road and trail. Ideally I would have liked to try them out on lots of slippy, wet rock (something the F-lites are great on) but have not had the chance to do so yet. However I have ran over some of that type of terrain and they seemed to grip quite well.
Last: This shoe is built on Inov8's anatomical last (meaning it is a wider fit in the toe box). This gives the toes plenty of room to splay as the foot makes contact with the groud and I certainly notice the comfort this gives the foot. Given the fact I am looking at this shoe through the eyes of a 100 mile trail runner this latter detail is important, given how much the foot swells on runs of this duration.
|Looking a little more like a trail shoe now!|
Heel Drop: This shoe has a 3 millimetre drop between heel and forefoot, which is the same as the 195s and means I can still run with good form and without that clunky feeling I get with a higher drop. This is definately another positive for me
|1 arrow 3mm Drop|
Overall: So taking all of the above in to account, I think these shoes could work pretty well for long distance trail races with a mixture of rocky trail, muddy track and open mountain. They still maintain pretty much the same flexibility that I love so much in the 195's and above all they feel like I could wear them without discomfort for a full day's running! Like I said I'd like to shave some grams off them but I am conceding weight for protection. I suppose the true test will be in 10 days time. Roll on the Lakeland 100 :-)
|Good level of flexibility|