Words: #CountryRunner Ian Macleod
“Plimsolls on, eyeballs out” might have made do for runners when NASA had the computing power of an iPhone 4. But not unlike the the explosive market for telecoms, running footwear has come a long way since then. These days don’t struggle around with mobile phones the size of shoe boxes. Running in your old squash shoes is the athletic equivalent. If upgrading to proper footwear has always seemed too much of a technological barrier to leap, here’s a short outline that should help.
I was a tad intimidated by the range, jargon and science of the Salomon range of trail shoes. It is a lot to take in. In fact, it’s all quite intuitive once you give it a go. With help from Ryno Griesel and the Nicolway concept store, I took a few days to settle on the Salomon Sense Pro. Here’s why….
First, the 16mm heel, with a 6mm drop to the toe, is a sensible fit for me. It’s reasonably low to the ground, which is essential to minimise the tendency to roll your ankle on loose rocks. A heel-to-toe drop of 6mm is more than I’m used to on regular road shoes, but moderate enough to get used to fairly quickly. To avoid strain on my Achilles, I’ve spent the last two weeks progressing from wearing my Salomons in the house to doing light runs in them.
Second, the soles are ideal for my purposes. Multidirectional lugs are designed to grip on a variety of surfaces (anything from the local part to cobblestones to the Northern Drakensberg). In other words, it’s an excellent door-to-trail shoe, particularly in a harder, drier, rockier environment. The forefoot rock plate is a necessary defense against the sharper stones one finds (otherwise painfully) here and there in the Berg.
The Sense Pro is also lightweight. It’ll add just 230g to mass I’ll have to haul up and control down the slopes of the Northern Berg on 4 and 5 October.
All of that is before we even get to the really cool stuff. I’ll pick just three of Salomon’s nifty tools to explain. My favourite is their trademarked endofit. This is sort of sleeve inside the upper that hugs your foot in place. I’ve had plenty of trouble with my feet sliding about inside shoes on technical descents, but it just doesn’t happen with these.
The lashings of mesh are also important. You can actually feel the air racing through while running. The difference between cool and hot feet might be minimal on a jog around the block, but over the 50km of Run the Berg 2014, the upshot should be time saved and comfort had.
Finally, even Salomon’s lacing system is impressive. The quicklace technology does away with the hassle of tying and re-tying knots several times on race day. One tug on the tab is all it takes. Then you tuck the remaining loop into the lace pocket, leaving nothing to bounce around and get caught on shrubs and sticks.
Here’s a short film that I think captures the passion this company has for brilliant trail footwear: