Today I have the burning desire to write about shoes, now I’ve written about the shoes I use to race in before, but that was a while ago and I have bought yet more pairs since then, so I thought I would do a little update reiterating my opinions on my Inov8’s and giving my inexpert, but honest, opinion on my Salomon Fellraisers and Icebug Zeals.
These were my first pair, and I was in love with them, until I wasn’t! I seem to have endless problems with my feet, my husband calls them my princess feet – think princess and the pea, one tiny grain of sand in the wrong place and my feet start to hurt, and I found these shoes fantastic until they unexpectedly started to rub one day and cause awful blisters.
Despite my personal foot problems, these remain the best footwear that I had for really deep mud, the grip is aggressive and makes short work of extreme mud situations, this did however mean they could be a little uncomfortable to run in on harder packed ground.
Inov8 X-Talon 212s
Bought to replace the rubbing Mudclaws my love affair with these lasted a lot longer, in fact it endures, despite more “princess feet” issues. The grip is not quite as aggressive but still superb, and I found these much more comfortable to wear.
I did find, like many other people from what I have read, that they could be prone to shrink a little, and I had trouble when they started to push on my Achilles tendon (leading to my third shoe purchase, the Fellraisers) but I still use these occasionally depending on the course I’m running, although they are starting to look a little battered around the edges now, I doubt I’ll stop wearing these until they fall apart completely.
Despite loving my inov8s for their performance and grip, I couldn’t go on ignoring the problems I was having with my feet so I decided to try a different brand. After some research and personal recommendations I chose to try the Salomon Fellraisers.
On taking these out of the box they looked bigger and heavier than what I was used to, however they felt lighter than they looked. My initial assessment after some training runs was that they were more comfortable, the grip was OK, but that I didn’t really like the lacing system on them, finding that the toggle could get clogged up with mud making them hard to get off your feet.
Having now given these a much more thorough testing at several races, I think my initial assessment was pretty spot on, The grip is good, but not as good as the inov8s in my opinion, they are comfortable (but very occasionally these also cause me blisters on my feet) and the lacing system can be annoying, but does have the benefit of never coming off, loose or undone in a race, the toggle just needs careful cleaning to keep it working once it has been clogged up with mud.
Icebugs are the new kicks on the block and I was bought a pair for my birthday. I had read rave reviews and I wanted to love them, but if I’m honest it wasn’t love at first wear. They have quite hard arch support which didn’t seem to sit well with my feet and it was hello blisters once again, however I decided to try and wear them in a bit before making up my mind, and so along with liberal application of compeed blister plasters I persevered and I do now like these a whole lot.
These shoes are comfortable, despite my initial reservations, and they feel great as soon as you put them on, no stiffness like with the other shoes once they have been worn and cleaned.
I think these are the best all round shoes, unlike the other pairs they are not slippery on concrete and they grip to obstacles like glue. They perform well on grass, trail and soft ground. Where they fall down in my opinion is in deep or thick mud, where I have found the grip then lets them down.
I have seen some people question the drainage on these, and I found that when doing a fun run very slowly they indeed held water (they are supposed to pump the water out as you run) and I squelched around quite a bit, but when running properly I’ve had no problems whatsoever.
All of the different shoes I have for trail running and OCR have distinct merits and drawbacks, and I have good things to say about each pair. I like having different choices for different races, but my current decision making goes like this: Generally I’m favouring the Icebugs at the moment, unless I know it is a particularly muddy course, where I will pick either my Inov8 212s or Salomans, depending on which pair feels most comfortable on my feet on the day. The Mudclaws now live in the cupboard as an extreme worst case scenario shoe choice, I just don’t want to risk the blisters.
All in all, I can write what I like here but what it comes down to, and will always come down to, is personal preference and you need to find what works for you, especially if your feet like to act like the princess in “The princess and the pea”!