One foot at a time | One sole at a time | One hell of a good time


Saturday, April 01, 2006

FiveFingers™ Survive 25 MIle Tough Trail Run

Howdy Folks

This past Saturday, I put a new, properly fitting pair of FiveFingers through a very good test run: 25 miles and over 6 hours of hard, muddy, rocky, steep, slippery, multiple stream-crossing trail running in the Santa Monica mountains with a group of ultrarunners and adventure racers.

Photo by Suzy Degazon

The FiveFingers performed as well as any of the other shoes in the group, with a couple huge benefits.

1. They didn't collect tons of mud like the big, gnarly trail shoes did. The others complained of their shoes getting heavier as mud caked on the sole of their shoes. Since the FF are smooth soled, no mud collection.

2. No problem with the wet conditions and rock hopping, stream crossings. They had excellent grip on wet rocks, and still felt fine when wet.

3. I could FEEL the ground and adjust my gait accordingly. Shoe wearers do not quickly sense when the ground is too slippery or soft. With the FiveFingers, I could feel the softness instantly know whether or not I could plant my foot safely.

4. I could use my toes to grab the ground on steep, muddy uphills.

5. Some of the other runners commented favorably as to my style of trail running. Much lighter on my feet, far more aware of the course, surfing the course, or skiing the course rather than just plodding through it. Efficiency of movement brought about because of constant feedback through the feet leading to gentler landings and more thoughtful course selection and faster cadence, especially on downhills.

6. Low profile design eliminates the dreaded twisted ankle problem the high-heeled trail shoe wearers are prone to suffer.

Downfalls were the same for shoe wearers:

1. With NO traction, they had problems when confronted with super-slippery muddy slopes. Even the trail shoe wearers had problems here. My hope for the future trail version of the FF would be to allow for more toe spread to mimic the breaking strategy of mountain animals.

2. It ain't fun to kick rocks (but not as bad as without FF). However, barefoot trail running requires much more focus, so kicking rocks is far less common then typical trail runners.

I have done portions of this same course without shoes. However, I could never move as fast nor as confidently as I could with the FF on. The adventure runners were jealous.

Best Regards, Barefoot Ted

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