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Question: trail races and trail shoes

4 watchers
May 2020
5:15pm, 30 May 2020
8176 posts
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GordonG
Hi all

i'm thinking of doing a trail race ultra (50k) later in the year. one of the rules of the race is that you have to wear trail shoes. so, two questions:

1 - visually, what's the difference between a trail shoe and a road shoe? i'm sure they'll have more grip and i know some look more like hiking boots, but on the assumption that no one knows every type of shoe out there, would the giveaway be that a trail shoe is thicker around the ankle?
2 - from your experience in other races, how strict might the organisers be in checking this? i can understand it if they stop a runner taking part in the race if they're wearing something stupid like beach shoes, but are they really likely to check every runner's shoes before they start the race? And would they stop them from taking part if they're wearing good quality road running shoes?

ta
May 2020
5:19pm, 30 May 2020
3790 posts
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FenlandRunner
Depends. Rules are rules for a reason.
May 2020
5:19pm, 30 May 2020
42458 posts
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Derby Tup
Trail shoes are often not that different to road shoes apart from the tops are coloured (but now road shoes aren’t as universally white as they used to be) and they have more grip

What’s the event? The ground is currently so dry and hard road shoes would be ideal for many trail events
May 2020
5:21pm, 30 May 2020
4819 posts
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Vancouver Jogger
I've never entered a trail race, but I wear trail shoes most of the winter as my road shoes just don't give enough grip on muddy trails. The main difference between mine is the sole/grip. They probably insist on them because otherwise you'll just be slipping all over the place...
May 2020
5:31pm, 30 May 2020
3559 posts
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K5 Gus
Main differences are :-

sole - deeper tread lugs for better grip

midsole - some trail shoes have a "rockplate" between the midsole and outsole, this protects your feet from sharp stones etc poking through and causing discomfort. Some brands eg Hoka have very thick midsoles and you don't need a rockplate

upper - usually a stiffer toebox in case you accidently stub your toe on rocks/roots. Often a thicker and tougher mesh so it lasts longer from brushes with rocks, heather, etc.

waterproof - a lot of trail shoes can be bought in a goretex version, which is fine for running through wet grass etc, but often trail races will involve crossing streams where you'll foot will be submerged, so you don't want a waterproof shoe in that scenario as water will enter the top and can't get out. Some trail shoes specifically have drainage holes built in to help water escape !
May 2020
6:01pm, 30 May 2020
8177 posts
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GordonG
thanks all for comments so far

it's the eden valley 50k, up, down and around the Kent Downs - fetch sent an email around about it recently. i was out running today around the Kent Downs and yes, it was extremely dry already.
May 2020
7:00pm, 30 May 2020
42459 posts
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Derby Tup
Kent? 50K? Barefoot :-)
um
May 2020
9:29am, 31 May 2020
2538 posts
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um
The main difference is that trail shows look better when muddy or dirty. But, looks like, for this race, it's about better grip. But as Gus says, rock plates & toe boxes do help. I've never gone for the older 'rubgy boot' type ankle style.

Sportsshoes have some half price Inov-8s at the moment ...
sportsshoes.com

There's a few other models as well, but I'm biased, I like Inov-8s.

The course info does say : Due to the time of the year we don't anticipate the ground to be too soft, but it is likely to be muddy or wet in places.

If its really soft (deep mud), mudclaws are great, but the downside is they like skates on wet chalk.
May 2020
9:40am, 31 May 2020
1682 posts
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SailorSteve
If it’s hard, dry trail with fire roads and paths but little mud I often use Saucony Peregrine as a ‘light’ trail shoe (deeper lugs as K5 Gus says) for a bit of extra grip that doesn’t look or feel much different to many road shoes.
May 2020
9:48am, 31 May 2020
6508 posts
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The_Saint
I see this as the director of a fell race, the basic principle I think is that if you don't know why you need certain footwear (from the specialist manufacturers, not the "make the uppers darker" ones), then you probably need a lot more experience.

About This Thread

Maintained by GordonG
Hi all

i'm thinking of doing a trail race ultra (50k) later in the year. one of the rules o...

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