In March I ran across a post on runblogger.com about the Brooks Pure Project. As I was training for my Potentially Painful Summer I was contemplating what shoe I would use for tacking all these 100 mile races. I wanted a shoe that had a minimal upper, less than 4mm heel/toe differential and sufficient cushioning and protection to run 100 miles. The Brooks Pure Grit grabbed my attention. On paper it looked like the perfect candidate.
I did everything I could to get a pair of pre-production shoes, but I just couldn't make it happen. Finally early last month I got my hands on a pair of them. Because I like lots of room for my toes I normally buy a size 11 in my running shoes, even though my foot measures more in the range of 10-10.5. I got a pair of 11's and did a few short runs before my run across NH. The shoes were simply to large for me, but since I did end up wearing them for over 40 miles of paved roads that day. They turned out to be a really good road shoe with sufficient protection for long pavement runs.
A few weeks ago I ended up giving them to my younger brother, who loved them. I bought a pair of 10.5's which fit my entire foot much better. I used them for pacing my friend Adam for the last 32 miles of the Pinhoti 100. I was in them for 10 hours. I then used them last weekend for a 28 mile run that consisted mostly of pavement, but also had 15 miles of rocky rail trail.
I never encountered anything that technical during either one of those runs, besides some rocky single track at Pinhoti. So when Pete from runblogger.com asked me to do a shoe review I decided that I better try them for a more technical run to better analyse them. So this morning I headed out on a 15 mile trail run on the local snowmobile trails to put them through their paces.
I started with a mile of paved roads before I ducked into some of my favorite trails. The trails were rocky and covered with leaves for the first couple of miles until I hit my first steep climb. As I continued with the run I threw everything I could at them. One thing I hadn't tested yet was their ability to drain. I am glad to report that I ran through every waterhole, stream and puddle that I could and these shoes are remarkable at shedding water quickly.
|Post-run. Ended up in a swamp buried up to my crotch. All in the name of testing drainage...|
I am a little bit mixed on my feeling on the traction. I actually ended up ass over teakettle when I tried hit an off camber section. The side traction isn't awesome.
|Unique traction pattern.|
All that being said, here are my personal Pro's and Con's of these shoes.
Toebox. I'm not sure if I have unusual shaped feet, but the toebox in the big toe area is very pointed. It looks like it has been extended, perhaps to fit in the Brooks cameltoe thingy. To illustrate my point, here is a picture of my feet on the footbeds. Because of the rapid slope of the toebox my outside two toes end up rubbing slightly against the front of the shoe.
|I wore socks to spare you the horror that are my bare feet.|
|Too much arch support for my tastes.|
|Nav Band is too loose to do anything.|
|Comparison in shapes. PG insole, NB MT110, my foot.|
Cushioning. The BioMoGo sole does a great job of protecting your feet, offering lots of cushioning, while still being flexible.
|Great cushioning, low heel rise, incredible draining powers|
Minimal heel rise. The forefoot/heel delta is only 4mm. This allows a nice neutral mid/forefoot stride.
Drainage. This is one of the quickest draining and drying shoes that I have ever used. The uppers material is excellent at shedding water.
Overall Usability. If I could only have one pair of shoes (God forbid) these would probably be the ones. They have enough cushioning to run 40 miles of roads. They have enough protection to run rocky trails. They drain well enough to run in mud and muck all day and they allow for and encourage a midfoot stride.
I'd really like to see this shoe have less (or none) arch support and a more rounded toebox. For now, those few flaws aren't enough to keep my feet out of them.