Saturday, August 22, 2009

Time flies....

It's been a busy few weeks since my entry into the 100-miler Club with the San Diego 100. I've rested a lot, ran some, raced a little, spent time with hubby and kids and had the opportunity to test the Saucony ProGrid Xodus trail shoe. I've been a huge fan of the Brooks Cascadia 4 since I got them earlier this year but I'm also a fan of the Saucony Triumph 6 which I use as my road training shoe. Even so, I was a little wary of trying something new.

Straight out of the box, the Vibram sole seemed stiff. Indeed, my test run involved a 2-mile pavement section before hitting the dusty horsetrails around my place of work and my initial impression was not favorable = rough and clunky. But then I hit the trails and I got it... wow, the collaboration between Saucony and Vibram has resulted in an impressive shoe!

It's light, well cushioned in the mid and forefoot and the Arch-Lock really held my foot in place on fast downhills. I have a narrow foot and this shoe just hugged my foot - secure in the heel cup, no rotation in the midfoot and the not-so-roomy toebox means my feet don't slop around. No blisters!

The Xodus performed well on the trails, providing both stability (even though it's a neutral shoe) and flexibility. It's pretty light at 11-ish ounces and I hardly noticed it on my feet. The grip is excellent on all surfaces, the cushioning good. So where did I test it?

* Mt. Hood PCT50 - soft dirt, not-so-technical trails through the pine forests of Mt. Hood. Even on the cambered single track, these shoes gripped and felt stable. And no bothersome caking through the muddy sections.
* Mt. Disappointment 50-mile - asphalt (yuck!), rocky, technical single track, dirt fire roads, and hills. Boy, those climbs - on hellish fire road to Shortcut Aid Station and the final soul destroying climb on the Kenyon Devore trail to the summit of Mt. Wilson. The rock plate protected the forefoot, the cushioning felt good. There was no slip on the rocky downhills, even when try to slow my descent.
* Bulldog 50K - fire road, rocky single track, smooth rock faces. The Vibram outsole dealt with it all, unfortunately my left hamstring did not.

115 race miles and numerous training run miles and they're holding up well. No appreciable wear, no breakdown in cushioning or outsole. I'm impressed and would recommend the Xodus for technical trails and longer runs, when protection, grip and cushioning are crucial. The marriage of the Saucony fit and the Vibram grip is a solid one. Still love my Brooks Cascadia but I can't wait to try the Xodus on the muddy "trails" through the rain forests of Costa Rica. No slip-slidin' for me next year!