One such record breaker was 31-year-old American John Kelly, who laid down the fastest known time for the Pennine Way, completing the 268-mile route in just 2 days, 16 hours and 40 minutes. On his feet were a pair of La Sportiva Jackals.
I’ve recently had my own pair to test out, admittedly not over the course of a 268-mile continuous run, but over a number of hill trips, including a few days spent exploring some technical routes in the Lake District. Here’s what to expect from the Jackal and how I’ve got on with them…
The mesh on the upper sits over the toe and tongue, with the tongue itself connected to the inner like a sock. Designed with comfort in mind, these internal bellows stop any unwanted bits of nature (twigs, mud, rocks, etc…) sneaking their way in to wreak havoc with your run.
TPU reinforcements sit around the toe box which helps to aid the longevity of the shoe and protects against any unwanted rock abrasion and scuffing when scrambling or running through rougher terrain.
The side panels come in a ‘mono-burr nylon’ that helps with breathability and keeps your feet cool during those summer sessions.
The main talking point of this shoe sits with the sole. Inserted cushioning pads sit internally in the sole to boost the cushion factor for long-distance trail pounding. La Sportiva have constructed the front part of the midsole with a softer EVA, with an aim to increase the cushioning, while the back midsole focuses on stabilisation through the use of stiffer EVA.
In the midsole you’ll find a high-density EVA Rock-Shield. This rock plate adds a good deal of stiffness, allowing you to transfer energy more easily, rocking you forward to the front of the shoe during each stride. The rock plate also offers protection, absorbing shock and protecting your feet and knees over rougher terrain from the bottom up.
The rock plate is coupled with La Sportiva’s Impact Braking System, which has been designed to absorb unwanted impact and improve grip on the up and downhill. I found this works extremely well on their mountaineering boots and approach shoes and feel it does a great job when applied to a trail running shoe.
On the outsole, lugs have been situated in a way that allows as many of the lugs as possible to contact the ground – improving overall grip.
I typically run in minimally cushioned trail running shoes but slipping my feet into the Jackals was a bit of a game changer for me – the comfort level of these shoes is the best I’ve experienced in a long time.
Over 300km, I’ve taken this shoe over classic grade 1 scrambles, mud, wet rock, bog, grass and classic trails. From the outset you can see just how cushioned this shoe is just from looking at it. This did take a bit of getting used to for me as I found the roll from mid-foot to fore-foot quite different to what I was used to.
With the sock-like integrated tongue, you don’t have to readjust midway through a run to make sure it’s not slipping off to one side. In the past I’ve found that tongue / lace combos tend to rub / pinch my instep, but the cushioning on the tongue coupled with the soft flat laces meant that I had no problems with this.
The rubber bumper around the toe box also took me a little while to get used to until I had broken the shoe in a little. This is probably due to the overall stiffness of the shoe compared to what I’m more used to.
I found the stability to be impressive. That, I think, was mainly thanks to the in-excessive heel-to-toe offset of 7mm and stack height of 25mm in the heel and 19mm at the forefoot.
Durability seems really good, even after a summer and autumn of trail running in these I can’t see too much wear – certainly nothing that’s cause for concern. I was equally impressed with the grip. I had a number of wet days on some typically British slippery rock however they seemed to hold really well and I stayed upright – which is the main thing! At 3mm, the lugs aren’t the deepest but they seem well designed, with good lug angles for 360 traction and impressive mud shedding too.
I’ve really enjoyed testing the Jackals through lots of different terrain. These would be the first shoe I’d reach to for long or ultra marathon distances.
Available in men’s and women’s versions, including half sizes / dual compound FriXion Red sole / impact Brake System lugs (3mm) / Ortholite ergonomic footbed / longitudinal FLEX grooves / durable traction tread grip / 300 g (half pair) / 7mm heel-to-toe drop / 25mm at heel and 19mm at the forefoot.
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