Trail running trainers are born for a beating. With wet rock, thick mud, smooth chalk and stinking bogs to contend with, the best trail running shoes to cover your feet will need grip, grit and guts so you can stand a chance of reaching race-winning glory..
Nobody knows it better than these lot – a selection of trail running champions who’ve all experienced the joy (and relief) of finishing first. We asked them about the footwear that helped them cross the line and claim the podium, so that you can do the same…
Won the 2018 Penyagolosa in the The North Face Ultra Vertical
“I loved the Penyagolosa. It’s in Spain, where I live, which meant I had a lot of people cheering me on, but I also really enjoyed the single tracks full of rocky terrain. The soles of my Ultra Verticals performed really well out there – the grip is awesome. It’s awesome even when I take them on wetter and more slippery trails, too. The cushioning was a big plus for me as well. It’s important to factor that in, as you need to look after your knees and feet if you’re long-distance running. I would say, when buying trail runners, get them a size up. It keeps your toes, toenails and feet in general more comfortable after putting in the miles.”
Fastest man in The Spine Race 2019 (second to Jasmin Paris), wearing the Columbia Montrail Mountain Masochist
“The Spine Race is gnarly – it goes the full length of the Pennine Way in the depths of winter, and is legendary for its harsh weather. I wore several pairs of shoes through my 98 hours out there, but the most important were the Masochists. Their key feature is the Outdry Extreme waterproof layer, which includes a built-in gator. Obviously, a gator is great for keeping water out, but for me a more significant use is to keep mud and grit away from my toes – blisters are a huge problem for ultra-trail runners, and I’ve found these shoes are the most effective way of keeping that risk to a minimum.”
OMM 2018 Elite Course winning pair. Ran in the VJ XTRM
“These trail running shoes offer the best of both worlds, with the semi-deep lug configuration of an off-trail trainer, and the protection of an on-trail trainer. Add the super grippy rubber compound, and you’ve got a trainer that allowed me to move fast and with confidence on the wide variety of terrain, whilst still having the comfort and protection that running back-to-back ultra-marathons requires. Honestly, when I’m running over wet rock, I can trust my life with these things.”
“They were the perfect choice for the TransGranCanaria – with the terrain getting very rocky in parts, not only could I rely on the sole’s great grip, but the uppers protected my feet and kept them secure, too. Comfort and grip are two of the most important things for me when choosing a trail running shoe, and this pair has them both. I also like the colours – I don’t like a simple design, I like them to be exaggerated and bold.”
“The rubber that Inov-8 use is incredibly sticky – despite the mud, rain and frost on the steep slopes I don’t remember slipping once during the race. For this pair, they also infuse the rubber with graphene, so it lasts for much longer. I really like how wide the toe box is too, as it allows my toes to splay naturally over the long hours. And they’re really breathable, meaning the threat of blisters is greatly reduced. Finally, I’m impressed with the level of protection they offer – when I get tired and start thinking rocks are footballs, it doesn’t necessarily mean black toenails.”
The Outdoors Magic Trail Race
Feeling inspired by all of these stories? On the 4th and 5th of May 2019, Outdoors Magic are holding a series of trail races at beautiful Cannock Chase. Held in conjunction with the OMM Running Festival, there’ll be a 10K, a half marathon and a full to choose from, plus free camping over the Early May Bank Holiday weekend. Head on over to the Outdoors Magic Trail Race page for more info.