I knew it! Perhaps if I ordered a slightly bigger size it might have worked but sadly my relationship with my MT 101’s has come to an abrupt and sudden end.
The little buggers. I really wanted to like this shoe, they look good, they look cool. They have what looks like a really useful studded sole but for what I need them to do they are flawed. A mountain running shoe (even before you start to take in to consideration the requirements of a minimalist runner) needs to grip well on all kind of surfaces – wet and icy rock are far too often part of my trail mix. Unfortunately the NB’s slip like crazy on wet rock. Lethal is the word that comes in to mind. My Merrells never let me down like this, the Vibram compound grips pretty good on slippery rock and even adheres quite well on ice! Okay, the Merrell trail gloves will never be an out an out mountain running shoe, but since I rejected the NB’s I’ve had them back on my feet and bagged another local peak (the Cap Blanc 1203m – not the most amazing achievement – its only a dwarf in a realm of giants, but still a bit taller than anything I’m used to running in the UK!)
Could I have done that in the NB’s? Sure, but not without some discomfort, which I will address now.
I think that even if I brought a half-size bigger and gained a bit of extra wiggle room I would still have a problem with the 10mm drop. This was far too apparent and the support features in the shoe were annoying. The heel would “catch” too much on descent, I felt like I need to increase plantar-flexion way beyond what feels natural to land near mid to front foot on the steep and gnarly.
I feel that even with the sliding that I have experienced whilst running in the Merrell Trail Gloves, I am far more confident wearing these on descent and more in control. If sliding is to be expected then it can be anticipated and with the greater sense of proprioception from wearing a more minimal shoe I can recover instinctively from slides. This is even quite good fun.
The negative side of winter mountain running in a more minimal shoe is avoiding hidden “nasties” covered by leaf litter on the trail, dealing with snow and cold and the obvious security issues on high and exposed mountain routes.
So a few options are left on the table I will consider the MT110 or the Merrell mix master, but I’ve just found out thanks to a post by “Oscar” on the minimal shoes forum that inov-8 intend to launch the “trail roc” 235, 245, 255 with corresponding differentials of 0mm, 3mm and 6mm. a photo can be seen here
I think 2012 is likely to prove the year of the minimalist trail runner!
UPDATE: I’ve just found out that the Uk and Europe won’t be seeing the MT 110 until July… and it will keep the American sole, it will not have the UK version MT101 sole. Just crossed it off my list.