What do you get when…

You take a pair of these

And a pair of these…

Answer… You get the ability to remain upright on this…

Saucony Peregrine and Microspikes = perfect winter setup!  (For me, anyway)

So after ditching the MT101 due to sizing issues and that ramp like drop, I had a small problem.  I still needed a decent winter shoe.  At the start of the year there were not many options available, that didn’t include delivery from the United States.  I basically could order a larger MT 101, try the Brooks pure grit, or go back to my tried and tested Inov-8 285…

Well my main complaint with the MT101 apart from the ludicrous sizing, was the drop.  The heel was getting in the way.  So anything with a serious drop was out.  This ruled out the 6mm differential on the 285 from Inov-8, although I loved this shoe for a long time I needed something a bit lighter, a bit different.  So my next choice after reading favourable reviews was the Pure Grit.  A 4mm diff is acceptable and the shoe looked to have a decently enough thick sole for insulation purposes.  Boxes Ticked.

What made me go for the Peregrines then?  Well having recently moved to this area and changed bank accounts, it looks like MasterCard has a way to go before it trusts me to buy stuff on-line.  Having absolutely no luck with the SecureCode I went to an online store that I’ve managed to buy stuff from in the past, the excellent Sportsshoes.com.  Unfortunately they didn’t stock the Pure Grits, so I ended up going for the Peregrines…  Last choices are often the worst compromises, so I was set for a disappointment.

A week later I received two packages from Sportsshoes, two different sizes to try on.  In the end after about a day of complete indecision I went for the half-size up, not a real noticeable difference in the length, but a slight bit of extra wiggle room for the toes.  My first run in these was on snowy trails, it was cold but runnable without the use of ‘spikes, which at the time I was yet to order.  First impressions were that I got the size right; I was wearing a pair of hiking socks for warmth so this was perfect.  I liked the stiffness of the sole, it didn’t feel to bouncy, thick enough to insulate from the ground and I didn’t realise this before I purchased the shoe, but it has waterproof qualities…

As the month of January passed we received a massive dump of snow, time to get some microspikes!  My first run in the Peregrine & ‘Spikes combo took me up a steep and snowy trail where snow shoes would have been a better choice, many sections of the route were icy and I was amazed at how the ‘spikes bit in to the slidey stuff.  Where the trail was packed I could really open up.  The stiff sole of the Peregrines was perfect for micro crampon usage, a certain degree of stiffness is required in my mind.  We’re not talking about mountain boots now, but I do think it helps in these conditions.

Fast forward a couple more weeks and I bagged Le Picou for the third time, this time though she was covered in the white stuff.  Not too technical, although some aspects of the final ascent could be described as grade 1, I sure as hell didn’t need any poles, axes or ropes!   The shoes and Microspikes worked really well, I felt that I had a pair of proper mountain runners on my feet, and the descent through the deep drifts, was laugh out loud stuff.

There you go, a perfect winter setup I think.  Overcome with my fondness for these Saucony Peregrines I decided to put them to the race test two weeks ago, when I entered Les Pieds Cloutés trail race.  The race was over 12 miles with 1100 metre total climb split over two hills.  Well the Peregrines were okay, but I would have prefered something a little thinner I think.  I was quite pleased to run with a little cushion as it meant I could be a bit complacent on the speedy downhills.  The draw back to the higher cushioning is the increased stack height that felt a little strange now that the snow had pretty much disappeared.  Hmm.  I almost turned my ankle on a couple of occasions.   Luckily I managed to avoid anything serious until about half way round when I realised that I was blistering badly under both arches.  I had run through a river crossing earlier and my socks were soaking, and of course the waterproofing was probably helping to keep the water in the shoe as well as out of the shoe!  (duh) The combination of the arch support medial post thingy and a wet sock meant blisters.  I gritted my teeth and finished the race.

Now I think this shoe is great for what I initially needed it for, but now we’re out of the snowy season I’m right back in the Merrells, and I’ve realised that I love ground feel, I don’t want it taken away too much.  Well, perhaps a bit… Depending on distance… Perhaps…