A little while ago Salomon Sports contacted me on Twitter and asked me if I had ever tried trail running. I said I hadn’t but admitted that living in Wales I really had no excuse not to (I mean, have you seen Wales? It’s gorgeous). Salomon suggested that I might like to visit one of the Salomon City Trail events, meet their team and try out their shoes on a pre marked route. So that’s what I did on Sunday. I headed to Mortlake Green in South West London ready for action in my brand new snazzy leggings (my Mum says they’re ugly, I disagree).
I met up with Tord, Dom and Richard who gave me a warm welcome. Dom talked me through the three shoes that they had for me to try out: Speedcross, XR Crossmax and the Sense Mantra. All of these shoes are trail shoes but designed for slightly different requirements. The Speedcross is an out and out trail running shoe. The Crossmax is a door to trail shoe and more like a road/trail hybrid while the Sense Mantra is a light weight shoe for mid to forefoot runners.
To start off my Salomon City Trail experience I opted to go for the , Speedcross (RRP £95.00) the full on trail shoe. I’ve never worn a trail shoe in my life. They always look so bulky and not always aesthetically pleasing but the purple Speedcross was rather pleasing to the eye.
It has an 11mm drop so it is ideal for trail terrain rather than tarmac. I really liked the Quicklace mechanism and the little pocket on the tongue which you could tuck the laces away in. All trainers should have that little pocket. It would mean no more muddy, wet laces. I’m surprised more brands haven’t tried this on their shoes!
After lacing up I headed out on the 4.5 k route which meant running through the high street to Richmond Park, which should be the perfect trail running ground. Not the case however if it’s been dry and hot (not complaining I hasten to add). If I’m honest I wasn’t expecting to like this shoe. I perceived that being a trail shoe it would be heavy and cumbersome. Dom and I ran up to Richmond Park chatting about running and he then asked me how the shoe was. It dawned on me that I had been largely unaware of the shoes. Usually when I try a new runner I feel hyper aware of them on the first few runs. Not this shoe though. I can honestly say it’s one of the most comfortable running shoes I’ve ever put on my feet. I had expected to feel heavy footed and ploddy (is that a word?) but I felt light and bouncy.
When I arrived back it was suggested that I go from one extreme to the other so I popped the Sense Mantra (RRP £110) on. This shoe was developed for midfoot and forefoot runners as a more natural shoe. It was described to me as being a light weight training shoe which encouraged natural motion with neutral cushioning. This reminded me a bit of a road running flat.
It was definitely the case of going to the other extreme. I’m a midfoot runner anyway but this shoe with it’s low heel drop really pushed me up onto my forefoot and I found that was the only way I could run in them. I tried to go back to my normal strike but forefoot was where I felt more comfortable. This shoe felt slightly more roomy than the Speedcross and I was told that they come up a half size large to allow for the splaying that occurs at the toes when you go into forefoot strike. I wasn’t so sure though. Even in my running spikes I prefer to be a bit snug so this shoe felt a little too roomy. If I did use it I’d be tempted to go down a half size to my regular shoe size. I’m a 3.5 and for running I either go for 3.5 or a 4.
The first version of the Sense shoe was developed by Salomon in their S-Lab where they design shoes for their elite ultra and trail athletes. The original Sense was developed for Salomon athlete Kilian Jornet. The shoe was then re-developed with recreational trail runners in mind.
After my second 4.5k lap in the Sense Mantra I moved onto the Crossmax (RRP £100) which is Salomon’s door-trail shoe, ideal for those runners who need to run along the road a bit before reaching their trail.
To test this shoe out I went out alongside the river for a 2k route. It struck me how similar this shoe was to a standard road running shoe. It wasn’t as light and bouncy as the Speedcross but definitely more supportive than the natural Sense Mantra. I did like this shoe and I wish now I’d gone on the longer route just to test it out a bit more. I can see how this would be good for door-trail as it isn’t an out and out trail shoe but if you had to stick with the roads I don’t think you’d have to worry too much.
So after about 11k of running I had tested the three Salomon shoes. I liked all three shoes. The Crossmax was great but very similar I think to the Nike Pegasus and Brooks Ravenna that I already run in and I wouldn’t be bothered about taking either of those on a slightly mucky trail. I did like the Sense Mantra but as I said for me I would like it to be a bit more snug, but that’s just me. I think if I had a tighter fit I could imagine racing a trail 5k or 10k in this shoe. The way it pushes you onto your forefoot almost forces you into a race stance, so it might not be a trail shoe for beginners who aren’t used to that.
Out of the three I tried I was pleasantly surprised by the Speedcross. Light, bouncy and not cumbersome in the slightest. It fitted well, had great support and felt effortless on my feet. The complete opposite of what I expected a trail shoe to be and if you haven’t tried a trail shoe before then the Salomon City Trail events are a great excuse to try them out.
Meeting the Salomon team, trying the shoes and talking about trail running has got me thinking a bit more about the type of running I do right now. I’m very much a road runner right now but this event has got me thinking about where I do my training and the types of events I tend to enter. I’d definitely like to try a trail race in the future so watch this space!
To find a Salomon City Event near you to try the shoes, meet the team and their athletes visit www.salomoncitytrail.co.uk for more information.
(This is an honest review and all opinions and views are my own).