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The ultra running shoe for all occasions

by kirsty
Thursday 4th June 2015
Tags  Kirsty Reade   |   inov-8 RACE ULTRA 290   |   inov-8   |   Race Ultra 290

Product review: Has Run247 columnist Kirsty Reade finally found the shoe for her troublesome toes in the inov-8 RACE ULTRA 290?

Product review: inov-8 RACE ULTRA 290

I have largely spared Run247 from the sorry tale of my feet. I’ve made the odd reference to sausage toes, missing toenails and blisters, but I’ve kept the photos to myself. Well, that’s not true, I have sent the occasional toe snap to friends, much to their horror. Suffice to say that after I’ve run an ultra even my nearest and dearest beg to be spared from the horrors of my feet. You see I am blessed with freakishly long toes and tend to put a lot of stress through my big toes when I run and the upshot of this seems to be that I end up with mangled toes.

I have spent a long time searching for the solution and while it seems kind of funny I have actually had a few races where I didn’t think I’d finish because of my feet. Everybody has their own suggestion about how to resolve it – special socks, Vaseline, bigger shoes, smaller shoes, special lacing, taping – and I have tried the lot. I bought John Vonhof’s excellent book, ‘Fixing Your Feet’ (HERE), which was very useful, I tried gel toe caps, also useful, and I started using gaiters, which helped too, but I still finished every ultra with some sort of foot grossness.

The other problem I’ve found is that if you run ultras on rocky/muddy ground then you need trainers which give you grip but also a decent amount of cushioning. Most trainers tend to have one or the other.

I found Brooks Cascadia really good on the cushioning but not grippy enough in mud and Salomon trainers like the Fellcross excellent on the slippiest of ground, but hard on the feet if worn for a really long race. So I was really interested to try out a pair of inov-8 Race Ultra shoes, which looked like exactly the sort of thing which might fit the bill.

For the sake of transparency, Gary Dalton, I bought these trainers myself (HERE)(!), so this is a completely impartial opinion.

I went for the 290 version which offers more cushioning than the 270. Right from the off they felt really comfortable, with a nice wide toe box to accommodate the freakiest of toes, and a tongue which sits really comfortably on the top of your foot. They felt sturdy and this came in handy when tired legs meant that I kept banging my feet on rocks. The toe protection was much better than other trainers I’d tried.

They also drained well, which will help with the blisters as wet feet is one of my main enemies, and were lovely and grippy, even on wet rock and tree roots. They were also perfectly happy on stretches of road so I’d wear them for pretty much any ultra. I gave them a thorough test in the form of the Tecnica Maxi Race in Annecy (HERE), which is 85km long and has 5300m of elevation and I finished without a blister, black toenail or any kind of toe revoltingness.  I may now be able to pursue my dream of working as a foot model.

I know that trainers, feet and people are very individual but I just wanted to share my discovery just in case others have had similar problems to me. It seemed easier than starting a support group for ultra runners with freakishly long toes and associated trainer problems as you never know, perhaps it would tick boxes for foot fetishists. I’ve found the inov-8 Race Ultra 290s really good for me. So good in fact that I’ll probably buy some 270s as well.

Product review: inov-8 RACE ULTRA 290

To find out more about inov-8 please visit www.inov-8.com


About The Author

Kirsty Reade

I’d describe myself as borderline obsessed with running, racing, reading about running, and watching others run so hopefully I’m fairly typical of Run247’s visitors. I tend to do longer races, particularly off-road marathons and ultras, but am pretty much a fan of any distance. I'm passionate about helping runners of all levels to improve through running communities I'm involved in, such as Underground Ultra and Free Range Runners. 


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