Friday, March 15, 2013

Gear Review: Altra Lone Peak [1 year later review]

I wrote this initial review over a year ago on the first pair of Lone Peaks that I tried. I like to make comments or write occasional product reviews for gear that I actually have used for a good period of time. What better way to review running shoes than to beat em up and live, race, & train in them from beginning to end to see how they really perform and hold up? If you just review them when they are pretty, new, and at 100% it's not a true review, right?

I got about 480 miles out of the first pair of Lone Peaks that I wrote about. Let me say that they were not dead yet but I had torn the upper from the sole large enough to fit a few fingers through, as well as rocks, dirt, etc... The soles had plenty of life left in them and they have since been donated to Purple Heart. I am confident that if my fat feet hadn't blown holes in the sides that I could have gotten 2-300 more miles in them at LEAST. I have friends who are getting +800mi in them. I tend to retire my trail running shoes to landscaping duty somewhere between 300-400mi at best. Either the cushion stops cushing or the uppers tear apart....

I did everything from daily training to racing in them: trails, roads (actually pretty good on roads), trail speed-work, hill-work, technical terrain, snow, rain, rock, you name it, everything from the trails in the Northeast Ohio, to Kettle Moraine trails in Wisconsin, to 110 degree heat in Texas, to the mountains in Colorado for Leadville. All my ultra distance training runs as well as my ultra distance races with the exception of Oil Creek 100 were done in Altras. I'm not a super light runner (~170lbs) and the local Fleet Feet owner tells me I have Fred Flinstone feet....

...which is about right, my feet have increased in overall size since I started doing ultras about 5 years ago now....I have blown out the sides of every single trail shoe that I have owned. I used to wear a 10.5-11 and now I have been wearing 11.5 and 12.0 depending on the model. With all that being said, I admit that I am hard on shoes....most runners are. So I picked up another pair of Lone Peaks needing the new ones before a race, when they arrived, they were the same size as before but too small....I was stuck and raced Leadville in them anyhow....put in a few weeks of training in them before I just asked if I could warranty them for a larger size, which they did (awesome). Looks like any sizing issues have since been resolved with Altra. I'm now over 220 miles in the current pair and have added some shoe goo to the sides to make sure I don't blow these out...thus far it's working quite well.

I re-read my previous post on these shoes....All my original comments and initial thoughts were confirmed. I used them for all my training and racing for the Leadville Trail 100 and all my events since. Due to availability issues, I didn't have them for Oil Creek 100 and I really wish I makes me appreciate them all the more now.

I still would like to make sure that people understand that this is not a minimal shoe. This is a natural style running shoe (see left pic). It's zero drop with a 22.5mm heel and 22.5mm forefoot....that's not minimal in my opinion. The shape of the shoe is what sold me initially, it's foot shaped and therefore it fits my feet (imagine that), allows for natural foot splay, traction is outstanding in mud & snow and everything in between. In some situations, it's more shoe than you may need...say for trail races that you could use road shoes on, but I use them for everything.

Below is a shot from a local 10k trail race that was all ice & snow....I managed 12th OA of a 300 person race, which for me is really good at that distance. This is to brag about the was perfect. I didn't put screws in my shoes for the ice, just laced 'em up and went.

running ~6:15 pace downhill on snow/ice with confidence!

Here are the specs from Altra's website:

  • Weight: 9.9 oz
  • Midsole: Zero Drop™ EVA/A-Bound Midsole
  • Foot Shaped Design: Male FS-1 Last
  • NRS: Natural Ride System
  • Outsole: TrailClaw Outsole
  • StoneGuard and Trail Rudder
  • Insole: Mountain Footbed (Similar to Support Footbed)
  • Upper: Quick dry abrasion resistant mesh upper with minimal seams
  • Asymmetrical Lacing, HeelClaw, and A-Wrap for Superior Fit
  • Liner: Drilex Premium Liner
  • Stack height = The total thickness of the shoe/the distance between the foot and the ground.
    With Footbed: 22.5mm(Heel)/22.5mm (Forefoot)
    Without footbed: 17.5mm(Heel)/17.5mm (Forefoot

I've now run in the Lone Peak, Superior, Instinct 1.5, Instinct 2.0, and most recently the Torin. I am really looking forward to try the Lone Peak 1.5 (April '13). This post is about the Lone Peak...but I will tell you that I am head over heels for the Torin (road)....I'll have to do another post for that one.

I would say that once I transitioned to the zero drop it's not even noticeable anymore. I am a mid/forefoot runner still and have been working on becoming more efficient each year. I also fiddle with the lacing patterns a little bit to dial in the lose or snug-ness of the shoe but once they are all set, I haven't had to change them. My shoe choice for BR100 this year will be the Altra Lone Peak (trail) and the Torin (road) unless I can find even more love with the LP 1.5. I'll be racing the Fools 50k in a few weeks in the LP's for certain.