Those who know me know what a running shoe fanatic I am. I have numerous times been in love with a certain shoe only to have it disappoint me at some point and thus causing immediate break-up. I am by no means an elite runner but my feet do get the elite treatment during ultra runs. I am constantly aware of everything that happens with them. At last year's Twisted Branch 100K my feet were one of the biggest things that went all wrong, resulting in a disappointing DNF. This year I will go back to Twisted Branch with a better knowledge of the course and a better knowledge of what I need to do for my feet to make this a successful race.
Which brings me to this shoe review. I have been on a quest to find the perfect running shoe and I think I have found it in the Salomon Speedcross 3. A few years ago I was drawn to the minimalist shoe movement. I liked how light the shoes were, how they made my feet feel, and how they made me feel more connected to the trail. What I have come to realize is that there is nothing minimal about me. At 5'11" and 155# I am anything but a minimally sized runner. And running over 50 miles at a time, my feet no longer enjoy feeling every little rock and root on the trail. I have come to realize that I need more cushion and more protection. Don't get me wrong, minimalist running shoes are not necessarily totally evil. If nothing else, running in them has taught me better form and has fixed some other issues I had. I still enjoy running in minimalist shoes for shorter distances but when it comes to ultras I just need more.
The Salomon Speedcross 3 is anything but minimal. They are the knobby-tire bike of trail shoes. I have run in numerous Salomon shoes but have never found one that has been the all-in-one package that I dreamed of. Flexibility, traction, cushion. I want it all. The Speedcross 3 has an 11mm heel-toe drop (according to one site, another says 9mm, but really, at that height, does 2mm really matter??), which is the highest I have run in in years. I worried about this a little ... at first. I bought the shoes on a Friday, went for a 2 mile hike in them, and then wore them at the Muddy Sneaker 20K on Saturday. I was amazed at how good they made my feet feel. First of all, the lugs on these babies are ridiculous. They just eat the ground up. The cushioning and flexibility are super impressive. Years of running in shoes from 0mm-4mm heel-toe drop have taught me to land mid-to-forefoot and because of this I didn't even notice the higher heel-toe drop. They shed the mud like nobody's business; I never had mud caked-up on the soles.
One concern that I did have that I had read in numerous reviews of this shoe was how they can make your feet feel quite warm during warmer weather runs. I did experience this last week during a warm dry day but this was only one run so I will have to do more warmer weather runs with them to know if this is going to be an ongoing problem.
Salomon has dialed it in with the Endofit sock liner thing. One thing that killed my feet at Twisted Branch was the sliding around inside a sloppy shoe. The friction on the bottoms of my feet wreaked havoc. With the Endofit liner and those awesome speedlaces on the Salomons I experience minimal movement inside the shoe. Even on the super steep downhills.
I am strongly considering wearing these shoes for Cayuga Trails 50. So today I gave them a trial run through some creeks and they totally lived up to the challenge. I thought they drained well, although retaining some squishiness in the foot liner, but no more than any other shoe I have worn.
I don't normally write shoe reviews but during my run today I was just so freaking impressed with so many aspects of this shoe that I couldn't stop thinking about them. I would like to use them for Twisted Branch because I think they will handle the steep elevation changes quite well. The only issue that concerns me is the August heat and how warm these shoes can be. But time will tell how much of an issue this really is.
All in all, I have to say that these shoes are a total winner. I have been running most recently in the Salomon S-Lab Ultra SG and love them but they just do not have the support or the cushioning that I know I need for the longer runs. The Speedcross 3 has it all and more. I'm a fan.
Here is iRunFar's review of the Speedcross 3 ... http://www.irunfar.com/2012/01/salomon-speedcross-3-review.html. Gotta say, they hit it spot-on.