Winning the 6 foot track was definitely aided by the right footwear for the journey and I was exceptionally fortunate to be able to race in the newly released S/Lab Ultras.
Drop : 26mm/18mm (8mm drop)
Size– I have a small foot and float around in the UK 5.5 or US 7 size
Fit: I have a fairly broad foot with a higher arch but had no issues in the shoes – I love the lacing system that Salomon uses and this one had been refined further with a tuck in from the top rather than the bottom ensuring a good fit and not too much pressure on that key talocrural (ankle) joint. My foot was snug and with the steep descents I had no toe jarring at the front or blisters form on my feet at all.
Cushioning: Although more drop than I had been using on my training runs the extra mm made a difference on the rough track and saved my calves on the long climbs- I think the best thing to know (from a physio perspective anyway!) is that less drop means more elastic recoil in your posterior chain (primarily Achilles/calf which generates up to 50% of your spring) so less is good for running quick (like half marathons on the road) but mean lots of effort can cause fatigue and cramps- so these longer more steady races need a bit more support to help maintain your legs for the whole distance. 8mm was perfect for me a fairly springy runner and I can happily report minimal calf soreness the next few days (my soreness was mainly in my quads)
Rock Protection and Grip– the most knarly descent into the jeonlan caves of close to 4km of slippery rocky gravel was made much easier knowing I could confidently put my foot on the ground and have the traction to stay upright but also enough feel to grade my next step…I am good at stacking and cane happily report it was not an issue at all!
Durability and Breathability– with a waist high river crossing at 15km into the race I exited the river and I started running normally straight away- sure my legs were wet but my shoes felt the same weight as I entered the river…certainly not like rocks which I have experienced before with other shoes! I also did not hear one squelch, or had 1 blister to report at the end…I think the sign of a good shoe is you don’t notice your feet during the race…your legs hurt for sure but nothing else is a hindrance…this was like these shoes 🙂
Speed and Run- ability– 6 foot track is a runners course- you can (and I did) run every step from start to finish and although I did hold back in the first faster half of the course I did have a 5km trail section ran in under 21minutes (that was my conservative start!) so no issues with speed here
Racing- they are a nice shoe and should be used accordingly! Speed and style
Terrain– – trail of all terrain – gravel, grass, rocky or sandy of round 40 to 60km in length- its a running shoe, it can (if wearer willing) cross rivers without issue and handle both the wet and dry conditions well
Overall I loved this shoe- my feet pulled up well afterwards as did my calves and that is always a sign of a good shoe 🙂 so go get a pair and get out and play 🙂