Getting some free or discounted gear is among the finest perks of entering a foot race. Of course, slogging through a distance race and spending months training gives you a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and something to humblebrag about and some cool pictures to post online and blah, blah, blah.
But if you’re a broke mountain town writer, like me, let’s be honest: you need some free gear to replace the stuff you wore out in training.
As the local trails have started to thaw out, I’ve been trying out two new pairs of trail running shoes that I acquired as race schwag: a pair of Salomon SpeedCross 3s and a set of Xterra XRs.
So far the Salomons, which I won in the raffle after this year’s America’s Uphill on Aspen Mountain, are proving to be the far better footwear.
They’re ultralight at 11 ounces, with an aggressive tread that looks similar to some hard-core mountain bike tires. I’ve found they keep you from slipping and sliding, even in the muddy, wet and snowy conditions of May mountain trail runs. They keep your feet dry, have excellent cushioning, and grip tight on the terrain with Solomon’s odd but effective “quicklace” system (which don’t require tying, just pulling a simple drawstring).
The Xterras aren’t a pure trail shoe. They’re built for pavement, soft surfaces and mountain trails alike. And maybe that’s part of why I’ve found them inferior. I got them with a voucher after last summer’s Xterra off-road triathlon in Beaver Creek. My hopes were high for them, since the company sponsors the best-known trail triathlons worldwide.
They may improve as I break them in, but so far I’ve found them bulky. The heel is an inflexible, thick combination of rubber and plastic, and when they’re laced up they don’t have the comfortable suction feel I’ve enjoyed in other trail runners I’ve tried from Salomon and New Balance. To their credit, they’re not noticeably heavier than the SpeedCross pair, at 11.5 ounces.
I’ll keep trying them out, but thus far they’ve been a disappointment.
Get Your Own
XTERRA XR 1.0 $95
Salomon Speedcross 3 $125