So a while back I was interviewed by Cassie over at the New Balance blog. Following the interview she gave me the opportunity to wear test a pair of trail shoes. We decided on the 800s since they are great for winter and if you haven't noticed (I know it's hard with the random 40, 50, and 60 degrees days we've had thrown in), it is definitely winter here in Cleveland.
I was excited to try out some new kicks and was going to really put them to the test with the first run in them being a 24 miler in snowy and icy conditions. After that it was off to the Phoenix desert and then back to Cleveland for the Winter Buckeye 50k. Not an easy feat for a new pair of shoes for sure! The last time I took a pair of trail shoes out for the first run on a 20 miler I came away with a serious ankle blister, so I was a little bit nervous!
Before receiving the shoe I read a review on them in trail running and was thrilled to see that Trail Running identified these as their "go to" trail shoe. Sounded like just what I need with the variability in my trail running! The shoes were also picked as editor's choice by Runners World. *Note right away that I am a pretty neutral runner and Runner's World made it clear that this shoe is designed for biomechanically efficient/neutral runners.*
The shoes arrived just in time for my icy 24 miler with Daisy and I was super thrilled upon opening the box to find that these shoes definitely pass the "cool" factor test. The shoes look sweet. Mine are a purple/maroon color and I would be more than happy to wear these as sporty kicks around town. I was actually sad I would have to get these puppies dirty. The tongue is built in to prevent dirt getting in, and they feel super light, yet have a ton of traction. I love a minimal yet efficient shoe so I had high hopes for these.
Upon further inspection I was even more thrilled to see that NB is making extraordinary efforts for their products to be 100% made in America. They let you know that in many cases that isn't possible due to certain materials not being available here, but they note that a product will not be labeled made in America unless it is at least 70% materials and work from the USA. I can definitely get behind that.
Well short story these shoes pass the E-Speed test. I took these bad boys out for 24 icy miles and they performed great. No slippage, no blisters, and my feet still felt great after 5+ hours on rooty, icy, uneven trails.
Next test was rocks, I was a little worried that with the minimal weight these shoes would leave my feet with a beating if I had to travel over a lot of rocks. So I took them out for a 7.5 mile trip around the desert. I hit the Christensen trail which was a relatively rocky trail with lots of dirt thrown in. The shoes did great. My feet felt fine and my ankles didn't turn once.
The last test was to see if the shoes felt good for an entire ultra. This year the Buckeye 50K was not as sloppy or icy as last year, but there are still the rooty sections of Pine Lane and some serious ankle turning frozen mud footprints. I had thrown my stand by trail shoes in my bag at the start in case anything happened. But I needn't have bothered. The 800s did a great job out on the course and my feet felt no worse for wear after the 50k.
At $80 I have to give these shoes two thumbs up. I'll definitely purchase a pair when these run out of mileage. I still want to go and get these muddy. I'll let you know how they fare when I do, but if you are a neutral runner and you like a minimal/fast trail shoe I'd highly recommend this one!