For a runner, is any piece of gear more important than the shoe? Conrad Stoltz doesn’t think so. That’s why the three-time Xterra world champion co-developed and tested the Avia Avi-Stoltz ($114), Avia’s first line of Xterra off-road race-ready shoes.
When I trained with the Avi-Stoltz, I noticed how well they performed on inclines and declines. The outsole is serrated, which helps maintain traction on undulating terrain and around spotty corners on the trail. A groove in the middle of the outsole, called the Ess Rocksteady Plate, protects your foot from rocks and roots and anything else that might cause bone bruising.
The elongated heel tab makes for speedy transitions for triathletes, and the tongue is gusseted, which will help keep out sand and grit.
My favorite quality of the Avi-Stoltz is the Dura-Ryd cushioning system in the forefoot and heel. It took about 15-20 miles for the shoes to break in, and the cradle that formed around my heel is downright heavenly.
The Avi-Stoltz is also extremely light. A size 8 weighs only 11 ounces.
Three-time Xterra world champion Melanie McQuaid races in the Avi-Stoltz, as well (women's color, right), ensuring the shoe’s high-caliber following.
--KenDerry can be see at left hiking the Wonderland Trail on Mt. Rainier in2006. Most of the time, though, he's jogging the track at YankeeStadium thanks to his job: He's the managing editor of the baseballteam's in-house publication.
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