Gear Guy

What are some good shoes for an ultrarathon?

In November I'll be doing the Hong Kong Trailwalker (, a 100-kilometer race with a lot of big ups and downs. I will probably do in about 25 hours. Last time I did it in Reebok DMX10's. I liked that they were lightweight and I think the cushioning helped my knees a lot on the downhills, but I developed large blisters and lost three toenails, which was rather unpleasant (I didn't get feeling back in one toe for six months.) I'm thinking that maybe the DMX's were just too flimsy for the trail and let my feet move inside them too much. What are your suggestions for other shoes to consider this time around? Mike Luechtefeld Dallas, Texas


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Actually, your knees probably would have fared pretty well in stiffer shoes, certainly better than your feet did in the light ones. But you’re quite right—your footwear was clearly too light for this sort of jaunt. Reebok puts DMX10 cushioning technology in several shoes, but most are strictly running shoes.

What you need are some good trail runners. Here in the states, many ultra-marathon nuts like Montrail’s shoes, among them the Leona Divide ($95). It’s a running shoe whose mama was a mountain boot, so the Divide has a stiffer-than-normal midsole, beefy outsoles, and a sturdy toebox. All of which should help prevent your toenail woes, while providing stability that likely will stop blisters.

There are other good shoes out there. Asics’ Eagle Trail ($90) incorporates that company’s gel cushioning, which I always thought was the best cushion system available, and has outstanding motion control. New Balance also makes shoes that are uniformly tough and reliable—the 904 ($105) is a trail-friendly model that you might like. Or, you might even get a light hiking boot, such as Scarpa’s Vento Mid ($130), which has the support of a hiking shoe but weighs only slight more than most trail runners. Plus its mid-height cut gives you a little more ankle protection. A real nice shoe.

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