As promised, here is the update on my new Salomon Men’s XR Crossmax 2 Trail Running Shoe. I’ve put an additional 76 miles on them in varried conditons. I was hoping to get in a good long snow run too (the reason fo the delay in posting this), but travel to those races just didn’t work out.
I ran 6 uneventful miles on my local trails followed by 20 miles the next day in the nothern section of Kettle Morraine. These runs were on mostly single track with some obstacles. These shoes remained comfortable with no reportable problems. I’m getting used to the stiffer sole, which I think is beneficial in some conditions and less so in others.
The real test came a few weeks later when I wore them for the entire Lookout Mountain 50 Mile in Tennessee. It rained fairly hard for the first two hours and then drizzled for a while before stopping for most of the remaining race. All this rain left quite a bit of mud on the course, including one section that was very bog-like. I seem to attract rain (and the resulting mud) at my 50 milers, so I’m used to running in these conditions.
Overall, I was very happy with the way these shoes performed. The tread provided much better traction than my road shoes would have. There was still some slippage on the clay sections, but short of spikes, I don’t know how you’d prevent that. A big difference was that not only did the XR Crossmax 2′s upper material keep most of the trail out of the shoe, it’s flexiblity seemed to ‘break up’ any build-up of mud on the outside which meant I didn’t have to trudge around with extra weight on my feet.
I’m still not sold on the quick lace system, though. I was in a rush to get to the starting line and I don’t think I saved any time getting the tightness correct and then stowing the adjuster in the tongue pocket over tying conventional laces. In the middle of the race I felt some pain across the top of my foot. [This is something I experiened when I was a newer runner and it was diagnosed as tendenitis. It was cured by changing my lace pattern and not tying them so tightly.] I was able to quickly adjust the tension and remained pain free for the rest of the race. The most frustrating thing I experienced with the quick laces was after the race. I was tired, sore, cold and muddy. I wanted to remove my shoes before getting into my car. The adjuster on one of the shoes became ‘jammed’ after releasing only part way. If I was more coherent (or if it was still light out) I may have been able to figure it out, but instead I wrestled my partially-loosened shoe off my foot trying to avoid aggrevating my sore ankle. To be fair, I’ve only used this system four times after using conventional laces for five years. With more use and familiarity, I could learn it’s quirks and avoid these problems.
As far as my feet, I got a couple of minor blisters, which is going to happen when your feet are wet for 13 hours. They were in different spots from my road shoes, which leads me to believe that I may may not have had any blistering in dry conditions. I did not suffer any blackened toe nails, though my pinkie toe was a little sore, which again is usual in my road shoes.
I would still like to get in a winter 50k in these shoes, but I can confidently say that these will find regular use on my feet on a variety of trails. For my purposes, they retain enough of a road shoe feel that gives me confidence to use them for 50 miles while adding enough trail shoe features to make those 50 miles easier on my feet.