Saturday, 10 September 2011


i would never have though footwear was such an issue that I would get worked up about it but recently I have.
Here are the shoes I have had for hill running so far..
  1. Adidas Swoops (V1)
    When I first started running on the hills my cousin gave me a pair of Adidas Swoops that somebody had left in his garage. They were a size 10.5 but a smail 10.5 and were a tad too small but never the less I wore them. They only ached for the first 5 minutes but then stretched to my foot. The other issue with them was that the inner sole would work it’s way out. After Chris took me for a run in bad weather in Coniston I lost confidence in them when I started slipping lots on wet rock. (I know a little better now to stay off the wet rock were possible)
  2. Inov8 Mudroc 290
    The next shoe I bought from Pete Blands was the Inov8 Mudroc 290. I loved this shoe. It gave me great grip and confidence and more importantly it was comfortable. It lasted me 12 months and was falling to pieces after that time. So in evitably I bought another pair. I didn’t get on as well with the 2nd pair, it was the same model but the styling was ever so slightly different. I assumed I was now just running hard and needed something with more grip.
  3. Walsh PB Ultra Elite
    Having received a voucher from the Horwich Downhill Race I bought a pair of Walshes from Walshes Shoes in Bolton. For the first 3-4 runs I had pains in my shins but this wore off. Putting on a new pair of Walshes is like putting on a pair of slippers. They are so comfortable and with the sticky lugs on the sole are great for descending. Once they are worn in though and get wet they are a bit of a pain to tie up and get tight on your foot and after some good wear in them they do start to look very scraggy.
  4. Inov Mudclaw 270
    An end of line shoe and on offer at Lakes Runner in Ambleside I bought this shoe for £50. It was a superb shoe! My only criticisms are that I personally could have done with just a tad more padding/cushioning, and they just didn’t last anywhere near long enough.
    I bought them at the end of August and wore them for races and weekly runs until the dark nights drew in. During the winter months I tended to do more Orienteering so was using road shoes thus saving the wear on the Mudclaws. But by the time March came the shoe was falling to pieces. The upper was full of holes and the sole had started to separate from the upper. Considering I got a good 12 months from the Mudrocs I was not impressed. I tried e-mailing Lakes Runner, who failed to respond and I also e-mails Inov8 who also failed to respond.
  5. New Balance Trail shoes
    I had some NB Trail shoes that I bought at the same time as the Midclaw 333’s (below). Great comfy shoe for trails but not a fell shoe.
  6. Inov8 Mudclaw 333
    In the January I had seen a pair of Mudclaw 333’s on offer so bought them for later in the year. As the Mudclaw 270’s started to fall apart earlier than expected I pulled them out a little sooner (April I think). April was quite dry and regular runs on Winter Hill had kept the new shoes clean. I’d been experiencing a pain in my feet after a couple of miles in these shoes but I assumed, like the Walses, I just needed to wear them in. As it was dry I also wore the New Balance shoes (above) so it took a while to try and “wear them in”. I think it was late April before the rain started and I got some mud on them but still the pain in my feet persisted. I entered Coniston in them, worried about the pain they may cause but with nothing else to wear and ended up retiring due to the pain only 1/2 way up the first climb to Wetherlam. I tried again at Fairfield, this time completing the course but I had to stop at regular intervals to let me feet relax (particularly on the descents). I was convinced it was my fault and not the shoes but the pain continued. I tried them a few more times before I finally threw them in a corner and wondered what to do with them. Now I had nothing to race in.
  7. Adidas Kanadia
    Sports Direct had an offer on for Adidas Kanadias. They had been recommended along with a Mizuno shoe by some other fell runners so I thought I would give them a go. I bought two pairs as they were only £35 each. They are a GREAT, comfortable shoe (Although buy a size larger as Adidas sizes are too small, I bought a 12 when I’m normally 10.5 - 11). However whilst they are great on trains and dry ground they are not a fell shoe and don’t give confidence on wet fell type grass or wet rocks.
  8. Adidas Swoops
    A few months back I ask Pete Bland to bring along some Adidas Swoops (Vii) that had had on offer for £30. For the price you can’t discard them. Again they were a great comfortable shoe. Only a slight ache on first use but that passed. As time went on I realised that they also suffered badly on wet rock. At the recent Blisco Dash I learnt this whilst descending the rock path when it felt like I was on an ice rink and slipped descending the path and did something to my finger (broke or fractured it, it’s eased now). This really knocked my confidence in them.
    A few weeks after this I had the Borrowdale Fell race to enter and I needed a fell shoe but I couldn’t spend any more on shoes, Joanne would kill me. So I needed to make a decision for Borrowdale, Swoops or Mudclaw 333’s. I needed to confidence of the Mudclaw grip but the comfort of the Swoops. In the end I plumped for comfort but I paid for it traversing the rock ground after falling at Blisco.

    With Ben Nevis coming up I started panicking again. I needed a shoe to do The Ben in and it couldn’t be the swoop with the lower section being mainly rock as my lack of confidence would slow me down and it couldn’t be the Mudclaw 333’s as I'd be keeled over in pain after 4miles going downhill.

    I actually have no issue in paying for shoes (although I always look for sales, I just watch my money) but with the 333’s not fitting correctly and the price of Inov8 shoes continuing to rise (averaging £80-£90 pair now) I will not pay £90 for another model of shoe only to find out that it too doesn’t suit my foot.

    With this in mind I decided to plea to Inov8. I boxed up the Mudclaw 333’s and shipped them to Inov8 with a covering letter explaining the issues I’d experienced with the 333’s. The studs were not that worn so you could see not that much running had been done in them. Basically, working on the assumption that the end of line Mudclaw 270’s fit me OK I asked if they would be willing to exchange the 333’s for a pair of 272’s (the newer version of the 270.) Assuming this shoe fitted ok, my confidence in Inov8 shoes would be restored and I wouldn’t mind paying a higher price for the confidence I’m after.

    4 WEEKS now since I sent the shoes back to Inov8 and I have heard NOTHING! ZIP! DIDDLY SQUAT! SWEEET FA!
  9. Walsh PB Ultra Elite
    So with one week to go before The Ben and Inov8 customer service being so abysmal I decided to buy another pair of Walsh PB Ultra Elites (Facewest £39, bargain and cheaper than Inov8). Last weekend  Chris and I went to Ben Nevis and my footwear problems of the passed few months disappeared. The Walshes were superb, in fact I probably didn’t do them justice. Now I’m just wondering if I should snap up another pair for £39 before they run out of stock.
Now I’m not trying to dis Inov8 shoes, to play devils advocate I can tell you that Chris recently bought a pair of Mudclaw 333’s but he DID NOT experience any issue with them and he couldn’t fault them in any way after The Ben. Everybody is different but you would hope that manufacturers (particularly small, more specialised ones) would want to help out when people have issues with the products they make in order to keep a good name. It doesn’t seem to be so in the case of Inov8!!
I can only finish this article by saying…..
Thank you @NormanWalshUK


  1. This is a really useful post, Mark. I tried New Balance 749 as my first trail shoe, but took them back after trying them once. They felt comfortable when walking, but as soon as I started running they rubbed a lot. Worse than that, they didn't have any traction at all on wet rock. I took them back and swapped them for Innov8 Roclite 315, which have turned out to be great. I've only worn them on two trail runs, as I'm new to this, but they're comfortable, light, and good in mud and on wet rock. Appreciate the post on shoes :-)

  2. Gez,

    There isn't much that is ANY good on wet rock in general but some give you more confidence than other. Some give you far less than others too.

    The thing to learn though is to try and avoid standing on the rock. I used to always aim for the big lumpy pieces of rock when I first started but I've learnt to avoid them as much as possible, particularly when it's wet.

  3. That's a good tip, thanks. I did feel some confidence with regard to wet rock with these shoes, but I'll definitely try and avoid wet rock in the future.

    The most difficult part for me on my last off-road run was trying to stay on my feet when running downhill. I had problems detecting rocks beneath flora, and was constantly tripping or misplacing my foot and going flying. I need a shoe with a rock radar :-)