Advice on Saunders footwear from inov-8

Top footwear tips from inov-8

With the Saunders Mountain marathon only a little more than a month away, we caught up with Dr Bodil Oudshoorn, inov-8 footwear product manager, for some tips on footwear for the event.

What do you look for in your shoes during a mountain marathon?

In multi-day events like the Saunders, medium-to-wide fitting shoes are usually preferable. They give you a better long-day comfort, especially on the second day when your feet can be swollen from the previous day’s heather bashing. This can vary from person to person though, so if you always enjoy a snugger fit for more stability, then don’t let me deter you!

Next to that, I would look for the right grip for the terrain. The Saunders is in the North Lakes this year, which is rockier than the Howgills were last time. Therefore, look for a grippy rubber with medium length cleats. The rocks can also be quite painful underfoot, so underfoot protection is also important, either in the form of cushioning or a rock plate.

Since you are likely to go off-path, a stable shoe can help avoid ankle sprains. Look for shoes that are not too high off the ground, with a lower “stack height” as they often call it. The shoes with the lowest stack height often have the least cushioning; I found that 10-20mm stack height gives me the best of both worlds for off-path adventures.

I would normally not recommend using waterproof shoes in multi-day events. It is likely that a river crossing or two will leave you feet wet anyways, and having quick-draining shoes is more important. At the overnight camp, just pop a couple of sandwich bags over your dry socks and you’re ready to go!

How is grip different across terrains?

This is something I get asked most often! At inov-8 we design shoes where the interaction between the outsole and the terrain is always our first priority. If you go through very muddy terrain, you want longer cleats that can really grip the terrain by penetrating into the mud. On the other end of the scale, you have rocky terrain where climbers would use a completely smooth sole for the best grip, where a large contact area with the rock helps get the grip needed. A soft rubber helps increase this contact area, which is why we developed Graphene Grip to get the best traction on off-road runs.

What shoes would you recommend for the Saunders?

In the Saunders it is likely you will encounter all terrains, including rock, mud, gravel, grass and everything in between. Our most versatile shoe is the Roclite G 275, which has a medium fit, 6mm long cleats and features our award-winning Graphene grip. It also has a rock plate to provide extra protection against sharp rocks that you might encounter in the North Lakes.

One of my other favourites for this type of event is the X-Talon Ultra 260. The wide fit gives your toes plenty of wiggle room, and the longer 8mm cleats give you lots of confidence on grass and mud if it is a wet weekend. The toe bumper is also very sturdy, so if you bash your toes on the second day, they are well protected.

Finally, the X-Talon 212 has been a long-standing favourite at mountain marathons. The snugger fit will feel very stable when contouring, and with the 8mm cleat outsole you will grip easily in soft and muddy terrain.

Any other tips for the competitors?

To prolong the life of your shoes, make sure you rinse them when you get home. The sand and dirt can get into the materials and rub away at them, and the acidity of bogs shortens the lifespan of the materials too. Always let them air dry – the radiator or fire is too hot for them. If you are still unsure which shoes are right for you, then always pop into the inov-8 store in Staveley for some expert advice for your individual needs!

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