Putting the New Balance NB Minimus Trail to the Test
Gerald is a dedicated trail runner from New Zealand who recently put the New Balance NB Minimus Trail through its paces in the Tarawera Ultra Marathon. See what Gerald had to say about how they performed after the jump!
Guest Post by Gerald Waters
So I had the Minimus for about two weeks before I attempted to run a 100 km race with every type of terrain you could ask for, from tarmac to gnarly mountain trails and stoney forestry roads. I broke the shoes in during my taper and put about 100 kms on them over two weeks. The longest run I did in the Minimus before the race was 30 kms on dusty angled single track trails. The shoe felt great and made you want to run lightly, improving the overall fluid motion of running. The night before the race it rained heavily ensuring that there would be enough slippery slopes to give the Minimus a good test.
Race day started with a forestry road ascent that turned into single track then descended on single track to a tarmac section of about 8kms, then climbed to a forestry road. This was the first 20 kms or so and the shoe felt great, especially on the tarmac. The next section was a technical single trail ascent. The lightweight minimus made the ascent effortless with enough grip on the descent to make the slippery trail no problem. Next was a real technical runners dream, 20 kms of root infested ups and downs, rocky, slippery drops and switchbacks. This gave the Minimus a real good sole test. I have been running in Inov 8 X-Talons for over a year so am no stranger to harsh underfoot conditions. My feet loved the contact that the Minimus allowed on this type of trail. Like a light footed ballerina I danced my way over and in between the roots. I played it safe on wet rocky drops as I did feel the shoe give once or twice.
Alas all good things come to an end and here is where the shoe, for me, fell down. The Minimus had performed well over soft trail, even gnarly roots and large stones, for 55kms but the next 15 kms involved long sections of stoney forestry road. I found myself looking for grassy patches or where the pine needles covered the track to run on and at one point yelped in pain as a real sharp stone poked into the soul of my foot.
At the 70 km aid station I was told that the next 30 kms would be much of the same so I changed shoes. So for soft, grassy and even tarmac tracks the minimus is fine and would probably be ok over stoney ground for short periods when the footfalls are fresh and light, and are able to counter the harshess of sharp stones. They performed well over technical trail and their lightness was a great asset to fast uphill ascent.
The day after the race I had no injuries or discomfort that I would normally have if I had used shoes with much thicker soles but my midfoot sole area was sore after thousands of strikes in this area. A great training shoe and brilliant sole toughener, I foresee an entry level shoe for minimal running but no 100km all terrain racer.
Follow Gerald's progress at his blog proprioceptionnz.blogspot.com.