OK its a rather prosaic title I know; but one realization I have had in my training over the last couple of months is that while the Merrill Trailglove is an outstanding trail running shoe, its too light (un-armored) and permeable for me to run the AC100 in it. Although I ran the Leona Divide 50 miler in them, I had problems in that race with sand and grit getting in and had to stop three times during the race to clean out the shoes and my feet. Still, my feet held up reasonably well.
The AC100 course is another story. My recent training runs on the Mt Wilson loop have brought home that the steep 10-15% grade downhills on rocky trails leave my feet pretty battered when only protected by 4mm of rubber/foam.
So I have been looking for a zero drop shoe with a thicker sole than the Trailglove ideally with a fabric upper rather than mesh to keep the sand out. As far as I can tell this shoe doesn't exist. On the basis of Jason Robillard's post on the Merrill Mixmaster 2 (http://barefootrunninguniversity.com/2012/06/21/merrell-mix-master-2-review-new-offering-in-the-m-connect-series/), I ordered a pair of these in the waterproof option (which has a fabric upper, rather than mesh). This shoe has a 4mm heel to toe drop. Its as stiff as a board (or so it feels since I've become accustomed to the Trailglove over the last 6 months) so I was worried about it...But I tried it on trails today and it seemed fine- didn't interfere with my gait and the rock-feel was significantly attenuated; the fabric upper kept all the grit out. My feet were pretty sodden at the end though, the shoe doesn't breath much.
I've also ordered a pair of Merrill Ascend Gloves- a thicker-soled version of the Trailglove. We'll see how it works out; I expect the mesh upper will allow grit in. I also ordered another zero-drop make, the Go-Bionic, as its been reviewed favorably and can be bought online for under $50.
I tried an old trick on my weekend 27 miler: I coated the inside of my socks with thick grease (Cramers' Skinlube, like vaseline but much thicker). It seemed to keep my feet free of grit..maybe it forms a grit barrier. I am open to suggestions should you the reader have any thoughts, please leave a comment.