Saturday, July 13, 2013

Skechers GoBionic Trail Review: A little test drive, 31 miles in Santa Anita Canyon

I think its a mark of a great trail running  shoe that one can don it  out of the box with no break-in, bust out 31 miles, and suffer no ill effects (blisters etc).   This was the case with my new pair of Skechers GoBionic Trail this morning.  I got these shoes a couple days ago and had run my double workout on Thursday in them, and based on how they felt then, today I took them out for a 31 mile spin in Santa Anita Canyon out of Chantry Flats.  Short story:  The GoBionic Trails were great.    My feet were comfy the whole run.  I will be taking these shoes with me to AC100 in three weeks.

I'd been waiting for the July release of Skechers GoBionic Trail as part of my quest to find a zero drop  shoe that doesn't admit sand and grit through the uppers.  Most minimalist footwear has a mesh upper for breathability, which is good, but this is a problem when running sandy trails if the mesh is too permeable.  While I love Merrell's Trail Glove and Ascend Gloves,  they do let sand and grit through even with gaiters and in the San Gabriel trails where I run this is a problem.  (This is in my Leona Divide race report where I ran 50 miles in the Trail gloves...and had to clean my feet three times, it was quite uncomfortable).   The GoBionic Trail doesn't have this problem:  While fine dirt got through, no sand or grit did.   But at the same time, the upper is quite breathable.  It was 89F today with a humidity of 37% and my clothes were sodden, however my feet were pretty dry.  See the photo below taken after the run and note the salt rime on my pants.   In addition, the sole is a bit thicker/more heavily armored than the Merrell Ascend Gloves and much more armored than the Trail Glove;  its a beefy shoe but its also feather light due to the materials  used.  The sole material seem to me to a be a generation beyond  what other shoes companies are using. Traction was great, lugs are big and they grip.   The GoBionic Trail is a winner in my book.  The only thing I don't like is that the toe box is a bit TOO big (I think its too tall, the width is fine) and I had to lace the shoes a bit tighter than I am used to in order to keep my toes from hitting the front of the shoe during the steep descents today.  I don't have this problem at all in the Merrell Ascend Glove, by way of contrast.
Skecher GoBionic Trail after 31 miles and 14,200 ft of climb and descent in the San Gabriels

As for the run today:  I awoke early and met some pals at Chantry Flats this morning for a little social running.  My friends planned a loop up the Wintercreek trail to the Wilson Toll Road, then on to the Wilson summit (and the all important water spigot), returning to Chantry via the rim trail to Newcomb's Saddle and on in via the AC100 course, total 16.5 miles.  I planned to do this loop and then add a second loop to get the mileage up over 30.   I decided to mix it up a bit and ran the second loop starting up the Wintercreek trail and heading up over Mt Zion to take the Sturdevant trail up the east side of Wilson, then back via the Toll Road and upper Wintercreek Trail, total 15 miles.

The run today was a bit slow; I was about 10 minutes off my target pace of 5mph after the first loop.    The second loop was really slooow.   The total run time (omitting mixing drinks etc) was 6:42 for 31 miles, about a half hour off pace.  The climb up the east side of Wilson in particular was really tough...2500 feet of climb in 3 miles, about 15% grade, in mostly direct sun.  I lost a lot of time  there.   Check out the elevation and pace profile of the double loop:  The total elevation climb and descent today was 14,200 ft.
I was glad to be wearing my long pants and shirt today as the Rim Trail was heavily overgrown with poodledog bush.  So I was well protected from it.   Later, on the second loop, I met a couple guys training for AC100 who were descending the east Wilson Trail as I was climbing it.  They recognized me from Leona Divide  because I was the shirt guy, wearing long pants...same as today.  One of the fellas asked me if I was a speed hiker or something given how I was dressed  and I replied that "yes, on 15% grades in direct sun, I am a hiker"!  These guys were doing a double loop of Wilson as well but in the opposite direction;  I saw them again a bit out of Chantry as I was finishing my second loop and they were starting theirs.  Really nice guys, and its part of the fun of training for an event like this to meet the fellow aficionados.

It was a pretty run: Below are views of one of the Wilson observatories from the rim trail (as I recall);  and the view down at Chantry from the trail descending from Newcombs.  The air quality was not great today and my lungs were a bit sore from smog exposure after the run.

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