I’ve been wondering for a while why some of the big running shoe brands haven’t latched onto the obstacle race market. We are clearly in need of light weight, well-draining, tough shoes, with great grip. At the moment though, a small handful of brands are running away with it.
One of the big running shoe manufactures, of course, is the Japanese brand Asics. Although they haven’t specifically released a shoe for OCR, they seem to have given a nod in our direction (consciously or not) with the launch of their new Gel-Fuji Runnegade. With a range as huge as Asics, it’s about time!
From the moment I picked these shoes out of the box I was excitedly optimistic about them:
First of all my eyes were drawn to the foot hole. Rather than having the usual tongue, there was a complete gusset/sock that surrounds your lower ankle. Instantly I could see that this would stop debris entering the shoe, better than any gaiter could. TICK!
They had a visibly tough upper, with an almost reptilian feel and appearance. It would clearly take a LOT to rip them. TICK!
The sole had deep lugs that were clearly built to grip in the slipperiest mud, yet they were widely spaced to allow build ups to shed easily. TICK!
Considering the thickness of the upper, the baddass sole and the extra gusset, I was very surprised with how light the shoes felt. Size 8 weighs in at 261g, which certainly isn't the lightest shoe on the market, but for me the difference is practically indistinguishable. TICK!
Feel and performance
Considering the tight appearance of the ankle-hugging foot hole [technical term], the shoe was surprisingly easy to slip on, with handy finger loops at the front and back. Once in and with laces tightened, my foot was extremely comfortable. I’m a fairly standard size 12 and this fit perfectly and held my foot securely in place on technical trails.
I had opted to give these shoes a baptism of fire. Their first two outings would be the crazy hilly, muddy and wet terrain of Dirty Dozen in South Wales and Judgement Day in Pippingford. Between those two events, these shoes would be tested in practically every element of obstacle racing.
To be honest, I completely forgot about how they felt during both races. That may strike you as a sign of a bad reviewer (sorry… that’s probably the case), however, to me, that means that I didn’t notice anything negative about them. Straight out of the box I had no foot pain, no hot spots, they gripped in mud and on hills, they drained well and there was no foot movement on technical trails. What more do I need?
With a drop of approximately 6mm, these sit nicely just above the most minimal shoes. They have a small amount of gel cushioning in the heel to take the sting out, but still allow you to feel very connected with the ground.
One thing that was very apparent by its absence was debris. I’m not saying that I get debris in my shoe at every race, but when I get a stone or twig under the arch of my foot it annoys the hell out of me. These are clearly designed to prevent larger items from getting into your shoe and, for two races at least, succeeded. However, you need to realise that this isn’t a magic solution – I still got a build-up of silt and sand around my toes (especially at Pippingford), but you’re never going to stop that unless you gaffa-tape plastic bags around your ankles (please don’t do that). Build ups of silt don’t bother me, big rocks do, so I’d say that the Fuji Runnegade get a bonus TICK!
I’d definitely recommend giving these a go. They’re a well thought out shoe, made by a manufacturer that know their running onions. Of course every shoe is going to fit and suit everyone differently, but on paper (and on my feet) these provide everything you need for OCRs.
Price wise, they’re looking very good at the moment. Rat Race are currently selling them reduced at £60.30. Take your 15% Mudstacle discount off that and you’re looking at £51.25. Not bad at all, considering they feel more like £100!
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