It’s rare in this day of trail running where one shoe will do it all.
If you have seen the latest Youtube video on trail and ultra running, a somewhat sarcastic take on the current scene whereby step 1 on the list of how to be an ultra trail runner reads, ‘go buy some trail shoes.... now go buy 8 more’. There seems to be shoes with low drop, no drop, aggressive tread, no tread, maximum cushioning, no cushioning, some medial posting, no medial posting, gore-tex, laces, elastic laces, laces with a garage, lugs for mud, lugs for snow, lugs that get rid of mud, no lugs, shoes for technical running, shoes for more vert, shoes for racing, shoes for training, door to trail, rock plate, no rock plate. It’s not unheard of to overhear a bloke in a running shop asking ‘ is this more for fire trail or single trail’?. ............. it’s puff just picking a shoe, let alone training. I sometimes feel like the bloke in the milk add, I just want a shoe I can run on the trails in, that won’t hurt my feet or break down after 6 weeks.
Enter the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger (Kiger is the name of a mountain near Nike’s headquarters in Oregon USA). It is a shoe that has that first feel that will have them walking out the door, the cushioning for those who have a forefoot or heel tap /strike, but most importantly has the correct formula of weight to cushioning and hopefully durability. I believe a closer look at material science to be the future of running shoes, a process where we are more realistic about what matters for the majority of runners, not about the drop or unique selling points (see the fads that have come and gone) but taking a closer look at the fit and function based on a weight /cushioning / durability ratio. Finding a shoe that helps reduce tissue stress and enables a runner to take the shoe out of the equation and enjoy their running. I believe the Kiger does this.
Some might want to upsize ½ a size due to the sock like fit (engineered mesh and dynamic fit/flywire technology) although those that have run in some of the saloman s lab shoes will feel right at home with the snug fit. The burrito tongue adds to this snug feel, but some may find it drifts laterally on longer runs. I ran once with no socks as my favourites were in the wash and they felt great.
Absence of rock plate and less aggressive lugs will be ok for majority, unless running in the snow, competing in one of those mud run type events or over super sharp rocks, the midsole makes up for the lack of rock plate and increases agility. Some aggressive (read bigger lugs) patterns often leave me feeling like i’m in a sherman tank on a local trail when your average 4wd would do. The outsole has enough traction for most; the lack of firm heel counter (the back bit of the shoe collapses) may confuse some. While the outer feels light, I have not crossed any rivers to check drainage and have only run roughly 200k in them so far so can’t say how durable the upper, or for that matter the lugs will be. Oh and it looks pretty cool, if you are handy enough to be running in front of someone in a race or just walking in front of someone @ the shops, they will see an impressive pressure map type colour.
The 4mm drop / offset / rake may induce altitude sickness for the kale eating, beard growing, minimal types that like to connect to the earth. The cushioninig may also not be for those that like to ‘feel’ the ground when they run. For most I think this drop is OK in promoting, not dictating, an ideal cadence and focus the foot fall pattern close to centre of the body mass, and it will feel great on fore /mid foot runners.
I got asked at TNF100 recently if it was a ‘fast’ shoe. I love this marketing concept. What does a ‘fast shoe’ actually mean? A Dunlop volley on Mo Farah would no doubt be ‘fast’ but put the same volley on a couch potato who weighs a dollar fifty and is only concerned with the distance from the couch to the fridge to grab another 440 woodstock and suddenly the notion of fast goes out the window. So with this concept in mind I think the shoe will promote leg turnover for the top say 10%, the weight and the cushioning will look after the rest of the pack.
In short: a brilliant shoe that will suit most looking to get off the road for a run. The cushioning under the ball of the foot and heel is second to none, the fit is snug but not too tight, the agility (how much it bends) is ideal and hopefully the longevity will be good enough to recommend to those wanting to train and race big miles in the shoe. The proof will be in the trail pudding in a few months.
If you are into matching all your kit, maybe don’t go for the military blue /volt-kumquat-atomic mango colour (blue and orange), although if you really are running on various trails, and not just strolling to a cafe, they should be dirty quick enough for it not to matter.
The kiger and author 10 km in @ TNF50 (no I was not so slow it was already dark @ 10k, it’s in the forest)
log off , shut down, go run