Running for the pies

Running for the pies

Sunday, 16 February 2014

16th February: Cheerio Cheviots

Used, abused and completely worn-out.
One thing that did not survive last week's CTS South Devon marathon were my trainers… My first proper pair of hardcore trail shoes have finally bitten the dust after getting on for a dozen marathons, a few Brutal10’s and countless other jaunts. The soles are still as great for grip as on their first day of wearing, however the uppers have now well and truly split apart where the rubber stone protector meets the mesh fabric on both sides on both shoes - letting small stones inside and the sole is now separating from the upper on the left trainer… They’ve been great servants, lasting just over a year through some pretty gnarly terrain and never once let me down. RiP More Mile Cheviots!

When I realised that they were not much longer for this planet, I had a good look at the trainers available out there - some XC bloggers recently were sent a free pair of Salomon trainers to ‘review’ from Cotswold Outdoor - unfortunately I was not one of them, so the whittling down of the options commenced.

I have a ‘light’ and ‘intermediate’ pair of trail trainers in the form of my Asics Gel Lahar II's and Karrimor Excel Dual's so I am after a heavy-duty pair - The tread on the Cheviots was very ‘aggressive’ and certainly kept me upright where others would certainly have let me down in the harsh winter trail runs, so this was the main criteria for selection.

Looking around at the shoes that others wear, the more serious and competitive in the marathon fields seem to be sporting Inov-8 and Salomon shoes, so I had a good scope-out of the trainers offered from these two and the usual suspects, with my shortlist of shoes being whittled down to 4.

Inov-8 Mudclaw
Salomon Fellraiser
Cheviot 2
And by no-means least, the trainers I had just worn-out:

The Salomon and the Inov-8 seem to be the best the ‘big boys’ have to offer for what I am after, the Cheviot 2 is the newer version of the Cheviot - it has the same sole, just a redesigned upper, and the older Cheviot.

Reading-up on what fellow runners have found on the various blogs out there, the consensus seems to be that they all cope very well in the harsh conditions I am intending to wear them, however the rubber on the soles of the Salomon and the Inov-8 seems to be softer and susceptible to rapid wearing when used on asphalt, or any surface that is not very soft and pliable - and with my races covering a mix of trail and tarmac, it seems they will be in for a fair hammering on some races.

Looking deeper in to the reviews, the consensus is that a pair of hard-worn and fairly well used and abused pair of trail shoes will only last a year at most before destruction - be it the sole or the upper that gives-out… And I managed to get that out of the Cheviots.

For comparison on the wear & tear front, it seems that you will get the same use out of a pair of trail shoes no matter how well you look after them, therefore on a budgetary basis a £150 pair of trainers is no different to a £25 pair (so long as the build quality is of an equivalent standard) - so price seems to not be a too relevant factor in representing longevity.

Back-tracking here the tread is king in this comparison and the Cheviot 1&2 still seem to be offering the deepest most aggressive lugs of all. All 4 of the shoes have mesh uppers so drain water very well - so the deciding factor in this choice really is based on: appearance, snobbery and cost.

The styling of the Inov-8 and Salomon shoes look far better than the chunkier less sleek Cheviots, with the Cheviot 1’s looking better than the 2’s in my eyes, but I’m looking for performance in the mud rather than speedy styling as I’m realistic that my pace is certainly not one for hitting the front of a field!

Seeing as I don’t really view my running as a fashion parade and I love my functionality over flashiness with my kit, I decided to shed any pretensions I might have of being a ‘front runner’ in the field and running the risk of looking like one of those types who 'has all the gear and no idea’ as I plod along towards the rear of the field being a fat bloke and I opted for another pair of the Cheviot’s.

Duly ordered, they arrived and I set about breaking them in… Unfortunately this pair did not prove as hardy as the last and the mesh on the upper by the toe began to fray after just walking around the house in them :(

One extreme to the other!
Start Fitness, the suppliers were great about this and told me to send them back so they can get me a replacement pair, some excellent customer service here and I look forward to receiving the replacements. Hopefully I will have them as an option for the next marathon, the Steyning Stinger, in a couple of weekends, but if not they'll certainly be broken-in ready for the CTS Sussex marathon.

At the price of roughly 1/3 the Salomons and Inov-8's I think the maths in purchasing these make terrific sense... Probably the Scot in me coming out there!.. You could go through 3 pairs of these in a year and not be out of pocket over buying the more expensive brands, plus you would not have the worry over the tread wearing down by replacing them more often. The tread on them has certainly kept me upright when those in more expensive footwear have been slipping and sliding over. I would thoroughly recommend these trainers to anyone looking at running trail races, especially if you're reluctant to spend stupid money when dipping your toe in the world of trail running and unsure if it is for you... As an aside I put inside of them a cushioned sorbothane insole and change the laces for elasticated ones to make the comfort level perfect for me.

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