In a previous post on choosing a shoe, I mentioned the New Balance MT101 as a very light minimalist trail shoe. Since that post, I’ve had a chance to do some running in the MT101’s. Initially, I was worried that an interior rough seam would rub my little toe raw, but after a 2 hour trail run, no problems with the seam.
The shoe’s lightness gives the feeling of taking less effort to run as compared to heavier shoes. Their lightness maybe their strong point. But making the shoe so light, contributes to some of its weaknesses. There is very little cushioning in the fore foot. It does have a protection plate under ball of the foot to protect from sharp rocks. This combination of protection plate and lack of cushioning makes the sole feel hard and stiff. They transfer shock to the fore foot, especially when running on hard surfaces like a road.
The upper is very thin saving weight, but at the sacrifice of support and fit. On steep downhills, my foot tended to slide around because of the thin mushy upper. I did not feel that my foot was firmly attached to the sole of the shoe. To keep my foot centered in the shoe over the sole, I had to tighten up the lacing beyond my comfort zone. Tight lacing causes pain and irritation on the top of my foot and the back of the heel. I prefer a stiffer better fitting upper that I don’t have to lace so tight to get that feeling of oneness with the sole of the shoe.
As a shoe for the Ridge Run, the MT101 has a couple weaknesses that need addressing. Before I would use them on the Ridge Run, I would make sure to add a metatarsal pad purely for comfort on the long rugged Ridge Run. Using my ankle braces may compensate for the lack of structure and support in the upper. Their lightness certainly will save a lot of energy on a long run like the Ridge, but they may be a bit too minimal for my tastes. They are a better uphill shoe than downhill shoe.