Remembering (or perhaps being reminded) that I said I would post a review of the Merrell Road Glove soon, I put them on for a spin around town. I hadn’t worn them much since their test, the Ridge to Bridge Marathon last October. My impression of them hadn’t changed.
Let’s back up a bit. This was the most barefoot summer of my life. All of my runs were shoeless, except for the occasional trail run. I really should get over it and run the trails barefoot too, but I digress. At work, my time was spent running around in a gravel yard with a bunch of dogs. For that I wore sandals. I bring this up because my feet have never been as strong or as functional as they are now, and as they were on October 22. I was about to run a marathon in shoes, with feet trained to be bare and a running form rooted in the utility of bareness.
I got the shoe at the end of September, and there was no real opportunity to test them out on a long run before the marathon. Well, there were a couple of opportunities, but the weather was nice. I ran a total of about ten miles in them, but that was more to test the Yankz laces I thought I’d try out.
The race itself was dirt and gravel road, with rolling hills and a nine mile switchback suicidal descent. I ran tangents through leafy ruts and on the edge of rocky dropoffs. I bombed down the hills, catching runners and leaving them behind. They were taking the longer line to avoid all the debris. Nobody passed me for 26.2 miles.
Truth is, I don’t really know enough about shoes or your footwear preferences to give you anything that might help you make a purchasing decision. There are quite a few bareshoes out there now, with varying degrees of bareness. There is also quite a variety of feet out there. My observations are pretty simple:
1. The snugness around the arch feels like arch support when I first put the shoe on, then I don’t notice it after a mile or two.
2. The soles are hard, which isn’t a big deal but I prefer a more moccasin-like shoe if I’m going to be wearing footwear on a road.
3. The toe box is very roomy and allows me to flex my toes the way I like.
4. I need socks if I want to keep the skin on my achilles. That’s true of just about all rigid shoes.
5. If I could only have one pair of shoes, these would probably be them. Mocs are more my thing, but they get really soggy in the rain. I LOVE my sandals, but the strings cause irritation on the tops of my delicate feet on runs. So the pair that works in the cold, the rain, on rough terrain, trails, and blending in with barefoot-hostile society, would be the Merrell Road Glove.
All of that pertains to me and my feet, but really that tells you nothing about how they would work for you. So to be a truly useful review, I need to give you something concrete, something indisputable.
And let’s not forget the disclaimer: I was given these shoes for free by Merrell, on a trip to NYC that was paid for by Merrell, right before eating meal after meal that was also paid for by Merrell. So savvy shopper that you are, you know you can’t trust a word I write. So again, I need to present something concrete. The only indisputable truth is
Ridge to Bridge Marathon:
Feet: intact, unbruised, sweaty.
Experience: focused on effort and the beauty of the wooded mountains around me, with no distraction from the shoe.
I would not have been able to do that in a shoe that inhibited the way I run.
So thank you Merrell, both for the mighty fine shoe and the opportunity to brag about my fastest marathon again.