minimalist shoes for ultras


I've been wearing Nike Frees for the past few years and have been injury free ever since, so I'm sold on the minimalist thing, but have been thinking about trying another shoe.

Can anyone recommend a good minimalist shoe for ultras? (road and/or trail)




  • On the roads my go to shoe is Saucony Kinvara which is on the padded end of the minamilist scale, off-road I have been in New Balance for a while first MT101's, then MT110's and now MT1010's of which the MT1010's would be the shoe of choice, were it not for the fact the upper has split after 113 miles, only the outer mesh but still more than a bit annoying, might just be a rogue pair, I'll see what New Balance say when I send them the shoes.

  • I'm considering wearing new balance 110's for the Thames path 100. Been doing all my long runs in them with no problems.
  • I can second the Kinvaras for road ultras, having just completed the Thames Trot in a pair - and that included boggy fields and freezing flood water. They are certainly a bit more cushioned than some minimalist shoes. My minimal shoe of choice is the New Balance MT10s, which are awesome on all but very muddy trails. As many others will tell oyu, shoe choice is a personal thing. New Balance Minimus and Brooks Pure are my ranges of choice.

  • Thanks all.

    It may sound contradictory, but I think I might need a bit more cushioning in my minimal shoes for when my running form starts to deteriorate after 40 miles or so. Just to take the edge off tired, heavy footfalls.

    Does that make sense??!!

  • Brooks pure flow and grit are quite cushioned for minimalist shoes
  • If you've been running in the Nike frees, why not stick with them? Don't they have the 5.0 that are more cushioned?
  • I ran NDW50 fine in VB Neo Trail, but they were not suitable for the mostly-road revised TT50 this Saturday (particularly since I had an injured ankle which put my form off so I was heel striking in a way I don't do normally). But for most trail ultras, I'd consider them fine. I've got myself a pain of Inov8 Trailroc 235s ready for Lakeland 50 - bit more cushioning than the Neos and superb grip.

  • Brooks pure flows for the road. The pure grit are good for certain trails, but are pretty lethal over wet rock, which is when I use inov-8s. Also have the NB 110s which are good too.

    I've been given a pair of the new brooks pure drift to trial and they are pretty awesome. Very minimal, 4mm drop, but you can take out the innersole which takes them to zero drop. A really nice and versatile shoe.



  • +1 for the New Balance 110's, (4mm drop) I've used them for NDW100, fell races, 40-50 mile ultras in the Brecon Beacons and a few trail marathons. I'm still on my first pair which must have 600+ miles on them and are still going strong. I also wear then casually as my normal walking trainers.

    You can get them for £35 online

  • I'm planning on running The Wall in Vivobarefoot Breatho Trails. Longest with them so far was the Kielder Marathon.

  • I'm really glad someone else is running in minimalist shoes - I'm about to try some Saucony Cortana and Peregrine on the treadmill. I've been nursing a knee injury for over a year, and its worse when I'm in my road shoes (Saucony hurricane) but ok when I'm in my off road (Innovate talon). I suspect the difference in heel to toe differential might be a major factor! Cortana feel nice and cushioned at a quick stroll round the house.
  • Update - Saucony Peregrine are too firm for me, but the Cortana had a nice smooth ride. Going to look at other options though, to try and get a bit more control/stability.
  • Vicky - I started running in barefoot shoes because I got knee pain all the time with regular shoes. Not had a bit of bother with it since, not once. 

  • I'm another with no knee pain since I made the transition of minimalist (with associated gait changes).

  • Thanks guys! Just ordered some Saucony kinvara to see how I get on with those. Keeping the Cortana for now as I'm not sure if the others are more on road or off....
  • Debra, Pursued, just wondering whether you have a neutral gait, over pronation,...?
  • cragchick - could you post a link? I've just looked at the Field & Trek site and I can't fine ANY Vivo stuff at all - and I'd certainly be interested...

  • Okay, cancel that - just found them. Anyone know whether, if I take a 4 (EU 37) for the Neo Trail and a 5 (EU 38 for the Neo, I need a 4 or a 5 for the Breatho?

  • Thanks cragchick! I'm stocked up!!

  • cragchick: hope they're okay. I checked some of the reviews and it seems the Breathos come in larger than the Neo Trail. I've ordered both in size 4 (I've already got Neo Trail in that size and I think even if the Breathos are larger, size 3 would be too small) and the old green-and-white Neos (non-trail) in a size 5 (because I've found that for some reason they're smaller than the Neo Trail - go figure) to replace my pair that are about done. At this price, it really did seem silly not to try the Breathos as well as getting spares of the ones I already know and love! Thanks again for the heads-up.

  • So glad this thread started . . . Ran the TT last week in a pair of Cascadias . . . Been fore striking since the summer but still running shorter distances . . . During the race my form became confused and did a mixture of fore foot and heel striking . . . I did have it in my mind that I really should get the Inov8 245 just shy of one 100 pounds . . .Went on sportshoe and saw the MT110 for 26 delivered. . . .

    I'm not religious at all but what a revelation just did or local park run in them on cheewed up grass, mud . . . . . Very grippy light responsive and can't wait to use them on a club 17 mile off roader tomorrow. Crossing fingers these are the ones for the TP 100 next month.

    Thanks magic
  • Hey louismaxy! Me again... After the conversation we had on the way to the TT50 I'd think the MT110's are perfect for you. I used them for the NDW100 and wished I'd had them at the Thames Trot instead of my racing flats.

    ??26 is a bargain, I'm still on my first pair but have another couple of pairs stockpiled just in case...
  • I've been raving about the 110's since I got them and am thinking of ordering the updated ones, preordering a pair on sports direct. Only problem is I can't find a sock that I like wearing with them. I find them much more comfortable sockless bit then you get debris issues. Ended up taking my socks off today after 15 miles and put them in my rucksack.
  • Louismaxy - I'm doing the Thames path 100 in them.
  • Hey guys. Just thought I'd chip in and say I wore a pair of 110's for the first time today in a slippery parkrun. They felt very comfortable throughout and although they didn't stop me slipping in the worst muddy bits (not sure anything would have other than maybe spikes) were light and quick with enough grip for most of the wet grass.

    The thing that surprised me most was that they were also comfortable on the pavements for the couple of miles each way to the park too.

    Thanks to the heads up regarding the cheap vivo's at field and trek, I've also go a pair of vivo breatho's to try out but looking at the depth of the lugs, I can't imagine that they will be as comfortable as the 110's on road/pavement sections between trails.

    GeeeM, how were your legs/feet after NDW100 in them? That's what I'm considering them for. Currently trialing the 110's, hoka bondi's and the vivo breatho's.


  • i wore saucony peregrines with 4mm drop for an ultra which were fine, i have merrels and now inov8 bare x lites , neither have been on an ultra yet so watch this space but have heard good things about the MT110S!

  • The American Vivo site has a shoe size comparator - can put in what you're wearing currently and it tells you which size in the model you're looking at.

    Snap! - I was told I overpronated when I originally got my gait checked at a running store. 

    Off to find the Field & Trek site - I could fancy a pair of Vivo Ultras if they've got any... image

  • Whatcha GM..........................I'm back in the Green Man around Bristol. As said at the train station I thought it might be to close to the TP100 but I'm now thinking it's a good place to try out the MT110's. Also they will get a good test around the south section i.e Somerset going up and down all those muddy hills. Plus I could do with another longish outing around my home town image and then use the next 3 weeks as a taper!!

    Gee Bee 2 I hope to say ..................snap



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