GUEST POST FROM NONE OTHER THAN ULTRA RUNNING PR GURU – PETER ELMS. A REVIEW OF THE INOV-8 ROCLITE 290.
I don’t know about you, but I always find that my last pair of running shoes was the best I’ve ever had. I’m not one of those guys who has four or five different pairs of trail running shoes that they rotate, no I stay faithful. I will typically run in one pair of shoes for 1000 miles plus or more. I like to run long and relatively slow for much of the year, bar an annual attempt at breaking my marathon PB on a flat road course. The large bulk of my mileage is done on the north and south downs and the trails nearest to where I live in Farnham, somewhere between 35 and 60 miles a week if I’m building up to an ultra. I loved the Pearl Izumi N2 and then I have loved being in the Nike Terra Kiger 2 (my last two trail runners).
So what did I make of the Roclites? First let’s judge the book by its cover. I like the way they look. I like the red colour way I’ve been trialling, they pop. They give the appearance of being low profile, but they look pretty tough too, the lugs look aggressive for another wise lightweight looking shoe. I like, maybe not as much as my discontinued Pearls, but they’re still a handsome shoe.
How did they feel? Now this is probably the most important aspect of any running shoe, particularly when running ultras. As much as I like the way 290’s look, I’m not going to spend too much time looking down at my feet…well not for the first 50 miles of a hundred anyway. They feel light, because they are light (290g). Roclite wanted to make a responsive shoe – and they have. You know some shoes make you feel quick? That’s what these do. They’ve got a low drop (4mm), and a Y-LOCK system which (apparently) helps to keep the heel locked in place, both of which only add to the sense that you’re wearing something designed to go quickly in. So then, are you sacrificing comfort for speed. I personally found the cushioning perfectly adequate for 6 hours out on the North Downs. The 290s dealt with all the rocks and sand, and my feet didn’t feel mashed.
Would I run more than a 50k in them? I would. Are they going to keep my feet as cushioned as a pair of Hokas over that distance? Probably not. But I like to feel to feel my shoes bite on the ground and push me forwards, I like to run down hill and not feel like I need to lift my legs up high to avoid roots. It’s worth mentioning that the 290s have a big toe box, I definitely felt that had my feet begun to get a bit swollen at the back end of an ultra then there wouldn’t be too much of an issue.
The lugs and rockplate would really come into their own on rocks and more aggressive trails, I just don’t have easy access to over spring and summer on the North Downs. But they look tough enough to take on the Lakeland 50 (for example), just as well as they dealt with the packed dirt, sand and chalk I’ve been using them for. I think they’re a great all round ultra-shoe for those people that don’t want to feel like they’ve got pillows ties to their feet. And they come in red.
You can buy the inov-8 Roclite 290 now from inov.com