In a previous post I mentioned my addiction to Pearl Izumi running shoes. It is kind of a problem. Last fall I received some devastating news – Pearl Izumi announced they were going to discontinue their entire “Run” line. I think we can all find irony in the fact that my husband just started working at Pearl Izumi this month. I could’ve used that discount last year, you know ~Sigh~, when they were still in the running business. I’ve been running in Pearl Izumi trail shoes for years. I ran in the PI Trail N2s initially, and then moved to the N3s when they came out last year. Trying other shoes here and there, I haven’t been able to find another love. Honestly, I haven’t even found a pair I can halfway tolerate!
When the announcement came out, I did what every PI lover did; I stocked up. At the moment there are several new pairs of shoes in my closet, patiently waiting to be taken out of the box and into the dirt where they belong.The inevitable will come. One day I will open that last box, and I need to be prepared; which means finding a new shoe. What I’m looking for in my perfect shoe is a wide toe box, narrow through the heel, low to moderate drop, PI N3 like cushioning, and great traction. I would ask for Hoka cushioning, but I’m trying to be reasonable. For what it is worth, I like my toes and toenails too much to wear Hoka’s for more than a few miles at a time. How can people say they love a shoe that leaves them with no toenails?
Anyway, when we were down at the McDowell Frenzy 50k in Arizona last month, Josh saw someone wearing Topo Terraventures and asked what they were. I had never heard of the company, but after looking into these shoes I decided I needed to try them. Full disclosure here folks – Topo sent me a pair to try, and I was super excited.
I ordered a pair of women’s 8.5, which is the size I wear in all my running shoes. On their website they state their road shoes tend to run small and should be ordered a 1/2 size up, but the trail shoes run true to size. I didn’t find this to be the case. They arrived and were too small, so I had to size up to the 9. Once I got the correct size I took them out for a short spin.
The two features I noticed right out of the gate were the WIDE toe box, and the molded heel cup. As for the toe box – this sucker is roomy. It is an Altra size toe box. The heel cup has additional padding to make the fit more secure. It is the first running shoe I have ever worn that didn’t slip on my heel at all. Even my long time love the Pearl Izumi N3s slipped on my heel. I always added a little square of duct tape to the inside to prevent rubbing a hole. The Terraventure doesn’t have as much cushion as the N3, but it isn’t marketed as a “Max Cushion” type shoe, and is closer to the PI N2s. There is more structure and support to the shoe than the Altra, which always felt like more of a slipper. I know some people that complained about the rise of the heel on the N3 causing Achilles discomfort. The Terraventure heel cup is significantly lower than the N3.
Here are some hard number comparisons:
Unfortunately weather conditions around here haven’t been ideal to get a good feel for traction on the shoe. Everything has been snow or mud, but I was impressed with how grippy they felt on the ice. Mostly I run with my Kahtoola Microspikes if there is much ice, so that isn’t a big deal to me. I am looking forward to testing them out on more technical terrain when I get a chance.
Overall I am excited about the Terraventure. I’m not sure they will be my new long distance shoe, as I’ve been spoiled with the cushion of the N3s. But with the fit of the shoe, I will be happy to keep it as part of my quiver. If Topo decided to add a little extra cushion to this shoe, I might have a new favorite. If you are looking for that magical wide toe box and narrow heel in a shoe that still provides support and a low-moderate drop, I recommend giving it a try. Topo has only been around since 2013, but I think they are developing a strong line of road and trail shoes, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with.
On the training front, I’ve been getting back out a bit more, and will get on the training wagon starting in February. Stay tuned…