I bought a new pair of shoes: the Inov-8 RocLite 285. For orienteering and for street-running. Not that the old ones were worn, but they didn’t fit all the terrains I use to cross.
Most orienteering races, I run my pair of Inov-8 Oroc 340’s (346.6 kilometers on the odometer, right now), that I bought April 1st 2012. But the steel spikes are not the best base on asphalt or other pavement.
On the other hand, the soft, flat, smooth sole of my marathon shoes, the Saucony Men ProGrid Triumph 8, are not the best option for off-road racing. So I needed something in between, suitable for paved roads, and anything else. With a lot of grip, but without feeling the individual studs when running on paved roads. With a low heel, but some damping; although I prefer little damping on the road for the direct feeling. A light shoe for long distances, but with some stability for my ankles.
Length web-browsing, review reading, running-mate consulting, and fitting, pointed in the direction of the Inov-8 RocLite series. Other options had been the TrailRoc 255 and the X-Talon 190. I tried them in the O-Crew “shop”, and decided that the size should be ½ bigger than my Oroc’s (although they were the same brand).
Next thing was to try them out in the field. The first meters on them ever became the first of 15000, during the Genneperparkenloop. The result was a pair of blisters, but hey, what do you expect if you try your new shoes on a fast 15k with sharp turns and some mud? The running itself went perfect, that day.
I was doubting whether to wear them during the Midwinterrun, and the Woudlopers Oriëntatierun. But I didn’t. Afraid to make the flashy red fabric dirty? No, I guess I just stuck to what I was used to, my good old Orocs. But last Friday, I ran the night orienteering run in Genk on them, to my complete satisfaction, and last Sunday, I ran, through the fresh snow, through the forests and over the hay around Leenderheide.
This last run was a good combination of paved and unpaved roads, fresh and compact snow, and loose sand and mud. On most terrain, the grip was perfect; only on hard, compacted, snow, I felt minimal sliding back, but no loss of control. I got the feeling there that the Orocs would have performed better there, but I did not compare them at that moment, under the same circumstances.
Furthermore, I noticed that the open structure of the upper shoe easily lets in water (melted snow), and I heard that the same would happen in dry sand. But I suppose my feet would have gotten wet anyway after running through 5 cm of fresh snow for 1.5 hours.
On the other hand, on the paved roads, back in the cite towards home, they behaved pretty well. The roads were wet, with slush-puppy substance on them, and the grip was excellent. The soles are a bit stiffer than my road-running shoes, but still comfortable enough to sustain for a longer period (and it is a good way to exercise the recoil in my calves).
So, my conclusion so far is that I made the right choice, to find a balance between on- and off-road shoes. And I guess that I will use them quite a lot for training, when I first have to conquer the asphalt, before I reach the wilderness. But for sprint-orienteering, they could be my favorite too. We’ll see. They’re a good excuse anyway to create some more elephant-trails…