Since I started racing and coaching in the obstacle race scene, I’ve gone through so many pairs of shoes. If you follow any OCR athletes on Instagram, you’ve probably got the same vibe from them. All of them show countless of pairs of shoes they’re either trying out or already in love with. All of them are searching for the next best shoe, one that will give them the extra kick we’re all looking for: to run faster and injury-free.
Up until now I’ve been racing in Reebok All Terrain Super‘s, which are some of the best shoes for OCR. Period. However, minimal shoes wear off rather quickly, so after more than a hundred miles of running they simply fell apart.
Meanwhile Salomon was a brand I always had in mind as my next pick. Although they don’t label their shoes as being specifically for OCR, they have a vast variety of gear made for rugged and unpredictable terrain. More recently, they released the new S-LAB Speed, and they looked sleek, sexy and fast — all qualities I’ve been looking for, and so I went for it.
To date, the Speeds have been my companion for at least a couple of months and mainly on muddy trails, in knee-deep water, gravel and fell running. I experienced blistering taking them for a run fresh out of the box, however after that initial pain they now seem to fit and feel like second skin.
Other than that Speeds are a well-crafted product with a long list of pros and just a few cons:
- OCR or any other running shoes tend to have a very distinct and rarely attractive look. The Speeds on the other hand look fresh and reminds of something you would see in a futuristic action flick (think Tron, Alien, Equillibrium etc.) – sleek, dark with minimal accents. Wearing these I feel like a badass.
- Made for speed. The moment you put these shoes on they shift your body weight forward, just what your body would do barefoot when need to gain momentum and instant speed.
- Extremely sharp and pronounced Contagrip lugs for outstanding grip. Doesn’t slip when running on tarmac, fell or mud.
- Comfortable and glove-like fit with string quick-lacing technology. Includes lace pocket as well.
- Low drop (4mm) and lightweight (265g), yet have enough cushion to protect from harsh terrains and give just the amount of support that’s needed
- They drained water fairly well, however I wasn’t as impressed as I was with the All Terrains which have the specially designed H20 drainage ports. On the other hand – having no gaps means no debris or rocks can get into the shoe.
- Fits narrow feet best. If your feet are wide, this shoe might not be a good fit for you.
- High price tag.
What about overall fit for OCR?
Water drainage –
Stability and support –
Fit for OCR –
Four out of five stars is a good rating for any product out there. I don’t think this comes as a big surprise, especially knowing that Salomon S-Lab Speeds concepts have been tested by British fell cross athletes. This allowed for a product that’s better defined for and tailored to the specific sport, much like Rebook’s All Terrains were designed for OCR.