New Balance MT00 Minimus Running Shoe
5th Apr 2012
I’ve been living in or near the Peak for nearly twenty years now and I’ve done a lot of the climbing on offer in the area. Nearly five years ago I moved into a village crammed full of fell runners so it was inevitable that I would be drawn into the sport. However it wasn’t until I read Born To Run that I was totally hooked. That and downloading Endomondo on my phone and having it talk to me and urge me on as I run – brilliant!
Anyway, just over a month ago New Balance very kindly supported an event that I organised as part of the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival. It was a Running Expert Night (run by Accelerate in Sheffield) and NB turned up with a pair of minimalist running shoes for various folk taking part, including me. Result.
The very first thing that you notice is their colour and style. They are very, shall we say, continental? Whenever I’ve been out in them I find more people looking at my feet than at my face which is quite strange. They are bright yellow, with red flashes. And then you pick them up. Initially you assume that these are simply a viewing sample, something put together out of perishable materials that are just for show, but then you check yourself that they are straight out of the box, and on closer inspection are moulded from the sort of durable materials you’ve come to expect in a shoe. They weigh in at a mere 4.4Oz – that’s 125g! In a previous review I likened the weight of a product to a standard sized Mars Bar which is 58g. This pair of shoes weighs less than two and a half Mars Bars. Absolutely incredible.
The uppers are laser moulded and glued which means that despite being a composite of materials – the theory is that there is enough material to hold the construction together, but nothing extra, making it as close as possible to a bare foot experience – it feels seamless. It’s really quite clever. Turn them over and the sole underneath looks quite different to any shoe I’ve seen before, let alone worn. It consists of a series of lugs of Vibram rubber. Again the theory here is that they have taken a regular sole and taken out the bits that you don’t need, cutting down vastly on the overall weight.
Being a minimalist shoe there’s very little in the way of support anywhere, the shoe literally moulding to your foot which should provide the support necessary.
So, what are they like in practice? Let’s get the negatives out the way first. They are really only suitable for dry ground. The slightest bit of mud and the lug-based soles become almost like bowling shoes, giving no friction at all. At the same time as you are slipping around, any moisture that hits the uppers come straight on through and wets your feet. The only other negative is that every now and then a stone or stick that you normally wouldn’t notice, happens to land directly between two of the lugs on the sole and can give you a surprise spike in your foot. That said, this shoe is a bare-foot-mimicking model so you really ought to compare this niggle with the fact that running with no shoe on at all means that every stick and stone that you tread on pokes you in the foot, so I think it is an acceptable compromise.
So aside from having to run in the dry I don’t have any issues at all. I’ve worn them over the past six weeks when I can, taking it easy at first and trying not to over-do it and wreck my calves. I’m not finding that they are forcing me onto my forefoot. That depends more on the terrain that I am on. The more technical, the more likely I am to be on my forefoot. I recently paced a friend on a 4 mile leg of the Edale Skyline race in them. it was a glorious day, dry underfoot, and there was a great vibe in the air as 400+ runners were on the trail together. It was one of the best running experiences I have ever had. I wished that I had entered the race and felt that I could have run all day in them.
They retail at around £60 to £70 depending on size which is a very, very competitive price for such a well designed shoe.
Well done NB.
Here's a little video describing things for you: