With the snow finally melted off of the summit of Pikes Peak and with the Ascent and Marathon bearing down on us in just a smidgeon over six weeks, now might be a good time to consider your footwear options for tackling America's Mountain this year.
While Barr Trail is not overly technical and seasoned Ascent and Marathon veterans might find a road shoe to be adequate enough to serve their ascending and decsending needs, the overwhelming majority of runners can benefit tremendously from the added traction featured within trail shoes. Salomon, sponsor of this year's Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent and arguably the face of mountain running footwear, offers a vast array of options, their best-seller being the Sense Pro 2.
Looking for something light, fast, and nimble but not wanting to sacrifice protection? The Sense Pro 2 may be just the ticket for you. Weighing in at just under 9 ounces in the women's and just over 9 ounces in the men's with a 5mm drop, the Sense Pro 2 offers aggressive traction, superb cushioning, and outstanding protection for negotioating rocky terrain, all contained within a lightweight, lower-profile package.
While this shoe's tread doesn't appear overly aggressive, don't be fooled; Salomon's proprietary outsole material, Contagrip, is specifically designed to give the Sense exceptional grip and traction across a huge variety of surfaces, wet or dry, with a rock-plate in the forefoot to give added protection against roots, rocks, and other obstacles encountered on Barr. The Sense Pro's midsole is comprised of both compression and injected molded EVA, which, in non-Shoe-Dork Speak, equates to a shoe that provides a soft, forgiving landing without giving up any responsiveness.
Where this shoe will really show off, however, is likely to be with the lucky wearer noticing a lack of foot movement within the shoe whether ascending or descending the mountain. Taking a leaf out of their Nordic Ski boot history book, Salomon utilizes their Sensi-Fit system, which combines Kevlar laces with no elasticity (think bullet-proof vest material) with a unique upper design that work in conjuntion with each other to create a glove-like fit that will grip the foot in such a way so as to prevent any foward or backward slippage regardless of the grade of ascent or descent.
Multiple-time Ascent winner and record holder Kim Dobson ascends the 43% grade of Upper Walking Boss at the US Mountain Running Championships en route to a 5th place berth in the Sense Pro 2. Lookin' sharp K-Dobs!
Bottom line: if you want a lightweight, highly protective trail shoe that will boast equally good performance whether training, racing, climbing, or descending, give the Sense Pro 2 a go, you won't be disappointed.