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Updated on May 1, 2013
Any distance beyond 26.2 miles is considered an ultramarathon. And any runner who considers it? Some might call them mad. We just call them ultrarunners. These super-accomplished runners who prefer the long road require specific shoes that offer both support and comfort mile after mile.
Sure, compressions socks and appropriate hydration can give you an edge. But everyone knows that shoes are everything—especially in a 50-mile run. As popularity for the sport grows, so does the offering of ultra running shoes built specifically for the challenging occasion.
Shoes that qualify for an ultramarathon are surprisingly lightweight considering their bulky appearance. With beefed up midsoles and hardy outsoles, ultramarathon shoes can really handle any type of race, even the unintimidating 5K. That being said, the shoes are best suited for long-distance trail runs.
Let’s take a look at the four collections of ultra shoes currently available.
Born from the insight of ultramarathoner Scott Jurek, the Brooks Cascadia has been a favorite of trail runners since its inception. To solidify its place in our hearts, the latest iteration received the coveted Editor’s Choice Award from Runner’s World. And just like Jurek, the shoe is 100 percent vegan, down to the adhesives and glue that hold it together.
New Balance conducted intense research when molding the 1210. They even went as far as to build a last based on the scans of ultrarunners’ feet before and after a race. The shoe itself is surprisingly lightweight at 10.3/8.1 oz. (men’s/women’s) due to the use of its REVlite midsole foam. The New Balance 1210 has an 8 mm drop that’s slightly lower compared to Cascadia’s 10 mm drop.
The North Face Ultra Guide is an aggressive trail shoe built for runs beyond the road. It’s lighter than the Cascadia and the 1210 but has just as much protection. Using its trademarked Cradle Guide technology to add a second density to the shoe that will provide stability no matter where the runner’s foot strikes. It lends full phase heel-to-toe protection along with a solid amount of cushion.
Inspired by award-winning ultrarunner Killian Jornet, the S-Lab Sense Ultra is a racing flat with extra rock protection in the midfoot strike area. At 7.4 oz., it’s much lighter that the competition. If you’re looking for more of an ultra-training shoe instead, be sure to check out the S-Lab Sense Ultra’s more robust companion, the Salomon Sense Mantra.
What shoes do you wear for your long-distance runs?