TrailRunMag 06.08.2011

When approached to test the new salomon speedcross 3 trail shoe straight out of the box, you might think one should baulk at the idea.
I mean, what a way to ruin a great day on the trail: slip on a brand you have never worn and a model you had only heard was due later in the year, add to that a body recovering from hip and knee injuries and a recently badly-rolled ankle, and the safety of the known versus unknown might have seemed the wiser choice. Even so, ultra trail runners are often accused of being not too smart and a little crazy, and who am I to mess with the stereotype?
I was handed the box, popped the lid and, “Oh, they’re sleek and narrow,” was my first thought. “This won’t fare well.”
I have always searched out the wider forefoot type shoe. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, I thought. Off with the old and on with the new.
This can’t be right, they feel roomy up front, yet hug my foot – better slip on the right one, which is my wider foot (do we all have odd feet widths?). Wow, just the same, almost like they mould and adjust to suit. I grab the kevlar quickdraw lace and pull. I’m amazed at how evenly the whole foot is neatly hugged with a single pull on the lace. Tucking the excess lace in the small tongue pouch I spring to my feet, I mean, like a jack in the box, or should I say out of the box. The Speedcross 3’s feel light and springy. I’m no lightweight, but with these under me I’m floating. Today is going to be a good day on the trail.I’m running on the hills around Silvan Dam in the finale in the Salomon Trail Run Series 2011, and there isn’t a lot of soft mushy stuff to really test the grip, though I remain impressed. I feel at one with the land. You kind of expect a bit of loose top surface movement under foot on trails, but not today, it’s like the tread cuts through the top layer and just holds on tight. Yet at the same time the Speedcross 3 is supple and provides feedback allowing me to make all the right adjustments. The steep ascent is no bother, I actually want the grip to let go so I can take a break, but no such luck.
Then the real test: the descent. I’m heavy enough and gravity just pushes me onward and downward. When I need to apply brakes, the Speedcross 3 obliges; into technical manoeuvres they engage all wheel drive and away we go. Landing my foot on grass-covered logs is no bother – they just don’t let go when they are planted.
If I have one negative experience, it is that the machine in the shoes just can’t keep up. With all that extra grip, I just have to work harder. The Speedcross 3 seems to demand that from me, and I have to come to the party.
I perform as best I can coming off injuries, though ultimately the Speedcross 3 out performs me. And I wonder – does Kilian have the same problem? Shoes that are too good for him?


Great for > Comfort, feel, grip, responsiveness, lightweight, did I mention grip?

Not so great for > Running on hard flat surfaces, keep them off road where they belong.

Test conditions > Single technical trail, leaf litter, hard and rocky fire trails, steep ascents and descents, moist grassy trails – tested in race condition over 14.3km

Tester > Brett Saxon. Ultra runner with finishes in Coast to Kosci 240km, TNF100, Wilsons Prom 100, Bogong to Hotham 64km, Bretts Run For Canteen 100 miler. Trail race director at Trails Plus, purveyor of the new Victorian Trail Running Championships 2012, Maroondah Dam 50/30, Mt Macedon 50/30, You Yangs 80/50/30/15, Tan Ultra 100/50/30.

Tester mechanics > Neutral wide feet, 86kg, overuse hip, knee injuries, but it doesn’t stop me…

RRP >  AU$210.00