Tuesday, May 17, 2016

New Balance Leadville v3 (Review)

I've long been the kind of runner who is most comfortable in a light, low-to-the-ground, flexible trail shoe with a wide toe-box and a forefoot rock-plate. Put more succinctly, I'm a minimalist. But I'm also not too man to admit that sometimes even this minimalist needs a bit 'more shoe' over the long haul.

The Patagonia EVERlong (still minimal by most standards), saw me through the Pine Creek Challenge 100k a couple of years ago, and since then I've looked to the Pearl iZUMi Men's E:Motion Trail N 1 for tough mountain runs such as the Hyner View Trail Challenge, and Green Monster

But still, I have an uneasy relationship with beefier shoes. They're heavier, less stable, and the plush cushioning makes each step feel "muddy" and needlessly labored until fatigue sets in and the cushion becomes more of a blessing.

When I shop for a new Ultra distance trainer / racer, I aim to find a shoe that meets (most) of my needs. This spring I have been trying out the New Balance Leadville v3 as a potential candidate to carry me from 50k to 100 miles in 2016.

Weighing in at just under 11 ounces, the Leadville v3 is considerably heavier than my daily go-to trial trainer, the New Balance MT101, however it wears its weight well. I ordered this pair half a size small, as suggested by the manufacturer, and the fit was spot on (in terms of length) even as the toe box remained roomy.

Upon lacing up for the first time I had some concern about the heel cup, which slipped noticeably while walking around the house, but a few days later I took the shoe out for 14 miles and 2,700ft of vertical without any issues in that department. For that run, and for a trail half marathon on the same course a week later, I used the Leadville v3 with the insole removed to give me a firmer foot-bed, more akin to the minimal shoes I prefer, and this seemed to work well - although admittedly, for the first few miles I found myself annoyed by the cushion and reduced ground feel. Those feelings, however, tend to fade as the miles and pounding pile up, and by mile 9 I found myself enjoying the act of bombing down mountainous single track.

The out-sole is slightly more aggressive than my beloved New Balance MT101, which proved useful in last Sunday's race-day mud, though good form is always the best tool on tricky terrain.

Although I'd still prefer a lower stack height, I'm quickly warming up to this shoe and will be utilizing it this weekend at the World's End Ultramarathon 50k.

Other Shoe Reviews
New Balance MT110 NBX Trail
Inov-8 Trailroc 245
Columbia Ravenous
Merrell Trail Glove
Merrell Bare Access 2
-Vivobarefoot Breatho
-Patagonia EVERlong
-Patagonia EVERlong (follow up)
Pearl iZUMi Men's E:Motion Trail N 1
Merrell Bare Access 3
New Balance MT101


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  3. I had my eye on Leadville’s based on people mentioning them here, however I was unsure how much sole protection they have. People around here tend to like pretty minimalist shoes. I picked up a pair and they are everything I was looking for.

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