Tough Mudder and Merrell put together an Instagram Photo Contest with prizes including a trip to CO for two to race in a Mudder, entries into a Mudder 5k and a pair of shoes, these shoes here:
You should do Tough Mudders.
The contest was a combo of votes for your pic and having Mudder choose your pic from the final ten.
Long story short, we didn't win the Grand Prize, (still don't know who did, there was some dodgy shit going on with the voting) but ultimately we did end up winning two tix for a Mudder 5k, and these kicks.
Here's my thoughts on these things.
Merrells rarely fit me correctly. I ordered an 11, got an 11, but they felt like a 12. HUGE.
But I ran a trail half at Tuckfest in them anyway.
And since that half I've put a bunch of runs into them. I've washed them several times and it seems more like they've shrunk than my feet have grown a full size in 4 months.
Anyway, they fit now...
Starting from the bottom of the shoe:
They won't stay white long.
It has a nice aggressive sole, it gripped everything I run on and sheds mud pretty readily. The tread kinda looks like Chinese Stars. Remember those?
6mm of drop in this kick. The heel maxing out at just over 22mm and the toes coming in around 16mm. This felt really great for me. There's a good amount of ground feel, but I never felt susceptible to any ground protrusions. Not that Myrtle Beach has lots of rocks.
Did I use this picture in my Orange Mud blog?
There's a pretty lightweight mesh and thermo plastic upper, which feels pretty damn stable around my foot. If you happen to slosh into a puddle, which this shoe is obviously meant for, most of the water will quickly drain. Merrell claims 8oz per shoe. I don't have a scale, so I'm going to trust them.
I look awful. Usually I'm really damn good looking.
The ankle cuff is a nice neoprene fabric, quite comfy. But there's a weird flare around the ankle that actually lets debris into the shoe. Typically a Runner Lace Lock would have alleviated this.
Now, the vegan meat and potatoes on this shoe, which is actually Vegan! Huge win for me, thanks Merrell!!
The Boa Lacing System!
I wish I had this on my road bike shoes. What a great concept.
But on OCR shoes? This system sucks, and I'll tell you why.
First, I could never get it tight enough. I had to pull slack lace at the front of the shoe and tie a knot to make the string shorter. I don't have a picture of this, but look at the pic below and use your imagination.
Second, the knob you use to tighten the laces does not work well with wet and muddy hands. The grip on the knob is insufficient to offer any purchase when you're covered in mud. And when you're thrashing around in waist high deep mud puddles, you really don't want that shoe feeling like it's gonna fall off, you want it tight.
Laces may come loose, but you can easily re-tighten them, even with muddy hands. If you're drenched in mud and these shoes come loose, you're boned.
Twisty turny to tighten this shoe, Pull the knob to loosen. Cool concept gone wrong here.
Loosening and removing the shoe however, is a snap. You simply pull the knob up, the laces loosen, you pull the tongue forward and the shoe comes right off.
So I'm in no way knocking the Boa lacing system, it's a great concept that works wonders with some shoes/boots. But for OCR, that knob needs to be updated. A cross shape or even a square would work much better than a round slightly gnarly knob.
I'm mostly content with this shoe. It is my current go-to trail shoe. The drop is nice and the ground feel is good. But I do run into problems, every damn run, trying to tighten them.
I understand that Merrell does offer a standard lace version of this shoe.
I want that one. I may try to save the hundred bones it currently retails for. Everything other than the lacing system kicks ass. With standard lacing, that funky flare at my ankle would (probably) go away too.
I have not OCR'd in these yet. I have done some nice muddy terrain though. One day I may cash in those Mudder 5k tickets, or probably just do a Full Mudder instead. I'll post a re-cap when I do. Until then, it's coastal Carolina running.