Edited by Wilson Low
One of the racing tips I always come across said that we should avoid using new kit during a race. I threw this rule out of my closet a long time ago. My belief was that long as I understood the product and what my body can adapt to, it will be just fine – and it has worked for me all these years. I was introduced to Inov-8 about 3 years ago. The first pair I owned was a Roclite 268. The shoes fit me perfectly – wrapping the top of my feet, leaving a roomy toe box! it was much lower in profile to other shoes, and I was hooked to the liberating feeling while running. Friends around me started educating me on shoe construction and especially the Inov-8 concept. It further boosted my confidence that it would be alright to use new kit during a race just because I know what my feet love! The moment I put on the latest 2015 model Race Ultra 270, I knew this pair would have many races ahead with me.
Between the Roclite 268 and Race Ultra 270, I’ve owned and tried the Terroc 308, Roclite 315 and Trailroc 248. I love them all, but each have their pros and cons. The Roclite 268 fit is very snug – the shoes fly with you as you run. The downside was that the sole runs towards the softer end of things: you can feel every single rock (and sand grain) under your feet – it could be tiring to do long distance events in them. The Terroc 308 on the other hand is much stiffer and offers better protection which, i used for some 24hr races. However, the sole is less grippy and versatile as compared to the Roclite series. The Trailroc solves both these problems from the Roclite and Terroc. I was extremely pleased with Inov8 for addressing the real issues runners faced. However, the Trailroc fit posed a problem to me – it is of a straighter cut, which I assumed might lead to Asians’ wider feet feeling funny inside the shoes. Therefore, the idea of the Race Ultra totally blew me away as it offers the ultimate combo of protection, grip and fit .
My first run with the Race Ultra was in town in rainy weather. I am not going to hide the fact that the soles slip on those wet, smooth tiles. Honestly, I haven’t owned a pair of trail shoes that do not slip on wet, smooth surfaces – so that didn’t concern me much. Despite using much concentration to prevent skidding, i noticed how comfortably they ran under my feet. i would be doing a 97 km-long non-navigational adventure race in Rembau the week I received the shoes. I decided on the new Race Ultra 270 for the race, and due to some hiccup on my cycling shoes, I ended up using them for the long cycling segments as well. The race began with a short and fast road ride before we climbed vertically up a ‘gunung’ which was rocky and technical. The shoes held on to the rock surfaces really well and never once did I slip. The grip on my platform pedals were amazing too. I was pretty worried about being on platform after such a long hiatus, but the shoes definitely helped a great deal. The shoes did its magic again at an off-road duathlon a week later at Muar.
Race Ultra 270 finished 2014 Muar Strongman Challenge 14th Overall and 1st Female. Photo Credit – Run & Explore
The Race Ultra 270s boast a 4mm drop (forefoot of 10mm and heel of 14mm). i understand most people are still using shoes with a high heel-to-toe drop. I started with 8mm drop and decreased them slowly and it does require a lot of short road runs to become accustomed. The benefit is definitely knowing that I am protecting my knees with better running form and also utilizing my calf muscles better. I use a 0mm drop for road shoes and really love how my feet are working to run and not relying on the shoes to support any poor running form. I was once informed by a physio that the lower the drop the less we promote bad running habits that can lead to injury. I suggest working on the root cause when experiencing discomfort in running instead of relying on equipment to alleviate the pain. For those already used to a low drop: they should love the Race Ultras even more.
The shoe has an improved third-generation version of the ‘Meta Shank’ creates a propelling effect for mid- to fore-foot running form. It uses Tri-c compound (the same on the Trailroc series) that offers good protection and durability. It also comes with attachment points for a clip-on gaiter, thus avoiding the fuss of bulky and loose traditional gaiters. Okay, so locally we do not usually require gaiters, but we have seen increasing numbers of runners going overseas for their runs and we know how nasty some plants are. A pair of gaiters will prevent unwanted stuff inside the shoes, especially on a long run. The gaiters made by Inov-8 are reputed to offer sufficient protection and are extremely lightweight. I have yet to try a pair, but am hoping that I can soon for my next overseas trail run.