On the trails with the MTN Racer

Finally it has been a rainy day and thus the ground has become wet. Perfect conditions for a run with my MTN Racer, my second pair of Topo Athletic running shoes. Have a look at my previous blog I have wide feet entry where I cover some of the basics of Topo Athletic shoes. In any case I’ll be repeating some aspects here in this post.

Below is a video from the trails I shot with on site comments. It is in Swiss German, so if you’re not fluent in schwiizertyytsch you can still watch the footage but read about my comments below – in English. I would be grateful if you could comment either here on the blog or over at YouTube whether reviews in Swiss German are appreciated or not.

It is a dedicated trail running shoe. According to Topo it has a 5 mm drop which means your heel is 5 mm higher off the ground than your toes. The shoe has modest cushioning not too much and not too little for my linking. Oh and yes, it is a wide shoe, but more on that later. Please read on for summary style review.

What to expect

I am not a running shoe expert in the sense that I do not know everything about all the shoes out there. I am a regular consumer and in the past 10 years or so I have had many pairs of running shoes and thus feel I can tell you with confidence about my experiences with running shoes. Therefore what I write is based on my experience with a particular pair of shoes, not a specific brand or model. I try to avoid generalising, but if you find me doing so, please forgive me I didn't mean to.

 

Finally. I have bought all products mentioned and displayed in this article with my own money. There is no sponsor involved here!

 

All photos you see have been taken by me.

Field test - trails and rocks of Uutela

I pack along not one but two action cameras to record some more interesting footage. In my running vest therefore I have the GoPro Max and GoPro Hero 9 Black.

My first set up is running up a wet a slippery rock and then running it down only to hit the breaks and see what happens. Side note, if I remember correctly I should have a good insurance. Later on I would criss cross through the woods sometimes on trails and sometimes just truly off-road or off-trail for that matter.

The MTN (short for mountain I guess?) Racer has Vibram’s megagrip sole (I have no clue what that entails) but fact is on my way up the rock the shoe grips tightly and only at the very end of each step just before I lift off my foot I feel a minor slipping. Running downwards feels as safe.

Obviously on my way down once I stop running and want to come to a controlled halt the sole slides slightly forward because of my speed as seen on the video. This in my opinion is just normal. Imagine the shoe sticked to the ground as if glued to it, you would tumble over your feet since your body’s mass is still moving and once it had travelled over the point of your feet you would just fall down.

Below is a panorama shot over Uutela and on the right hand side in the background you can see Vuosaari.

View of a part of Uutela during winter.
View of a part of Uutela during winter.

Uutela, East Helsinki

MTN Racer curved sole
MTN Racer laces and loops

There are a couple of things I would like to point out.

Sole. As mentioned before the sole is impressive although I may not have an extensive comparison base. I feel confident running in this shoe even on challenging surfaces such as wet rocks and other technical terrain. The sole has a good grip, is wide which in terms of contact area with the ground is a good thing in my opinion as it gives you more control over where you land and is more forgiving. It is thick enough and together with the cushioning it prevents feeling those stones and roots through it.

An interesting feature is the curved sole. It is not flat. This allows for a more rolling gait so you can strike more easily with your mid foot or even the front of your foot. I like this quite a lot because it is much more convenient to run on say concrete (imagine transitioning) when you don’t plant your foot at once, but more softly rolling.

Wideness. The MTN Racer has a wide toe box, but it doesn’t end there. In fact the shoe is wide on its entire length, this is at least my perception. I have not measured the shoe and compared the ratio of toe box and heel wideness with other shoes though. During my first runs I have noticed that my heel would move up and down in the shoe during running. Therefore I have adopted a different version of shoe lacing: the heel lock, check out this short how to clip if you are not familiar with this technique.

Size. The shoe is EU size 45, half a size extra for me. This was a deliberate choice when I ordered the shoe mainly because of two reasons. I run all year round and winter tends to be cold in Finland thus I have counted in a little bit more space for woolen socks and possible swollen feet due to long runs.

Drainage. The shoe has drainage vents on the outer side. Excessive water should theoretically be pressed out through those tiny holes something I have not yet experienced.

Tongue. A really nice detail is that the tongue is held in place by small lops on the tongue and the shoe laces. The tongue itself is rather thin something I personally like.

Verdict. My shoe! I am happy with the shoe, for now. I will get back if needed and comment on long term usage and durability.