Hi, my name is Sasa and I have wide feet

Imagine you buy yourself a squash racquet and go playing squash as you’d expect. Everything works out just fine. Now you fancy playing badminton and bring your squash racket to the badminton court. Yes, you will hit a shuttle or two, but eventually, very frustrated you ask yourself, why is this not working? Why are my legs and arm sore?

The before mentioned knife to a gunfight metaphor is exactly what happened to me at the beginning of my running carrier.

It must have been an earlier version of Ecco’s Receptor, more of a light shoe, for city walks and occasional amphibious interactions. With this shoe I trained for and participated in my first Helsinki City Run (half marathon) which was in 2012. Insane? maybe so. During the race both my big toes developed huge blisters for their entirety. Furthermore my right foot’s arch was one giant blister which already was mixed with blood. I was as ill equipped as one can be or almost, I guess there is always someone worse off. And I am well aware of people running barefoot. I do not mean to promote the use of gear and gadgets just for the sake of it. What I am saying is that there is a time and place for the right gear.
I should have had adequate shoes taking into account that my feet were not accustomed to running long distances, at all. Gear doesn’t make you faster nor does it let you endure more.

What to expect

This is not your typical running shoe review, first and foremost because I am not an expert on running shoes.

But rather a brief history of my running evolution infused with various running shoe experiences. Over the years I have had many a pair for sure and having said that I feel I can confidently say a word or two about how a shoe actually feels and how it performs without being too technical and throwing numbers around. Therefore what I write is based on my experience with a particular pair of shoes, not a specific brand or model (with one exception though). I avoid generalising, but more about that later.


Furthermore please be advised that this is not a guide therefore not meant to be read as an instruction.


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

A very brief history of my sports background

As a five year old I started playing football which I continued to do for the next 17 years – having training sessions first once and then twice a week plus a match. Football shoes are a very special kind of shoes, at least in the 70s and 80s they had very rigid soles and tough upper which was usually leather – without any sorts of ventilation or water drainage. I knew blisters already quite well from this time.

I always loved swimming and while it never really became something I would train for I would always be swimming when I felt like it.

At age 15 or 16 I started to go to the gym, Schwarzenegger had a huge role in this and to this day I hit the gym, sometimes more frequently and sometime less so.

Then at age 22 I quit football and switched over to martial arts which I did for 17 years too. This has had a totally different impact on my feet because you are indoors, barefoot and your movement pattern is quite different from football. I had no more problems with blisters!

Then at some point came running. I cannot remember why I decided that I should start to run – that is a mystery to me. What I can tell from my records is that in 2010 I ran my first race the Extreme Run.

And in 2011 I participated in a mini sprint triathlon the Helsinki City Triathlon. After which I took liking in this three discipline sport and competed in various races for the next four years climaxing in August 2015 in my first and only full distance triathlon race.

Reprogramming running technique

As I mentioned before I have no memory why I decided to take up running and I mean it. I do remember however that I actually hated running. I am on record saying that. What’s more I remember that at some point I was on a quest to make myself liking to run. Why? I do not know either. Well, in any case I have succeeded in that. Now I couldn’t imagine a multiverse I would not run in.

At the beginning convincing myself that running was something I should do wasn’t easy. As a matter of fact it has taken years to convince myself. I would like to argue that proper shoes play a huge role in this.

Shoes can make or break you as a runner.

This is something I hadn’t realised. Only in 2014 when an orthopedic surgeon examined my hurting knee and asked me what kind of shoe I run in and when I later received the finding that most likely ITB (Iliotibial band syndrome) was causing my knee distress, I for the first time considered the fact that a running shoe is not only a good looking prop, but that was just the beginning.

As a consequence I started to look for a  remedy which I eventually found. The most widely cited treatment are resting and foam rolling, but for me foam rolling was no good, I hated it – I still don’t do it and resting? Well, not this time =) I eventually came across a version of ITB rehab at James Dunne’s Kinetic Revolution. It wasn’t really rehab in a classical sense, but rather a reprogramming of my running technique. I was a thorough heel striker and my foot would land way in front of my hip which meant all load would impact my knee.

Through the reprogramming of my running style I would transition to mid and front foot striking while at the same time making sure my leg would land under my hip. This cured my ITB, as simple as that.

I have wide feet - I need wide shoes!

Makes sense? Well, you would think so. This however requires you to question your habits and basic choices you may or may not have made at some point – a fundamental step, pun intended! Even more so when it comes to something elementary as shoes. Early on the choice of shoes most likely had been made by your parents for you and not by yourself, maybe because there has not been much of a choice in the past to start with? Well, obviously there have been different kind of shoes available but the development of a running shoe industry has really only started in the 70s. Have a look for instance at the infographic by Runner’s World called A Brief History of Running Shoes (what I wasn’t aware of is that gold medals had been won at Olympics running barefoot). On the other hand the power of marketing cannot be underestimated, you may not even be aware of all the options you have because a few giant corporations steal all the thunder.

So nowadays you do have a real choice, maybe even too much. I have tried many a pair of shoes, until I found the right one for me. In the past I have had conventional shoes which probably fit most people eg. Asics, Reebok and Adidas. They were all too narrow for me. Not something I would have realised as my feet were pestered with blisters again. In 2014 I signed up for the Bodom Trail a 12/21k trail running event and thought I needed terrain wise adequate shoes and thus ended up buying the Salomon S/LAB 3 SG, maybe my favourite trail shoe so far. I still use it although it has become rather hazardous to use them on wet rocks as the sole offers no more grip. The feel and responsiveness are excellent and the toe box is astonishingly wide for a “normal” shoe. Besides conventional running shoes I have tried other models by Salomon (Speedcross / Spikecross) or brands for instance Pearl Izumi, Inno8, Hoka One One and Vivobarefoot. All except for the ultra aggressive Vivos have normal to narrow toe boxes. Putting on a pair of Vivobarefoot shoes was like a revelation.

feet, in colour

This is what a shoe has to feel like!


Altra Torin 3.0 in action

At this point it’s worth noting that I had spent a ton of money on running shoes I couldn’t and wouldn’t wear, money ill spent! For instance I am an average EU size 44 ½, but for instance would compensate my feet’s wideness by buying a Salomon Speedcross EU size 46 1/3 (have a look at this conversion table if you need to). You would ask yourself why would a shoe sales person not intervene and truly commit to finding a perfect fit? I would and I have.

In any case once I had seen the light and there was no turning back. Ever since I have not bought other than Vivo shoes for casual use. And yet I cannot run in them. They basically consist of a 3-5mm sole, an upper and have 0 mm drop, that’s it. No cushioning A.T. A.L.L.!

But now as an educated customer I knew what I had to look for when buying a running shoe. And that’s how I found a brand called Altra. I think it was in 2016 when I bought my first pair of Altras which was the The One 2.0 or 2.5, a superb, 0 drop, very luxurious toe box with just enough cushioning for my needs. I had found my perfect running shoe!

Quality issues

But our honeymoon soon came to an end. The shoe’s quality didn’t meet my expectations. As a matter of fact all six pairs of Altra shoes I had bought have had some sort of quality issues. The main issue as visible in the photographs has been a torn seam between the sole and upper. This has happened to three pairs of The One (any version of them) and Torin, so four pairs of shoes in total! The Superior 3.0 on the other hand lost its lugs way too easily over the course of two or three runs, strictly off-road. I returned the first pair to the vendor who perplexedly replaced them. I actually had bought the shoe for my trail running trip to the Swiss Alps. And as you can read from the blog post the shoe turned out to be a disaster and not an appropriate shoe for the Alps at all – any terrain for that matter in my opinion.

Over the years I have been in contact with Altra trying to resolve the quality issue, but I haven’t received an answer by email from Altra after Sept. 20 2017 (!). My latest attempt to activate the conversation was in April 2020 over Twitter, where I got two different email addresses to use but none of my mails have been answered to this day. Needless to say that Altra played themselves out.

Topo MTN Racer
Topo MTN Racer
Side by side the running shoe Topo Athletic ST-3 and my right foot
Side by side the running shoe Topo Athletic ST-3 and my right foot

A promising brand

Topo Athletic, Topo from hereon. I don’t remember how exactly I stumbled over this brand, but it must have been on Instagram, maybe someone I follow was showing them off? In any case it was only this spring (2020) that Topo found its way into my life. It brands itself as a shoe with a roomy toe box and in my now still limited experience that’s true.

I contacted Topo over Twitter and asked if they had official representation in Europe as they do not ship to Europe from their main site’s online shop and promptly received an answer and links. So the very same day I ordered through Runningwarehouse (EU) my first pair of Topos, the ST-3, a road shoe. A shoe I have come to like very much not only because of the luxurious toe box, but because the shoe feels more like a sock than a shoe since the all-around upper is a very breathable meshy fabric and has the right amount of cushioning for me. The sole is neither too stiff nor flexible, just about right for my running style and itself has a nice grip even in rain. Speaking of rain…

…I have noticed a minor issue though. During heavy rain the insole moves to the back, leaving an uncomfortable edge under my toes while at the same time migrating up the heel part which is very irritating, check out my IG post below. It seems between the sole and insole there is not too much friction which would prevent the insole from moving around when wet.

In addition this is an EU size 44 ½, so no extra compensation due to wide feet needed. Lovely!

Now I needed a trail shoe too as my beloved Salomon S/LAB 3 was retired and had to be replaced. So I went to see what Topo had to offer and soon decided the MTN Racer was my candidate. I had watched a few reviews but Ginger Runner and The Ultra Running Company really made the difference and so I ended up looking for that shoe. Unfortunately Runningwarehouse didn’t have them, but TrekkInn (which is part of a whole network of different …Inns) did. I felt nervous about ordering a shoe online through a company I had never heard of and yet ended up doing so. In the end though everything played out nicely, although it did take a few days longer for the parcel to arrive then promised. They even have a responsive and polite customer service crew (which in my experiences cannot be said for Altra). I was kept up-to-date about the shipment and received an answer within an hour of my sending them a question.

After 9 days my MTN Racer arrived, apparently from Spain. After one running session the shoe is very promising and my decision to order an EU size 45 seems to have been a wise one. The MTN Racer’s toe box feels slightly less roomy than the ST-3’s. Take that and the prospect of using a thicker sock during winter justifies my decision to go with half a size larger shoe, but we’ll see later. I certainly will follow up and let you know more about my experience with my Topos! In the mean time have a look at my 2nd run with the MTN Racer in the video below.


Using an adequate pair of shoes for any given occasion is important. If you have never given this a thought I encourage you to do so. We are all natural walkers, some of us runners – we all walk every day during our entire life and therefore what we choose to wear between us and the ground has a great impact on a lot of different things, not the least our health. I now know what feels good to me, if it truly is healthy is another question. I don’t know if zero drop, 8 mm or anything in between is the right thing (for me)? Zero drop for instance might turn out to be a commercial stunt or it might be the best solution (for you). Try and figure it out for yourself. We are individuals and there is no one correct solution for all of us.

foot print

Privacy Preference Center