The me of five years ago would be talking about a pair of spindly heeled, sparkly, strappy sandals, or possibly a pair of knee high faux crocodile boots in a fabulous shade of red (yes, I did own these. They were beauties.) The me of today, however, is talking about a new pair of trail running shoes…
A while back I saw on social media that Salomon were looking for a team of testers for the brand new Speedcross 4 that was being launched. If you’re into your running, then you’ll know the Speedcross 3 are pretty damn popular. They have extremely aggressive lugs that make them ideal for muddy trails and they come in the most amazing range of colours – far more than any other brand of trainer. I own a pair of the Speedcross 3 and a pair of the Salomon X Screams (all surface) and I’ve been a big fan of both. As such, I was pretty excited to hear about the launch of the Speedcross 4 and immediately registered my interest in being a tester. Of course, I then completely forgot about it, thinking I would have no chance.
Imagine my surprise then, a few weeks later, when an email arrived offering me a pair of Speedcross 4 to test! Excited is not the word!!
I’ll be honest; I was more excited to see the colour of the trainers I was sent, than I was about the improved outsole (each leg is now a complete chevron to offer improved grip, compared to the Speedcross 3 where the outside lugs are half chevrons) or the adjusted heel and tongue, designed to retain their shape for enduring comfort). Nope, bright colours were all I was interested in.
I wasn’t disappointed. Firstly, the trainers turned up in a box with my Twitter handle printed on it! I felt like a VIP straight away!
Secondly, the trainers were this colour! Spectacular, or what?!
So, once I’d got over my excitement over the brightness of the trainers, I couldn’t wait to get them out on the trails to see if I could spot any difference from the Speedcross 3. I prepared by finding the brightest running tops I have to ensure I did the trainers justice, followed by finding the muddiest trails I could to really test out these new and improved lugs.
I’ll admit, I was always really impressed with the lugs on the Speedcross 3 (except on wet smooth surfaces, such as rocks or paving slabs, then they’re a bit sketchy). I’ve not long taken part in a 5k mud run and the difference in my ability to run up the hills compared to my friend who was in a pair of road shoes was hysterical – and made for some very funny photos! As such, I wasn’t sure I’d really notice the difference, and to be perfectly honest, I haven’t. They’re still amazing on muddy hills and still scary on wet rock.
(N.B. I’m being very harsh commenting on the Speedcross performance on wet rock. All their literature does state they are designed for soft technical trails, rather than rocky terrain. I’m just pointing it out because you do need to be extremely careful if stepping on wet rock in these, particularly going at speed or on steep downhills.)
What I did notice though, and absolutely LOVE, is the improved fit around the heel and the tongue. I have extremely (slightly abnormally) high arches and whilst the Speedcross 3 were comfortable, they were ever so slightly tight across the top of my feet which wasn’t great on longer runs. The Speedcross 4, in comparison, feel as though they suit the shape of my feet far better, and the heel does retain it’s shape to provide more support. I’ve found them incredibly comfortable on runs from 2 miles up to 11 miles.
Overall, I’ve been really impressed with the Speedcross 4. In the past I’ve been massively disappointed by companies who bring out a new version of a shoe which has been successful, only to find the new version just isn’t as good. (Asics GT 2000, I’m looking at you!!) I think Salomon have nailed it though. Good work Salomon! You’re still my favourite.
Just a side note for the other people out there who get as excited by bright colours as I do (and believe, as I do, that bright colours make you run faster), Salomon’s range of clothing is equally bright and beautiful, and even more importantly, comes in colours to complement the trainers!!!! Talk about stylish.