New Balance MT101’s

So I just found out I can’t blog about the latest New Balance prototype that I’m currently wearing. But that’s OK because I finally picked up a pair of the current MT101’s from our local Runner’s Roost.

I still need to put a few more miles on these before I can write up a full review. But here’s some basic info.

This is the trail racing shoe that New Balance developed with Anton Krupicka. They are super light at about 7.5 ounces with very little cushioning. The upper is mostly mesh with a very light stiff foam material to give some structure around the heel collar. So aside from being a great lightweight racing shoe, these are extremely breathable in hot weather and barely absorb any water in wet conditions.

These shoes are light, nimble, and great for short, fast racing. And with minimal cushioning and no medial support, these are great shoes to wear to focus on form and to strengthen your feet. For any barefoot enthusiasts, this is a good option for a lightweight shoe to wear through the winter or in any other circumstances where you must wear shoes. And anyone who is interested in trying barefoot running could use these as an intermediate step down from a full running shoe. I plan on using these for general training and shorter races but I don’t think I’d wear them for a full 100 mile distance. For anything longer than 50 miles, I’ll have plenty of other things to worry about breaking down so I’d prefer to have some more cushion and support for my feet.

This shoe does have a heel lift like a traditional running shoe. I’ve read stats quoted at 10mm but they don’t look like they have that much lift to me. It may depend on where the measurment is taken since there is a slightly thicker midsole under the arch which tapers off a bit at the back of the heel. My La Sportiva Crosslites have a 10mm lift and the MT101’s feel much lower. Regardless of the specs, the low profile is definitely noticeable so for anyone trying this shoe for the first time, I’d recommend that you ease into it slowly. There is enough protection to be able to really over do it in these and if you aren’t used to running in flats, you can really wreck your calves and achilles.

Despite the very minimal cushion, this shoe does have a rock plate which offers good protection on rough trails without sacrificing flexibility. Unfortunately one downside to this shoe is the tread. The traction is adequate for most of our hard packed dirt and rocky trails. But in really sloppy mud and deep snow, there isn’t much grip. This is really unfortunate since the light mesh upper makes this an ideal shoe for wet, sloppy conditions and water crossings.

The fit is fairly comfortable with plenty of room in the toe box to spread and move your toes. The lacing wraps the middle of the foot fairly snug. I prefer a lacing system that pulls more from the back to lock the heel in but I haven’t had any issues with my feet sliding around on hills or odd side angles. My only real complaint about the fit is the new upper has some firm plastic material that binds over the outside of my small toes. This might be a problem on very long runs but so far it hasn’t been any trouble on normal runs. I wear holes out the sides of any shoes I wear and I’ll have to wait and see whether the MT101 or my toes win this battle after a couple hundred miles.

And last of all, the price is pretty reasonable. $75 is much cheaper than most normal running shoes. Our Fort Collins Trail Runners can knock another 15% off at our local Runner’s Roost. Personally I think it’s downright offensive to see other shoe companies market minimalist running shoes and racing flats with prices up to $175. I’m glad that New Balance decided to offer these at a more sane price point.

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