New Balance MT101 Review – Trial By Ultra

Last March I ran a tremendous trail ultra in Northern Maryland called the HAT 50k.  It’s a grueling 31 miles of single track technical trails, some paved roads, stream crossings, and field crossings.  All said a great variety of terrain to put any trail shoe to the test.

I was looking for a more minimal approach in my shoe for this year.  I have had some success running roads with more minimal shoes like the Saucony Kinvara, Fastwitch, Brooks Launch and STS 5s so, I wanted to find a more minimal light fast feeling trail shoe.  I am friends with Peter Larson online (we actually got a chance to meet at the HAT 50k after corresponding online for two years) and respect his opinion on minimal shoes you should check out his site RunBlogger.  I consider him an expert in the field.  Pete and I tweeted back and forth about the New Balance MT101s and Pete convinced me to give the MT101 a shot.

I purchased the New Balance MT101s on Zappos knowing if I didn’t like them I could send them right back.  When They arrived I held the shoe in my hand and was surprised at how light they felt.  They weigh a puny 7.8 oz.  I slipped on the stretchy shoe and thought to myself that they felt like a glove but would there be enough midsole to get my feet through 31 miles of tough terrain.  I really thought I might be sending them back after my first trail run, after all, I ran across the Rockies in Brooks Cascadias which have a lot of shoe under your foot.  The Cascadias felt like tanks compared to these ballet slippers.

I took the shoes for a one mile trail run on the street that night.  I was astounded at how good the light shoe felt on the street.  The street doesn’t have little jagged rock jutting up.  A minimal shoe can feel pretty good on smooth surfaces, it was time to get these kicks on some trails.  My first trail run with the New Balance MT101s was a 15 mile run on the trails of Susquehanna State Park where the HAT is held.  I was astonished at how nimble and agile I felt in the light shoes.  I was having fun cruising the trails and my legs were holding up well.  Light shoes equal fast feet.  After a 15 mile trail run my feet felt sterling.  Fifteen miles is less than 1/2 the distance of the 50k so I still had doubts about a minimal shoe getting me to the finish.

The HAT 50k has loops so you can bring back up gear that is accessible during the race.  I brought a back up pair of shoes just in case my dogs were barking at the mid way point.  My feet felt superb the whole time and I never had to switch the shoes out.  The rock stop did a fairly good job procting the feet from rocks, a couple times I did feel a jab but, I wouldn’t want a stiffer feel a thicker plate would probably add to the shoe.  They dried quickly after stream crossings and I never got so much as a hot spot on my feet.  At the end of my race my feet felt as good or better than they had at the end of the HAT 50k last year.  I would totally recommend these shoes.  Running in a minimal trail shoe connected my feet to the ground in a new way, and it is good.

I did make one modification to the shoe after my first 15 miles of trail running.  The shoe has a low collar and I did get get some debris in the shoe.  I ended up solving the problem with a pair of Dirty Girl Gaiters (one of the ugliest sites out there.)  The gaiters are fun and functional, I will add them to all my trail shoes moving forward.

Check out what my friend Peter, aka Runblogger has to say about the New Balance MT101s.

Comments

These are the shoes I would have worn as well. Great review T!!!!

posted by Michellejoy61 / 04.06.11 - 12:55 pm

Thanks Alice. I am sure you will be hitting the trails this Spring.

posted by Thomas Neuberger / 04.06.11 - 10:22 am

[...] an alternative review of the MT101, check out what my friend Thomas had to say regarding the MT101 after running the HAT 50K in [...]

[...] shoe feels similar to the New Balance MT 101.  The one piece rubber bottom gives the shoe a feeling of rigidity and less flexibility than the [...]

My favorite trail shoes ever!  I have them in black and green.  I like them better than their 2012 replacement, which seem too snug in the box.

posted by Leigh / 02.25.12 - 6:14 pm

Thanks for a very interesting and informative review

posted by howard / 07.16.12 - 4:18 pm

[...] and shoes with lower heel to toe drop. I had run in Saucony Kinvaras, Saucony Fastwitch 4 and 5, New Balance MT 101, Pearl Izumi Streak II, Saucony Mirage, Saucony Shadow Genesis, Saucony Type A4, Saucony Hattori, [...]

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