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.

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Interview: Kurt Stockbridge and David Raysse from Skechers Performance Division
Vasque Pendulum Trail Running Shoe Review
Skechers GOrun 3 Review
New Balance 890v4 Shoe Review

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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