What You Need To Know
- Very lightweight XC racing flat at 4.3 oz for a size 9W/7.5M
- Translucent TPU mono mesh upper provides suction-like support and good breathability, but wider foot runners should stay away
- Incredible flexibility, but also minimal protection underneath
- Purpose is important. That being said, Adrienne once saw a guy running a cross country race in VaporFly 4%.
Even though I’m well into my 30’s, I enjoy a good cross-country race and a good shoe to go with it. I was also curious to experiment with Skechers (I’ve never worn them before), so I was stoked when the Skechers GOrun Speed XCR showed up at my doorstep.
Also, just as a random observation: Skechers seems to be borrowing from the basketball shoe market style of smattering athletes’ names all over the shoe like KD or Jordans. Anyhow, I digress. You can’t help but feel fast when you slip these things on; Skechers wasn’t messing around when they designed this shoe.
I’ve run previously in Saucony Carrera XC and New Balance XC 900s (both spiked versions) so I was curious to see how the XCR’s stacked up.
There’s quite a bit to say here. First, the fit. Let me give you all a little background on my shoe preferences: I love a snug fit and a shoe that still disappears when running in it. I also have a high arch and a narrow foot, so keep this in mind when reading.
To me, the more a shoe feels like an extension of my body, the better. And the XCR delivered; in fact, the heel collar and heel lock system gripped like a champ, allowing me to rip through nature without collecting debris inside the shoe.
The near-suction sensation upon slipping into them is a result of the Dynamic Heel Lock System wrapped around a knitted collar with an asymmetrical gusseted tongue. If you don’t like tight-fitting shoes, then you probably wouldn’t like this one— it’s designed for a specific purpose and accomplishes it well. When hauling ass across varying terrain, uneven surfaces, and even some mud, the lockdown of this shoe really shines.
The Speed XCR doesn’t just feel fast, it looks it too. To me, these are the footwear version of a rally car— complete with racing stripes and an adequate suspension system of support from the UltraFlight Midsole.
Let me tell you, UltraFlight is LIGHT! I found the XCR much more comfortable and nimbler than most cross-country shoes I’ve tried. Finally, a XC shoe I’m not itching to rip off as soon as the race over!
In the past, I have felt like I’ve had to put more effort into accelerating and navigating sharp turns (lookin’ at you, NB XC900). Not the case with the Skechers model. Given a stack height of 14 in the heel and 12 in the forefoot, it’s obvious the XCR has ample ground feel.
In my opinion, it provides decent traction for a spikeless shoe. My initial run in them consisted of strides and drills on grass. My stride felt uninhibited and acceleration immediate— much better than the New Balance I wore last season. Can an XC racer be smooth? Indeed it can. The XCR provides this with a combination of the flexible midsole and featherweight upper that possesses surprising lockdown from a thin internal band.
I also took these on a 5-mile fartlek across gravel and dirt and a tempo and hill sprint workout. The shoe stayed light, fairly responsive, and they barely felt like they were there. Except for one thing— but more on that later.
This breathable TPU Monomesh upper appears well-thought-out by Skechers design team. The upper seemed to drain well for the conditions I tested them in (summer in Texas). Oh, did I also mention the racing stripes down the side? They’re a nice added flair, and no, they will not press against you! A ‘King Ches’ insignia may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but don’t let that deter you from purchasing a solid all-around cross-country racer.
The outsole on the XCR consists of durable rubber with lugs designed to firmly grip the ground; covering the forefoot and the lateral heel. I found that the extra rubber on the heel made it feel a touch more stable, which is helpful on the last loop of an 8 -10K XC race. Flex grooves line the curved outsole display the flexibility of this flat. Twenty miles in, even running across rocks and gravel, little to no wear is apparent. I’m confident these will make it through a XC season or two just fine.
These weigh in at 4.3 oz and my Women’s 9 (7.5 for men), and the fit is appropriate for a cross shoe; meaning a tad small. I also recommend running in them sockless, but that’s me.
While this shoe checks a lot of “XC Racer” boxes for me, I can see it as being almost too flexible for some athletes. A little rigidity in a racing flat can give a nice little propulsive feeling, especially charging through the finish chute on dead legs. It’s all you when running in the XCR. Not that it’s a terrible thing, it just depends on what you’re into and your experience with spikes and light flats.
Runners with wider feet may want to steer away from this shoe. TPU mesh doesn’t stretch. Like at all.
While this shoe kicks some serious ass on grassy surfaces, things can get a touch dicey when rocks are involved. There were a couple ‘ouch’ moments running 5k pace on gravel. Some sort of plate or added rigidity in the forefoot would likely work wonders for protection and propulsion in future designs.
Skechers GOrun Speed XCR Ultra Conclusion
As the name illustrates, this shoe is made for a specific purpose. And it comes so close to nailing it. It’s fast, it’s light, and it’s fit for a King, Ches or not. I recommend reserving the XCR for race day or XC-specific workouts on a softer surface. The shoe will run on asphalt and concrete, but I would switch to a Streak or Vaporfly for a road race.
Lastly, like most XC shoes, efficient biomechanics are helpful. This shoe hauls and is fun to run in. I know a spiked version is coming up soon, but right now, the XCR is my top pick for an upcoming cross race.
You can pick up the Skechers GOrun Speed XCR Ultra from Running Warehouse for $89.95 using the shop link below.Shop Go Run Speed XCR Ultra