I am a runner who doesn’t have a body made for running (something I state time and time again.) When it comes to equipment, I am very hesitant to try different products without having some assurance that it will cover against the issues I face. With an outrageously large, wide, flat foot, shoes I typically use motion control with a straight last.
For the Hat Run (Ultra 50k in Maryland), I was planning to use a pair of road shoes (Brooks Beast) because I wasn’t comfortable running in the New Balance Trails I purchased. Not for any good reason, just eased away to make sure I didn’t have any arch issues. Before the start of the race, The North Face was a sponsor and started telling me about their shoe line. Due to my shape of my foot and unusual shoe size, (and with my luck they had my size for their demo) they let me try a pair of The North Face Double-Track. I did a 180º right before the start of the race and gave the new shoes a try without ever running in them previously.
North Face Double-Track
Weight: 11.3 oz
Upper Material: sandwich mesh, synthetic leather
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex XCR
Sole: Tenacoius Grip
Footbed: Ortholite Northotic
Arch Support: medium
Details for make of shoe: North Face Website
*Suggested retail = $110
The shoe caught me off guard because when I put it on it felt like glove but provided more support more than expected. Without having a wider option the mesh allowed my foot to fit without feeling restricted. In other shoes must get a wider version (Brooks 4E, New Balance 2E) but the Double-track was one size fits all. Without putting my orthotic in the shoe, my heel hit the back of the shoe and felt great. When I stepped down, immediately the fore foot flexed with my step and I felt like I needed no break-in period. Since I require major support, when my heel strike hit, I didn’t feel a lot of give preventing more issues to my pronation problems. Once running on the trail for the race, I did use my orthotic on top of the inner sole, slight slippage in the heel (nothing major.) When running down sharp hills, the shoe grabbed the ground and I was able to have great traction on the tough terrain.
North Face offers two key things in the shoe that are very relevant for me. First X-Dome which protects from pronation and second Snake plate design that allows for flexibility in the forefoot. This structure worked for me better than expected. I admit, I didn’t think the heel/arch support would hold up but I was wrong. Even on the tough terrain, my foot remained balanced and was able to have a good heel strike up and down the hills. The shoes seem to have close to a straight last which also helped from allowing my arches to collapse. Due to the snake design, I felt like there was enough padding and grip so when I was going rough gravel, tree roots or branches, my foot wouldn’t slip. On the other hand, when running on flats (road parts of the race), I felt the impact immediately on my forefoot and had to easy off of the speed. Yes, I know it is a trail shoe so the impact was expected.
I admit, I love the way the shoes look. Compared to others and the black, green and gray hid the fact that my feet are huge (in my mind at least .) With being a little lighter than most MC road shoes and a sleek design, I really like how they looked when running in them. The outer part of the shoe mesh has a snakeskin look and match the environment I was running through.
For a trail shoe it held up better than I expected (compared to the support of a road MC shoe.) During the race we ran through everything, brush, streams, rocks, etc. I had almost no issues but slight slippage in the heel. The fact that I have some of the worst foot structure for running and was able to run strong through the 31 miles, the shoes did great. Another nice positive between the socks I was wearing and the shoes, after running knee deep in a creek, they dried out very fast. I never once changed socks or shoes through the race. I did have a little tough time keeping the laces tied so, next time I will need to look at alternative lacing solutions to keep the snug fit throughout the run.
These shoes are officially added to my arsenal. I am scheduled for another ultra race (50 miler) in June and I plan on using the North Face Double-Track for that run. I will limit the miles in these shoes on the road and make sure every step is on a trail. Over all more than happy with the outcome of the shoes and the race, nothing is more surprising than running in a new pair of shoes in an ultra race and having pure success.
About the Reviewer
Brodie W: I just run, I run a lot! I am a high mileage runner that runs over 170 miles per month and averages sub 8 min mile pace on the road. I have tried many shoes and limit my shoes to motion control/stability options which support my extreme pronation issue with my flat arch and I require custom orthotics. I don’t have issues with weight maintaining around 170 lb. Over all, I am a heel to inner roll foot striker but my arches collapse when I run. I have been a long distance runner for over 11 years and have completed 6 marathons, 1 ultra, 1 Olympic triathlon, and many other shorter races.