RunAmoc Dash- Minimalist Trail Shoes for Ultra Marathons
Deciding which pair of shoes to run 100 miles in is probably worse for a runner than a bride trying to pick out that perfect pair of shoes to get married in. The main reason its worse is the fact if the bride doesn’t like the feel of her shoes she is just going to kick them off and dance the night away. I wasn’t going to have the option of running barefoot for the remainder of 100 miles.
My choice of the RunAmoc Dash from Soft Star shoes was probably the single best decision I made for first ultra race. I tested the shoes out on a 40 mile training run with socks and no socks. I learned a valuable lesson during that training run. Brandon is always a sock guy. The Dash doesn’t have a sock liner or really any fancy smooth cloth lining it. It is straight up leather with a lot of holes punched in it to make it breathe. It uses two different colors of leather to make it look a little stylish, but to me it looked more like a golf shoe than a running shoe, all the more reason why I liked this shoe.
The idea of running trail in minimalist shoes is repulsive to many in ultra community. They make it seem it is all about the rock plate, the cushion, the tread, and the ankle support. The Dash proves them all wrong. It ain’t got no rock plate, ain’t go no cushion, its got as much tread as a spatula, and ankle support isn’t something they even dreamed of adding. So why would any common sense runner want to wear this shoe for 100 miles?
No rock plate, the idea behind minimalist is to be as close to barefoot as possible. By adding a solid membrane to the bottom of your foot is like adding another bone or hard object that is unbendable or prevents your foot from bending normally. The rock plate also decreases ground feel so your brain doesn’t get accurate information. No rock plate equals great ground feel, less weight, and realistic barefoot movement.
No Cushion, well sort of. With 5mm of Vibram Rubber under your foot it does give you some cushion, but compared to the 1 inch heals on most trail shoes it is not comparable. Sure those fancy trail shoes feel like you are running on pillows, but the cushion actually takes up energy in each stride, thus making it harder to run. When you plant your heel into the dirt the shock absorber does just that, not allowing the full release of energy. The cushion also causes me to be a major heel striker, again causing me to lose energy like pressing the break pedal down with every stride. With 5mm of protection it is just enough protection against the lime stone, gravel, shale, and other hard unforgiving surfaces I endured to protect my feet, but not over cushion them. My stride was normal and I didn’t heel strike “as much”. I used a lot less energy with every stride because the shoe didn’t take most of it.
No 4×4 all terrain tread. Who needs 4×4 tread on the bottom of your shoes? Oh that’s right, the trail shoe people, because the cushion makes it hard for them to land soft enough to maintain traction. The flat bottoms of the RunAmoc did incredible. One hundred miles tested it on asphalt, river crossings over shale rock (times 6 or 8), wet dew covered grass, and loose gravel. No slips even on tired legs. The amazing ground feel left my brain without questions. I relied on my sense of balance rather on a man made shoe to keep my footing.
No ankle support. Well if I worried about my ankles I wouldn’t add to the stress by adding trail shoes. The rigid edges of shoes act like a fulcrum for your ankle. The rest of the bones, muscles, tendons, and joints in your foot have no way of moving or flexing when they are secured by the rigid shoes. When you start putting pressure on the ankle something has to give, and that usually the weakest part. Also when more traction is added to the outside of the shoe the foot isn’t used a wider foot strike so again the ankle will have to compensate resulting in injury. The outer parts of the RunAmoc are designed to keep your foot in place on top of the rubber sole, not to give your body anymore support.
It doesn’t look like a “traditional shoe”, but doesn’t draw as much attention as those five fingered shoes. While I ran no one asked me about my shoes. This isn’t the case with the Five Finger Shoe runners. I overheard more than once them getting asked “Are your running the whole way in those?” I only got asked that after I finished 100 miles, and I could respond yes. Its hard to tell someone “Yes I am going to run 100 miles in these shoes when you haven’t done it”. It is easy to tell them “Yes I ran all 100 miles in these shoes”, and then field all their questions.
Questions I got asked after running 100 miles:
Did your feet get wet? – Yes my feet got wet, but they dried off much quicker than any other shoe I have ever gotten my feet wet in. On average my shoes were dry within 20 minutes of running, and my socks were dry in about 30-40, but with dew covered grass in places it made it tough to tell when it was perfectly dry.
Did you wear socks? – Yes I wore socks, three different pairs of Injinji toe socks to just make me feel clean. Over a period of time little bits of dirt get into your shoes and socks making it rough. After each pair of socks I felt fresher!
Did you get blisters? – Yes I got blisters, but only because I got lazy adjusting my socks.
Over 100 miles my socks would move and I didn’t feel I needed to fix them. It is my fault I got three blisters, one on the inside of each ankle and one on the bottom of my left foot.
Did your feet hurt? – Yes my feet hurt, but not any more than when I ran 63 miles on asphalt wearing Vibram Five Fingers, but a ton less than when I ran a 31 miles in traditional running shoes. A week later my left foot is swollen, but it could be from when I jumped off a log and landed a little funny. I can still run so it is not really a big deal.
Did you lose any toe nails?- None! I had my big toe nails removed 15 years ago. I also didn’t stub my toes on anything, because my RunAmoc are a little longer than my other shoes. I only tripped once, but that was my fault when I didn’t see a root.
Did your shoes hold up? They don’t look like the day I got them, but they look a lot better than any of my old heel strikers. The heel of my right shoe is worn a little bit more than the left from running on asphalt, but all my minimalist shoes look that way.
Would you wear them again? Yes, without a doubt I would wear them again in 100 miles, or shorter distance. I plan on running two more 50 mile runs this fall, and will wear them if nothing else comes in the mail for me to try out.
Overall I am thrilled to have found RunAmoc Dash shoes. My first impression was “feel as good as a pair of slippers”, and my continued opinion “A shoe that will last 100 miles on some pretty rough terrain”.