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Winter Tires for Runners

Winter Tires for Runners

There’s a barrage of ads for winter tires right now. They do make a difference on slippery winter roads, even though caution and a healthy respect for physics are ultimately the biggest things to keep you upright and pointed in the right direction.
The Salomon SpikeCross is the closest running shoe to a studded winter tire that I know of. I started running with these last winter in a local conservation area and it was an incredible amount of fun. The aggressive tread and metal studs have remarkable grip on hard-packed snow and enough grip to run on ice (albeit, with a very short easy stride, lots of caution and a healthy respect for physics). The shoes are fairly water/snowproof as well, but you will want some gaiters if you’re running in more than two or three inches of fresh snow. Postholing your way through drifts and untracked vistas will inevitably result in wet feet later in your run as any snow that built up around the top of the shoe melts and trickles down your feet.
I was apprehensive about the unusual lacing system. I’m still not a huge fan as I find it tougher to dial in that ‘just right’ fit with the laces snugged and loosened in all the right places. The speed and ease of adjusting mid-run is actually really nice and helps offset this, and the system doesn’t freeze up like wet laces in cold weather though so it does have some advantages. The ultimate advantage is being able to adjust the shoes mid run with mittens on when it’s twenty below.
The downfall of this shoe was in getting to the trails. I cut across several very well maintained sidewalks, plazas, and parking areas to get to the trails and these shoes don’t feel very good on pavement. I would intentionally take the ugliest route and try to step on all the patches of snow and ice instead of pavement. On pavement, the studs and lugs slip and squirm and make tiny little clicking noises with every step. It’s manageable but unpleasant compared to a more conventional runner on a plowed surface. I wouldn’t wear this shoe if I thought the footing would be OK with a more conventional running shoe – this is a shoe for days and surfaces that will leave you slipping and sliding all over the place. It can help open up terrain that is dubiously acceptable otherwise and make the winter that much more fun.

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