What makes a perfect shoe? While at the VIVOBAREFOOT coaching course we discussed this in length and came up with a list that Tina has put in her own words here. I agree completely and am glad to have been a part of that collaboration. Here is a post I wrote earlier this year about shoes and what a good one must consist of. I am predominantly a road runner. I choose not to spend my running time driving to the trails so mostly what I review are shoes I use to supplement my barefoot road running. So far Terra Plan VIVOBAREFOOT shoes are on the right track.
Is it wise to try out a new pair of shoes at a 12 hour race? In this particular case yes! The Neos were the right shoe for my needs. I tested them out when I ran 32 miles in them at Mind the Ducks 12 hour in wet rainy conditions. The terrain was too rough to try and run an ultra barefoot even though I started out barefoot with long mileage intentions. So I used these shoes as my tool to deal with the conditions I found myself in.
When I was in NYC I stopped by the Terra Plana store and tried on the Evo originals thinking that they would be even better for my particular foot and come to find out the Neo's fit my foot even better. A pleasant surprise. Its amazing how subtle a difference there is in seemingly very similar styles. It was such a pleasure to linger in their store for a couple of hours talking and trying on shoes.
I ran in the rain and the conditions on one short wooden bridge were quite slick and I still felt secure in the Neos. The sole felt grippy and protected my feet when I ran through the grass along tree lined areas with many sticks that would have slowed me up barefoot and I did not step in duck poop, at least not when I had shoes on!
The sole is 4mm thick and made of a blend of TPU and latex rubber for both traction as well as puncture resistance. The shoes are 6.5 ounces each and like all of the shoes I have tried from the VIVOBAREFOOT line, they feel much lighter than the number they actually weigh.
They have a very comfortable heel tab and lovely padding all around the ankle. I have worn them with and without socks and in dry and very wet conditions and no blisters to be had. They have a hydrophobic water resistant mesh upper and come with a removable insole made of 100% recycled memory foam. I tried them on with the insoles and liked the fit better without it so didn't even try running with the insole in. The option to remove the insole is excellent since I do wear the Kali's with their insole.
The upper is incredibly soft and pliable. VIVOBAREFOOT shoes do not have a toe spring and have a completely flat sole for optimum propreceptive feedback. (zero heel toe drop) One yang to a flat sole is the crease of the shoe as the foot flexes and moves through the motions of the running gait. Not an issue with the Neos. The shoes flexed and moved with my foot and yet did not rub the wrong way.
The Neo's are an excellent tool in my shoe toolbox! Thanks VIVOBAREFOOT for helping me exceed my goals for Mind the Ducks 12 hour.