This is not the full review on my my newly tested Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon. That is to come once the mileage is up.
Meanwhile Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon takes on Tough Guy 2013.
Are they going to stand up to the mark, the mud and the obstacles?
Mike Wiltshire of Primal Lifestyle, Official UK Distributor for Vibram FiveFingers was kind enough to give me a pair of Spyridon to do a review on them a few days before my Tough Guy 2013 on Sunday 27 January 2013.
Boy, I was so relieved of Mike’s offer. Up to this point I was using the Vibram Fivefinger KSO’s which are just great (see review), but they were not going to be tough enough for Tough Guy. The KSO’s have no tread or lugs to grip with in the thick mud. I would have spent my entire time on my back or eating mud! My backup option was my Vivobarefoot Neo Trails.
So why did I choose the Vibram Five Fingers Spyridon. Having spoken with Mike and tried on a pair at the Outdoor Show in London, this model’s sole was the one that was going to be the closest to being minimalistic yet it had a good tread that was multi directional. The other model they had was the KSO Trek Sport, but this model’s lugs on the sole were too bulky and I was concerned that I was not going to get the minimalistic feel.
Because I had been regularly training with my Vibram Five Finger KSO’s I was not concerned about moving over to the Spyridon at such short notice. My feet just slipped into them like a glove. Just slightly tighter, but I knew they would give a bit. Boy, I was excited.
The pre-race test
I did test out the Vivram’s the next morning. It took them out to the muddiest trails nearby. I was generally satisfied. Could feel that I had a better grip, but not 100%. Afterwards, the question marks came up. I new I had to make the right decision. Not only to complete the course but more importantly to reduce my risk of injury.
I started to question if the tread had enough depth in comparison to my New Balance trail shoes. A bit of umming and I was decided. The Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon were my choice. This was the finishing touches to me being race ready!!!
3 hour drive and now stuck in traffic and I was concerned that I was going to miss registration. So changed into my kit, and my new Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon whilst driving along in stop n’ start traffic. Having parked in the muddy field I took a short jog in the mud to registration. I felt really confident in the FiveFingers. It was time to say goodbye to the vibrant orange pattern as they began to be camouflaged in lovely clay.
On the start line I was on the lower footing of the hill start. It was muddy and mucky and the race hadn’t even started. I was wondering if I was going to manage it up this first incline or would I end up crawling from lack of grip. Everyone else was in their road or trail trainers except me. Did I care, Absolutely not. I had made the commitment and I was going to see it through.
The quicksand mud
And we are off. Up and over the top and everyone has to slide down the other side and then I am back on my feet and on the trail. Feeling good and ready to get into the thick of it. Feeling really good under feet. I was so confident that I just ploughed through the mud. I felt so secure. This was a really good starting point. Our first obstacle was leaping over wooden horizontal jumps low and high. Every time I launched, straddled, got a footing it felt that I had good contact. Everytime I hit the ground I was solid.
Everytime I pulled my leg out of the mud. Yes I mean leg, sometimes I was sunken down to my knees my foot came up without any problem. My Vibram’s felt like another layer of skin. The great thing was that my feet felt light. There was no heaviness as the mud slid off. I knew that I wasn’t not going to be one of those contenders digging down to try and find my shoe, that had been taken hostage by quicksand mud. Every time my foot came clean out of the mud.
The plunging waters
Then it was time for the mud water trenches. They were from waist height to chest. Minus 10 degrees and frigid. Filled with mud, water, roots, branches and rubble. Steep mud banks that you just had to slide down. In the water, wade across, and out up another steep bank, and then round the bend, and into the next trench. About 10 in all. I was so confident, that I just passed by the next and then the next competitor. The trenches didn’t take me hostage and neither my shoes!
Once again my feet still felt light. Water immediately drained off as if I hadn’t even got them wet. I was able to whizz by others who were struggling to find their kidnapped shoe or trying to get it back on.
I was getting a lot of interest in my Vibrams by other competitors “I’ve been following your shoes” one said. Others just curious to know what they are like. With all the other competitors that I chased down I in fact only saw one other wearing Vibram FiveFingers. All I thought was that they don’t know what they are missing!
The Almighty Obstacles
In the final 2 miles onto the big obstacles. Every step the way, up, down, over, under, crawl and pull I felt in control. Even on the wet wooden cross beams, balance boards and the scramble nets I had no problems. In particular it is worth noting that with the frigid minus 10 degree waters and hailing wind every movement had to be meticulous. Every step had to be precise. There was no room for bad judgement or error. The risks of injury were high. You had to be 100% committed and confident. Mentally I was, and so was I under foot!
Even the final water obstacle at the end of the race cleaned off my legs and of course the Vibram Fivefinger’s. Even the orange pattern was peaking back through as my feet were were rescued from the mud pits.
The clean up
Back home it took 3 washes in the washing machine in hand wash mode to get my shoes and kit clean using Method Washing Detergent. Normally I handwash my shoes using Ecover Delicate Washing Liquid, but I knew that I had to do a bit more to get the impregnated mud out of my kit. And once again they were beaming orange. No damage at all to the uppers and barely a wear mark to the soles. No tears, no chunks missing.
Tough Guy 0 Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon 1
Fit 10/10 – just like a glove
Durability 10/10 so far.
To be continued…
I will follow this review up in due course with a fuller version once I have done some really proper mileage.
Do let me know how you have been getting on with your Vibram’s!
Vibram’s first trail running–specific models, the Spyridon and Spyridon LS provide the perfect balance of “foot feel” and protection on rugged surfaces. A minimalist Vibram® rubber sole with an aggressive tread design provides sure-footed grip in all directions and impact protection from stones and debris, while better allowing proper minimalism dynamics. Naturally breathable upper with an adjustable hook-and-loop closure ensures a secure fit.
- 3.55mm Vibram TC1 Performance Rubber Outsole – offers excellent grip, traction and protection for all cross training activities
- Coconut Active Carbon Upper – Superbly breathable upper, allows also for great reflexivity, offering a complete barefoot experience.
- Moulded Mesh Midsole – Provides a protective element to your minimalist shoe, essential for the tough terrain.
That was then this is now and I now wear Inov-8 3mm heal to toe drop clawed shoes which are second to none for grip and control. Ground awareness is not quite the same but with minimal soles very good considering. I only now wear Five Finger KSO’s when I want to do barefoot work and I can’t be barefoot i.e. cold weather.