Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Soft Star RunAmoc - first impressions

I've been through a number of minimalist running shoes since I started. Over the years I've worn, in general order: 

VFF Bikila
Merrell Trail Glove 1.0
Vivobarefoot EVO 1.0 (x3)
Vivobarefoot Neo Trail
Vivobarefoot Stealth

I loved the EVO most of all, and ran 4 of my 5 marathons in them. I had high hopes for the Stealth when it came out, and even though I PR'd in them in Houston this year, I was generally disappointed in fit, quality, and durability. I've conveyed my thoughts to the folks at TerraPlana, as I'm sure others have, and I still consider them among the leaders of the pack in minimalist running technology. Their commitment to sustainable and animal-friendly materials is admirable, but after suffering some serious chafing on the synthetic liner, I found myself thinking during training that there should be a simple, no frills, leather minimalist shoe that offers more protection than a huarache, but less bells and whistles. What I really needed was a moccasin. 

Enter Soft Star Shoes (http://www.softstarshoes.com/). Based in Corvallis, Oregon, the "Elves" have been hand-making shoes since 1984. They jumped into the minimalist running game in 2010, and the current lineup includes the RunAmoc, the Dash, Dash Lite, and the Moc3. 

I decided to order the Dash Lite, as the perforated leather option seemed a good idea for the Texas summer heat. 

Sizing proved to be a bit of an issue, as they don't offer half sizes on the website. Going off the sizing chart they provide, I initially ordered an 11U in both normal and wide. Upon arrival, they seemed big, but the wide size was super big. I sent that pair back and ordered a size down. When the 10U arrived, it was obvious it was too small. I sent that pair back (which I had custom designed) and waited until I received notice of the store credit. Once I did, I emailed the Elves, related my story, and asked if they could make a 10.5. Their answer: no problem. I got the 2mm vibram outsole and reflective tags. 


Truly a zero-drop shoe. The softness of the leather can only be described in terms of babies' bottoms, marshmallows, and cloud pillows. We're talking soft, here. Right out of the box. 

Having had a few miles already in the 11s I kept, I knew socks wouldn't be necessary. I strapped up and went out for a five miler. They fit, and feel, great. The last time I ran that route in a new pair of shoes, I came home with deep cuts in my ankles and blood-stained synthetic uppers that never got their sheen back. 

The RunAmoc is an entirely different story. I'm looking forward to more miles in them as the soles break in. More to come. 

More info on how SoftStar goes about being awesome here:


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