Well, this review is really long overdue. Strap in, internet! The ride won't be bumpy, but safety first and all...
A nice gentleman from Shamma contacted me back in August of last year and asked if I would like a trial pair of sandals for review. (That's a disclaimer, folks. The footwear was free.) Of course I said yes. My experience with huraches is limited, consisting of a pair of Invisible Shoes (before they were Xero Shoes), a pair of sandals crafted with a friend from a motorcycle tire (a blog post I started, but never finished), and a pair of ill conceived sandals from another company (out of respect I won't name them here) that were sent for review and literally could not be attached to feet because of the lacing system they used. I hacked those up and crafted traditional lacing for them and still wear them from time to time, including running. The sole material on those is 10mm Vibram newflex, so I was jazzed up to get a much thinner sole from Shamma.
I'm kind of a jerk for taking so long to review them, but I got them at the end of my running season and was only able to put a few miles on them before short daylight hours and icy cold hit Minnesota. I know that some of you reading this might be tough and run in the snow barefoot or with sandals. More power to you, but forget that noise. I also don't run much in the dark around our place after a close encounter with a skunk, and because I'm a grown-up and I do what I want! The nice thing is that I have nearly a year of wear on them so I feel like that is a good review.
This review is limited to the Warrior model from Shamma. From Shamma's website: The Warriors are a minimalist’s runners dream. The Warriors are our thinnest sandals. They are light and flexible with an aggressive tread that keeps you agile and surefooted. These sandals are ideal for technical trail running and uneven terrain, where ground-feel is key.
The soles are 5mm Vibram Newflex. They have a glued on goat-leather footbed that is super soft. (Love that new glue smell when you open the package!) The lacing system starts with a plug at the toe so there isn't a knot at the bottom of the sandal. The majority of the lacing system is 11/16" wide tubular nylon webbing with hook and loop closure. The heel strap has a suede material wrap to prevent rubbing. I find that it is a little grippy too, helping the strap to stay put. There is also a plastic buckle to help you position the strap where you want it at the top of your foot.
When they contacted me for a review, I had still been running, but hadn't done any races in a long time. (I'm still not fast, if you were wondering.) However, I was planning on doing a local 5K in September and I got the sandals the week of the race. I figured that a minimalist sandal should be the kind of footwear that you can strap on and start running without having to worry about how the footwear will affect you. In that spirit, I only put the sandals on once before the race to get the straps set. I did not run in them at all before the race.
The First Run:
The local run is the Stagecoach 5K. It runs through town (population ~1,200) and includes an out/back on a gravel road. There is a lot of hills. Surfaces were new smooth asphalt, old and beat up asphalt, gravel, and dirt (part of the course went through some road construction). The varied surfaces were nice so I could test them all in the first (sandals right out of the package) run.
The run starts on an immediate sharp downhill, then makes a 90 degree turn to the right to head back uphill. My feet did not slip at all on the shiny new leather, and I was able to make the turn at full speed with no problem. I say full speed, but that is full speed for me (~6 min mile). The next uphill section is slightly worn asphalt, and that surface continues until about 1.25 miles, where the course turns to gravel for an out/back section. The gravel road includes one moderate hill, and then a long gradual uphill to the turn around. The road was hard packed with loose gravel here and there along the tread lines, but was thicker loose gravel toward the edge.
I started out on the hard packed areas, but the random loose stones were difficult when I couldn't avoid them. By about 3/4 of the way out on the gravel, I moved to the edge of the road where there was all gravel and no hard-pack. That was a great improvement. I would love to try these out on a trail run with big rocks instead of gravel, but I haven't had the chance yet.
As I got to the turn around at the top of the hill, I had to stop and tighten the straps on the sandals. The heel strap was sliding down as they broke in a little. If there is one thing I have found with securing these sandals, it is to tighten them to the point they feel almost uncomfortable when you are standing, and they will be perfect as you run. I'll chalk this problem up to me not getting used to them at all before the race and not understanding how tight they needed to be. As I was tightening the straps I think I counted off 30 seconds or so in my head.
|Poetry in Motion. A glorious sight to behold.|
The rest of the race is flat or downhill. Awesome way to finish a race in my opinion! It was in this last portion that we hit the road construction areas. That included stepping down from cut off streets into the work areas and back up out of the work area to asphalt. A nice test because one of the issues I've had running in sandals is catching the front edge when stepping up and ending up gracefully slamming to the ground. Not a problem with these sandals. Even though the sole is supremely flexible, it is not floppy and comes up nicely with your toes.
I finished the race at 25 minutes flat. My fastest 5K time ever! In this picture you can see how I beat the gentleman behind me by apparently elbowing him and laughing my way to the finish. Thanks to all my sponsors: Shamma Sandals, bananas, and water.
|A dramatic fight for 12th place.|
If you are looking for a pair of sandals to run in, the Shamma Warriors are a great choice. (Click the link. Their pictures are better than mine.)