The latest running terrain is in fact the oldest running terrain – the Trail. As man evolved we ran on the open terrain: free from tar, free from stone, concrete tiles and glass – in the open air with only the sky above, trees, grass and shrubs below and a world of views ahead and around.
It was a simplistic life providing one avoided the various predators and the occasion thorn and sharp rock.
Ok running barefoot in search of food and eking out a life was not that idealistic or lekker, but few would deny there is much to recommend a run back in nature away from the fume, buzz, hard surfaces and dangers of the concrete jungle we have adopted as home.
There are runners who believe the myth that the irregularity of a trail surface requires a shoe with protective plate in the sole or heel to counter the points and movement of the odd rocking and rolling stone. The reality is the opposite is true. A flexible sole will bend and twist to give additional contact and grip with the irregular shape of the ground. The lower the heel and midsole the more stable the shoe.
Rigid soles, bridges and heels only increase the likelihood that your ankle will be twisted over and outside its normal range of movement.
The higher the difference in height between the midsole and the heel the less stable your foot and the greater the tendency for ‘fall off’ the shoe!
In short getting as close to the ‘barefoot’ and ‘natural’ flexibility of the foot and the lower to the ground, the more stability each foot strike has on the trail (or the road for that matter).
So when Puma combined their immensely popular FAAS technology with a traction outer sole that can grip with loose and hard surfaces they already have the foundation for a great trail shoe.
Built on the same racing last as the popular Faas 250 and 300, the trail 250 is a shoe that will suit the novice and experienced trail runner.
The curve last makes this shoe a particularly comfortable fit for normal and high arched feet and the flexible midsole allows a full variation of fore and midfoot landing.
The upper is a close mesh and the lacing loops combined with the moccasin design is lightweight and practical. There is no tongue in the trail 250: it has a one-piece upper, which assists in prevent the ingress of fine sands and stones.
Having run around 100km in the shoes both on and off road and worn it as a normal walking / casual shoe the Puma 250 trail is a shoe for all seasons and occasions. The midsole, upper and outer provide a comfortable ‘ride’ in all conditions. The only blot on the copy book came in the first week of running when crossing through a stream in a 15km trail run around Inanda Dam west of Durban.
The grip and tread of the 250 had been sound and solid throughout the run until we were crossing a stream with polished rocks on the outer banks and moss covered rocks under the constant flow of water. The film that invisibly coats new shoes came into play as I put a shoe down on the wet rock to re-enact the Bambi on ice scene.
Although this demoted me to a incredibly slow and tentative shuffle through the water, I knew the situation could change within a few excursions once that ‘new-look’ skin would be worn away and the sticky rubber grip would be exposed and in full operation. However for the initial testing this was something to be wary of and a danger for initial runs (only).
With that single exception there are few trail shoes that can match the performance, comfort and practicality of the Puma Faas 250 – make sure you add it to your trial list when looking for the ideal shoe to take to the hills, trails and nature.