New Balance Leadville MT1210 (Spring 2013)
10.3 ounces / 8mm drop / $125
The Dirt: Inspired by the legendary Leadville 100-miler and based on 3D scans of athletes’ feet, this shoe is built to withstand the rigors of rugged ultras.
Though a traditional trail shoe with ample cushioning and rock protection, it takes some cues from minimalist design, with a lower heel-to-toe drop and comparatively lightweight materials.
Beefed-up forefoot cushioning and a Vibram outsole provide extra armor against hazards of the trail.
Best For: Runs of any distance on relatively dry terrain. It handles rocks and roots with ease.
Traction: While the Leadville excels on rough, technical terrain, it suffered some in slick, muddy conditions. Said one tester, “Traction was passable, but not exceptional.”
Fit: The Leadville runs slightly big. It has ample room in the toebox, while snugly locking in narrow heels. One tester loved the cushioned tongue: “After 15 miles, it felt as if the shoe’s tongue was whispering sweet nothings to my metatarsals with every step.”
The Downsides: Offering little flex, the midsole may feel stiff out of the box. Said one tester, “It clings to a lot of recently debunked notions of what kind of shoe is necessary to run 100 miles.”
Tester-Monial: “For its beefy design, it didn’t feel clunky at all. In fact, I felt very light-footed while romping around in these babies.”
—Shaun Martin, Chinle, AZ
Check out the other 10 shoes in our Spring 2013 Shoe Review.