Fell shoes. Aggressive, durable, very specific.
I love fell running.
Ever since discovering fell running in 2008 when I went to university in Penrith, I have been addicted. Often I would leave the house at 5am, to hit the fells before the tourists, get my 3-4 hours in. My ankles would feel slashed, my muscles agonised, my mind cleansed.
PB Walsh Extreme’s were my weapons of choice. I ran the Glencoe marathon in a pair of box fresh Salomon Speedcross 3’s. No blisters, good ride. After running the Ben in June, I decided I would like a new pair. Something with a wider toe box. Attending a Salomon City Trails run, I was lucky enough to try a pair of Fellraisers, as well as Sense Mantra and X-Screams. The Fellraiser stood out.
My first run in the Fellraisers was Red Bull SteepleChase, in which I put 12 very varied miles through them. Next, 32 miles at the Ennerdale Ultra Marathon. 44 miles, no training, box fresh. How would they perform?
Low profile and aggressive, they are reinforced brutes. Yet at 290g, very light considering the treads. The Sensifit gives a glove like hold on the foot. Before I tried Salomon’s range, I was very sceptical about how effective their lacing system could be. Laces work for a reason after all. Yet, given the ease and speed you can tighten the Quicklace, every time it provides an even and secure fit. If anything now I look forward to it! The tongue cover and lace pocket both keep crap out and avoid laces being a trip hazard.
The breathable open mess aids airflow and the moulded EVA sole and footbed, provides a cushioned yet supportive ride. Reinforced and supportive Ortholite EVA heel cup keeps the foot firmly in place, providing confidence, when the terrain gets vertical and you bomb down the fell side. Along with this, the front has a wide reinforced tow box, with a high tread for those demanding climbs. Watch the opening scenes of the Steeplechase and you will see why these were great. It also keep the rocks and roots at bay.
Red Bull Steeplechase
Now. The tread. And boy does it have a lot. The red is brash, bold and can not hide. The lugs are firm, each with directional sips to allow for mud shedding and greater traction. Whereas many I have tried have worn away quickly on fire roads and tarmac, these are holding up remarkably well. There are no real signs of wear and in the mud, slopes and fire roads, grip has been exceptional.
However on wet rock, it was like running on ice. The larger lugs aren’t designed for wet lakeland rock, and a lower profile tread pattern would help in those conditions. Secondly, given the amount of reinforcing, EVA and welds, they hold onto water (much like the SpeedCross). This was an issue at my ultra, where a quicker draining shoe would have been beneficial.
But. And there is a but. You can’t have it all, as trail/fell shoes are terrain specific. Whereas road shoes differ from neutral, pro and supernate, trail is trail, mud, wet, dry, the list goes on….and on. Epic shoes. Maid for the fells. For a racing shoe for pure off road, I would recommend the Fell raiser. For trails the sense. For mixed conditions, the Fellraiser ticks every box.
I will be using them for Hell of Hill next week – 5 trail marathons in 5 days. I’ll give you an update after they put in 131+ miles in.