Tough runs don’t last; tough runners do.
Let me start by saying that I am not sponsored in any way by Topo Athletic or any other manufacturer of the gear and shoes I review. I will only review the gear and shoes I own / have owned and have tested.
So lets get started with my latest shoe which is the Topo Athletic Runventure All Terrain Trail Shoe.
What made me interested in these shoes?
Well, I’m a huge fan of Altra running shoes, I currently own 3 pairs and have owned more previously. I still love my Altra Lone Peak’s, they have given me hundreds of happy miles.
A few months ago I decided on a pair of Altra Superiors, size 9 the same as all my other shoes. This is where I hit my first issue! They were too tight – ok to run in over a very short distance (up to 6 miles) but then my toes would really start to hurt. The beauty of Altra’s is you can buy in half sizes so I moved up to a 9.5 UK. Plenty of room no real issues – or so I thought.
Fast forward 3 months and about 150 miles and this is the state of the Superiors:
A huge rip down the side and lots of wear and tear in other areas too. Obviously I wasn’t too happy so that’s when I started looking at other brands just for a change.
So I had heard the gossip going around from a lot of trail runners in the US saying that there was a fairly new shoe on the market that a lot of the runners were starting to use and move away from the Altra’s (not that I ever would as they are still great shoes). The manufacturer was TOPO Athletic and they were making waves in the trail running community.
So why appeal to me – Simple!! The TOPO Athletic Runventure has a wide toe box the same as the Altra and the heal to toe drop is 2mm on this shoe for a more natural running feel.
Now I haven’t got a wide foot really, however, the beauty of the wide toe box is that it allows your toes to splay out when you are running as opposed to being all squashed up in a standard shoe. This type of shoe has also done one major thing for me – I don’t get blisters anymore – hooray!!!!!
The Runventure features a strong abrasion resistant mesh and no-sew printing techniques that protect the upper while adding structural integrity. A molded TPU midsole plate and 19 mm platform provide plating protection without sacrificing ground feel. The multi-directional lugged outsole offers traction over a variety of surfaces.
– Dual layer, tear-resistant mesh
– Fully gussetted tongue
– 4.5 mm rubber outsole
– Molded TPU midsole plate for rock protection
– 9.5 mm (heel) – 7.5 mm (ball) midsole
– Total stack height 19 mm x 17 mm (2 mm drop)
– Weight: 233 g
So right out of the box it was time to put these on and go for an 8 mile road run after work. When I initially opened the box I thought, oh no! these look quite small, hopefully I won’t need to go up half a size like the Altra Superiors. I needn’t have worried, I put them on and it was like wearing something that had been made specifically for my feet in mind. A ton of room in the front but the mid-foot and heel were locked into place so there was no unwanted movement at all. The run felt great, they felt light on my feet compared to my Altras and overall I was very pleased. But now for the real test:
18 mile Ridgeway Trail Run
For anyone that knows the Ridgeway around the Wiltshire area you will know that it is undulating, chalky and fairly hard ground with a fair share of small rocky areas and plenty of rutted tractor trails. Perfect for testing out a shoe that’s All Terrain.
So the run starts out at the bottom of the steep Foxhill, rock hard, rutted with pot holes all over. This was a breeze for the TOPO’s which felt light under foot, the grip was superb and there was no slippage of the foot within the shoe – just what I wanted at this point.
Once you hit the peak of Foxhill it’s a short flat area just before decending for around 1/2 mile on a very gravelly track. The biggest worry for me with the downhill sections is those toes banging into the front of the trainer – I’ve lost a few toe nails and had serious bruising with other shoes in the past. This time absolutely nothing, I can’t believe it, I very rarely run downhill without some sort of banging of the toes on the inside of the shoe. It has to be the fact that the mid-foot and rear are so well locked in and the shoes just fit my feet so well.
So the descent passed the test and now for 2 or 3 miles on fairly flat track with no issues, shoes are comfortable, no hot spots anywhere (areas where blisters may form) so all is good.
As I approach Ashbury it’s a right turn through the edge of some fields that run towards Ashdown House. Again through the hard soiled fields it’s no issue as the TOPO’s eat up the ground under me.
So as I leave Ashworth behind it’s back into some fields with hard rutted tyre tracks where the farmers have been. This is still no problem for the TOPO’s, the feet are secure and the ankles are strong through this area.
Now onto White Horse Hill where the ground is very chalky, very rutted and generally quite hard to deal with under foot. Again, nothing uncomfortable here and my feet are still feeling great at this point. I’m about 12 miles in and all is feeling fine.
At this point it’s time to make my way back to the start, so off I head in a direct route along the Ridgeway again. Nothing too difficult, fairly undulating but very hard under foot.
With 18 miles under my belt the run is over, my legs feel fresh, my feet pain free, definitely no hot spots and I feel that I could go on – which is a good job because on the 29th October I have the Exmoor Trail 50km Challenge and these will be the shoe of choice for the race.
So overall very very happy with the TOPO Runventure, it is a great alternative to the Altra shoes I would normally wear.
So how do they stack up?
- The fit is excellent
- Mid-foot and rear locked in well
- Wide toe box that allows toe splay
- 2mm drop for more natural running
- Built in rock plate to protect the foot from stones
- The 2mm drop may not suit all. If you are not used to this type of shore it may take a while to get used to.
- Cushioning – they are designed to be as minimalist as possible. Some people may struggle with the cushioning compared to some other shoes. But remember, these are trail shoes not road.
- Not so easy to purchase in the UK right now. Some shops like Northern Runner are doing the latest models and Amazon are doing a few specific sizes.
Overall Score – 9 / 10 Great Shoe
If you have any comments with reference to the review, or maybe you have had experience with the TOPO Runventure, or you might want to talk about your favourite trail shoe then please let me know below.