The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Shoes For LEJOG (Part 2)

I’ve had three problems with my fell-runner footwear experiments to date:

1. I’ve discovered quite decidedly that I can’t do wet feet for any extended period of time.
2. I've had a longevity problem (my Terrocs holed in the heel within 100 miles).
3. I’ve had a fit problem (my Salomon XA Pro XCR, which solved the wet foot problem nicely, would have been the shoes of my dreams had it not been for the one lace anchor point that dug into my left foot)

Despite these problems, and specifically the wet-foot problem, this type of shoe remains my footwear choice for much of my walking, particularly locally.

As I much prefer lightweight shoes rather than boots for what I would call the ‘yomping over local fields’ sort of walking, I’ve been toying for a while with a two-shoe strategy for our LEJOG.

For the best part of the first three weeks of our walk, we’re going to be walking across the fields and little lanes of Cornwall, Devon and Somerset. I imagine that, except for being a lot lumpier, the terrain will not be hugely dissimilar to our local walking.

That led me to thinking that I’d like to do most of the first three weeks of the walk in trail-runners.

Initially I thought that I would take boots and shoes for this section, but as time goes on I’m thinking that I’ll just use shoes, switching to my boots when we hit Offa’s Dyke (which ties in nicely with when people are coming to meet us, who can bring my boots).

As with boots, I’ve been looking around the lightweight shoe options for a while, but had failed to buy because I really wanted to try the new Girl’s Inov8 Roclite before I chose – something that I wasn’t able to do in the Lakes during our recent shopping expedition.

Last week, in a rather unexpected place, I found a shop that came up trumps on this part of my footwear requirement. On Wednesday we found ourselves undertaking a detailed navigation exercise in the centre of Birmingham, assisted only by a couple of Multimap print outs. After successfully locating the required buildings and completing our errands we were on our way back to the train station when out of the corner of my eye I spotted Cotswold Outdoor. Not being in any particular rush, we popped in for a look.

An hour later I had tried on practically every non-boot piece of footwear in the shop (thanks to a very patient sales assistant who seemed to have more than a modicum of knowledge on the subject of footwear). I left with a pair of Girl’s Inov8 Roclites (in another lovely hue of blue).

In the week since I bought them I’ve worn them for 40 miles of walking. For the first 20 miles I became increasingly convinced that they were not for me. Then, it seemed, my feet beat them into submission. Or semi-submission. The left foot is very comfortable indeed. The right foot is now okay, but I’m still not entirely convinced. (incidentally, I have the opposite fit problem with my Salomon’s; good fit on the right, not so good on the left; is there a shoe out there that fits both of my feet or should I be walking odd shoed?!)

Of course, problem number 1 on my list still remains. I know that fields can be wet and that it can rain a lot in three weeks. After my success (in terms of the wet-foot problem) with the Salomon’s, the logical thing would have been to go for a waterproof shoe (I can see people sucking on their teeth plumber style and shaking their heads at such a statement!). However, in the shop (where the Roclites seemed to fit just fine) I put fit before dryness and so find myself with the non-waterproof Roclite.

I have a plan to tackle that issue too. As soon as suitable weather presents I will be out trying out the Sealskinz/Roclite combination.

Now that brings us nicely onto the subject of socks.

To be continued…


  1. Hi Gayle

    I tried an Innov8 Terroc & Sealskinz combo for the first time on the West Highland Way last October on a couple of very wet days (I'd worn Smartwool Hikers sucessfully up till that point). It was great! My shoes were soaking wet, my sealskinz socks were too, on the outside, but my feet were dry. I was concerned sealskinz would be very sweaty to walk in, but the almost constant immersersion in water was pleasantly cooling.

    I hope your vexing footwear problems all work out soon!

  2. It's good to get another positive report for the Sealskinz, so thanks for the comment.

    As much as I don't want to bemoan the run of good luck with our walking weather lately, a good and proper wet day with wet terrain would be useful for me to try the combination out (whereafter it can go back to being sunny!)

  3. I'm a great fan of Sealskinz as well. Forget trainers with waterproof linings - wet all too easily comes over the top. Sealskinz aren't sweaty to wear and I find them as comfortable as ordinary socks, whatever the weather. For my LEJOG next year, I think it will be trainers for much of the way. Also, just in case you think about fittng Superfeet footbeds to your footwear, don't leave the original footbeds at home. I learned this the hard way and suffered bad blisters with trainers which I could have dealt with if I'd known about it.