I have just returned from Chamonix in the heart of the Alps where I was racing the TNF UTMB CCC: that is The North Face Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc Courmeyeur-Champex-Chamonix race… think I might stick to the acronym!
My race was 100km, involved 6000m of vertical ascent and took me a shade over 24 hours to complete. Shoe choice was always going to be important.
So when it came to choosing what to wear on my feet, I decided to go maximal. This was going to be about comfort and under-foot protection. At the best of times I tend to steer clear of really minimalist footwear, but given the duration of the CCC and the fact that most of the route is studded with rocks (or is just rocks and nothing else!) I was going to stay far away from shoes that are light on protection.
Now that I am back in the urban sprawl, however, I am back in what I think is one of the heartlands of minimalist footwear… central London! This is where people seem to talk about, and run about in, minimalist footwear. I certainly didn’t see anyone in vibrams running in the Alps (although there were a few pairs on runners post-race as they loafed around the town).
Perfect place then, for me to read about the new Nike Free Hyperfeel, out today.
In essence the shoe looks to be a Flyknit upper (which I like – here is my review of the Flyknit racer and Lunar 1+ where I talk about the upper) on a really flat Lunarlon sole with a waffle-pattern outsole along with a super flexible optional sockliner. Basically there really isn’t much to the Hyperfeel.
And I think that there ‘not being much to it’ is the point. In the video I have posted below, Tony Bignell, VP of Nike Footwear Innovation, talks about the shoe being designed to allow the runner to feel as though there is a little as possible both on and under the foot. In the video the shoe certainly looks to be very flexible and the sole looks very thin.
I have not had a chance to try the Nike Free Hyperfeel so I can’t pass judgment myself. But my feeling is that this is Nike widening its offering even further with the Free Hyperfeel. They have pretty much everything covered from trail shoes – which I will be reviewing in the next few days – to these very minimalist shoes which I think should only really be used on surfaces where there isn’t anything to tread on or kick. I think that with this shoe, Nike might be about to crack the code to the minimalist market… they might even convert me!