I started running in my thirties, fast forward to my early forties and I have run more than 20 ultra marathons. My longest ultra race is the King Offa’s Dyke Race, a 185 miles race along the Welsh coastline.
I also live and train in The Black Mountains, the wilder and lesser-known side of The Bannau Brycheiniog national park in South Wales. Therefore I train almost exclusively on mountain trails, where steep ascents, mud, rocks, and bogs all feature as part of my regular routes.
Developed in the French Alps, the Thundercross Gore-Tex has been tried and tested on everything from rolling terrain to rocky slopes or sticky single tracks, so this is ideal for me.
I have quite wide feet and went up half a size to allow for plenty of room. The fit felt comfortable and there was no excessive movement or rubbing.
When I’m looking for a suitable training shoe for winter conditions the first thing I look at is the grip. The 5mm treads on these shoes look nice and chunky, I found they coped well on woodland trails but not as good on steep ascents or thick, slippery mud (admittedly not many shoes are).
The uppers look quite robust and I think will last well. The Gore-Tex material sheds water off easily and kept my feet dry and warm during the test runs – which were all in cold, wet conditions. I suspect the waterproof layer may be problematic on water-logged trails because any water that gets in, perhaps from deep puddles, would not be able drain out.
I thought the Thundercross shoes felt quite heavy compared to my other trail shoes and this is probably due to the high level of cushioning combined with the Gore-Tex.
For the type of trails I run on, the Thundercross Gore-Tex didn’t have enough grip, felt heavy and I admit that I would personally prefer a free draining non-waterproof upper too.
However, I can see where they could work for other ultra runners. I believe these shoes are most suitable for mild trails such as fields and footpaths with light mud or wet grass. They also have good enough cushioning to cope with some road sections on the way to the trails and seem comfortable for long periods if you don’t mind the weight.
In short, not a bad shoe, but not for me on the big, muddy Welsh mountain trails.
Review by Ryan Flowers
Colour: Flint Stone/Carbon/Orange Pepper