Launched in Autumn/Winter 2014 the RACE ULTRA 290 (men/women) was our first shoe designed specifically for the ultra running community. With increased levels of protection and underfoot cushioning, the 290 is perfect for running limitless miles, be that in training or races. So impressed were Runner’s World UK that they awarded it the maximum 10/10 in test, writing: ‘Our tester (who clocked up 220 miles over four runs) could not find even the smallest of quibbles with the RACE ULTRA 290, which offered a perfect blend of durability, stability and comfort. It chewed up the miles, the fact it was lightweight was a great asset when tiredness set in, the fit was excellent and the comfort was superb. Top marks’.
The review below in the main body of this blog was written by ultra runner Amy Rusiecki. Want more? Check out some these reviews:
RUN 247: ‘Really comfortable, with a nice wide toe box to accommodate the freakiest of toes.’
DIRT IN YOUR SKIRT: ‘This shoe is a workhorse. It does it all, and just keeps working.’
IRUNFAR: ‘I really like this shoe. It feels light and fast.’
IAN CORLESS, TALK ULTRA: ‘Go-to shoe for daily runs when an ‘all rounder’ is what you need.’
RUNNING MONKEY: ‘Excelled across the board on test.’
In Spring/Summer this year we built on the success of the 290 with the launch of the RACE ULTRA 270, a lighter racing version that delivers increased speed and responsiveness, while still maintaining superb comfort, protection and grip. And now, heading into Autumn/Winter 2015 we have updated versions of the 290 (see next two images below).
Review written by Amy Rusiecki in Autumn 2014:
Being an engineer, I am a pretty practical person. I don’t get too excited over stuff, I get more excited about numbers and figures. But, from the moment I heard about the RACE ULTRA 290s, I was pretty darn excited for them. I was thrilled to learn that inov-8 was designing a shoe that would bump up the cushioning of the other models, yet keep the comfortable feel that I’d grown to love. Had someone been reading my dream journal when they decided to design these shoes?
I run mostly 50 miler and 100 mile races, and really enjoy the technical trail races. The RACE ULTRA 290s seemed like they had the potential to be the ideal shoe for many of my upcoming races. But, would these shoes really live up to the hype? Were they as awesome as I imagined they would be?
When I got my pair in the mail, I immediately took them out of the box and out for a run. I have since logged a few hundred miles in these shoes in a variety of conditions. Besides several of my daily training runs and weekend long runs on typical New England trails, I also used them on a wet and rainy day to complete my trail checks along the Vermont 100 course and in the White Mountains to set an FKT on the Presidential Traverse. It’s fair to say that they’ve been tested out in conditions ranging from wet to dry, from rocky to smooth, from short run to long run, and from mountain trails to flat roads.
I’ve found the cushioning to be awesome -protecting my feet from the roads I sometimes run to get to the trails, and protecting my feet from the ‘wobbly rocks’ they encountered in the White Mountains. When doing my VT100 course checks, I ran through several puddles as well as waist deep wet grass -my feet got wet, yet the shoes drained well so I didn’t have sloshy shoes for the rest of my run. I was anticipating that traction might be the compromise for these shoes -I was wrong. Their traction, while not quite ‘walk up a vertical wall’ like the my X-TALON and ROCLITE shoes, were more than necessary even for even the rocky/technical terrain in the White Mountains and on New England trails.
In general, these shoes are a wonderful addition to the inov-8 line, and one that I will likely use for many ultras, perhaps even a few adventure runs. They are versatile enough to handle rocky terrain, wet conditions, and long miles. I’m so glad they lived up to my expectations!
– While the outsole may not look it, they provide good traction on rocks, roots, and technical trails.
– Superior protection means my feet weren’t beat up even after 7 hours of running on rocks!
– Plenty of space in the toe box, much appreciated for the longer runs
– Drain water well -if you step in a puddle or get your feet wet you will quickly forget about it
– A bit stiff for the first several runs. They loosened up afterwards, but initially I was nervous about rolling my ankle on a rock due to stiffness of the sole. (Pro -this goes away after a few runs!)
– Traction is good, but if you compare it to other inov-8 models such as X-TALON or ROCLITE, these have a bit less traction. (But, I found traction still sufficient for the trails I run.)
– Heavier than other inov-8 models, so I would only use for the conditions where I want the extra protection and go with a lighter shoe when I can get away with it.