North America’s premier ultra running event, Colorado’s historic 100-mile monster, the Leadville Trail 100, deserves a shoe of the same magnitude. Our Leadville 1210v2 trail shoe lives up to the name, developed specifically for athletes whose long runs are farther, more demanding, and more treacherous than most other runners could ever imagine.
While each man and woman competing at Leadville holds their own personal goals for the race, they all share the same goal of finishing within the 30-hour time limit. Yes, that’s right. 30 hours. Since it’s expected that many of these athletes will be on their feet for more than a full day at a time as they traverse an array of brutal terrain, these runners have footwear needs that are unique to any other group in the running community.
To learn more about the needs of ultra runners, our product designers enlisted the help of our Team NB ultra athletes, including Anton Krupicka, who as a two-time winner of the Leadville Trail 100, is arguably more familiar than anyone else with the demanding terrain and conditions of the race.
“In modern life, we don’t face survival opportunities very often and that’s really what the last half of a 100-miler is all about,” says Anton. “At that point, life is distilled down to water, sugar and forward movement.”
To find out exactly what runners need in their footwear to keep that forward movement going in the last half of a race, our footwear team traveled to some of the world’s top endurance events and scanned the feet of runners of all abilities before, during and post-race. What they found was that the foot swells a considerable amount during an endurance race like the Leadville Trail 100. With these findings in mind, the Leadville 1210v2 features a roomier toe box than traditional running styles and the updated version includes a new, thicker sockliner that compresses over time to accommodate the foot swelling that sets in the later stages of a run.
Runners can also expect a cushioned, smooth ride with our N2 and REVlite technologies and will feel confident as they take on the mud, rocks and rugged terrain with the durable traction of the Vibram® outsole. To reduce the risk of blisters, our seamless Fantom Fit upper reduces friction and rubbing throughout the run and a gusseted tongue denies unwelcomed dirt and debris from causing any unnecessary stops.
“New Balance made very, very subtle changes to a shoe that already worked really well for me,” says Team New Balance’s Zeke Tiernan, who finished fourth at the 2014 Leadville Trail 100. “I have a whole bunch of shoes in my collection, but I always gravitate toward this shoe, whether I’m going five miles or 45 miles.”
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When Team New Balance ultra athlete Anton Krupicka goes out for a run, he won’t be back in 30 minutes. He probably won’t even be back in two hours. Anton’s runs, like those of most ultra runners, last for hours at a time and frequently take him through unfavorable weather conditions, making his need for comfortable, versatile and lightweight apparel a top priority. Runners’ priorities are our priorities, which is why we created an entire apparel line, the Ultra Collection, designed for the specific needs of endurance runners.
Our New Balance product team worked directly with Anton and our endurance athletes to create product that meet their tough demands:
The Ultra Collection, which includes a hooded jacket, half-zip and short sleeve for men and women, a six-inch short for men and a capri pant for women, was born from that direct feedback provided by our Team NB ultra runners. In addition to limited resources and the brutal elements they face every day on their runs, these athletes also battle small annoyances with their gear that can evolve into larger issues, such as uncomfortable chafing.
To address this problem, our apparel team focused in on the seams that are often the culprit of chafing and replaced them with exterior and welded seams to eliminate any potential points of friction. In addition, the mix of breathable fabrics used in the collection allows runners to stay warm or cool, without carrying any unnecessary weight.
With individual garments designed to work together as one unit, the Ultra Collection arms runners with apparel to keep them comfortable as they conquer the forces of nature standing between them and their goals.