Product Review: New Balance Minimus Trail

Jul 31, 2011 by

Product Review: New Balance Minimus Trail


New Balance MT10

New Balance released their MT10 shoe, also called the Minimus Trail, earlier this year.  I had tried them on several times in the spring but did  not pull the trigger.  I was torn between the Merrell Trail Gloves and the MT10’s.  I have owned several Merrell casual and hiking shoes over the years, and I’m a Merrell fan.  I had never owned a pair of New Balance anythings.  In the end,  the New Balance just fit my foot better, and I finally purchased my MT10’s in mid May.  Last night I saw an updated and slightly different version in a shoe store at the mall (MT20’s maybe?), so I figured I better post my review of the MT10’s.

Initial Thoughts in Store

No Insert

Sometime you try a shoe on in the store and immediately go “Oh, yeah”.  This was one of these cases.  These shoes are extremely comfortable.  They have no insert and invite you to go sockless.  I have not done this yet, though.  Size-wise,  I had to go up a 1/2 size from my normal 10 to 10 1/2.  I made sure I tried them on with my favorite Injinji socks.  I probably could have gone with 10’s, but I decided to err on slightly bigger than smaller.  The toe box is wide and is exactly what I was looking for.  The specs on the shoe say it has a 4mm drop, but I guess because there is so little midsole compared to my 4mm drop Kinvaras, it seems like 0 drop to me.

On the trail

I have put about 90 miles on mine since May.  This includes a few 10+ mile trail runs and a 5 mile beach run.  At first, I had some hot spots on the balls of my foot due to the shoe sliding around on downhills, but I changed the way I laced the shoes to prevent the sliding.  More on that in a minute.  You can definitely feel the terrain.  They are very similar in feel to  Vibram Five Finger Bikilas and almost as flexible.

Quite Flexible

I did compare the two on some gravel rock paths  and the slightly thicker MT10’s did feel better on the gravel.  Overall, I am very pleased with MT10 performance and happy to be able to run in so little shoe on the trails.   So far, though, I have not tried them in slick/wet conditions.  Summer has been very dry here.  I really don’t think they will be offer great traction in wet conditions.  We’ll see.


I only have 2 complaints about the MT10’s.  First, the shoe strings are too long.  Simple enough fix, I guess.  I could replace them, but for now I just double lace them to keep them from hitting the opposite legs when I run.  Second, they need one additional lace hole past what they have.  You know that additional hole in most shoes that is slightly lower than the next to last hole and 99% of people probably don’t use?  We’ll, I use it to lace my shoes so they don’t slip on the heel.  This keeps the shoe from sliding around and helps prevent blisters.  I make do with the last two holes that are there, but I am tempted to add my own additional hole.

Final Thought

I like these shoes so much, I have decided to violate one of my personal rules – not wearing current “active” running shoes for casual use.  What a rebel.


Additional Reviews can be found at the links below:

Natural Running Center



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Xterra Harbison Half Marathon Race Review

Jul 11, 2011 by

Xterra Harbison Half Marathon Race Review



Editors Note: This is a review of the 2011 race. I did not run the 2012 race.

This is my first race review.  The Xterra Harbison Half also had a lot of firsts:

  • The first Xterra Half Marathon at Harbison State Forest
  • My first trail race
  • The first time I’d used my New Balance trail shoes for a race
  • The first time I’d used a hydration back pack to carry water
  • The first time I ran off course in a race

As it can be with first-times, rookie mistakes were made by both me and the race organizers.  Here’s my summary.


The weather was just as expected for the start of the race – about 75 degrees and very humid, but mostly cloudy.   The dew point was around 75 as well.  There was fog on Lake Murray as I crossed the dam on the way to Harbison.  This made for very uncomfortable conditions.  The map showed we’d have 5 aid stations along the way, but an email from the race director advised runners to also carry their own water.  I was already planning this, having received a Camelbak hydration pack for Father’s Day to use on my longer training runs.  As an added heat precaution, I had tested Nuun electrolyte tablets with my pack in training, and decided to use those as well.  I also carried my own Gu Roctane gels.

Entrance Sign to Harbison State Forest

The Race: 2:30 Goal

The course seemed pretty tough for me, the novice trail runner.  The starting line was on a two lane gravel road, and we ran about 1/4 mile uphill before hitting the woods.  I knew the first 4-5 miles were “2 lane” trails, so I was hoping by the time we hit the woods, the field would have settled into its natural order, so much passing would not be needed.  This actually seemed to happen pretty well.  I didn’t have to pass too many people on the trail, and I don’t think I held up too many. So these first 4-5 miles went OK but seemed too fast a pace.  My GPS watch was not tracking properly due to the tree cover and terrain.  What I thought were 10:00 mile splits early were actually closer to 9:00.   By the time we got to the Spider Woman II “one lane” trail, somewhere between miles 4 and 5, we had a small group that was making good progress, but really not needing to pass.  This was good since this section was basically single file.  And, as expected, this 3 mile section was the toughest.  Being in a small group here seemed to push the pace, and I think we covered that section around a 10:00 pace.  At the end of that section, I was wishing the race was a 10K, but I still had 5+ miles to go.  At this point, the running got pretty lonely.  The pack that had stayed together through the tough section  started to spread out.  Occasionally, I’d come up on another runner, and we’d hang together for a bit, talking about humidity, GPS watches or hydration packs.  One man that I ran with a bit fell twice.  He seemed OK, but I eventually moved on past him.  About mile 11, we hit the last aid station, and I was looking forward to  finishing.  The station here gave us a cold wet rag for our faces and it felt great. I dumped ice water on my head and soaked my Buff head cover.  I knew my GPS had been acting up, but at this point, I knew I could make my goal of 2:30, if I just kept steady.

Bonus Miles

By now, I was occasionally (OK, almost always) walking up hills. I didn’t think this last section was  going to be  too difficult, terrain-wise, but my feet were developing  hot spots so I was ready to get this over with.  Unfortunately, this is where the day turn a wrong turn – or rather a missed turn.  Around mile 11.5 or so, we were supposed to hang a right to go back toward the start/finish line. At this point there were a couple of red arrow signs, one seemed to be pointing right, and the other seemed to be pointing straight.  The group of 5 or so that I was tailing went straight, and I followed.  Unfortunately, we were supposed to turn right.  After a mile, I realized the mistake and turned around. I met others who had done the same thing as our group, and they turned around.  When we made it back to the turn, there was a race official there.  Too bad he was not there 30 minutes before hand!  At this point, my feet and I just wanted to get this behind us.  I did a walk/run the last 1.5 miles and made it to the finish about the 2:48 mark.  I’m not sure of my official time because as of Monday night, I cannot find any official results posted.  At the end of the day,  I had run an extra 2 miles. My overall pace per mile was about 11:20, which means I would have been in the 2:25 neighborhood for the official 13.1.

Post Race

As I crossed the line, someone handed me a bottle of water. I’m glad he did.  The previous finishers and/or 5K finishers seemed to have completely drained all the water and Gatorade from the gazebo refreshment area.  One poor guy was not doing well and in need of water, but he could find any.  I didn’t see any one ready to offer first-aid, either.  There were some bagel quarters and cookies, but any fruit was gone.  I saw lots of orange peels but no oranges.  Not the best post-race spread.

One of the guys in the pack that missed the turn (and did not turn around with me) saw me, and said he eventually saw a truck and hitched a ride back to the finish once they realized how off course they had become.

Final Thoughts

I made a few mistakes, as mentioned. I probably ran too fast the first half of the race (as usual).  I also should have had the course map with me.  This being my first trail race, I did not know what to expect for course markings. On the positive side, my hydration pack with electrolytes was a smart move.  I did not get terribly dehydrated, despite the humid conditions.  Also, this was the longest run in the New Balance trail shoes and they did very well.

I’m sure the race organizers will get a lot of negative feedback, so I’m not going to slam them too bad here.  After all, I did not volunteer to help.   Thanks to Marathon Majic and Xterra for putting this on. This was the first time for this event, and there is always room for improvement. I am glad people are organizing events.  Organizing races is a tough endeavor, and trail run logistics look even worse than road races.  So, I expected some first time miscues.  Here are my suggestions for next time:

1. Work out something with the park to include the parking fee in the registration fee.  It is only $5.  The big problem with this was the car line it created at the drop box.  Many people did not heed the advice to have the slip filled out before hand.  The organizers did advise to fill this out before hand, but some did not listen.  Just try to eliminate this part.

2. Better course markings. Again, trail logistics are extremely tough, and I don’t know how others do it, but the small signs for 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 were too small.  I don’t remember seeing 5 or 9, actually.  Also, many of the white markers hanging from the trees fell.  Not sure if runners were pulling or they fell on their own.  Also, a couple of place could have benefited from an arrow instead of or in addition to the small landscaping flags.

3. Make sure enough post race refreshments are available. Already commented on this above.

4.  Different Color t-shirt for different length race.  The technical tees were a nice touch.  I liked the volunteer’s bright yellow color.  The other was white for both 5K and Half.  Do something to distinguish half shirts from 5K shirts.

I can’t say for sure I’ll be back next year.  If I don’t, it will be heat related, not organizer related.  Maybe I’ll volunteer.

The Author After the Race









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Myrtle Beach State Park Run

Jul 6, 2011 by

Myrtle Beach State Park Run

Myrtle Beach State Park Pier

One of my goals in starting this blog was to highlight various state parks, forests and other destinations in South Carolina as places to go run.  My first attempt at such a highlight is Myrtle Beach State Park.

Back in June, my family and I headed to Myrtle Beach for our summer vacation, as I highlighted in a previous post, Vacation Running.  While there, I planned to visit Myrtle Beach State Park to check out the trails for a run.  This summer, one of my main goals is to hit the shade more.  These trails gave me a chance to do just that.

I checked out the official park website to get an idea of what to expect.  The park is located  at the south end of Myrtle Beach, close to the airport. I saw the park had 2 trails,  the Yaupon Trail and the Sculptured Oak Trail, totaling about 1 mile. OK, not much length, but they sounded interesting.   The site provides this descriptions:  “The “Sculptured Oak Nature Trail” provides a rare opportunity to see one of the last stands of maritime forest on the northern coast of South Carolina”. So off I went.

Myrtle Beach State Park Entrance

Park Entrance

The admission to the park is listed on the site, but I was by myself, so it cost $5 to get in.  I drove right in and found a parking space near the pier entrance.  Neither the beach nor the facilities were crowded.  There were several shelters and picnic tables for use.  A few families appeared to be having parties at shelters.  I checked out the pier and the beach before I headed back up to the trail entrance.  Heading down the trail was like stepping into another world.

Trail Beginning

The run was not difficult at all.
Of course, it was pretty much flat, and the main obstacles were a few roots.  I was wearing my New Balance Minimus Trail shoes, but any shoe would do for this trail.  This would probably be a good trail for a beginner barefoot runner to try as well.



Myrtle Beach State Park Pond

Entrance to Sculptured Oak Trail


The paths were a little less than a mile total, so I went down to the pond first, but the lack rain had left it pretty much dried up.  I then went back down the main trail and hung a right down the Yaupon trail until it came out in the parking lot near the beach.



A little ways back up to the left was the entrance to the Scultpured Oak trail. I took it back to the trail beginning. Overall, on the paths, I covered a bit less than 2 miles.  I then decided to go for 3 total and ran on the road through the campground section of the park.

Plank Bridge on Trail

At the end of 3 miles, the temperatures were getting pretty warm, and I was about out of water in my handheld bottle, so I called it a day and headed back to the condo. Overall, I enjoyed the trip.  $5 well spent.  If you are visiting the Myrtle Beach area, take the family for a visit to the park.  There were additional  activities and a playground in the park to occupy them for a bit while you run.  Better yet, take them with you on the trail. POFIFOTO!

Beautiful Live Oak



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