I feel like I'm having a hard time finding a shoe that has a few essentials:
- big forefoot with plenty of room for my toes to spread out
- durable upper and outsole that can last 250 miles without any wearing through in either place
- 4 to 8 mm heel to toe drop
- a decent amount of structure in the heel, a minimal amount of stability through the running gait
The Topo Ultrafly came pretty close. It showed wear in the upper - burning holes through on both sides just past 100 miles was the only demerit. Not sure why, but I'm liking the shoes enough to continue using them as walk-arounds and ordered another pair to see how they wear.
The Hoka Clayton 2 checked all the boxes. However, they gave me a nasty blister along my arch below my big toe joint which is a common issue in the originals and happens to some in the 2s as well.
So my search continued. Joanna at Pacers Running on 14th Street suggested trying out the New Balance 1080 v7 because of the heel drop and big forefoot specs. I was open to trying a shoe that I hadn't used since the original Fresh Foam 980 (review by Road Trail Run) from several years ago. It was a pretty light and spacious shoe, but I found the foam a little dead on the energy return.
Normally, I avoid shoes over 10 ounces - and the 1080v7s weigh in at 10.8. But I was getting pretty desperate to find a shoe that gave me some relief from nagging heel pain and felt like trying an 8mm drop shoe made sense.
I like this shoes a lot. I wish they were lighter by an ounce or two, but I can deal with it - it is a smooth shoe to run in, so whatever impact the weight has it's offset by the nice gait I have while running in them. I have run 110+ miles in them to date, and they are holding up nicely on the outside heel spot where I have extra wear. Cross fingers, but I hope I can get 250 miles+ on these before retiring them.
The upper: nice mesh that's pretty breathable. I've run in 95 degree temps with 100% humidity and I haven't found them to be as uncomfortable as a lot of shoes in those conditions. The laces are a good length, but I found the best locked down fit with using the last lace hole on the shoe with a looped tie.
There is an internal bootie in these. They are fairly tight feeling when you first put them on, but they stretch to fit very nicely. I usually like a loose fit but these are comfortable for me. Some have complained about a rubbing seam inside the bootie, but I don't feel it.
The insole is pretty standard - nothing to report here which is what I like. Medium high arch, not super soft. The midsole is a little firmer than even the Fresh Foam 980 which is ok but could go for a touch softer.
The outsole is the kind of durable rubber I like on shoes, with a couple of breaks in the forefoot and the midfoot to increase flexibility. The wear is visible but not excessive on the heel area, so I hope it can handle another 150 miles or so without wearing through straight to the midsole foam. We'll see... The outsole is grippy enough for pavement, but seems to retain mud and dirt until the shoes get a good knock together.