Merrell Christmas to All and to All a Good Trail Run

Christmas came a little early this year to this runner. Not that couldn’t have waited until Christmas. I totally could have. Unfortunately, my training couldn’t.

Thanksgiving morning I had the opportunity to meet up with some run buddies at Rails to Trails for a pre-turkey binge run. This was my first time running the trail in my beloved Vibram Bikilas. The small gravel and dirt portions were fine. The rocky sections – not so much. I had to start considering whether or not these were, in fact, the only shoe I would ever need.

Understand that barefoot and minimalist running changed a lot about who I am as a runner and a person. It was the catalyst into a more natural approach to life in general. It solved my knee and hip issues and shaved my time. Actual barefoot running is one of the most fun things I have done in a long time. Talk about feeling 8 years old again! Couple that with the fact that the last time I ran in “regular” shoes, I got shin splints (a condition I am still dealing with).

2012-07-23 06.52.57I am not interested in “real” shoes.

However, I am not unreasonable. I am not interested in rock bruises either.

Then came the run out at Savage Island. This is a beautiful run…but it is rocky in sections. The choice was clear. If I was going to run a 50k in January on rough terrain, I needed new shoes now.

So where in Richmond Hill does a runner go for new shoes? Georgia Game Changers of course! Sandra and I went through a couple of options and I narrowed it down to two. Awesomely enough, Sandra has a BOX OF ROCKS in the store so that I could get a real idea of the differences. The best method I found of choosing between the two was to wear each of them at the same time time.

Merrell Mix MastersI preferred the other shoe as it was thinner and closer in feel to my Bikilas. However, the whole reason I needed new shoes was protection from rough terrain. And the Merrell Mix Masters in that Island Green was an awesome looking shoe!

After logging a few runs in them I can tell you this – I bought a great shoe.

In all honesty, I do not like then as much as my Vibrams. However, I never expected to. While they only outweigh the Bikilas by less than 5 ounces, they feel heavy and clunky on my feet. This feeling has decreased a bit over time. InjinjiI have also found that wearing the Injinji socks gives a little normalcy to my feet even when I am not in the Vibrams.

However, the benefits clearly overcome this as they perform beautifully for the purpose for which I bought them.

They have a slight 4mm drop from heel to toe. This is small enough so that I don’t feel my stride or strike affected a whole lot by the change. The first mile or so takes a bit more concentration, but it settles in quickly.

I can feel the ground without feeling the ground. The sole is thick enough to protect the balls of my feet from the rougher surfaces. However, it is still thin enough that I can feel the ground and make stride corrections naturally.

My time still tracks with my Bikilas. I don’t have to slow down or get nervous while crossing the tougher terrain.

Look out Ledesma Rails to Trails 50k. I am geared up now 🙂

Other notes

  • shoe costs around $100 and comes in a variety of colors (none as awesome as the Island Green though)
  • I usually wear a size 9. I bought a 10. It feels big for about the first mile and then settles in fine. My foot feels able to spread, stretch, and expand. And…I haven’t lost a toenail yet!
  • I have tried different varieties of Injinji socks. Midweight has been my go to in the Bikilas but the thinner ones work fine in the Merrells
  • When in doubt, ask Sandra
  • The Ledesma Rails to Trails run offers 5k and 25k options as well so click on over and sign up. You can do a 5k. If you just ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half, you can do a 25k. If you did the full, the 50k is only a few more miles. Let’s go!
  • I have received no compensation for any of the products listed in this article (but I am totally open to the idea 😉 )


  1. I’ve been considering these shoes. I’m also doing a trail 50k in January at Ft Bragg. definitely stopping by Game changers to try them. Thank you 🙂

  2. I need to buy a good pair of trail shoes (maybe this weekend). Last weekend’s race had me feeling uneasy with what I was wearing… I’ve looked at the vibram’s, but have never run in any. But I’m seriously considering it or some other pair of minimalist shoes. (Sigh, why does shoe buying have to be so difficult).

    Anyway, good luck on your 50k! You’re going to crush it!

  3. Your timing is perfect! One of my goals for 2013 is to run my first 50 miler and that means more trail running. Up until now I’ve run in a spare pair of street running shoes on the trails. With transitioning to Newtons and the increase trail running I need trail specific shoes! Thanks for the recommendation!

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