Well, it was a bloody hard decision to give up on this barefoot trail quest but I after the last couple weeks of injuries I feel it's time to let it go.
In the last couple weeks we've seen the last of daylight saving time and the mornings have been quite dark so a headlamp has become a necessity again. This fateful morning I was still going a little slow from the stone bruise I sustained from a 20km long run on the weekend. I was on my way back to the car from an 8km out-and-back when I kicked my big toe and I damn near kicked the end of it off! After letting slip with a few choice words I ripped the flap of skin off my toe and headed for the car.
The following weekend I thought I would have a crack at one more long run before giving up this quest. I was at about the 15km mark heading back to where I started when I kicked the end of my already kicked big toe. This time I took of all the new skin plus a whole lot of additional skin. To say it hurt was an understatement. A few hundred metres down the road still feeling pretty battered I was making my way down a descent and hooked my last two toes on a tree root and near broke them off. In a fit of rage I stopped and tried to rip the tree root out of the ground but it wouldn't budge. Now, funny as hell, as I gave up on the tree root and looked up I saw two people walking towards me trying not to laugh. Obviously they saw the whole thing but weren't game to say a word. I just looked at them and kept moving, albeit slowly and painfully.
Back at the car I washed my feet of and had a good look. I had no skin left on my big toe, a purple little toe that looked likely broken (turns out it wasn't) and a colourful arch from a still healing stone bruise. This sum total was enough to solidify my decision to don on the shoes again.
Now the big decision was what shoes was I now going to wear? After a couple years with the freedom of bare feet I was not enthused about stuffing them in foot gaols again. After a big of a google I came across some Vibram V-Trails that looked like they would really fit the bill. Feeling a little bit excited I ordered a pair and waited with anticipation for them to arrive.
A few days later the friendly courier dropped my new Vibrams off and man they were amazing. Perfect, snug fit and what felt like just enough protection. I couldn't wait to give them a try so a little run up and down my driveway and backyard was enough to get me super excited about testing them on a trail. However a trail test would have to wait another day until Night Owls & Possums, which was fine. My toe still desperately needed some healing so another day or so would really help.
Possums night came around and it was time to debut my new shoes and allow everyone to have a crack at me about wearing shoes again. It was actually pretty funny, and hey, I give it as good as I get it so it was all good fun.
Setting off along the trail my first impression was incredible. Super comfortable and my toes could still move independently, which was great. Over some of the rougher terrain the sole provided enough protection and still gave near-barefoot ground feel. I finished the 8km loop with a smile and was keen to rack up some more kilometres to really see how these settle in.
The next morning I struck out for a very rainy 20km loop and they performed great. Superb grip and great water drainage so they never felt heavy while soggy. I think I may be on to a winner.
Might have to review these again after a few hundred kilometres for comparison.