VftR: 10/25/12 and Merrell Bare Access 2 ReviewWriten by: Hank Wethington
Posted on 27 October 2012
Went out with the Running Warehouse group tonight. Merrell was there letting us try out their shoes. As I already run using forefoot/mid foot strike, I’ve been curious how I would take to a minimalist shoe. My current shoes, Brooks Pure Flow, have a 4mm drop but have a decent amount of foam under foot and a large toe box. Moving to a zero drop would be noticeable, but more importantly, the lack of foam would be noticeable.
The group runs are 5.8 miles and I average about a 10min/mile pace. I used the Road Glove first to run around the parking lot to get a feel. The lack of any foam under foot was an odd feeling. Even with my running style I felt that I couldn’t complete 5.8 miles on my first run with them, so I switched them out for the Bare Access 2. I immediately was at ease since there’s some foam, and the zero drop encouraged the correct running form. How would I feel on the long run though?
Heading out, I was warm from the jogs around the lot and was ready to get into my groove. Maybe it was the shoes, or maybe it was running with a coworker who is faster, but I felt like I had picked the pace up. As I hit the two mile mark, I noticed I had come out the gate a little fast, but still felt strong. The shoes felt great. They were light and allowed me feet to do the work. I ran mostly on pavement/asphalt with the occasional trip into the dirt on the side of the road. I did feel some larger pebbles but the ordinary stuff didn’t poke through.
As I hit mile 3, I still felt good, and continued to run what felt was the right pace. I wasn’t using MiCoach for pace setting, so I was running purely by feel. My coworker peeled off (to add some trail milage) and I thought I slowed down a little. It wasn’t until mile 5, when two other runners caught up to me, that I became aware that the shoes were pretty thin. I started to feel a little “bruising” on the balls of my feet. Not real bruising, but I was noticing the impact.
By the end of the run, I was still feeling good, but was happy the end had come. Not because if the shoes… But because I don’t run more than 5 miles very much! We sat around, had water and talked about the shoes. I looked at my phone to see my time and pace and was shocked. I had run a a 9:18/mile pace, finishing in 54 minutes. That’s awfully fast for me.
Will I buy them? Actually, I think I will. I’ll need more runs for me to feel comfortable going longer mileage, but for everyday, they’re great. As I already run in a similar style, I didn’t notice any additional calf tightness, which is common for someone moving from traditional running shoes (typically a 12mm drop). Looking at the shoe, the sole will hold up great, and the foam should be fine well into my mileage for the year. I’d live to hear if anyone has feedback on how long the foam has lasted or held up into the 300 mile range.
I hope this review helps someone out there. If you already run forefoot/mid foot style, give Merrell a try. I like the idea of a more traditional looking shoe over the toe shoes, so I would choose Merrell over Vibrams 5 fingers.
#Update: Ordered my very own Bare Access 2 and can’t wait to start putting mileage on them.