Inov-8 Race Ultra 270 First Impressions
I had been patiently awaiting the release of the Inov-8 Race Ultra 270s from the moment I first heard about them. When Inov-8 released the Race Ultra 290 I was excited to try it until I read it had an 8mm drop. To date, my go-to trail shoe has been the Inov-8 Trailroc 245 (I’ve put rougly 340 miles on them). With a 6mm footbed, and a 3mm heel to toe drop, it’s a fairly minimal trail shoe. It still has a rockplate though to protect from a direct impact. With my trail shoes having a 3mm drop, and my road shoes having a 4mm drop, I was not in the market to go with “more shoe.” Enter the Race Ultra 270. It has all of the features of the 290, making it ideal for longer distances over varied terrain, but with a 4mm drop. My intent is to use these for the Kettle Moraine 100k this June.
Here is what Inov-8 has to say about them.
The new lighter, racing version of the race ultra™ weighs in at just 270g and brings the athlete closer to the terrain with its reduced 4mm drop. Offers optimal cushioning and comfort for the long-distance athlete racing over trails and mountains, while also delivering increased levels of proprioception. A flatter outsole ensures a stable ride when fatigue sets in. Clip a race ultra™ gaiter onto inov-8’s unique on-the-shoe attachment system to ensure all debris is kept at bay.
I picked my pair up at my favorite local running store, Runwell, last weekend, and finally got to take them on a 16 mile test run on the Chubb Trail today.
The shoes performed admirably in the myriad of conditions I encountered. Leaves, rocks, uneven frozen ground (due to terrible ruts caused by mountain bikers and horse hooves), ice, and eventually mud as temps began to rise. I ran primarily on singletrack, but there was a small stretch of road as well.
One of the most common criticism I’ve read and heard regarding Inov-8’s shoes is that they are very firm, and provide little energy return. I personally rely on the natural springs found in the body (arch, achilles, etc) to provide energy return, not my shoe. The 270s manage to provide ample cushion and protection while still feeling nimble. I was able to charge the uphills, crash the downhills, and run the flats without ever feeling like the shoes were in the way. I actually liked running the flats and harder surfaces in these better than my trailrocs. It almost felt more like a road shoe in that regard. The upper and laces have been improved. The upper appears to be far more durable than the trailroc’s cloth material, so hopefully that will be the end of tiny tears that allow debris to sneak in. The toebox is wider, and perfectly roomy for my foot. My foot felt secure, never sloppy, and the laces actually stayed tied without the need to double knot. I never experienced any hot spots or blisters. Overall, I’d say the shoe disappeared and just allowed me to enjoy the run, and after 16 miles my feet still felt fresh. I look forward to seeing how the shoes improve as they are broken in, and hopefully I can still sing their praises as my runs grow longer, and even several hundred miles from now.