New Balance Minimus MT1010V2 Trail Shoe Review
I have to confess that I’ve been a huge fan of New Balance shoes ever since reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougal. New Balance was one of the first companies to embrace the minimal shoe phenomenon, especially with the Vibram FiveFingers shoes. Although I enjoy training in the Vibram FiveFingers, I find they are not well-suited for racing because they take to long to put on and you have to be far too mindful of your steps when racing off-road. So, I began exploring different minimal shoes by New Balance. Actually, the Minimus 1010V2 represents a pull-back from the more purist minimal shoes for runners who still want the lightweight barefoot feel, but with some extra protection from rocks, pebbles, sticks, stones, roots, branches, and other elements of the trail.
Evolution of the Shoe
The MT family of shoes began with the MT10, still one of the most popular trail running shoes on the market, and still a shoe I keep in my arsenal. The MT10 is super lightweight, 4mm drop, trail running shoe. It’s an ideal step-up from a thin FiveFinger shoe, but is perhaps too thin to run over rocky fireroads unless you are extremely mindful of the path you choose. If you’re not racing, this type of mindful foot placement can actually be a desirable experience. Personally, I winced one too many times with these shoes where I usually run, so I jumped at the newer MT1010 when it came out. The 1010 had three significant changes over the original MT10. First, it put a rock plate in the forefoot, which I found a welcome improvement. Second, New Balance removed the strap that went over the top of the foot on the MT10. Many people with wider and larger feet complained about the strap cutting off the circulation in their feet. I never had that problem, but I don’t have wide feet. The third change in the MT1010 was a widened toe box, allowing the foot to splay more naturally.
These last two changes were a welcome relief to many wide footed runners who felt the strap of the original MT10 strained their foot. I had a different experience, however, and suddenly felt my foot was a bit too lose in the toe once I switched to the 1010. This was particularly amplified when running downhill where I would feel my foot slipping forward and side-to-side within the foot. You’ll also find many complaints about the MT1010 falling apart after a few runs due to poor construction. Luckily, I never experienced that problem even though I ran in mud and rain, etc. Nevertheless, I’ve seen photos of destroyed MT1010’s and believe there may have been some problems with the manufacturing quality.
With the introduction of the MT1010V2, New Balance decided to keep the rock plate and the wide toe box of the MT10, but added some sidewall reinforcements and gave it a bit more cushion in the tongue and body of the shoe. The MT1010V2 came out just as many runners were pulling back from pure minimal running shoes due to injuries and/or personal preference. In my mind, its a nearly perfect trail running shoe, especially for distances shorter than a half-marathon.
I have what I consider to be an average width foot – not thin, but not wide. This is significant because the MT10 with its top strap fit my foot very snuggly. Both the MT1010 and the MT1010V2 have a wide toe box and tend to run about a half-size to a full-size larger than normal. I bought the MT1010v2 a half-size smaller than the MT10 and my foot still feels a little loose in the tow box. Of course, proponents of barefoot running claim that shoes should be wide to let the foot splay naturally, and I’ve been getting use to feel of my toes splaying inside the shoe. The MT1010 does allow the foot to act a bit more naturally in that regard, and the wide toe box is likely a welcome feature for wide-footed runners in general.
The MT1010 is a fantastic minimal trail running shoe. It’s lightweight, the 4mm drop is subtle enough so that you are still forced to strike with your midfoot to forefoot, and the built-in rock plate saves you from wincing down the rocky fireroads every time you land on a rock or pebble. Also, the reinforced sidewalls seem to be effective as I have not heard any complaints about the shoes falling apart, as was the case with the MT1010. I used this shoe running in the 2013 Xterra World Championship off-road triathlon and they performed extremely well. The course was really sandy and dusty and tread on the MT1010V2 stuck to the ground like claws. Also, there was a beach run finish to the race, and I never experienced sand getting inside the shoe.
One thing that bugged me a bit about this shoe is the high heal. Most running shoes cut out a dip in the back where the achilles tendon comes off of the heal. The high heel on the MT1010V2 did give me a blister one time before a crucial race, and I was stuck dealing with bandaids in the transition. Since then, my foot has toughened up, so maybe its just a matter of adjusting to the shoe. Also, I tried these shoes in a half-marathon road race, which I think was a mistake. I ended up having a mild case of metatarsalgia from pounding my feet on the pavement for an hour and a half without any cushion. In my opinion, these shoes are ideal for trails and/or shorter distances. I’ll choose a shoe with more padding for longer road races.
The MT1010v2 is an awesome trail running shoe for people with a little wider feet or who prefer space for natural toe splay.