Below are a couple paragraphs analyzing the performance of Altra's newly released Golden Spike. Head over to RoadTrailRun.com for my full length review, complete with photos and more!
Altra Golden Spike: Unique and Radical Racer Tackles Track and Trail
The upper of the Altra Golden Spike is superb. As Altra describes it, “the shoe is made of ultra lightweight, hydrophobic mesh,” and this was noticeable, considering one of the first long test runs I took them on was during a torrential downpour in the woods. My feet of course became soaked after a couple muddy miles, but the shoes did not hold onto any of the water and guck, wicking it all away surprisingly well. The fit of the Golden Spikes is true to size, although when I first slipped them on, they felt somewhat loose compared to the typical snugness of a cross-country or track spike. This feeling of freedom was welcomed though, as they were not at all sloppy running in, and after several miles in them, my feet had no complaints.
When I first took these shoes out of the box and slipped them onto my feet, I immediately noticed how firm the midsole was compared to the Altra One 2.5’s I’ve been training in for the last 1-2 years. The One 2.5 has been my go-to shoe for road, track, and trail running due to the superlight, zero-drop aspects it embodies, as well as the generous toe box which really lets you splay out your foot for maximum grip, balance, and impact distribution. The one downside to this shoe for me though is that it is a tad too soft for any real racing, in which I would prefer a slightly lighter shoe with more responsiveness and spring. Having the Golden Spikes on my feet, I could already tell I had found a shoe from Altra that was a solution to both of these problems. When running in them, they had a smooth and responsive toe-off, and I could barely notice them on my feet. The cushioning was adequate as well (although even the most minimal shoes I am happy with in terms of the cushioning they provide), and for what little midsole was there, it had a lot to offer.
Outsole, traction for various surfaces
I was really impressed with the design of the Golden Spike’s outsole. A white, softer, more plush foam made up the majority of the outsole, while a yellow, more durable rubber material was used in the forefoot as well as a small area around the heel. This rubber was super grippy,, and combined with the the five golden spikes on each foot, it was extremely easy to dug into the grass and trail, especially when hills were a part of the equation. Running on the track felt great in them too, and having that foot-shaped design was a game changer when it came to fast starts and accelerating around turns.
How they were used, miles, terrain, races, workouts, etc…
Although it might not be recommended, I used these shoes for practically everything. I began by taking them on a few of my favorite trails around where I live, on routes that combined both road and off-road running. I then ventured onto the track with them, and hammered through some hard and long speed workouts with them. After having received them in the mail at the beginning of the week, and using them for the majority of my training runs and workouts, I decided to include the Golden Spikes in my racing arsenal when I headed up to York, Maine on a Saturday morning for the Big A 50K. A course that “combines singletrack and ATV trails in the Mount Agamenticus Conservation area with moderate to technical footing,” I was ready to test these shoes to their extreme, and boy did they kill it. Finishing 1st overall by 23 minutes, and breaking the previous course record by over 7 minutes, the morning couldn’t have gone much better. The Big A 50K course begins on the summit of Mount Agamenticus, and proceeds by running up and down the entire mountain a total of three times for a combined 5,800ish feet of elevation over 50 kilometers. At the beginning, I was a bit worried about slipping and sliding as I hurtled down the steep mountain trails, running over lots of exposed rock faces along the way, but once I got into my groove, the miles whizzed by, and the airy, weightless feeling of the Golden Spikes on my feet was all I needed to tackle the tough terrain and wind my way through roots and rocks to a victory.
How did they perform on various surfaces, the ride and any comments on durability
The Golden Spikes performed like a champ on every surface I took them on (road, track, trail, and mountain), although I found their specialty to be on muddy, dirt trails where speed, nimbleness, and grip were key (hmmm… sounds like a cross-country race!). After running and racing over 100 miles in them, I am especially excited by how well they have held up after all my use and abuse. The upper, although a different shade of blue after all the grime they’ve seen, is still intact, and the outsole has been chewed up a bit in the forefoot and around the spots for the spikelets themselves, but otherwise it has held up well and the shoes have plenty of use left for future adventures I plan on taking them on.
Who and what would you recommend them for understanding that most would not run in such a shoe for a rocky 50K
First and foremost, I would recommend the Golden Spikes to any competitive cross-country athlete, and any trackster running distances of the mile or longer. Having raced in many different cross-country and track spikes from an assortment of shoe brands, I can say that not many of them will hold up as well as the Golden Spike after running over 100 miles in them. Congrats to Altra for their success in making a serious racer that is significantly more durable than all the competition.
Along with their obvious use for cross-country and track, I think the Golden Spike is a terrific option for an individual who wants a nimble and lightweight shoe for a trail race, while still hoping for an aggressive tread to handle the roots and rocks that exist along any given course.
What would you compare them to in shoes you have run?
The Altra Golden Spike is in a class of its own. Due to the fact that it is extremely lightweight while still being surprisingly aggressive and and durable, it is hard to compare this shoe to another. If I had to compare them to another shoe on the market, I would say they have the firmness and general lightness of the Pearl Izumi EM Road N0, and the cross-country aggressiveness of really any spike. I wear the Nike Zoom Streak LT 2 for the majority of my road and trail races, no matter what the distance (done 5Ks in them as well as 50-Milers), so it is great to have an alternative to this shoe that can handle the more technical terrain of New England with ease.
A Score out of 5 (subtract tenths)
Total Score: 4.8 out of 5… I’d award them a gold medal!
-.1 for the length of the shoe laces (Compared to your typical track or cross-country spike, the laces on the Golden Spike are a little too flimsy and a little too long. This led me to be cautious about tripping over them, and also resulted in two knots forming. I ended up tucking the laces underneath the laces further down the shoe).
-.1 for the abrasive inside around the tongue attachment point (Although I did not notice anything my first couple of runs in the Golden Spike, I realized soon after my 50K win on Mount Agamenticus that a piece of the shoe was cutting into both of my feet, around where the tongue attaches to the rest of the upper. Although it wasn’t painful, it was irritating, and this was probably exacerbated by the fact that I was running so long and far in them, and that I do not ever wear socks on my feet. The problem was a quick fix though with a little shoe surgery. I removed the laces from each shoe, held back the tongue, and trimmed a small piece of sharp fabric off both shoes, and this did the trick).