It’s rare that I await a shoe with as much anticipation as I did for the Montrail Streak. I fell in love with the shoe when I tested a preliminary version of the Streak back in August and September of 2007. Having worn the production model for many months, I can now say that I’m a big fan of the Montrail Streak.
If I had to describe the Streaks in a word, it would be “fast.” They are relatively lightweight (11.7 oz/ women’s 9.8 oz) for a trail shoe of a traditional build (i.e., not a fell running inspired design a la most of Inov-8’s product line), which makes them fast, but they also just feel fast. Allow me a couple more words to summarize the Streak and I’d say they are a neutral, lightweight, breathable trail shoe that is good on a wide variety of surfaces and has a feel more akin to a road trainer than many trail shoes. The Montrail website describes the Streak as “Designed for use on a variety of surfaces from rock and mud to grass and dirt. This lightweight and responsive shoe is designed for the trail runner with a need for speed.” I’d agree with this description.
My initial run in the Streaks back in August 2007 was a road run. The easily passed the “these shoes don’t suck” test and handled the road well. I didn’t feel likely I was wearing clunky, stiff trail shoes nor did I feel like I was under protected from pounding on the roads.
After my initial road run in the Streaks, I took them out West for a 10-day trail running vacation in the Wasatch Mountains. Here’s what I had to say about my first two trail runs in the Streaks:
Yesterday was a five mile run, three miles on trail and two miles off. The shoes felt smooth on the trail and I’d feel comfortable wearing them for stretch on all but the most gnarly trail. As would be expected of a lighter-weight trail shoe, they aren’t as protective against rocks as I experienced on a pointy rock section of trail. The streaks transitioned well from the trail to the road on the latter section of my run. I could easily wear them in an ultra with both trails and roads like the Leadville 100.
This morning I ran in them in the Rick’s Basin section of the Grand Teton 100 course. I’m pretty sure, these are the fast, tasty trails for which the Streak were designed. I wanted to run up the hills and had plenty of confidence rolling down the winding trail through the aspens. Fun. Not like the Highlander, want to sprint until I drop fun, but want to run quickly all day sort of fun.
Although I never wrote about it, I wore the Streak when I paced for 60 miles over the course of two days at the Grand Teton 100. Although I had barely logged 20 miles in the Streaks to that point, they did not give me any problems as one might expect in logging so many miles in shoes with which they are unfamiliar. I attributed this in part to the fact that Streaks moved much like my Asics 21X0 road shoes and, therefore, I could keep my normal gait. The Grand Teton course had a wide variety of footing conditions including standard dirt single track, rooty dirt trails, pavement, and gravelly downhills. The Streaks were comfortable and performed adequately on this wide array of surfaces.
A week later, I paced a friend for the final 39 miles of the Wasatch 100. The first 14 miles of pacing included nice single track with the occasional rooty or gravely patch, as well as a long downhill stretch on the roads. As I would have suspected from my experience at Grand Teton, the Streaks handled these situations very well. However, I was surprised at how well the Streaks handled the final 25 miles of Wasatch. Anyone who’s run that stretch knows that it’s one of the toughest stretches in ultrarunning. One reason why this stretch is so difficult is that it includes some terribly frustrating steep downhills on loose rock. You have to bomb these downhills (which I might add is either cruel or impossible after the first 75 miles of Wasatch) or descend very slowly and deliberately. The problem is that if you are moving quickly and try to brake you’re bound to fall. I felt comfortable enough in the Streaks to let go on these gnarly downhills, as I was confident that the soles would grip the rock well and that the shoe would offer sufficient support should I need it.