Whenever someone gives me that crazy look when I mention I like to run outside during the winter, I’m quick to espouse the benefits of the practice (peace, love, and enhanced cardio effort). But, I am also willing to admit that it isn’t always great. That there are days I almost wish I owned a treadmill. The days when it is really stinking cold outside and your feet are still sore and tired from the previous day’s run on bumpy and unforgiving ice and hard-packed snow. Thankfully, the good souls at Scott made a pair of shoes for days like that. The Scott eRide Icerunner* (originally $150… now available for much less) shoe comes in both a gaiter-ed and ‘low-top’ version. I tried to give the former style a good time during some of the better snow storms that have encountered last spring here in the Anchorage bowl. *The low version of the Icerunner is now the Winterrunner.
Just the name of Scott’s waterproof/breathable material, the “ion-mask,” sounds like they should be sending royalties to Gene Roddenberry’s estate. And, their description of its qualities only serves to heighten the feeling that you are strapping something space age to your feet (phrases such as “molecularly bonded” and “over one thousand-times thinner than a human hair”). They promise that the uppers will not only keep the feet dry and let them breathe, but that they are also extremely durable and stain resistant. All the fancy verbiage aside, Scott does have a product that delivers. I never had any problems with water entering from the outside of the shoe, both in snow and slush. And, a friend recently commented that I needed to run more because the shoes looked too new. The uppers are very durable and only have a few scuffs to the shiny vinyl to show for the miles they have seen. The quick-lace system they use (reminiscent of Salomon’s lacing system) does exactly what one would want. I found the gaiter to be a mixed bag. First, I made some noise in my review of the Winter MT110’s about the under-sized zipper that New Balance chose to use (it continues snag). Scott went with a zipper one or two sizes up from the MT110’s and I have had zero problems with them. It may add a gram or two more weight (the entire shoe comes in at a solid 10.3 ounces/310 grams), but the function is worth it. However, the gaiter did not cinch down around my ankle as tight as I would like. And, while this only resulted in a few cold trickles down the Achilles, it is still baffling to me why more companies don’t include some kind of adjustable closure on gaiters. Also, the weight of the material in the gaiter and upper was heavy enough that it makes a slight sound when it springs back from flex (thock!). Nothing obnoxious, but noticeable.
Perhaps I am just in desperate need of more recovery shoes, but the midsole on the Icerunners has been a welcome platform on many days. With an 11mm drop height and the aforementioned weight of the shoe, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there is a lot of cushion available for the feet. Even though the midsole was very soft underneath, the last did a great job of locking my heel in. I did experience some unwelcome movement near the medial side of the ball of my feet. But this is a consistent issue for me with my high/narrow/skinny feet. Scott has put their “eRide” system into the Icerunner. This style has been seen in recent years in a few other companies. It essentially boils down to a rocker- style midsole, which is meant to produce a midfoot strike by tapering up the heel and toe. I had not run in a pair of shoes with this style of midsole yet (aside from the Brooks Pure series, which aren’t as pronounced), and it did take some adjustment as it felt like my midfoot hit much sooner than expected.
Moving distinctly away from aggressive lugs, Scott took winter trail conditions on in a new way with a low lug-height and high-contact outsole. They are counting on the increased friction from the sticky, Vibram “ice trek” rubber to pull you out of a bad situation. On flat and moderate slopes, this system worked great. After a few very cautious runs, I found myself running confidently in most winter conditions (ice hiding a 1/4″ under snow just can’t be helped). They also shed snow well from the small lugs. The soles did not do as well on significant slopes. Those terrains may simply be outside of what Scott expected for this design. I would consistently lose a quarter-to-half a stride slipping back going up and be twice as cautious coming down.
The Icerunner really is a wonderful shoe for the cold, dark days of winter when the miles have to be done and the body and spirit just aren’t willing. They are not shoes for me for ‘pace’ days. Then again, those days are infrequent when the weather isn’t behaving. Scott did a fine job assembling a winter shoe and these would help many cold-toed runners access the snowy peace that winter runs bring to our lives.