The emerging company’s trail shoes are durable and comfortable. They perform well for the weekend warrior and elite mountain running champion Joe Gray.
By Henry Howard
I didn’t see the stick hidden in the dirt of the shady trail during the early second half of a 16-mile training run. But I felt it lodge into the top of my sneaker between my toes and top of my foot.
The stick knocked me off balance so much that all four limbs were flailing wildly about, although my right hand instinctively reached over to pause my Garmin. (First things first, right runners?)
As I stopped and began to piece together exactly what happened, I realized that my foot was fine, after that initial jolt. I give full credit to the padding in the Scott Kinabalu trail shoes, which I had taken on their maiden run.
Scott shoes perform on roads, trails and even streams
Since then, I’ve put them through another 40 miles or so of trail running. Thankfully, there has not been a repeat attack by a stick. There was a footbridge inundated by a swollen river, however.
The Scotts performed extremely well, drying faster than I anticipated both times I ran across the swollen stream. The company’s website credits its “super-hydrophobic treatment hydro shield” for allowing trail runners to continue their sport even when the weather turns wet and cold.
I believe it. I am sold on the feel, comfort, technology and performance of Scotts trail shoes. You may not have heard of Scotts before, but Competitor.com listed the company as one of the up-and-coming shoe brands in its December 2014 article about top trends for this year.
Also at the end of last year, Scott athlete Joseph Gray was named the 2014 USA Mountain Runner of the Year by the United States Track and Field Association for the fifth time in his career. Gray, 31, is the first African-American to win the USA Mountain Running National Championships.
I interviewed Gray about his sport, career and shoes.
Six questions with an elite mountain runner
Explain mountain running and skyrunning, to me. What is the difference between mountain running, skyrunning and ultramarathons?
Mountain running is best described as a trail race with more significant gains and steeper grades. You are required to run faster typically over mountainous terrain in terms of cadence. Terrain can vary from technical to moderately technical.
Skyrunning is similar to mountain running except for the fact that skyrunning is much steeper and also makes use of more technical terrain. So, your cadence is much slower and you may at times need to use hands to climb or maneuver.
Ultramarathons are diverse in the fact that they could be technical or non technical and not much gain (flattish). All ultras are 26.3 miles or longer over natural terrain. Ultras also are slower cadence, so in terms of speed, the race is much slower and becomes a race of attrition.
How did you get into the sport of mountain running?
I had always loved cross-country racing and felt strong on hills. A friend told me about a mountain race and shortly after I tried my hand at it and fell in love with the sport instantly.
You run a variety of races — from 10-milers to the Boston Marathon to mountain and skyrunning races. How do you balance the various disciplines in your training?
I think it’s less about balancing them in training and more about being mentally competitive. For example, I may train on the trails for months but when it comes to racing on a road or in cross country during that period I still have the will to win and push myself to the limit. I don’t necessarily have to focus on one specific genre to feel strong against the competition more so than just being competitive mentally. I tell athletes at times that it’s not about training solely when it comes to being a winner. It’s a mindset. Either you have it or you don’t have the will to attain it. Running is running and no matter what type of race you are doing, you either try to be competitive or you make excuses as to why you aren’t competitive in that race.
What are your running goals for 2015 and beyond?
To improve upon everything I did in 2014.
Where is/are your favorite place(s) to run?
The Valais region of Switzerland and around the Fjords of Norway
You wear Scott Shoes. Tell me why you prefer those for your training and competition.
Scott Sports has been really consistent with making premium shoes for a variety of terrains. For me, I love competing in different arenas yearly so I needed a company behind me that could provide shoes that would allow me to compete with the best in the mountains as well as the roads
Name: Joseph Gray
Hometown: Lakewood, Wash.
Number of years running: 18
How many miles a week do you typically run: 70-95
Point of pride: Being the first African-American to win the USA Mt. Running National Title
Favorite race distance: No favorite, it all depends on the time of the year for me!
Favorite pre-race or training food/drink: SOS Rehydrate to get my electrolytes tuned up!
Favorite or inspirational song to run to: I like Earth Wind and Fire and also Drake
Favorite or inspirational mantra/phrase: “Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.” Benjamin Disraeli
Where can other runners connect or follow you:
Twitter: @Joegeezi. Instagram: @Joegeezi, Athletebiz.com/joseph-gray