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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Balance MT101

This comes more than a year late. Prior to this review, I worn it once for a short run at MR and thereafter, it went back into the box where it has been sitting. Between then and now, New Balance has come out with a replacement for it and by now it is probably no longer available at the retail outlets except maybe during clearance sale. Nevertheless, now that I have finally decided to wear it, I will still do a field report of this shoe.

First off, the technical stuff from New Balance:
  • Rock Stop® embedded into forefoot provides protection from sharp rocks and debris
  • Synthetic/Mesh upper provides lightweight comfort and support
  • ACTEVA™ Midsole cushions and resists compression set - 12% lighter than standard foam
  • EVA foam on the upper provides visual contrast and supports and cushions the Achilles; it does the same with the ankle as the EVA extends to the shoe collar
  • SURE LACE™ secure shoe laces provide added midfoot support and keep the shoe snug around the foot 
What does all that means? Go read it yourself lah!

Now the stuff that I make up:
Photo from 
Design: It is a beautiful pair of shoes. Overall a darkish green with shiny bright light green reflective strips, it looks rugged and very suited for running in the woods and forest unlike the colorful trail shoes nowadays.  There is no insole or at least the strip of what pass off as an insole cannot be removed when I tried to peel it off. The other interesting thing is that instead of the usual fabric heel collar, there is a piece of soft plastic cuff. This makes it easy for one to just slip the shoe on/off. The upper material is made of a  light weight synthetic mesh which promises to allow water to drain out quickly. One final thing is the tongue. I find it quite short compared to other shoes although reading other reviews, most seem to like it that way. But the tongue held well and do not slip or move. And did I mention that it is incredibly light even for my size 12?

Sizing: According to the New Balance website, the last for this shoe is RL-3 which means it comes with narrow heel width, standard instep height, standard toe box height and wide forefoot width. I have no problem with my size 12. The toe box was wide enough for my toes to splay and move slightly but not too much to cause discomfort. But again maybe because of my Morton toes, after the last 20km run, I could feel the beginning of some blister underneath the joints of the right toes. A new place which I have never encounter before. Maybe I had laced it too tightly? 

Photo from
Grip: So far apart from the last run in 2010, I have clocked a total of 38 km with the majority of it on trail. The outsole comes with short 3 sides box shape lugs. At the Tampines Eco Green, the shoe grip well on the soft carpetlike grass and even the moss filled part of it. On the more rugged Gangsa trail, grip was good on the well trodden soil trail. But it wasn't that good on the wet clay   surfaces as I could feel my foot sliding forward. And finally on the hard rocky ground of Lorong Asrama, there was absolutely no problem at all. One thing though, the sidekick has been wearing her WT101 for the past year and her feedback is that on wet concrete ground, the shoes cannot grip at all and it becomes very slippery.

Flexibility: This is the second of New Balance Minimalist shoe series and like all minimalist shoes, it does not have a piece of hard plastic insert in the arch thus allowing for a great amount of flex. There is a Rock Stop system embedded into the shoe and this is visible from the many circular holes in the outsole. The purpose of the Rock Stop is to protect the foot from the sharp rocks, disperse pressure and reduce foot pressure. Surprisingly, the Rock Stop did not have any impact on the flex at all.

Ground Feel. With barely any EVA foam or cushioning of any sorts, it was almost like running bare foot. At the Tampines Eco Green, I can feel every little dips and twigs under my feet. At Lorong Asrama, I could feel every single piece of rock under my feet but the Rock Stop worked very well to bear the brunt of the poking jutting rocks.

Cushioning. What cushioning? With only a 10mm heel drop and on the little hard concrete ground that I ran, I can feel the impact on my foot but I actually felt that I could run fast in it. In fact, the sidekick wears her WT101 as a racing flat for her road races so I guess it doesn't really matter if there is no cushioning as long as one take cares to run with a mid foot strike and not heel strike.

Waterproofing. Weather has been rather dry recently and there wasn't much wet ground to run into but just off Track 15, there was a big puddle of water and I gleefully went into it. Of course, the water got in straight away but less than 10 minutes later, all of it had drained out. The only problem was I was wearing socks and the socks got wet but other than that, I believe the shoes will do very nicely in wet weather.

Conclusion: This would be a real great trail as well as road running shoes but New Balance has already come out with a replacement in the Minimus series so I guess it is rather pointless now to sing too much high praise of this shoe. But for those who don't want to pay top price for new shoes and do not mind settling for past season's shoes at reduced price, this will do just great as long as you can still get hold of it.

Date of Purchase: 7 December 2010

Cost: HK$500 S$100

Purchased from: Hong Kong

Worn in races:

3 March 2013 TNF City Race
23 March 2013 Aljunied Carnival Run
16 June 2013 Muar Cross Country

Retired: 3 August 2013

Mileage 521 km

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I just wanted to say I have had of MT101 shoes for a couple of years. I got them cheep from somewhere. Anyway I didn't take them seriously at first and wore them as casual every day shoes and they were comfortable so much I started to run in them and they because the shoes I liked the most. I have the NB minimalist zero and at this time I think I need a little heal lift.