Thanks to Roxii I have been provided with a pair of these Altra 3 Sum Tri specific running shoes to trial and to provide a review for fellow triathletes.
So I have given them a working over and have come up with the following conclusions, which hopefully may prove useful.
These shoes are aimed specifically at the triathlon market with some neat features such as finger loops to help quick transitions, quick tighten elastic laces and holes in the bottom to allow water to drain through the shoe.
Altra provide this summary for the shoe on their website;
‘The 3-Sum 1.5 is the culmination of triathlon experience. Light, fast, and lightly cushioned, the 3-Sum 1.5 is built for triathletes who demand the ultimate in performance. With a seamless upper, easy-on transition pull-tabs, quick-draw lacing system and heel/forefoot drain holes, the 3-Sum 1.5 minimizes transition time and maximizes performance.’
True to the description the shoes are very easy to slip on and I found them very comfortable around the top of my foot, with no rubbing issues.
The shoes are designed with a large toe box to provide plenty of room for your toes, which was the main feature that attracted me to want to try them out.
I have found that once shoes are wet in a race my toes tend to bang against the front of my shoes, which caused me to lose 8 toenails in my most recent ironman! During my trials with the shoes I found this large toe box great and gives your toes a good amount of room without rubbing or hitting the end of the shoes.
The shoes are a zero drop shoe with a fairly thin and lightweight sole that would only be suited to sprint triathlons up to Olympic distance in my opinion.
As a disclaimer I have a narrow foot and often have difficulty finding shoes, which fit my foot without having to pull the laces in tight, deforming the shoes.
The Altra 3 Sums would be suited to those with a wide forefoot and I found that there was about 10mm spare clearance on the side of my forefoot so I had to have the laces pulled right in to tighten the shoe onto my foot.
The sole and feel
So as described previously, these shoes are a zero drop shoe, which for me, felt normal, and comfortable as I regularly run in zero drop shoes.
However if you are coming from a shoe with 10-15mm drop I would recommend that you take your time with the transition into these building up the distances slowly to prevent any calf or plantar issues.
That said I recommend that people use zero drop shoes as part of their arsenal for to work on your technique as the feeling of zero drop shoes provides a good feel for the ground and encourages the use of many of the leg muscles and good technique.
I always have a range of 5-6 types of shoes in rotation and I don’t just use the one pair or type of shoe for all running. I find that this doesn’t let my legs, feet etc settle into a pattern and developing an over use injury. I used these shoes on my early mid-week runs where I am doing my fartlek intervals and technique work.
When running in them, the transition of these shoes through the foot strike is almost non-existent and you really need to run with good form landing towards the ball of the foot and pushing off properly. Runners who use the heel – toe technique will find these very uncomfortable and firm to run in.
But if you have a good technique and are lightweight these shoes will help you to fly across the ground. They feel fast and encourage you to get up to a good fast tempo on your forefoot and fly across the roads.
I’ve been trying the shoes for about 4 weeks mainly on road runs, with a couple of off road trails last with the longest run in them 15km which was close to the limit I would like to run in them.
They are clearly aimed at the ITU Olympic and sprint triathlete market as they are quick and easy to slip and with the zero drop soles suited to fast high intensity running. You could get away with using them in a 70.3 race but my feet would be really feeling it over the last few km’s.
Even when running fresh and with good form I was feeling it in my feet after 13-14km’s.
The fit of these shoes would suit someone with a broad forefoot who is looking for a shoe with good toe room. My narrow foot didn’t go near filling the shoe, but in fairness I didn’t get any rubbing so you can get away with wearing them.
So if you are racing Olympic distance events and want a fast shoe these shoes are definitely worth a try. But if you are north of 80kg’s, don’t have a good foot strike and racing 70.3 or Ironman events these will not be for you.
As a final point I would like to thank Altra for providing me with these shoes and will continue to use them for speed sessions until I wear them out. I will also be jumping on their website and looking at their other range of shoes to try some of the more supportive with thicker soles as I believe that they do make a good product, my toes will thank me for it!