I can't really write anything about running routes for this post as I've been well and truly lazy over the festive period and have run an outstanding one mile (in sand mind you) in the past two weeks. My justification for this is to rest my niggly injuries - left hip and left knee, and to start again fresh in 2012.
So here we are. No more excuses. Except I need to buy the footwear I am going to use in the marathon des sables pretty quickly to make sure I wear them in in time. There are only three months to go!
A quick google revealed these shoes to be the shoes of choice for the desert race:-
Roclite 295 - for runners who like more lightweight shoes. Lots of flexibility though I would worry it doesn't give enough cushioning over miles and miles of stony ground. Here's a good review from irunfar
Roclite 315 - trail shoes with more stability. A review from Runner's World and another blogger - seems a bit varied - some like this shoe, some thing it's a bit clunky. Seems the heel is rather low which may or not be a good thing.
Roclite 319 - trail shoes with high stability. These are highly recommended by Likeys - an amazing store for all things desert (likeys also has a really useful kit list with their recommendations as well). Here's a blog review. Seems to be pretty good though I'm a bit worried it's a bit of a heavy shoe.
Here's some other advice from inov-8 about footwear too with some further info on gaiters.
New Balance M1100OR - the official MDS shoe. Ugly and I can't really find many reviews which rate this shoe either.
Brooks Cascadia - Scott Jurek swears by these shoes (though he does also get sponsored by Brooks so...). Look nice though! Anoter good review from irunfar who rates them highly
UK Gear PT03 Desert - looks a little chunky to me though what do I know. Here's a forum thread. Seems to viewed favourably.
UK Gear PT1000 NC - Another Likeys recommendation. Look nice too though mental note to self - it's not about fashion, it's not about fashion!! This shoe is supposed to last 1000 miles. I'd be happy with 150.
Montrail Mountain Masochist - Recommended by irunfar. Looks cool. Review here suggests maybe better for dry trails. Good for over pronators too.
Overall it looks like things to consider are:-
Whether you are wearing gaiters or want them already sown into the shoe (and most things I have read suggest separate gaiters are superior)
Weight/cushioning - weighing up (ho ho) between having a lighterweight shoe or protecting your feet from the rocky ground. Personally I'm used to a pretty bog standard shoe with some but minimal cushioning so am contemplating this one at the moment.
Width - seems that a wide shoe is preferable given your feet swell considerably.
Road or trail shoes - the majority of posts seem to say trail is best, though there is a huge difference between trail runs in wet muddy conditions and in the desert, though I do agree that trail is best here.
Height - low versus high back. Some people like high backs, some low. I would suggest check your current trainers and go with that height if it is going okay for you already.
Size - at least 1 size bigger than your normal shoe size, maybe 2. I reckon I'm going to go for 1.5!
Finally here are some great forum resources for other footwear for marathon des sables discussions.
MDS Forum - Footwear
And for me?
I'm going to try out the Brooks Cascadia as I run in Brooks, but also the inov-8 315 and UK Gear 1000PT or Desert if I can find them anywhere to try on.
Next? Gaiters and bag. Watch this space! My bank manager is going to love me.