Minimalist trail running in the @Skorarunning Form

I went on a 20 mile trail run in my new Skora Forms this weekend. Until Saturday, this was the only shoe in the Skora lineup I hadn’t tried. I was eager to check it out after I realized it was probably the shoe best suited to the type of trail running I was planning.

The trails in my “neck of the woods” include some extremely rocky sections, mixed with dirt single track. According to my personal subjective definition, a light trail is predominantly dirt, maybe some small gravel. I could run a dirt trail barefoot, but when you mix in some rocks, you need some degree of protection.

The Skora Form is the sturdiest, most durable shoe in the minimalist Skora lineup. With a 13mm stack height (zero drop), a rubber/EVA Foam outsole/midsole, and a goat leather/perforated sheepskin upper, the Form can take whatever your trail dishes out.

To my way of thinking, the Form has just enough minimal cushioning to handle a rocky trail without being too much. I was able to take it through some really uneven ground without feeling like I was beating my feet up.

My 20 mile run at Clinton Lake got off to a great start, in the dark at 6am in a fairly heavy rain – I’d call it just shy of a downpour. Thankfully temps were still in the 60s. Heading into the woods helped calm things down, and while my clothing was pretty wet, my shoes weren’t soaked, although they were wet. I never had the feeling that the Forms increased significantly in weight due to water during the run, which had rain on and off most of the 3 hours I was out there. I stopped for a re-tie at the 1 hour mark – I had tied dry, plus it was my first run in the shoe. I didn’t have to mess around with them any more for the final 2 hours – fit was great for the rest of the run. Anticipating the rain, I rubbed in a light application of petroleum jelly on my feet before putting on socks, then the shoes. That, combined with good fit, meant no blisters as a result of this run. I’m very pleased with that, given that my feet were wet the entire run.

The Clinton Lake course is full of rolling ups and downs, but on balance I’d say it doesn’t have the really steep killers like Wyco Lake Park. Despite terrible conditions, the Form had enough traction to keep me vertical even on wet rocks and through the mud. Yes, there was mud:

2013-09-28_10-17-20_172

They are a lot prettier when clean…

I’m primarily a forefoot/midfoot striker. I like that the Form has enough structure in the heel that if I want to take a break and heel strike a downhill, I’m not paying a price for it. It’s shaped like your heel – curved, not flat.

Something I keep coming back to with Skora’s line of minimalist offerings is that the shoe just gets out of your way and lets you run. The Form was no exception. Other than thinking about the fact that I was evaluating the shoe while running in it for the first time, my attention wasn’t drawn to the shoe. To me, that’s ideal. No slipping, no hot spots. I was simply able to concentrate on negotiating the best path on the trail.

I’ve done a slightly shorter trail run in the Core on a different course (Wyco). I felt a bit beat up by that trail. I think Core is excellent on a light trail, but for the hard rocky stuff I’d go with Form. It’s worth mentioning that the Core is probably one of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever put on my feet. For a light trail, or running in grass (e.g. one of my suburban just-off-the-sidewalk courses) the Core can’t be beat. However, from now on, when I run one of our typical exposed-rock mixed surface trails, I’ll be lacing up my Forms. Can’t wait to hit the trails again in them.

Partial objectivity disclosure – I spent my own money on these shoes, but at a Skora Ambassador discount.

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4 comments on “Minimalist trail running in the @Skorarunning Form

  1. bryanew710 says:

    How does the toebox in the Form fit?

    Any experience with the Phase?

  2. Tad says:

    I’m satisfied with the toe box in the Form and the Base, which as I understand it are Skora’s first run of model offerings, built off the same last – Form is leather upper with laces, Base is a more traditional synthetic mesh with a Velcro strap closure (don’t knock it till you try it – I quite like it despite having a bias against it going back to the Saucony Hattori). During their next rollout, they added the Core and Phase models, built off a new shared last. Core is leather, Phase synthetic mesh upper. Core and Phase have a wider, roomier toe box than Form & Base. All of these shoes fit me better than e.g. the New Balance MR00, a previous favorite that I found a bit narrow at the widest area of my foot.

    I think Form’s toe box compares favorably to other minimal shoes I have run in. It’s not at all pinchy.

    Having said that, if a roomy toe box is a high priority, I’d go with Core or Phase. Core and Phase are lighter, with a lower stack height. The insole/midsole are blown rubber only, as opposed to rubber and EVA as in Form/Base, so they are more flexible, lighter, and have a more “barefoot” ride to them.

    I have done a 16 mile long run on pavement with Phase, and I think that’s the ideal surface for that shoe. I plan on running the KC marathon in it later this month.

    • bryanew710 says:

      I was just curious because the Form and Base just look almost narrow in comparison to the Core/Phase. Considering they’re practically giving away the Base, I was wondering if it was worth checking out.

      • Tad says:

        I quite like Base. I ran a marathon in them over Labor Day. I find myself gravitating to them for casual wear as well. For the price, you’re going to get some use out of them either way. I agree that Form/Base fit narrower than Core/Phase.

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