Along with the rest of the running population I discovered running sandals (or Huraches) from Born To Run. It sounded romantic, the idea of flying over the trails in minimilist footwear; back to our roots. In reality I settled on getting into running though Vibram Five FIngers (which had their own cult following) and running in sandals was lost. A few months ago a friend was talking about how he was just getting into running and was logging some of his miles in sandals. The romantic seed was planted and I figured I would try a pair out.
Luna Sandals exploded onto the niche market after the founder's story was told through Born to Run. Since their inception in 2007 they have been quietly handcrafting sandals for enthusiasit around the world. With close to 20 different sandals to chose from and the option to highly customize your footwear, it's hard to go wrong with Luna Sandals.
Initial Thoughts- Knowing that my long term goal was to be running trails, I researched which Lunas would fit my needs best. After consulting with the company, I ultimately decided to go with the Luna Leadville Gordo. The sandal was designed for the longest trail races in the country, most notiably The Leadville 100 in Colorado. The base of the sandal is 15mm thick which is said to provide the user protection from sharp rocks on the trails. Underneath the thick footbed Vibram sole with a multidirectional footbed, provides your connection to the trail. The footbed is teathered to the foot using Luna's Performance Lace system. This consist of a continuous loop of webbing that is padded in the heel, wraps around the foot, and connects to the toe plug. The Leadvilles also come with the Tech Strap that runs over the top of the foot, helping to secure the heel and foot on aggressive terrain. The build quality of the sandal is superior to other competitiors I have seen. It is also worth mentioning that the customer service was exceptional. From the beginning of researching the correct product, to fit adjustments Luna has been there to help. Even going so far as to examine pictures of my hobbit feet in the the Leadvilles and then providing personal adjustment recomendations. If nothing else, their service get compliments.
Real World Use- Running in sandals is liberating, but also strange. My feet feel more in tune with the terrain and enviornment. Sounds hippie. As Luna recommends I started off slow, in fact I am still in that stage. I have only worn them running on level trail along the canal system and on the roads. The first run was a four mile loop that had me more frusterated then liberated. There was too much lateral foot movement, which had my pinky toe in the dirt. Stopping numerous times to readjust became the norm during this run and most others so far. I contacted Luna after this and that is when I was provided with a list of adjustments to get the right fit. Building on their advice I have continued to run and adjust; then start running again and adjust. Over the 20 or so miles so far, I have minimized the amount of movement laterally. But I still come back home with a tender sole that is indicitive of movement across the footbed. One of my biggest concerns with running in sandals was rocks and bushes. The trail I run is maintained so bushes play little role, but to simulate a singletrack trail I run close to the bushes. Much to my surprise the vegetation just bounces off and I continue. In the rare occasion when the bush is thorny, there is a moment of pain and then business as usual. One thing the route does have is rocks. Every couple of runs I end up with a pebble between my foot and the footbed. A simple flick of my finger and then issue is gone, and I am back to running. Point being, the rocks are not a issue. As the miles begin to add up I notice the footbeds molding more to my foot, which I imagine will only help secure the foot.
Final Thoughts- The Luna Leadville Gordos are a refreshing alternative to the minimalist shoe market. When wearing a sandal for running, you aren't just lookng for a injury free, long wearing solution; but a deeper connection to the sport. Although I am not 100% sold that Lunas are the best piece of running footwear, I can see how their design can be appealing. I don't plan to toss my other runners out and switch exclusively to my Lunas, but I can see myself using them as a supplement to my other footwear. Helping to build strength and resiliance in my feet through the use of less. With a aray of options to choose from, Luna Sandals are ideal. Although the initial investment can be a hard pill to swallow, the anticipated longevity of the footwear should sofen the cost. Check out the Luna Leadville Gordos or one of the many other styles at Luna's website.
*These were purchased for use from Luna Sandals.