Altra Lone Peak 4 Review | Ultra Marathon 140 Miles Complete!
Altra Lone Peak 4 Trail Running Shoes | REVIEW
Having worn my first pair of Altras for just over a month, the Timp, I had such a good response to these shoes I was pleased to try my second pair, the Lone Peak 4. I had around 5 weeks to prepare for the C2C from Whitehaven to Tynemouth, 140 miles non-stop ultra. My goal for these shoes was a good cushioned pair of shoes that would give me a soft ride for the many miles of tarmac, but equally cope with the rough off-roads sections, which were mainly rocky, stony and gravel tracks.
I wore these in the three short, local fell running races that I took part in. All were on very dry routes that were a mixture of narrow tracks in heather to broad, rough farm tracks and steep narrow descents. None were scheduled in the rain, so the grip of the Lone Peak 4 did not have any really wet, muddy conditions to contend with. The ground was firm in most places and although these were only short races between 3 and 7 miles, the cushioning felt good and I had no issues with either my feet sliding within the shoes or the shoes sliding on impact with the ground surface. The routes on occasion presented some very uneven surfaces and the Lone Peak 4 supported me well with the twisting and turning, with no turned ankles!
I also spent 2 weeks travelling and training in Scotland, with these the only training shoes to take. My first run was around Thurso parkrun on a mainly hard surface with a few uneven bits. Other runs included along General Wades Military Road south of Inverness, the Speyside Way near Aviemore, some rocky routes around the Pentlands and near the Kelpies in Falkirk. All were off-road trail running routes and mainly gravel or stony paths. Having already adapted to the Zero Drop, I had confidence to simply put these shoes on and run, they needed no “breaking in”. Like the Timp, my feet sat squarely in the shoe and on steep descents there was no movement of my feet within the shoes. Due to reasonable weather, they didn’t have to deal with any real mud at this stage!
With around 150 training miles in them, they then had to endure 140 miles of non-stop running on the ultra. I went into the race with confidence in my ability to finish within the 38 hour cut-off time and in the Altra Lone Peak to cushion the blow between me and the surface I was running on. In the longer ultras, above 24 hours, my feet will always swell somewhat with distance and impact. I knew that the FootShape Toe Box that I was already familiar with should easily allow for my expanding feet. The longest my Altra Timp trail shoes had to run non-stop was 50 miles, so this was a good challenge!
The event started at 7am on 25th August, it was a cool morning but was soon to heat up and by lunch time I was stripped off to shorts and t-shirt. The initial route was mainly cycle paths and minor tarmac roads that gently undulated to Keswick. After Keswick the Old Coach Road was taken, a very rough, uneven track that had recently been repaired with large uneven rocks and made for hard going. There was around a 2-3 mile climb to start with. The first 40 miles were achieved in around 8 hours and my feet were very comfortable and never gave them a second thought.
After first 40, was a mixture of surfaces, some farm tracks, more minor roads and pavements through Penrith and to Langwathby. Here the major climbs started, just as darkness fell, getting gradually steeper and longer from around 50 miles to 100 miles, up to Hartside, down to Garrigill, over to Nentheads, Allenheads, Rookhope, Stanhope and finally a climb to Parkhead. The night had cooled and I was back to a long sleeved top and tights and the surface was all tarmac.
From Parkhead the morning had dawned with a bright red sky and the forecast was for rain. The route was now a wonderful, slightly downhill old railway track on gravel and was a relief from the incessant undulations on some very tired legs. The route for the last 40 miles was nearly all on cycle paths of mixed terrain, from fine gravel, compact dirt to block paving and smooth tarmac. I could not feel a single blister.
One thought I had about the Lone Peak 4 was how valuable the gaiters would have been on this journey, just to avoid picking up stones and grit. There are built in clips on the shoes, so they’re simple to pop on before you head out. Needless to say, I picked up a pair after this outing!
After finishing in 33 hours and 42 minutes I was 4th place overall. I had the pleasure of sitting down and taking my shoes off and changing into dry clothes for the hour journey home. There was not a blister to be seen and my feet were in perfect condition, which was more than could be said for the rest of me. My feet did not appear swollen, but both ankles certainly were, the right ankle being worse than the left. I attributed this to the cambers on the roads, which is not normal for running along for me, I rarely train on roads. Off-roads surfaces, although uneven do not constantly run mile after mile on one sided camber, you did have to run “in the gutter” to avoid collisions with vehicles. I had mainly run along the left side of the road.
Other Points incl. vs Altra Timp
With my feet having finished in such good condition I thought I’d compare the two Altra Shoes.
- The toe bumper is more substantial than the Timp, but equally had no issues despite kicking many a large stone out training and on the Old Coach Road from Keswick.
- Similar to the Timp, the uppers feel of a tough, durable material, not a single sign of wear and tear. The Lone Peak 4 appears to have more reinforcing on the upper compared to the Timp and also appears to have a finer mesh material for the upper too.
- Lone Peak 4 felt flexible and not stiff.
- The heel counter was soft (even softer than the Timp) but cradles the heel perfectly, and no ankles turned.
- I have a low ankle bone, usually I have to cut the lateral side of the shoe between the heel and laces to accommodate this, these shoes gave no such issues and no bruised ankle bones as has resulted from other shoes.
- Similar to above, I have cut and adapted the tongue of other shoes to stop them rubbing the top, anterior ankle, again, no such problems. The tongue is sewn into the shoes around the laces and does feel thicker than the tongue on the Timp, but still comfortable to wear.
- I did have to empty my shoes from grit and stones frequently, more so than other shoes, but this would be easily rectified by wearing gaiters. The shoes do have a tag at the end of the laces and a Velcro tag at the heel for attaching gaiters, a 4 point gaiter for off-road running shoes is available for these shoes, for which I now have a pair for future events.
- The cushioning felt superb on the tarmac roads and hard stone surfaces. Usually my feet would take a real bashing and feel tender, but I can report that my feet felt fine, but the legs did take a beating. These shoes do feel soft and cushioned and although classed as a trail shoes are equally good on tarmac and gave ideal cushioning.
- Although I am pretty much a heel striker I felt that I was landing on the entire foot as opposed to heel first which may be a slight difference with Zero Drop shoes.
- FootShape Toe Box.. this worked excellent! Not a blister or sore point on my feet. When trying them on for the first time, you can feel space between your toes and are aware that they do not touch the sides, this gives a very natural feel to running, not quite like the Vibram 5 fingers, but doesn’t feel forced in any way. I was fortunate to try these on in the shop to achieve the correct sizing, as you do need about a thumb nail between your toes and the end of the shoes for these to be comfortable.
- There were many steep climbs and steep downhill sections but my toenails did not suffer. These Altra Lone Peak 4 trail shoes keep the foot very central to the shoes and do not slip or slide within the shoe as can happen with some shoes.
- These shoes have now clocked up around 300 miles. The uppers show no signs of wear, but probably due to the nature of tarmac miles you can see the sole has received some significant wear, particularly on the outer heel which is where I generally land as a heel striker. A before and after C2C photo below.
Sharon Gayter for NorthernRunner.com