Altra Timp 1.5 Review | Cushioned Trail Running Shoes
Altra Timp 1.5 Review
by Sharon Gayter
I have been using Altra shoes for around a year. My first pair was the original Timp and it was great to try the newest version Timp 1.5. When they arrived I compared them to the original Timp. The lugs and outsole looked the same, but I have heard there is a new rubber coating that should improve grip. The midsole looked the same thickness but the flexibility was definitely superior in the Timp 1.5. The uppers were of a different material and the overlay a different pattern. They still had an offset lacing system but somehow the Timp 1.5 looked more neat and compact. There is additional central strap in the laces that helps to balance the load from the laces and not compress the foot. As always I put them on the scales for comparison, the Timp 1.5 came out a modest 10g heavier than the previous Timp at 275g. One last thing I noticed, inside there is a thin, soft lining between the uppers and the inner surface, so the rough material will not rub again the foot. The tongue is neatly sized to fit snugly against the foot and the heel counter soft as the ankle but supportive of the foot.
When I put them on they felt comfortable and I knew I would be able to go for a long run in them with no “bedding in”. My first run was 7 miles around the wide forest tracks of Guisborough woods. The cushioning felt good, the broad toe box helped my toes spread to gain that natural feel to running. The one thing I did feel was the improved flexibility. The lacing system also felt superior and was able to tighten the Timp 1.5 better around the midfoot to hold my foot in position on the steeper downhill sections.
After around 200 miles of running they had their first challenge in conditions I had not anticipated for May Bank Holiday, sleet, snow, hail and rain and underfoot conditions to match. The course was around the Wolds for 20 miles. Although these are trail shoes that are just as good on the road I did not expect them to have good grip. The lugs were the same as previous Timp shoes but the grip was far superior. These are not winter mud shoes but I was impressed with the superior traction given over previous shoes and are wearable in wet summer conditions.
After the shoes had clocked up over 400 miles I gave these shoes a proper ultra test. The real challenge was 220 miles along the Severn Way. An event that started at the source of the River Severn high up in the Welsh mountains and finished at the flat wide river mouth at the Severn Bridge. I wasn’t sure what underfoot conditions to expect. I only had to carry a small day pack as the organiser carried kit bags to camp. This was a stage race with daily distances of approximately 26, 45, 60, 60 and 26 miles.
The first day was dry and the first 10 miles typical stony, gravel mountain tracks along with a few slabs to reach the source of the River Severn before turning back to the point we started, some steep climbs and descents. The next section was a real mixture of boarding, gravel tracks, minor tarmac roads and a few rough fields. The weather was warm and sunny.
Day 2 of 45 miles was to be more challenging. My feet got soaked in the first few miles due to heavy dew on the long grass and nearly 10 hours of running with a mixture of lovely tranquil canal paths, and long overgrown tracks on the Offas Dyke path. The long, wet grass challenged both me and the shoes, wrapping around my ankles to trip me up but the shoes performed admirably. I did not slip on the shoes, more tripped by the grass and overgrowth. Underfoot was a very uneven surface, very “ankle turning” in places but the lacing system kept my feet stable inside the shoes, even though they were soaked for the entire day. The weather was mild but frequent heavy showers.
Day 3 and 60 miles of distance and 15 hours of running. The course would test the uppers of these shoes to the max. There were frequent, very, very overgrown paths that left my arm and legs scratched to bits. I would estimate there were over 20 miles of route that was over knee deep in grass, weeds, nettles and brambles that I had to fight through. At one point this was above my head and so thick I could not continue forward and scrambled almost on hands and knees to a neighbouring field through hedges. The weather was warm and sunny but my feet damp as opposed to soaked.
Day 4 and another 60 miles (well I did 65 for good measure). The route was very similar to the previous day, very overgrown paths and some embankments with long grass wade through and uneven surface underfoot. The rain ensured wet feet all day and I did end up with 2 small blisters on my right foot, more to do with having wet feet running on uneven surfaces for so long.
Day 5 and a short 28 miles to finish with. The route was not as overgrown, but along a canal path to start with and embankments with occasional long grass and cloudy and breezy weather.
So after well over 220 miles on this event and nearly 650 miles run the shoes have been well tested. The uppers are showing no signs of wear or fraying despite some of the roughest overgrown paths I have ever run on and so are made of really tough material. My feet did swell somewhat with the distance travelled and the foot-shaped toe-box kept my feet and toes happy. I did get one blister on my right little toe, but this was probably due to the constant wetness and never felt as though my toes were squashed in these shoes. The camber could also have been a factor as the river was on the right more than the left. The cushioning would not have much time to recover between runs (6-7 hours between at most) but on the last day these still felt soft and cushioned on the gravel canal path that was at the start of the last day. These shoes gripped well on the wet grass and never once fell over. It was not particularly muddy. My legs finished tired, scratched and tingling with nettle stings, but my muscles were in good shape and capable of running 5km after 5 days and no injuries. I had 10 toenails at the start and I still have 10 toenails at the finish. The foot-shaped design certainly makes a big difference in prevention of toenail loss. The foot is gripped well and sits centrally in the shoe and despite wet conditions and bad cambers my feet did not slip in these shoes.
These are a great ultra shoe that perform well on tarmac, hard compact surfaces such as gravel tracks and canal towpaths, long wet grass poses no problems and the uppers amazed me that there were no signs of wear after such an overgrown course. I did wear the 4 point gaiters designed for these shoes and these required no adjustment throughout the race. They also coped well with the overgrown paths and I only had to remove backed up grass that caught between the gaiter and the shoe each evening. The shoes are showing signs of wear near the outer heels on the rubber sole, but they have run around 650 miles and still have plenty of miles left in them yet.
Sharon Gayter for Northern Runner
Running seriously since 1994, winner of gold in 100km and 24 hour race at National Championships (only person to get both in same year!).