SNOWSHOE MAGAZINE GEAR REVIEW:

Gear Review: La Sportiva Fireblade

In preparation for the upcoming snowshoe racing season, most people will spend a lot of time trail running. Having the proper trail running shoe, just like having the proper snowshoe, is very important and will help you enjoy the trails safely before the snow flies.

When trail running shoes were first introduced, they were essentially a cross between a hiking shoe and a road running shoe. These early models left a lot to be desired. Many of the hiking boot companies made their ‘trailrunners’ very heavy and stiff. They gave good protection on technical trails, but didn’t allow you to run naturally when you really wanted to fly on smoother trails. Just the opposite was true when the road running shoe companies tried to develop their trailrunners. They relied too much on keeping a soft, cushy shoe, but provided no protection from rocks and roots or ankle rolls.

Thankfully, with the increased popularity of trail running, times have changed. There is a great crop of new shoes to allow you to hit the trails running at high speeds, but also give you the protection that you need when the trails get nasty. There has been a significant trend recently in trail running shoes towards lighter, more responsive and runner friendly trail shoes.

The La Sportiva Fireblade is a great example of one such shoe. La Sportiva has designed the Fireblade to feel like a light, flexible road shoe, but at the same time perform the way a trail shoe should.

Starting at the outersole, the aggressive sole pattern gives great traction on all surfaces. La Sportiva’s frixion rubber gives you a surefooted plant on wet rock like no other outersole I’ve ever used. The triple density midsole provides a nice cushioned ride on smooth, flat surfaces but also gives exceptional protection. A surprisingly flexible composite rock guard in the midsole prevents rocks and roots from biting into your feet.

The fit of the Fire Blade is excellent, featuring a snug rearfoot, supportive midfoot and roomy toe box. An added bonus to the fit is a stretch tongue that keeps dirt, pebbles and other debris out of your shoe.

Once the snow comes, throw on some gaitors and the Fireblade will be a perfect shoe to use with running snowshoes. The rubber toe guard also gives great protection from your snowshoe bindings.

New for 2007, the Fireblade was awarded the ‘Best Debut Award’ by Runner’s World Magazine in their April 2007 trail shoe review. Get some yourself and find out why.

For more information on the La Sportiva Fireblade, please go to http://www.sportiva.com.

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About Sara Montgomery and Derrick Spafford

Derrick and Sara are trail runners from Eastern Ontario who discovered that running on snowshoes in the winter months is a great way to enjoy their favorite trails year-round. They competed in their first snowshoe series (The Mad Trapper Series in Low, Quebec) in 2005, each finishing 2nd in their respective divisions. Plans for 2006 are to return to the Mad Trapper, to take in some races in New York and Vermont, and hopefully cap their season with the U.S. Snowshoe Championships in March, as Canadian guests. Derrick runs a company, Spafford Health and Adventure (http://www.healthandadventure.com), which specializes in coaching and event promotion. He is currently planning an annual snowshoe race to be held in the Kingston area, starting this winter.