I used to be one of those who think that trail shoes are not necessary for running on trails; in Singapore anyway; and just any ordinary running shoes will suffice. That was when most of my trail running was done at MacRitchie Reservoir. This year I have expanded my trail running from MacRitchie to various other trails and especially the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Central Catchment area. In these areas, the trails are more “ technica l”. Some places there are no trails. Just some flattened grass which passes for a trail. Then there are the roots, growing everywhere of various sizes and thickness and I swear placed there by some almighty guardian of the forest to trap us runners. On top of the roots, we have uneven grounds, broken up tarmac, puddles of water, mud, slime. Plus throw in some water crossing and running in such terrains inevitably creates havoc on the legs and body and the shoes. This was reinforced to me in real time when during a recent TNF trail run; a participant fell and sprained her ankle. I myself have fell 3 times in MacRitchie and stumbled many times in the trails but got away unscathed each time. The difference? I was wearing a trail shoes while she did not.
Road running shoes are designed for well, the road. Maybe in MacRitchie where the trail is so worn down by the many people trudging through it on a daily basis, wearing a pair of road running shoes could be sufficient. But try wearing a pair of road running shoes on a technical trail and the shoes wouldn’t last more than 3 runs. It will be ripped to pieces in no time as the sole and upper body is not designed for this type of environment and harsher than normal treatment. Furthermore, most road running shoes are not designed to drain away water and in the trails, there will be pool of waters, streams to cross and if the water doesn’t drain away; there will be lots of water sloshing inside the shoes.