Dave Sarkar trains to take on the Three Peaks of Yorkshire with the Scarpa Apex GTX all-terrain shoes. It's a 23 mile race with 1370m of ascent. How will the shoes (and he) perform?
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.....We put in a good time and the shoes felt brilliant all day. 23 miles of mixed mountain terrain and not once did my feet feel uncomfortable, nor did I acquire the smallest of hot spots.....
Good news! UKClimbing said, "Here Dave, you're fat, review these shoes and get running.” The bad news was that I was nursing a knee injury (I should have known better at my age and warmed up properly). Still, I would have to put the new Scarpa Apex's through their paces now, and they would be just the thing to inspire me to train for the annual 'Fat Dads Trot' on the Three Peaks of Yorkshire race.
Straight out the box the Scarpa Apex's look the part – you want to run in them. They are über lightweight, have excellent styling, plenty of mesh for breathability, synthetic leather, a very aggressive sole unit, good torsional stiffness and a Gore-Tex liner. All the features you could wish for in an all-terrain shoe.
How did they perform?
Because of my knee injury, my first training session with the Apex's was a walk-in to Kilnsey for a climbing day with the kids - easy does it! I did inadvertently try them out for climbing, though ... and while I was putting the rope up for my youngest son on a 4+, it belted down with rain! Surprisingly I felt fairly secure on the wet, slippy, muddy limestone and my feet stayed reassuringly dry in the Gore-Tex liner.
Next trip was to North Wales late summer. I still wasn't up to running but I did put the Apex's through their paces on a variety of mountain activities during a mixed week of weather. Down at Lower Pen Trwyn, the shoes provided good support on the wet, slippy boulders. They proved light enough to carry up routes at Tremadog and they felt absolutely rock solid on the approach to Gogarth main cliff – the aggressive sole unit really came into play. They make a great lightweight approach shoe, although if you cross a lot of scree regularly you would trash them pretty quickly.
So, to the running! My knee was better and I found the Apex's were ideal for running in cold, wet conditions. Our first main run together was the Burbage round from Fox House via Higgar Tor on a showery day. The shoes felt comfortable for running immediately. The profile was low yet supportive and the sole unit stable and grippy on rock (in fact they were so grippy on rock I had to be careful I didn't tweak my knee again). The shoes coped well with all sorts of wet ground and I got back to the car with dry feet.
I did several more runs and the Apex's coped admirably. Then the highlight of the summer loomed - the annual 'Fat Dad's Trot' round the Peaks in Yorkshire! 2:46:03 is the record set in 1996 but for mere mortals the challenge is to complete in less than 12 hours. How would the shoes (and I) perform?
running across Ilkley Moor
UKC Gear, Sep 2009
© Dave Sarkar
We put in a good time and the shoes felt brilliant all day. 23 miles of mixed mountain terrain and not once did my feet feel uncomfortable, nor did I acquire the smallest of hot spots. The heel cup was very supportive especially around the Achilles area (it didn't dig in at all), and the aggressive lugs coped very well with all manner of steep ground.
So, to the gripe - the so called Armour-Lite toe coating is a rough (thin) rubber coating applied to the toe box. With the price tag attached to these shoes and the sort of terrain these are designed to cover I would have liked to have seen a much more burly toe covering.
Scarpa Apex GTX
The toe profile is very narrow so you may struggle if you have broad feet, and I would have like to have had the lacing bands extended down by one or two more to offer more adjustment on the downhill.
Great all-terrain shoes that will come into their own during the wet autumn and winter months. The Apex's will serve you faithfully as lightweight mountain approach/hiking and running shoes, and they also look stylish enough to wear down the pub/wall. On the downside you might not get on well with them if you have broad feet, and the toe reinforcement isn't as durable as I'd have liked.
About Dave SarkarDave Sarkar has been climbing for over 25 years and enjoys all aspects of climbing and mountaineering from redpointing, bouldering and trad to Alpine and winter gnarl. He is a self confessed gear addict suffering much derision on Malham catwalk; is seeking therapy to help him, which quite frankly is doing little good. He can often be found at his favourite stomping ground Almscliff with his mates and 2 sons who are beginning to give him a run for his money!
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