My first adventure race was this past weekend. It is labeled a 'sprint adventure race'. Our distance traveled was approximately 30miles. (No way to track that since no electronic devices were allowed. I was on a two-man team, competing in male's duo. We made a funny team since my teammate in an excellent mtn bike rider and I am a better runner - therefore we took turns slowing each other up :). I'm kidding, we were a great duo placing third in our division.
Half the participants dropped out of this race or didn't complete the checkpoint assignments. I don't fault the DNF'ers our conditions were horrible, windy, cold and down pouring rain. I was one wrong move on a mtn bike from not finishing! In the middle of a run we had to dive into the lake for a checkpoint and then trudge fwd to the next waypoint in wet(ter) clothes. The rain, mud, woods, bike riding, canoeing, swimming, etc made me think about our gear selection.
A guy in the parking lot asked me if I would be wearing my Merrill Trail Gloves for the race, I said yeah-why not. He shook his head and it was clear that the other competitors were concerned with shoe selection as the park was called Rocky Gap for a reason. Everyone else had thick, heavy hiking boots or low cut boots. The lightest pair of shoes I saw were La Sportivas - which are great shoes, but the toe boxes are small! But I looked at the half worn tread on my trail gloves (having about 1000 miles on them) and shrugged and thought out-loud 'we'll see'.
Maybe I am a little biased, but my shoe selection for this race seemed the only choice that made any sense. In these conditions, a water proof shoe just meant "keeps the water inside your shoe". Even the long wet grass would deposit water inside your shoe, why would you choose goretex covered shoes to keep that water against your foot? We were waist deep in water flowing streams, a few steps later on the shore all the water was out of my trail gloves. They don't weigh more after such a hike. Speaking of shoe weight - which I appreciate the lightness of a shoe, AND (more so) the lightness of my steps. People running in those hiking shoes sound like horses clunk clunk clunk. It makes me wince. My cadence is so quick and my feet are on the ground for such a short period of time, I don't have time to to slip. My foot strike is straight down and straight up tap-tap-tap, there's no sagital or planar forces to send me sliding.
When are knobby treaded, thick, inflexible shoes the correct choice?