First Run 361 Santiago On a Good Day for Testing – RunLog 1/5/21

Today was one of those snow flurry days. It snowed a little most of the day, without accumulating more than an inch. Enough to coat the ground and make things slippery. 

True to my word yesterday, I did my pre-run warm-up before heading out the door. Yes, I could tell it helped a little on the first mile. I know that I need to keep doing it and make it one of the habits that I do automatically before most runs.

Today was the first run in new shoe day too.

I got a pair of 361 Degree Santiago’s trail running shoes from Amazon for under $15. They were $39 and I used a $25 gift card from Christmas. The Santiago trail shoe is an older model that has been discontinued and on the close-out rack. Thus the pricing. 

The other models of the 361 Degree brand and how they felt underfoot, made me willing to even look at these shoes. The plastic cage and weight would normally be something that wouldn’t interest me and I would pass on them.

My size 8.5 weighed in at 11.0 ounces, which in my world is a heavy shoe. I don’t enjoy running in heavier shoes and have gotten very snobbish about whether I will even look at a pair of running shoes this heavy. 

At the sub $15 price point, I thought it was worth taking the chance. Boo all you want at this snobby runner, but I like lighter shoes that are well cushioned. Even when they are trail running shoes.

Okay, enough background. Get to the run.

It turned out to be perfect to test my new trail shoes.

Looking at the road, I quickly decided to head down-back. The black ice and frozen slush was covered by snow and would be tough to run on. There is also a lot more traffic on our road lately, and in bad weather, that is not something I wanted to deal with. 

It was a good choice.

Running on the tar road, to get to the dirt road was an adventure. There was some slipping and sliding around on the black ice that I didn’t enjoy all that much. I went slower than usual (there wasn’t a lot of choice about it) while at the same time figuring out the best stride for the new Santiago’s.

When I got on the dirt road section, things improved quickly. The footing was better, at least I had some grip on the side of the road where it was plowed. 

It became a question of whether I had confidence enough in them to bomb down the hill. 

Get real Harold, you hadn’t even run a quarter-mile in those new shoes.

The answer was definitely, “Nope, not yet.” The Santiago’s were doing fine, but bombing down Stevens Hill in new shoes, with a snow-covered road, wasn’t happening.

I plugged along down the hill.

At the lower gate, I decided to run towards Bartlett Road. See what the conditions were and most likely turn there and get in about 3.0 miles. In this kind of a mess, that would be an equal effort to the 5.0 miles I had planned on doing.

Miracles of miracles Tiffany was clear of snow and only wet. They had put down a good layer of salt/sand, and the road was in great shape for running. It also allowed me to see how the Santiago’s would do on tar.

Change of plans on the fly.

Since Tiffany was clear, I decided to go down to Notta Road for a 5.0 miler. Yes, the snow flurry activity was still going on, but no accumulation, more a pain due to snowflakes getting on my glasses. 

When I got down to Notta Road, I decided to keep going up to Davis Dr. I had noticed that going up the little bump before the tar had been a bit tricky and thought that Stevens Hill was a lot longer and I didn’t need to practice my running in that kind of trickiness.

Coming back from Davis Drive, I focused on running comfortably and quietly. While the Santiago’s are not the quietest shoes I have run in, they did better than most. For the amount of rubber on the outsole, the noise level wasn’t that bad. 

Getting back on the dirt road, I could feel how much the outsole was digging into the snow/frozen dirt. I didn’t have any significant problems stopping, starting, or push-off (yes, I toe-off). 

When I got to the lower gate, I was ready to stop, my legs were toast. I am not used to running on the snow-covered roads and heavier shoes didn’t help. So I made the correct choice about going out to Davis Dr. and stopping before Stevens Hill.

I did have to laugh. When I got back on the tar after Stevens Hill, the road was clear and wet for the most part. It seems that the Town plow came through and laid a good layer of salt/sand on the road shortly after I left the house.

Though I am glad that it happened as it did. I got to test the Santiago’s out down-back and ran further than I would have otherwise.

For a first impression, the Santiago’s did well.

  1. The Santiago’s are comfortable, which is the most important thing. I like the ride/feel portion quite a bit, but it did take a couple of miles into the run before they smoothed out.
  2. That the heel-to-toe transition was still a bit stiff, which I think will change as I get more miles on them. Shoes having that much rubber on the outsole and a plastic shank piece will be stiffer and take longer to break in.
  3. My right foot was grumbling a little towards the end, not anything unusual, but it was there. But I made it almost 5.0 miles before it started complaining, so that is good.
  4. I could tell that they were heavier shoes. After I got on the tar road, the weight became much more noticeable. By the time I finished the tar section, my legs were more tired than they usually are for that distance.
  5. They will never be confused for go faster shoes. The snap or pop that I expect isn’t there, and they are WAY too heavy.
  6. The outsole grip is outstanding. In the snow, the Santiago’s did quite well. On the wet pavement with lots of sand/salt, there were zero issues. The snow didn’t cake up the outsole. I imagine that the shoes on non-snow-covered trails will do nicely. Although deep mud might be a problem.
  7. The upper is too busy, and the plastic saddle to the eyelets probably was unnecessary. Breathability is not a strong point, but I got these for winter use in Maine, so that is not an issue. I am not worried about swamp foot this time year and am more concerned about frozen feet during a run.
  8. The Santiago’s reminded me of my old Brooks Cascadia 8’s from a few years ago. Like the Cascadia 8s, they are a bit heavier, have a great outsole, a secure upper, but the difference was that the Santiago’s had a bit more room in the toe box
  9. Oh yeah, the Cascadia’s red/yellow colorway was a LOT better than Santiago’s black and gray, which I think is BORING.

Overall, it was a good day to test out a new pair of trail shoes. It put them through just about everything that I will use them for during the winter, except running on the snowmobile trails or local walking trails.

The Santiago’s will become my daily winter walking shoes and nasty weather runners. No, I will not be running any races in them, but they will do the job of keeping me upright in most conditions and are not so porous that my feet freeze either.

Yeah, a decent first impression, now to see how they do going forward.

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