As the owner of two 10.5 EEEE feet, my options in running shoes have always been limited. New Balance generally had good support for those of us with wide feet and became my mainstay for many years. When I became interested in minimalist running, however, neither they nor any other manufacturer let us join the party. I was not interested in going completely barefoot and, while I do plan to try out the various styles of running sandals where width is more easily accommodated, I wanted to ease into minimalism by starting with something intermediate between those and my current standard shoes.
After one of the Backyard Burn races last Spring, I stopped by the Lucky Foot tent to see if my own feet might get lucky in finding a new solemate. As it turns out, they did. While at first owner Jeff Van Horn shook his head when I asked about wide minimal shoes, after a second he reconsidered and had me try on a couple of Inov-8 models. The first pair (I don’t recall the number) almost fit, but was a little too tight. The second pair, the Terrafly 303, fit well without socks, but was a bit tight with socks on. I happened to be wearing a particularly thick pair of socks that day, however, so I figured my thinner Balega or Injinji socks would probably work out.
Inov-8 offers four levels of heel-toe drop: 0, 3, 6, and 9 mm. The Terrafly 303 has a 6 mm drop, meaning it is not completely flat, but still much flatter than a typical running shoe. That’s exactly what I was looking for to ease into things. After receiving the shoes (with great service from Lucky Foot), I tried them out with my thinner socks. They were snug, but not too tight. I got used to them gradually by starting with some short walks, then short runs, then increasing my distance until I felt ready to use them in races. From July through November I ran five trail races of 8 – 10k over various surfaces in both wet and dry conditions and the shoes always performed well with good traction. The mesh construction along with the lower height definitely lets in more water than my previous shoes in rainy conditions or on dewy grass, but most of the races I do include stream crossings so I’m used to wet feet.
I would still like to find a genuine EEEE minimal shoe, but in the meantime the Terrafly 303 has staved off thoughts of trying to make my own. When money allows, I’ll test out the 3 mm and 0 mm Inov-8 models to see if any of them unintentionally fit me as well.