When I first started trail running I was told by a friend who had been ultramarathon running for years that trail running was for those who wanted to get away from the world and back to basics; away from big city marathons and the hustle of everyday life. “You blend into the trails and your worries are left behind”, he once said whilst looking wistfully off into the distance. However, with a pair of the Brooks Catamounts it is pretty hard to blend in anywhere.
There is no point hiding from the white elephant in the room so let’s get the most obvious observation out of the way first. When I first saw photos of the Catamount I thought exactly what every single person I’ve spoken to about them thought: why on earth have they made a white trail shoe? My answer; too much marketing not enough market research.
The Catamount was designed for the Western States 100, the oldest and most revered hundred mile race in the world. It was made to withstand the miles, the ever changing terrain but crucially it was made to go fast on those epic California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains trails. While you might question it’s colour choice you can agree that it looks like it was made to go fast.
Brooks’ PR department clearly came in during the design meetings for this shoe as it is littered with nods to the iconic race; with spaces to write your crew on and even the route of the race etched onto the sole of the shoe and on the logo itself.
The PR brushstrokes are all over the shoe and if I’m honest I find a lot of them a bit of a turn off. The white colour was chosen so you can paint your own adventure with the mud of the trails but in reality from the pictures I’ve seen of those that have been on runs with them they just look aged and worn out. My concern is that even if the Catamount turns out to be an incredible trail shoe its appeal will be hampered because it is white. It might sound like a shallow view but I know a lot of people who have said that they wouldn’t buy a shoe based on colour alone.
The tongue has my least favourite of the PR inputs. It has the words; “Designed and built for 100 miles of run happy”, emblazoned down the entire tongue which in my head means one of two things: a) it lasts for only 100 miles or b) once you get to mile 101 you suddenly start running sad. I know that it is meant to be incredibly durable and I will be coming back with my in-depth thoughts once I’ve done over 150 miles in the shoe as per usual so we shall see if it lasts beyond triple digits or if I have become a glum runner.
Despite all the PR touches the main thing that got me so excited and eventually led me to clicking the buy now button, despite it being the most expensive trail shoe I’ve ever brought at £125, was the DNA Flash midsole. This is the same material used in the Brooks Hyperion Tempo, the best running shoes I’ve run in during 2020. It gives you an effortless kick of speed whilst still providing surprisingly great cushioning. The idea of that technology in a trail shoe made to go a hundred miles in one sitting made purchasing a no-brainer. The initial reviews I read about the shoe also gave me a real jolt of excitement that the shoe that was shipping its way to me was something truly special.
So I will be back next week with my 150 mile review of this shoe (I’m not running 150 miles this week just catching up on posts) but spoiler alert; it might have too much marketing but strip it away and the Brooks Catamount is utterly mind blowing.
Gotta say bravo for such an honest and detailed initial review. I know you do stuff with Brooks and all the other people on that team always post about how the shoes are “like the best thing evarrrr” so its refreshing. Keep up the good work