Fact: I’d never before run in a New Balance shoe, but after reading some positive comments about the Leadville 1210v2, I decided to test run it for myself and see what all the fuss was about. Here are my thoughts.
Promo Copy from New Balance:
Now nothing has to stop you from going deeper into the woods or traveling faster on the trail. The Leadville 1210v2 running shoe is as tough as its namesake race, combining a responsive ride with durable traction. It’s the shoe high-mileage trail runners wished for, designed with input from ultra-runners.
Stats & Construction:
Appearance & Price
My first impression of the Leadville 1210v2? Meh. I wasn’t jumping up and down with joy when I first saw the shoe in person. It looks a bit bulky. But I reminded myself not be hasty; we all know that looks can be deceiving. The shoe retails for $124.99, which is competitively priced for most trail running shoes, and you can find them online for as low as $90.
Fit & Feel
I normally wear a women’s size 9 in trail running shoes, but for this shoe I chose a wide width and got fitted for a size 8.5 instead. (Side note: Anytime you pick a wide toe box for a shoe, go down half a size.)
Foot in the shoe, it feels ultra-light — nothing compared to my “first impression” of the way it looked. Not only does the shoe feel nimble, it feels soft and extremely flexible despite the cushion and stack height. I didn’t feel the 8mm heel to toe drop at all.
I should point out here that I run in minimal shoes — zero to 4mm max heel to toe — so I’m very receptive to that drop and was hesitant before I test ran the 1210v2 because of its 8mm drop.
I’ve logged about 400 miles of pure trail in these shoes since I bought them, on terrain ranging from technical to rocky to muddy. I’ve used these shoes while training and liked them so much that I decided to run the Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Stagecoach Line 100 Mile race in them.
Long story short: I ran the entire length of the 100-mile race in LT1210v2 without having to change the shoe, which is not “normal” for me. During almost all of my races I end up having to swap shoes at about 60 to 80 miles into the race because of blisters or issues with the toe box. Not here!
The shoe did not require a break-in period; straight out of the box I was able to knock out 12 miles with no problem. The shoe has a soft feel, and despite the cushioning is extremely responsive to the rugged terrain. In fact, the extra cushion was a welcome feature as it kept my feet from getting banged up while running in the 100-mile ultra — less fatigue and great response to help with toe offset, minus the added weight.
The shoe upper is lightweight and breathable, and I absolutely dig the gusseted tongue! I’ve run in multiple shoes from multiple brands, and the gusseted tongue is a huge feature in trail running shoes that gets neglected, in my opinion. It keeps the tongue from sliding and holds the shoelaces in place, and you can run debris-free on any uneven surface with loose rocks and roots. It’s the attention to little details like this that make for a smooth ride!
The wide toe box is a lifesaver as it allows for foot expansion on long runs and keeps blisters from forming under your toenails while you’re bombing those downhills. The shoe has an aggressive lug that offers great traction on ascent and decent while running on multiple surfaces. The flex grove system on the forefoot allows the shoe to feel more pliable under foot rather than stiff and rugged. With this shoe you get full ground contact; not only does it offer stability, it feels great on your feet and is extremely responsive.
I love these shoes! I would recommend the Leadville 1210v2 for anyone who is looking for that median between the minimal and maximum shoe movement. It’s a no-bullshit kind of shoe: not much for looks, but it will get the job done and your feet will love you for that.
Author: Shalini Kovach is a trail junkie and ultra distance runner, forever in search of the perfect gear that will make life easy out in the wilderness.