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Discussion: XC shoes for Orienteering?

in: Orienteering; General

Nov 12, 2020 3:14 AM # 
I can’t possibly been the first person to think about this, so I’m looking for input. I am considering purchasing cross country spikes (shoes) for the sprint races because I can put anywhere from 1/8-1/2 inch metal spikes on them and they are really easy to change out which is a bonus. The only setback is most have low/no arch support which I don’t need anyway (I’m a minimalist) and they are not good for road surfaces. They also are not as flexible as our trail running shoes. Has anyone tried this out yet? Is it worth the shot? Thanks for reading!
Wild Spirit
Nov 12, 2020 4:13 AM # 
Many years ago, you could buy orienteering shoes (eg Silva Spikes) that had longish spikes similar to cross country shoes. They've been banned since about the 1990's by most European federations due to injuries from orienteers getting spiked (presumably accidentally) by others. But for local events in countries that didn't ban them, why not?
Sprint races often have a fair amount of pavement, though, and in some cases the event venue (eg a college campus) or the host club may not allow metal spikes.
Nov 12, 2020 5:52 AM # 
Back before "sprint orienteering" was introduced I tried running a few orienteering races in spikes. Spikes are lighter and faster. You are right to target shorter distances because the lack of heel / arch support is a real problem in anything over about 3km and you can only keep on landing on the balls of your feet for about that long (unless you are a natural forefoot runner). I'm guessing its going to be pretty difficult to find a suitable race in terrain where spikes are a good choice - short / sprint event and no tarmac/paving/concrete/ bare rock.
Nov 12, 2020 7:32 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
I'll second all of these comments: I ran in racing spike shoes for a couple of seasons many years ago, it is only OK when you have a forest race with zero tarmac and very little bare rock! On those perfect days it did feel like it was faster though.
Nov 12, 2020 8:30 AM # 
When I was an active orienteer a decade ago or so. I only ran in cross country spike shoes. If there was events with a lot of paved roads I used to either plug the threads with an ordinary screw or use really worn short spikes. They do put a lot of stress on your body so easy into it. I used them for everything from sprints to ultra long distance.
Nov 12, 2020 8:58 AM # 
Spikes were great for bare rock, provided better grip than studs we use today. Spikes has been banned for quite some time, not just for injuries, but because damage it makes to roots, wooden bridges and other infrastructure. Sprint races here are always urban and we run at peoples backyards (with permission asked). Even studs are usually not allowed. I can not imagine getting permission to arrange a sprint race with spikes allowed.
Nov 12, 2020 9:12 AM # 
Spikes and tungsten studs can also cause severe damage to the lichens and mosses on bare rock. Maybe these aren't so sensitive in Scandinavia, but they are in Australia.
Nov 12, 2020 10:39 AM # 
I can't recall spike shoes being raised as an issue for years, possibly because they've fallen into almost complete disuse - they were relatively common in the 1980s and early 1990s in those places where they were allowed. At that stage there were national bans on them in a few central European countries (Switzerland, Austria and Germany if I recall correctly), as well as at some specific events such as O-ringen.

There have been a few past Australian events (in NSW sandstone areas if I remember rightly) where spikes were banned at the request of land managers, but I don't think that has happened at a specific event for a long time.
Nov 12, 2020 11:18 AM # 
here spike shoe ban is the deault in our federation competition rules. Here is guidelines how organizer can allow them, possible for international champinship races: (try google translate)
Nov 12, 2020 2:17 PM # 
They're not so easy to change out once they get used in real terrain for a while. The pair of Silva spikes I had in the late '80s eventually lost the tungsten inserts from a few of the spikes, and I wanted to replace them, but unscrewing them was a futile effort. Maybe if I had made a habit of unscrewing them periodically and cleaning the threads, I might have had more luck. Without the tungsten, the remaining steel(?) spike wears away very quickly when it encounters granite.
Nov 12, 2020 4:16 PM # 
I ran in, and still have, a pair of O spikes (VJs I think). And I ran in some long races with them (2 Billy Goats...~13Km.) I also used them in some XC races, at least once in snow, where I believe they were useful (although cold). However, they are useless, even I thought, injurious, on any hard surface. I distinctly remember giving up a 4th place on a BG as the finish was across a paved parking area.. I do think XC shoes, without spikes, could work well in sprint venues.
Nov 12, 2020 4:39 PM # 
Wow, Joe got you by one second? That was a great run!
Nov 12, 2020 4:51 PM # 
While XC racers (spikes or no spikes) would be nice on grass or very tame forest, I find the soles too minimalist in forest with roots, rocks, acorns, etc. I can feel those things right through the sole. Also, to save weight the sole is often cut out under the arches leaving that area further exposed. My feet have ended up feeling quite beat up. Thus, I'd be very selective about when I used them.
Nov 12, 2020 6:03 PM # 
XC racing shoes are indeed for the more forefoot oriented runner. I modified all my xc spiked shoes by laminating them on the inside with nylon fabric and rubber glue. This avoided branches to cut through the rather fragile insides of the shoes. They were fantastic as a minimalist shoe for the extreme performance run but not for the casual training. Today I believe that the shoes in orienteering have gotten a lot better than back around the year 2000.
Nov 12, 2020 8:51 PM # 
Nov 12, 2020 10:18 PM # 
one of the reason spikes aren’t used much in O is the increased potential of terrible ankle injuries (jamming foot). front of foot stops while back keeps going. i’m sure there is a better way to describe that but there is a reason metal shoes for O are now front and back

yeah so want Rhombus said.
Nov 13, 2020 12:57 AM # 
I tried them many years ago, even for a Billygoat in NH. As igoup states, the arch has no protection and I had sticks go through the shoe arch and jamb my arch. Retired them after that effort.
Nov 13, 2020 5:11 AM # 
I'm just happy if I spike a control.
Nov 13, 2020 1:20 PM # 
Wild: I'd stick to XC racing flats for Sprints, but experiment with wet conditions to make sure you have grip on stuff like cobblestone.

As with anything with footwear, find what works for you, everyone's preferences are slightly different.
Nov 13, 2020 3:14 PM # 
I knew a guy (who was very good) who preferred soccer cleats for orienteering, in large part because they were cheap.
Nov 13, 2020 5:42 PM # 
Thanks everyone for the great discussion! I learned a lot! I think I’ll stick to my current shoe. I like the soccer cleat idea too. Mostly I’m trying to find more cost effective ways to run. Mainly because my orienteering shoes are $+100 and it looks like they need replacing after every season as I blow out the sides of them.
Nov 13, 2020 9:18 PM # 
WildSpirit, I think you just mentioned the most important points—what are you looking for in a shoe?
—what are your shoes not doing for you?
From my read of your post, you are looking for;
Cost effective, lifespan of at least one season, durable sides that don’t blow out, etc.
Maybe based on your criteria there will be additional recommendations.
Nov 14, 2020 12:08 AM # 
A group of us us grass sports shoes. They seem to be a good solution.
Nov 21, 2020 7:31 PM # 
In Europe we still use shoes with dobb spikes such VJs or Inovs. There are some restricted area e.g. in the Czech sandstone. Yes, these shoes have a thinner sole and less cushioning. Still, I feel safer (less slippery) with dobb spikes off the track and in the slopes.

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