Tuesday, October 12, 2010

*UPDATED* Holes in the Monkey Shoes

So, I got the VFF's KSO's (pictured left) on June 8, but by around the end of August there was a little hole on the bottom of the left sole, right in the center of the second toe (next to the little toe).  I wore them only 2-3 times of week at the most for running, but probably wore them an additional day or two walking to/from the bus and to/from work off the bus.  I have the grey and palm (green) ones so I could see a little bright green speck showing thru.  I thought I may have just scraped something or hit something that didn't go all the way thru, or something tore a piece off.  The next couple of runs in them I checked the toes and the hole was growing.  Then the middle toe started getting a hole.  More runs, bigger holes.  I picked up some Shoe Goo and began putting a thin layer on the bottom of the toes which prevented the holes from getting any bigger, but I would have to do that about every few days.  Then similar holes started appearing on the right shoe.  
Vibram Five Finger Sprints

I eventually went into Lair's Shoes in Rochester (the only VFF retailer in the area) and checked out some of the other models.  The KSO's have a very thin sole so I thought that maybe they were just too thin for me.  The Bikila's feel too thick--almost have a running shoe feel, but are a million times more flexible and in reality are no where near as thick as regular running shoes.  I tried the Sprints (pictured right) and they felt almost like the KSO's but I could tell were a little thicker on the bottom.  However, the 'sandal' like appearance appealed to me as these could possible work in a du or triathlon as it would be quicker to get just my toes into them rather than have to pull on the Bikila's or KSO's.  I had my KSO's with at Lairs and they thought it was odd that a "Vibram sole would do that." Vibram makes soles for just about every footwear company out there so they shouldn't fail on their own line.  Lairs was going to call their VFF rep to see if there was something up with them.  A week went by so I stopped in and they still hadn't called.  I decided to call Vibram Five Fingers in MA.  I told the woman (her name was India, very nice) about my issue just to let them know.  I wasn't asking for a replacement--I was beyond the warranty period and I other than the hole, mine VFF's looked like new.  No seam problems, no problem with the closure strap, nothing.  India thought it was odd that I was wearing holes thru the toes.  She thinks I am striking in a way that is causing the wear in that specific area or that I am pushing off from the toes, or something like that.  I thought that maybe, maybe I am striking with the forefoot or on the balls of my feet.  What I think is actually happening is that I am midfoot striking, then the foot rolls forward and off my toes.  Since the toes of the VFF's are thin and flexible, they are probably scraping and in a sense flicking off the roll as the foot lifts up again, thus sanding little holes.  Anyway, again, I didn't ask India for anything, but then she offers this-- she says "Although you are beyond the warranty period and I can't tell you why that is happening, I can offer you a one-time exchange."  I was floored.  I wore holes thru them, beyond warranty, and they are replacing them for nothing (I have to pay shipping of course).  WOW!!  What a company.  I shipped the shoes out on Friday (10/08/2010) and they are expected to arrive at VFF on 10/14/2010. We'll see after they take a look at them as to whether or not they will actually replace them for nothing.

In the meantime, I still need a pair of VFF's to keep up the training so I decided on the Sprints--I have the identical pair as pictured above.  After a few runs, I can definitely tell they are thicker which help for minor rocks and debris on the road, but I have to say I got really used to the ground feel that the thin soles provide with the KSO's and like them better.  The Sprints will be nice for when a thicker sole is necessary due to road conditions or even trail running.

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