Altra Olympus Shoe Review

Introduction
Since my last review I stick to “specific purpose” type shoes.  The types of shoes worn for specific workouts or terrain.  I guess I am a victim of over specification, but that just means more shoes.  When training for Angeles Crest 100 I quickly realized that the trails were not as smooth as I expected and I would need a sturdier more built shoe.  
 
 
 
A few years ago I ran comfortably in the Hoka.  Hoka OneOne is the company known for brining the shoe revolution full circle.  Instead of joining the crowd of minimalist style companies they build foot pillows.  I used the Hoka Bondi B and the Hoka Mafate (version 1.0).  The Hoka was great for me at the time because it was forgiving and allowed me to stack up miles without the wear on my joints.
 
However, as my form improved I realized a few things.  
 
1. The lower the “drop” (Heel to Toe difference) the better my form  
2. Minimal and Maximal…no matter…its all about feel
3. Every shoe has its purpose
 
     I purchased Altra Instincts because they were zero drop which meant that the toe and the heel were the same height off the ground.  This allowed my foot to land mid foot without feeling out of place.  When it cant time to purchase a high mileage shoe for the trails I looked but kept coming back to the Altra brand.  Thus, I purchased the Olympus.
 
Shoe Specs
Stack Height: 36 mm
Weight: 11 oz
Upper: Mesh
 
Pros
 
  • The tread functional and not aggressive.  You can confidently take them on the road without noticeable change in performance.  Shoes built for the “trails” typically have such an aggressive tread that they are uncomfortable and foreign on flat surfaces, this shoe can easily go from road to trail to road without that odd sensation
  • Gaiter Tab: on the back of the shoe the gaiter tab is a clever addition taken from the Altra Lone Peak, its hidden enough that you may not have noticed it when you first picked up the shoe
  • Upper: the mesh upper drains well and is breathable.  Some of the previous Altra models ran a little hot, but this shoe stays cool even under the harshest conditions
Note the Gaiter Tab
 
Cons
  • Not the best on technical stuff.  The fact that the cushion is protecting you from rocks is great, but when you can’t feel subtleties its an issue.  
  • On a run in Angeles Crest I rolled my knee awkwardly because the shoes platform completely turned over a large rock.  Rather than flexing the whole shoe went in an odd direction since it does not flex at the middle as a minimalist shoe would have.
Conclusion
Altra Running has found the sweet spot between minimal and maximal.  They have “minimal” shoes in the sense that they are zero drop, wide toe boxed and motivate your feet to land mid foot.  However, the additional cushion shoes have the typical drawbacks of missing “feel” and feedback.  The protection caused me to take longer strides and focus less on turnover and cadence which sacrificed efficiency over longer stretches.


Would I recommend this shoe?  Absolutely.  If you need protection out not he trails but still want to keep the form you have so diligently worked on these are a great choice.  But, definitely keep another less stacked shoe option for speed days and those days you want to feel everything.
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