“Akasha me outside! How bout dat!” by Christopher Thomas

Posted by Inside Trail Racing in Blog, Commentary, Gear, Uncategorized on May 12, 2017

This is Christopher Thomas’s review of the LaSportiva Akasha mountain running shoe.

At the beginning of last year’s race season my go to shoe was discontinued in the United States. I scoured the internet looking for the last pairs out there and got my hands on the last two pairs in my size. A common theme in my head during my long runs was what was I going to do? I needed to find a new 100 mile shoe. Fast forward, here I am at the beginning of this year’s race season and still no new shoe to be found.

Five weeks ago I went to a demo run and reluctantly tried a pair of shoes I had ran in before and did not work out. They had just gone through a major re model with a more European fit and I was now convinced these were the ones. I bought two pairs, one for training and one for racing and I would buy one more pair later to put in rotation. The first pair lasted 25 days and 159 miles when the upper blew out on the sides. I was able to return them for a new pair. The second pair lasted 27 days and 160 miles before the upper blew out same place opposite shoe. I don’t know about you but I cannot afford a new pair of shoes every month or two. I am more of a three pairs all year kinda guy. So the search continued.

Call it fate or dumb luck! Inside Trail Racing is sponsored by La Sportiva. I got this great idea to do some research on La Sportiva and found the Akasha high cushion mountain shoe. I definitely need high cushion for a couple reasons. I am 48 years old and like my knees, I am 185 pounds light and I run long distance races in the mountains. So, I decided to give them a try, how could you go wrong with the shoe that has been on the feet of the last two finishers of the Barkley Marathons.

First let’s talk sizing. La Sportiva is Italian and they run small. I wear 11.5 in US shoes and 12 in European shoes. Apparently I wear 13 in Italian shoes. That is a 47. La Sportiva does have an extra sizing ½+ which I may be able to wear a 12 ½+ which is a 46.5, but now running in the Akasha I made a good choice with the 13 or 47. The heel cup is awesome, the toe box very roomy. I do lace the top of the shoe with heel locking lacing. Here is a link to a tutorial: Heel Lock Lacing Tutorial. With this lacing my toes do not hit the front even on the steepest down hills and allows me to keep the rest of the laces fairly loose for the long miles. So far I love the fit.

I did three runs so far in them: A road progression run, slower technical trail, and a very steep and technical climbing session.

Run 1:
Testing out comfort I like to run on the road in my new trail shoe and the Akasha performed extremely well. After wearing them around the house for a day or two I took them out for my 90 minute progression run on the roads around my house. I ran 11 miles at 7:35 pace with crazy head winds and painful rain. The Akasha passed the test with flying colors. Drained well, cushion was great and no hot spots. They are bit heavier than I am used to but I could not tell.

Run 2:
Easy run on some technical trails and some smooth trails with moderate climbing and some steep down hills. Again it was pouring down rain most of the run and the Akasha proved to be right choice again. The grip is insane and drainage continued to not be an issue. We ran 11 miles in 2 ½ hours. Still no hotspots and the fit is getting better. The cushion seemed a bit stiff in the first run but seems to be loosening up. I am used to a very soft cushion so this may take some getting used to.

Run 3:
Climbing day. The Akasha has proven itself on the flats and easy trail running. It has shined bright on the technical, loves the rain and is only getting better with each run. How about climbing? This was a 4 hour run, 19 miles with 5584 ascent and 5584 descent. I was worried about the change in drop since I was used to an 8mm drop and the Akasha is a 6mm drop. I have had problems switching drops before in my calves, shins and heels. This was not the case with the Akasha I have not noticed any tweaks or pains while climbing. This was a great run to put them to the test I was able to run the climbs on my forefront, hike heel to toe and power hike on my toes pushing very hard. I experienced long flatter down hills, technical down hills and extremely steep down hills. WOW! Is all I can say. The cushion may be stiffer but the impact reduction was equal to my previous softer shoe. In fact on the third descent I felt better with less hip and knee nagging. Climbing, running is smooth and grip insane. There seems to be some sort of rocker for hiking climbs and very nimble on the power hiking. The descents were great and I have not felt so assured to let it go in the mud and techy stuff. The braking system in the heel (with the reversed lugs) actually works great. Loving these shoes. My only concern is the black upper on my summer runs so I ordered the Sulphur/Black. Although they do breathe wonderfully.

I truly believe I have found my 100 mile shoe. Rugged, cushioned, grippy, and down for the long haul. The Canyons 100K is coming up! Let’s see how they hold up to 62 miles and 15K’ e.g.

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