Running Adventures of a Trail Brat

Altra Olympus 1.5 Review

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Altra Olympus 1.5

Altra Olympus 1.5

Thanks to Mike Shuman with Shu’s Idaho Running Company I had the pleasure of giving the Altra Olympus 1.5 (Altra’s Maximum cushioning shoe) a try.

I’ve run in the Altra Lone Peak (Altra’s Moderate cushioning shoe) 1.0 and 1.5 and the Altra Superior (Altra’s Minimum cushioning shoe) 1.0. I’ve been a pleased with the Altra product since becoming a dedicated wearer since Sept 2013.

When the Olympus 1.0 came out in Spring 2014, I was excited to try a shoe with some additional cushioning when running 100 mile races. At the time I was experiencing discomfort in the ball of my foot after running for approximately 3 hours. The discomfort would come and go throughout my run. I had been dealing with the issue for at least a year and just ignored it. So I hoped that a shoe with more cushion might alleviate the condition. (Fast forward to today, turns out it was Plantar fasciitis. Gratson technique has been providing me with much relief.) I put so much faith that this shoe could be ‘the answer’ that I had a pair shipped to me in New Zealand hoping they would arrive before I ran Northburn 100. Unfortunately, they arrived after the race. However, still excited to give them a try, I quickly laced them up, walked my daughter the 3/4 of a mile (downhill) to school and intended on going for a run on the trails in Dunedin. Just the walk to school let me know that these shoes were not for me. I ordered a size 8, the same size as my Superior 1.0 and Lone Peak 1.5. My toes hit the end of the shoe so badly that all I wanted to do was get them off my feet as quickly as possible. I sadly returned the shoes and decided to wait until I returned to the US to try a larger size on in the store.

In the store, a size 8.5 seemed like it might work until I ran a moderate downhill. There was so much room in the shoe that my toes were pushed forward, once again hitting the end of the shoe. At this point, I figured I’d remain a devoted Lone Peak 1.5 wearer.

Shortly after this incident, I became disappointed with Altra when they changed the Lone Peak. For me the Lone Peak 2.0 was too stiff for long runs. All I looked forward to doing at the finish line of Wasatch 100 was to take the Lone Peak 2.0 off! Next, my hopes for the Superior 2.0 were dashed when I was unable to find the correct size. Once again, the size 8.0 was a little too small and the size 8.5 was too big. Mike Shuman started calling me Goldilocks, however nothing seemed to be ‘just right’.

After telling Mike I had four pairs of the Lone Peak 1.5 hoarded away while I looked for another shoe, he suggested I give the Olympus 1.5 a try. For that I am so thankful and would like to take a moment to express why I think this is a really fun shoe.

Initial Impressions

After a quick run around the store, I decided to give the size 8 a try. The toe room felt perfect, however the true test would be to take the shoes on some downhill.

First off, here’s some Technical Stuff:

  • Weight: 10.7 oz
  • Stack Height:36 mm
  • Offset: 0 mm
  • Insole: 5 mm Contour Footbed
  • Upper: Quick Dry Trail Mesh.

These shoes do offer a cush ride.The tongue also does not have any extra material. This is a design feature lacking in the Superior 2.0, as I could feel the extra material laying on top of my foot.

The Olympus 1.5 also has Altra’s Gaiter Trap, or velcro connection. I ran in the Lone Peak 1.5 for several months before I noticed this feature. The Gaiter Trap keeps any velcro style shoe gaiter in place. I never bother to glue velcro on to my shoes, so I do like this feature.

Altra Gaiter Trap velcro connection

Gaiter Trap (velcro connection) to keep any velcro style gaiters in place.

Trail Testing

By the time I wrote this review, I had these shoes out on four different trail runs.

Test #1

I ran a quick 7ish  mile out and back along Dry Creek Trail in the Boise foothills. From Bogus Basin Rd, the trail quickly climbs and descends down rocky outcrops before plunging down to one of many creek crossing. The Trail Specific Sticky Rubber stuck great the the rocky trail surface, even after being coated with trail sand.

Dry Creek is never dry. In fact, with the recent warm temperatures melting the snow pack above, the creek crossings were swelling. My out and back involved crossing the creek four times and each time the easiest route was to just wade through the water. I give the Olympus’ Quick Dry Trail Mesh a big thumbs up. The water drained out of the shoe well and I never felt that I was running with soggy feet.

Creek crossing along Dry Creek.

Only way across is through it.

Altra Olympus 1.5 dries quickly

One quick drying shoe.

Returning to my car, I was excited to give these shoes a longer try.

Test #2

This run took me to Eagle Canyon off Willow Creek Rd in Eagle. My friend and I spent a little over three hours exploring a plethora of trails located in this canyon. We hit it all…mud, sand, uphills, downhills, water crossings, cow trails and dirt vehicle access roads. These shoes performed well. Once again, they drained well after two creek crossings, easily climbed the soft, narrow cow trails and quickly descended the fast downhills.

Test #3

I wanted to give these shoes the ultimate downhill test by running Cervidae Peak located 17 miles outside of Boise.

Cervidae Peak is approximately a 2.25  mile climb with just under 2000 feet of elevation gain. The trail is done as an out and back. Therefore, what goes mostly up, up and up, must come all the way down. I ran this trail two years ago in the Hoka One One Bondi B. There was so much extra room in the toe box that doing two laps (two out and backs from the Spring Shores trailhead to the peak) resulted in the bruising of my big toes. I have had my big toe nails permanently removed, so to bruise the left over skin is a pretty big deal. In fact, this is the only time that this has happened. Needless to say, my toes were not constantly being pushed forward while navigating down the trail in the Olympus 1.5.

Climbing Cervidae Peak, Boise

Cervidae Peak involves some climbing…

Climbing Cervidae Peak

and some more climbing.

Downhill along Cervidae Peak

The return trip involves steep downhill.

Elevation Profile for Cervidae Peak

Elevation Profile for Cervidae Peak

Test #4

One last test…just because…involved a 10 mile tempo run through the Boise foothills along the Ridge to Rivers trails Red Cliffs to Sidewinder to Trail #4 to Lower Hull’s. This route involved some climbing with a quick, steep descent down a motorcycle trail. The sandy motorcycle trail provided an uneven, downhill that seemed almost effortless to run down.

Elevation profile for Test Run #4

Elevation profile for Test Run #4

Conclusion

I am very pleased with how this shoe performed and again, very thankful that Mike Shuman gave me the opportunity to give them a try. Next week I will be heading to Page, AZ to run the Antelope Canyon 100. The course will have consist of sandy trails, running on slickrock, some steep scrambles and climbing a few ladders. Naturally, a shoe that performs well while providing a little cushion sounds like a good idea. I think this could be the ultimate test for the Olympus 1.5.

Stay tuned.

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3 thoughts on “Altra Olympus 1.5 Review

  1. Hi. Thanks for this review. It really helps when making decisions. I have run in the Lone Peak 1.5 , Lone Peak 2 and Olympus 1. I recent did a mountain run which was 40k with 2800m of elevation gain with the Olympus and the biggest problem was the lack of grip on the sandy/wet mountain rocks. I would like your comment on the Olympus 1.5 grip after completing the Antelope Canyon 100 which seems to include a fair amount of rock. Thanks Anton, Cape Town, South Africa

    • Sorry for the late response. The traction of the Olympus 1.5 at Antelople Canyon was great. I did, however, slip at Monument Valley on a steep scree hill.

      I was told that the Paradigm 1.0 (and not the 1.5), a road shoe, is the Olympus 1.5 with far superior traction. You might be able to find a pair on sale?

      Right now, my favorite shoe is the Altra Lone Peak 2.5. Excellent traction, great feel and no blisters after several water crossings!

      Best of luck to you 🙂

      • Hi

        Thanks for the feedback.

        The Lone Peak 2.5 is reaching South Africa in September so really looking forward to that.

        The Olympus 2 with the new grip looks awesome. I think it is due in Jan 2016.

        Happy trails. 😆

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