Just a week before my first official 10k race, my Altra One 2, the only pair of shoes I had at the time, split apart after only 200 kilometres of running. I really liked them, but I didn’t want to buy the same pair and risk ripping them apart again after a month. Also, I wanted to go down the route of minimalistic shoes but not too fast. So I turned to my favourite running shoe encyclopedia: the Quiet Roman.

He’s a big fan of Merrell shoes and, as a first step to barefoot running (no pun intended), he recommended the Merrell Bare Access 4 for transitioning. They’re zero-drop (no difference in height between the heel and the toes), weight only 181g per shoe, have a 13.2mm stack (half the stack of the Altra One 2) and reasonable cushioning (8mm) for a runner who’s new to minimalistic shoes. But most importantly they’re red and they look awesome! Even more awesome, the colour is called “Molten Lava”, you’re welcome Anakin Skywalker. And they look equally badass in black (here come the M.I.B.’s).

I had only one week to get used to these shoes before my race, which is not a good thing. On the first try, they were very comfortable and even though they felt a bit narrow for my very wide feet, I really loved them. To my greatest surprise, I also loved the fact that there isn’t too much cushioning, that I could feel the ground better than with my previous pair. Also, they’re red.

But I was still a bit scared for the race, because after my first try on 5 kilometres, I could feel my calves much more than with the Altra. This was because these shoes forced me into a proper form. This worried me because I wasn’t sure I would be able to run 10k like this without feeling excruciating pain in my calves. But my worries faded after my second run (5k) and went completely away on the third run: I went for 11k without any pain. Did I mention that these shoes are awesome because they’re red?

On race day, I was all chuffed (having new gear is a great motivator) and I didn’t feel any pain. I also set my first PB for the distance at 47m 01s, which I reckon is pretty good for a first race. I’m pretty sure I made a good time thanks to these awesome red shoes (yes, they’re red).

Now I’ve moved onto other, more minimalistic, shoes. But I still remember these Bare Access fondly. They’re really comfortable, I don’t recall having had black toes with them, they’re much more resistant than the Altra, and just in case you haven’t understood what is really important in a pair of shoes: the best thing about them is that they’re red.