I must admit that when Inov8 first came onto the American Ultrarunning scene I was skeptical. I was certainly intrigued by the concept of low-slung, minimalist shoes but I was doubtful about the way this type of shoe would hold up over 100 miles and how my feet would feel after 16-20 hours in this shoe.
The Roclite 320 proved my skepticism wrong. After receiving my first pair in January, 2008 I took them on runs of all types -- smooth dirt roads, rugged rocky trails, cross-country scree scrambles, even the track. Again and again the 320 was up to the task. Sporting a bit of a beefier sole than some of Inov8's whisperlite models, the 320 proved to be a great ultrarunning shoe. Admittedly, the small toe box can cause some folks problems, however, if you have narrow or average feet the 320 will fit like a slipper and hold up over hundreds of hard trail of miles.
I have now run three 100 mile races in the 320 and each one has provided proof of the 320's excellent durability and top-notch performance.
In Vermont's hot, humid conditions they were simply outstanding. Transitioning from dirt roads to muddy trails was barely noticeable and the upper was surprisingly airy on a very tough day. It is the rare shoe that can perform equally well in mud as it can in dust. The 320 is one such shoe.
Over Wasatch's rocky and mountainous technical terrain the 320 was stable, strong, and supportive. On the brutal stretch after Brighton known affectionately as "Irv's Torture Chamber" the tread was sticky and firm and by the end I finished the race without a single blister.
Then, just this past February, the 320 once again came up big at the Rocky Raccoon 100. Over substantially different terrain than Vermont and Wasatch (more roots and water and fewer rocks and mountains) the 320 made it's mark as a "runner's" shoe. This was the first 100 in which I literally ran every step and it was there for me every step of the way.
For those of you out there who might be shying away from Inov8 as a long distance shoe I urge you to give the 320 a try. It's durability, stablility and all-around utility make it the perfect ultra shoe from my perspective and I look forward to putting some serious miles on them over the next few months as I prepare for and run the Western States/Hardrock Double.