La Sportiva Bushido – one for the armory

88 / 100 by Ilsuk Han • Level 3 expert

I bought these back in November 2016 and only took them out for my first run in January this year.

I purchased these having a specific race in mind that I was hoping to use them for – the Transgrancanaria 125k, which has an elevation profile of more than 8000m and is known for its technical and rocky volcanic mountain terrain.

With the race taking place at the end of February, time was running out for me take the Bushido out for some test runs and to break them in.

Big in my decision to go with Bushido for Transgrancanaria were the views of my friends in running community who didn't hesitate to recommend La Sportiva in general for mountain running, and Bushido in particular for technical terrain. But of course we all have to find out for ourselves.

 

Figure 1. The robust heel counter is typical of the tough build quality

 

First Impression

So off to the trails of North Downs Way just to the south of London I went, retracing the route of the 7.5 mile Boxhill Fell Race. The terrain was muddier and flatter than what I'd find in Gran Canaria but it'd have to do.

As I laced them up and got going, the words "bomb-proof" and "tank-like" came to mind.

 

Figure 2. The bomb-proof toe cap

 

Militaristic for sure, but apt for a model named after the way of life of Japanese samurai warriors.

The fit was precise and the footing secure, in all but the sloppiest mud where nothing short of spikes will do anyway.

Out of the box the shoes feel stiff, augmented by the hard moulding around the midfoot, but this doesn't hamper the gait in any way.

I did experience a bit of heel slip on the right foot which led to my ankle sock being "eaten" into the shoe.

I wasn't too concerned though, knowing that my right foot almost always takes longer to adapt to a new pair of shoes due to its narrower heel, and the problem was fixed by tightening the laces a touch.

 

Figure 3. The protective midshank

 

La Sportiva use a combination of  soft, sticky rubber and harder wearing rubber for the sole and, while the soft terrain didn't allow for a thorough testing of the grip on rocks, I noted with relief that the Bushido felt fairly well-cushioned on tarmac sections.

The next couple of runs over the weeks leading to Transgrancanaria were also mostly on soft terrain, with some sandy and rocky stretches.

With the longest run at 20 miles, the shoes felt comfortable enough and broken in enough that I headed to the race armed with only these and without a back-up as I normally do.

 

Figure 4. The dual-compound sole

 

Gran Canaria is part of a 7-island archipelago sitting off the coast of West Africa.

Due to its mountainous profile which peaks out at just under 2000m near the center and prevailing North-easterly trade winds, the Northern half of the island tends to be wetter and more lush than the South, which is barren, dry, and rocky.

Transgrancanaria starts at the fishing port of Agaete in the North and ends at beach resort of Maspalomas to the South.

In between is 125km of hills, stream crossings, mud, cobble stone, loose rock, scree, and dusty single track. Perfect testing grounds.

 

Figure 5. Transgrancanaria

Race Profile

 

I finished the race in 25 hours 35 minutes, fairly comfortably within the 38-hour cutoff. I felt comfortable and confident throughout in the Bushidos and was particularly thankful for the robust toe protection for each of the dozen or so times that I kicked a rock.

I did slap on a Compeed blister plaster on the ball of each foot around the halfway mark but this was more of a preventative measure than due to any actual blisters.

To be sure, a blister or two would not be of surprise to anyone given the harsh, dusty terrain but I'm happy to report that the feet came away unscathed, which I believe owe as much to the snug wrap-around fit of the Bushido as anything else.

In sum, I'd happily turn to these again for mountain running in varied conditions and terrain, with bias towards dry and with loose rocks. Prior to starting Transgrancanaria I felt as if I was heading into battle.

With Bushidos at my side, I not only emerged alive but feeling victorious!

 

Figure 6. After 150 tough miles

 

The Specifics

 

Weight: 10.50 oz (298g}

Fit: Performance

Upper: AirMesh / Thermal adhesive microfiber / High frequency welded ripstop / TPU toe cap

Lining: Mesh / Highly breathable lateral mesh inserts / Stretch AirMesh (in tongue)

Midsole: Compression molded MEMlex / 1.5mm dual-density compressed EVA rock guard (in forefoot) / TPU shank

Sole: Dual-Density FriXion® XT V-Groove™ with Impact Brake System™

Drop: 6mm

Ilsuk Han

Ilsuk Han • Level 3 expert

I am a runner. Running shoes are my tools of trade, and I take my tools seriously. I believe in the right tool for the right job and find joy in both the search for, and when matters come together to result in an enjoyable outing. Trail, road, 5k to 100 milers and everything in between- I've done them all!

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La Sportiva Bushido