This is my review of the VJ XTRM OCR Trail shoe. I wore these for the Savage Race and Savage Blitz in Maryland this past weekend. I am not a Brand Ambassador or Sponsored Athlete for them. These views and opinions are strictly my own after 2 races of about 10 combined miles, and several hours of wearing them while volunteering on the course. I will update this review after more races have been completed with them.
So after using the Saucony Peregrine’s for the last 3 years, I used this years version at NJ for the Ultra, and didn’t feel like it was giving me the grip I needed. Also last years pair had ripped apart after only a few races in 2018, so I felt like durability was going to be an issue. When I looked around for another shoe, the one name that kept coming up in conversation was the VJ XTRMs.
I ordered my pair on Tuesday and had them by Friday. Amazing fast shipping. I wasn’t expecting to have them right away for the race weekend. I tried them on and they have a very true fit. I wear a size 9 in running sneakers, and I ordered a size 9 in this as well. I have a little wiggle room in the toe box but not much. The heel is nice and tight around the ankle. I also tied the laces through the tongue loops to give the shoe a tighter and more secure feel.
The races in Maryland ended up being the perfect testing grounds to use these shoes. It rained most of the week before the race. Saturday morning it continued raining while I was driving down, and then also poured while the Pro wave had started. It also rained all day Sunday as well.
Despite the muddy wet conditions, these shoes held their grip during even the slippery declines and inclines. I was able to run down the muddy hills while still feeling secure in my footing. On the uphills, the shoes locked into the dirt and held their ground as I trudged on. I was actually pretty amazed as people around me were slipping and having issues.
For many parts of the race, the shoes were completely submerged in mud and water. Also, there were several pools of water that I either jumped into as obstacles, or fell into after failing obstacles. Each time the shoes would still shed the water and mud quickly.
The Fitlock system kept the shoes on my feet. Despite the fact that the mud was up to my knees, and sometimes even my waist, the shoes held on and never felt like they were going to come off. Also, even after they had been through the mud many times, I never had to tie them during the race. The laces stayed tight and the heel area didn’t get loose like I’ve had with other shoes where after several miles they feel like your heel is going to come out of them.
The only times I slipped on the course was when I stepped on the bottom of the pools onto that slick rubber lining they use. Not sure any shoe would do good on those, because there is nothing to grip. Also, when climbing the wooden steps on some of the obstacles, it felt a little slick. I’ve had this issue at Savage Race with other shoes as well though, so I wonder if that’s a product of that wood as well. The grip held on obstacles like Colossus and Slip wall, so I am curious to see how they will do on obstacles like Z wall and Olympus. Savage Race didn’t have any obstacles like that this weekend.
Also I wore them during my volunteer shifts Saturday and Sunday. They felt comfortable even after standing in them for hours. I did have to take them off at one point and get some of the sandy mud out of them. But I think that speaks more to how often my feet were completely submerged in mud, and not an actual fault of the shoe.