Run Oregon receives and tests running shoes from time to time. This initial post about the CTM Ultra Carbon from Craft.
- Stack Height: 40mm/30MM
- Weight: 9.17oz (8.5 mens)
- Upper: 100% polyester Jacquard+TPU no-sew
- Midsole: 100% EVA Foam
- Midsole insert: 100% carbon
- Outsole: 100% Rubber
“Having spent the last years in the lab, obsessing over beyond-maximum energy return and the fastest and most aggressive heel-to-toe drop, we have finally gained the minutes and seconds we were looking for. Since there are no shortcuts to the top of the world, CTM Ultra Carbon stands on a platform of front-line engineering and relentless testing, in the lab and on the road.”
Carbon plate running shoes are all the rage right now. What was once some thing that only one or two companies were rolling out, the last few years have seen an influx of this style, designed for speed and breaking personal records, come to the market. Craft, best known for their space in the cycling world but still with a slice of the running market, recently released their first carbon plated running shoe – the CTM Ultra Carbon.
There are a lot of unique components to the issue, but perhaps the most significant is that, while this is able to be utilized as a road shoe, it was designed in collaboration with famed Tommy Rivs, and ultrarunning legend, and functions as the trail alternative to the carbon plated shoe landscape.
I (sadly) am not an ultra-distance runner, nor am I elite, but this shoe is a really amazingly nice pair of shoes that can cross over between surfaces. The quality of the shoe was apparent when opening up the box, and while I preferred the wacky “Dazzle Cam” color styling, the reviewed Gem / Black option was a fun alternative.
I found this to have a nice feel out of the box. Even with the thicker midsole, one word that entered my brain when trying these on was “thin”. The upper itself is thin, so much so you can actually see through it. The heel portion is also thin, with only a couple bumps on the back to keep the heel secured. This seemed/seems a little odd considering this is made for technical terrain, but it is what it is. It took a few different lacing techniques before I found the right fit to keep my heel snug with the first few leading to heel blisters.
Going back to the midsole, given its size, and the fact we are looking at a 40mm stack, I expected these to fee pretty bouncy, but the rides have been unexpectedly firm. I think this is good for those like me who aren’t necessarily running long distances on the trails, but I am wondering about how this generally less-padded bottom will hold up to the pounding that can come with technical trail running. That being said, the insole – complete with little bubbles/dots (apparently called TPU beads) on the bottom is really nice.
It also fits really light for a trail shoe and I can see why people would want to use this for speed on the trails. There is a definite rock in the heel that propels runners forward – something that I found quite nice as a heel striker. On one of my first runs in them – a 6 mile trail event at a local winery – my time was surprisingly quick on a perpetual up-and-down course. My uphill momentum felt much more stable that I was anticipating and I will attribute that to the shoe and not because I’m in premium running shape (I’m in a really good spot , but I don’t generally maintain speed as well on the uphills).
I did like the ability to crossover between road and groomed trail and the outsole rubber pattern works well for both. I have tried on both terrains and these hold up quite well. The different lug sizes appeal to traction points and being able to hold up in wetter temperatures, as well as dryer. It was almost surprisingly comfortable and solid on the road that I have found myself utilizing it more there (is that a good or a bad thing – I don’t know?). In consulting with a more experienced technical trail runner than myself, one thing they noted is a concern about that high of a stack height on trails with complex composition. That’s something to keep in mind though.
Overall, I am not 100% sure the CTM Ultra Carbon is geared towards a runner like me – someone who mostly runs roads and trails that fall on the less-technical side of the scale. That being said, I really have enjoyed these shoes. They have taken a little getting used to, but I really feel fast in them now and love the crossover capabilities. I love having these in my car if there is a chance to get in some miles but I’m just not sure what terrain will be available. It’s easy to run in these around the Waterfront in downtown PDX and then head up to Forest Park with ease and comfort. The price tag is a little hefty, as most/all carbon-plated performance shoes are, so that may be a little bit of a drawback. But if you are looking for speed and function – these may be a great investment.
Thank you to Craft for providing us with a sample pair. Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.