By: Brian Metzler
For the past year or so, running shoe industry veterans Dave Dombrow and Kevin Fallon have been holed up in a small Portland, Ore., workshop producing an entertaining YouTube webisode series called SpeedHack.
The concept is simple but fun and extremely enterprising. With years of design and development experience at Under Armour, Puma and Nike, to name a few, the two self-professed running shoe geeks put their skills to work to develop SpeedHack as a running shoe mashup show in which they take athletic shoes and morph them into a new concoction.
They’ve turned Adidas soccer cleats into trail running shoes. They’ve taken Nike Alphafly Next% marathon racing shoes and converted them into a mountain bike shoes. They’ve even taken running shoes from two eclectic start-up brands — Atreyu’s no-frills $75 shoes and $825 Courser’s hyper-luxe shoes — and created what might be the world’s first true high-fashion, high-performance model.
They’ve even engaged with the University of Oregon to create an offshoot edition of the show with students in the sports product design program.
But it turns out the SpeedHack show, as entertaining and smartly done as it has been, has really just been a temporary front for something bigger. On June 15, Dombrow and Fallon will officially unveil Speedland, an innovative new brand of trail running shoes with some interesting features.
Although it’s under a media embargo until the launch that’s being organized by the crew behind the Believe in the Run shoe review site and Big Run Media marketing company, posts about the brand on the Speedland Instagram and Facebook channels began on April 9, and RunSpeedland.com site reveals quite a bit about the brand’s unique take on trail running footwear — which it calls equipment and not shoes.
The brand will have a small-batch manufacturing approach that will include sporadic one-off shoe releases tied to the types of trail conditions in various regions of the U.S. (No, Speedland shoes will not be sold at running shops or any retail stores.) Elite ultrarunner Don Reichelt wore a pair en route to winning the Salt Flats Endurance Run 50K at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah.
First out of the box is the brand’s SL:PDX shoe, named in honor of the brand’s Portland roots and epic local trails. It has a removable Carbitex carbon-fiber plate with asymmetrical flex. It’s stiff in one direction, but flexible in the other, offering what the brand says is “the perfect balance of responsiveness and energy return.” The shoe features two BOA Li2 dial platform closures, a Dyneema knit upper and a removable Pebax foam midsole. Perhaps most interesting, the SL:PDX also features a Michelin rubber outsole with lugs that can be — and are meant to be — trimmed to match the regional terrain.
The most exotic feature? The $375 price tag! Orders are being taken online with a promise of an August delivery. Want to learn more about Speedland? Watch this teaser video.