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 The Gearage: Topo Athletic MTN Racer 3

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You can find the Gearage podcast on Youtube and wherever you listen to podcasts.  Interested in trying a pair for yourself – bop on over to grab a pair!


For the longest time in the trail and ultra-running scene, if you had a wide foot, you had one reliable choice for shoes. I’ll give you a hint: a brand that starts with an A and rhymes with ULTRA (Wait wait don’t tell me…). While that brand hit the mark on width for many runners, it often fell short in other aspects – cough zero drop cough cough.  Luckily, limited choices for trail and ultra-runners are no more. Enter, Topo Athletic. Topo, a relatively new brand on the running scene, came to the rescue with a wide shoe base that also incorporated drop (a change in stack height from heel to toe). Despite being the new kid on the scene, Topo has slowly been growing in popularity on the roads and most notably on the trails. But does a foot shaped shoe with a drop really make a difference? Does the Topo MTN Racer 3 set itself apart from its foot shaped shoe rivals? Is the MTN Racer 3 the foot shaped shoe of our dreams? Let’s find out. 

The Topo Athletic MTN Racer 3

Total Miles: 25

The Good:

  • Foam – The Zipfoam in the MTN Racer 3 steals the show, offering a plush and responsive feel that truly elevates your runs. For only having a stack height of 33mm you would not expect such a cushioned ride! A big surprise on the underfoot feel here. With the MTN Racer 3 being my first Topo shoe, I truly was not expecting such a responsive ride. 
  • Durable Materials –  These shoes are built tough! The materials can handle rough trails and intense terrain, providing durability that can take a beating. I ran on some gnarly, rainy trails of the “Beast Coast” and the MTN Racer 3 came out on the other side on top while keeping it rubber side down. When you are looking for a shoe to hit the trails, it is nice to know your shoe can get you from point A to point B with no issues due to malfunctioning materials.
  • Vibram Outsole – Give me a trail shoe with Vibram outsole and I am a happy camper. Vibram just gets the job done, every time. In rainy and rocky terrain the MTN Racer felt fantastic, with no slipping or sliding! 
  • Affordable Price – At $150, this shoe offers incredible value in a market where prices are soaring. It’s a steal for the quality you’re getting. I think if you are a runner with a wider foot this shoe could become your go-to workhorse without breaking the bank. Shoe costs are continuing to rise and at $150 you get a wide shoe option that can take a beating, providing durability for your feet and your wallet.
The Athletic Topo MTN Racer 3 comes with a vibram megagrip outsole

The Bad:

  • Fit – Unfortunately for me, the width of the shoe led to significant slippage. This caused a lot of toe discomfort and ultimately led to busted-up toenails. If you have a wide foot, the width of the shoe may be a selling point – but for everyone else, I think these might actually be too wide inhibiting a lockdown ride. 
  • Rock Plate – I wish the MTN Racer 3 either had more foam or a rock plate. While the Zipfoam is nice and responsive, there is not a ton of it. On very rocky areas on my runs, I could feel the terrain underneath and my feet took a beating. This shoe left me feeling like I needed a little bit more protection than it afforded.
  • Aesthetics – The color scheme, orange and brown, might not be everyone’s favorite. Every time I looked down at this shoe, I just kept picturing the Cleveland Browns, and honestly, that is not the NFL team you want to be compared to… It’s more of a personal preference, but it didn’t quite catch my eye.
The Topo Athletic MTN Racer 3 has a breathable mesh upper and a wide toe box

The Pro:

With its responsive cushion and Megagrip traction, I have a shoe that takes me on any trail adventure with a smooth and nimble ride for any distance without sacrificing weight or comfort. A great daily trainer or 100-mile racer, this one does it all for me. My feet and legs have never been happier.” – Topo Athletic Pro Runner Zac Marion

I’ve used the shoe for everything from a steep, technical VK to a fast 100K and think it performs well at both ends of the spectrum thanks to a good mix of comfort/cushion and grip. It’s a relatively light shoe, too, which is why I’m inclined to use it during faster efforts. It’s also nice to have a shoe with a wide toe box that doesn’t sacrifice fit, meaning that the shoe doesn’t slide around and it sits on my heels nice and snug.”Topo Athletic Pro Runner Jade Belzberg

“The MTN Racer 3 was my go to trail shoe in my rotation of Topos because of its amazing updated cushioning and added width to the toebox. The Vibram Megagrip is also unrivaled and being able to use it on a wide variety of surfaces gave me confidence in every run. The shoe is also super durable, yet surprisingly lightweight.  I use this shoe as both a daily trainer for long days in the mountains and in 100 mile races. It’s great for super rocky terrain and uneven surfaces. I 100% recommend this shoe for those looking for a comfortable wide toe-box and a secure midfoot and heel lock. It’s a pair of shoes that can go all day long.” – Topo Athletic Pro Runner Anthony Lee

Verdict:

The Topo Athletic MTN Racer 3 delivers a big punch and a nice trail running shoe for folks looking for a more forgiving shoe shape or who just need a little extra space. At the price point, it’s hard to pass up if you’re looking for a little change in your shoe rotation. Folks with narrower feet, however, may find it has too much volume and see foot slippage as a result. Needless to say, Topo Athletic’s trail and road shoes have caught my attention and I’m excited to see what else they put out soon. 

Looking down on the Topo Athletic MTN Racer 3

*** Disclaimer – The Topo Athletic MTN Racer 3 was provided by Topo Athletic for review. Topo Athletic did not pay for this review, all opinions are our own.***

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