Freet footwear on my North Coast 500 mile run

At a little after 2am on Monday 22nd April I arrived back at Inverness Castle having run the complete North Coast 500 mile route in 8 days 19 hours 8 minutes and 8 seconds.

Having experienced difficulties with my feet in the early days of my running I thought I would write about how I prepared for this event with specific reference to my footwear.  I’ve worn Freet for all my running and everyday activities since 2016, so I have a history with these shoes now.

My main concerns going into this run were the possible implications of the harsh environment. The wear and tear on my feet given the challenging hilly roads, over 32,000 feet of elevation and potentially very wet conditions. I was planning to be on the road for upward of 20 hours a day.

Firstly I’d like to thank Freet for all their generous help and advice prior to this run. During training I experimented with various combinations of shoes and socks including the more waterproof styles of the Freet range – the Mudee and the Urban 2 Ayr.  To be honest I had never really thought of these as running footwear, but I was surprised at how effective they were in training.

The Mudees were exceptionally comfortable and completely waterproof which was a great help given the Orkney winter weather. They are 50% heavier than the other shoes so gave an extra training benefit as well.  My feet and legs felt very light and springy when changing back to the normal shoes.

It took some time to be happy with my final choices which were to use calf length waterproof socks with a thin liner sock and a continental size larger for whichever Freet shoe or boot I was wearing them with.

I packed the following footwear for the North Coast 500: Urban 2 Ayr, Mudees, Respond and Connect 2 plus the Freet Ortholite 3mm insoles.   I also packed a pair of the Freet Rock Plates – a lightweight, thin and strong plastic insole which guards against sharp stones and so on.  They slip in directly under the insoles and provide an extras layer of protection when required.

What happened?

The weather at 7am, Inverness Castle was freezing cold, but the wind was light and there was a good forecast. As I had done a lot of training back home in Orkney, with my calf length waterproof socks plus a thin liner sock and a size larger Respond shoes, that was how I started.

In reality the timing of my run proved to be almost perfect weather-wise. I hit on a 9-day window of dry, sunny but windy weather which persisted throughout my run. I ‘lost’ three run sessions due to very high winds on the west coast but apart from that, the run was entirely dry except for one evening of drizzle. I was exceptionally lucky in that regard.

On day two I changed to normal socks and my normal size of Respond and did the whole run in that pair of shoes – they were superb!  I’m very fu

ssy about my laces and my crew know that I don’t like them being touched at all. They’re set so that I can slip my foot in and out easily like slippers. The laces were comfortable, the tongue caused no issues and I had no rubbing or blisters. I liked them so much that I wore them to the bitter end despite heavy wear on my left heel.

With the NC500 comfortably behind me, thanks to Freet, my feet are already looking forward to their next challenge which will be a return to my more usual form of racing – a 6 Day track race in Milwaukee, USA – where I’ll be making an attempt on the World age-group record for the greatest distance run in 6 days. The current record is 451.85 miles. I have until Sunday August 25th to prepare myself.


William Sichel

Finish video interview link