The Western States Endurance Run is the world’s oldest 100-mile race. This weekend, almost 400 runners will set off from Squaw Valley, California, and head west alongside the crest of the Sierra Nevada, by way of uncovered high-alpine terrain, rambling streams, and dense forest.
A race like Western States calls for the very best degree of dedication, bodily health, and psychological preparation. Of course, it additionally requires high-functioning gear—like, you realize, good socks. These are the socks that eight Western States runners will put their religion on this weekend.
Fruit of the Loom Heavy Duty Reinforced Crew Socks ($30 for 10 pairs)
Western States developed from a 100-mile horsepacking race generally known as the Tevis Cup. In 1974, Gordy Ainsleigh, a chiropractor from Auburn, Colorado, turned the primary particular person to run it on foot, ending simply 18 minutes underneath the 24-hour time restrict and thus founding the long-lasting occasion. This 12 months, the 71-year-old hopes to safe his 23rd Western States end, and he’ll be operating in Fruit of the Loom crew-cut work socks—which he additionally wears for gardening, landscaping, and sustaining native trails. “These American-made work socks are simply astounding for the way they feel on my feet, especially when I’m running long distances,” Ainsleigh says. The socks are a mix of cotton, polyester, and spandex. Ainsleigh cuts off the elastic band on the prime of the sock, as a result of it’s constrictive and limits circulation. “The socks hold up without them just fine,” he says.
Injinji Run Lightweight Mini Crew ($12)
At 57, Meghan Laws has completed Western States 11 instances—together with ten top-ten finishes. The Californian runner, coach, and mother swears by five-toe socks from Injinji. “Without them, I get blisters between my toes,” Laws says. Injinji has a patent on its fashionable five-toe sock design. The light-weight mini crews are a minimalist sock made with artificial, breathable Coolmax and nylon.
Smartwool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew and Injinji Liner Crew NuWool ($24 and $12)
Jesse Marco Haynes
Jesse Haynes, a 45-year-old Southern Californian with 4 Western States finishes, has an “interesting and complicated protocol” in the case of socks. He layers Injinji’s skinny, lightweight wool liner socks with Smartwool’s merino medium-cushion crew that’s designed with an extra-durable knit. The five-toe Injinji socks shield his toes from blisters, and the Smartwool provides additional cushion to fight soreness. An almost seamless toe prevents abrasion, and mesh zones dump warmth. The taller crew peak additionally shields Haynes’ toes from particles on the path. “I am all about the wool,” he says. “It’s durable, moisture-wicking, cool in the heat, and warm in the cold.”
CEP Women’s Ultralight Socks ($60)
Fiona Hayvice continues to be trying to find the proper sock. The 42-year-old from New Zealand has worn CEP Ultralight Socks for the previous 3 years, together with 1 Western States end. The compression cloth will increase circulation in her decrease legs. “The snug, knee-high fit really does stabilize my joints and muscles,” Hayvice says. “Ultimately, they help me run faster for longer and recover faster, too.” Compared to CEP’s different compression socks, the Ultralights are decrease quantity and extra breathable. That mentioned, Hayvice’s toes had been plagued with blisters that hindered her efficiency at Western States final 12 months. “Sock choice may not have made any difference. However, I’m pretty keen to find out if the issue can be mitigated with individual toe socks,” she says. This 12 months, she’ll check out the Injinji Ultra Compression ($49), a light-weight sock with compression that begins on the ankle and step by step will increase because it strikes to the higher calf.
Compressport Pro Racing V.3 Trail Sock ($18)
“Western States is a hot race,” says Paul Giblin, a 40-year-old skilled ultrarunner and coach. Temperatures throughout the race frequently hit the nineties and typically even inch their method into triple digits. Compressport makes use of an ultra-breathable mesh that retains air transferring by way of the entire foot. Giblin says seamless sock with a strengthened cushioning underneath the toe and a roomier toe field retains his toenails intact. “These just feel like a natural part of your feet,” he says.
Drymax Running Socks ($40 for 3 pairs)
Karl Meltzer and Ian Sharman
Two-layer Drymax socks have a hydrophobic interior layer that pulls sweat and water away from the pores and skin and right into a moisture-attracting outer layer. So even when your socks don’t have an opportunity to dry out, the moisture gained’t trigger friction that results in blisters. Drymax’s system works so properly that most of the Western States runners we reached out to had been fast to advocate the model. (Drymax additionally sponsors a lot of them.)
“I never have problems with socks, blisters, or feet issues,” says Karl Meltzer, who holds the world document for probably the most ultramarathon wins (he’s gained 38 100-mile races). He at all times opts for Drymax, and the model even named a mannequin after him, referred to as the Speedgoat. Ultrarunner Ian Sharman, who additionally labored with Drymax to develop his own sock, provides, “I like a decent amount of cushioning in the sock, nothing too light around the toes, robustness and moisture-wicking.” These socks examine all these bins.