La Sportiva Prodigio Women’s Review

La Sportiva Prodigio Women’s Review

Ah the mighty shoe dilemma.  They tell you running is free, right, and all you need is a good shoe and off you go…. We have all been there! I do wholeheartedly share that running is likely to be an investment in self that if done right won’t cost you too much but the warnings are there that it can be a gateway to much spending.  

I have been on a meandering journey of shoe love then shoe fail but of late I feel I am whittling my way to the holy grail of shoe choices.  For my foot type at least.  So let’s talk about feet… Mine are fairly standard, I’m a size 5 1/2 in normal shoes and often run in a trainer that is 61/2 to 71/2. I have neutral gait and am better in a standard fit rather than a wide shoe, although I have dabbled with Altra which do feel like clogs and are comfy to boot!

La Sportiva has been a go-to shoe for me in races in the past; I used the Mutants when I ran both the Lakeland 100 and the West Highland Way race and rated the shoe highly! However I find it a pain to get the shoe on and off when tired and find the shoe quite heavy as I prefer less support.  The grip on that terrain though was pretty great and I have considered trying the new improved version.  Next up in my La Sportiva journey was the Bushido which was a superb shoe, I loved them and ran several trail ultras in the shoe. They were the one shoe I felt I could drift across tar and trail easily with and they lasted years!

I have been trying to be more sustainable and add extra life to my shoes by patching holes and extending their life (check out PairUps who provide all the tools and expertise you need to fix your shoes!). 

My love affair with La Sportiva had a break as I tried a few different brands but my trusty Mutants were always there, waiting for the next adventure and until the day I could patch them no more.  Then an opportunity to try this beautiful shoe… The La Sportiva Prodigio Women’s! I must admit when I opened the box and revealed their beauty I was instantly in love.  I do like colourful shoes and I had instant joy.  First impressions (after I got over the initial beauty) was how light they felt:

  • Love the feel of the shoe, a weird thing to explain but the shoe shape feels good.
  • The lugs were not bad, I’m used to more aggressive tread but these felt suitable for the majority of trails I run at home in Aberdeenshire and was interested to see how they performed on more technical terrain.
  • I did find the heel box solid and this was a slight concern initially but they have softened with wear and less of an issue now, I do have a size bigger than normally used to so I think for this shoe I need to stick to a smaller shoe.
An image of La Sportiva Prodigio on their side, showing the pink colour and lugs of the shoe

Features (adapted from their website)

  • Anti-abrasion mesh lining made of recycled material
  • HT lightweight knit + wraparound foot cage
  • Bi-compound FriXion® Red
  • Weight: 270 1/2 PAIR (TBD)
  • XFlow™ midsole, supercritical foam with an ultra-dampening and resilient energy-return effect.
  • Progressive Rocker and wide footbed
  • Wrapping System construction that snugly encases and secures the foot, preventing it from moving around inside the shoe
  • Breathable mesh upper for fast drying and to prevent the foot from overheating

Testing

My first adventure with La Sportiva Prodigio was to race The Lakes Traverse, an event which is the first part of the Silva-sponsored Northern Traverse.  The route is 100km (or 90km in my case but that is another story) and starts in St Bees and finishes in Shap.  The route is mostly trail with a little tar and some remoter sections, the weather conditions were deteriorating quickly and the shoes had a very challenging test in the end.

The coastal trail start was very muddy and slippery as the rain started and continued for the entire day, they held their own well and although the lugs are not as suitable for muddy terrain I felt genuinely secure as I slipped my way to the inland trail.  What I did quickly appreciate in this shoe is that they drain water fast and this was a key feature for the day as I was running through rivers by the end, from lakeside paths to boggy trails this shoe had all types of water to navigate.  The later stages found me running along gravel and mountain trail, which again this shoe did well the perform on. The higher foot cage isn’t something I am used to and as much as I did have a small issue with it, it did keep the normal deluge of gravel out of my shoes and as such I didn’t have to decant these throughout the day.  This feature is similar to that of the Mutant and I like the way the tongue behaves as an inner gaiter, stopping the junk from the trail creeping in. 

Photo by NoLimits Photography @ The Lakes Traverse 

The big negative I had is that the balls on the outside of my ankles (The technical medical term for this might be the lateral malleolus but I’m no medic) was very grumpy with the rubbing from the slide wrap around feature.  In hindsight it might have been an idea to wear them before a race of this distance but that is just one of many things I should have considered in preparation for this event.  I ended up with rubbed raw ankles under these ‘lateral malleoli’ and although it was very tender and sore afterwards, during the run I had other things to focus on and wasn’t too aggravated by it.  In discussion with others after about this it has been suggested to try insoles to raise the foot and help make the fit better.  Not sure why I didn’t get to this bright idea off my own back!

Photo by Antony Wilson (Insch Trail Running Club)

Post event I have continued to wear La Sportiva Prodigio on much shorter runs from forest tracks to grassy climbs and I must admit to liking the shoe and have found it very comfortable and versatile, even though it is way more cushioned than my usual shoe choice. 

Pros!

  • Drains water amazingly well and as a result no foot issues after 90 km and 10 hrs of running up and over very damp trails.
  • The cushioning is good, if like me you aren’t keen on cushioning but love a long day out then this is a great compromise!
  • The protected toe box is very helpful and the inner tongue design means less gravel etc getting into your shoes! A win!
  • Deals well with a wide range of non technical trail and is superb for many ultra distance events.
  • The X foam cushioning is a very comfy ride and superb for long days on harder trails.  You won’t feel any chuckies in these shoes.

Cons!

  • The high foot bed is very solid at first and took much breaking in before it was completely comfortable, this was literally the only issue I have with this shoe and once I suss out how to minimise this then I have a contender for a favourite shoe.  I feel that having a half size less might be the instant fix but in the meantime insoles will do!

Conclusion:

Overall = 8/10

I really like this shoe for mixed terrain running.  Aberdeenshire has many forestry trails and rolling hills which have nice trails so this shoe is perfect for that!  I have trialled it in the Lakes and in Wales on coastal trail and valley running, it coped well with both and not only was the shoe very comfortable to wear but performed well.  I do find it hard not to love the colours and design of the shoe and there is a good range of colours available which is an added bonus.  I’m greatly looking forward to trying these shoes out more and seeing how far they can be pushed!

Design = 8/10 – not a fan of the high foot cage

Features = 9/10 – love the mesh and tongue design! I would like a more aggressive tread.

Performance = 9/10 – For mixed terrain ultra marathon distance this shoe is ideal! Not for mountain runners although I feel it wouldn’t be awful!

Value = 7/10 Retails at an average of £125 which is on the higher end to what I would normally pay for a pair of shoes but I guess this is the going rate these days!

About the author: Jenni Rees-Jenkins is a Scottish trail running biology teacher.

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La Sportiva Prodigio Review
La Sportiva Prodigio Men’s
La Sportiva Levante Review
La Sportiva Levante
OUR RATING:
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"I must admit when I opened the box and revealed their beauty I was instantly in love.  I do like colourful shoes and I had instant joy.  First impressions (after I got over the initial beauty) was how light they felt"

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