Friday, May 17, 2024

Mount to Coast R1 Review: a road ultramarathon racing shoe

Article by John Tribbia

Mount to Coast R1 ($160)


A brief introduction of what is new, interesting or significant that has you interested in testing,  what the shoe is intended for according to the marketing and your prior experience with earlier versions pluses and minuses. 

John: Mount To Coast (MTC) is back with another intriguing offering: the R1. This shoe specifically targets the road ultramarathon scene, a niche often overlooked in the running shoe market, and promises a unique blend of features designed for conquering long distances.

Several aspects pique my curiosity. First, the R1 boasts a LightCELL midsole, a supercritical Pebax hybrid foam that promises a lightweight, responsive ride – a godsend for battling fatigue during ultramarathons. Additionally, the ZeroSag insert, inspired by race car shock absorbers, hints at unwavering support throughout the miles. This combination seems to say, "Bring it on, I'm built to last."

Secondly, the success stories surrounding the R1 are hard to ignore. Athletes setting records in prototypes during the JOGLE ultramarathon – that speaks volumes about the potential of this shoe for long-distance performance. Sure, there might be a slight trade-off in responsiveness for short, fast runs, but for the ultramarathoner, that's a small price to pay for long-distance bliss. The outsole material might make a bit of noise on wet surfaces, but that seems like a minor detail when considering the bigger picture of conquering hundreds of miles.

Overall, the R1 feels like a dedicated partner for the ultramarathon journey. Its focus on comfort, innovative technologies, and promising results make it a shoe that demands exploration. I'm eager to see if the R1 can truly live up to its potential and become a reliable companion on the long road ahead.


Lightweight and Durable Midsole (John)

Natural Stride and Fit (John)


Midsole not as responsive for short and fast efforts (John)

Outsole Noise (John)

Tester Profile

John Tribbia (5' 6", 130lbs) is a former sponsored mountain/trail runner who has run with La Sportiva, Brooks/Fleet Feet, Pearl Izumi, and Salomon. Even though he competes less frequently these days, you can still find John enjoying the daily grind of running on any surface, though his favorite terrain is 30-40% grade climbs. He has won races such as America's Uphill, Imogene Pass Run, and the US Skyrunner Vertical Kilometer Series; and he's held several FKTs on several iconic mountains in Boulder, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah. If you follow him on Strava, you'll notice he runs at varying paces between 5 minutes/mile to 12 minutes/mile before the break of dawn almost every day.


Weight: men's 8.17 oz  / 231g (US9)

Samples: men’s  8.17 oz  / 231g (US9)

Stack Height: men’s 32.5 mm heel /24.5  mm forefoot ( 8mm drop spec) 

Platform Width: 90 mm heel / 80 mm midfoot / 120 mm forefoot

$160. Available now at Mount to Coast HERE

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

John: The first time I slipped on the Mount to Coast R1s, my immediate impression was of plush comfort. 

The double-layered jacquard upper felt soft against my skin, and the wide toe box was a welcome change from some of the narrower racing shoes I'm used to. 

I took them for a spin on one of my usual five-mile loops, and the TUNEDFIT dual lacing system really caught my attention. 

Being able to adjust the fit independently in the forefoot and midfoot was kind of a revelation. 

Like most, my feet can swell a bit on longer runs, so having that extra control felt like a game-changer for tackling longer efforts in the future. Overall, the first impression was definitely one of a shoe built for long-distance comfort and adaptability, prioritizing those elements over a super-speedy feel.

Midsole & Platform

John: The midsole of the Mount to Coast R1 is a fascinating blend of cutting-edge technology and targeted functionality. The LightCELL midsole base, a supercritical Pebax hybrid foam, is incredibly lightweight. It feels noticeably springy and responsive underfoot, providing a good amount of energy return with each stride. This translates to a feeling of effortless movement, particularly during long miles when fatigue starts to set in.

However, it's important to note that the focus on long-distance comfort does come with a slight trade-off. While the LightCELL foam offers good energy return, it might not be quite as responsive as some high-performance foams used in racing shoes designed for short, fast runs. This means those seeking a shoe for quick bursts or tempo runs might find the R1 a touch less lively.

The addition of the ZeroSag insert, a polyurethane component inspired by race car shock absorbers, adds a layer of consistent cushioning and support throughout the run. This is especially noticeable on longer runs where the midsole might otherwise begin to compress and lose some responsiveness.

Overall, the combination of the LightCELL foam and ZeroSag insert creates a midsole that prioritizes long-distance comfort and durability. It provides a smooth, cushioned ride with a decent level of bounce, making it a compelling option for longer distance runners seeking a shoe that can handle the demands of extended mileage. However, runners focused on short, high-intensity efforts might want to consider a shoe with a slightly more responsive midsole design.


John: Regarding the outsole of the R1, it stands out for prioritizing both lightness and durability, essential qualities for ultramarathons. However, there's one potential drawback to consider: I noticed a noticeable squeak when running on wet surfaces or walking on wooden floors at home. The brand is aware of this issue and is addressing it with the upcoming R1R model, which will incorporate a rubber outsole for enhanced grip and potentially reduced noise.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

John: Taking the R1 out for runs at various paces reveals its distinct strengths and potential drawbacks. At slower, comfortable paces, the shoe truly shines. The LightCELL midsole offers a soft, cushioned feel, and the ZeroSag insert adds a layer of reassuring support underfoot. The wide toe box allows for natural foot expansion, and the GOFLOW geometry promotes a smooth, efficient stride. It feels like a shoe that encourages effortless miles, perfect for conquering long distances.

However, when picking up the pace, the R1's focus on long-distance comfort becomes more apparent. While it delivers a decent amount of energy return, it doesn't feel quite as responsive as some high-performance racing shoes designed for faster efforts. This isn't necessarily a dealbreaker, but it's something to consider if your running primarily involves shorter, quicker bursts.

Overall, the Mount to Coast R1 excels as a shoe built for ultramarathon comfort and support. Its lightweight construction, innovative midsole technologies, and focus on long-distance needs make it a compelling option for runners tackling ultramarathons or long training runs. While it might not be the ideal choice for short, fast bursts, the R1 offers a smooth, cushioned ride that prioritizes long-term comfort and fatigue reduction.

If you're an ultramarathoner seeking a comfortable, supportive shoe for conquering long distances, the R1 is definitely worth considering. Its innovative technologies and focus on long-term performance make it a strong contender in the ultramarathon shoe market. However, if your running primarily involves shorter, faster efforts, you might find the R1 a touch less responsive than shoes specifically designed for those paces. Additionally, be aware that the current outsole material prioritizes lightness and might produce some noise on wet surfaces, though the upcoming R1R model with a rubber outsole addresses this concern.

John’s Score 8.6 / 10

Ride (50%): 8.5 (great for longer tempo efforts)

Fit (30%): 9 (great customization with the lacing system)

Value (15%): 8 (I wasn’t a huge fan of the outsole noise)

Style (5%):  9 (love the sleek white and mountain logo)



Index to all RTR reviews: HERE 

Mount to Coast R1 vs. MTC S1 (RTR Review)

While both Mount to Coast shoes utilize innovative technologies like the ZeroSag insert and LightCELL midsole for long-distance comfort, their focus differs: the R1 is a race-ready contender prioritizing lightweight performance with a responsive feel for long distances. The S1, on the other hand, is the ultimate training companion, built for high mileage with a focus on long-term durability and consistent support.

R1 and S1 available now at Mount to Coast HERE

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Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below! Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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Anonymous said...

Great review! Is the insole removable? And what material is it?

Sam Winebaum said...

The insole is removable. It is similar to an Ortholite in feel but not branded as such, maybe a bit denser.
Sam, Editor