While I’m not qualified to review gear, I can share my experiences with how it all worked, now that I’ve washed them all (several times, including once in Lake Michigan, which brought the presence of police, but no action on their part). So how did it all work? Well…
My shoes were the Salomon Speedcross 3. The good news is, the grip was excellent. I slipped a bit on the extreme mud, but given that the hills were basically liquid, that is forgivable. I seemed to be far more surely footed than other people who were running. I don’t think I fell more than once or twice, and those were both at the end when I was pretty thoroughly exhausted and dehydrated and underfed and not in a good state. Also, as promised, they drained well—the water flowed out of them pretty easily.
The bad news: The shoelaces. These shoes don’t have normal bunny ears round the tree laces you tie—they’ve got this little plastic doohickey that lets you pull the laces tight, and then the whole thing goes into a little plastic pocket in the shoe. Unfortunately, while I was out on the course I got some rocks in my shoes, and it got bad enough that I pulled to the side to remove them.
When I did that, I found that the little plastic doohickey had completely clogged up. I wound up kind of wriggling my foot out of the shoe to try to loosen the laces with the shoe off my foot. It eventually worked, but it was not easy. It took several washes before the laces became free-flowing (sort of) again.
Also that little flap that should be connected to the tongue ripped off during the race. That didn’t have any impact on performance, but it’s a bit worrying.
I can’t say that I really noticed any impact from the REI store-brand moisture-wicking socks. Washing them, however, was notably unsuccessful. I mean, look at that dinge! Which is after a pair of washings by hand in water, and a machine wash.
This was pretty successful, I think. It didn’t seem particularly heavy while I was running. There’s really not much to say about it.
I chose the 3/4 length, which may not have been the right idea. They were pretty successful for most of the race, but by the end, they were starting to sag, whether from the mud or all the sliding. Happily, though, the sliding didn’t wear a hole in the ass, which I was definitely concerned about.
Also of note, these shorts did clean up good. When I took them off, the insides were absolutely filthy. (From mud, not poo.) It took a while, but after three washings, the inner liner is just about as white as it was originally.