‘Screw shoes’ for winter running

Written on Dec 10th, 2013 by , Category Marlene Farrell Blog

By Marlene Farrell

Want running joy this winter? Got $10?

Metal screws can be seen in the bottom of these shoes.

A small investment in sheet metal screws, plus the right bit for your electric drill, can turn your running shoes into all-terrain vehicles. Once the screws are embedded on the soles of your shoes, you’ll be able to venture to beautiful terrain that would be prohibitive due to icy or snowy surfaces.

‘Screw shoes’ are perfect for the icy shoulders of roads and for dirt roads that are minimally plowed or packed hard by snowmobiles. They also get you out the door on those mornings when the roads haven’t yet been plowed or have a sheen of black ice.

The screws not only provide impressive traction for climbing up slippery surfaces but they also give a runner confidence coming back downhill. The run is fun and fast instead of turning into a tense shuffle.

I used mine immediately on Mountain Home Road in Leavenworth. A sign at the bottom of the road says, “WARNING” in big letters. But I ran on compact snow and ice patches without a worry.

The screws serve as mini-crampons. You don’t have to spend $50 or more for a pair of rubber and metal contraptions that you have to squeeze over your shoes. These screws are slightly smaller, too, so they can be used on dry roads for short stretches without annoying you or damaging the screws. They don’t give you free access to trails with deep snow, however. For that, there is no replacement for snowshoes or skis.

Wearing "screw shoes," a person can easily traverse our winter wonderland — like along this Leavenworth road.

You do have to dedicate a pair of running shoes to become your screw shoes. You could remove the screws in the spring. I prefer to keep the screws in and use the same pair of screw shoes for several winters. Then they don’t have to get remade each December, and I’ll be ready whenever that first accumulation hits the roads and trails that I love.

What you need: 12 to 15 hexagonal sheet metal screws per shoe. I used 4 ½” screws in the heel of each shoe (where the outsole and midsole are thicker) and 8 3/8” screws in the toe and middle of each shoe. It is best to place all screws along the perimeter of the outsole, where they are most useful, and it also avoids any gel or air pocket that is part of the cushioning system.

Note: Don’t try to do this with a handheld screwdriver. Instead use an electric drill with a quarter-inch hex driver bit. The screws can be drilled in place in a matter of minutes.

Marlene Farrell is a Leavenworth writer and long-distance runner who has qualified twice for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. She also helps coach the Peshastin-Dryden Striders kids running club.

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