Gear Review – New Balance XC5000 Spikes

The New Balance XC5000 are professional, competition cross country spike shoes that retail for $125. New Balance has positioned this shoe at the upper end in terms of performance and price. Based on an evaluation of the shoe in cross country competition this fall 2014, it is an excellent choice for the elite runner (youth through professional).

Continue reading my review below the photos.

The New Balance XC5000 is a lightweight yet robust cross country competition spike shoe

Featherweight, seamless (welded) upper with flat laces

Full length, REVlite midsole offers cushioning at low weight

Standard width, low-volume toe box

4-spike forefoot plate with rubber lugs entire length of outsole

Standard width heel, cushioned with Revlite midsole

High-traction Dynaride outsole

Close-up of 4-spike forefoot plate

Cross country spikes are designed to perform well on different surfaces and terrain, as well as in various weather conditions, therefore their design and performance is different from distance track spikes. My son tested the New Balance XC5000 in several cross country invitationals as well as dual meets, with both flat, fast courses mostly on grass and some trails, as well as hilly, rolling courses with lots of direction changes.

The New Balance XC5000 met all of his criteria:

  • Lightweight: At 4.5 ounces, the XC5000 is a full ounce lighter than the less-expensive XC900v2 (5.5 ounces) and 4 ounces lighter than his training shoe, the New Balance 890v4 (8.5 ounces). That adds up over a 2-3 mile cross country race.
  • Fit and comfort: Although the fit is snug and therefore supportive, it is not tight and with the no-sew upper and cushioned, REVlite midsole and high-traction Dynaride outsole, these spikes are comfortable to race over roots and rocks. Heel-to-toe drop is about 6 mm, which is between a neutral training shoe (my son’s New Balance 890v4 have an 8 mm drop) and minimalist shoes (many with 4 mm drops).
  • Traction: Being used to a 6-spike configuration for distance track spikes, I was initially concerned about the XC 5000’s 4-spike forefoot plate. My concerns were quickly dispelled when my son performed well at the Wickham Invitational, held on one of New England’s most challenging cross country courses, and with cold weather and rain on race day, the shoes’ traction was excellent. New Balance created an aggressive, high-traction outsole with hard rubber lugs the entire length of the outsole, complementing the 4 spikes in the forefoot plate.
  • The spike is available in cool colors: Men’s version are red with green and black, and yellow with blue and green. Women’s version are blue with blue atoll and fuchsia, and yellow with black and red.

From a parent’s perspective, the New Balance XC5000 at $125 retail price are expensive, especially for youth competition that may include only a handful of meets per season (and they will probably only fit one season). The New Balance XC900v2 is a nice alternative priced at $85.

I recommend that the shoes are used 2-3 times before competition to become accustomed to the spikes. You may also wish to purchase 3/8 inch spikes to replace the standard 1/4 inch spikes that are included in the box (which are inadequate for cross country competition).

My son will race the upcoming Connecticut Middle School State Championship at Wickham Park and the Connecticut Association Junior Olympics (and hope to qualify for the Regionals) with full confidence knowing that he is racing with New Balance XC5000 spikes.


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