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Trail Running Shoes • June 3, 2024

Ronhill Reverence Review: Tuned and Technical

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What You Need To Know

Weight

11.3 oz. (320 g) for a US M9/ 8.9 oz. (255 g) for a US W7

Stack Height / Drop

28 mm in heel, 23 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)

Best For

The most technical of trails

Key Features

Matryx upper, Duo Pro midsole, Michelin OCX3 outsole with 7 mm lugs

On The Run
Durable as a Kevlar vest Michelin rubber has serious teeth Maybe too technically tuned
Price / Availability

Available now for £135

Introduction to the Ronhill Reverence

JOHN: Why do people seek out places to run called Ratjaw, Methlab, Testicle Spectacle, Devil’s Pass, The Chinscraper and so on? Why do we seek out races with words like death, blood, and revenge in their name? I can’t answer this, but I’m sure my family wishes they knew. For some reason, I love ridiculously hard races. Yes, there’s a good chance you’ve heard me say this before, but as time goes by, my thirst for running obscure, isolated, and brutal races grows stronger, and I descend deeper and deeper down that rabbit hole.

This is an extremely odd passion, and even more questionable is the quality of my skill set for these races. I am very average, and I really struggle with running on trails. Maybe I want to fail, maybe I am angry with myself, maybe I don’t even like this sport, and I use it to torture myself for the numerous past indiscretions I’ve made throughout my life. Who knows, but the absolutely bizarre thing is I love mountain races with lots of vert, briars, rocks, and all that BS. It’s a great equalizer!

On occasion, I even get lucky and do well in terms of position, but it’s mainly due to people dropping out or because it’s a low-key race with a small field. It’s a huge thrill for me. Because I’m always out of my league on these adventures, I need shoes that are going to give me the best chance to survive. I stockpile tough shoes with big lugs that I can cruise in at low speed. Another really cool aspect, and probably the real reason I keep coming back, is it’s a really tight community, and I have great friends that I connect with at these events.

When I heard about the Ronhill Reverence, I started salivating while looking at the spec sheet. To do extremely technical ultras, you need a special shoe. Running on technical terrain isn’t like running on standard trails. Regular trail shoes just don’t cut it. On paper, the Ronhill Reverence has all the contingencies figured out. Let’s see how it did.

ALLISON: Admittedly, I didn’t know who Ron Hill was prior to this review (and I consider myself an avid running nerd, smh), but I was fascinated to read not only about his Boston Marathon win and world records but also about his 52-year run streak. Holy cow, if that doesn’t make you a pro in running gear, especially in the UK, I don’t know what will!

Anyway, let’s get down to business: the shoe. Just like John, when I saw the Reverence and spec sheet, I immediately thought of Jasmin Paris going through gnarly terrain like the fells of the Lake District or crushing the Barkley Marathons. The Reverence is made for that and I couldn’t wait to put the lugs to the test and let it fly! However, before I get to the review, I want to give a special shoutout to the Ronhill team for sending a variety of sizes, as sometimes UK (and US) sizes don’t always translate well, so not having the proper size can make or break a review. They also provided some socks, and let’s be honest, nothing beats a fresh pair of socks.

What we like about the Ronhill Reverence

JOHN: The outsole of this shoe is a thing of beauty. It boasts super sticky Michelin OCX3 (Outdoor Compound Extreme 3) and 7 mm lugs. The Reverence works excellently in rugged conditions. I loved using the shoe in the mud, as the lugs feel a lot like those on the Inov-8 Mudtalon Speed. The weight is heavier than the Mudtalon Speed, but I really like the fit of the Reverence better. I normally wear a US M11.5, but I went up to a US M12 in this one. The Reverence utilizes a Wrap-Over lacing system, which offers a cradled fit around the mid-foot. This construction works in conjunction with a heel cup to lock your foot down. I questioned this initially, but it’s easy to get the shoe on, even when sleep-deprived, and get out and go quickly.

The Ronhill Reverence’s Matryx micro fabric and Kevlar reinforcements also lock your foot down to prevent you from blowing out the shoe in rugged elements.

I really enjoyed the Reverence’s Duo Pro midsole with its combination of a softer top layer and a firmer bottom layer. The reason they do this is to provide a ride that offers both protection and speed. I felt like it was an excellent balance of speed when I needed it and playing it safe on more technical terrain (which I do a lot of).

The look of this shoe is extremely cool. I used the black/white colorway, and its appearance is unique and classy — I don’t have any other shoes that look like this one.

ALLISON: As someone who tends to approach new entries into the shoe market with a healthy dose of skepticism, especially from a company primarily known for its clothing, I was pleasantly surprised by my initial experience in the Ronhill Reverence. Right from the first few strides, I was impressed by the exceptional grip they provided. The presence of Michelin tread, reminiscent of the reliable grip of the Continental rubber that Adidas uses, along with the sturdy lugs, hinted at the secure ride that awaited me.

Descending through the mud, rocks, and roots of my local trails, I felt remarkably at ease, even on technical terrain — a feat considering I’m typically cautious and clumsy on descents. This confidence speaks volumes about the shoe’s performance.

Moving to the outsole, the combination of Matryx micro fabric and Kevlar protection instilled in me a sense of invincibility. It was evident that these shoes were designed to withstand whatever the trail threw their way.

I also found the minimal tongue design to be a thoughtful addition, as it didn’t interfere with the overall fit or get in the way. Despite the substantial size of the lugs, the shoes maintained a surprisingly lightweight feel, enhancing the overall agility and responsiveness on the trail.

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What we don’t like about the Ronhill Reverence

JOHN: The laces are extremely thin. They came untied a few times on one of my initial runs but if you tie a few extra knots, they do fine. I may swap out the laces for a lock lace when I use the Reverence for a race.

I don’t think the weight of this shoe is that big of an issue, but if I had to nitpick, I’d say it could lose a few grams. At the same time, I don’t want to give up any of the other features that the Reverence currently offers.

ALLISON: While I found the durability of the shoe akin to a Kevlar vest, providing a sense of security on rugged trails, I couldn’t help but think about its breathability, particularly in hot, humid conditions in the South. Towards the end of my run, I noticed my feet growing increasingly sweaty, raising concerns about comfort during warm summer days. Consequently, I would exercise caution when considering these shoes for hot weather conditions, especially if your feet swell.

Furthermore, my experience suggests that these shoes might not be the ideal choice for easier rail trail terrain. The prominent lugs, while offering exceptional traction on rough terrain, could feel cumbersome and overbearing on smoother paths. Therefore, if your adventures tend to lead you down more manicured trails, you might want to explore alternatives with a less aggressive lug pattern for a smoother ride.

Like John, I was a little worried about the laces coming untied, but it wasn’t an issue for me. If I purchased this shoe, I would also consider lock laces just to be safe.

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Final thoughts on the Ronhill Reverence

JOHN: It’s interesting how taste, smell, food, etc., can trigger memories. It’s the same with shoes. During my first run in the Reverence, I had flashbacks to races that kicked my ass, and I wished I had this instead. The Reverence is far cheaper than therapy, probably a lot less depressing, and less work, so my advice is just to push the obsession for ultras further, sign up for some fatass mountain races, and take the Reverence out on some dangerous adventures. That or just straight up get an exorcism that might cure you. It wouldn’t surprise me if my family has got that lined up as a last-ditch reprogramming effort. Wish me luck!

The Ronhill Reverence is an absolute treat for the select few ultra junkies who enjoy playing in hellholes. I highly recommend this shoe for anyone who has an extremely technical race looming or a goal race that’s been beating them or for those who are new to intense mountain ultras. I highly recommend this shoe.

ALLISON: For those seeking a rugged trail shoe that tackles technical terrain with ease, this option definitely channels some serious WWJD (What would Jasmin do) energy. However, if you prefer a shoe with fewer lugs and more cushioning for your adventures, you might want to explore other options. But hey, at least John’s review provided some unexpected entertainment, right? I would expect nothing less.

You can pick up the Ronhill Reverence for £135 at Ronhill by using the buttons below.

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2
Comments

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  1. Howard Worton says:

    Worth mentioning that Ronhill have also an option for less technical and gnarly terrain called the ‘Freedom’ –
    https://www.ronhill.com/products/mens-freedom

    As you point out, Ron himself is a running legend in the truest sense – getting your head around a 52 year run streak might just break you. Of course be skeptical about a ‘new’ shoe brand – Ronhill are different however. The story of how these shoes came about is fascinating and can be heard on the awesome podcast of Scottish Doctor and world class mountain runner Finlay Wild : https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/go-mountain-goats/id1521280735?i=1000653967570

    1. Robbe says:

      We’re reviewing the Freedom as well!

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the
Authors

photo of man in yellow shirt
John Calabrese
Habitual Ultrarunner
  • Instagram
  • Strava

An obsessed runner, John has run in most ultra races in the Mid-Atlantic area. Since he’s an ultra runner, it’s no surprise he’s also a lover of food. He’s also a dedicated father, caregiver, and veteran.

More from John
Shoe Size

11.5

Fav. Distance

50K

PRs
  • 23:25:23

    100 Mile
  • 9:13:41

    50 Mile
  • 4:23:38

    50K
Allison Mercer
Allison Mercer
Southeast Reviewer

Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Allison is a die-hard sports enthusiast and long distance runner. As co-leader of Trail Sisters and FKT manager, she’s dedicated to fostering community and empowerment in the outdoors.  Fun fact: she met her husband on Strava, proving that it does go down in the DMs.

More from Allison
Shoe Size

9

Fav. Distance

Long

PRs
  • 5:57

    50 Mile
  • 3:39

    50K
  • 2:49

    26.2
  • 1:22

    13.1
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