How LEKI turned poles into a must-have in trail running (2022)

Upward with all-wheel drive

“I wasn’t even in the first UTMB in Chamonix in 2003. I was in Chile at that time,” says Laurent Ardito, trail runner Xavier Thevenard’s long-time coach, with a laugh. Nevertheless, there is hardly a better expert to tell the story of poles in trail running. “At the end of the 80s, three disciplines merged into something new. Mountain running from Southern Europe, adventure running, such as the Marathon de Sables and ultra running culture from the USA, merged into a new sport. Trail running was born,” Ardito looks back.

For the Adventure Races, running poles have always been a rather rare tool. In addition, many of the big ultra races in the USA are characterized by moderate climbs and well developed trails. “But in mountain running in France, Italy and Spain, poles have always had their place,” explains Ardito. In the 80s and 90s, cross-country skiing poles made of aluminum were preferred. Bulky and heavy, compared to the products of today. The technical development was still in its infancy at that time. At the end of the 90s, the triumphal march of carbon also began in the pole sector, replacing the heavy aluminium shafts.

At the beginning of the early 2000s, you could observe how more and more runners started with adjustable trekking or Nordic Walking poles. Even the telescopic trekking sticks still had a pack size of 70 cm or more and stood like antennas in the athletes’ backpacks. The adjustable LEKI Traveller Carbon was used in competition by runners like the Frenchman Sebastien Chaignaux at that time, although it was actually a Nordic Walking pole. The big breakthrough came with the folding pole technique in the early 2010s. This meant that the pack size was almost halved to 37 cm and the sticks fitted in every backpack overnight. “Back then we sat down together and decided that for the first time we wanted to develop a pole that was 100 % designed to meet the requirements of trail running athletes”, sums up Olivier Dufour, Country Manager LEKI France.

How LEKI turned poles into a must-have in trail running (1)

(Video) Trail Running with Poles + Technique Tips | Training for Eiger 101 (2/4)

For the first time, LEKI combined folding pole and Shark Technology – a clickable system loop developed together with World Cup athletes in cross-country skiing. “In the Nordic finish sprint, athletes need maximum power transmission and propulsion. Just like in trail running,” says LEKI product manager Christian Nordhaus. “The ability to quickly click the loop in and out is exactly what trail runners need when changing from ascent to descent. It must work 100 % reliably – in darkness, rain, tiredness and stress. The runners have to get in and out of the grip system again and again. It’s all about the perfect combination of power transmission and quick handling. Exactly what our Shark system can do,” explains Christian Nordhaus. The first Micro Trail Pro was born and already in 2015 Xavier Thévenard took his second UTMB victory with the legendary red stick.

In the same year, LEKI was the first brand to develop a complete collection covering all disciplines of trail running, from ultra distance to vertical K. And not without reason: “Especially athletes with a background in cross-country skiing like Xavier Thévenard and Luis Alberto Alzaga knew from the beginning to appreciate the advantages of poles and were able to handle them technically perfect”, says Michael Brechtelsbauer, responsible for international sales and marketing at LEKI. Thévenard’s victory still has great significance for the company today: “Xavier has brought us enormously forward in trail running in the early days. He was the first big champion on LEKI”, says Brechtelsbauer.

And the success story continued. Today, the Micro Trail Pro is an international bestseller, with which athletes achieve podium places all over the world. In the beginning, trail running was mainly handled by the sales organisation in France. “Today, trail running is more than just a niche segment for us and sales figures are at a remarkable level. It is important for us to be able to live the LEKI racing DNA in winter as well as in summer”, explains Brechtelsbauer.

How LEKI turned poles into a must-have in trail running (2)

Xavier Thevenard (c) Jose Miguel Muñoz

(Video) Luis Alberto Hernando | The Benefits of Using Poles | LEKI

Trail running poles conquer North America

In order to understand the development in the USA, we must take a closer look at the special running culture. Tim Tollefson, Lavaredo winner, and LEKI athlete, explains: “Unlike in Europe, most US races take place in hilly terrain, where the weather conditions are usually easy to predict. That’s why there aren’t many races in the USA where you have to rely on a large amount of equipment”. However, especially in the Northwest of the USA, there are many steep and technical trail running events that are very similar to those in the Alps of Europe. One example is the Hard Rock 100 over 160 kilometers and 10,000 hm. Furthermore, many US athletes become aware of the use of poles when they participate in European competitions. “In 2015 my friend Zach (Miller) and I were probably the only two starters without poles at the CCC. During the race, we realized how beneficial the poles were for the other runners. Before my return to UTMB 2016, I had used the whole summer for training with poles”, Tim Tollefson looks back.

Sabrina Stanley, the winner of the Hard Rock 100, explains this development as follows: “Trail running began as something people did to enjoy nature together. Now there is a second wave of runners who are discovering the trails and are more competitive and performance-oriented. Poles give you an advantage in the mountain. Every second counts and every chance is taken to improve your performance.” In recent years, more and more top runners from North America are competing on the European continent. “Not only the UTMB has become incredibly international. Also, the podium places at other top races go to international athletes. Especially athletes from the USA get the top places here”, says Brechtelsbauer.

Most recently, Katelyn Gerbin won first place and Dylan Bowman third place in the Transgrancanaria 2020. Bowman describes his observations in Europe: “At the UTMB almost 100 % of European runners use poles, while only 60-70 % of Americans run with poles. I think there is definitely more acceptance and knowledge about the advantages of poles in Europe, we still have to catch up.” Kaytlyn Gerbin proves that this process works: “When I ran my first 100-mile race in 2016, I grabbed poles at mile 80 when my legs were tired. Since that moment, I’ve been running mountainous 100-mile races in the U.S. with nothing but poles.” All of these reasons have made poles an essential part of equipment in North America.

How LEKI turned poles into a must-have in trail running (3)

(Video) Leki Micro Trail Pro Trekking Poles Full Review + Trail Testing

LEKI Headquarters (c) LEKI

Cooperation with top athletes

“Being close to top athletes is a basic requirement for us to be able to deliver top performance again and again in development. We currently have prototypes in the best of the best in testing out there. In addition, we also test the performance of our products and technologies on a broad basis. In the last survey alone, 34 top international runners took part,” explains Product Manager Nordhaus. The athletes are and have always been the focus of LEKI’s Innovations. Through the feedback of the top athletes, every little thing will be optimized. At the LEKI poles, most athletes praise above all the Shark System. Xavier Thévenard says: “The loop gives me a direct connection between hand and pole, so I have a better power transmission. When I don’t need the poles, I can quickly click out and fold the segments together.”

This feedback is also confirmed by UTMB winner 2019 Pau Capell: “The Shark System is the easiest way to control my poles in difficult terrain. If you want to win, every detail must fit perfectly.” For Laurent Ardito, weight plays a big role in trail running: “When you’re on the road 24 hours a day, just 20 grams make a huge difference.” LEKI has a long way to go in terms of weight and innovation. “We are essentially a technology company and in the next few years we will introduce innovations that are specially tailored to the needs of trail runners,” reveals Brechtelsbauer. The developments for the future are clearly focused on weight reduction with equivalent performance. LEKI is also aiming for even more intuitive operability. “Although our prototypes are out in the field, our customers still have to be patient. At LEKI, we plan with comparatively long test phases, as we ensure 100 % that our products are mature down to the last detail. As fast as we are on the mountain, we are just as thorough in our development,” explains Christian Nordhaus with a wink.

-20% Leki Ultratrail FX.One Superlite Pole Bright-Neonyellow / Natural MSRP 174,95 € 139,95 € You save 35,00 € -20% Leki Ultratrail FX.One Pole Bright Red / Black / Neonyellow MSRP 164,95 € 131,95 € You save 33,00 € -20% Leki Neotrail FX.One Superlite Pole Bright Red / Neonyellow / Naturalcarbon MSRP 154,95 € 123,95 € You save 31,00 € -30% Leki Micro Trail Vario 100-120 Pole MSRP 199,95 € 139,95 € You save 60,00 € -20% Leki Micro Trail Pro Pole MSRP 149,95 € 119,95 € You save 30,00 € -46% Leki Vertical K Pole Schwarz-Weiß MSRP 129,95 € 70,00 € You save 59,95 €
(Video) Sabrina Stanley | The Benefits of Using Poles | LEKI

You can see even more advantages of running poles here:

Learn more about running poles and Leki:

(Video) Running poles - why, when & how to use them? (best tips)

Interview: Pau Capell about trail running poles

The Leki Trigger 3D system

The brand Leki


Are poles good for trail running? ›

Poles are especially useful in longer in trail running races with lots of sustained or steep terrain. Walking with poles can be a good way to conserve leg power as it allows athletes to engage otherwise unused muscles in the upper body. Poles can also be helpful on very steep uphills with loose footing.

How do you carry poles when trail running? ›

How To Run With Poles | Salomon How-To - YouTube

Why do ultra runners use poles? ›

Trail running poles will help you save energy when running or hiking up steep uphills. When running on hilly terrain, the extra power your arms provide can help you run faster and more efficiently. When descending, poles can help you avoid obstacles, keep your balance and help you slow down.

How do you run with Leki poles? ›

Running poles - why, when & how to use them? (best tips) - YouTube

Do all ultra runners use poles? ›

Some runners love using poles, but they aren't right for everyone. (They also aren't allowed for everybody at certain races, like Run Rabbit). However, even the most minimalist mountain, trail, and ultrarunners have found success using poles for their pursuits.

How are trail running poles measured? ›

The first one is to multiply your height in centimetres by 0.68 and round this to the nearest 5cm. The second method is to imagine that you are holding a pole with your elbow at 90 degrees angle and measure the distance from the ground to the top of your hand.

How do you carry poles on a Salomon pack? ›

How to Attach Poles to the Salomon ADV SKIN 12/8/5 - YouTube

Does Kilian Jornet use poles? ›

If you follow ultra running or run races yourself, you've most likely seen an abundance of people running with poles lately. Kilian Jornet, Courtney Dauwalter, François D'haene, and most sky runners use poles while competing to take advantage of the great benefits that come along with them.

How do you attach poles to Salomon 12? ›

How to attach the poles to the Salomon ADV SKIN 12 ... - YouTube

How do you use downhill poles? ›

How to Use Trekking Poles (Like a Boss) - YouTube

How do you run with a stick? ›

The theory is you run with short, wooden dowels (approx 10cm long, similar width to a broomstick) in the palms of your hands with thumbs over the end of the sticks. When running with them in your hands it is meant to aid in keeping your arms by your side, and minimising twisting arm movements.

In some parts of the word, using trekking poles (also known as hiking poles) for trail running is very common, whereas in other places where steep mountain trails are less common, seeing someone running with poles is more unusual.. In this post we cover the pros and cons of using poles for trail running, how and when to use poles, and when NOT to use poles.. If you’re using trail running poles and your arms/back/shoulders to help you up and downhill when it gets tough, then your legs (especially your quads) will be fresher for longer than if you hadn’t used running poles.. In races where everyone has hiking poles out from the very start, having your own trail running poles help ensure someone doesn’t side-step or place their pole into the space immediately in front of you (stopping you in your tracks, unless you trip over them instead).. We are also seeing an increase in popularity of mountain and technical running in America, and so I expect more people will be needing to get their hands on hiking poles for trail running in the US.. To head over to our trail running poles buyers guide , which includes our current top pole recommendations and details on where to buy them online, click here: Trail Running Poles Buyer’s Guide.

You can use poles for hiking, running, as well as downhill running.. This once again maximizes the push phase, takes full advantage of the force generated from the poles and therefore reduces the work of the legs.. With this technique, you can also slightly offset your pole strikes to accommodate for rocks that are in the way, changes in the camber, or even a switchback.. I would consider this an advanced technique, so give yourself some extra training time with this.. In training, you can start with more benign downhill terrain and move to more technical downhill as you gain confidence.. Don’t be a rookie advice #1: Use the straps around your hands, not your wrists.. Although you will hear some athletes prefer to take the straps off to get them out of the way, you get better leverage by using them properly and most athletes find it’s easier to develop technique with straps as opposed to without.. Don’t be a rookie advice #2: Put the carbide tips in.. There is no reason to use these in any trail running situation.

Poles are especially useful in longer in trail running races with lots of sustained or steep terrain.. Poles can also be helpful on very steep uphills with loose footing.. Pro Tip: While striding with poles, keep your hands relaxed get into a natural rhythm.. To understand why, it’s useful to look at cross country skiing and the key factor making it different from trail running – glide.. The application of upper body power during cross country skiing allows an athlete to glide further during or in between applications of power from the lower body.. Since efficient running technique doesn’t involve gliding, poles are best employed in a narrow range of conditions to help trail runners conserve leg power during long duration events.. Technique #4– The double pole steep hill scramble.. Transition from running to walking with poles – One of the great features of folding poles is that you can carry them in a trail running pack.. Pro Tip: Don’t cut the straps off your trail running poles!. Pro Tip: If your poles have a standard strap, push your hand up through the strap and pull down.. What are your favorite techniques and tips for trail running with poles?. Are you a trail runner interested in cross country skiing?

“The Micro Trail Pro is a versatile and sporty option for any trail or path out there.. Whether for Nordic walking or trail running, the Micro Trail Pro will take you home and back out again onto your next adventure.”. Whereas affordable aluminium poles stand alone by the tills of many outdoor retailers, the specialist poles may be harder to find.. The Leki Micro Trail Pro are from Leki’s Nordic Walking portfolio, but are just as home moving fast and light.. Having previously used trekking poles as a tool which would be best described as an ice axe combined with a grappling hook, hauling myself up the mountain, forgoing technique for power, my thoughts were a bit biased as they arrived.. Straight out, the Micro Trail Pro’s aren’t designed for this use, with a slim ergonomic handle instead of bulbous end, the handle encourages a lighter, more fluid action and combined with the Trigger Shark 2, are rewarded with each step.. The Trigger Shark 2 combines with the Trigger Shark Active Strap to form a complete retaining system.. For the vat majority of poles, a nylon adjustable trap is built into the top of the pole and limits range of motion.. Connecting onto the handle, the Active Strap attaches directly to the hand, and can be connected/disconnected by the Trigger Shark 2.The Active Strap comfortably fits onto your hand, like a minimalist fingerless glove (stay with me) and is adjustable via a Velcro strap.. You also have the option to keep the Active Strap on, when holding or storing poles on a run, saving you the hassle of adjusting straps on the move.. I am happy to say that Leki did listen, and the Micro Trail Pro is a pole which all level of user and experience can use.. The Leki Micro Trail Pro does fold into four pieces, making storage both when travelling and on the trail simple.. They held well on several packs and the extra girth in the diameter of the pole, made working with them easy, especially when hands were cold and dexterity was compromised.. Where poles were once the chosen tool of the elderly, Nordic walkers and multi day trippers, the running community have embraced these tools of the steep.

Personally, we find them very useful, particularly for mountain races.. Type of Running and General Use Weight, Material and Swing Handle & Strap Construction How to Chose the Right Length. We often get runners saying things like “I’ve never used poles and I think I might need them for my event just in case.. If you are not a pole runner normally and looking for a lightweight pole that will do the job then the Mountain King Trail Blaze is a great option.. Made from aluminium they are strong but can bend if put under high stress.. These poles have comfortable grips and less vibration through the shaft thanks to the carbon fibre material.. For a runner, the weight of the pole is important and should not be ignored.. The most common materials are aluminium and carbon fibre.. Reasons, why it can be more convenient to choose a collapsible pole, include ease of stuffing away when not used and ease of travelling.. The z-fold poles typically pack down shorter whereas the telescopic are longer collapsed but with the benefit the pole neatly fitting into itself.. For example, you may want to round up rather than down if you frequently run in Hokas with high soles and you find yourself between two pole sizes.. The more you intend to actually use them, the more important the quality, swing rate and comfort of the handle (plus of course your technique and ability to use them effectively and efficiently).

But in May I’m running/hiking the Cruel Jewel 100, which has 33,000 vertical feet of gain, and I’m looking for a trekking pole that is better suited to an ultra trail marathon.. The value of poles in an ultra depends on:. I’ve used poles only in two races: Vulcano Ultra Trail , a 100k with 13,000 vertical feet of gain and 30 miles of beach sand-like volcanic ash; and Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc , the famous 100-miler in Europe that last year had 32,000 vertical feet of gain.. Backpackers have considered poles to be essential equipment for many years, and ultra “runners” are slowly coming around.. Traditional telescoping poles like the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork ( long-term review ) or Cascade Mountain Tech Quick Lock Poles ( long-term review ) do not work well for ultra running.. Much more appropriate for ultra running are foldable poles like the:. For example, my 47.2-in (120-cm) poles collapse to just 15.4 in (40 cm).. Foldable poles are dramatically shorter than traditional telescoping poles, making them much less unwieldy while being carried.. To keep these poles lightweight, these poles have thin shafts that are not as strong or sturdy as most telescoping poles.. But for running/hiking on trails without a heavy pack, I think they are sufficient, and I don’t see reason to buy poles with beefier shafts like the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Z .. The length of traditional telescoping poles is finely adjustable, whereas most foldable poles are fixed-length.. Do not wait until race day to determine how best to carry poles when not in use.. Allow for a quick and clean transition; Secure the poles well, with no bouncing and no risk of them falling out; and, Keep your hands free and your poles out of the way.. Prior to Vulcano Ultra Trail I had not trained with my poles and did not have a good way to carry them, besides in my hands.. This website is supported by affiliate marketing, whereby for referral traffic I receive a small commission from select vendors like Amazon or REI, at no cost to the reader.

Equally, when in the mountains, walking is very much a key element of a successful day training or racing.. Using poles is no different.. Original Nordic Walking Poles were of fixed length so it was important to purchase the correct length as this could not be adjusted.. Walking poles are shorter than cross-country ski poles and as a rule you want a well balanced pole that is elbow height.. *Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ are able to reduce the pole height when participating in a VK and then increase height when running, walking and climbing on mixed terrain.. For runners, our demands are different to a pure Nordic Walker as we may run with poles for added stability and security, at times we may be striding out on flat terrain and then we may well be climbing or descending.

1 Best Choice LEKI MCT Vario TA Trekking/Trail Running Poles Leki SHOW MORE View Deal MORE DEALS (1) View on Amazon Our rankings are cleverly generated from the algorithmic analysis of thousands of customer reviews about products, brands, merchant’s customer service level, popularity, trends and more.. 2 LEKI Cross Trail FX.One Superlite - 120 Leki SHOW MORE View Deal MORE DEALS (1) View on Amazon Our rankings are cleverly generated from the algorithmic analysis of thousands of customer reviews about products, brands, merchant’s customer service level, popularity, trends and more.. 3 LEKI Cross Trail 3 TA Trekking Pole Pair - 100-135 Leki SHOW MORE View Deal MORE DEALS (1) View on Amazon Our rankings are cleverly generated from the algorithmic analysis of thousands of customer reviews about products, brands, merchant’s customer service level, popularity, trends and more.. 4 Best Value Leki Wanderfreund Makalu Walking Poles One Size Black Leki SHOW MORE View Deal MORE DEALS (1) View on Amazon Our rankings are cleverly generated from the algorithmic analysis of thousands of customer reviews about products, brands, merchant’s customer service level, popularity, trends and more.. 5 Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles, Unisex-Adult, Picante, 140ccm Black Diamond SHOW MORE View Deal MORE DEALS (1) View on Amazon Our rankings are cleverly generated from the algorithmic analysis of thousands of customer reviews about products, brands, merchant’s customer service level, popularity, trends and more.. 6 LEKI Khumbu Lite Hiking Poles - Black/Red Leki SHOW MORE View Deal MORE DEALS (1) View on Amazon Our rankings are cleverly generated from the algorithmic analysis of thousands of customer reviews about products, brands, merchant’s customer service level, popularity, trends and more.. 8 LEKI Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Pole Pair - 110-130 Black/Red Leki SHOW MORE View Deal MORE DEALS (1) View on Amazon Our rankings are cleverly generated from the algorithmic analysis of thousands of customer reviews about products, brands, merchant’s customer service level, popularity, trends and more.. 9 LEKI Eagle Hiking Poles 110-145 cm White / Cool Grey Leki SHOW MORE View Deal MORE DEALS (1) View on Amazon Our rankings are cleverly generated from the algorithmic analysis of thousands of customer reviews about products, brands, merchant’s customer service level, popularity, trends and more.. 10 LEKI Legend Series Micro Walking Poles Natural Carbon Copper 85-100cm Leki SHOW MORE View Deal MORE DEALS (1) View on Amazon Our rankings are cleverly generated from the algorithmic analysis of thousands of customer reviews about products, brands, merchant’s customer service level, popularity, trends and more.. Leki New LEKI Trail Running Belt S/M View Deal Leki New LEKI Trail Running Belt M/L View Deal Leki New LEKI Trail Running Cap View Deal TAC9ER New TAC9ER Trekking Poles with Wrist Straps - Adjustable Carbon Hiking Poles for Nordic Walking, Trail Running, Snowshoeing, ULTRALIGHT AND STURDY - Trek confidently with the TAC9ER carbon fiber trekking poles.. View Deal Leki New LEKI Voyager Hiking Poles White/Dark Blue 110-145 cm View Deal 29% Off TheFitLife New TheFitLife Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles – Collapsible and Telescopic Walking Sticks with Natural Cork Handle and Extended Built For Your Rhythm: whether walking on flat ground, uphill, or downhill, thefitlife walking poles can help you to est

If you are making the jump to ultramarathons from a road running background then the idea of using poles during a race may feel like a very foreign concept.. Using poles during a race will have some downsides and things to make sure you are aware of…. Poling Muscle Fatigue – You must train with your poles and try to simulate race day in training.. If your first time using your poles is race day, then they will just end up as dead weight.. Ultimately, I believe you will be better off using poles on a mountainous race day.

-Hand straps are skin-like and secure. -Ultra-Sonic Finish; positive angle. -Has the tightening system of twisting the poles. -Measures 67 to 135cm; range is 26.4 to 53.1 inches. -Weight is 17.57 ounces. -Speedlock2 Lock System on aluminum shafts. -Grips are 20% latex and 80% cork material. -Dimpled rubberized tops have good grip points. -Flex Carbide tips deflect as much as 30 degrees. Since you can depend so much on these comfort features of these trekking poles, you will feel less pressure when traversing either up or downhill on your excursions.. This natural cork material is a hard substance that is very sturdy and tough mile after mile.The flexible skin straps did not last long for some people, but the company replaced them with sturdier straps quickly to ensure they were happy with their purchase.. Depending on where you will be using these excellent Corklite Trekking Poles, you may need to change out the baskets on them.. There are sharp tips on the Leki Corklite.. The Corklite Trekking Poles in this review are the 2015 model that is a pair of poles.. They are super comfortable, flexible, dependable, adjustable and tough to almost any hiking and backpacking use on most surface areas.. Toss out that trusted old walking stick that you have been using for years and get a pair of Leki Corklite Poles.


1. Leki Micro Trail Pro Trekking Poles | Running Test
(Seth James DeMoor)
2. How to get started with your running poles.
(Gary House)
3. LEKI Micro Trail Race Trekking Poles
4. Ragna Debats | Why I Started Running With Poles | LEKI
5. Leki Micro Trail Pro Trekking Poles
6. Trail Running with Leki Poles
(Northwest Dirt Churners)

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Sen. Ignacio Ratke

Last Updated: 08/01/2022

Views: 5497

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (56 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Sen. Ignacio Ratke

Birthday: 1999-05-27

Address: Apt. 171 8116 Bailey Via, Roberthaven, GA 58289

Phone: +2585395768220

Job: Lead Liaison

Hobby: Lockpicking, LARPing, Lego building, Lapidary, Macrame, Book restoration, Bodybuilding

Introduction: My name is Sen. Ignacio Ratke, I am a adventurous, zealous, outstanding, agreeable, precious, excited, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.