Inov-8 is a shoe manufacturer from the UK that has been very supportive of the minimalist running movement. In an article on their website, Inov-8 states the following:“Barefoot and minimalist running certainly isn’t for everyone and inov-8 believes that there is a middle ground. As a specialist off road running brand, inov-8 recognises that runners need some protection from the terrain underfoot and offers a range of shoes with different levels of under foot protection (Shoc-Zone? 1 to 4 Arrow), varying differential (0-9mm – the difference in height between the heel and forefoot) and different outsoles to cope with different terrains. As you reduce the level of cushioning and differential, the foot gets ever closer to its optimum natural running position.Whether you are an elite athlete or a recreational user, the inov-8 footwear range allows your foot the freedom to move and function as nature intended, without interference from the structure of the shoe.“In support of this mission, Inov-8 is set to release several new shoe models that push the envelope toward greater minimalism. One of these, the Inov-8 Baregrip 200, recently won the Gold Award at the OutDoor Industry show – here’s a picture of the shoe:The Baregrip 200 is described as “…an off-road running shoe that gives you the feel of running barefoot, but provides very solid support and protection for the foot at the same time. Because it has no midsole, the natural speed and power of your foot is transferred directly through the shoe. Your foot is closer to the ground and has a stable, low profile in a natural position – this reduces the danger of injury and the runner can actually feel the ground below.“Judges from the OutDoor Industry Show had this to say about the Baregrip 200: “It combines all the characteristics that you could want in a good shoe. It is comfortable, fits perfectly, gives great support, dries quickly and is very lightweight – that’s running pleasure at its finest.“and concludes the following in a first look review of the Inov-8 Baregrip 200: “The Bare-Grip? 200 is very lightweight, extremely flexible and extremely grippy. If you’re looking for the ultimate off trail shoe, this is it! If you’re into barefoot/minimalist running, but need grip and a little protection for running in a harsh trail environment, this is the shoe for you! This is the shoe that I’ve been searching for, for the last 2 years and I can’t wait to hit the trail again as soon as possible!“With its knobby sole, the Baregrip 200 is clearly designed as an off-road shoe. I’ve heard many good things about other Inov-8 trail shoes, particularly the Inov-8 X-Talon 212. The Baregrip 200 is even more minimal than the X-Talon, and should appeal to trail runners looking to run in as little shoe as possible. Looks like it will be a solid competitor to shoes like the New Balance MT100 (and it’s soon to arrive successor, the MT101), which is a current favorite among minimalist trail runners – it will be interesting to see additional reviews come in once the Baregrip 200 officially hits the market in early 2011.It’s sometimes easy to forget that we are all at different in our thoughts about running shoes. Some of us prefer lots of cushioning, whereas other, like myself, prefer a more minimalist style. It’s also easy to forget that those of us who have gone minimalist often started off in more typical cushioned trainers. It is for this reason that I was intrigued when my dailymile friend Greg Strosaker indicated that he was interested in writing a guest post detailing his thoughts on his own running shoe journey. He’s very early on in his exploration of what I like to call “less shoe,” and I suspect it won’t be long before he winds up with a sleek, low-riding pair of racing flats – not that he needs the help as he can already kick my butt in a marathon!Through maybe eight years total of cumulative running experience, and now seven marathons, I have actually never put much thought into my shoe selections. I’ve been lucky to be either blessed with mechanics that don’t care about shoe characteristics or to stumble upon shoes that worked with my gait and foot strike. Oh sure, I’d tried the wet-footprint approach to determine whether I needed neutral, control, or stability shoes and frankly found that I could make the answer whatever I wanted it to be. However, as I seek to up the intensity of my workouts in striving for a 3:00 Boston Marathon next year, I thought the time was right to finally let the experts weigh in. And, as with any new experience, I learned some things in the process.