It happens to me more than I'd like to admit. As my biggest event of the year approaches, my most beloved, comfy shoes succumb to the miles or rip on a trail run. It's a terrible idea to race distances in new or unfamiliar gear, so I make a few ugly but effective repairs to get me and my shoes to the finish.
I didn't have a big race this year, but I did have a solo 25k loop in Carrabasset Valley that I had been looking forward to. Of course, a couple of days before my adventure, I wore through the fabric of my best trail shoes. Time again to get out the needle, thread and Shoe Goo.
First up, these shoes had lived a long and exciting life. Nothing could get another hundred miles out of them, but they could be patched up for this last 15, especially if I didn't care how they looked. This is a total advantage of trail running--even in an event with other people, folks understand the urge to patch and salvage your favorite pieces of gear.
I needed to pull together the worn fabric and patch the hole. I'm a big fan of the lock-stitch suture for this because these stitches closes the gap but doesn't make any ridges on the inside of your shoe. If you can feel the sutures from inside your shoe, you're risking blisters. A lock-stitch suture is trail tough and smooth on the feet. It's ugly, but incredibly effective.
After repairing the gap, I wanted to reinforce the fabric. Like I said before, the shoes had lived a long life and the fabric integrity was reasonably compromised. I spread a thin layer of Shoe Goo over the stitches, not to make the sutures hold, but to protect the fabric from further friction. This reinforcement would deflect trail debris rather than allow it to further abrade the toe box.
It was ugly, but it was super comfortable. I enjoyed my loop in my best shoes for the terrain and used my recovery to start breaking in my next pair of trail runners. I expect them to last until the week before my next big adventure, when they likely will face an emergency surgery of their own.
Pro Tip: keep a needle and a yard of thread in your first aid kit. If your shoes need some backcountry repairs to get you back to the trailhead, you'll have what you need.