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Seven things I’ve learnt training for Karkloof100

Ultra running is no joke, but it’s the training that really shows you what you are made of. When I set myself the goal of running 100 miles (160km) I knew it was going to be tough as nails, I thought yeah I will learn so much running it (and I am sure I still will when we toe the line in September at the legendary Karkloof100) but it is the training that has been something of a revelation for me.

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Don’t let the vert hurt

Depending on the type of terrain your goal race is you will naturally train accordingly. If your race is over smooth jeep track and clean forest trails spending hours in the rocky technical mountains every single run won’t necessarily benefit you as much as flat dirt road running will. I’ve had to force myself to walk the hills, and hey it’s OK! No one is going to be laughing at your Strava laps because you walked the hills. Saving energy on the ups means you run the flat and downhills when others are forced to walk later in the race.

Don’t waste tired legs

For years I have tried my best to make sure I am as rested as possible before the weekend long run, but a few weeks back when I was slogging through a 4 hour run feeling like death warmed up all I wanted to do was stop. Then it suddenly hit me, I worked hard to get this tired and I am not injured, so just keep running. Running your long run on tired legs is a great way to simulate a possible race day environment when you start to feel tired towards the end of the race. This can be applied to any run distance training. It not only teaches you to run on tired legs but builds some serious mental fortitude because we are never as tired as our brain tries to tell us we are. You can always go more!

Train at goal race pace

This has been by far the toughest part of my training. Not counting the very little speed work I do, most of my runs have tried to be at goal race pace for the karkloof100, which happens to be almost 3 minutes per km slower than the average I am most comfortable at. Training slow takes proper discipline, having people pass you while you are walking is not good for the ego but training at 4min/km will have zero benefit when you are running for 24 hours plus at 7mins/km. Training the slow twitch muscle fibres and building endurance is a patience game. One that you will reap serious benefits from if you can get right.

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The hunger is real

It’s true what they say, training for an ultra puts a fire in your belly. The proverbial fire of passion and zeal to go further than ever before, but more importantly a literal fire that burns up anything you eat in 30 seconds flat. The fight for clocking as many miles as you can without getting injured before race day is only surpassed by the fight to consume as many calories as humanly possible, and hope it’s enough.

Make sure you like being with yourself

For the most part running is a selfish sport, especially ultra running. You will be spending hours out there, mostly by yourself. If you don’t like your own company you will have to quickly learn to like yourself. Ultra running for me is about self-discovery (among other things), if you feel like you don’t know yourself very well just enter an ultra. You will get acquainted very quickly. Getting comfortable being uncomfortable and still being patient with yourself when things don’t go according to plan is a skill that is learnt and one that can benefit in all spheres of life.

Spotify will change your life

If you still don’t like yourself after training for an ultra just register on Spotify. Podcasts and playlists for days that will keep you entertained. I try not run with music mostly but there are some days when you are just so flat and can’t bring yourself to have to process any thoughts while running. It’s days like these when a Spotify “Lazy Weekend” playlist serenading you through your long run makes you feel like you are running on cotton wool.

Find an understanding spouse

I should have lead with this because it is probably the most important part of training for an ultra, especially if you would still like to be married when you cross the finish line. Don’t forget to put that quality time into your spouse / partner / significant other on top of all the hours you are hogging to clock the miles. Making them feel special and that they are still the most important goal of your life goes a long way to helping them support you in your goal to reach that finish line. You might be so focused on the sacrifices you as the runner make in your pursuit of your goal, that you haven’t seen the sacrifices the love of your life is making.

P.S. Loni if I hadn’t said it enough thank you for letting me train for this. Thank you for having yummy suppers ready when I get home late in the week from long runs. Thank you for understanding and support me in this. I couldn’t have / can’t do it without you :)

Best Wife Ever :)

Best Wife Ever :)

 

Kelly Wolf to Race at 2018 Karkloof100

KwaZulu-Natal’s premier hundred mile footrace, Karkloof 100, taking place for the second time in September this year, is excited to welcome international elite ultra-trail runner, Kelly Wolf, to it’s field. The event will also be hosting a 50-miler which starts from the turn around point of the 100-miler route.

Karkloof100 - Kelly Wolf

At just 23 years old, Wolf has taken the ultra-running world by storm since turning professional in 2017. In just over a year, Wolf has dominated in her field, with podium finishes in major trail running events around the world. This year alone, Wolf was the first female home at the Tarawera ultra-marathon, a 102km race based in Rotorua, New Zealand. And more recently, won the Lavarado 120km ultra-trail marathon in Italy over the weekend. Both races are part of the Ultra-Trail World Tour, a collection of the most established and difficult trail races across the globe – something the Karkloof100 aspires to become part of.

Based in Telluride, Colorado in the USA, a town which lies at 8750ft in the San Juan Mountains, with a population of just 2300, Wolf’s backyard is literally her training ground. By day, she is a gymnastics coach but spends every spare minute exploring the mountains that she calls home.

As excitement for the Karkloof100, which is now just three months away, builds, co-race directors, Andrew Booth of KZN Trail Running and Jack Davis of the Trail Lab, are thrilled to have Wolf on the line-up for the 50-mile event.

The Westfalia Farm on the karkloof100 route

The Westfalia Farm on the karkloof100 route

“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to show Kelly not just the international standard of our event but also the beauty of our province and the hospitality of our country,” said Booth, adding that bringing Wolf to South Africa to take part in the race would not have been possible without international hydration pack brand Ultimate Direction – a joint sponsor of both Wolf and the Karkloof100 event.

“Although the race is still in its infancy, it has already drawn an incredibly talented field of local athletes. And now will welcome its first international runners, and first elite female runner. This is a great sign, a proud moment, and testament to the fact that South Africa is becoming a serious destination for ultra-marathon trail runners to visit and compete,” he added.

“We hope our future Karkloof100 events will entice more international runners to make this South Africa’s ultimate 100-mile trail event. Watch this space!” said Davis.

Wolf will be running alongside a mixed bag of national elite athletes as well as novices taking on the run of their life.

Heading towards the first and last aid station on the route

Heading towards the first and last aid station on the route

Karkloof100 takes place from the 21-23 September 2018 in the Karkloof in KZN. For more information visit www.karkloof100.co.za.

Runners crossing one of the many rivers in the area.

Greyt Run 2018

South Africa has some legendary places in terms of trail running with endless views and miles and miles of prestine trails. If there was ever a place that could be considered a top example of this, the small town of Greyton would be it. There simply is just too much to explore in 1 day of running so imagine our excitement when we heard of a 2 day stage race taking place over the weekend of 18/18 March 2018. The GreytRun promises to be a weekend of mountain stoke and family fun.

Runners crossing one of the many rivers in the area.

Runners crossing one of the many rivers in the area.

The run used to form part of the weekend festivities at the Greyt Escape Mountain Bike Race but now, for the first time, it will be it’s own stand alone race. Runners can expect to be blown away by not only the running as the hospitality of the communities in the surrounding Genadendal area are nothing short of legendary.

Post run recovery drinks

Post run recovery drinks

The two day event covers roughly 58km with a total elevation gain of around 1500m over the two stages. According to race director, Michael Viljoen, Saturday’s Stage 1 covering 30km “will take the runners in an easterly direction along the mountain range, traversing through fynbos, trails over farms, hidden valleys and secret kloofs, with stunning mountain proximity and great views over the valley. The second half will see the runners going back to Greyton via a more flat course along the valley floor and the banks of the river, towards the finish in town through bush trails that stir the senses and spur them on to be their best, before a well-deserved rest and recovery for Day 2.”

Day 1 Route and Profile

Day 1 Route and Profile

“Stage 2”, says Michael, “is 32 km with 717 metres of climbing. Fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Try to conserve your energy as you stroll over rolling hills in the first half, before tackling two big climbs as well as the GC. The route features jeep track as well as single track, as it makes its way around the historic town of Genadendal.”

Day 2 Route and Profile.

Day 2 Route and Profile.

As with most Stage Races there are a number of accommodation and entry packages so check out which one suits you best here. You simply cannot beat the vibe in race village between the stages so if you can try stay over at the race venue.

For those looking for something a little less serious there will be a 21k, 10k and 5k taking place on the Sunday which will appeal to runners of all levels, so it really is a fantastic family weekend out.

Use the discount code “bbtr10” for a discount on your entry.

Registration will be at the Old Potter’s Inn in Main Road, Greyton.

Times: Friday- 17:00-19:00

Saturday- 06:30-07:30

Sunday- 06:00-08:15

Gear check ahead of the Cape Town 12 OneRun

PUMA IGNITE Speed 300 Review

We are back! The Bearded Brothers have been working long and hard testing some great gear and even greater shoes whilst we were away. We have even expanded and are super excited to have taken on a new, fairly hairless brother, Rory Scheffer.

Rory is an up and coming trail nutter that is mad about the mountains. You may have seen some of his previous posts on our blog. He will now be a more frequent writer and you can expect to see more reviews from him, so keep an eye out for some exciting posts!

He also placed 4th at this year's legendary Otter trail run.... Machine!!

He also placed 4th at this year’s legendary Otter trail run…. Machine!!

Last year Puma introduced the IGNITE foam to the world, the cushioning and propulsion of the IGNITE left us in a state of awe and left everyone else eating our dust. If you take a look at last years post on one the first ever Puma IGNITE shoe it is clear to see why the shoe has become so incredibly popular across the market. Since the release of the version 1 IGNITE the technology has slowly filtered down into the many other models.

The PUMA Speed 300 in it's original colour way

The PUMA Speed 300 in it’s original colour way

Which bring us to the PUMA IGNITE Speed 300.

Outsole

The Outsole is made of EverTrack+ injection-blown rubber in the high wear areas for more durability and grip, resulting in a longer lifespan which gives you more mileage if using the shoe as an everyday trainer. PUMA have also included an engineered propulsion zone in the toe box for increased speed on the toe off.

This is basically a raised area that sits about 1mm off the rest of the sole at the centre of the forefoot, acting as a springboard to give you a little more energy return.

Interval training in the PUMA IGNITE Speed 300 is a dream as the added grip and propulsion zone give you a nice kick through the running gait.

Midsole

The midsole is made up of a dual layer foam infused with PUMA’s signature Ignite foam, which is great for energy return and is super responsive. The heel to toe drop is 8mm, not quite a racing flat, but the IGNITE foam in the heel portion of the shoe more than makes up for the fairly high drop.

The shoe, weighing in at 233g, gives any racing flat a good run for their money, pun intended. Unlike the pure IGNITE version 1, the IGNITE foam doesn’t run through the entire midsole. Instead, the IGNITE foam sits where it is needed most, in the heel.

Upper

The upper of the IGNITE Speed 300 is seamless yet very breathable, allowing your feet to stay cool during your run. With its snug fit, it hugs your foot comfortably without letting your foot slide around inside the shoe, especially when you need to change direction.

Its striking design is also a noteworthy feature and the white and red colour scheme will surely turn heads as you fly past.

The Speed 300 is also the basis for PUMA’s Limited Edition IYC colour way which is not available for sale. To get a pair you need to know a guy who knows a guy 😉

Limited Editon IGNITE Your City Speed 300 colour way

Limited Editon IGNITE Your City Speed 300 colour way

Conclusion

If it’s speed you’re after, you won’t be disappointed with these shoes. The Puma IGNITE Speed 300 are a great all-round shoe for both racing and long mileage training.

Coming in at around R1700 makes it an affordable shoe that will have you bolting around like the fastest man on earth, another pun intended. Our overall impression of the shoe is great and you definitely get your monies worth.

Available at Total Sports and Puma concept stores.

Adidas Response Trail Boost

Response Trail Boost

“Nothing is impossible” – Muhammad Ali

It is this mindset that separates the hall of famers to everyone else. When Adolf “Adi” Dassler cooked up the idea of the brand with the three stripes, he literally cooked up the idea in his mother’s kitchen. He definitely had the idea to achieve greatness, and as a result Adidas was born and is now one of the leading brands in sports, making waves in the trail scene with the Response Trail Boost trail running shoe.

It is evident in the Response Trail Boost that Adidas have a unique way of thinking when it comes to creating shoes and one can clearly see that the “nothing is impossible” mindset has been applied in the creation of this shoe. At first glance we thought the shoe to be quite chunky looking and would probably be found in the ring up against other “Heavy-Weight” fighters. Don’t be fooled by this new kid on the block though, they may look a little heavy and awkward but we were pleasantly surprised once we put them to the test.

At any trail race, look around and you will see that not too many feet are inside a pair of Adidas trail shoes. We feel this won’t be the case for long as it is evident that Adidas are coming in hot with a a great range of trail shoes that will rival the greats of the trail running scene. The Adidas Response Trail Boost being one of them! Weighing in at around 326 grams, maybe these shoes will be classified in the heavy weight division. However with the unique and responsive Boost technology from Adidas, the energy return on the Response Boost Trail more than makes up for the extra bit of weight. At no point did we ever have the impression that we were running in a heavy shoe, as the boost foam technology makes these shoes feel super light.

 

Response Trail Boost

 

Adidas Response Trail Boost Review

 

Outsole

 

With it’s mountain bike tyre like grip, the outsole of the Response Trail Boost is a rugged looking, rock gripping machine. Adidas have identified that multidirectional lugs are the way forward in terms of grip. Yes, the outsole looks gnarly, with the big lugs on the single compound rubber. The soft compound means the grip on the Response Boost Trail is sensational. The soft compound gives the runner a great ground feel and allows you to traverse over rocks like the mountain goat most trail runner’s aspire to be. At first we thought that the larger lugs would mean the shoe would only be suited to loose, rocky terrain, but not only do the Response Trail Boost transition from rocky terrain to smooth dry terrain effortlessly, the grip also gives you the confidence to bomb hills like its child’s play. The secret behind this success, from what we can gather, is that the lugs on the perimeter of the shoe are rotated sideways to give the shoe better traction on all surfaces.

 

Response Trail Boost

 

The rubber on the outsole is made by Continental, which is no wonder why the grip is so durable. There is a reason continental are one of the leading tyre manufactures, GRIP! So it was clear why adidas joined forces with Continental to create the rubber for their soles, purely to provide the best grip as possible, a successful relationship in our eyes. With the company spending millions on R&D to help some of the fastest cars on the planet perform at their best  you can be sure some of that technology will filter down to the outsoles they manufacture for adidas.

 

Midsole

 

Unlike most road models by Adidas the Boost Foam technology doesn’t run across the whole length of the shoe, it is only added to the heel portion and a small section of the forefoot on the Response Trail Boost. This is done to provide stability over rocky, loose terrain while still providing the shoe with sufficient responsiveness. The Response Trail Boost has a broad toe-box and allows your toes to splay, giving you added stability. The Boost technology is a technology unique to Adidas and is a cushioning that is designed not to lose any of it’s density over time. It is a technology that has a higher energy return than any other type of EVA cushioning, according to Adidas.

We definitely found that the Boost technology was noticeably soft and allowed the sole to mould around rocks, in combination with the Continental outsole, this gave the shoe plenty of traction. The stack height of the Response Trail Boost is at 31.6mm at the heel and has a 10mm heel to toe drop. The shoe provides great cushioning for longer training and racing mileage.

 

Response Trail Boost

 

Upper

 

This is where the shoe gets interesting, with its ‘bootie’ like exterior and high tongue, the Response Trail Boost will definitely be a conversation starter. To secure the shoe to your foot, Adidas have added a seatbelt-like webbing to the shoe, yet another unique characteristic. An issue we found with this unique upper is the overlapping panels on the inside of the shoe, while really comfortable, if dirt gets in there while you’re running in sandy or muddy conditions it can become a nuisance. The laces on the upper are textured to prevent them from coming undone easily, a great feature. The top part of the upper is made of neoprene, which is really comfortable and means one can run barefoot in them without the risk of blisters, if you’re into running without socks, that is. The mesh on the toe-box is very breathable and keeps your feet cool, both in looks and temperature. The design of the Upper does really well to give you a snug complete fit around the foot. There is very little slippage inside the shoe as the heel cup and front section work very well together.

 

Response Trail Boost

 

Overall, the Response Boost Trail are great shoes for big mileage and gnarly conditions. This is just the beginning of what Adidas has to offer and we foresee some great things from them. Coming in at around R1600 you get way more than you pay for with these shoes. If you’re looking for a stable shoe that looks great, performs well and will be a huge talking point at any run with friends, then this is the shoe for you. Your wallet will thank you too. It’s safe to say that Adidas are going to be huge contenders in the trail scene internationally in the near future, it is evident that Adidas live by what they say,

“Nothing is impossible.”

Cell C AfricanX Trailrun Race Report Part 2

Start of Day 2

Start of Day 2

In Part 1 of our Cell C AfricanX Trailrun race report we spoke a little about Day 1 of the 3 day event. Now that our legs and bodies have finally managed to recover it is safe to write part 2 of our experience at one of South Africa’s most well organised and fun trail running events.

Cell C AfricanX Trailrun Race Report Day 2

Day 2 welcomed us with much warmer weather than the previous day. Admittedly we would have preferred the rain as the 34km route on day 2 would take us through some of the hottest valleys in the Grabouw area. As is customary on Day 2 of the Cell C AfricanX the route started off with the brutal climb up the old wagon trail next to Sir Lowry’s Pass.

The climb up the Old Wagon Trail

The climb up the Old Wagon Trail

After the smooth running of Day 1 the technical and demanding trails on Day 2 can be heartbreaking, especially since we started the stage with 36km’s still in our legs from the previous day. We broke the stage up into ‘bite-size’ blocks and hoped that would give us a mental edge over the route. Once at the top of the old wagon trail we were greeted by the pristine views and beautiful single track that has made Grabouw a MTB mecca. Running through the forests was so blissful we almost forgot the heat. Almost.

Forest Bliss

Forest Bliss

Heading past the big dam at the Grabouw Country Club off came the shoes and socks for a seriously needed swim to cool off. Temperatures were soaring to the high 30’s without any wind and we were starting to take strain. After the swim though our spirits lifted and we pushed on. We had heard how tough Day 2 was but we really didn’t realise just how tough it would be. If you plan on running in 2017 the best piece of advice we can give is take it easy on Day 1, save your legs for the climbs and technical sections on Day 2. It really is a brutal route. Just when you think you are nearing the finish with 10km to go the route throws one last big climb at you. Any energy you had left up to this point will be drained by that final climb but the views are so worth it.

The view is worth the suffering :)

The view is worth the suffering :)

Once you have reached the top of the last climb it is basically a 5km downhill to the finish line, careful though cause you can see it for quite a while so it might take longer than you expect. Unfortunately on that downhill I tweaked my knee a little and had to hobble the last 2 or so km’s to the finish line. Not starting Day 3 looked to be an unfortunate possibility but for now, back at Houw Hoek Inn, it was all about eating and swimming. The difference in atmosphere between the evenings on Day 1 and Day 2 is massive. On the first night runners eat, catch up and head to bed. On the second evening after the bulk of the tough running behind those still left running the nerves settle and a party usually begins. After 2 days of grueling trail running I think they have earned the right to let their hair down a little.

Our Coach, Dave Sullivan, from Wingman Multi Sport.

Our Coach, Dave Sullivan, from Wingman Multi Sport.

Cell C AfricanX Trailrun Race Report Day 3

After 70km’s of trail running over 2 days a shorter day of 24km on Day 3 was waiting for the runners still in the race. It was a tough call to make but after a bit of strapping up of my knee I decided to start the day and hoped it would hold out. The 3rd and final day started at the Wildekrans Wine Estate for the first time in the AfricanX’s running and what a fantastic change it was. A 10km loop of the Wine Estate on sublime single track was just what our tired bodies needed to get into a rhythm for the rest of the stage.

Pristine Single Track at Wildekrans

Pristine Single Track at Wildekrans

The cooler weather of Day 1 with some light rain joined us again on Day 3. After the intense heat on Day 2 all the runners were very grateful for this. Unfortunately my knee wasn’t having any of it and after 10km’s I had to withdraw. So desperately close to the finish line but the possibility of a serious injury was very likely. It is always a tough call to make, you feel so weak and a little like a failure but sometimes a DNF is the wisest thing. Especially since it is a 2 person team event I felt very bad for bailing on my partner but thankfully she went on like a trojan and finished strong.

My machine partner, Sue Ullyett.

My machine partner, Sue Ullyett.

Will I be back in 2017? You can most certainly be sure of that! 3 days of the most amazing running through Overberg and Grabouw areas. The food. The people. The trails. The views. The vibe. The support. The Cell C AfricanX has the best of everything and it is definitely an event worth adding to your race calendar for 2017. With the support of Cell C and ASICS South Africa it can only get better.

For more info even check out there website here: http://www.stillwatersports.com/event/africanx-trailrun/

ASICS Gel-Fuji Attack 5

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A review of the ASICS Gel-Fuji Attack 5 Trail Shoe

The People’s Champ. A title many strive for but few ever receive. The People’s Champ is someone who always remembers their roots, they always remember those who helped them get to the pinnacle of their sport. The People’s Champ gives back to their people. Whether it is family, friends or a complete stranger the People’s Champ remembers their humble beginnings and helps out wherever they can. Take for example Manny Pacquiao, he came from the slums of the Philippines to the pinnacle of professional boxing. Instead of hiding behind his mansions and fancy cars he remembers where he comes from, he proved this when he built over 1000 homes for poor Phillipinos in his home town. That is a true People’s Champion.

The more we are running in the latest edition of the ASICS Gel-Fuji Attack the more we are realising that this shoe is The People’s Champion, of the running shoe industry. A shoe that has come from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of its sport. All throughout its ascent up the popularity polls it has remembered its fans, improved what needed to be improved but essentially staying consistent. Consistently brilliant. The ASICS Gel-Fuji Attack 5 is The People’s Champ. There is no doubt about it. Go to any trail event and at least half of the shoes you see will be ASICS. Why is this? Why is one brand so popular? We believe it is because the brand, ASICS, is not afraid to keep giving back to its fans. If you compare how much the average pair of ASICS retails for compared to its competitors you will see what we mean. The Gel-Fuji Attack 5 is available for R1599 at RUN Specialist Store, that is atleast R400 – R600 cheaper than the competitors we would stack this shoe up against. We haven’t called this shoe ‘The People’s Champion’ on price and popularity alone, and we don’t believe it is only popular amongst consumers because of its price. To be the Champ you have to be able to go toe-to-toe with the best. Let’s see how The People’s Champ stacks up against the rest.

 

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ASICS Gel-Fuji Attack 5

 

Outsole

 

ASICS seem to be one of the only brands who have figured out that multi-directional lugs on the forefoot (and not only on the heel) is a massive advantage on the descents. Not every runner brakes with their heel on a steep descent. Having some lugs facing the other way on the descent gives the shoe a lot more stability than we initially thought it would. Especially landing on rocky surfaces while running downhill, the added grip did wonders for our confidence. The outsole is built for speed, there is no doubt about it. The lugs are built for ‘full ground contact’ meaning the whole outsole is designed so that you have the maximum amount of outsole in contact with as much ground as possible in every stride. This makes the shoe stable on loose rocky terrain, muddy terrain, hard pack and even tar. Granted the lugs aren’t aggressive enough to be an out and out mud slinging machine but it will still keep you upright in the wet stuff. The shoe handled incredibly well for us across various terrain. One of the BBTR testers used the shoe at a recent 3 Day Stage Race, the Cell C AfricanX. There was rain on Day 1, intense heat on Day 2 and more rain on Day 3. On each stage the shoe performed excellently.

Day 2 was a rocky and technical 34km route with around 1100m elevation. The added Rock Protection Plate gave enough protection from sharper rocks popping through the midsole. ASICS have gone with their High Abrasion Rubber in the outsole which we have found to be very durable. Doing a fair bit of running on tar and hard cement sections on the trails has not excessively worn down the shoes. Although these high abrasion materials in the industry are good for durability we sometimes find this negatively affects the grip of the shoe. Thankfully this has not been the case in the Gel-Fuji Attack 5. The rubber compound is hard but still has decent grip. It won’t grip like a Speedcross or something with a softer compound so if total grip is what you are looking for, you might look for something softer. If durability with enough grip to feel confident on the technical stuff is what you are after this shoe is right up there with the best.

 

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Midsole

 

The midsole is built around a neutral platform and is split up into two sections, in the forefoot is a molded and contoured compound which does well to keep the shoe stable. It does this by preventing excessive ‘side-ways’ flexing of the shoe which keeps the ankle and the foot straight. This added stability is great on technical terrain but if you prefer a flexible and loose midsole you might find the shoe a little stiff. It is always a fine line between flexibility and stability on the trail but seeing that many first-time trail runners will head out in the Attack models they have done well to ensure the shoe remains stable. As mentioned earlier our tester used the Attack 5 at the Cell C AfricanX 3 Day Stage Race which covers 94km of trail running over 3 days. Before the event he had only run 10km in the shoe so going into the event we were all very interested to see how the shoe treated him after so short a run-in. The amount of cushioning was perfect for the high mileage covered over the 3 days. After covering 36km on Day 1, going into a 34km on Day 2 the shoe remained comfortable and didn’t give any blisters. That in itself is a win! The 10mm heel-to-toe drop is a little high for us but it didn’t pose any problems throughout the event.

The second part of the midsole is a Gel Pod in the heel which is one of the reason the shoe is so comfortable, the Gel Pod did wonders in absorbing some of the impact over the 3 days. This is another feature that makes this shoe so good across varying terrain as it is comfortable not only on the trail but also on tar and harder running surfaces. The midsole is also made up of what ASICS calls its SOLYTE material which is lighter than their standard EVA and SpEVA + materials. The shoe isn’t incredibly light so the lighter midsole material does well to keep the weight down. At 294g (Mens UK9) it isn’t the lightest shoe available so it does fall in the ‘All Round Racer’ category for us. A perfect high mileage trainer for logging those high miles leading up to an event.

 

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Upper

 

We sometimes find a stable midsole is often accompanied by a loose fitting Upper which for us defeats the point of trying to build a stable shoe. This is not the case with the Attack 5. In fact the Upper might be a little too built up as it is not the most breathable shoe we have come across. On Day 2 in some serious heat a more breathable Upper would have been a welcome relief. Having said that the thick Upper does have it’s advantages, most noticeably the shoe stays dry inside. Running through puddles and wet grass socks stay dry which for us is fantastic, especially if you prefer running with dry feet. We thought blisters could be an issue because the thick upper would trap moisture in the shoe but the ‘ComforDRY Sockliner’ works incredibly well to wick sweat off the foot, keeping friction to a minimum. Admittedly it isn’t a shoe we would run through a desert with but training in winter is going to be a whole lot more pleasant with a shoe like this. One of our favourite features of the Upper is the pocket on the tongue that holds the laces securely inside. The possibility of branches pulling your laces loose while running along the trail is no longer a problem as they are tucked away securely.

 

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At almost R600 cheaper than its competitors the Attack 5 is in a league of its own. A R1600 shoe that performs like a R2200 shoe is one of the reasons we have dubbed this shoe, The People’s Champion. The People’s Champion just keeps giving back to its fans. Not only in affordability but also in performance. We have a feeling this shoe will be around for a very, very long time and it most certainly can hold its own against its more expensive competitors. If you are a road runner looking at getting into trail running or even a seasoned trail runner looking for a stable, nuetral high mileage training shoe then the ASICS Gel-Fuji Attack 5 is for you.

 

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Trails In Motion 4 Film Festival

ASICS are proud to present a selection of the world’s finest trail running films.

Trails in Motion 4 will be held at the Labia Theatre in Cape Town on 25 March 2016 from 13:40.

If you’re a fan of the outdoors and adventure, particularly trail running, then you’re in for a treat.

The Festival features seven diverse trail focused features that is sure to not only entertain but also to challenge and inspire your own relationship with the outdoors.

Full details:

Date: 25 March 2016
Time: 13:40 – 16:00
Venue: The Labia Theatre, Orange Street, Cape Town
Tickets: R70

Tickets available now at:
https://www.quicket.co.za/events/15103-trails-in-motion-film-festival-cape-town

Flying High

Salomon S-Lab Sonic Review

by Rory Scheffer

What comes to mind when you think of Salomon? Is it the enormous mountains that tower over you as you traverse along the winding trails that take you to the summit, where only the brave dare to wander? Is it the numerous records broken by one Kilian Jornet as he summits yet another mountain, in speeds that leave you to believe that anything is possible? Whatever it may be, there is a reason as to why they are seen as the most iconic mountain running brand in the world. When we heard that Salomon, a brand that has dedicated itself to being the best in the business when it comes to mountain wear, was developing a road shoe we couldn’t wait to get our feet into them. Many were asking could the shoe perform well enough against Salomon’s seasoned competitors?

Those questions the industry was asking were answered when Max King easily qualified for the US Olympic Trials in the shoe. Last year we saw the creation of the S-Lab X series which revolutionised the running game for die hard Salomon fans. The X series however was a hybrid shoe that was designed to handle road and light trails as Salomon launched their City Trail series of products. This year, a new racing stallion was born, the S-Lab sonic. Weighing in at 220grams, the Sonic are a bit heavier than most flat racers from other brands, but don’t be fooled, the comfort and glide of this shoe pack a punch that will leave your opponents in the dust.

 

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This pure road racer is designed for speed. With technology taken from the soles of the X-series and a few improvements in the upper mean that this shoe is a strong contender on the battle field. They even have the laces to prove it. On any other Salomon shoe you will find the signature Quicklace system that a lot of us have grown accustomed to, however, these bad boys are sporting retro, traditional laces for those hardcore road racers. Salomon went with laces on these shoes to give runners more options when it comes to the fit and performance of the shoe.

Aesthetically the S-Lab sonic is definitely a head turner, to say the least. With it’s striking red all round, you won’t be missed as you fly past like “RoadRunner” being chased by the ever hungry coyote. With its 24mm stack height and 8mm heel to toe drop its far from minimalistic but ever closer to animalistic in terms of pure speed!

 

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Salomon S-Lab Sonic

Outsole

 

The outsole on the Sonic Features Salomon’s highly robust CONTAGRIP rubber and their 3D Profeel Film. A technology that provides solid traction on any surface, wet or dry, while maintaining proper support leaving you with the energy needed to finish strong and fast. The 3D Profile Film is an X-shaped layer in the shoe that gives the shoe its smooth ride. Salomon don’t give much detail on the technology behind the 3D Film, but it is apparent that it is there to provide extra protection to the foot without compromising ground feel and flexibility.

The CONTAGRIP sole is made up of a dual density compound rubber to give you grip throughout the whole sole, wet or dry, smooth or rough. Trust me, you’ll feel like you could walk up the side of a building with the grip on these racing machines. In terms of durability, the grip is phenomenal, without compromising weight or flexibility.

 

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Midsole

 

I have no doubt that the S-Lab Sonic is made for speed. The midsole is made up of Salomon’s unique EnergyCell+ foam with a layer of a denser EVA foam. A technology that gives the shoe superior absorption on impact without making it feel like you’re running on a goose down pillow. As we mentioned earlier, the stack height of the heel is at 24mm and 16mm at the forefoot (8mm drop), it does make one wonder if it really is a true racer. When one thinks of a traditional flat racer, one thinks of a flat minimal drop shoe. However, don’t be fooled by the 8mm offset, the midsole is designed in such a way that it makes the foot roll forward, giving you the propulsion of an F-16 fighter jet that would rival any other “traditional” flat racer. So hold on tight, and enjoy the ride!

 

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Upper

 

It is evident in the S-Lab sonic that it is full of technology unique to Salomon. In the upper this is again the case. Inside the upper you will find the ENDOFIT technology. ENDOFIT is a neoprene layer inside the shoe to give your foot a snug feeling, as the shoe fits firmly around your foot. The upper of the S-Lab sonic has been completely upgraded since the birth of the X-series, as Salomon have introduced a single layer mesh to create the shoe. This saves precious weight and makes the shoe incredibly breathable, keeping moisture inside the shoe to an absolute minimum. All this, together with the seamless stitching in the Upper creates a super light-weight racing stallion of a shoe. If you have quite a wide forefoot, the fit may be a bit tight as the toe box and slim design of the shoe is geared more towards a slimmer foot. If you plan on purchasing online we would recommend fitting the shoe in a store first, just to be sure.

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It is fair to say that this shoe will be rattling some cages in the road running industry. Not only is it a great racing shoe but with its great durability you can do some pretty heavy mileage in them. Cost wise, they are pricey (Approximately R2699) compared to other shoes in this range. Although you do get your money’s worth if you are looking for one of the best shoes in the business! If it’s colour you’re looking for, Salomon also have a variety of colours to choose from in the Sonic Pro, the ‘road trainer’ version of the Salomon S-lab Sonic. The Sonic Pro have a few differences in their make up, other than colour and are slightly heavier, but stay tuned for a review on them in the near future. For now the S-lab Sonic are only available in Salomon’s iconic racing red and are a unisex shoe. All in all, the Salomon S-Lab Sonic is a sensational shoe, with its fast and comfortable ride. It is clear as day that the once solely Mountain focused brand is making some serious waves in the road running department.

Single Track Bliss!

Cell C AfricanX Trailrun Race Report Part 1

So the Cell C AfricanX Trailrun presented by ASICS kicked off with a bang this morning with close to 700 runners taking part in what is being dubbed, ‘The Biggest AfricanX to date.’. Runners who opted for the tent accommodation were welcomed to Houw Hoek with some light rain and strong winds throughout the night. Thankfully we are a resilient bunch and spirits were high at the start of the Stage. Plenty of smiling and laughing between friends, some even didn’t hear the start gun go off. One of the most welcome updates to the new route was the old ‘bottleneck’ being taken away. Instead of turning onto the single track in the first few kilometers, the field was able to spread out much more as we meandered through the pine trees on the forest roads. Once the singletrack started their was space to really open up the taps and enjoy it.

Views for days!

The route had everything. Beautifully crafted singletrack flowing through the trees, runable forest roads and some slightly demanding climbs to keep the legs honest. The bulk of the climbing and technical terrain will be on Stage 2. Many runners wisely opted to take Stage 1 easy to save the legs for tomorrow. As far as refreshment tables go we had 4 aid stations spaced out perfectly along the route, making staying hydrated very easy. The cooler weather helped a lot as well, normal Grabouw weather can be extremely hot so the light rain and cloud cover was a welcome treat.

Passing through Paul Cluver and Thandi wine farms was special as well. The willingness of the local farmers to open their land up to allow the runners to come through is one of the reasons why the event is such a success. Running trails you would not normally be allowed to win adds to the mysteriousness of the event. It almost feels like you are part of a secret club.

The runners are also what makes the event so great. There is an incredibly fun atmosphere out on the route with runners encouraging each other in low points and jumping for joy in the high points. We managed to latch onto a ‘bus’ of runners on the last 6km’s and it was a great feeling being pulled along by positive people, doing something they love.

Camaraderie at it's best.

Camaraderie at it’s best.

Winding down that final singletrack descent down into Houw Hoek Inn was a great feeling, after almost 36km’s, coming through the forest you can hear the Race Announcer willing you home over the Microphone. You can smell the finish line. You can feel the high 5’s. You can taste the Fair Cape Milkshake. Before you know it you’ve crossed the line, milkshake in hand, recounting the day with your mates. Only to get up tomorrow and do it all again :)