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 :)

The shoe that started it all!

Saucony Kinvara 7 Review

Shortly after May 5, 2009 the whole running industry went completely berzerk! All of a sudden cushioned shoes with a large heel-to-toe offset were blamed for millions of runners injuries. The ‘normal’ running shoe was completely shunned and minimalist shoes were set up as the saviours of the sport of running. Minimalist and Barefoot shoes inspired a more natural form of running which many claimed would end all running injuries forever. Barefoot shoes hit the scene in a big way as runners scrambled to run like the Tarahumara Indians, who ran for days on nothing but tyre treads wrapped around their feet and a mix of Pinole and Chia in a brown bag. Why did the industry go completely berzerk you ask? All because of a book called “Born to Run“.*

Fast forward 4 years and suddenly barefoot shoes were the enemy and ‘maximal’ shoes were now being hailed as the answer. Shoes with insane amounts of cushioning hit the market as the pendulum swung through the masses of injured runners to the other end of the spectrum. The very shoes that were supposed to fix all running injuries were now causing new ones. In defense of the minimalist shoe it was mostly down to runners not transitioning correctly. Running 100km weeks in cushioned shoes does not mean you can go straight into 100km weeks in minimalist shoes. Nevertheless this outbreak of injuries was the catalyst for the ‘maximal’ movement and once again the industry went through a complete revamp.

Before the industry was swinging from one extreme to the other, in late 2009 Saucony released a shoe that would effectively influence their entire future production catalogue and eventually the whole running shoe industry. The designers at Saucony had the foresight to find the middle ground before anyone else did. A product that could sustain runners over high mileage training weeks yet still encourage a more natural form of running. The legendary Saucony Kinvara.

Image via runranrun.com

Image via runranrun.com – The original Kinvara

The name of the shoe was inspired by Boston’s rich Irish heritage. Kinvara is a little town in the Irish country side surrounded by giant castles, steep cliffs and lush green fields. Saucony liked the town so much they even gave the mayor of Kinvara a replica of the shoe which was made of bronze.

Now in its 7th version the Saucony Kinvara has to have one the biggest cult followings of any shoe we know. We know of people who have at least 4 of the 7 versions, some even all 7. This intrigued us greatly – why were a whole bunch of people so besotted over a single shoe? No one knew just how popular the shoe would become when they launched it, even after it won numerous industry awards like the Runner’s World Best Debut award in 2010. Needless to say we were tremendously excited to see what all the fuss was about when we got a pair of the new Kinvara 7.

Saucony Kinvara 7 Review

 

Outsole

 

The Saucony Kinvara 7 features Saucony’s TRIFLEX outsole technology. Paired with the new EVERUN technology in specific parts of the midsole, the shoe is incredibly stable for a lightweight neutral trainer. With the lateral flex grooves along the base of the shoe the outsole design disperses pressure well throughout the whole shoe. Every runner who is training for a marathon has experienced that ‘hot foot’ feeling under their forefoot during long training runs. The TRIFLEX design does it’s best to disperse that friction throughout the midsole preventing that ‘hot’ feeling over certain parts of the foot. As far as we can tell in training, Saucony have nailed it. The base of the shoe is also incredibly wide as the midsole and outsole flair out from the upper to give maximum ground contact. Admittedly this has been quite distracting for us. The Kinvara 7 does lack that sleek racing shoe feel but then again this shoe is meant for logging high mileage in training and not necessarily for out and out racing.

That’s what the Saucony TYPE A6 is for.

The Kinvara is no slouch though, weighing in at 218g it will rival most racing flats in the weight department. The one advantage of the wide toe box is it allows your toes to open up inside the shoe, another great hand-off from the minimalist movement.

TRIFLEX outsole of the Ladies and Men's Kinvara 7

TRIFLEX outsole of the Ladies and Men’s Kinvara 7

 

Midsole

 

Probably the most exciting upgrade of the Saucony Kinvara 7 from the other derivatives is the use of Saucony’s new Midsole Technology, EVERUN. The previous models featured Saucony’s legendary POWERGRID which was excellent at dispersing the force generated while running throughout the whole midsole. This lessened the impact on the body greatly. So how is EVERUN different?

#FindYourStrong

#EVERUN continuous cushioning adding bounce to every step

Saucony EVERUN

EVERUN is basically “continuous cushioning”, never failing, and always returning to its original shape. 83% Energy return. 3 x more durable than standard EVA. Bold claims but they seem to have the science to back it up (See video below for more info). We have only had the shoe for a couple of weeks so we can’t comment on the ‘never failing’ part but we can definitely comment positively on the comfort, energy return and response of the cushioning. We are noticing a significant difference between the feedback of POWERGRID based models compared to the EVERUN in the Kinvara 7. EVERUN, for us, feels to be by far the more comfortable material. Plush but not spongey. Just enough ‘bounce’ in your step to feed energy back into your stride. Rigid enough so it doesn’t give the feeling that you are running on marshmallows. We won’t be surprised to see EVERUN starting to feature in plenty more of Saucony’s models as it filters through the ranges. The new Peregrine 6 trail shoe has EVERUN in the heel which is probably the best news we have heard all year. We found the Saucony Peregrine 5 to have a distance limit of about 30km’s. With EVERUN the Peregrine 6 will comfortably get up to Ultra Trail distances like 100km and 100 miler events.

One of the reasons the Kinvara models have been so popular in the ‘natural’ running community is Saucony’s commitment to keeping the shoe at a 4mm heel-to-toe offset. The Kinvara was one of the very first ‘natural’ running shoes ever made and it remains at the pinnacle of the category. The best thing the minimalist movement did to the running shoe industry was to bring down those monster heel-to-toe offsets. Gone are the days of 17 and 14mm offsets with most brands settling on around 8-10mm. It is the offset and not the amount of cushioning that inspire a more natural form. The Heel Stack Height sits at 22mm and the Toe Stack Height 18mm giving an offset of 4mm, as we mentioned earlier. This keeps the minimalist feeling by ensuring the bodies centre of gravity remains closer to the ground, while providing enough comfort to sustain high mileage in training.

Ladies Saucony Kinvara 7 colour way

Ladies Saucony Kinvara 7 colour way

 

Upper

 

Saucony have a very exciting Racing department which focuses on producing shoes that perform in the most competitive of situations. Thankfully for us ‘slower’ runners some of the technology filters down through the rest of the ranges. One of those is Saucony’s FlexFilm Upper. Most running shoes have to have support built into the inside of the shoe to increase durability, this can be a problem as the seams where each layer is joined together can cause friction and friction causes blisters. Saucony developed the FlexFilm as an external exoskeletal support allowing for less support needed inside the shoe. FlexFilm is hot melded to the shoe instead of being stitched giving the runner a nearly seamless interior. Think of the suit that Human Torch wears in the Fantastic Four. Made to withstand his “Flame On” fun while protecting and supporting him from the elements. FlexFilm does exactly that, plenty support and less friction. Plus it is oh so pretty to look at.

Another great feature of the Kinvara 7 Upper is a support band that is built into the lace system. It is basically a panel that is stitched into the base of the midsole, is attached to the tongue of the shoe and the laces are fed through the top. We found this made the shoe incredibly stable and the support it gives over the arch of the foot is fantastic.

Support to the max!

Support to the max!

In 2010 the original Kinvara effectively revolutionised the running shoe industry. After testing the new Kinvara 7 we are very confident that the Kinvara 7 is poised to do the same in 2016. With the new EVERUN technology the Kinvara 7 is set to take Energy Return and Durability to a whole new level. Watch out world, this shoe is coming out of the gates like a Bare Knuckle Boxing Champion with all of the luck of the Irish.

Something things are best enjoyed when shared #BeASeeker

Something things are best enjoyed when shared #BeASeeker

 

*slight disclaimer: We are not for or against any specific type of running or running shoe, in fact Born to Run is one of our favourite books. We are more fans of moderation and what works for each individual runner, than the extremes. Minimalist running might work for Runner A but not necessarily Runner B. Find what works for you. As Kinetic Revolution says, “Form before Footwear.”

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#ZeroLimits

Altra Running Lone Peak 2.5 Review

“A lone peak of high point is a natural focal point in the landscape, something by which both travelers and local orient themselves. In the continuum of landscape, mountains are discontinuity — culminating in high points, natural barriers, unearthly earth.”
Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking.

Scan the horizon, any horizon, and the silhouettes of distant peaks against the backdrop of a clear blue sky will almost always churn up feelings of curiosity, adventure and freedom. Well, that is at least the case with us. A lone peak stands out above an otherwise monotonous horizon. It is separated from the rest of the earth, “unearthly earth” as Rebecca Solnit put it. It demands respect. It demands to be feared. It challenges the most hardened of adventurers to come conquer it. Characteristics we have found the new Altra Running Lone Peak 2.5 to embody in every way over the last 2 months of rigorous testing.

Altra Running Lone Peak 2.5

Altra Running Lone Peak 2.5

We reviewed the previous version Altra Running Superior 2 a while back and found the shoe to be fantastic, there were some issues though that we had with the shoe and we are happy to say that Altra Running have addressed these issues very well. The shoe feels a lot more solid and stable under foot. It is no wonder the Lone Peak 2.5 is the choice of leading Ultra Marathon Runners, some of those runners include Ian Sharman (Leadville 100, 2015 winner), Josh Arthur (US SkyRunning series, 2015 winner) and Jeff Browning (Ultra Trail Mt. Fuji, 2015 third place).

Before we get into the review let’s look at what is new compared to the Lone Peak 2.0

  • Redesigned Upper
  • Improved Lacing System
  • Improved Upper Durability
  • Slightly Firmer Midsole

Altra Running Lone Peak 2.5

Bear Claw like Outsole

Bear Claw

Outsole

This shoe really stands out from others in the design of the outsole. The centre lugs are in the shape of a foot and look more like Bear Claws to us than feet. This makes the shoe feel incredibly stable as the points of the outsole that make contact with the trail underneath your feet are digging into the dirt like claws. The multi-directional lugs ensure you have grip whatever the gradient, whether you are going up or down the Outsole gives you a lot of confidence.  The Outsole is made up of what Altra call their “Sticky-Rubber TrailClaw”, aptly named as the shoe sticks in dry or wet conditions. One of the issues we found with the Superior 2 was that the grip in wet rocky conditions was almost non-existent. Altra has definitely sorted that out in the Lone Peak 2.5. The other aspect of the lugs that we enjoyed is that they aren’t too deep, so running on hard pack gives you a smooth feedback. Some trail shoes with very deep lugs can get uncomfortable on the hard stuff as you feel the individual lugs under your feet as you run.

In terms of durability we found the Outsole rubber to hold out well on jagged rocky terrain, we didn’t experience any of the lugs being cut off by sharper rocks. All in all we could not fault the Outsole, a seamless design makes it so much a part of the midsole that it is difficult to separate the two while running.

Altra Lone Peak 2.5

Midsole

The Midsole of the Altra Running Lone Peak 2.5 is where things get exciting for us. A 25mm stack height with Altra’s signature Zero Drop (0mm) heel-to-toe offset is low enough to provide feedback on the technical terrain, yet plush enough to offer some added comfort on the longer runs. One characteristic that puts people off zero drop shoes is the transition from heel to toe while running can feel ‘sluggish’. As your stride adapts to landing on the forefoot your legs work more to continue the momentum through each stride. Picture cutting a pizza with a round pizza cutter and a knife, the knife takes more effort to lift and cut down while the pizza cutter rolls through with ease. Having a larger offset works like the round pizza cutter. A smoother transition from heel to toe. The guys at Altra know this and very cleverly developed what they call ‘A-Bound Technology’ which is built into the top layer of the Midsole. It is merely a built up piece placed under the foot to stimulate that transition while still giving you a zero drop shoe. If you take the insole out and wear the shoe without socks you can clearly feel it under the middle of your foot. The Lone Peak performs and feels like a standard running shoe with an offset but still gives you all the benefits of a shoe that encourages a more natural stride.

One of the great advantages of a more minimal zero drop shoe is that you feel the trail beneath you, it is also one of the big disadvantages as a sharp rock in the arch of your foot is not fun. The Lone Peak 2.5 are somewhere in the middle for us, enough protection through the Rock Gaurd protection plate and the dual layer EVA but still responsive enough to give you feedback as you skip along the trail. Altra Running have stiffened up the midsole of the Lone Peak 2.5 slightly which many runners were requesting, we thought the previous version was perfect in terms of flexibility. We found it now to be a little too stiff but that comes down to personal preference, South Africa trails are far more technical than ones in the States. Having a more flexible sole on the technical terrain can increase stability.

A-Bound Technology built into the Midsole

A-Bound Technology built into the Midsole

Upper

The body of the Upper is made up of Altra’s Quick-Dry Trail Mesh. A fantastically breathable material that allows water to easily drain out of the shoe when running on a very wet route, one thing we found though is beach running can result in some sand finding its way through the mesh into the shoe. To be fair it was very minimal, it is a fine line to have an Upper that breathes well and still keeps out the debris that the trail throws at the shoe. Durability on the Upper has been drastically improved which was a welcome improvement. The material feels far more robust than that of the Superior 2 Upper.

As with all Altra running shoes the Lone Peak 2.5 has ample room for your toes to open up inside the shoe. Used in conjunction with Injinji Performace Toe Socks  you will struggle to find a more stable set up for the trail. The seams inside the shoe have been covered which significantly decreases the amount of friction in the shoe. One really nifty feature of the shoe is the Gaiter Trap that comes standard on the shoe, it is a piece of velcro at the back of the shoe which secures your gaiter perfectly. Visually the Lone Peak 2.5 has also been improved in our books, the contrast of the grey and blue in the pair we tested is striking.

Altra Running Lone Peak 2.5

The Altra Running Lone Peak 2.5 stands out in every way possible for us. Calling your shoe the ‘Lone Peak’ is risky as it can have two meanings. On the one hand it could mean separated, lonely, cast out but it could also mean set apart, unique or great. On the horizon of trail running shoes it really is a lone peak clearly visible from the rest. It clearly is unique, set apart and dare we say even great. They are “unearthly earth”, a discontinuity in the continuum of long distance trail running shoes. They demand respect. They demand to be feared and they challenge the most hardened of adventurers to come conquer with them.

Available from RUN Specialist Store at 7 -11 Bree Street, Cape Town. RRP: R2150. Tel: (021) 4181051

AfricanX Suggested Kit List

Views on Day 1

Views on Day 1

2016 Cell C African X presented by ASICS

The 2016 Cell C AfricanX Trail Run presented by ASICS is less than 3 weeks away so we thought we would put together a ‘Suggested Kit List’ together for the event in conjunction with RUN Specialist Store on Bree Street, Cape Town. The race is run over 3 days with competitors running a total distance of around 90km’s over the 3 days. Although the routes are very runnable the cumulative effect of the distances run each day make this a very daunting event. Stillwater Sports puts on an incredibly well-organised event so thankfully there is little you have to worry about with plenty support and well-stocked refreshment stations along the route. Having the right kind of kit can make a massive difference on how much fun you will have on the day. After spending months in training, preparing for the event, the last thing you want is to come up short because of a kit issue.

We are very excited to be bringing you a fun competition with our suggested kit list. The guys at RUN Specialist Store have agreed to offer a 10% discount on the items on this list. Give them a call on (021) 4181051 to find out pricing etc. Not only are they offering a discount on the goods but we will be having a lucky draw prize on Monday 14 March. Everyone who purchases kit from our list at RUN Specialist Store will go into the draw to win 2 Gold Package Entries to the Cape Town 12 ONE RUN on 15th May 2016. Arguably one of Cape Town’s biggest road running events, the route is a flat and very entertaining 12k from Woodbridge Island to Bree Street. More info on the competition and the details of the prize can be found at the end of this post.

BBTR Suggested Kit List for Cell C African X

All of the Gear!

All of the Gear!

ASICS Mens fuzeX Heather Tee

Clothing is critical on a 3 day stage race, you want light and comfortable clothing that won’t chafe and hold moisture. It is sure to be very warm over the 3 days so a light breathable material that wicks sweat and keeps you dry will be best. ASICS fuzeX Tee is made of a soft lightweight yarn which is incredibly soft to the touch and comfortable, even while wearing a hydration pack. The top is seamless and features ASICS MOTIONDRY technology for superior moisture management. Keeping you dry and keeping friction to a minimum. Paired together with the ASICS 5inch Performance Black Running Shorts and you’ll be looking more superfly than Marty McFLy in the year 2030.

ASICS Fujitrail Ladies Graphic Tee

The Fujitrail Graphic Tee is dedicated to the trail. ASICS designed the top around the contours of the female figure so it fits like a glove, giving you confidence to attack the trail and not worry about your gear. The top also features ASICS MOTIONDRY technology keeping you dry and preventing chafing. Paired with the ladies fuseX Knee Tight and all you will need to worry about over 3 days is conserving your energy to get you to the finish line. An elastic waistband coupled with the same MOTIONDRY technology gives maximum comfort and active moisture-wicking capabilities without affecting range of motion.

ASICS Gel FujiAttack 5 Mens and Ladies

Mens ASCIS Gel FujiAttack 5

The FujiAttack is most people go to shoe when it comes to Neutral ASICS Trail Running shoes. They are lightweight and very comfortable. Durability is fantastic as the outsole is made of a slightly harder compound rubber than some competitors versions. This doesn’t sacrifice grip though as the aggressive lugs offer plenty of grip when the going gets rough. A 10mm heel-to-toe offset also make it a great shoe for longer runs. A built in Rock Plate offers extra protection on sharper rocky terrain. The midsole material is lighter than ASICS standard EVA and SpEVA + resulting in improved comfort and durability. Two things you need plenty of in a trail shoe.

Injinji Performance Toe Socks

These socks have been an industry revolution! You don’t need to be running in Vibram 5 Fingers to be able to wear these socks. We have been running in very little else over the last 2 years as these socks are incredibly comfortable and completely eradicate excessive blister-causing friction in the shoe.  The socks have a built-in arch support to keep the foot stable on the ever-changing terrain of the trail. A protective cushion and double cuff ensure maximum comfort and moisture management. These are an absolute must for for us when it comes to Multi-Day Stage Races.

Injinji Toe Socks

Injinji Toe Socks

Compressport R2 Calf Sleeves

Compression gear has to be the most debated topic in Trail Running at the moment, one thing is for sure they do help. Whether it is placebo or actual performance benefits the fact is wearing compression gear, especially on longer efforts, aids in recovery. By supporting the muscle they help cause less fine microfibre tears in the muscles from the jolting and impact while running. According to Compressport the R2 Calf Sleeves “accelerate venous return preventing blood from stagnating in calves, ischia and quadriceps therefore making your legs feel ultra light.” We have found the best results in sleeping in compression gear but on a 3-day stage race, out on the trail any advantage is a welcome advantage. The R2 Calf Sleeves are very light-weight and feature Moisture Management technology.

Llama Bar 

Although the route has fantastic support with refreshment stations stocked to the nines with some amazing nutrition and hydration, having some backup in your pack in case the wheels fall off is never a bad idea.

Camelbak Marathoner Hydration Vest

We reviewed the Camelbak Circuit Hydration Vest a few months back and since then have not been able to run with anything else. It is an incredibly comfortable lightweight vest. The Marathoner is the bigger cousin with a 2lt Reservoir Capacity and 2 Bottle Pouches up front for additional hydration. With multiple compartments to store gear and nutrition for longer runs the Marathoner is a very versatile hydration vest. Xavier Thévenard recently won the 2015 UTMB while wearing one of these vests. For more info click on the Heading.

For what to put inside the vest we love NUUN sugar free Energy tabs. Each tab contains plant based caffeine (green tea extract), Vitamin B, electrolytes and is gluten-free, dairy + soy free. This is by far one of our favourite ways to hydrate.

#nuunlove

#nuunlove

So that wraps up our Suggested Kit List. If you are training for AfricanX we hope your training is going well and we will see you out there come 11 March.

Terms and Conditions of Competition and Prize Details:

  • Only stock on the suggested kit list is eligible for an entry.
  • For every different item purchased the customer will receive one entry i.e. purchasing a Llama Bar, Injinji toe socks and Camelbak Marathoner will result in 3 entries. Purchasing 3 Llama Bar’s will result in 1 entry.
  • All items must be bought at RUN Specialist Store. 7 – 11  Bree Street, Cape Town. Discount is available on items not already marked down or on special. Customer will be required to leave their name and contact details on the back of their till slip at the store.
  • Competition runs from 23 February 2016 – 11 March 2016.
  • The prize includes 2 x Gold Package Entries to the Cape Town 12 ONERUN taking place in Cape Town on 15 May 2016. Prize winner will need to ensure their own transport to the event.
  • Extra Social Media love and promotion of the competition will result in bonus entries added to your name.

The prize includes, for two people:

  • FNB Cape Town 12 Buff
  • Timing chip
  • Finisher medal
  • Route entertainment
  • Shuttle service to the start of the race
  • PUMA® Performance Tee
  • Exclusive access to the Gold entrants’ area pre-race (refreshments and tog bag drop included)
  • Exclusive access to the Gold entrants’ area post-race (massages, refreshments, ablution facilities and tog bag collection included)