inov-8 TERRACLAW 220 and TERRACLAW 250 First Impressions

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inov-8 love bringing out new shoes. Not all of them are perfect. I think we can forgive them for that. It’s good to experiment and you can have shoes in a test scenario as much as you like but it’s only when people start paying for them do you really get the true feedback.

I am lucky, I have been fortunate to test many of inov-8’s new shoes. So receiving the latest invention (a shoe that I actually had a first look at in October 2014 at Limone Extreme) the TERRACLAW I was really interested to see what the brand had done with this shoe and what it offered.

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I have the TERRACLAW 220 and the TERRACLAW 250. This is a first impressions article, so don’t expect any great detail on what they are like to run in, that will come later.

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The TERRACLAW 220 is a UK7 so this shoe will be tested by my partner, Niandi. The TERRACLAW 250 is a UK9.5. For simplicity, the blue shoe is the 220 and the black shoe is the 250. They are ‘Standard Fit’ which offers a wide toe box. This allows the toes to splay when running naturally. It also is perfect if you have a wider foot or maybe when running long and you expect your feet to expand. I am usually a UK9.5 in inov-8 but I would be interested to try a size 9. I can definitely run in the UK9.5 but the shoe allows just  a little too much movement in the toes. So, if you are going to purchase online think about this.

They are light!

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inov-8 always name the shoe based on the weight, so a 220 weighs 220g and a 250 weighs 250g. In our scenario, the 220 in a UK7 weighed 219g/ 7oz and the 250 in a UK9.5 weighed 258g/ 9.1oz. Spot on!

The two shoes on face value look the same until you take a closer look. I will come on to that in a moment. A key factor is the drop, the 220 is 4mm and the 250 is 8mm. So before we go any further, the shoes will have a very different feel when running. In addition, cushioning in the 250 is noticeably different to the 220. It all comes down to personal preferences but one could arguably say that the 220 is an out-and-out faster trail shoe for shorter races and the 250 will be better suited to longer races.

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The outsole on both shoes is the same, so there is no compromise between the 220 and the 250. As you can see from the images, the sole is aggressive but not ‘too’ aggressive. Both these shoes sit somewhere between a RACEULTRA in the 270 (4mm drop) and 290 (8mm drop) versions and  a X-TALON and/ or MUDCLAW.

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I think it’s therefore safe to assume that the TERRACLAW 220 and 250 are designed at trail runners who require a shoe with comfort, cushioning and more importantly, grip. The RACEULTRA provides this already but with no grip and the X-TALON and MUDCLAW are out-and-out fell shoes or soft ground shoes. So, if the TERRACLAW performs I am pretty sure it’s going to be a popular shoe in the inov-8 line up.

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The grip on the outsole is really spaced out which will allow grip (similar to a football boot) but in theory will stop the sole clogging up with debris. Several buzzwords appear on the outsole:

  • META-FLEX
  • DYNAMIC FASCIA BAND
  • DUAL C
  • TERRADAPTER

Oh yes, just like many other shoe manufacturers, inov-8 have come up with a whole new wording system to describe some key features.

Meta-Flex allows the foot to bend across the metatarsals, an important feature in any shoe but especially useful for off road running, Many shoes that provide grip can be too inflexible. The Meta-Flex on the 220 and 250 does really add to the feel of the shoe based on just a couple of runs.

Dynamic Fascia Band is in the midsole and is designed to help maintain stride efficiency. The jury is out on this at the moment. It certainly doesn’t seem to harm or damage the feel of the shoe, but equally I am not sure at this stage I feel the benefit?

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Dula C represents the two compounds in the sole. Black and Yellow on the 220 and Black and Blue on the 250. The black area is made of a more durable material and increases protection, the coloured area is softer and stickier for increased grip. If you get a hold of the shoe and press the different compounds you can really feel the difference. I do wonder though if the coloured section is wide enough, only time will tell?

On speaking with inov-8, they say that Dual C compounds negate the need for a rock plate. I am not convinced, soon as you got on hard terrain you feel the ground beneath you. That’s a great thing, I love to feel the ground. But the odd sharp stone or pebble does make it’s presence felt.

The upper is where the two shoes differ quite considerably. Most notably, the lacing!

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The 250’s lace conventionally and the 220’s lace using inov-8’s new RAY-WRAP system which is designed to align with the first metatarsal. In principal this is designed to make a more secure, close and comfortable fit. I have witnessed this before in a of Brooks shoes and I enjoyed the comfort and reassurance it offered. However, this does feel quite unusual at first. Niandi has expressed similar concerns with the 220. But lets be clear, it’s too early to tell and and make a judgement on this. The tongue in both shoes is padded well and offers great comfort. The laces are thin but pull tight providing a secure foot hold and if tied in a double not they do not slip.

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The heel area on both shoes is roomy, plush and holds the foot firm. No issues here from just a couple of runs.

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The upper on both the 220 and the 250 is light and breathable and both shoes utilise inov-8’s new X-LOCK welded overlay Yes folks, can you see that big yellow X on the 220 and the big blue X on the 250? That is X-Lock!

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X-Lock is designed to hold the foot firm within the shoe. It differs greatly between the 250 and the 220. Just look above. The pattern is completely different. We will feedback on this more with more use. You will also notice in the above image how the 250 (left) has considerably more toe protection than the 220. The 220 has a yellow reinforced soft band, to be honest it offers no protection against rocks. Whereas the 250 has a tougher fabric and just a fraction more protection against rock impact.

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Let’s be clear, this is a first impressions look at the TERRACLAW and our verdict is impressed! As I have stated on many occasions recently, 8mm drop is for sure a sweet spot in the trail running shoe market and nov-8’s addition of a trail shoe with cushioning and grip is welcome.

For faster and more minimalist runners, they too will have a smile on their faces knowing that they have also been looked after with a 4mm drop.

Time to hit the trails and we will feed back on how these shoes perform, what the comfort is like and importantly do all these new features -‘X’ this, ‘RAY WRAP’ that and ‘DYNAMIC FACIA’ this really work?

The 220 in Images:

The 250 in Images:

220 v 250

The TERRACLAW shoes will be available in September 2015. Check out inov-8 HERE

Episode 88 – FEJES HAWKER LAWSON

Ep88

Episode 88 of Talk Ultra and on this weeks show we speak with Scott Hawker about 2nd place at TNF100, we interview Joe Fejes about running 606.24 miles in 6 days and we speak with Dan Lawson about his record breaking 145 mile run at GUCR. The News, a Blog and Speedgoat Karl.

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If you enjoy Talk Ultra, consider a donation to help finance the show HERE

00:18:28 NEWS
 
Help Nepal – Nepal images ‘FACES of NEPAL’ – order a print and all funds donated to Nepal charities http://iancorless.org/2015/04/28/nepal-appeal-nepalearthquake/
 
Karl Meltzer another 100
Cruel Jewel 108 miler
GUCR
Dan Lawson 22:16
Mark Perkins 22:42
Andy Horrobin 26:24
Mimi Anderson 32:28
Alayne Malkin 34:41
Naomi Newton-Fisher 37:22
 
00:22:36 INTERVIEW
 
Daniel Lawson GUCR new CR interview
 
TNF100
Dylan Bowman 8:50:13
Scott Hawker 8:56:19
Yun Yanqiao 9:01:29
Dong Li 11:05:22
Amy Sproston 11:27:50
Shona Stephenson 11:47:02
 
ZEGAMA-AIZKORRI
Tadei Pivk 3:51:11
Manuel Merillas 3:51:47
Pere Rulla 3:52:50
Aritz Egea 3:59:27
Marco De Gasperi 3:59:48
Azara Garcia 4:41:23
Paula Cabrezo 4:43:44
Oihana Kortazar 4:44:57
Emelie Forsberg 4:49:38
Federica Boifava 4:51”32
Anton is injured…. again
 
Dave Mackey injured
 
Scott Jurek takes on the AT
 
Comrades with Ellie Greenwood, Max King and Sage Canaday – ouch!
 
01:29:15 INTERVIEW
 
Scott Hawker 2nd at TNF100
 
02:16:18 INTERVIEW
 
Joe Fejes EMU 6-day world trophy– Joe Fejes finished the event with 606.243 miles, which resets the American record for miles run in six days on a non-track surface.
02:45:00 BLOG
 
IAU WORLD TRAIL CHAMPS PREVIEW HERE
02:45:27 UP & COMING RACES
 

Argentina

Fiambala Desert Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Fiambala Desert Trail 80K | 80 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Australia

Queensland

Endura 50K | 50 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

Gold Coast 50 Miler | 50 miles | June 07, 2015 | website

Runners ConneXion 100 km | 100 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

Victoria

Macedon Ranges 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

Western Australia

Kep Track 100km Ultra Marathon II | 100 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

Kep Track 75km Ultra Marathon II | 75 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

Belgium

Wallonia

Trail des Vallées du Chevalier – 62 km | 62 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Bhutan

The Last Secret | 200 kilometers | May 29, 2015 | website

Brazil

UAI Ultra dos Anjos Internacional 135 km Hard | 135 kilometers | June 03, 2015 | website

UAI Ultra dos Anjos Internacional 235 km | 235 kilometers | June 03, 2015 | website

UAI Ultra dos Anjos Internacional 65 km Easy | 65 kilometers | June 03, 2015 | website

UAI Ultra dos Anjos Internacional 95 km Medium | 95 kilometers | June 03, 2015 | website

Canada

Alberta

Blackfoot Ultra 100KM | 100 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Blackfoot Ultra 50 Km | 50 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Blackfoot Ultra 50 Miler | 50 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

Calgary Marathon 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

British Columbia

Vancouver 100 km | 100 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Vancouver 50 km | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Vancouver 62.5 km | 62 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Vancouver 75.8 km | 75 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Vancouver 87.9 km | 87 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

China

Gobi March 2015 | 250 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

Colombia

Chicamocha Run 108 km | 108 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Chicamocha Run 166 km | 166 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Czech Republic

Craft Gemini Maraton | 84 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

Mammut Ultramaraton | 85 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Denmark

Midtjylland

Nordisk eXtrem maraton X50 | 50 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Nordisk eXtrem maraton X70 | 70 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Finland

Western Finland

Perniön 60 km | 60 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

SUOMI-RUN 100 km | 100 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

France

Ardèche

Trail de la Chaussée des Géants – 53 km | 53 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Dordogne

La Mythique International Run | 250 kilometers | June 04, 2015 | website

Gironde

Tour du Canton de Fronsac 60 km | 60 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

Haute-Loire

Le Puy-en-Velay – Conques (Juin) | 208 kilometers | June 04, 2015 | website

Haute-Savoie

Trail du Gypaète | 73 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Trail du Lac d’Annecy – Technica Maxi Race | 86 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

Trail du Lac d’Annecy – XL Race | 87 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Hautes-Pyrénées

Trail du Hautacam – 50 km | 59 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

Jura

La Transju’trail – 72 km | 72 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

Orne

Trail du Massif d’Ecouves en Pays d’Alançon – 61 km | 61 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

Pas-de-Calais

Trail des Pyramides Noires – 100 km | 100 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Saône-et-Loire

Ultra Trail de Côte-d’Or – 105 km | 105 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Yonne

Oxfam Trailwalker France | 100 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Germany

Baden-Württemberg

Schefflenzer Ultralauf – 100 km | 100 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Schefflenzer Ultralauf – 50 km | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Hesse

WiBoLT | 320 kilometers | June 03, 2015 | website

North Rhine-Westphalia

Bödefelder Hollenlauf 101 KM | 101 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Bödefelder Hollenlauf 67 KM | 67 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Schleswig-Holstein

Lauf zwischen den Meeren | 94 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Hungary

Ultrabalaton | 212 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Italy

Piedmont

Trail del Monte Soglio – Gir Lung | 63 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Sardinia

Sardegna Lakes Trail | 150 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol

Vigolana Trail | 65 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Tuscany

100km del Passatore | 100 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Veneto

Gran Raid delle Prealpi Trevigiane | 72 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Japan

100 km | 100 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

71 km | 71 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

Hida Takayama Ultra Marathon -100 km | 100 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

Hida Takayama Ultra Marathon – 72 km | 72 kilometers | June 07, 2015 | website

Namibia

Richtersveld Wildrun | 150 kilometers | June 02, 2015 | website

Nepal

Mount Everest Extreme Ultra Marathon | 60 kilometers | May 29, 2015 | website

Netherlands

Friesland

Pieter-ROG-pad Special Waddeneilanden | 300 kilometers | June 04, 2015 | website

Norway

Romerike 100 | 100 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Romerike 50 | 50 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Peru

Jungle Ultra | 220 kilometers | June 05, 2015 | website

Philippines

100 km | 100 kilometers | June 12, 2015 | website

50 km | 50 kilometers | June 12, 2015 | website

Portugal

OMD – Ultra Trail Serra da Estrela – 100 Milhas+ | 100 miles | June 05, 2015 | website

OMD – Ultra Trail Serra da Estrela – K100 | 101 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

OMD – Ultra Trail Serra da Estrela – K70 | 70 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Ultramaratona Caminhos do Tejo – 144 km | 144 kilometers | June 12, 2015 | website

Ultramaratona Caminhos do Tejo – 57 km | 57 kilometers | June 12, 2015 | website

Romania

Fundu Moldovei 3-day staged 115km ultra | 115 kilometers | June 05, 2015 | website

Fundu Moldovei Ultra Romania | 115 kilometers | June 05, 2015 | website

Russia

Dubna – Dmitrov Trail. 2015 – 50K | 50 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

Serbia

Ultra Trail Stara Planina 122 km | 122 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Ultra Trail Stara Planina 73 km | 73 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

South Africa

Comrades Marathon | 89 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

Spain

Basque Country

Euskal Herria Mendi Erronka | 65 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Castile and León

Riaza Trail Challenge 70 km | 70 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Castile-La Mancha

Quixote Legend | 166 kilometers | May 29, 2015 | website

Catalonia

Trail Els Bastions® | 52 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Ulldeter Ultra | 52 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Ultra Els Bastions® | 90 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Galicia

Ultra Trail Aldeas do Courel | 84 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Sweden

Boras Ultra Marathon – 100 miles | 100 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

Boras Ultra Marathon – 87 km | 87 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Switzerland

Berne

100km run Biel | 100 kilometers | June 12, 2015 | website

United Kingdom

Calderdale

Calderdale Way Ultra (long) | 50 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

County Borough of Conwy

Dragon’s Back | 200 miles | June 08, 2015 | website

Devon

Dartmoor Discovery | 32 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Gloucestershire

Aston Subedge Ultra Run | 56 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Northamptonshire

Northants Ultra | 35 miles | June 07, 2015 | website

Northern Ireland

Mourne Way Ultra Marathon | 84 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

North Yorkshire

Oxfam Trailtrekker GB (North) – 100 km | 100 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Oxfam Trailtrekker GB (North) – 65 km | 65 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Surrey

The Omen 66.6 | 67 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Worcestershire

Severn Path Ultra | 58 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

Severn Plod Ultra | 45 miles | May 29, 2015 | website

Severn Way Ultra | 58 miles | May 31, 2015 | website

USA

Alabama

Rockin Choccolocco 50K | 50 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Arizona

Adrenaline 65K Night Run | 65 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Solemates Arizona 200 | 214 miles | June 10, 2015 | website

Arkansas

War Eagle Tail Twister Trail 50k | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

California

Loco 50K | 50 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Loco 50K | 50 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Rim to Rim Trail Run – 50M | 50 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

San Francisco 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

San Francisco 50 Mile Endurance Run | 50 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

Shadow of the Giants 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Colorado

Ultimate Direction Dirty 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Florida

Help Support Us | 1000 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Lake to Ocean 100K | 100 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Georgia

Rogue Yeti 50K Run | 50 kilometers | May 29, 2015 | website

Rogue Yeti 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | May 29, 2015 | website

Idaho

Scout Mountain Ultra Trail 100k | 100 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Scout Mountain Ultra Trail 60k | 60 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Iowa

Heartland Relay 200 | 205 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Heartland Relay 75 | 75 miles | June 07, 2015 | website

Kansas

Flint Hills Trail 40 Mile | 40 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

Michigan

Yankee Springs Trail Double Marathon | 84 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

New Jersey

Mayapple 100K Trail Run | 100 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

Mayapple 50k Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 30, 2015 | website

New York

Cayuga Trails 50 | 50 miles | May 31, 2015 | website

North Carolina

Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie 50 Mile | 50 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Ohio

Buckeye Buster 50 | 50 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Buckeye Buster 50K | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Mohican Trail 100M Trail Run | 100 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

Mohican Trail 50M Trail Run | 50 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

Oregon

Bend Beer Chase | 70 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Rhode Island

Gloridays | 44 miles | June 07, 2015 | website

South Carolina

El Diablo | 220 kilometers | June 05, 2015 | website

Family Tree 100 Relay | 100 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Forest Freak 50k | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Hell Hole Hundred – 100K | 100 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Hell Hole Hundred – 100M | 100 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Hell Hole Hundred – 60K | 60 kilometers | June 05, 2015 | website

Knock on Wood 100 Mile | 100 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Utah

Squaw Peak 50 Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Ultra Advantures Bryce Canyon 100 Mile | 100 miles | June 05, 2015 | website

Ultra Advantures Bryce Canyon 50K | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Ultra Advantures Bryce Canyon 50 Mile | 50 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Vermont

Coyote Scramble Ultras 40 Miler | 40 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

Virginia

Old Dominion 100 Cross Country Run | 100 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Washington

Echo Valley 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | May 31, 2015 | website

Echo Valley 50 Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | May 31, 2015 | website

Rainier to Ruston 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Rainier to Ruston 50M Ultra | 50 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Vashon Island 50K Ultramarathon | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Washington D.C.

Race Across Virginia – Nation’s Capital (4 Marathons) | 114 miles | May 30, 2015 | website

Wisconsin

Kettle Moraine 100 km Trail Run | 100 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Kettle Moraine 100 Mile Trail Run | 100 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Kettle Moraine 38 Mile Night Fun Run | 38 miles | June 06, 2015 | website

Kettle Moraine 50 km Trail Run | 50 kilometers | June 06, 2015 | website

Ragnar Relay Chicago | 194 miles | June 12, 2015 | website
 
CLOSE

 02:49:25

LINKS

ITunes http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/talk-ultra/id497318073

Libsyn – feed://talkultra.libsyn.com/rss

Website – talkultra.com

Navigation 101 – Advanced Navigation – Beyond the Intermediate & Basics by Mountain Run

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In the first of our Navigation 101 articles (HERE) we covered the Basics of Navigation , this encompassed maps, compasses, setting your map & how to set a bearing. 

The second article we looked at intermediate navigation (HERE) & it consisted of the following information & techniques: 

  1. Declination/Magnetic Variation
  2. Grid Numbers/Plotting a Grid Reference
  3. Back Bearings
  4. Re-Orienting/Re-locating
  5. Thumbing the Map
  6. Hand-railing
  7. Catching Features
  8. Aiming Off

Now in the final article, which compliments the interview in Talk Ultra Episode 73, we look at Advanced Navigation techniques for Ultra, Trail & Mountain Runners.

In this article we cover the following techniques:

  1. Resection
  2. Rough Navigation
  3. Pacing & Timing
  4. Reading the map whilst running
  5. Memorising the map
  6. Night or poor weather navigation

Remember that we’re not just looking to learn these simple techniques, but more so turn them from a skill we have to think about, into something that becomes 2nd nature & we naturally do, without thinking.

Lets look at each one in more detail:

1) Resection:

A resection is the next step on from Relocating. It might sound technical, but its easy to do, as long as you have the clear vision around you to be able to take bearings at a distance!

You find yourself not where you thought, not lost, but certainly miss placed on the map. Maybe you weren’t thumbing the map, maybe you made a navigation error & your only just picking it up now, no matter, whats important is to pinpoint yourself back on the map! So what do we do?

Orientate your map!

Now assuming you can see summits around you, the easiest & quickest thing to do is take 3 bearings from 3 peaks/summits in view. This is by sight, not by applying the compass to the map. Take each bearing & apply it back to the map, remembering to subtract the Mag Variation, should there be one present, so your bearing is accurate. Draw a line from the summit you have identified as a feature, from the one you are assuming/have located on the map & do the same for the next 2. By doing this you will have 3 lines coming together in 1 point on your map, or at least you will have 3 lines crossing, making a triangle of sorts on your map. You are either at the point the 3 lines cross, or in the triangle. Or at least you should be, assuming you are identifying the peaks/summits you see around you to the map you have in your hand, correctly!

Resection-image

 

So what happens if you can’t see the summits or you realise you are in the clag and you are lost? First thing is not to panic, as this will induce fear and adrenaline and then you will spin. Next have a good look at the map & then have a good look around you. Can you see any features to take a resection from? Buildings, crags, tarns, ponds, sheepfolds etc. If you really can’t see anything, your only option is to drop down until you are out of the cloud & then perform a resection on what you can see.

Remember, Orientate the Map!

2) Rough Navigation:

Why use rough navigation when you can be 100% accurate is the first question you should have springing to your mind?

The reason is that 100% accurate navigation is not always necessary to be honest, sometimes you just need to know you are traveling in the general direction, rather then running completely on an accurate bearing. Plus rough navigation is very quick & can be employed more easily whilst you move at speed.

So how does it work?

You are moving from A to B, along a path. You really just need to know the path your running on is going in the right direction, so a quick rough bearing can be taken from the map as you move at speed & applied to the track your are on. It doesn’t need to be 100% accurate, unless there is a multitude of tracks, all running in a similar direction to the one you are wanting. This is unlikely.

You might also need to cross an expanse of open ground, but there is a ‘line feature’ – (remember from Intermediate Navigation – Handrails are line features!) to catch you, so you don’t need to hit an accurate point, as when you hit the line feature, assuming you were ‘Aiming Off’, you will turn the direction of travel you want to along the line feature. With this type of crossing, its not important to be working on pinpoint navigation & therefore you can just use rough navigation.

If each time you want to take a bearing it has to be extremely accurate, you will find that you will be stop starting all the time & this will take plenty of extra time, meaning you are not as fast as your competitors. Rough navigation, as with everything, comes with practice & confidence at what you are achieving.

Rough-Nav

 

3) Pacing and Timing:

This is a very personal thing. Not meaning you should be out of sight when you are doing it, but that you need to work out your own pacing especially & get a good handle on timings.

I find pacing very useful & don’t really use timing, but we’re all different & we all like different methods. Timing might suit you better, but I find pacing more accurate.

To work out your pacing a GPS can be handy. You need to walk for 100m over differing terrains & count the number of paces you take, as you do this. Start with flat ground & then maybe get some rough ground, an incline, a decline & more. Count every step or every other step, your choice & then make sure you write it down.

Pacing is to be used for crossing small expanse of open ground & generally you will only use this technique in the dark or when the mist is down. Start going over 500m & your pacing will be come less accurate, so either only use it for small legs, or take the distance into account with your accuracy settings in your brain!

Use pacing once the Attack Point has been established, or in the case or Ultra Running, to keep ahead of the game so you know when the next junction in the track is coming. Use in conjunction with ticking off features as you run to your destination.

Timing is great for longer distances, where a general time scale will be more accurate, but never 100%. Great for switching off & switching back on as you are running. Navigation, especially when you have to be on it, can be very mentally tiring & a pretty intense experience, especially when the mist is down.

I find the best way to use timing is to have a ‘Timing Card’. Hand up if you crap at Maths on the move! (My hand is up!). So have a quick & simple card to view, meaning you don’t have to think & you can concentrate on the navigation, rather than the maths.

Timing Card

4) Reading the map on the move:

This is a definite skill. Some find it easy, some find it really tough. I think the only way to learn this is to practice, its not something that can be taught really & its as simple or as hard as it sounds to you. It can make the difference between winning a race or not.

The ability to run across rough ground, whilst reading a map takes plenty of time. There are certain things that facilitate the concept & these are:

  • Having focus for the map & the ground at the same time (I like to call this Macro/Micro Focus)
  • Thumbing the map – if not done, its very hard to see your location on the map at speed across rough ground!
  • Being able to see only the important information & blocking out the rest

Whilst running with Shane Ohly (OMM Elite Winner & Owner of Ourea Events), we discussed map reading on the move. He breaks the map down in his mind to find the really important bits of information in order to simplify the whole map reading skill. He told me of a elite orienteer who simplifies the map to such an extent that he only see’s 4 or 5 key features on the map, memorises them & makes directional changes once he has reached each feature. This is combining the next technique as well, but in essence, this allows him to view the map very quickly, at top running speed & keep up with navigation & map reading whilst on the move.

The best advise is to get out there, and try reading your map whilst walking on different surfaces, once you have got this bossed, try a gentle run. The more you do, the easier it will get.

5) Memorising the Map:

Its easier than you think, but it takes time to get sorted & longer to trust yourself whilst racing. Really top level orienteers memorise vast sections of maps on slower, longer races. The same applies to mountain marathon runners. The less time you spend looking at your map the better, as you can then concentrate more on your running & trying to maximise on your speed.

How do you get better?

Sit at home and practice. Read your map for 10 seconds, memorising all the features you see on the map from Point A (where you are) to Point B (where you are traveling to). Now turn the map over & make a simplified drawing of the map & see how many features etc you remembered accurately.

Now get outside & practice whilst running, when ever you are out. Because repetition really does work, it might be tedious sometimes, but drilling something into your mind means when you are cold, hungry & tired, you still will revert to good practice!

6) Night Navigation & Poor Weather Navigation:

Its really simple, you know it already. You’ve been practicing it (I hope), from the first 2 articles in this thread. Remember these:

  1. Thumbing the Map
  2. Hand-railing
  3. Catching Features
  4. Aiming Off

 

Thats all it is really, combing all the skills that make up Basic to Intermediate Navigation & then removing the FEAR and giving yourself full confidence by practicing when ever you can.

Remember, Fear is the Mind Killer!

 

So all we really need to do when the clag is down or the night starts to roll in, is move away from Rough Navigation and advanced techniques and take things back to basics. Follow handrails, use all the features at your disposal, tick everything off you run past & make sure you know exactly where you are by thumbing that map.

Wow, thats a lot of techniques to employ, but as long as you practice them all, every time you run, you’ll be a master in no time!

Disclaimer: 

Please remember to be safe out there. Practice your navigation in a group, make sure you get the basics dialled before heading out in the clag or dark. Mistakes often make you learn quicker, but its not desirable.

Experience counts for everything, but if your struggling to get it all sorted, there is nothing like booking on a course, designed to teach you the necessary skills. Look out for our Navigation for Ultra Running courses in the new year, or the joint TalkUltra/MountainRun Navigation weekend coming next Spring!

Information and article provided by Charlie Sproson at Mountain Run 

Mountain Run

Altitude Training For Endurance Performance – Marc Laithwaite

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The higher you go, the ‘thinner’ the air becomes. The reduction in air pressure leads to less air resistance, so athletes who sprint, jump and cycle often perform better at high altitude venues. For endurance events, this lack of air pressure becomes a significant issue, as it leads to less oxygen in the blood stream, which impact upon aerobic performance.

What is air pressure?

Air pressure is measured as mm Hg (millimetres of mercury), if you’ve got one of those weather things at home or in the garden, you’ll often see ‘mm Hg’ on the scale. Standard air pressure at sea level is 760 mm Hg, that’s how much resistance you have to overcome when you run or ride your bike. At an altitude of 1344m (the height of Ben Nevis) the air pressure is lower at 650 mm Hg. Cyclists who have completed the hour record (how far you can ride on a track in a single hour) have historically completed the challenge at altitude. More recently, the Olympic Velodrome manipulated the climate conditions inside the building in an attempt to reduce air resistance and increase the likelihood of world records. Air pressure can be simply described as the ‘air density’. If you’re trying to ride through dense air, it’s like riding through water. If the air is thin, you slice through with less resistance. Time trial cyclists will know the importance of weather conditions, they know instinctively that following a big storm, the air is just right for personal bests!

I thought it was harder to compete at altitude for endurance athletes?

Physiologically speaking, yes, it is harder for athletes to compete at altitude. This would certainly be the case for most endurance sports. The hour record is slightly different as the benefits in aerodynamics and reduced air pressure, can outweigh the physiological disadvantage of less oxygen reaching the muscles. For long distance runners, competing at altitude would not be beneficial in any way!

Why does less oxygen get to the muscles?

Air pressure flows from high to low, consider the following example: The pressure in your bike tyre is higher than the surrounding air pressure. When you press the valve the air will therefore flow OUT, from HIGH to LOW. The air will continue to leave your tyre until the pressure inside the tyre matches the pressure in the outside air, then it stops flowing. When you inflate your tyre, your bike pump compresses the air by pushing down the handle. This leads to high pressure inside the pump (higher than the pressure inside the tyre), so the air flows into the tyre, from HIGH to LOW.

How does it work for humans?

When your lungs expand, the air pressure inside them drops lower than the outside air pressure. By opening your mouth, you allow the air to flow inwards (from HIGH to LOW). When you compress your lungs, this squashes the air inside them, raising the pressure so it’s higher than outside air pressure. The air therefore flows out of your mouth. We said earlier that air pressure is lower at altitude. When you expand your lungs and open your mouth to let air in, you presume that the pressure in the outside air in higher than it is in your lungs (so air will flow from HIGH to LOW into your lungs). What happens if the outside air pressure is also low? You open your mouth, the air pressure in your lungs is low and the outside air pressure is also low… air flows nowhere! Much of the talk about altitude generally refers to the ‘lack of oxygen’ when in fact the real reason that oxygen supply to the muscles is reduced, is the lack of air pressure.

What happens when you train at altitude?

The reduction of oxygen in the blood stimulates the release of erythropoietin (EPO) and this results in an increase in haemoglobin and red blood cells. This is the body’s way to deal with the lack of oxygen in the blood stream. Endurance athletes will often spend periods of time at altitude to boost their red blood cell levels, in the hope that when they return to sea level, their performances will be improved. One of the most significant issues relating to training at altitude is the inability to maintain both volume and intensity of normal training. In simple terms, you can’t train hard when you’re at altitude. To resolve this problem, athletes will follow a ‘HILO’ approach, which means they live HI and then train LOW. They will live at high altitude and then drop down to sea level when they need to train, so their workouts are not affected. The biggest problem relating to the HILO approach is the geographical limitations. Firstly, athletes must travel to a part of the world where they can sleep at altitudes of 2200-2500m. Secondly, they must then deal with the practicalities of training at ‘sea level’. This may require living and sleeping at a ski resort, whilst driving to lower altitudes to carry out training sessions.

There is an easier way

This geographical problem has largely been removed by the access to hypoxic or hypobaric chambers, thereby allowing athletes to remain at home in many cases whilst still benefiting from the HILO approach. Hypoxic chambers transform a normal room or building into a hypoxic environment. Athletes are now able to purchase a simple tent, which can be erected over their bed and with the use of a simple device, they can replicate altitudes of 2200-2500m whilst they sleep. Some training facilities have gone further and established training houses with dormitories where athletes are continually residing in hypoxic conditions to match 2200-2500m.

What’s the difference between hypoxic and hypobaric?

The word hypobaric, means ‘low pressure’. We mentioned earlier that air pressure drops when you are at altitude. The simple tent structures that you place over your bed, as used by the Brownlees and other elite athletes are not hypobaric. The air pressure in those tents is the same as general sea level, instead, they reduce the amount of oxygen in the air (swap it for nitrogen). They are therefore ‘hypoxic’ (low oxygen) but not ‘hypobaric’ (low air pressure). Hypoxic devices are much more easily available and have the same desired effect, i.e. generating red blood cells.

Applying Hypoxic Training

There are 3 ways of using hypoxia. The first is to sleep or live for longer periods of time in a hypoxic environment. This may be as simple as erecting a tent over your bed and sleeping 8-10 hours inside. The most common recommended altitude is 2000-2500m, this is moderate altitude.

The second option is termed IHT (Intermittent Hypoxic Therapy). This is based upon short exposure (60-90 min per day or less), at significantly higher relative altitudes (6000m+). This option is generally done passively, sitting in a chair whilst holding a mask over your face and breathing hypoxic air. In simple terms, this is a ‘much harder hit for a shorter period of time’.

There is a third option, to consider as both of the above do not involve exercise. You could exercise on a treadmill or indoor bike, whilst wearing a mask and breathing hypoxic air. If you are exercising, rather than sitting still, then the recommended altitude would be similar to option 1 (2000-2500m).
I’m feeling a bit light headed after all this talk of altitude, so we’ll stop here for now. Next week, we’ll look at what out there on the market and how it can be used to enhance your general performance. How can you apply altitude training in your everyday life and what’s the potential benefits to performance?

If you found this article useful, it would help us a great deal if you share on Facebook, Twitter and social media.

Until then, stay low and fast

About Marc:

Sports Science lecturer for 10 years at St Helens HE College.

2004 established The Endurance Coach LTD sports science and coaching business. Worked with British Cycling as physiology support 2008-2008. Previous Triathlon England Regional Academy Head Coach, North West.

In 2006 established Epic Events Management LTD. Now one of the largest event companies in the NW, organising a range of triathlon, swimming and cycling events. EPIC EVENTS also encompasses Montane Trail 26 and Petzl Night Runner events.

In 2010 established Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 LTD. This has now become the UKs leading ultra distance trail running event.

In 2010 established The Endurance Store triathlon, trail running and open water swimming store. Based in Appley Bridge, Wigan, we are the North West’s community store, organising and supporting local athletes and local events.

Check out the endurance store HERE

Endurance Store Logo

IAU WORLD TRAIL CHAMPIONSHIPS – ANNECY 2015

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The world trail championships are this coming weekend. Yes! This weekend. What, you mean the same weekend as Comrades? I am afraid so. So while Ellie Greenwood looks to do the double we are going to need to keep an eye on Annecy too… yes! But wait a minute, isn’t Sage Canaday and Max King also running at Comrades?

Yes.

Okay, okay, split screen computer screen required.

I joke of course and ironically while the World Trail Champs kick off in Annecy and Comrades kicks of in Durban, South Africa I will be in another part of SA at the Richtersveld Wildrun with Nikki Kimball, James Cracknell and a whole host of talented runners.

It’s going to be a busy weekend!

The last world championship was in the UK. Wales actually and it took part over a lapped course. Ricky Lightfoot won for the men and Nathalie Mauclair for the ladies.

This year, the Worlds takes place on a course that in my opinion is a proper trail running race. At 85km in length and with 5000+m of climbing the race should test the men and ladies from the boys and girls.

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However, the race is not without controversy.

The race will take place on the Technica Maxi-Race course with two starts! Yes folks, the world championship race starts 90-minutes before the annual open race. Wait a minute! I thought trail running was all about being inclusive?

Well it would appear that I am not the only one thinking that way. Francois d’Haene (Salomon), unbeatable in 2014, made it quite clear that he would not race. Anna Frost today (28th May) posted this, and I quote:

I will not be at one of my favourite races – the Maxi-Race – because I do not want to support the IAAF movement in our sport.

The sport will officially become an international ‘athletic’ discipline at the IAAF conference in August and I believe that changes will be implemented to make trail running fit into the IAAF philosophy rather than following the values that our trail running community have created.

Don’t know what I am talking about? Here are some examples:
• You race to be part of a running community? To have an oportunity to line up with the best of the best? I do too! But that does not happen in this race. The elites will start seperatly to all of you. It is no longer an open race.
• You like the freedom to enter any trail race you want? I do too! But that does not happen in this race. I need to be selected. I can not race for the brand that supports me. And if I do, and I manage to get a podium finish time…I wont be on the podium.
• If you have done the race course before it was fabulous. But not in this race. They have changed the course to faster, easier, flatter trails for access. That does not inspire me.

Trail running is fun, we can share it with everyone from volunteers, supporters, family and friends. It is open, we are free and inspired!

Read this great post by Andy Symonds http://www.andysymonds.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/trail-politics.html?m=1

So what we have is a world championship race, with selected individuals racing ahead (90 minutes) of the open race. But what if someone in the open race runs quicker than the world championship race? Unlikely I know but not impossible?

Annecy is an amazing place and quite the setting for a stunning race like this. It really is an adventure playground.

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Staring at 3:30am (really?) on Saturday May 30th the best in the world will do battle on the trails in and around Annecy.

Ricky Lightfoot, Max King, Anton Krupicka, Sage Canaday, Kilian Jornet, Rob Krar, Francois d’Haene, Michel Lanne, Jason Schlarb, Tofol Castanyer, Iker Karrera, Ryan Sandes, Emelie Forsberg, Nuria Picas, Anna Frost, Rory Bosio, Lizzy Hawker….

Will NOT toe the line.

So if this is a World Trail Championship race; who is running?

For the Ladies:

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Nathalie Mauclair is the reigning champ and will look to defend her title and I expect her to do well and more than likely win again.

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Caroline Chaverot had a great run at Transgrancanaria earlier this year placing 2nd and she placed top 5 at the Skyrunning world championships in Chamonix.

Aurelia Truel placed 2nd behind Mauclair in 2013 but I don’t think this course will allow her to make the podium.

Cassie Scallon on paper has the race speed for a great result but Annecy has its challenges that I am not sure Cassie will be prepared for.

Uxue Fraille would probably prefer this race to be longer; she will play the waiting game and then pick people off.

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Maud Gobert, has great potential for victory, particularly on home soil. On her day she can make it happen, don’t rule her out!

Lisa Borzani also has some great results coming into this race, 2nd at Tor des Geants being one of them, but there is a big difference between TDG and 85km in Annecy.

Krissy Moehl, Anne Lise Rousset, Andrea Huser, Ester Alves, Lucy Bartholomew, Sally Fawcett, Simona Morbelli and many more will contest top honours but lets give out a shout to Brit Lizzie Wraith.

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Lizzie is the Lakeland 100 course record holder and currently preparing for the Dragon’s Back Race. Notable runners missing from the UK are Jo Meek and Holly Rush. Prety darn sure had these ladies been fit they would have raced well.

 For the Men:

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Luis Alberto Hernando well and truly heads up the men’s field after his recent victory at Transvulcania Ultramarathon and as we all know, over 80km he is the one to beat as he proved at the Skyrunning World Championships in Chamonix.

Tom Owens at Trofeo Kima

Tom Owens at Trofeo Kima

Tom Owens is back on form and although he may well prefer the marathon distance he has a great record of top results at 50-80km with podium places at Trofeo Kima and Ice Trail Tarentaise.

©iancorless.com-0271Kima2014_Manuel Merillas had a great 2014 and was a revelation and a hot-tip as a star for the future. At the recent Transvulcania he detonated and moved from top 5 to outside the top 15. Showing incredible recovery, just one week later Manuel made the podium at Zegama-Aizkorri. I do wonder though if 85km is outside his race at the moment.

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Alex Nichols is a fast guy and on his day, he recently beat Rob Krar at MoabRed Hot and he placed 3rd at Templiers in 2014. No stranger to racing Europe on the Skyrunning circuit. Alex may well make an impact at the front.

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UTMB winner Xavier Thevenard has seriously blown hot and cold over the last couple of years. He did win the TDS last year and in doing so became the only runner to win CCC, TDS and UTMB. Racing on French soil must have his passions and desire to do well very high, but maybe they will be too high?

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Gediminas Grinius nailed Transgrancanaria recently and that is backed up by an incredible series of results and races in 2014. I can’t help but think though that he will probably just be getting warm as the finish arrives!

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Dani Garcia just rocked the field at  Transvulcania with 2nd place ahead of serious competition so who knows what he can do in Annecy. A real surprise package.

Kim Collison at Mourne Skyline MTR

Kim Collison at Mourne Skyline MTR

Kim Collison from the UK may also turn some heads. He will certainly be off the radar but he has the background to do well. He won the British Trail Championships, the Mourne Skyline MTR and as an adventure races and fell runner he is one of the best in the world.

Patrik Bringer has solid results at Transvulcania (5th in 2013) and has been on the podium in Annecy before, so he knows what he needs to do, always an advantage.

Julien Rancon, Fabien Antolinus (won Templiers, 2nd at Ice Trail and 2nd in Annecy – one to watch) and Sylvain Court head up the local French talent and then we have Pablo Vila, Iain Ridgway, David Laney, Paul Giblin, Eirik Haugsness and a whole host of other talent that will be looking to take top honours.

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In particular I think the Norwegian entries will make a few people turn their heads. They often fly under the radar but Lars-Erik Skjerveihm and Didrik Hermansen (2nd at Transgrancanaria) will rock the top end of the race.

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But the complete dark horse may well be Iain Don-Wauchope from South Africa. He is a complete unknown in Europe and having watched him race in SA and in Costa Rica, he is the real deal and if his travel goes well, watch out!

 Race website HERE

 You can follow the racing HERE live

News and reports on FACEBOOK HERE, TWITTER HERE, INSTAGRAM HERE

*Please note, the opinions of those who boycott the IAU World Championships are provided to give a perspective why some key names are missing from the competition. Anna Frost has vocalised those viewpoints and we provide them to provide information. This is in no way meant to distract from the ability of those who will race. We fully acknowledge to represent your country is a great honour.

The North Face Ultra Cardiac Trail Running Shoe Review

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In recent years, The North Face have continually been improving their run shoes. Foe me, the Ultra Guide was a stand out shoe and it was a shoe that friends and readers of this website also enjoyed. The upper held the foot well the shoe was cushioned but not too cushioned, it had an 8mm drop and it was ideal for those longer days on the trail and the grip worked well on dry trail, rocks and and muddy (not too muddy) trail/ rocks. It was a winner!

When I heard about the Ultra MT shoe for 2015 I was excited. I thought this shoe would be a step up from the Ultra Guide and the new incarnation would be even better. I have to say, when I first got the Ultra MT I was impressed. Vibram sole, tough durable upper, great toe protection, good grip and so on…. the running experience for me though did not live up to the look of the shoe or my expectations. I did several runs in them looking for that glimmer of hope but for me they just didn’t do it. Sorry TNF but I just didn’t like them. They lacked life, responsiveness and they made my runs feel flat.

I was disappointed! The Ultra Guide would no longer be made and I thought the Ultra MT was the replacement! But then I got hold of the Ultra Cardiac.

All is forgiven TNF!

The Ultra Cardiac is the shoe I was hoping for. It has taken all that was good in the Ultra Guide, tweaked and fine tuned it and what we now have is a rock solid trail running shoe with good cushioning, a grippy Vibram sole and a plush feel when running.

The Shoe

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First off, this is a good looking shoe. Okay let me clarify, this is a good looking show in my opinion! Looks are personal but the Ultra Cardiac ticks all the boxes for me. Although on paper, Quill Blue and Acid Yellow may not sound appealing. Visually it works especially with the addition of a good dose of black. You can’t go wrong with black.

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True to size, I have a UK 9 and it fits exceptionally well, holds the foot firm, hugs the heel well with no rubbing, slipping or movement and the toe box is roomy but not ‘too’ roomy. At 301g/ 10.6oz for a UK 9 (UK 8 is 272g) the shoe is certainly comparable to the competition. Cushioning is plush with 20mm at the rear and 12mm at the front. This provides an 8mm drop (difference between front and back) that is definitely becoming the ‘norm’ in the trail running world. It used to be difficult to find a 6mm or 8mm drop shoe, now you have loads to choose from and 11mm/12mm drop shoes are becoming harder to find. In principal that is a good thing but lets be clear here, although we may be (to coin a phrase) ‘Born to Run’ not everyone should be running in low drop and minimalist shoes.

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For me, 6mm and 8mm drop shoes really do provide a sweet spot for running and particularly when running long. They allow you a more natural feel (mid to forefoot) but also allow you a more relaxed foot strike (mid to heel) and comfort when you get tired. As mentioned, there is nor shortage of shoes with 6/8mm drop so although it’s not possible to compare like-for-like you may want to consider the following:

  • Salomon Sense Mantra 3 (HERE) 15mm/ 9mm has less cushioning, 6mm drop, very wide toe box, plush ride and all the wonderfrul ‘Sense’ attributes. A favourite of mine.
  • inov-8 Race Ultra 290 (HERE) 10mm/ 18mm has been a disappointment. Initially I liked the feel of it but over prolonged running I found the shoe sloppy, it lacked feel and responsiveness and it didn’t hold my heel. I know many out in run land who love the Race Ultra in the 290 and 270 versions (I don’t like the 270 either) so it may just be me.
  • Kinabalu Supertrac (HERE) 21mm/ 29mm is a really beefy cushioned shoe with serious grip. To be honest, it’s the odd one out here as the Ultra Cardia, Mantra 3 and Race Ultra all have similar outsoles whereas the Supertrac is all about grip!

Believe me, these are not the only shoes available at 6/8mm drop, but the above will give you a start point.

I have real confidence in recommending the Ultra Cardiac to anyone. It really is a great shoe that is well suited to everyday runs, dry trail races and even some road. This is not a muddy trail shoe, it can handle some wet stuff and even a little mud in places but the Vibram outsole is all about gripping dry trail, rocks and yes, wet rocks.

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The upper is breathable and uses Ultra Airmesh and FlashDry™ to keep you cool and dry. It works! I found on repeated runs in warm weather that my feet didn’t over heat or expand. A sure sign that the upper is doing the job it is meant too.

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The tongue is loose and well padded. After using attached tongues in other shoes and the Salomon Endofit I am always a little wary now when I see a tongue not attached to the shoe at the sides. To me it just makes sense! Rest assured. The Ultra Guide tongue was comfortable and had little side movement.

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The heel box is well padded, curved and holds everything in place with no rubbing. It gets a big thumbs up.

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Toe box has some protection with the outsole extending up the front of the shoe and then you have a reinforced area of blue and black. It’s minimal protection!

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On the side of the shoe you can see the reinforcement to hold the foot in place and this does a great job without adding any restriction. The most notable areas are the yellow sections on the sole.

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At the front you have EVA to give that plush feel on the trail and at the rear the ‘Cradle’ is designed to keep ones heel in place. I find it hard to be objective on the Cradle. Certainly my foot was held secure in the shoe and I had a very precise and controlled feel with the ground. However, I do strike mid to forefoot and therefore the Cradle may have to do less work for me?

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The sole is made by Vibram so it’s fair to say that it works! The sole has no cut away so effectively it is one flat piece which gives a great reassurance on the trail. What I like about this shoe is its ability to switch from road to trail easily. It isn’t a road-to-trail shoe but it does a great job. The outsole is not aggressive but it does have lugs and it works on dry trail with loose debris such as rocks, stones, shale, pebbles and so on exceptionally well.

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On rocks, the Vibram grips and provides reassurance even in the wet. When the trail gets muddy you are going to loose grip and this is where my comparisons with the old Ultra Guide leaves me just a tad disappointed. The new ULTRA MT has a sole that was similar to the old Ultra Guide. Don’t get me wrong, this new Ultra Cardiac is a great dry trail shoe and it’s a shoe I will use a great deal. But for me, TNF can you please but the Ultra MT outsole on the Cardiac upper and then you will have two great trail shoes for mixed conditions.

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Summary

TNF have repeatedly had a mixed reputation when it came to running shoes. The Ultra Guide changed that and many hailed that shoe as a real step forward. The Ultra Trail shoe was also well received and it’s a shoe I still use for dry fast trail. The Ultra MT was a step back (in my opinion) and I was seriously concerned after several outings in them. However, the Ultra Cardiac has changed all that. The ‘Cardiac’ (I still question that name!) is a great shoe and one that I would gladly purchase and run in regularly. The cushioning is plush and I would say that if you need some added comfort on longer runs or races, this shoe would be well worth considering. As the name suggests, it would make a great ultra shoe.

Pros:

Cushioning is excellent

Vibram sole

8mm drop

Padded heel box and Tongue

Cons:

Toe box protection is minimal

Tongue not attached to the sides

The North Face say:

Featuring a breathable FlashDry™ upper and Vibram® outsole, this lightweight-yet-protective performance trail runner delivers an exceptionally smooth ride over the toughest of terrain. With its traction and balance enhancing full-length Vibram® outsole and fast-drying and cool Ultra Airmesh upper, this trail running shoe screams speed and comfort with maximum support. Read the full product feature list below.

FEATURES

  • Ultra Airmesh and FlashDry™ keep you cool and dry
  • Zonal protection in the heel and toe
  • Pebax® heel CRADLE™ for proper heel positioning and support
  • Luxurious cushioning in the collar lining and tongue for a comfortable fit
  • 20 mm heel /12 mm forefoot
  • EVA underfoot
  • Vibram® full-length outsole engineered for optimal traction and balance
  • 8 mm offset
  • Approximate Weight: 548 g (pair) *based on Men’s 8

Richtersveld Wildrun™ 2015 – This Week!

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It is days before the second Richtersveld Wildrun™ kicks off and anticipation is building for what promises to be a tight race through one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world.

This four day, 150km stage race is one of the most challenging trail runs in South Africa and runners can expect to take on a harsh, mountainous desert as they are tested to the limit. Similar in format o the iconic Marathon des Sables, ‘Wildrun’ is notably different in that runners are not self sufficient: equipment is transported for them and food is provided.

At the front of the field, three of Southern Africa’s top trail runners and an American ultra-running legend will go toe-to-toe as they battle it out for top spot. Bernard Rukadza and Katya Soggot will both return to defend their titles and will come up against the likes of South African long distance trail running champion, Thabang Madiba and three-time Western States 100 mile champion, Nikki Kimball.   Both Rukadza and Madiba have been enjoying superb form in 2015 with Rukadza securing his second straight ProNutro AfricanX title in March and Madiba taking second place at the same race and at the Otter African Trail Run in October 2014. Madiba will be hoping to go one better at the Wildrun™ and take first place, but he will be up against it thanks to Rukadza’s form and route experience from the 2014 event. This is also the first time Madiba is taking on a run of this magnitude and he will have to adapt quickly to stay in the hunt.

Day 2 of the 2014 Richtersveld Wildrun, 'Die Koei' to Hakkiesdoring, Northern Cape, South Africa on 5th June 2014

“Stage racing is one of the races that helps to find your strength in running. You learn to push while in pain and learn techniques to apply to survive all stages. A win will be a big bonus for me but I’m looking forward to give all my best,” said Madiba.

In the ladies field, Katya Soggot will be representing South Africa off the back of a string of victories in the Western Cape, including the Spur Silvermine Mountain XL, Spur Cape Summer Trail Series™, Three Peaks Challenge, Matroosberg Challenge and Jonkershoek and Helderberg Mountain Challenges. She has been virtually unbeatable locally and will relish the opportunity to measure herself against an ultra-runner of Kimball’s calibre. With three Western States 100 titles as well as an Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc and Marathon des Sables title, Kimball is one of the top ultra runners of her time and will be hard to beat, but Soggot’s experience from the 2014 event is sure to come in handy.

“The magnitude of untouched wilderness, the comfort and welcome at every rest camp, and the elves who made it so. My feet touched where angels fear to tread. I never dreamt I would have the privilege to relive such an experience and I am overwhelmed with gratitude to Boundless Southern Africa and Wildrunner for the opportunity,” – Katya Soggot

Since its inception in 2014, the Richtersveld Wildrun™ has had amazing support from Boundless Southern Africa and marketing manager, Roland Vorwerk was equally excited about the quality of racing anticipated.

“The Richtersveld Wildrun™ route includes many of the Park’s most spectacular features, and includes trails that very few people get to traverse. We are looking forward to these runners experiencing the unique natural and cultural landscape of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park and meeting the communities associated with this innovative event.”

Mens Four Medal Ceremony

From a British perspective, Olympic rower and all around endurance athlete, James Cracknell was scheduled to race the 4 day Richtersveld Wildrun. However, James already had a commitment in place to commentate for the BBC on a rowing event in Poland. This race commentary was due to finish in time to allow James to travel to South Africa. Unfortunately, the commentating has been extended by one day and although James will still travel to South Africa he will arrive late and miss day one of the race. Needless to say, James is somewhat perturbed by this. Never happy taking the easy option, James and myself are currently looking at doing day 1 of the race at the end. Of course, this would mean a solo run but the team at Wildrunner have confirmed that they can make this happen. So, although James will not be able to compete head-to-head with other runners, we will have an overall time for the 4 day run that we can compare to other competitors.

“What more can be said other than this is going to be one hell of a race! Bernard Rukadza has been on fire in the Cape recently, winning everything from marathons to short Spur Trail Series™ events, but Thabang Madiba comes with the South African long distance trail champion label and arguably more endurance experience. I can’t wait to see these two trail heavy weights going head to head, solo, and in the magical Richtersveld desert,” said Owen Middleton, MD of Wildrunner – the events company behind the Wildrun™.

You will be able to follow the Richtersveld Wildrun through images and words here on this website, via Twitter @talkultra, on Facebook HERE and on Instagram @iancorlessphotography

CYCLING for RUNNERS – Put the Spring into your training!

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It has been a while, intentionally so. Over the latter months of 2014 and the early months of 2015 you will hopefully have been using cycling to provide a break from a very structured running plan. Cycling in addition to running allows you to build endurance but more importantly you can add some intensity through well planned and structured faster sessions with reduced impact.

Our last article, no 7 called March On provided a series of sessions that could be incorporated within your training plan that would lead you into Spring as a stronger and healthier runner.

Spring is here and June will provide new challenges and new opportunities.

Lets have a recap. If you have followed March On, you will have incorporated 2 ‘faster’ cycling sessions into your week (typically Monday and Wednesday) and at the weekend you may have replaced a longer run with a MAF bike session. These cycling session should have been weaved into a carefully thought out run plan. Yes folks, you still need to keep running!

Although many of you may well have tipped your racing toes in an event, June does often signify a change. The racing calendar suddenly grows and a multitude of races are available week-in and week-out. This I hope comes as no surprise? If you have been clever about your training, you will have decided some time ago what races are important in 2015 and you will have structured your plan to make sure that you are in the best shape possible when they come around.

One thing is for sure, as target races loom, the need to be ‘specific’ becomes greater. However, the more focused we become, the greater the risk of injury becomes. It’s so easy to be ‘too’ focused. We all run (no pun intended) a knife-edge between being in supreme health and broken with injury. Be careful!

This is where cycling comes! We discussed in Article 3 (HERE) how cycling can be used to replace ‘recovery’ runs. Although a 20-40min run may well seem like a good idea, does running and adding additional impact really enhance recovery? For me, an opportunity to use non-weight bearing exercise like cycling really does provide a recovery option that allows you to ‘spin’ your legs, flush out tightness and toxins and all in a way that adds little or no stress to already sore and tight muscles. If in doubt, replace Monday and Wednesday runs with an easy 30-60 minutes of spinning (90+ cadence) and see if these sessions enhance your run legs. It’s worth noting as we have mentioned previously, cycling can tighten your hamstrings slightly due to the repeated action (in a shorter circle of motion), particularly when compared to running. So please make sure you allow 10-15 minutes after cycling for stretching.

Another factor to consider now is the endurance element that comes from cycling. Depending on your chosen distance to race (50k, 80k, 100k, 100 miles or maybe more?) you may well be daunted with the distance that you need to cover and more importantly, you may well be thinking, ‘how do I train for something that is going to take me 5, 10, 15 or 24 plus hours?’

 

If you are coming from a marathon running background, you will be used to the scenario of making your long run 3.5 hours or approximately 21/22 miles. If you try to apply this scenario proportionately to ultra running you are always going to be struggling. That is not to say that you shouldn’t have some big days of running/ hiking (time on feet) but the reality is that for most of us, we may well break!

Step in cycling!

Lets be clear. Cycling is not here to replace running. If you want to be a good runner (ultra runner) you need to run, you need to be specific and you need to practice. However, cycling can be incorporated to provide you with some great aerobic activity for multiple hours without the added and increased risk from continuous pounding of your own body weight through your knees, muscles and joints.

If in doubt take a look at what Francois d’Haene tweeted in 2014. This was after victory at UTMF, 2nd at the Skyrunning World Championships and a stunning UTMB victory.

Francois D'Haene

Back-to-back runs are a popular training method for the aspiring and experienced runner. It’s a great way of breaking a long distance down; lets say you have a target race of 100k. You may set yourself a key target training weekend for 2 or 3 days. For example, a typical ‘long’ training weekend may look like 30k day 1, 30k day 2 and 40k day 3. It’s a great way to adapt the body, the mind and it provides a wonderful opportunity to practice nutrition, hydration and fine-tune your clothing. But you can’t do this every weekend… okay, yes you can BUT at some point it will all go pear shaped. Your body will say enough! What follows will be a period of inactivity, rest or maybe worse, injury.

Cycling sessions can incorporate an element of faster cycling. Maybe you’d like to work the hills a little? But be careful. You are using different muscle groups. Here are some stats from a 2 hour ride. This ride was all about keeping it nice and easy on an out-and-back ride.

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We all know that consistency is key in any training plan. Training is not about one run, one session; it’s about all the combined sessions you have done that make up a whole. So think about incorporating cycling to replace some of your long runs.

You can still do a back-to-back session: 5 hours on the bike and the next day a 4-hour run. It’s a perfect combination. Think about it, 9 hours increasing your fitness and aerobic activity but only 4 hours of impact.

If you only have time to run long once a week then look at incorporating a 3 week on and 1 week off scenario. So for example, your long runs may look like this:

  • Week 1 – 3 hours
  • Week 2 – 3 hours 45 min
  • Week 3 – 4 hours 30min

On week 4, forget a long run and add a 6-hour bike. You still get the aerobic benefits but once again, you rest those tired muscles and joints and use them in a different way.

There are no hard and fast rules here.

This post is about making you look at your training from a different perspective. To make you realise that just because you are an ultra runner, it doesn’t mean that you need to be an ultra runner everyday!

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Summary

  • Have a target planned in your diary so that you can be specific with your planning and work back from your key date.
  • Don’t neglect run speed work and hill training.
  • Use cycling in the week as ‘recovery’ from harder running sessions (speed and hills).
  • Incorporate long bike rides in conjunction with your long run training. For example:
  1. Do one weekend in four that utilises long bike rides instead of long running.
  2. Mix and match – Long bike on Saturday with long run on Sunday.
  3. Back-to-Back Mix – Long run, long bike and a long run makes a great 3-day session.
  • Don’t be worried about thinking out of the box. If you are feeling tired, sore or just need some inspiration – jump on the bike instead or running. It’s all exercise and as long as you are training, you are getting fitter. Just make sure you listen to your body and add rest as and when appropriate.
  • Rest – it is a training discipline. Don’t think of it as weakness. Planned rest allows you and your body to adapt. It’s crucial.
  • Use a HRM and GPS to monitor your training and efforts.

Enjoy the process. One thing that is great about sport is the ability to enjoy the outdoors. Cycling or running, take both hands, grab it and embrace it. Just think, you can cover considerably more ground on a bike.

Join us on STRAVA

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Thanks to SCOTT SPORTS and SUUNTO for the support and backing

Check out SCOTT HERE

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Check out SUUNTO HERE

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Mayonnaise, gin, cheese and taulas – Trail Menorca 2015 by Niandi Carmont

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Mayonnaise, gin, cheese and taulas ……..what do these words bring to mind? No, you got it wrong! The answer is ………Menorca!

Yep, not many people know that mayonnaise (and who doesn’t love dollops of it on chips) was invented by the Duc de Richelieu on encountering and adapting the Menorca aioli. As for gin this little island is home to Xoriguer Distillery and is well-known for producing its own distinctively fragrant variety of the spirit.

But where is Menorca might you ask? This Balearic Island is located in the Mediterranean off the Spanish coast not far from Mallorca. Menorca means windy island and hardly surprising as there is a gentle breeze on most days due to its relatively flat relief. A little wind is welcome if you consider that the island enjoys 300 days of yearly sunshine.

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Booze, sea and sun ….convinced? Well what enticed me to the island were none of the aforementioned but more the opportunity to take part in what I consider to be a fantastic and scenically beautiful trail race. The Cami de Cavalls is the backdrop of several trail races organized on the island in May. It is an ancient hiking trail/path of 186km that takes you around the coastline of the island. This long-distance walking route is the GR223 of the Senderos de Gran Recorrido network in Spain. Historically-speaking the Cami de Cavalls was built in order to connect the watchtowers, fortresses and cannons distributed along the coast. It was patrolled by soldiers mounted on horses hence the word cavalls meaning horses in Catalan.

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In the 2015 edition there were several distances: 185km, 100km, 55km (trekking), 32km (trekking).

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The 85km race (TMCS, Trail Menorca Costa Sud)) takes on the whole southern coastline from Es Castell to Ciutadella. This is the trail race I decided to do as I really wanted to experience as much of the historic Cami de Cavalls as possible but had only just recovered from Marathon des Sables 4 weeks prior. Taking that into consideration it seemed the best and most reasonable option. I arrived in Menorca on Thursday and my race start was on Saturday so this provided me with the opportunity to relax a little, do some sight-seeing and pick up my number and chip without too much stress. Thursday on arrival in Ciutadella I picked up my number and chip after some leisurely tapas and rosé in the port and attended the race briefing in the late afternoon for the 185km. This was followed by a cocktail with some local dignitaries involved in the sponsorship and promotion of Trail Menorca .

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The Friday was spent walking around the cobbled streets in the old quarter of Citadel and having fresh grilled squid al fresco with 2015 MDS winner Elisabet Barnes near the town-hall and an early night in anticipation of the early race start the following day. Saturday I was woken by my alarm at 5am. Some instant porridge and I was off to catch the shuttle bus at 6am to the start in Es Castell. What is practical about the different races is that they all finish in Ciutadella, the 185km and 100km (TMCN Trail Menorca Costa Nord) starting a day before. Shuttle buses at the finish in Ciutadella take the runners to the start of the different races so logistically it makes sense to book your accommodation at the finish and it is completely hassle-free. Also should you drop out (highly unlikely of course) or not make the cut off times shuttle busses are laid on at the checkpoints to take you back to the finish).

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An 85km drive along the coastline and the bus of excited runners arrives in Es Castell. During the journey Elisabet and I exchange worried looks as the rain starts pelting down – this must be one of the 65 days of rain on the island! However, it proves to be just a short-lived downpour and at 8am we start the race in cool and pleasant temperatures.

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The course is well marked with the over 2.200 GR 223 landmarks making it hard to get lost with added signage and red & white tape in urban areas on lamps or posts. These are reinforced with spray paint, biodegradable tape and red leds for runners running at night.

There are 7 well-equipped feed stations on the TMCS offering water, coca cola (ice-cold), isotonic drinks, fruit juices, fruit, nuts, dates, bread, Nutella and local ham and cheese. I found it unnecessary to take any additional food supplies although the race is supposed to be “self-sufficient” and runners are encouraged to do so. The support, friendliness and encouragement at the feed stations are amazing. When you do this race you really don’t feel like a number when you are cheered as you enter the feed station and cheered when you leave!

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I was incredibly surprised at the beauty of the course. I had been told that the TMCN along the North Coast was more scenic although much more technical but to be honest the TMCS was absolutely stunning. The variety of the course is unrivalled – beach sections, little coves of azure turquoise water, tiny coastal villages, luscious green flowered fields and cliffs overlooking the island’s multitude of pristine bays.

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The course is partly exposed and partly shaded providing a certain amount of respite from the midday sun. Temperatures at this time of the year can vary and although the day spent sightseeing was quite hot (36°C), on race day it was pleasantly mild. The only technical parts of the course are along the sea-front on hardened rock formations where you can easily trip up especially once fatigue starts setting in and the last section of the course although flat was quite technical and rocky with the head-on wind from the North Tramuntana complicating matters! At this point I was walking as I really didn’t want to trip up on the rocks and no longer had the energy to battle against the wind.

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The final kilometres of the race take you through the coastal seaside resorts into the finish area at Ciutadella where a welcoming crowd of local supporters and giant paella and free beers await the finishers. The icing on the cake? The beautiful medal with the words Live the Legend……..and I really felt I lived the Cami de Cavalls ….. until 2016 that is!

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Ciutadella and the surrounding area is extremely Spanish and beautiful – take a look.

Race images are available to view and purchase HERE

RAIDLIGHT’S GILET RESPONSIV 8L PACK REVIEW

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Niandi Carmont recently ran the Compressport Trail Menorca, an 85km race on the island of Menorca, Spain. Knowing the race would be semi self-sufficient, the need for a comfortable hydration system would be required. RaidLight stepped in and provided the new RAIDLIGHT GILET RESPONSIV 8L vest so that it could be tested in a ‘real’ situation. On first looks it would be easy to think that this pack is female specific, apparently no. It also comes with a hint of blue for those gentlemen who are not in touch with their feminine side.

RaidLight say:

The Responsiv 8L is a combination of bag/vest. Lightweight and ergonomic.

The Responsiv 8L race vest allows you to carry essentials and hydrate with ease, with the bonus of being ultra light at only 160 grams!

The bag has recently been awarded the prestigious Janus Design Award (2015), awarded by the Institute of French Design

 

Hydration is always an issue when you compete in a self-sufficient or semi self-sufficient trail race or even when training. There are multiple ways of carrying energy drinks and water but what most of us look for is a system that is:

  • Hassle-free – no fumbling around, fidgeting or groping
  • Provides easy access – you can hydrate easily on tricky technical sections of a course or when fatigued in the latter stages of a long trail race
  • Is quick and efficient – you can refill quickly when passing through the feed stations, wasting as little time and energy as possible
  • Is comfortable – no chafing, no bouncing, no sloshing, no leaking
  • Allows you to manage your water supply efficiently and gauge how much water/energy drink remains until the next feed station

Raidlight’s new Gilet Responsiv 8L ticks all the above boxes for me. It’s a great little pack.

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What I like:

  • It comes in 2 sizes: Small/Medium & Large/Extra Large. I used the smaller version as it’s probably more suited to the female body type and lighter runners. It also comes in grey/ pink! For the men, grey/ blue.

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  • The vest is equipped with 2 micrometric adjustment systems; I have seen this before on a pair of TNF Shoes called the Boa and a TNF pack. This system provides for an even more “customized” fit. These are located on either side just under the arm openings. So there is no messing around with dangling straps and buckles to tighten. Basically, as you remove items from the pack (food, water and so on) you can adjust the pack in minute detail so that it remains close to the body.

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  • It weighs just 160g and that is ultra-light!
  • Designed to be used with RaidLight’s new soft flasks (optional extra) which come in 2 sizes either 350ml or 600ml. So depending on how far apart the feed stations are on a course and what your own personal hydration needs are, you can use either one or the other or a combination of both. The RaidLight soft flasks are also equipped with straws which make drinking on the go extremely practical. The flasks fit comfortably into the 2 front pockets and are extremely easy to remove and slip back in. I found the straws a little distracting as they came close to my face, however, on the shoulder straps, two access holes are available should you use a bladder (the pipe would feed through these on the left or right). I found that I could push the soft flask straws in here. Perfect!

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  • The pack is made of a breathable flat-seamed mesh (thermal adhesive), which doesn’t chafe and please note ladies it is very pleasant to wear over a t-shirt, a sleeveless tank or even a crop top.
  • The stability is reinforced with two pectoral buckles on the front of the pack

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  • The stash pocket on the back can be used to carry a bladder (Velcro strap supplied) or mandatory race kit. I used it to carry a survival blanket, a mobile phone, a lightweight wind stopper and some extra food

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  • There are two tiny pockets underneath the main soft flask pockets; they can be used for lip balm, sunscreen, gels, tissue paper and gels/ food. For me, this is where the pack fails and needs greater improvement. I personally found I had too little room for ‘on the go’ nutrition and I used a lightweight fuel belt to store additional energy.

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I would recommend using the Gilet Responsiv 8L for any self-sufficient race or training run. It’s ideal for short outing and longer runs but I do think the lack of food storage impacts on its use for very long self-sufficient runs. If you are racing with adequate feed stations and the opportunity to replenish liquid and food, then it’s a great pack. For me it was ideal on the Trail Menorca Costa Sud, an 85km trail race with 7 feed stations, relatively hot weather (36°C) and a course which is technical in parts but without any major difficulties. Importantly ladies, this pack is one of the most comfortable I have tried. I don’t have big boobs but as you will know, anything that doesn’t sit comfortable is a real problem. The Raidlight was great in this area and gents; you have nothing to worry about. If it works for us ladies, it will work for you too!

CONCLUSION

This is a neat little product by RaidLight that works for men and ladies. Importantly, this pack is really comfortable for ladies and the option of two different sizes (S/M, L/XL) means that you can get a pack that fits you! This can also be fine tuned with the micrometric adjustment systems. The downside is on the go access to food/ gels as storage is minimal.

The vest will be available in June 2015.

Go to RaidLIght HERE to find out more