SALOMON S-LAB SENSE ULTRA SET and SALOMON S-LAB SENSE SET

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A new year and new products! Nothing is more eagerly awaited than a new offering from Salomon and today I take a look at two new race vests from the French brand, the S-LAB SENSE ULTRA SET and the S-LAB SENSE SET.

Race vests have become the norm in racing now and it’s east to see why. When the product works (and some don’t) they fit like a piece of clothing, they don’t move, they cause no chaffing and they provide easy and immediate access to everything you need while still pushing the pace. I honestly don’t know who first came up with the ‘vest’ concept, what I do know is I always remember Kilian Jornet finishing and winning UTMB and holding his vest above his head!

Salomon vests and the S-LAB ADV SKIN HYDRO 12 SET can be seen in long distance races all over the world. Tweaked from one model to the next and the current incarnation has moved away from using a bladder to front mounted soft flasks. With a huge capacity, it’s often considered as one of the most ideal packs to hold all mandatory kit for a long distance race. The pack is lighter and utilises all the key features that one needs including that snug form fitting hold on the body. However, 12L capacity is not needed for shorter and faster races.

Enter the S-LAB SENSE ULTRA SET and the S-LAB SENSE SET.

It’s unusual in a review that I would review two packs at once, however, these two packs are so similar that a separate review is not necessary. So, I am reviewing the SENSE ULTRA SET and I will note comments and changes as appropriate for the SENSE SET.

So what is the difference? Simple: weight and capacity. The SENSE ULTRA SET has a 3L capacity and weighs a  110g. The SENSE SET has a capacity of 1L and weighs 90g. I am pleased to say that my two test packs are different colours, the 3L is black and the 1L is red. That’s going to make things easier.

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Both packs are identical at the front and differ at the back. This is where capacity is removed or added, so, let’s look at the front first.

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This is a really sweet pack! The layout is great, comfort is awesome and the capacity is ideal for any run when mandatory kit is minimal.

Key features:

Two 500ml soft flasks in two stretch pockets.

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Two dump pockets (open ended but elasticated at the top) at the bottom of the soft flasks

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Two zipper pockets (on each side) with large capacity made from a stretch fabric.

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Open ended stretch pocket on the left shoulder strap above the bottle.

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Zipper pocket on the right shoulder strap above the bottle.

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Adjustable fitting system (left to right) with three upper and lower settings.

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Whistle.

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In Use

I have the M/L fit and it’s quite simply the most comfortable pack I have ever worn. The pack hugs the body, it does not rub and importantly under the armpits and around the neck area the cut is wide to avoid any nasty rubbing.

The soft flasks sit on the chest and do not bounce. You can drink from the bottles without removing them when required, however, I haven’t been able to do that running. I need to stop, lean over, bite the bottle, take a drink and then push on…  Soft flasks and tight fitting stretch pockets make for a tricky combination. The soft flasks and the way they fit on the body are perfect, but trying to add a full bottle back to the pocket can be tricky. With practice it does get easier and a tip is to blow back into the bottle once you have taken a drink. This inflates the bottle and makes it more rigid. I personally have always preferred bottles over bladders and soft flasks and Salomon’s positioning make this combination the best I have tested.

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The upper zipper pocket will fit a phone or a gps device. I personally use and old style waterproof phone when racing and that fits perfectly. However, on training runs I have taken an iPhone 5 in a waterproof casing. So, capacity is ideal. The pocket is tight and stretchy and therefore whatever you put in is held tight with no bounce, another plus!

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On the opposite side the open ended stretch pocket is also large enough to hold a phone but is ideally suited for maybe food items or a music player.

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The two open ended dump pockets on either side of the pack below the bottles are large enough to hold multiple gels and bars and/ or items such as gloves, hat, buff or anything similar. To give you an idea of capacity, I could fit a beanie and gloves in one side and four/ five gels or bars on the other side. Ultimately it means you have plenty of room for energy when racing. Access is dead easy. Just put your hand in and pull the items out.

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The two zipper pockets are the secret weapon on both packs. I am amazed at how spacious these pockets are. Depending on the race you are doing and also dependant on your own personal preferences; the zipper pockets will actually hold a taped seam waterproof jacket in one side and taped seam waterproof trousers in the other side!

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Salomon provided me the  S-LAB HYBRID JACKET and S-LAB HYBRID PANTS (both medium) to test (review to follow later) and these items folded up and fitted in both packs perfectly.

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Considering the SENSE SET pack is only 1L capacity, this is remarkable. Lets just look at the facts, you can fit in:

  • Jacket
  • Trousers
  • Phone
  • 1L of fluid
  • 4-10 bars or gels
  • Hat and gloves
  • and then other extras such as Mp3, space blanket or other small items.

The SENSE ULTRA SET adds extra capacity at the rear in the form of two pockets. The SENSE SET is just a highly breathable and lightweight pack with no extras.

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A ‘kangaroo pocket’ on the on the lower third of the rear of the pack provides an easy access open ended pocket that can be added to or taken from whilst moving. The pocket is quite small and would take a windproof jacket or food items.

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The mesh back panel is actually two layers and makes an open ended deep pocket that can actually be accessed without removing the pack. It’s surprisingly roomy and should you decide not to add a jacket and trousers to the zipper pockets, this pocket can hold both items. Yes, it’s that roomy!

When running, it was easy to reach over, place my hand in the pocket and pull out my jacket. Of course, it was easier to do this if I stopped BUT this vest is very much designed about moving fast and light. It’s a performance product and as such, should you have the need to be quick… this product will allow you that comfort!

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I have reviewed many products and last year I reviewed the stripped down inov-8 race vest (review here). This for me was a great product. I loved the feel of it, I loved the capacity and I loved its usability when running. For me though, Salomon have upped the game with the SENSE ULTRA SET and the SENSE SET and produced two sublime products that are a joy to wear and use.

Considering the minimal differences between the two vests, I would almost certainly recommend that the SENSE ULTRA SET is the ideal purchase. From Salomon’s perspective, it almost feels an indulgence to have a 1L and 3L version. The added cost and added capacity of the 3L makes far more long term sense for me and lets face it, if you are running really long races, you will probably have the 12L product (or similar) anyway.

On a final note, I am seriously impressed with the capacity of both packs. The SENSE SET at 1L holds a ridiculous amount of kit for something so minimal that I question if 1L capacity is correct? The SENSE ULTRA SET wouldn’t hold all the required items for a race like UTMB but it wouldn’t come far off if you were keeping items to a minimum. That said, the SENSE ULTRA SET makes a perfect and ideal pack for racing any distance (even 100-miles) when all you need is some liquid, food, jacket, trousers, hat, gloves, space blanket, phone and a few other small items. It’s arguably the perfect pack!

Pros:

  1. Soft flasks are a dream
  2. Capacity on the front of both packs is incredible
  3. Zipper pocket is great for valuable items
  4. Open ended dump pockets great for items that you need all the time – food, hat, gloves and so on.
  5. Zipper pockets have amazing capacity
  6. You could wear the products against your skin
  7. On the SENSE ULTRA SET the rear capacity is superb and a real eye opener
  8. Weight is amazing
  9. Price is good £100 for SENSE ULTRA SET and £85 for SENSE SET

Cons:

  1. Soft flasks can be tricky to get back in the open ended pockets
  2. I am not sure how the pack would fit for lady users. The bottles would potentially sit in just the wrong place?
  3. The ‘kangaroo’ pocket on the SENSE ULTRA SET is small
  4. These are lightweight products and durability ‘may’ be an issue?

Conclusion:

I love these two packs. They actually make wearing a pack a pleasure rather than a chore and that is a real bonus. Capacity is quite mind blowing in both products and the SENSE ULTRA SET makes the most logical purchase choice as it provides more usage options. I actually found it difficult to come up with ‘cons’ for these packs they are that good!

Check out Salomon HERE

 

Salomon LogoSALOMON S-LAB SENSE ULTRA SET

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Ultra-lightweight running pack designed by Salomon Athletes. The Salomon S-LAB Sense Ultra Set weighs in at 110g and is designed to carry the bare essentials in absolute comfort with a 3L capacity.

  • Motion fit trail
  • Sensifit
  • Soft twin link
  • 2 zippered pockets
  • 1 chest pocket
  • 2 soft flask
  • Zipper phone pocket
  • 2 stretch pockets
  • Back compartment
  • Kangaroo pocket
  • soft rim
  • Reflective
  • Whistle

SALOMON S-LAB SENSE SET

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Ultra-lightweight running pack designed by Salomon Athletes. The Salomon S-LAB Sense Set weighs in at under 100g and is designed to carry 1L of the absolute bare essentials.

 

  • Motion fit trail
  • Sensifit
  • Soft twin link
  • 2 zippered pockets
  • 1 chest pocket
  • 2 soft flask
  • Zipper phone pocket
  • 2 stretch pockets
  • soft rim
  • Reflective
  • Whistle

Great Britain and Northern Ireland Team announced – IAU World Trail Championships 2015

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Jo Meek at Lakeland 50

News from ©britishathletics.org.uk

A 12-strong Great Britain and Northern Ireland team has been selected for the IAU World Trail Championships, Annecy, France on Saturday 30 May. Ricky Lightfoot, champion in 2013 will lead the team.

Ricky recorded a time of 5:36.03 two years ago but struggled with injury in 2014. When in form, Ricky is an unstoppable force on the trails and he will be looking to build his fitness in the coming months to top the podium in Annecy.  Paul Giblin was the highest placed Briton at the IAU World 100km Championships in Doha last November where he placed 11th, a great performance! Paul also won and broke the course record at the West Highland Way race in 2014. He is going to be one to watch, for sure.

Kim Collison at Mourne Skyline MTR

Kim Collison at Mourne Skyline MTR

Also joining the strong senior men’s team will be 2014 Lakeland 50 winner Kim Collison who just this last weekend stormed to victory with Adam Perry at the Marmot Dark MountainsPaul Raistrick was the 2011 Commonwealth Ultra-trail running Championships 12th place finisher. Tom Owens had an incredible return to form in 2014 and placed highly at all the Skyrunner World Championship events. In just over one week, Tom will ine up in Hong Kong for the Sai Kung, the first race in the Skyrunning Continental ChampionshipsLee Kemp will also be endeavouring to place highly in the field and guide the team to a podium placing.

Tom Owens at Trofeo Kima

Tom Owens at Trofeo Kima

Jo Meek needs no introduction to readers of this website. I have been talking Jo up ever since meeting her at Marathon des Sables in 2013 and what she has achieved since is quite incredible. In 2014, Jo won the TCC in Costa Rica, won Iznik Ultra, placed 5th at Comrades, won Lakeland 50 and then placed fourth at the IAU World 100km Championships in Qatar. Needless to say Jo is one to watch in Annecy.

Holly Rush will join Jo and after some excellent runs in 2014, in particular a great showing at La Course Templiers (against a strong field) a win at Ultravasen and part of the Asics Outrun the Sun team.  Lizzie Wraith is the Lakeland 100 course record holder and was a recent victor of the 3×3 in the UK. Without doubt, Lizzie will be looking to peak for Annecy. Sarah FawcettSarah Morwood and Bonnie Van Wilgenburg add plenty of experience to the women’s team.

Bonnie Van Wilgenberg at Lakeland 50

Bonnie Van Wilgenberg at Lakeland 50

The full Great Britain & Northern Ireland team for the IAU World Trail Championships in Annecy, France:

Senior Men:

Ricky Lightfoot
Paul Giblin
Kim Collison
Tom Owens
Lee Kemp
Paul Raistrick

Senior Women:

Jo Meek
Holly Rush
Sally Fawcett
Lizzie Wraith
Sarah Morwood
Bonnie Van Wilgenburg

Marmot Dark Mountains 2015 – Provisional results and Images

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The heavens opened the day before the Marmot Dark Mountains and the promise of a snowy course disappeared with each rain drop.

In many respects it was a shame. Many, including me, was excited by the prospect of a night time race with cold chilly temperatures, a clear sky and a layer of the white stuff. However, it was not to be!

More importantly, the 2015 Marmot Dark Mountains took place with no rain… yes, no rain! Conditions were less than perfect though. The ground was sodden with the previous days torrential rain and melted snow and although the evening started relatively calm the wind increased hour-by-hour and by the early hours of the morning, the wind and wind chill was having an impact on everyone.

Taking place in the Howgills, runners started to race at 1900-hours with elite duo Alex Pilkington and Tim Higginbottom first off! Kim Collison and Adam Perry departed at1940-hours and it was immediately apparent that they were on a mission!. Completing the top trio, Steve Birkinshaw partnered with Jim Mann and they departed at 2000-hours chasing the other runners down.

What followed was a masterclass of navigation and speedy running from Collison and Perry. They blazed a trail around the Howgills and the ‘projected’ best case scenario finish time of 11-hours was blown out the fells when the finish line dibber confirmed a time of 8-hours and 34-minutes. Quite incredible.

Higginbottom and Pilkington had had some problems early on finding a control. Equally, Birkinshaw and Mann had also had a  problem. However, Birkinshaw said after the race that his form was just not up to running at the required pace. Hardly surprising after his Wainwrights record.

There were four linear courses that follow the standard Elite, A, B and C format of ordinary mountain marathons and two score format courses. Feedback post race was excellent and a dry night on the fells was extremely welcome.

Results below are provisional and will be confirmed by Ourea Events asap.

Elite

1st Kim Collison / Adam Perry 08:34:54

2nd Steve Birkinshaw / Jim Mann 10:41:46

A

1st and 1st Mix Catherine Litherland / Ross Litherland 09:49:54

2nd Andy Thompson / Rob Brown 10:10:35

3rd Chris Baynham-Hughes / Max Wainwright 10:51:05

1st Women and 4th Steph Jones / Sally Ozanne 11:26:51

1st and 1st Vet Bryan Stadden / Andy Creber 09:15:33

2nd and 2nd Vet Tim Martland / Jim Allen 09:51.35

3rd Jamie Rennie / David Rennie 10:02:02

C

1st Greg Weatherhead / Kevin Drew 07:55:21

2nd James Parratt / Neil Garrido 09:21:14

3rd and 1st Mix Emma Van Der Gucht / James Pawson 09:34:30

Long Score

1st David Adcock / Ben Turner 404 in 10:00:33

2nd and 1st Mix Digby Harris / Kirsty Hewitson 295 in 09:55:28

3rd and 1st Female Jo Gillyon / Catherine Evans

4th and 1st Vet Simon Caldwell / Carmen Elphick

Short Score

1st, 1st Mix, 1st Vet Jonathan Aylward / Kate Boobyer 235 in 07:38:37

2nd and 2nd Mix Scott Collier / Anne Edwards 235 in 07:42:15

3rd Darryl Watton and Andy Bell

The Howgill Fells are hills in Northern England between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. The fells are bounded by the River Lune to the north by upper reaches of the River Lune and to the east by the River Rawthey. The Howgill Fells include two Marilyns: The Calf – 2,218 ft (676 m) and Yarlside – 2,096 ft (639 m) and a number of smaller peaks, including five Hewitts. Parts of the southern Howgill Fells lie within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, though they have been within the modern county of Cumbria since the county boundary changes in 1974. They were originally shared by the West Riding of Yorkshire and WestmorlandThe name Howgill derives from the Old Norse word haugr meaning a hill or barrow, plus gil meaning a narrow valley. – wikepedia

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Hernando, Jones and Olson for Transvulcania La Palma 2015

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It’s only January and already the world of Skyrunning is hotting up with the announcement that 2014 Transvulcania La Palma champion and Skyrunning Ultra Distance World Champion, Luis Alberto Hernando will return to the island to defend his crown.

Luis Alberto Hernando had an incredible 2014 and his return to Transvulcania is eagerly anticipated. A true champion, the tough and challenging course is one that he relishes, however, Luis will not have things his own way!

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Salomon Running new signing, Dakota Jones won the race in 2012 and he is back once again to test himself. Dakota raced in 2014 but had a disappointing race (his words) placing 10th. With a new team and definite plan to race theSkyrunner® World Series and Skyrunner® Continental Series, I think it is fair to say that the American will push Luis all the way to the line.

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Timothy Olson loves the trails on the island of La Palma. In the past couple of years he has made the island his families home as he prepares meticulously for the race. Timothy is very clear, a podium place is a main objective. He came close in 2013 with 4th place and last year he placed 8th.

More athletes will be announced in the coming weeks and months as we all anticipate the 2015 Skyrunning Transvulcania La Palma.

 Check out the Skyrunner® World Series calander HERE

Check out the Skyrunner®  Continental Series 2015 HERE

Check out Skyrunning HERE

Transvulcania La Palma website HERE

Marmot Dark Mountains™ Howgills 2015 – Race Preview

Marmot Dark Mountain - FINAL (BLACK)

Marmot Dark Mountains™ is the only overnight winter mountain marathon and the 3rd edition of the race will take place on Saturday 24th January in the Howgills.

The Howgill Fells are hills in Northern England between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. The fells are bounded by the River Lune to the north by upper reaches of the River Lune and to the east by the River Rawthey. The Howgill Fells include two Marilyns: The Calf – 2,218 ft (676 m) and Yarlside – 2,096 ft (639 m) and a number of smaller peaks, including five Hewitts. Parts of the southern Howgill Fells lie within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, though they have been within the modern county of Cumbria since the county boundary changes in 1974. They were originally shared by the West Riding of Yorkshire and WestmorlandThe name Howgill derives from the Old Norse word haugr meaning a hill or barrow, plus gil meaning a narrow valley. – wikepedia

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This year’s elite course is a tough one, with a potential 3000m of elevation gain and an optimum distance of 53km. Famous for their steep rounded hills, the Howgills will be a tough challenge. Having viewed weather forecasts the organisers have issued a stern warning to all the competitors about the challenging nature of the terrain and event.

Needless to say, mandatory kit will be checked prior to the event.

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Marmot Dark Mountains™ is a true test of mountain craft for experienced mountain runners. Challenging terrain, night navigation and a wintery environment will test each runner over the variety of courses available: Elite, A, B, C, Short Score and Long Score.

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“Marmot Dark Mountains™ takes the classic two-day mountain marathon format and gives it a new… darker twist.” said Race Director, Shane Ohly. “Rather than two days of running with an overnight camp in between, Marmot Dark Mountains™ packs everything into one winter’s night!”

Steve Birkinshaw

Three of the UK’s leading teams are of particular interest in the 2015 event: Steve Birkinshaw and Jim Mann, Chris Near and Tim Higginbottom and Kim Collison and Adam Perry.

Kim Collison at Mourne Skyline MTR

Kim Collison at Mourne Skyline MTR

Runners will start to race at 1900-hours and  Chris Near and Tim Higginbottom will be first off! The dynamic duo have won practically every elite mountain marathon and they have held various long distance mountain running records. In 2014, Near and Higginbottom missed the race due to last minute illness, they will be looking for victory in 2015.

Steve Birkinshaw needs no introduction. His incredible Wainwrights record in 2014 was a highlight of the year for many a trail, mountain, fell and ultra runner. Steve’s partnership with Jim Mann is fitting as Mann holds the record for the winter Bob Graham Round. Birkinshaw won the 2014 event when partnered with Tom Gibbs, so the pressure will be on! Birkinshaw and Mann start at 2000-hours chasing the other runners down.

Kim Collison and Adam Perry will be a tough pair to beat and setting off at 1940-hours. Collison won the first Marmot Dark Mountains in 2013 (running with Alex Pilkington) and finished the 98km Fellsman with Perry in first place last year. The duo are evenly matched and are considered favourites by many!

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Offering a range courses to suit a range of abilities, every year there has been a small but steady increase in the number of participants.

“The event kicks-off on the Saturday evening with the longest classes setting off first for dusk-to-dawn racing. The shorter classes will set off later in the evening with the aim of most competitors finishing within an hour or so of each other the following Sunday morning. This makes for an exciting finale as all the courses and most of the competitors converge on the finish as dawn breaks.”

There are four linear courses that follow the standard Elite, A, B and C format of ordinary mountain marathons and two score format courses.

This year there will be two manned checkpoints in the Howgills that competitors on the various courses may visit and the organisers intend to post updates to the event website as the night of racing unfolds.

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Follow the race at Ourea Events HERE

Marmot Dark Mountains HERE

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SCOTT Trail Rocket 2.0 (2015) Shoe Review

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Following on from the extremely successful and popular T2 Kinabalu (review HERE and ladies review HERE) Scott have produced an out and out trail running race shoe aptly named the Trail Rocket. The original Trail Rocket (Feb 2014) when released gained plenty of initial praise. I praised them! However, it soon became apparent that the sole had some serious issues. The black nodules as seen on the image below literally would just come off. For me, my shoes did last a while before I had issues, however, some runners had problems within 50-miles.

Scott Trail Rocket Sole

The new 2015 shoe has addressed this issue and the sole is now far more resilient and long lasting.

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The orange section of the sole is now a moulded compound and the grip is not ‘added’ as in the previous model. So if you have used the Trail Rocket in the past, like them but refused to go near them again because of longevity issues, don’t worry, Scott have addressed this!

If mud is your thing the Trail Rocket is not for you. The Trail Rocket 2.0 is for fast running on hard pack trails, rocks, gravel and so on. They can withstand a little mud but not too much. They perform well on wet ground but the compound used in the orange section of the sole is relatively hard and on occasion I have felt the shoe slip. It’s only a minor slip but nonetheless it does make you take a breath and then you question what will grip be like later in the run?

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Following the trend for low drop shoes, the Trail Rocket 2.0 has a 5mm heel to toe drop in comparison to the 11mm drop of the T2 Kinabalu. The T2 Kinabalu is still a favourite shoe of mine even though it has an 11mm drop. This is mostly due to the ‘rocker’ sole which makes the shoe feel lower than it actually is. You can see one of the 2015 T2 Kinabalu 3.0 colour ways below.

Scott T2 Kinabalu 2015

Scott T2 Kinabalu 2015

The upper of the Trail Rocket 2.0 is very breathable with a slightly narrow toe box (precision) and a snug heel compartment that provides a solid and secure fit. Toe protection is okay but not great.

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Sizing is true to size, however, if you are going without socks you may want to check what works for you. Lacing is solid and depending on your preferred lacing method the shoe holds firm to the foot and is extremely comfortable.

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The laces provide a real secure and tight hold and once tied they hold firm and don’t come loose. An elastic bungee (Lace Locker) holds and retains any  excess lace.It’s a really practical solution that was missing on the original Trail Rocket. It’s a simplistic solution to a problem that exists for all runners unless you use Salomon!

 

The Trail Rocket 2.0 is lightweight and versatile and designed for maximum performance for racing and fast training. The minimalistic design in combination with the eRide™ Technology promotes an efficient, natural and fast running style.

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Arguably, the eRide™ (rocker) may not required for this model of shoe as a 5mm drop will almost certainly mean that your run form should already be good and mid to forefoot landing is normal. However, should you be transitioning to lower drop shoe (say from 8mm) the eRide™ will help guide you on your way.

eRide

As you would expect, the shoes weigh in at a light 260g (UK9) which is obviously due to the minimalist design and Aerofoam.

Aerofoam

Forefoot cushioning is 17.5 and rear cushioning 22.5 providing a shoe that still provides good cushioning and protection. How far can you run in them? Well it very much depends on your form, adaptation and technique. Without doubt I think we will see many efficient runners covering 100-miles in this shoe, however, for many the Trail Rocket 2.0 will be ideally suited for fast running on trail races up to 50-miles.

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The Trail Rocket 2.0 has a ‘Rock-Protection-Plate’ too reduce any impact from obstacles on the ground and cushioning is good. I have had few issues with ‘feeling’ the ground beneath me.

Slipping the shoe on you have that confirmed comfort feeling inherited from the T2 Kinabalu, so, it’s fair to say that if you are a fan of its beefier brother you are going to like the Trail Rocket.

Overall comfort is great and you zip along feeling very light and fast. The shoe has great flexibility. They encourage you to move quicker, lighter and faster with increased cadence.

A real bonus is how good the shoe feels on road and/ or tarmac. Many of us need to transition to trail either by connecting roads or maybe you need to access trail with a jog to and from home? The Trail Rocket handles this well. It’s too early to say in testing what impact this will have on the wear and longevity of the sole.

The Trail Rocket is definitely a shoe for faster training sessions. Certainly if you are new to ultra racing or looking to complete rather than compete, the Trail Rocket may not be the shoe for you.

I really like the Trail Rocket. I enjoyed the first incarnation and had the sole not let me down I would have continued to use them. SCOTT may have an uphill battle convincing previous Trail Rocket owners back… that would be a shame! The 2015 edition of the shoe is exactly as before but now the shoe has a sole that can keep pace with your running.

Read about eRide HERE

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Read about Aerofoam HERE

Pros

  1. Light.
  2. Low drop (5mm).
  3. Breathable.
  4. Great lacing and ‘Lace Locker’.
  5. eRide and Aeroform and buzz words but they work.

Cons

  1. Maybe too light for some runners.
  2. Potentially too narrow in the toe box, so, if you like roomy shoes make sure you try these first.
  3. Previous model sole had real issues so runners are going to need to be convinced.

Specs:

  • Drop 5mm
  • Upper – mesh with synthetic overlays
  • Lower – eva/ rubber

Scott Running website HERE

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CYCLING for RUNNERS – Girl What Cycles (3)

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“I love running cross country….

On a track, I feel like a hamster.”- Robin Williams

I’ve always felt the same as Robin Williams about the indoor trainer. To me, training indoors on a bicycle is just like running on a track or treadmill. Yet, like track and the treadmill, cycling indoors can provide a huge advantage to your training if used in a structured way.

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First and foremost when the weather is horrendous (like it is in the UK at the moment) you can get a good workout indoors in a warm, safe and controlled environment. I am new to cycling and although not inexperienced, braving winter conditions on a bike would be a step too far for me at the moment. This is where the home trainer becomes a useful piece of equipment.

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I can still get my fix for the outdoors with my running… to be honest, I love running in cold temperatures but I also incorporate one treadmill session which allows for faster running (hills or intervals) with some fast-paced loud music which is difficult to do outside.

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In a research project at John Moores University, researchers found that when participants exercised to faster-paced music they “chose to accept, and even prefer, a greater degree of effort”. As well as enhancing performance, music lowers the perception of effort. It dulls or masks some of the pain associated with training. We know from scanning the brain that when athletes are played loud upbeat music there is an increase in activity in the ascending reticular activating system.

For all these reasons I have also been using the home trainer to get in some recovery training after racing or long run sessions. At the beginning of December I completed a 72km trail race at night in sub-zero temperatures. Conditions were very muddy, icy in some parts, with a head-on wind to contend with and as it was at night with poor visibility, the going was tough. Also I forgot to mention I flew out to Lyon on the Saturday, picked up my number, took a shuttle to the start in St Etienne, started the race at midnight, ran to Lyon through the night and flew back to London on Sunday, took a coach, another train ….All a bit crazy and exhausting to say the least. Over the next 2 days following the race, I suffered DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness). This meant no running for a few days. I had a fun run planned in Paris the following weekend so I decided to use cycling as “active” recovery. Like running on the treadmill you can quickly get hot very quickly on an indoor trainer. I set myself up near an open window to allow for some ventilation. If you were doing a hard session, an indoor fan would also be a good idea.

Recovery is all about spinning my legs, easing away muscle soreness, getting the blood flowing and I suppose not having too much structure. However, I find indoor training easier if I have a plan to follow and music!

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Hints ‘n’ Tips

  • Use your own bicycle. I am using my SCOTT bike fixed to my indoor trainer via the rear wheel. This is perfect as I do not compromise on my cycling position which I have worked hard to make perfect.

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  • Use your normal cycling shoes and pedals

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Suunto Ambit 2

  • Have water available
  • Use a fan or train near an open window
  • Have a towel handy – you will sweat
  • Use music or a TV for stimulus

Need some free music to help you with your indoor session? Try HERE for 50minutes of audio. I personally recommend that you make your own playlist that is specific for your session. Using something like iTunes makes this really easy. Alternatively, a company like Audiofuel provides specific music mixes with or without coaching.

Session 1:

Length : 44 min        

  • Warm-Up : 10min in a very easy gear allowing me to ‘spin’ at a cadence of 90
  • Main Set: 24min alternating 3min at 90 cadence and 3min at 110 cadence. Gearing should be easy and light to allow your legs to spin around. The faster cadence session of 110 allows me to concentrate on cycling technique using the up and down of the pedal stroke and adds souplesse to my legs.
  • Cool Down: 10min easy gear at a cadence of 90

Session 2:

Length: 35min

  • Warm-up: 10min in a very easy gear spinning at 90 cadence
  • Main set: 15min broken down into 30sec at 90 cadence and 30sec at 120 cadence
  • Cool Down: 10min very easy gear at 90 cadence

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Initially you will find your legs struggling to get used to using different muscle groups in this recovery work-out. The aim is not to PUSH the gears or have resistance. We don’t want to stress sore muscles. These two sessions are all about spinning legs with an easy gear on the bike and allowing the muscles to recover. This is what is so great about cycling… you can exercise in a non weight bearing way. However, the increased cadence sessions of 110 and 120 will allow you to raise your heart rate.

I shall be doing a turbo session at least once a week as active recovery in my build up to my next long distance run, Paris Mantes 50km towards the end of January. This will be followed by a week off running but 2 turbo sessions before a trip to Costa Rica and the opportunity to run The Coastal Challenge stage race.

Happy New Year and remember, cycling is great for running if used sensibly.

Join us on STRAVA

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Thanks to SCOTT SPORTS and SUUNTO for the support and backing

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Check out SCOTT HERE

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Check out SUUNTO HERE

 

A Year of Podcasting

2014 Podcast
A year comes to an end and with it an opportunity to look back. Talk Ultra podcast has a 3-year anniversary in January… Yes, 3-years!
The show has come a long way in those 36+ months and I have to say I am very proud of what we have created. The running community have been extremely supportive of the show and this has been reflected in 1000’s and 1000’s of downloads for every show all over the world. Over 162 countries! Little did we know way back in 2011 that a 3-hour plus show that talked about running would be so popular.
Our guests have always been and always will be a who’s who of ultra running. In our very small way, Talk Ultra is creating an audio history of our sport at arguably one of its most exciting periods of it’s development.
Needless to say, we thank each and every interviewee who has been so generous of their time.
Talk Training, Smiles and Miles with Emelie Forsberg, A Meltzer Moment, The News, A Blog, Up & Coming Races and so on all add up to something quite unique but we don’t want to be complacent… not at all. We will always be looking for new ways to make the show that little bit better!
Speedgoat Karl Meltzer has been an invaluable co-host. Speedgoat says it like it is and with his history in the sport, who is going to argue with him? Injecting humour, experience and a unique perspective on the world of ultra, Speedgoat is a pleasure to work with. Thanks Karl!  When Mr Meltzer has been ‘off the radar’ I have had the pleasure of some stunning stand in co-hosts: Stevie Kremer, Holly Rush, Mike Wolfe, Kurt Decker and Niandi Carmont to name just a few.
*****
You can catch up on the last 3-years of shows HERE
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To keep things nice and simple, I have provided a summary and links to all the 2014 shows below – Episode 52 to Episode 77.
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Just look at the list of names that have appeared in 2014…
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Ellie Greenwood Max King Joe Grant Grant Maughan Lisa Smith Batchen Iain Don Wauchope Tina Lewis Timothy Olson Landie Greyling Julia Boettger Gary Robbins Adrian Saffy Michael de Haast Mimi Anderson Samantah Gash Luke Nelson Emelie Forsberg Marc Laithwaite Niandi Carmont Stevie Kremer Kim Collison Charlie Sproson Jason Schlarb Donnie Campbell Claus Rasmussen Frosty Ty Draney Caine Warburton Lizzy Hawker Sam Robson Adam Schwarz-Lowe Eirik Haugsness Daniel Doherty Kurt Decker Marco De Gasperi Kilian Jornet Adam Campbell David Johnston William Sichel Debbie Martin Consani Jo Meek Torill Fonn Rob Krar Kasie Enman Simon Forbes Renee McGregor Anton Krupicka Steve Birkinshaw Tom Owens Mark Perkins Ricardo Almeida Nicky Spinks Morgan Williams The African Attachment Greg Fell Richard Fluck Mike Wardian Nick Clark Holly Rush Rickey Gates Mike Foote Marcus Scotney Steve Spiers Robbie Britton Danny Kendall Bertie Portal Jamil Coury Jared Campbell Ryan Sandes Clare Walton Jennifer Steiman Scott Jurek Casey Morgan Fernanda Maciel Sebastien Chaigneau Rin Cobb Vlad Ixel Pavel Paloncy Johan Van De Merwe Joe Fejes Jon Steele Gemma Slaughter

*****

 

So, what are some of my highlights of 2014? Always a difficult one as every guest is special, but here are a few I really enjoyed for so many varied reasons.
Pavel Paloncy in Episode 53
David Johnston in Episode 57
Jared Campbell in Episode 59
Rickey Gates in Episode 61
Morgan Williams in Episode 63
Anton Krupicka and Steve Birkinshaw in Episode 65
Rob Krar in Episode 66
William Sichel in Episode 68
Kilian Jornet and Marco De Gasperi in Episode 69
Jason Schlarb in Episode 72
Luke Nelson in Episode 74
Tina Lewis and Timmy Olson in Episode 76
and finally,
Episode 77 was a super packed show.
*****
Please remember the show is available on STITCHER, iTUNES, RSS
Go to our Facebook page HERE and ‘Like’ us
please ‘Follow’ us on Twitter @talkultra
*****
Episode 77  It’s our Christmas Special. Ian and Karl discuss 2014 and some of our highlights. We have in depth interviews with Ellie GreenwoodMax KingJoe Grant and Grant Maughan. Importantly, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We thank you for your continued support and look forward to joining you on your ultra journies in 2015.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 76 has a catch up interview with Lisa Smith Batchen on her Badwater Quad. We speak with Iain Don Wauchope about his record breaking Salomon SkyRun and we have two inspiring  chats with Tina Lewis and Timmy Olson. The news, Up and Coming Races and Speedboat Karl.
Episode 75 is all about the Salomon Skyrun and South Africa. We bring an interview with the ladies winner Landie Greyling. We also talk with the ladies 2nd place, Julia Boettger. Gary Robbins placed 2nd overall and discusses in-depth his race and co hosts the show. We bring sounds from Moketsi Game Ranch, experiences from Cape Town and talk Skyrun with Adrian Saffy and Michael de Haast.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 74 has Mimi Anderson and Samantha Gash talking about their epic South African journey. Luke Nelson talk about his running career, recent 100-mile success and how going out hard can pay off! Emelie Forsberg is back for Smiles & Miles and Marc Laithwaite talks the long run in Talk Training. The News, a Blog, up & Coming races and Niandi Carmont co-hosts.
Episode 73 and on this weeks show we speak with Skyrunner World Series Champ and Mourne Skyline winner, Stevie KremerKim Collison tells us all about his running and his great 2014 season. Landie Greyling discusses running in South Africa and the up and coming Salomon SkyRun. In Talk Training it is episode 3 of our navigation special with Charlie Sproson, the News, a Blog, Up & Coming races and Speedgoat Karl talks busting quads. 
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 72 has a full and in-depth interview with Jason Schlarb after his recent 4th place at the 2014 UTMB. Donnie Campbell talks about his running career and winning the recent 3×3 80km in the UK and Claus Rasmussen talk about running Spartathlon… in sandals. The News a Blog, UP & Coming Races and Speedgoat Karl.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 71 we speak to Frosty who not only ran her first 100-miler but won it with a new CR. Ty Draney talks about his career and we discuss running the Bear 100… twice! Caine Warburton discusses running in the Southern Hemisphere and the comparisons with Europe. Lizzy Hawker announces a race and Sam Robson tells us what it’s like being the first Brit at the iconic Spartathlon. The News, a Blog, Up and Coming races and Speedgoat.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 70 we speak with the winner of Superior 100, Adam Schwarz-LoweEirik Haugsness talks Tromso Skyrace and Daniel Doherty tells us all about placing in the top-10 at Tor des Geants. Talk Training has part 2 of our Navigation 101 and we have the News, a Blog, Up & Coming Races and I am pleased to say… Speedgoat is back as co host with an in-depth chat on his AT attempt.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 69 is going to be a little different… we are recording live from a RV in the middle of Minneapolis. My co host is Kurt Decker from Twin Cities Running Co. This weeks interviews are quite special, we speak with Italian mountain running legend, Marco De Gaspreri and man of the moment, Kilian Jornet. The news a blog and the up and coming races.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 68 Adam Campbell talks about Hardrock 100 and that lightning strike. David Johnston discusses 6-days in the Dome. William Sichel tells us what it is like to run 3100-miles in 50-days and in Talk Training we discuss basic navigation. The News, a Blog, Up & Coming races and Niandi Carmont co-hosts.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 67 On this weeks show we speak with Lakeland 100 and Lakeland 50 winners, Debbie Martin Conasani and Jo Meek. We speak with Norwegian powerhouse, Torill Fonn about her recent world record for running 374.999km’s in 48-hours. Julia Böttger joins us for a catch up and tells us about her running journey in Turkey and winning Ronda dels Cims. We have the News, a Blog, Up & Coming Races, Emelie Forsberg for Smile and Miles and Niandi Carmont once again joins us as co host.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 66 on this weeks show e catch up with Rob Krar after his incredible Western States. Kasie Enman is on the comeback trail after her 2nd child and we chat after a stellar 2nd place at Speedgoat 50k. Simon Forbes just this last weekend won Race to the Stones in the UK… a great result but Simon has an incredible story. In Talk Training we talk nutrition with Renee McGregor. The News, a Blog, Smile and Miles with Emelie Forsberg, Up and Coming Races and Pocket Rocket is back… Stevie Kremer.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 65 On this weeks show we speak with Anton Krupicka about injury, Hardrock 100, Lavaredo Ultra Trail, future plans and the Bob Graham Round. Steve Birkinshaw recently set a new FKT for the Wainwrights. An epic journey in the Lakeland fells, Steve tells us all about it. Brit Tom Owens made the podium in the Skyrunning World Champs and we chat about the past 18-months and the future. Emelie talks smilesandmiles, a website, news, up and coming races.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 64 Lisa Smith-Btachen tells us all about her incredible career and the challenge of running Badwater 135 4-times back-to-back with 2 Mt Whitney ascents. Mark Perkins discusses his win and CR at SDW100. Ricardo Almeida gives us a minimalist viewpoint of Comrades. Claus Rasmussen discusses minimal running and tells us of an up and coming challnege and Marc Laithwaite is back in Talk Training. The News, a Blog, Up and Coming Races and of course, Speedgoat Karl.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 63 We have a great interview with Queen of the Fells, Nicky Spinks. An in-depth interview with Morgan Williams all about the Bob Graham Round and we speak to Greg Fell from The African Attachment about what it’s like producing iconic ‘trail’ films such as Travailen, Wandering Fever and the Salomon series of films. We also catch up with Jo Meek on that incredible 5th place at Comrades and in Talk Training, we speak with the UK’s expert, Richard Fluck on kidneys and the effects of NSAID’s. The News, a Blog, Up & Coming races and Speedgoat is back from the wilderness….
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 62 a Comrades Special show. We have a full and in-depth interview with Mike Wardian who is looking for a top-10 placing. Live from Durban, we speak to Jo Meek who is having her first experience of this race. Nick Clark joins us to discuss UTMF, WSER and the up and coming Salomon Skyrun South Africa. We have a ladies perspective on running with children in Talk Training. The News, a Blog and joining me as a special Comrades co-host we have 2013 7th placed lady, Holly RushImportantly, this show is dedicated to Manya Claassen – RIP
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 61 of Talk Ultra – Anna Frost tells us all about the incredible comeback at Transvulcania. Rickey Gates talks running in the UK with Scott Jurek and the Bob Graham Round. Eirik Haugsnes discusses his 2014 season and Emelie Forsberg is back in smilesandmiles with a sore hand. Michael de Haast, race director for the Salomon SkyRun in South Africa talks us through the course and tells us about a great opportunity. The News, a Blog, Up and Coming Races and our favourite, Pocket Rocket, Stevie Kremer co-hosts the show.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 60 of Talk Ultra – This weeks show has an interview with one of the best ‘closers’ in the ultra scene, Mike Foote. We have a series of interviews from the Iznik Ultra series of races, Marcus Scotney from the 130k, Jo Meek from the 80k and Robbie Britton from the marathon. We speak to British Bulldog, Steve SpiersMarc Laithewaite is back for Talk Training. News, a Blog, Up and Coming Races and of course, Speedgoat Karl. 03:09:50
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 59 of Talk Ultra – This weeks show is a Marathon des Sables and Barkley Marathons special. We have daily chats from the Sahara with top Brit and 5th overall, Danny Kendall. By contrast, we also have daily chats with actor, Bertie Portal who undertook the challenge of a lifetime at his first MDS. Barkley Marathons are infamous and we speak with rookie ‘fun run’ finisher Jamil Coury and we also speak with two time finisher and 2014 champ, Jared Campbell. The News, a Meltzer Moment, Up & Coming Races and of cousre Speedgoat Karl.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 58 of Talk Ultra – Ryan Sandes discusses his record breaking FKT on the DrakTraverse with Ryno GrieselDanny Kendall and Bertie Portal discuss Marathon des Sables in the days before the 29th edition starts and 2nd placed lady at Tarawera, Claire Walton talks about her running, Tarawera and what the future holds. Talk Training is a Comrades special with Holly Rush, a Blog, the News, Up & Coming Races and of course, Speedgoat.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 57 of Talk Ultra – David Jonston gives us a blow-by-blow account of his record breaking run at the ITI350 (Iditarod Trail Invitational), Ellie Greenwood talks about her comeback run and win at Chuckanut 50 and her plans for 2014. We speak with Jennifer Steiman, Director of the Desert Runners Movie and Samantha Gash who appeared in the film. Team inov-8 provide some chat from the 2014 athlete retreat and Emelie Forsberg brings us smilesandmiles, a Blog, the News, Up and Coming Races and of course Speedgoat! It’s a stacked show.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 56 of Talk Ultra is a Transgrancanaria special. We have am in-depth interview w/ race winner Ryan Sandes. Chat w/ Scott JurekCasey MorganFernanda Maciel and Sebastien Chaigneau. In addition, we have Danny Kendall, top-10 Brit for the 2013 MDS talk about his preparation for this years race. The News, a Blog and Up & Coming Races.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 55 of Talk Ultra – We have a Coastal Challenge special with an interview with male overall winner, Mike Wardian. Jo Meek, ladies overall winner talks about her training and preparation for the TCC race and Nick Clark discusses how stage racing compares to 100-milers. We have an interview with the 2013 ITI350 winner and recent Susitna 100 winner and new course record holder, David Johnston before he embarks, once again on the ITI350 just one week after his impressive Susitna win! A special Talk Training on nutrition specific to Marathon des Sables with Rin Cobb (PND Consulting). Emelie Forsberg is back for smilesandmiles and of course we have the News, Up and Coming Races and Speedgoat Karl Meltzer.
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 54 of Talk Ultra – Gary Robbins once again returned to the tough and gnarly Hurt 100 and came away with another victory, in this weeks show he tells us all about it and his plans for 2014. HK100 took place just a couple of weeks ago and young Australian sensation, Vlad Ixel placed 3rd overall in a top quality field, we interviewed him about his running and what the future hold. Talk Training as ‘Hint’s n Tips for running from Speedgoat himsel, the News, a Blog, Up and Coming races.. another great show in store!
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 53 of Talk Ultra is once again a packed show… We have two interviews from the Montane Spine race, regarded as one of the toughest races out there. We speak with Pavel Paloncy who won the 268-mile event with a new course record and Marcus Scotney who won the 106-mile Challenger event. We also speak with South African long distance runner, Johan Van De Merwe about ultra running in South Africa and his new African 24-hour record. The News, a Blog, Talk Training, Up & Coming Races, Smiles and Miles and Speedgoat is back from the Love Boat!
Website – talkultra.com
Episode 52 – We have a full show with two in-depth interviews about running really long… Joe Fejes recently won the Aravaipa Running 6-day event, Across the Years by clocking up 555+ miles and beating running legend, Yiannis Kouros in the process. By contrast, we speak to UK runner Jon Steele who tackled ‘The Hill’ ultra; 160-miles of hill rips on a 2.9m course in under 48-hours. Gemma Slaughter, The Coastal Challenge winner from 2013 talks to us about her expectations as she prepares for the 2014 edition. Emelie Forsberg is back for smilesandmiles, Marc is with us for Talk Training and believe it or not, Speedgoat is on a cruise! That’s great for Talk Ultra as we have the lovely Stevie Kremer joining us as co host.
Website – talkultra.com
 *****
THANK YOU FOR THE AMAZING SUPPORT
Ian & Speedgoat

inov-8 X-TALON 212 Review

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If Wolverine™ were going to go running on the trails, he would pair up his incredible hands (and blades) with a pair of X-Talon 212’s.

Irrespective of what type of running you do; road, trail, mountain, fell or even treadmill, the X-Talon 212 has that distinctive look that not only sets it apart from the competition but also makes one take a second look and ask the question, “is that a run shoe or a football boot?”

It’s a winning shoe that combines minimal weight, low drop, stability and awesome grip for when conditions are muddy, boggy, slippery or basically just downright awful.

I doubt that inov-8 needs an introduction but let’s have a recap just in case.

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The company is just 11-years old and the creation of South African, Wayne Edy. You can sum up inov-8’s growth in just one quote from Wayne, “I’m not a follower, I never will be. I like to carve a new way. I thrive to innovate.”

inov-8 shoes are all about being at one with the terrain and in the UK they have become the ‘go to’ shoe when you need grip.

inov-8 say, “We believe in natural running. Natural running involves taking running back to its most innate form, letting nothing alter the natural biomechanics of the foot and body. Natural running relies on the strength of the runner’s feet and legs rather than the cushioning or support of a shoe. The foot controls the shoe, not the other way around.”

inov-8 were very much at the forefront of minimalist running and right from the off the offered a very structured and methodical approach to getting ‘lower’ to the ground.

This system was a series of arrows (on the rear of the shoe) that signified the shoes drop in 3mm increments: 3 arrows = 9mm, 2 arrows = 6mm and so on. This arrow system informed runners immediately of what drop a shoe was and importantly allowed runners to make an informed and structured progression to get lower (if required). The shoe naming was also quite innovative. You had the model of shoe, for example: Trailroc, Roclite or X-Talon and then a number afterwards, so, in this scenario X-Talon 212. The ‘212’ refers to the weight of the shoe in grams.

Lightweight, minimal and functional, inov-8 have pioneered running shoes for trail, rock, fell or mountain and in simple terms have endeavoured to keep runners low to the ground (with grip) via a plethora of shoe models providing a selection of drops, cushioning and grip. The recent addition of the Race Ultra 290 (Review HERE) is a prime example of how the company are looking at the growing ultra market and the need for a more cushioned shoe but still with a low drop (6mm) and a flatter outsole for extended hours running.

2015 will see many new additions to the already expansive range. (*see below)

X-TALON 212

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Firstly, big news! The X-Talon is now available in a standard fit in addition to the normal precision fit. This is important news for many a runner who would have loved to use the 212 but found the tight and narrow fit of the precision just too tight for their Hobbit like feet.

As mentioned previously, the 212 may well be one of the flagship shoes in the inov-8 range and you can expect to see the shoe in Trail, Mountain, Fell, Orienteering, Cross Country, Obstacle and Skyrunning races all over the world.

The 212 is an out and out off road shoe and as the name suggests, the grip is Talon like.

The Shoe 

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I used the standard fit in my normal shoe size UK9.5 so it would be fair to say that the 212 is true to size. However, even though this shoe is standard fit it still fits super close in the toe box, you almost certainly would want to try this shoe on before purchasing. Please remember that the 212 are an out-and-out off road and soft ground shoe, so it is important that your foot has minimal movement within the shoe. This is why the shoe was originally designed in precision fit only. A close fitting shoe is ideal when climbing, descending or contouring when on soft or uneven ground. The lacing system allows you to pull the shoe tight to your foot and cradle it offering more support. Spend a little time tweaking the lacing and you will be rewarded with a wonderful close and natural contact to the ground.

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First off, the shoe is super flexible. You can bend it anyway, fold it in half and the shoe does not resist. The shoe upper is tough and quite thick and I have heard criticism saying the upper is too thick! Of course this all comes down to personal preference but if you are bombing up and down wet and muddy terrain everyday, you need an upper that can withstand that sort of abuse… I have had my 212’s for 6-months (probably 3-runs a week) and I have well and truly abused them without failure. That’s a plus in my book.

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The shoe has Meta-Flex™ and Meta-Cradle ™, which provide a flex groove and upper webbing support at the metatarsal heads. In all honesty I am not fully sure what that means but if that means good flex and support then I agree.

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The sole of the 212 looks like a football boot with a series of spaced out rubber nodules that are made of soft ‘sticky’ compound rubber as one would see on some climbing shoes. What makes this shoe work so well off road is the fact that the grip is spaced out and this therefore stops soft ground filling and clogging up the grip of the shoe. The soft rubber works really well on rocks, gravel and other dry surfaces and should the rocks become wet, grip is still highly impressive allowing you to run with confidence. One downside of the soft rubber is that if you go on the road it will wear down. This is not a criticism of the shoe. It’s basically just a heads up to warn against excessive road use. I should point out that my everyday run requires at least a couple of miles on road or pavement to get to the trail and yes, my sole has started to show wear and tear but that is after 6-months of regular use.

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Cushioning is minimal and the drop (2 arrows) is 6mm; this provides a great contact for the trail beneath your feet. Ironically, the shoe feels very comfortable on hard trail and even road. I would say it feels surprisingly cushioned despite its minimal looks. inov-8 do not use a rock plate to protect your foot against small and/ or sharp objects and therefore you can sometimes feel these objects when running.

Th front of the shoe has a rubber bumper but toe protection is minimal. The rear of the shoe holds the foot well and if you have the right size shoe and the laces adjusted correctly, you have have little or no movement when running.

IN USE

Pros

The 212 are all about gaining grip on soft and boggy ground. If you use the shoe in these conditions you will be over the moon by the grip, feel and security offered. The upper is durable and the lacing perfect. The addition of a standard fit in addition to the long established precision fit now ensures that you can have comfort despite your shoe size or width. The combination of these elements makes the 212 my ‘go to’ shoe for anything that resembles fell running or soft ground running (including snow.) I have used the shoe for 6-months, accumulated 100’s of hilly miles and the shoes have performed perfectly. They have also been my preferred shoes when running Vertical Kilometres™ particularly when the terrain has been grassy and steep. The low drop allows great feel for the terrain below and although relatively minimalist from a cushioning perspective, they do offer great comfort for runs of 2 to 3-hours. This comfort is extended if the ground remains soft and boggy.

Cons

It’s a very specific shoe for a very specific use and therefore this would be an ‘addition’ to your shoe collection. It’s almost unfair to say this is a con but for some, they want a wonder shoe that does ‘all things,’ the 212 is NOT that shoe.

The lack of a rock plate does mean that you can feel small and sharp objects occasionally.

The shoe is very flexible with minimal cushioning and therefore one would need to be attentive to how long one runs in them. Of course this is very personal to the user… one person may find 60-mins enough, another 3-hours. Certainly, the more you use them, the more time you will be able to spend in them.

Specs

  • Weight 212g
  • Upper Synthetic, TPU
  • Lining Mesh
  • Drop 6mm (2 arrows)
  • Sole X-Talon (Sticky)
  • Midsole Injected eva
  • Fit Precision and now Standard

Conclusion

The X-Talon 212 really is a top quality shoe with a very specific use. If you are looking for a shoe to do several types of running (road and trail), the 212 is not for you. However, if you are looking for grip on off road terrain then you would be hard pressed to find a shoe that does the job better than the 212. The addition of a standard fit to the long established precision fit should mean that if you have tried the 212 in the past and found them too narrow, they may very well fit you now! Both models are unisex.

Note

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If you prefer a more minimalist shoe with lower drop, inov-8 make the X-Talon 190, which has 3mm drop, a stripped back upper and the same talon like grip.

*New for 2015

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inov-8 are strengthening the  X_TALON off-road running shoe range (212 & 190) with the addition of the new X-TALON 200. Available in early 2015, the shoe looks set to be a huge hit with off-trail runners and obstacle racers.

Embrace the Treadmill or is it the Dreadmill?

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Days are shorter and many of you will be feeling like hibernating! It’s December after all… Nothing wrong with that, training should have peaks and troughs and if you don’t have them you will just end up with a series of flat performances.

Hopping on a treadmill may not be something that immediately springs to mind this time of year but hey, lets face it, a couple of indoor sessions are a great way to spice up your training.

A treadmill provides less impact a warm environment and a completely controllable situation. Perfect if you are looking to improve your running.

Before you sign up to the gym or order a treadmill in the January sale, lets keep a couple of things in mind:

  • Maintain your long run either mid-week or at the weekend
  • Incorporate strength, conditioning and one cross training session (elliptical, stepper, rower or so on)
  • Stretch post sessions.
  • Have a rest day.
  • Monitor your sessions with a HRM and/or GPS.

Treadmill ‘v’ Road/ Trail

Running is running yes? Well, yes it is BUT running outside in contrast to indoors provides a very different experience. It may come as no surprise that going for a run on some winter trails would be preferable to running indoors but like so many other runners, we all want to see improvements and a treadmill can provide a very controllable situation that you just can’t find out on the road or trail, especially in winter.

The treadmill shouldn’t replace your outdoor runs BUT be an addition!

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For example, you can control your heart rate, monitor your cadence, you have no traffic, bad weather or more importantly, danger! You can remain warm, listen to music and embrace a quality workout.

Here we are going to provide two sessions. One that works on hill strength and one that works on speed. Incorporate these two sessions into your running over January and February and you will feel the benefits in March when the weather improves.

Hints ‘n’ Tips

  • Dress light – you will get warm.
  • Take liquid with you.
  • Take a towel.
  • Load up your Mp3 with some kick ass motivation tunes.
  • Use a heart rate monitor.
  • Embrace the session.

TREADMILL SESSION 1

Warm up: for 10-minutes jogging with the treadmill at 1% incline and heart rate below 70% of max heart rate (MHR). This is all about getting blood flowing, loosening stiff and/ or tight muscles and preparing for the session ahead.

Session:

Based on experience, the main session can be 3 to 8-miles. The objective is to increase the incline (but not lower pace) for the session. Pace should be sustainable for the entire session.

Run 1 mile at 2%

Run 1 mile at 3%

Run 1 mile at 4%

Run 1 mile at 5%

Run 1 mile at 6%

And so on…

Recover for 10-minutes as per warm up

NOTE The main session can start with 3 x 1-mile and each week add 1-mile for 3-weeks. On the 4th week drop back down to 3 x 1-mile repeats and then on the *5th week start back building up reps from 5 x 1-mile repeats and finish with 8 x 1-mile repeats. (*Based on fitness and progression)

This session is a quality workout that maximises your time training and provides the necessary stimulus to make you a stronger runner.

Why is this session worthwhile doing indoors?

You have control! You can monitor speed, distance and elevation all within a controlled and repeatable environment.

TREADMILL SESSION 2

Warm up: for 10-minutes jogging with the treadmill at 1% incline and heart rate below 70% of max heart rate (MHR). This is all about getting blood flowing, loosening stiff and/ or tight muscles and preparing for the session ahead.

Session: Perform 3 minutes at 85% of maximum heart rate (MHR) at 1% incline

Recover: for 90-seconds ‘jogging’ at sub 70% MHR at 1% incline

Repeat the 3-minute session with 90-sec recovery for an additional 2-times (making a total of 3 in week-1). In week 2 do 4-repetitions, in week 3 do 5-repetitions and in week 4 do 3-repetitions for recovery and than start week 5 with 5-repetirions and build to 8-repetitions based on fitness and ability.

Warm down for 10-minutes spinning as warm up

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Winter is all about mind set and motivation. The above two sessions provide a great indoor stimulus that works on two different aspects of running: strength and speed. At the end of 8-weeks, we guarantee that you will be faster and stronger.

Give it a go and let us know how you get on!