VJ SARVA ICEHERO Review

When it comes to grip, there are no better shoes than VJ Sport. If you follow my shoe reviews, you will know that I rave about VJ continually with three key features: Grip, comfort and foot-hold. The iRock, XTRM, MAXx and the recent Ultra offer something for all and they come highly recommended with grip, cushioning and fit to suit you and your needs.

When it comes to winter running, VJ have also been integral in my shoe choice using the Xante and the Xero 5, both shoes offering key VJ features with the addition of winter studs for grip on ice. Both these shoes I gave rave reviews BUT, in both cases, the shoes (for me) were just a little too narrow. If I wore normal socks, no problem, but in winter I often use thicker socks, 2-pairs of socks or even a waterproof sock such as a Sealskinz. Of course, I could go up a half-size but that does not always work as it can impact on the feel, foothold and flex of the shoe.

With the above in mind, for 2022, VJ have released two new shoes. The VJ Sarva ICEHERO and the VJ Sarva Devil 5. In this review we will look at the ICEHERO and later I will review the Devil 5.

VJ SARVA DEVIL 5

Simple comparison stats:

The new VJ Sara DEVIL 5 has less cushioning, 16mm/ 10mm (6mm drop) has slightly more aggressive lugs at 5mm, 17 studs and the same fit scale of 4.

The new VJ Sarva ICEHERO has 21mm/ 13mm cushioning (8mm drop), 4mm lugs, 18 studs and a fit scale of 4.

VJ SARVA ICEHERO

Light-weight, cushioned, wider fit, great foothold and superb comfort, the VJ Sarva ICHERO takes the previous Xante and Xero models to a new level.

For comparison, the Xero had 18mm/ 10mm cushioning (8mm drop) and the Xante had 20mm/ 10mm (10mm drop) with both shoes using 20 studs for secure winter grip.

The new ICEHERO has 2 less studs (18 in total), 8mm drop with 21mm/ 13mm cushioning and more importantly, a considerably wider toe box (4 on the fit scale) which makes them ideal for winter allowing the user to utilize warmer and thicker socks to ensure warm feet.

But the changes don’t stop there. VJ have somehow made the shoe lighter, 285g for an EU 44 which feels superb.

Those who have used VJ before will know how amazing the foothold is from FITLOCK, a feature on all VJ shoes. No other shoes hold the instep like Fitlock providing a tight and secure feel under the arch of the foot which at the same time offers support and stability. It makes the shoes feel like part of the foot.

Known for amazing Butyl rubber, VJ’s SCR (Superior Contact Rubber) is the best on any terrain, be that wet or dry. Winter (particularly ice) brings new challenges and therefore, like other brands, VJ add metal studs to the outsole to ensure grip in the most challenging terrain. VJ’s studs are star shaped and comparison to other studs, they offer increased grip due to extra corners.

No shoes are perfect and, in the past, VJ uppers have shown some wear, particularly in the flex area behind the metatarsals (a common weak area in many shoes) which has torn. This has been addressed with a new upper made of Nylon and Aramid Fibers which VJ say will provide greater durability even in heavy use. A water repellent mesh finishes of the shoe.

IN USE

The colour way for men is classy Black/Yellow/White and the female version is an eye-catcher Pink/Purple.

Slipping the shoes on you have the immediate VJ comfort and then very quickly you notice the wider toe box. They feel great out of the box and are true to size. In comparison to my Xero and Xante the length is the same but the 4 fit almost makes the shoe feel a half-size larger. Exactly what I was hoping for and wanted!

The cushioning is notable as is the low weight.

Lacing up, the Fitlock takes hold, and they quite simply just encapsulate your foot giving the most secure feeling. The option to lock-lace is welcome with the additional eyelets at the top. Lacing is personal, but I find in a winter shoe, I want the laces tight and really holding the foot. The laces gladly stop early allowing great flex at the front and not inhibiting the important propulsive phase.

There is a good toe bumper offering adequate protection.

The heal box as with nearly all VJ’s is minimal put offers great hold and no slipping, especially when climbing.

Out on the trails running in soft snow, ice and a plethora of mixed terrain, the ICEHERO does exactly what you’d expect – they grip everything! When required, the Superior Contact rubber takes over when the studs have done their required job providing the best of both worlds.

The added cushioning makes them ideal for longer outings, particularly when running on harder trails or continuous ice. The comfort level is high… Not something that is usual for winter shoes.

While not waterproof, the upper does keep some water out but I quickly found (as per normal) that Merino socks and/or a Sealskinz waterproof sock offers the best combination especially when running in deep snow. Nothing worse than cold feet.

You need to trust studded shoes and once you do, you will just love running in winter conditions. Don’t be shy, make sure you plant your foot firmly and let the studs with the addition of applied body weight allow the shoe to grip.

SUMMARY

Winter shoes for many are a luxury, it all depends on how much snow or ice you get. If you do get regular ice, a specific bespoke shoe for winter running is so much better than any ‘add-on’ micro spikes.

The ICEHERO has taken what was a great shoe, the Xero, and added more cushioning, a wider toe box and made a lighter shoe. It’s a winner!

Few brands offer specific winter shoes and the VJ SARVA ICEHERO are leading the way for grip and comfort and without doubt, they have become one of two pairs of my ‘go-to’ winter shoes. Highly recommended.

What are the others?

The ASICS Gel Fujisetsu 3 G-TX is a heavier shoe, has less studs, has 10mm drop and more cushioning, 28mm/ 18mm and it’s a great winter shoe. It’s worth a look.

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Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp 2022 – Day 6

Day 6 of the Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp is the ‘long day’ covering a marathon on a beautiful point-to-point course that starts in Uga and concludes at Club La Santa.

The route was first introduced in 2020 with great feedback. The 2022 route was extra special due to the current weather – sun, warm, high winds and Calima. You actually couldn’t get better training conditions for a desert race.

The route is a perfect way to sight see and experience the best of Lanzarote. Early miles pass through countless black sand and wine fields.

At all times, the landscape is magical and unique, the resulting backdrop from the greatest recorded eruptions which occurred between 1730 and 1736.

The area is delicate and protected, so, for the most part, a route weaves its way through the landscape which must be followed.

While there are few high points (in meters) on the island, it is possible to ‘rollercoaster’ and in our marathon point-to-point we accumulated 1500m+.

The wind was strong all day, gusts almost lifting us of our feet.

From Tinajo, the fina third of the route, the conditions became increasingly hard as the harder ground became softer with large amounts of soft sand. A Buff making for great protection.


In the latter miles it was head down and push on… Finally Club La Santa could be see in the distance. A marathon done in perfect test conditions.

As training days go, they don’t come any better than today…! With just one day left, many of the attendees are now tired and looking forward to some recovery time to let the stimulus from this training take hold.

Each runner has covered different distances but the below is typical for many!

Day 6 concluded with showers, food, recovery and well-earned calm and peaceful night.

Interested in our 2023 Training Camp? Info HERE

Photo Galleries HERE

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp 2022 – Day 4 and 5

Day 4 of the Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp was after a sleepless night in bivouac. The wind started at midnight and built through the night making for a ‘perfect’ test scenario for a multi-day race, particularly one in a desert.

Tents were broken, clothing items were lost, tents (those that survived) were full of sand and all the participants had a great learning curve that ultimately was a priceless experience.

After a dehydrated breakfast, we split in to four groups, Inge taking a walking group, Sondre taking a run/walk group and Ian and Pierre taking run groups. Distances varied for the groups but Ian and Pierre took on a new route for the Lanzarote camp which totalled 18/ 20-miles and over 1000m vert with El Castillejo (615m) and Peñas del Chache (673m) the two high points. The wind made the challenge all the harder.

From the summit, you have great views of the ocean, Famara, and off in the distance, La Santa.

Back in Club La Santa, Elisabet and Pierre hosted a talk, Elisabet addressing foot care/ taping and Pierre bringing his physio skills to great use with a talk and practical on how to look after your body.

At 1730, Ian did a practical demonstration on compass and how to follow a bearing. An often neglected but required skill for races such as Marathon des Sables.

As day 4 concluded, the winds and ‘*Calima’ raged on. While the winds and sand bring a challenge, they are perfect for a training camp providing the clients with a great opportunity to really experience and learn.

*Calima – Link

Day 5

The winds raged on and the Calima intensified. Day 5 started with a soft sand/ dune run and we warned all participants to be mindful of the Calima and suggested wearing Buff (or similar) to protect nose and mouth. The reality was we had perfect sand storm conditions to run in.

After 10km of running in a strong headwind, battered by sand, we eventually settled in a soft-sand and small dune area to practice skills.

While many may consider strong winds and sand make for miserable running, we were all thankful of the opportunity that these conditions brought. Running in a sand storm takes skill, patience and a required mental approach.

With 20km done, it was a great morning of running and learning.

The afternoon talk by Elisabet and Sondre was about equipment, packing and how to ensure you choose the correct equipment for your desired race and how to get as light as possible without compromising what you need to race safely and effectively.

At 1730, the final session of the day was done by Ian who discussed poles and how to use them.

Day 6 tomorrow is a big day… A marathon over a point-to-point route starting in Uga and concluding at Club La Santa.

Interested in our 2023 Training Camp? Info HERE

Photo Galleries HERE

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp 2022 – Day 3

Day 3 of the Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp kicked off with volcano hill reps. This session has been on the camp for 6-years and is always a favourite.

Leaving Club La Santa we pass through La Santa village and then arrive at Subida el Picacho for the hill reps. We recommend 6 loops, some do a little less, some do a little more. Ultimately, with the warm up and warm down, most get over 16km and 500 to 700m vert. A great session.

Of course, each loop has a downhill section that allows recovery time but also the possibility to practice downhill run technique on challenging terrain.

An extended break for lunch was followed with an 8-mile/ 12-km run/walk for an overnight bivouac. This session is done in a self-sufficient manner (with the exception of tents/ water which are transported) allowing each participant to test packs, sleeping bag, clothing and food.

Tents pitched, we had a fire and beautiful calm and warm night was relished by all as they tested dehydrated meals.

Eventually bed called…

During the night, the wind came in full force making for a sleepless night for all. With most participants using pop-up or cheap tents (for convenience) it proved for some comical experiences. Sorry Liz 😉

The morning was an hilarious mess of broken tents and tired bodies. Everyone somehow seeing the funny side of the experience.

With a new day, new challenges…

More to follow!

Want to join us in 2023? Info HERE

Image galleries HERE

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp 2022 – Day 2

It was day-2 of the Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp and the first full day. It started with a brilliant 23.5km/ 15-mile coastal run starting from Club La Santa and heading out along the coast passing through La Santa village, circumnavigating a volcano and then hugging a single-track all the way to Caserio de Tenezar before travelling around Teneza Peak and then re-tracing back to Club La Santa.

View images from the day HERE.

We had four groups with Pierre Meslet leading the fast group, Sondre Amdahl and Ian Corless leading groups 2 and 3 which combined running with walking and then Inge Nijkamp leading the walkers.

The trail offers stunning views and a mixture of technical trail, dirt roads, rocks and sand.

After lunch, Elisabet Barnes did a 2-hour talk on multi-day racing, self-sufficiency, planning and preparation.

With a long day almost done, at 1730 an easy 3-5km (3-miles) run concluded the day to loosen off the legs.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp 2022 – Day 1

After missing the 2021 edition of the Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp due to the global pandemic, it was a wonderful day to welcome 32-clients at Club La Santa for the 2022 edition.

Needless to say, the last 6 to 8-weeks have been a trying time with no guarantee that travel would be possible. However, travel has happened and the blue skies of Lanzarote and glowing sun welcomed everyone.

Day 1 is all about relaxing after travel, making new friends and then a 1-hour run to settle any nerves before the camp really starts.

With just 1-hour of running, day-1 is an easy day to settle nerves. Starting at 1700hrs though, does allow everyone to experience the best light of the day as the sun slowly drops and disappears on the horizon.

With 4-coaches, all paces are accommodated, from walking all the way through to running. There is no pressure, there is a group for everyone and the initial 1-hour run allows everyone to access which group they will go in come the first full day which starts with a 15-mile coastal run.

A group briefing at 1900 was then followed with a dinner and gladly, the 2022 Lanzarote Multi-Day Training camp was underway…!

With two-times Marathon des Sables champion, Elisabet Barnes and top-10 finishers, Sondre Amdahl and Pierre Meslet, the clients of the 2022 camp have never been in better hands.

Now the anticipation for the first full day!

Interested on the 2023 camp? Go HERE

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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