adidas INFINITE TRAILS 2021 Summary

Three runners. Three loops. One Team. The concept of the adidas Infinite Trails is a bold one. Take three run routes of varying distance, take three runners, each running their own loop varying in distance from 15km to 40km. Quite simply, add the three individual finishing times together to see who the fastest team can be.

Now in its third edition, 2018 being the first followed by a hugely successful 2019 edition that elevated the event to a whole new level. As such, 2020 was hugely anticipated edition rolling on from the growth of 2019, unfortunately, a certain pandemic changed those plans.

Working within very specific parameters, the 2021 edition had less runners, new loops for the relay race of 20, 30 and 40km, a new solo 65km/15km race and a smaller athlete village. It would be easy to think that the 2021 version would be disappointing… Not at all! Mike and Sonja of Planet Talk, with the help of a truly dedicated team, once again managed to pull off an event that sets the benchmark for all running events.

Incredible organization and planning are at the hub of adidas Infinite Trails and it’s why the event is a success. No stone is left unturned, every eventuality is looked at and planned for. It’s a dream event to run and work on. 

The weekend started with a very controlled registration process meeting COVID guidelines. Race briefing was done digitally, and one has to wonder if race briefings in the future will always be done this way? It’s time efficient and arguably more thorough.

The ‘Market Run’ started in the afternoon and with it, racers of all ages tackled shorter distances around Bad Hofgastein. Of course, the highlight was the children. It’s so special to see kids run and run fast with no thought of pace. 

Saturday was race day and this is where the format changed to previous editions. In 2019, runners ran the first loop only first and then passed the timing chip to their teammate on completion at the finish. The second runner would then go on their own loop of a new distance to repeat the process once again. The third loop would follow the same process and the conclusion at the start/finish area would provide a total accumulative time. 

For 2021, all loops started at the same time with the three team members lining up and then departing on their respective loops at 0700.  The 65km solo loop started 30 minutes earlier, the solo 15km starting at 0900. The format worked extremely well and provided a plethora of finishes starting firstly with the 15km loop and lastly with solo runners arriving at darkness for the 65km loop. 

Austria and Gastein is a playground for trail runners, the three loops providing a perfect showcase for the highlights of the area. Only the 65km loop provided a full 360 journey including the highlights of Gamskarkogel, Graukogel and Tischkogel.

Races within a race bring an exciting element to adidas Infinite Trails. There is individual accolade as each runner passes their own finish line, but it’s only at the end that three runners will know if they have won the event; the three individual times added together to bring one finish time. 

The adidas Terrex Team fielded a star-studded line up, even more impressive coming so soon after hard efforts at UTMB. As always, the #oneteam ethos was paramount and for those who would not race, they would crew and support the others. 

Importantly though, the 2021 edition was all about inclusion and participation, of course, there were individual and team winners, but importantly, there were no losers. The adidas Infinite Trails was full of achievement, happiness, and pride. It was good to all come together again, enjoy the trails, a great atmosphere, and all glory in a combined stunning weekend of running joy, very much the #oneteam ethos working for a whole community of likeminded people who wanted to celebrate the sport!

Bad Hofgastein provided a perfect hub for a weekend like this and the after party achieved a whole new level of awesomeness as it moved to the Alpentherme for water, music, drinks, and food. 

2021 may well have been a transition year for the adidas Infinite Trails, one thing is for sure though, we all received a resounding confirmation that the race is here to stay. Something this good should be a must for all. 

I said this in 2019, but I’d love to see other brands field teams to go head-to-head to see who the best with three runners over three loops can be. And you? Plan now, find two friends, create a team name and join us in Bad Hofgastein next year for the adidas Infinite Trails. Or if you fancy the full and immersive 360 journey, why not contemplate the 65km solo run, it’s a toughie, but very rewarding. 

Race website 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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Episode 218 – The Chamonix Tapes 6 – Emily Hawgood and Petter Engdahl

Welcome to ‘The Chamonix Tapes’ an inside look at the adidas Terrex Team during the 2021 UTMB.

Starting on Tuesday August 24th and running through to Sunday August 29th, there will be a daily podcast release for your audio pleasure.
In The Chamonix Tapes 6, we speak with Emily Hawgood and Petter Engdahl.

“This summer has been amazing, from not being able to travel to being here in the Alps for 2-months has been superb! The big goal for this Summer has been OCC. So far the adidas Terrex Team support has exceeded my expectations… The team is growing and we will have some really good years ahead of us, adidas Terrex have the aim to move the boundaries of trail running in a new area of professionalism without losing the sport ethos.” – Petter Engdahl

Show links:


Website HERE

Spotify HERE  

ITunes HERE  

iOS HERE

Android HERE  

Web player HERE  

Libsyn – HERE   

Tunein – HERE

Episode 215 – The Chamonix Tapes 3 – Sabrina Stanley and Ruth Croft

Welcome to ‘The Chamonix Tapes’ an inside look at the adidas Terrex Team during the 2021 UTMB.

Starting on Tuesday August 24th and running through to Sunday August 29th, there will be a daily podcast release for your audio pleasure.


In The Chamonix Tapes 3, we speak with Sabrina Stanley and Ruth Croft.

“I obviously want to do the best for the people who support me and make them proud. I feel I can do this but I want to look at the 15-20yr picture and I enjoy running healthy and fast and I want to do that for as long as possible…. I plan on coming back in 2022 and doing something special.” – Sabrina Stanley

Show links:


Website HERE

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iOS HERE

Android HERE  

Web player HERE  

Libsyn – HERE   

Tunein – HERE

Episode 214 – The Chamonix Tapes 2 – Macy and Ekaterina Mityaeva

Welcome to ‘The Chamonix Tapes’ an inside look at the adidas Terrex Team during the 2021 UTMB.

Starting on Tuesday August 24th and running through to Sunday August 29th, there will be a daily podcast release for your audio pleasure.
In The Chamonix Tapes 2, we speak with Macy (Marcel Hoeche) and Ekaterina Mityaeva about shoe design and the new, Agravic Ultra shoe.

“Sustainability, materials and who is the consumer? Everyone deserves a perfect shoe… From the very beginning we knew we were on to something super great. I can’t begin to tell you how many different shapes of the plate we used in so many different materials. If you pair five shapes and five materials this is 25 pairs of shoes we need to test… It was a complex process which was definitely worth it.”

Show links:


Website HERE

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Libsyn – HERE   

Tunein – HERE

Episode 213 – The Chamonix Tapes 1 – Robert Muecke

Welcome to ‘The Chamonix Tapes’ an inside look at the adidas Terrex Team during the 2021 UTMB.

Starting on Tuesday August 24th and running through to Sunday August 29th, there will be a daily podcast release for your audio pleasure.
In The Chamonix Tapes 1, we speak with the adidas Terrex Team manager, Robert Muecke.

“We are not working together with robots. We are working with humans and a team and a team structure is based on human beings. We are here to support humans to their potential. It’s so much more than winning one race, it’s a process that is set up over years.”

Show links:


Website HERE

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iOS HERE

Android HERE  

Web player HERE  

Libsyn – HERE   

Tunein – HERE

adidas Terrex Speed Ultra Long Term Review

I have just retired my adidas Terrex Speed Ultra shoes…. Looking at the photo above, you may well be thinking that this is going to be a harsh look at how the shoe has lasted long term! For perspective, please read my adidas Terrex Speed Ultra shoe review first.

Look different when new – adidas Terrex Speed Ultra

I received my Terrex Speed Ultra in February and now 4-months on and 834km later they have given up! A recent 5-day trip to the mountains of Jotunheimen in Norway and 168km of rocks, snow, ice, mud and harsh terrain pushed them to the limit and over. Even on the final day of 33km with the right upper torn, the shoes performed perfectly.

Recent fastpacking trip to Jotunheimen, Norway – Perspective on the terrain.

I am reluctant to retire them!

Without doubt, the Speed Ultra have not only been a highlight shoe of 2021, but they are a highlight shoe in my collection of run shoes, and trust me, I have many, many pairs.

Until the recent run trip, the Speed Ultra was holding up really well, the upper showed little deterioration and the Continental outsole, while showing wear on key strike points, was still good.

Outsole after 800+ km

Some may say that they want more life out of shoes than 800km. Not me, I am super happy with 800km and especially when the ride and feel is as good as it is in the Terrex Speed Ultra.

Terrex Speed Ultra in action

I have not found a shoe yet that comes close to the Terrex Speed Ultra that manages to combine grip, comfort, flexibility and pure enjoyment. No matter what terrain, this shoe has been awesome.

On road, they have excelled. Modelled on the Boston 9 road shoe, you can feel the adidas road shoe experience here, but, I would go as far to say that on road, I have preferred the Speed Ultra over the Boston. Alternating them, the Speed Ultra gave me more fun and more bounce – a real winner.

On trails, the Continental grip has been superb offering secure confidence on rocks, roots, and hard trail in the wet or dry. It’s not an aggressive outsole, so if you encounter lots of mud, there is a compromise to be made.

The toe box was wide allowing for toe splay but it did not compromise precision and this is no doubt due to how well the Speed Ultra holds the foot via the lacing and excellent fit. The 8mm drop is just superb for comfort, and the cushioning of 18/26 was perfect in managing long-term comfort with no loss for a feel for the ground.

The upper was extremely breathable and as such allowed feet to remain cool, allows water to disappear quickly, however, running through snow and water, I certainly had less insulation.

GOOD and BAD

GOOD

The Terrex Speed Ultra been a joy to use and without doubt are my favourite shoe. So much so that I have now ordered two pairs to replace the sadly retired test pair. Comfort, grip, great design and a shoe that makes you want to run longer, farther and faster.

BAD

After a complete smashing up, the upper has torn and the outsole has split. However, both these failures came at the shoes life expectancy end and on some of the most harsh terrain and conditions you can put a shoe through. I really have thrown everything at this shoe, plenty of road miles to wear down the Continental grip and then mud, snow, ice and rocks. In all honesty, I used the Speed Ultra for the last fastpack as I knew at the end of it I would be saying goodbye. While the upper and outsole tearing could be seen as bad, I see it as just the end of the shoes. However, had this come early, then without doubt I would be asking questions about life/ durability.

Conclusion

The adidas Terrex Speed Ultra is my shoe of 2021 so far and the shoe I want to use on a daily basis, irrespective of the conditions. Light, responsive, fun, fast and great grip. I want nothing more from a shoe and yes, they look pretty darn good too!

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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Episode 210 – Petter Engdahl

Episode 210 has an interview with Petter Engdahl and Speedgoat Karl co-hosts.


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INTERVIEW : PETTER ENGDAHL

NEWS

Check FKT website for latest updates HERE

Hypothermia – Be Prepared HERE

Mandatory Kit HERE

Latest Reviews

inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G300 Max Review HERE

VJ Sport ULTRA shoe review HERE

VJ Sport ULTRA

La Sportiva CYKLON shoe review HERE listen to Episode 208 of Talk Ultra is a special show with DANIEL FEENEY and Jonathan Wyatt discussing the collaboration between BOA and La Sportiva for the new, Cyklon shoe.

La Sportiva Cyklon

INSTINCT XX20L Pack review HERE

Instinct XX 20L

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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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Mandatory Kit for Ultra Trail, Ultra Running and Ultra Marathon

I was notified of the horrific incident in China over breakfast whilst on location in the mountains of Norway.

I immediately typed ‘China’ into a Google search and the headline was everywhere:

Twenty-one dead as extreme weather hits ultramarathon in China”

The Yellow River Stone Forest 100k, held at Yellow River Stone Forest Park in Gansu Province in northwestern China was organized by the Baiyin Municipal Committee, Sports Bureau, and local branches of the Communist Party of China.

It was clear that a horrific tragedy had occurred and I, like everyone else asked, ‘How could this happen on such a huge scale?’

On the start line 172 participants toed the line, ahead 100km. Reports outlined cool and breezy conditions at the start. But by 1pm in the afternoon, conditions had changed considerably, and the race was hit by freezing rain, gale-force winds and dropping temperatures. With most participants somewhere between 20 and 32km, the weather continued to become more severe, runners were ill prepared and defenseless against the conditions resulting in the death of 21 souls, the main cause hypothermia.

‘The runners were racing along a very narrow mountain path at an altitude of about 2,000-3,000 meters.’

GT

The race was halted at 2pm after messages were sent out by emergency trackers, cell phones and some runner’s posting on social media. Search and rescue efforts were put in place and somewhere between 700 and 1200 rescuers were called in to action – the exact figures vary depending on which news outlets one uses. Using state-of-the-art technology such as drones, thermal imaging, and radar, 151 runners were eventually confirmed safe despite harsh conditions and delays due to landslides.

There has been much debate, many questions asked, and a great deal of blame fired around on all media platforms. The deaths prompted outrage in China, with many questioning the preparedness of the Baiyin Municipal Committee.

In ultra-running circles, worldwide, Twitter, Facebook and other social outlets had continuing heated debates that pointed blame, questioned mandatory kit and the overall experience level of runners, and organising team. To clarify, Jing Liang was one of the poor souls to lose his life, an experienced athlete who has raced at UTMB and Hong Kong 100, so, not a novice. And the Baiyin Municipal Committee had organized previous editions of the race without problem.

“The tragedy in China has weighed on me heavily. It could have been any of us out there pushing through with the ultrarunner mindset,” said Camille Herron. “Part of being an ultra-runner is being able to trouble shoot.”

The Global Times on May 24th published an article titled Deadly cross-country race exposes hidden yet common safety problems in China’s red-hot marathon pursuit – It was an article that did not hold back.

‘While it’s the hypothermia that directly caused their death, several insiders in China’s marathon business said the organising committee should shoulder the main responsibility for failing to provide enough organisational, tactical, rescue, and security support for the event.’

Global Times

It is only correct questions are asked, and without doubt there is much to learn here, not only by those who organise races but also for those who run them.

As many running friends have commented to me personally, ‘shit happens’ and sometimes you cannot plan for freak occurrences. After all, this is why they are called freak – An incident, especially one that is harmful, occurring under highly unusual and unlikely circumstances.’

However, the required ‘mandatory’ equipment for the Yellow River Stone Forest 100k was at best minimal – cell phone, whistle, water container, headlamp, race bib, GPS tracker, GPX file (I assume on watch or phone) and timing chip.

A jacket, trekking poles, water, energy supplies, first aid, petroleum jelly and Buff were considered ‘recommended’ but not mandatory.

Anna Cometi at Everest Trail Race, Nepal.

It’s fair to say, that even with the ‘recommended’ items, in the freak weather encountered in China, maybe the outcome would have been no different due to the severity of the storm. However, we will never know the answer to this and at best, we should all use this as a lesson to be better prepared.

Remember though, while we tend to associate danger with cold, wet, wind, altitude, snow and ice, the opposite; heat, humidity and sun can be equally as dangerous and fatal. Take for example, The London Marathon. In 2018 the race was hit with 24-degree temperatures which caused havoc; one runner died after collapsing during the race and 73 were hospitalized. Now for some, 24 degrees may be considered a warm day, however, for many British runners who trained through a UK winter, it was exceptionally hot and something they had not trained for.

While mandatory kit is useful, being specific and training for an event is equally, if not far more important than the equipment you will or not wear. An understanding of the event, the challenges it can bring, and the dangers are all part of the process.

“It is essential to adapt yourself and your equipment to your reality, to test it during training outings in various conditions and to bring everything that will be useful and necessary to you for the race.”

UTMB

The nature of an ultra-running event is to push boundaries, go to the unknown and find a new personal level. Safety, to some extent, is an illusion and to assume that because you have entered something ‘official’ does not mean that you are safe. UTMB sum it up well (and they have a great deal of experience in managing route, runners, and weather):

Choose clothing that really provides good protection in the mountains against cold, wind and snow, and therefore gives better safety and performance. In the event of an incident, your equipment must also allow you to wait for help in sufficient safety conditions.”

UTMB

The above sums it up for me, and quite simply I would summarize:

  1. Know the event.
  2. Understand yourself, your limits, and your expected time on the course.
  3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  4. Prepare and plan meticulously with training that simulates the event and conditions.
  5. Don’t compromise.
  6. Imagine the worst conditions possible and then plan for them to deteriorate even more. Remember, shit can happen!

Make educated decisions about risk.

Learn about the equipment you are using, understand layering.

Act quickly and quite simply, be prepared to turnaround and understand (in advance) what exit routes and speedy options exist.

Physically prepare so that you are in the best position possible to achieve your desired goal – be realistic.

Be mentally prepared for the highs and lows and accept that YOU are ultimately responsible for your own safety.

Understand that yes, one day, you may not return from an adventure… And to clarify, there is no guarantee on what day you will die, it could be tomorrow crossing a road, next week through illness or on the top of the mountain in a race – life is a risk we manage daily.

I personally see mandatory kit implemented to protect runners from themselves. The educated, experienced, and knowledgeable know what to bring, I most certainly do, and I usually carry far more than would be required.

However, racing does change the mindset, particularly at the elite level when every gram of additional weight could be seen as a disadvantage.

Jason Schlarb in Costa Rica at The Coastal Challenge, mandatory kit here is liquid and electrolytes.

Good friend and elite runner, Jason Schlarb posted on May 24th, ‘This sounds like something that could happen in many, many races or in my own adventures. I know I go as light as I can in races and don’t really prepare to be able to stand around in the cold… it’s a race… I’m embarrassed it took me realizing how this could totally happen to me,’

Choosing the lightest weight clothing possible to gain a few grams is not always the best option, opting for clothing which really offers good protection in the mountains against the cold, wind, and snow, provides better security and ultimately, a better performance.

Therefore, a no compromise approach to mandatory kit levels the playing field and means that every participant should be carrying the same and therefore carrying similar (+/-) additional weight. As UTMB states, ‘All runners must have the mandatory equipment with them at all times or face a penalty.’

In addition, UTMB go one-step further and have options based around kit lists for heatwaves, cold conditions and finally bad weather scenarios. They would implement the necessary list based on weather forecasts pre-race and it is the responsibility of the runner to have all items available.

Contents for ‘winter’ conditions.

Standard UTMB kit list:

  1. Pack destined to transport obligatory equipment throughout the race.
  2. Mobile/cell phone with international roaming allowing for its use in the three countries (load into its memory the organisation’s security numbers, keep the phone on, don’t mask your number and don’t forget to leave with the battery fully charged)
  3. Personal beaker 15 cl minimum (bottles or flasks with lids are not accepted)
  4. Supply of water of 1 liter minimum
  5. 2 torches in good working order with spare cells/batteries for each torch
  6. Recommendation: 200 lumens or more for the main torch
  7. Survival blanket of 1.40m x 2m minimum
  8. Whistle
  9. Self-adhesive elasticated bandage which can serve as a bandage or strapping (minimum 100 cm x 6 cm)
  10. Food reserve, recommendation: 800kcal (2 gels + 2 energizing bars each of 65g)
  11. Jacket with hood which will withstand bad weather in the mountains and made with a waterproof* and breathable** membrane – the jacket must, imperatively, be fitted with an integrated hood or one which is attached to the jacket by the original system designed for that purpose by the manufacturer – the seams must be sealed – the jacket must not have sections of fabric which are not waterproof, but air vents fitted by the manufacturer (under-arm, in the back), since they do not damage in any obvious way the impermeability, are accepted.
  12. It is the runner’s responsibility to judge, with these criteria, if their jacket fits the regulations stated and so bad weather in the mountains, but, during a check, the judgment is made by the person in charge of the check or the steward.
  13. Long-legged trousers or race leggings OR a combination of legging and socks which cover the legs completely
  14. Cap or bandana or Buff®
  15. Additional warm second layer: a warm second layer top with long sleeves (cotton excluded) of a weight of a minimum of 180g (men’s size medium (M))
  16. OR the combination of a warm long-sleeved underwear (first or second layer, cotton exclude) of a minimum weight of 110g (men’s size medium (M)) and a durable water repellant (DWR protection) windproof jacket*
  17. The wind-proof jacket does not replace the obligatory waterproof jacket, and vice versa
  18. Hat
  19. Warm and water-proof gloves
  20. Waterproof over trousers
  21. ID – passport/ID card

You may read the above and consider the list to be an overkill. I personally do not. On considerably more than one occasion, I have encountered conditions where the above was completely required. Please don’t cut corners, technically compliant does not always equate to useful.

Read an article on ‘What goes in my Winter Pack.

Ultra-distance and mountain races are designed to push boundaries, but personal responsibility and self-awareness goes a long way. The above, without a doubt, can help should a situation turn badly, but ultimately, a good understanding of one’s ability is a great place to start. Maybe (?) to stand on certain start lines in the first place is already a bad decision.

Luis Alberto Hernando at CCC

Will Gadd, a prominent Canadian ice climber, paraglider pilot and mountain guide summed his thoughts up so well in a recent article:

‘If we go into the mountains, we are taking a larger-than-daily-life risk. The only way to totally avoid that is to not go… I’ve spent decades in the mountains and have had three serious accidents in my groups in all that time. Pretty good odds, no? But, to my guest who got hit in the arm by a rock while I was guiding her, and to my partner who I dropped a rock on, that record means very little. I also reviewed the avalanche forecasting where, the next day, an amazing woman, who was very close with my family and deeply loved by hers, died. I didn’t’t think any of those outcomes would happen, but they did. I really can’t keep us—you or me—completely safe. That’s my painfully learned truth after thousands of personal and professional days in the mountains. Days sometimes end badly, even with the best practices and motivations.’

The debate will continue and there are no simple answers, but the situation in China should be a learning curve for all and wake-up to a greater understanding for race organizations and runners. Maybe we will see more in-depth mandatory kits imposed on races worldwide? Also, maybe there will be greater vetting so that races can understand if runner has the required experience to participate.

A good friend, Graham Kelly said recently, ‘I am sitting wondering where personal responsibility, vetting and experience sits in the sport we all love. I am at best mid pack these days (more often chasing cut offs). There are races I won’t enter (that I used to enjoy) knowing the burden on race staff/volunteers could be unacceptable in my mind.’

Hillary Gerardi at Glen Coe Skyline

Vetting in races of an extreme nature, such as Glencoe Skyline already happens, ‘The organisers have an obligation to ensure that the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline® is as safe as possible, but without diminishing the nature of the challenge… The nature of the challenge is very severe and there is a risk of serious injury or death whilst participating in this event… Our route features long and sustained sections of scrambling terrain, which is roughly equivalent to moderate standard rock climbingBe under no illusions that a slip or trip on these serious sections of the route could result in death.’

In the above scenario, equipment alone is not enough, so educate, understand and asses.

I for one, like to think I am prepared for most scenarios when going out. I constantly adapt my pack and its contents for the planned adventure, terrain, anticipated conditions, and my expected time out. I also know, through bitter experience, whatever I have planned for, I can expect it all to go wrong, and I then add additional items for the ‘freak’ scenario that unfortunately our runner friends experienced at the Yellow River Stone Forest 100k. I am also never worried about turning around and going home, it can be frustrating for sure, but the trails and mountains will be there for another day.

We can try to plan for every scenario, we can educate and anticipate the worst-case scenario so that we increase not only our individual opportunity to return home but maybe those around us.

Ultimately though, shit happens, and when it does, I want to be as prepared as I possibly can be, I hope you do too.

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.

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

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Web – www.iancorless.com

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adidas Terrex Two Ultra Parley Shoe Review

The adidas Terrex Two Ultra Parley is not a new shoe, I first received mine in March 2020 and currently I am about to start wearing a third pair of the shoe. So, I have plenty of miles on these ‘adi’ shoes to give a real overview of the pros and cons fromm this three stripe Terrex shoe.

Firstly, a little perspective, adidas, and particularly the Terrex arm of the brand are making huge changes and development to make its mark on the trail and ultra-world. In 2019, I worked closely with adidas at UTMB following the Terrex Team take on multiple races at the Super Bowl of the trail and ultrarunning scene. You can read my in-depth analysis HERE.

Want to WIN a pair of adidas Terrex Two Ultra Parley ? One Patreon supporter will be drawn at random on April 12th to win a pair. Support me on Patreon HERE for as little as £3.00.

Quite simply, adidas Terrex are taking the trail scene by storm, we have witnessed this recently with Ruth Croft winning Tarawera outright and runners such as Tom Evans making the podium at Western States and Luis Alberto Hernando winning CCC. The list of results is endless but one significant importance is how adidas are listening to the athletes and developing apparel and shoes to fulfil the needs of the runners. Notably, the recent launch of the Terrex Speed Ultra HERE had a two-year development with specific feedback from Tom Evans to ensure the shoe ticked all the right boxes. And what a shoe it is!

So, the Terrex Two Ultra Parley fits nicely into this new development of the brand and at the same times sets out some really surprising and new credentials. In 2020, T3 Magazine (a tech magazine) actually awarded the Terrex Two Ultra Parley King of the Mountains (and valleys) in the T3 Awards 2020.

The Parley refers to the ecological aspect of the shoe and notably why the shoe has been applauded. When large brands like adidas consider the sustainability and environmental impact, that can only be a good thing in the long run, pardon the pun!

Parley Ocean Plastic™ is a material created from upcycled plastic waste that is intercepted from beaches and coastal communities before reaching the ocean

Roughly 11 plastic bottles are used to make the Terrex Two Ultra Parley; Parley Ocean Plastic™ is a material created from upcycled plastic waste that is intercepted from beaches and coastal communities before reaching the ocean… It is used as a replacement for virgin plastic in the making of adidas x Parley products.

Ultimately a really great thing!

The shoe is distinctive and grabs the eye. All my shoes have been the blue coloured as pictured but for 2021 there is a cool Gold/Black/White version that is a real eye catcher. If you need a more sedate show, there is also a Black/ Grey/ Blue version.

adidas Terrex athlete, Yngvild Kaspersen on location in Norway.

The standout feature of the upper is the seamless sock-like Primeknit upper with an exceptionally close-fitting top (just like a pair of socks) that helps reduce debris entering the top of the shoe. There is no tongue, the upper is all one piece and the laces pass through the upper via reinforced eyelets. Where the tongue would be there are reinforced raised areas of padding that remove pressure on the Navicular bone when tightening the laces. The top of this area is raised with the number 320 prominent – the weight in grams of a UK8.5.

The upper is relatively free of overlays with some reinforcement coming at the front for a toe bumper, the toe box is wide and spacious, and an orange area around the heel. The is a tab at the back which clearly shouts the ‘Parley’ element of the shoe. Below the stretchy shoe/ sock top, where the foot enters, the heel area is very well padded – arguably one of the most padded heels I have felt on a shoe.

Boost midsole is a wow! One thing adidas do know is road shoes and the responsive Boost has been hailed worldwide for its responsive feel, energy return and comfort. Here on the Terrex Two Ultra Parley that Boost is 23mm at the front and 29mm at the rear providing a 6mm drop shoe of floaty, cushioned bounce. You can see the 23/29 on the shoe embedded into a very prominent orange reinforced area that wraps around the shoe from two third back on the outside and beyond halfway on the inside of the shoe – this adds support and structure.

The outsole is made by Continental who make excellent rubber that really does provide great grip. The outsole covers the whole of the shoe with no visible inserts or inlays and the grip is made of well-spaced lugs that are not prominent. I don’t have an exact lug size, but they are almost certainly around 4mm. This helps to understand the shoes intended use: dry trails, single-track and yes, even some road.

I feel the shoes size large and gladly I had the option to fine-tune my sizing with the Terrex Two Ultra Parley. My first pair was a standard EU44/ UK9.5 which worked fine but given the option to try a EU43.5/ UK9, this is my preferred size. I believe my design for this is based on my comment below in ‘Notable Comments.’

UK9 is 335g.

IN USE

As stated, I am on my third pair of the Terrex Two Ultra Parley and over 1000 km’s of use. First and foremost, the upper is extremely durable. They have had a fair share of wet, ice, snow and mud and apart from them being engrained with dirt, there is no visible wear. I am impressed. That all important bend area behind the metatarsals when in the propulsive phase, looks like new… That is a rarity! Most shoes, no matter how good eventually show some failure here, not the Terrex Two Ultra Parley. The upper is one of the stars being recycled from Ocean Plastic and this may well be one of the attributes of why it is so durable? However, there is a downside… I think they arguably the hottest/ warmest uppers I have ever used. In winter, great, they have helped kept my feet toasty. But in Spring and Summer, the Terrex Two Ultra Parley is a really hot shoe.

The sock-like upper really is quite remarkable. You slide the shoe on like socks, adjust the upper section so that they sit firmly around/ below the ankle and wow, I have socks on! Standing up, you immediately feel the stack height and 23/29mm Boost cushioning compress under your weight – you immediately know the ride is going to be bouncy.

The lacing only has 4 eyelets on each side and gladly, they sit well away from the key flex point when in the propulsive phase and toeing off. Unlike conventional eyelets, they are not holes that you pass the lace through, they are like mini tunnels with an entry and exit point. There is no tongue making this sock-like fit the ‘most’ sock-like of any shoe I have tested. There are two reinforced areas that sit below the number 320 which are designed to take pressure off the Navicular bone when lacing up the shoes.

The toe box is wide and spacious and allows for plenty of toe splay with light reinforcement.

Boost cushioning is superb. As soon as you toe off, you feel the cushioning compress and propel you forward. As you land it repeats the process and before you know it, you are bounding down the trail feeling the benefit of the 23/29 energy return. Without doubt, the Terrex Two Ultra Parley is a shoe for hard trail that is not too technical. This is also confirmed by the excellent Continental outsole which has dry trail lugs.

NOTABLE COMMENTS

The Terrex Two Ultra Parley run like road shoes and as such, they just want to fly along without complication. Rocks are fine, tree routes are fine but once you get into constant technicality and direction changes, the Terrex Two Ultra Parley doesn’t handle this well. There are several reasons for this: 1. The stack height has you high off the ground and therefore you lose that close connection with the terrain. 2. While the sock-like upper is incredibly comfortable and awesome, the lack of structure and reinforcement does allow one’s foot to move, especially when the trail gets technical. 3. The lacing is great, but again, technical terrain shows a flaw in the shoes ability to hold the foot tight and secure, particularly around the instep. This is one area I need secure on technical terrain. 4. The wider toe box adds to the ability for the foot to move.

Running downhill, the cushioning is superb but again, the upper and lack of a firm hold, can allow the foot to move.

Going uphill, the hold from the heel is excellent.

With the above comments in mind, you may well think I am being negative of the Terrex Two Ultra Parley. No, not at all. It’s a great shoe BUT it has limitations and with 1000km in two pairs, I know what those limitations are, for me anyway.

I grab the Terrex Two Ultra Parley when I am off for a cruise like trail run on groomed single-track. I don’t own road shoes, and the Terrex Two Ultra Parley have been perfect for 10, 20, 30km or longer road runs. They are a great shoe for those easier recovery days but equally, they can really shift and create pace if you want them too. They are an excellent road-to-trail shoe but be warned, too much road will wear the Continental outsole down.

SUMMARY

Ultimately, with 23/29 Boost cushioning, a wide toe box, sock-like upper and the lacing system, the Terrex Two Ultra Parley is designed for long trail runs on non-technical terrain when comfort and good energy return is a primary concern.

RRP £160

Website here.

To clarify, the shoes were provided to test, as are all the shoes that I review. But this is not a paid review.

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Episode 204 – Ruth Croft

Episode 204 of Talk Ultra has a chat Ruth Croft about winning Tarawera and racing in Covid times. Speedgoat co-hosts.


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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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