Episode 232 of Talk Ultra is a Petter Engdahl Special. After making the podium of OCC in 2021, Petter focussed his attention on the 2022 CCC – He won in a course record time. And now he has followed up with a dream victory at Transvulcania by UTMB. We talk in-depth about his training and preparation for these two incredible performances.
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Importantly, go to iTunes and subscribe so that you automatically get our show when it’s released we are also available on Stitcher for iOS, Android and Web Player and now Tunein. We are also on Spotify too. Our web page at www.iancorless.com has all our links and back catalogue. Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patreon at www.patreon.com/talkultra
In the last 4-days I have had around 10-hours broken sleep. That is the reality of working on multiple events during UTMB week.
It all started though the week before, arriving in Chamonix on Thursday to join the adidas TERREX team for a full 10-day UTMB extravaganza. It was my 3rd time at UTMB with the TERREX team so I was under no illusion of what was ahead – amazing friends, quality time with athletes and crew and once the TDS got underway, little sleep.
It’s a privilege and honor to work the TERREX team, I have seen them grow and grow in the sport and the ethos of #oneteam personifies what goes on before, during and after every event. Just look at the finish line footage of Emily Hawgood crossing the line to take 6th place at UTMB. The whole team was waiting, they surrounded her and unplanned, went into a frenzied bounce fest to celebrate not only an incredible run but an incredible team effort. No other pro-team does this and it’s noted by all the other media… The TERREX team are doing something very special.
You may well say I am biased. And I am not going to deny that I have a professional and working relationship with the brand. However, this is a choice. Working with the team management, the media crew and the athletes is a dream come true and one that is immensely rewarding.
adidas had once again rented multiple chalets and one huge chalet would act as a base for meeting up and all meals. The chalet had three chefs who provided meals for the entire team and in so doing, dietary needs could be looked after and the need to try to find a restaurant in Chamonix was removed. Physios were literally ‘hands-on’ every day from morning and Charlie and Robert managed the day-to-day team plans.
My emphasis pre-racing was to recorded Season 2 of ‘The Chamonix Tapes’ and provide some photo content.
UTMB week may well be what you, the fan or follower sees. But as in all these scenarios, the reality for UTMB 2022 started at the conclusion of UTMB 2021. It’s a 12-month process of building and planning.
This time last year, Tom Evans missed UTMB and instead underwent surgery not knowing if he would be able to run professionally again. However, he there and then set the goal to target UTMB 2022 as a main goal and target. He would put all the processes in place to make that happen. And oh my word, look what happened… He completed the podium with an outstanding and awe-inspiring 3rd place.
But with all the highs, the TERREX team also has lows.
TDS did not go to plan, 4-athletes hovered around the podium for much of the race only have dreams taken away. That is racing. There are no guarantees.
Sabrina Stanley, after meticulously planning and preparing for UTMB had her dream shattered even before the start of UTMB with a positive Covid test. There are no words to help here, just the unity and backing of oneteam.
Down but not out, the team rallied, and OCC turned out to be a stunning race with Sheila Aviles taking victory and Robbie Simpson making the podium.
Toni Mccann placing 5, Martin Dematteis placing 10th and Kim Schreiber, Jeshurun Small, Dioni Gorla, Deborah Marti and Anna Hahner all having solid runs. The team was back on track.
CCC was up next and it’s fair to say that myself, and the whole TERREX team were quietly confident that Petter Engdahl could produce something. Little did we know then that the Swede who lives in Norway would light the fire of the UTMB.
He blazed a trail that made the competition look on in awe as he not only won the race but set a course record. Abby Hall from the USA once again had a stellar run placing 3.
Remigio Huaman, Stephen Kersch, Taylor Nowlin and Yngvild Kaspersen all brought the three stripes home and, on each occasion, the team was waiting with hugs and applause.
The big dance, UTMB would conclude the week. The 171km loop through France, Italy, Switzerland and concluding in France has 10,000m of vertical gain, rugged terrain, variable weather and is arguably, the most competitive ultra of the year. This year, the event was off-the-scale with over 2700 participants and goodness knows how many fans and spectators.
The event is now huge! The TERREX team had Pablo Villa, Luis Alberto Hernando, Tom Evans, Emily Hawgood toeing the line and sadly, the omission of Sabrina Stanley due to Covid. It’s with noting here that a listen to ‘The Chamonix Tapes’ with Tom Evans provides a great insight not only to the event, but how to prepare for it is a ‘must’ listen. The race, despite a quality line-up was always going to be about Jim Walmsley and Kilian Jornet and for much of the race, this was the story. Jim had the lead, lost it to Kilian and and in-form Mathieu Blanchard. Kilian put the hammer down for the win against Mathieu and behind as Jim faded Tom Evans put his plan in action. He left Zach Miller who he had traded run steps with for many an hour and hunted Jim.
With Jim caught, Toms head went down, all the processes were put in place and the Brit placed 3rd in the greater ultra in the world! Tears were shed by all… It’s difficult to put into words the emotions of the finish. Tom walked in, somewhat mind-blown about what he was about to achieve, he held hands together, covered his face and then stood stock still and saluted the world. Job done! The TERREX team were in pieces with emotion.
Hours later, Emily Hawgood arrived at Col de Montes, the TERREX team lining the climb to give her one last big push to the finish. Eventually the finish came and a 6th place. Surrounded by her team, the worlds media were amazed at the unity of the TERREX team as they celebrated en-mass the success of one of their own.
This is the oneteam ethos, victories may be individual, but they are not possible without what goes on behind the scenes. We all had roles, but flexibility is key. Athletes became crew, office workers became car drivers, and everyone became a supporter both in a physical and mental capacity.
Once again, it was a real pleasure to be immersed with the adidas TERREX brand and follow closely the whole process that makes a race and team come together. We use the word family and without a doubt, the TERREX team is family. We are all #unitedbysummits
I spent much of the week with Stefan Durst but a huge thanks to Pfefferminzmich – Rapha, Andy, Yannick, Vinz and Christian.
Welcome to ‘The Chamonix Tapes’ an inside look at the adidas Terrex Team during the 2022 UTMB.
Starting on Sunday August 21st and running through to UTMB 2022, there will be a series of podcast releases for your audio pleasure in ‘The Chamonix Tapes.’
In episode 5, we speak with Tom Evans who battled a stressful injury and surgery… A process that started 12-months ago.
” What can I do, how do I control the controllables…Western States is more like a 100km in comparison to UTMB… I can’t begin to imagine how many nights I have spent without a head torch… I Can’t wait for the night… The night is coming, like it or not!”
2021 has been the year of adidas for me. The three stripe brand with the distinctive TERREX logo has made great progress in the trail, mountain and ultra world with some stand out shoes.
Early in the year, I called out the Speed Ultra as not only my favourite shoe but arguably, one of the best shoes I have ever used. Three pairs on and I still think the same. Without doubt one of ‘the’ shoes of 2021.
Recently, I received a pair of the adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro with BOA.
Now I have to say, I was initially frustrated, here in Norway we still had ‘decent’ weather and this boot would have just been way too much for the conditions… Gladly though, winter arrived in November and we have plenty of snow, ice and temperatures well below -10. A perfect testing ground.
The adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro is distinctive! The shoe does come in a more sedate and classy looking black with hints of red, I received the ‘stand out’ look at me colour way of black, Mesa and Halo Blue.
Let’s be clear, this is a shoe for very specific use and that I love! Far too often when it comes to winter, I am compromising trying to make the best os shoes that are not specific for the task. Here in the adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro you have shoe that is designed for harsh, rough, wet and cold conditions. And trust me, when it is -20 snow and ice, warm feet make a very happy runner.
The adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro has some really incredible design and engineering. Inside the boot is a Terrex Agravic shoe with the usual adidas comfort, continental outsole and Boost cushioning. The shoe is wrapped in a water repellent envelope with durable front closure zipper and on the outside the BOA dial to provide tension and security.
The BOA brings a welcome development. Often winter boots like this incarnation by adidas have a laced shoe inside. Therefore, you put the boot on, lace up the shoe inside and then zipper the enclosure. The downside of this, is that when out on the trail, should you need to adjust the lacing, you must unzip the boot and then do the lace… Maybe no big deal you think? Trust me, if it is below zero, freezing cold and your hands are already feeling somewhat numb, the last thing you want to do is take gloves off and tie laces. Here in the adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro
That problem is solved as the whole shoe, inner and outer is tightened and released by the BOA on the outside of the shoe. It’s push in/ twist and pull out/ twist for less or more tension is just perfect even with gloves on. It may well be one of the most practical and logical reasons to use a BOA adjustment. It really is spot on! Using the L6 platform, with a L6 dial and TX4 lace, this is a perfect winter shoe fastening system as it protects against dirt contamination. You may well wonder about durability and strength, but the L6 uses a bayonet and cartridge system which is designed to release without breaking. If it releases, you can insert the cartridge back into the bayonet. The TX4 lace is also flexible and light weight with low friction. It’s the best BOA system I have used thus far.
As the number on the side suggests, ‘420’ this refers to weight in a standard UK8 size, 489g for my UK9.5/EU44 . This is not a lightweight running shoe, but what it is is a durable beast to offer support, warmth and protection in the harshest environment. Be that running in snow, climbing, running trail or even crossing a glacier (with the appropriate cramp on).
You may think it’s a boot and to an extent it is, however, because a running shoe is inside, the adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro has a completely different feel. It has the best of both worlds!
An 8mm drop sits perfectly in a shoe like this providing the potential for all-day comfort. Protection both at the fore and rear is excellent, there is some stability in the shoe but flex, particularly behind the metatarsals is great, important for when running and climbing.
Cushioning is Boost which is durable in could and challenging conditions, importantly it does not harden in the cold. There is an EVA frame for stability. Front rock protection is good and the outsole is grippy Continental with 4mm lugs.
The outsole does leave me perplexed. I am not complaining about the grip, BUT I would have liked to have seen winter spikes on a shoe like this. In soft snow the spikes cause no hindrance but if you hit ice, they are a life saver. I understand why adidas would choose NOT to add winter spikes: it basically narrows the market. So, this boot would require one of two options for me:
Add a micro crampon that could be taken on and off as required.
Add studs myself.
Currently I have used a micro crampon which provides the grip I need BUT the running experience is nowhere near as good as an outsole with studs. With a studded outsole you have the best of both worlds, the outsole grip and the stud. With a crampon, you have just the metal spikes which can provide a much harsher run.
You need to invest a little more time putting this shoe on. Make sure you slide your foot in to the inner shoe correctly, adjust your socks and make sure the heal feels correct. On a sizing note, I use an EU44 and I would say these are arguably a little larger. This is a good thing! I have used these with Merino liner socks and Sealskinz over sock and the sizing has been great. So, keep this in mind.
Once the foot is inside and comfortable, zip up the outer. It has sock-like fit. This can be a little challenging to start but once closed, it already provides a snug fit. One thing to note, I wouldn’t want to be trying to zip up the shoe, outdoors in -10.
There is a velcro adjust collar which you tighten, this helps stop or reduce anything going in via the top of the boot. Now adjust the BOA. You do this by pushing in the dial and then rotating. The more you rotate, the tighter the hold. It hold really well and importantly this can be adjusted ‘on-the-go’ with just a quick turn. No messing with laces, just turn. A really important feature for cold conditions when hands are not functioning as normal.
On paper, the adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro is a heavy run shoe BUT it feels and acts much lighter. It’s a pleasure to wear. It is agile, has bounce, feels extremely protected, is snug and warm. You really feel as though you have bullet proof protection.
The toe box has width and plenty of comfort. On a scale of 1-5 (5 being wide), I would say they are a 3/4.
One note on BOA, I always feel as though I need to over tighten to get a score feel. It’s no different here in the adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro BUT I advise getting tension ‘close’ to how you want it and then run for say 10-minutes or so. Then stop and adjust. Why? Quite simply, in winter and cold conditions, you don’t want to over restrict blood flow. Feet and hands get neglected to keep the core warm in winter, no need to add to the problem with over tightened shoes. BOA is great for this as you just turn to tighten, takes less than 1-second.
While water resistant, they are not waterproof and therefore over prolonged use, partially if you submerge in water, you will get some seepage.
Warmth is good especially with merino socks. This is an active shoe and therefore is designed for the user to be moving at pace, either walking, running or climbing and therefore generating blood flow and warmth. Standing around in snow doing nothing, the adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro eventually allows the feet to feel chilly; any shoe/ boot would!
The midsole is firm and cushioned but not plush. As you would imagine, this shoe is trying to balance comfort and protection and it does it extremely well. They are stable and predictable and he Boost works exceptionally well, even in extreme cold with the EVA frame adding extra security. It’s not a fast and light shoe, to be honest I never expected that. The adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro is all bout durability, protection and comfort in harsh conditions and it excels at this. The alternative would be a boot which would not have any of the unique characteristics of this shoe, especially for a runner.
Outsole is Continental and having used countless adidas shoes, I know is tried and tested. The 4mm lugs sit in that perfect middle ground providing traction on trail and work well on road if required. I did wonder if the outsole lugs should be more pronounced, say 6mm? This would certainly help in snow. I have already mentioned the omission of winter spikes which for me is a disappointment BUT I fully appreciate that I may have specific and selfish needs.
I have tried the shoe with Snowline Chaisen Trail (as photo) and also Camp Ice Master which is a more substantial crampon, ideal for glacier and steeper travel. Please note, all micro crampon/ boot combinations have limitations, the adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro is NOT a mountaineering boot.
If you have rough winter weather, be that wet, cold and muddy or snow, ice and freezing temperatures, the adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro is a great addition to your run shoe collection. Only you can decide if the cost (£220) is worth it. For me, they are most definitely worth it and if they had studs, I would use them for every winter run.
The combination of a proper run shoe inside a protective gaiter is not new, but adidas have done a great job in making this a durable, warm and protected package. The BOA adds to the USP as it allows for constant adjustment ‘on-the-go’ with no need to remove gloves.
Versatility is a key feature. You can use them for winter hikes, running, add a micro crampon and you can handle ice and due to the build of the shoe, they will take snow shoes too. This is a great alpine shoe and here in Norway, it’s almost THE perfect shoe. You can mix hard and rock terrain, transition to snow and then add a cramp on to cross ice on with excellent comfort and security.
The comfort, secure hold and cushioning is all excellent and they feel considerably more lively and agile than the weight would suggest.
There is little not to like in the adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro. Weight will always be an issue BUT this is not a normal run shoe and there has to be a penalty for all the added comfort and protection. When you take that in to account, this is not a heavy shoe, especially when you consider the options. It certainly runs considerably lighter than you would expect.
La Sportiva Blizzard GTX – This boot has AT Grip Fixed Spikes
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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