adidas Terrex Agravic Flow

The development and progress of the adidas brand in the trail running world has for many years been spearheaded by Luis Alberto Hernando, and what an ambassador he is!

Now, ‘TERREX’ is changing at an alarming rate and in the past 12 to 18-months there has been significant growth and development in shoes, apparel and athletes. Without doubt, adidas are now pushing hard in the trail and mountain world.

The TERREX AGRAVIC FLOW is a shoe that encompasses the road history of the brand and welcomes the development of the trail brand. The shoe clearly transitions from road to trail and back again all packaged in a really good-looking shoe. 

My pair are solar red/ core black and grey two. There is no hiding in these shoes, they are colorful!

For clarity, Adidas use three descriptive names for their shoes: SPEED, AGRAVIC and TWO.

  • SPEED offers a narrower fit and is arguably a more performance orientated shoe.
  • AGRAVIC offers a standard fit and is arguably more of an ‘everyday’ shoe.
  • TWO offers a wider fit and more cushioning for longer trail days. 

The TERREX AGRAVIC FLOW falls into the everyday category and adidas confirm, Pavement to trail and back, your feet stay cool and the transitions are seamless with a smooth roll-off and fresh energy in every stride. Foot-hugging support and sure-footed grip let you move across rocky, rooted terrain, wet or dry. I often do not like the way a brand tries to sell a shoe in a sentence or two, but I have to say, adidas sum up the Agravic Flow well in this description. 

THE SHOE

Billed as a regular fit shoe, I have to say, to me, it feels a little wider in the toe box than many other regular fit shoes. So, keep that in mind when looking at them and trying them on. I also personally feel that they size a little larger. I always use a UK9.5 but have found a Uk9 to be far more preferable with the Agravic Flow.

With 15mm cushioning at the front and 22mm at the rear, the shoe is a cushioned ride without compromising feel for the ground and the 7mm drop fits perfectly for an everyday shoe ensuring that a day on the trail will be relaxed and comfortable.

The outsole is by Continental and the German brand really do know how to make a grippy outsole. With 3mm lugs, the Agravic Flow is never going to cut it when the trail gets sloppy and/ or muddy. However, on hard pack trail the grip is superb. On rock, wet or dry, grip also excellent and importantly it gives a real feeling of confidence which allows you to run without hindrance. The transition to road is seamless and comfortable, no doubt contributed too with the BOOST cushioning.

 Cushioning comes from BOOST technology and you really feel the comfort as soon as you put the shoes on. There is also EVA in the frame to reduce weight and this in turn, provides some stability. If you have not used a BOOST shoe before, give them a go, the energy return and comfort levels are excellent.

The upper is one the stars of the Agravic Flow, it is mesh with abrasion resistant welding. It is seamless and uses a sock-like construction. If you have read my shoe reviews before, you will know I love sock-like construction and the same applies here for the Agravic Flow. You slide your foot in and immediately it feels snug. You could, if you should wish too, use the shoe without socks?

The laces sit on top of the upper and are sewn in offering 5 eyelets on either side, the middle eyelet set back allowing on option to loosen or add more tightness to the upper when fastening. There is no option lock-lace as there is only one eyelet.

The toe box, as mentioned previously, feels wider than standard and at the front there is an overlay to add a little protection and the outsole curls up to add some reinforcement. But toe protection is minimal. At the rear of the shoe, the heel box is plush and comfortable, and it held my foot well both when going up and down trails.

There is no tongue as the shoe is a sock-like, so, comfort levels are high. You see the number ‘310’ this refers to the weight in grams of a UK8.5 shoe.

Built on a neutral last, the EVA on the medial side wraps up to offer some arch support. It’s subtle, but noticeable. I wouldn’t call the Agravic Flow a support/ pronation control shoe. Equally, I could not call it neutral. It sits somewhere between but being a runner who uses neutral shoes, I find the Agravic Flow very comfortable.

IN USE

 The Agravic Flow is a great everyday shoe when the trails are hard packed, and you want comfort, support and reassurance. They are not for muddy days! The transition from road to trail is superb and seamless, you can feel adidas’ road heritage in the shoe. 

The BOOST technology is really noticeable and gives a real bounce, especially on rock, gravel, tree roots and so on. This is not at the compromise for feel for the ground though. So, when the trail becomes more technical, I was never worried about foot placement and confidence. The toe box is wider though, so, when running on very technical trail, I would prefer a firmer hold at the front. You can’t have it all and the Agravic Flow does a great job of allowing toe splay. So, it’s a great shoe for longer trail days when comfort is needed. The outsole is excellent in the wet and dry on non-muddy trail. 

The sock-like upper is just plush and comfortable. There is nothing to criticize here, I wish all shoes could be this comfortable. Quite simply, you could remove the laces and they would make a great pair of slippers – yes, they are that comfy. 

The laces work well, it would be nice to have that extra eyelet to allow lock-lacing, but that is a minor niggle. For me, the shoe does have a wider feel than standard, and I therefore found that I could compensate by adjusting the laces to hold my foot securely. 

I do feel that the shoe sizes larger by a half size, so, if purchasing online, keep that in mind. Ultimately, you need to try the shoe on.

CONCLUSION

The Agravic Flow is a great shoe that manages to mix road running and trail running seamlessly. It’s a shoe that you can pretty much put on every day and enjoy its ability to feel like a road shoe and then when on the trail, enjoy the cushioning and grip of the best out and-out-trail shoes. There is little not to like in this package from adidas.

If you are looking for one shoe that covers many options, the Agravic Flow is a great place to start. If you want a road shoe, look elsewhere. If you want a trail shoe with comfort and grip for dry/ wet trails, then this shoe ticks the boxes.

 

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Transgrancanaria 2020 Preview

The 2020 Transgrancanaria gets underway at 2300 hrs this coming Friday. Runners from all over the world will race the length of the island taking in many of the sights and iconic places that make Gran Canaria such a desirable place for a trail running holiday.

The men’s race is headed up by the defending champion (and 2017/2018 champ) and 2019 UTMB champion, Pau Capell. Without doubt, he is the hot favourite for 2020 victory.

The line-up this year is a hot list of talent and Jared Hazen and Pablo Villa are two hot contenders to shake the Pau Capell show. Villa rocketed up the elite rankings in recent years and notably won TDS with a consummate and dominant performance, if he shows this form in Gran Canaria, we will see an epic battle. A recent signing to the adidas Terrex team, we can expect to see Villa a great deal in 2020.

Hazen is a speed merchant and if one looks at the 2019 Western States, we see him squeezed between Jim Walmsley and Tom Evans for 2nd place and a super-fast time that would have normally won the race. He recently placed 5th at Hong Kong 100 which shows good form, the question will be how quickly he can climb and descend?

Dylan Bowman has been a tough time of late, but when on form, he is unstoppable. He excels in the mountains too, he has been 7th at UTMB and 2nd at TDS, if on form, Bowman can rock the Transgrancanaria podium.

Diego Pazos has placed 3rd at Transgrancanaria and a top-5 is a distinct possibility and if all goes well, the podium could beckon him. It would take a remarkable performance for him to win.

Gediminas Grinius has a great history with Transgrancanaria and has placed 2nd. Having run the ‘Grand Slam’ of ultras in 2019 his ability to last the distance is not in question, will he have the speed to push the podium?

Ones to watch:

PEIQUAN YOU, MATHIEU BLANCHARD, HARRY JONES, ROBERT HAJNAL, LUÍS FERNANDES, SANGE SHERPA and I will put my head on the block as a dark horse being, PETER VAN DER ZON.

Elite list here

Kaytlyn Gerbin placed 2nd here last year, placed 6th at Western States and recently (three weeks ago) won The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. Without doubt, Gerbin is a favourite here in Gran Canaria. The question mark will come on her recovery post TCC.

Azara Garcia has experience of Gran Canaria, she won in 2017! On her day, is one of the best in the world. As the tattoo on her leg says, she is the storm and she will bring it to the race.

Mimmi Kotka has excelled at 100km or less with victories at CCC and Mont Blanc 90km to name just two. However, above 100km she has struggled to get things right? On paper, she is a favourite for victory in Gran Canaria.

Audrey Tanguy won the 2019 TDS (and the 2018 edition) and that relates to Gran Canaria very well. She is a class act who manages to mix distances, terrain and speed. She is a hot favourite for the 2020 Transgrancanaria title.

Fuzhao Xiang, Kaci Lickteig, Andrea Huser, Nathalie Mauclair and Fernanda Maciel are an incredible force of five who all will impact on the top-10 and if they have good day’s, they will impact on the top-5 and podium.

Ones to watch:

LISA BORZANI, ILDIKO WERMESCHER, LEIRE MARTINEZ HERRERA and CLAIRE BANNWARTH.

Elite list here

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the INTERVIEWS by Talk Ultra

New for 2020, TALK ULTRA podcast will bring you the INTERVIEWS from the extensive podcast back catalogue.

The USP of Talk Ultra has always been long shows designed to be listened to during long journeys, or ideally, during a long run!

Over the year’s we have been asked to release the interviews that make up a show, typically 3, as stand-alone interviews. So, for 2020 and moving forward, we will release the interviews, randomly and not in chronological order.

Talk Ultra podcast will still be released and published as normal.

Released using ANCHOR, the INTERVIEWS will be available on many different formats and importantly, Spotify.

Our first show will go back to February 2012 and an interview with Gordy Ainsleigh who has a special place in ultra-history as being the first person the run the Western States Endurance Run on foot.

Listen on SPOTIFY HERE

The podcast will also be listed and available on many other outlets, as listed below (links added when appropriate):

Apple Podcasts HERE
Breaker HERE
Castbox
Google Podcasts HERE
Overcast HERE
Pocket Casts  HERE
RadioPublic HERE
Spotify HERE
Stitcher

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The Elements EVEREST TRAIL RACE #ETR2019 – Race Day 6

Leaving Tengboche the race retraces elements of stage-5 to Phakding but as opposed to previous year’s, at Sensa the runners did not go right to the Kumjung Valley. Instead they followed the main route Namche Bazaar the ETR then re-traces stage 5 all the way to Phakding and then as the trail heads back to Kharikhola, a left turn leads to the final climb and the swinish line in Lukla.

The stage is mostly downhill with 3183m of descent in comparison to 2105m of ascent over the 30km course. It’s a tough way to finish a race, but the rewards are worth it! After the high elevation from the previous day, the additional oxygen made the km’s easier.

Both Suman and Anna have been on fire all week and on the final day, it was no difference. The duo pushed and pushed but at all times looked in control and relaxed. Suman actually just looked to be having fun… Playing in the mountains. The pace of them both was quite ridiculous.

Behind Anna, Manuela and Nuria once again traded blows, pushing each other and in doing so, found greater individual performances.

For the men, it was a real battle with Hans, Miguel and Gerard not taking things easy and all fighting for the 2nd and 3rd places on the overall podium.

At the finish line, Manuela beat Nuria, 4:10:45 to 4:19:22 and in doing so, secured her overall 2nd place just as in 2018.

Hans was the first home after Suman, then Miguel and Gerard together. Suman crossed the tape in an incredible 2:46:25 and then the respective times were 3:01:24 and 3:06:39. 

Suman Kulung and Anna Comet are crowned the 2019 Elements Everest Trail Race champions but all credit goes to each and every finisher. At 170km, this race may not be the longest but it is surely one of the toughest! The combination of tough technical terrain, relentless climbing and descending and of course altitude, all combine to make the ETR a race to do!

IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

Day 6 Results:

Suman Kulung Rai 2:46:25

Hans Smedsrod 3:01:24

Miguel Heras and Gerard Morales 3:06:39

Anna Comet 3:45:33

Nuria Dominguez 4:10:45

Manuela Vilaseca 4:19:22

The 2019 Elements Everest Trail Race final classification

Suman Kulung Rai 20:51:36

Gerard Morales 23:28:29

Hans Smedsrod 23:54:13

 

Anna Comet 26:20:56

Manuela Vilaseca 29:29:05

Nuria Dominguez 30:03:47

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The Elements EVEREST TRAIL RACE #ETR2019 – Race Day 5

EPIC was all the runner’s had to say as they finished stage 5 of The Elements Everest Trail Race at  the Monastery at Tengboche, the Himalayan backdrop of Everest, Lohtse, Nuptse and Ama Dablam providing context to the journey undertaken.

For the first time in ETR history, the race went beyond Tengboche taking a stunning high route to Pangboche and return to the iconic Monastery finish line.

Starting in Phakding the runners climbed to Namche at 3402m, proceeded to Syangboche at 3760m passed through Kumjung, Mong La, Phortse and then took a high pass at 4000m to reach Pangboche at 4100m. Finally the finish 3875m, 32km later with 2850m of ascent and 1650m of descent – beyond epic!

It was a feared day, everyone was aware of the challenge and under taking!

It may sound a similar story, but Suman and Anna was at another level. The Nepali completing the journey in just over 4-hours….!

Racing was hard and relentless and today Miguel Heras placed 2nd fighting off injury with a stunning performance making the podium battle once again exciting.

Hans and Gerard once again battled each other hard and the duo were separated by just minutes.

 

Behind Anna in the women, Nuria Dominguez once again fought hard for 2nd ahead of Manuela.

 

Today though, the race was all about the route and the best of what the Himalayas have to offer. It was a brave move to re-vamp stage 5 of the ETR with added distance, a new route and extended period at elevation. It’s a decision that the runners loved despite how hard and difficult the journey was.

Tomorrow, the runners return to Lukla via Namche and Phading in the final finish line of the 2019 ETR.

IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

Day 5 Results:

Suman Kulung Rai 4:04:35

Miguel Heras 4:27:03

Hans Smedsrod 4:43:01

 

Anna Comet 5:17:11

Nuria Dominguez 5:47:42

Manuela Vilaseca 5:50:23

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The Elements EVEREST TRAIL RACE #ETR2019 – Race Day 4

Day 4 of the 2019 The Elements Everest Trail Race was the same as all previous editions, starting at the stunning Kharikola Monastery and concluding in Phakding 27.5km away and in the process gaining 2423m of positive incline and losing 1907m.

Along the route, runners pass through Kari La (2820m), Paiya, Choutok La, Surke (2310m), Chaurikharka, Cheplung and finally Phakding.

In comparison to the previous day’s, day-4 is a low altitude day allowing the runner’s some recovery from the intense 3000m+ day’s. However, the course is relentless with a rollercoaster of up and downs on mostly technical rocky trail. Here the route now has Yak’s and Mules and that in itself brings its own challenges.

It is a stunning day that finally leaves the remoteness of the first three day’s and slowly introduces the competitors the main trekking routes that lead people to Namche, Tengboche and the EBC routes.

It may come as no surprise that once again, Suman and Anna showed the race a clean pair of heels as they both set a pace that could not be followed. In the early stages, Miguel Heras fought hard to the first highpoint at Kari La, he was only seconds behind the Nepali. But when the descending started, Miguel could not maintain the pace with his injury and relinquished his place to Gerard Morales and Hans Smedsrod.

Gerard was pushing hard and looked motivated to gain time and secure his top podium place. Hans in comparison to the previous three days looked a little more tired and this was reflected at the finish line with Gerard 2nd and Hans 3rd.

 

Anna as in the previous day placed 4th overall. Her performance this year has been off the scale! Manuela ran a solid day no doubt using her 2018 experience to run a smart day, she placed 2nd but the 1st place of Anna was well out of her reach.

Nuria Dominguez showed great consistency placing 3rd once again.

IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

Day 4 Results:

Suman Kulung Rai 3:32:20

Gerard (Blacky) Morales 3:56:04

Hans Smedsrod 4:10:50

 

Anna Comet 4:13:09 (4th overall)

Manuela Vilaseca 4:44:09

Nuria Dominguez 4:59:52

Day 5 Preview

What an epic day lies ahead. For the first time in ETR history, the race will go beyond Tengboche with a stunning loop of 32km reaching a highpoint of 4100m at Pangboche and stunning views of Ama Dablam. With 2850m of positive gain and 1650m of negative gain, day-5 will be a stunning and tough day.

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The Elements EVEREST TRAIL RACE #ETR2019 – Race Day 3

At 30km with 2232m of vertical gain and 3164m of vertical loss, the day was all be about energy management. The relentless downhill today pounding tired legs. Technical and relentless as one runner said on the finish line.

After the start in 5km the runners reached 3400m, from here they drop down and climb to Taksindu La at 3071m. Chhulemu follows, Hewa, Jubing and then the final tough climb to Kharikola at 2100m.

The day was all about Suman Kulung Rai and Anna Comet who today put on masterclass performances. 

Suman covered the distance in a ridiculous 3:49:53, 25-minutes quicker than Hans Smedsrod who ran a great race to close the gap on the overall podium places and place himself in contention for a top-3 at the finish line in Lukla.

Gerard Morales realised the risk and marked the move finishing in 4:17:46 to Hans’ 4:15:58.

Unfortunately, the injury woes of Miguel Heras plagued him today and he finished in 6th losing his grasp on the top-3 overall.

Anna Comet is relentless and strong this year. She finished the stage in 4:41:54 and placed 4th on the stage. Manuela Vilaseca once again fought hard today to finish 2nd woman in 5:17:29 to Nuria Domguez who placed 3rd in 5:28:43.

With the three stages covered and three to go, although nothing is guaranteed, it certainly looks like Suman and Anna have leads that will be impossible to beat. However, the 2nd and 3rd placed for both women and men is all to fight for.

IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

Day 2 Results:

Suman Kulung Rai 3:49:53

Hans Smedsrod 4:15:58

Gerard Morales4:17:46

 

Anna Comet 4:41:54

Manuela Vilaseca 45:17:29

Nuria Dominguez 5:28:43

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The Elements EVEREST TRAIL RACE #ETR2019 – Race Day 2

At 26km with 1916m of vertical gain and 1819m of vertical loss, day 2 of The Elements Everest Trail Race was a tough one.

In previous year’s Pikey Peak at 4100mm had appeared late in stage 2 with a loom and relentless climb to its summit. This year, with the course changes, the high summit would occupy the first 8km of the day – a tough way to start any day!

The change in direction brought the runners from the complete opposite direction and the usual magical vista visible at the summit and on the way to the summit was even more spectacular. Everest was mo longer hidden and clearly visible.

From the summit a technical descent that twists and turns to Jase Bhanjyang, here in previous editions, camp 2 would be located. Not today, the runners split to the left and then encountered new terrain that few people visit. It was technical with relentless boulder fields not allowing any opportunity to relax.

From Lamjura La and 8km decsnt, again technical until the final km would lead to Jumbesi and the final checkpoint. With just 4km left, the runners I am sure they were home and dry with just 4km to go… It was all uphill on steep narrow trails all the way to Pungmucheat at just over 3000m.

With two starts, 0700 and 0800 (faster runners starting later) the ascent to Pikey Peak was littered with runners of varying ability, but Suman Kulung Rai  and Miguel Heras made easy work of the climb arriving at CP1 in under 50-minutes. Suman taking time to point out the mountains to Miguel. They left at pace make the altitude and gradient look easy. Gerard Morales followed and then Hans from Norway.

For the women, once again Anna Comet set the pace chased by Manuela Vilaseca and then Nuria Dominguez.

At the summit it was all to fight for with 18km’s still to go, considerable technical trail, long hard descents and tough climbs.

Unfortunately disaster struck for Miguel with an injury forcing hime to ease off the pace opening the door for Gerard and Hans. Miguel would eventually finish 4th. Suman though was relentless making a tough stage look easy.

The women’s race took a twist from the previous day with Anna winning once again and Nuria finishing ahead of Manuela.

IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

Day 2 Results:

Suman Kulung Rai 3:34:03

Gerard (Blacky) Morales 4:09:46

Hans Smedsrod 4:21:44

 

Anna Comet 4:37:46

Nuria Dominguez 5:13:04

Manuela Vilaseca 4:15:57

Day 3 Preview

At 30km with 2232m of vertical gain and 3164m of vertical loss, the day will all be about management. In 5km the runners reach 3400m then drop and climb to Taksindu La at 3071m.m From here Chhulemu follows. Hewa, Jubing and then the final tough climb to Kharikola at 2100m

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The Elements EVEREST TRAIL RACE #ETR2019 – Race Day 1

A damp and chilly night soon passed to greet the runners with spectacular views of the Himalayas – Everest and so many more completely visible from camp.

Day 1 of The Elements 2019 Everest Trail Race was a new route after eaving Patale, the journey would encompass Lakap, Kerung, Chyangsar, Meranding, Bhittakharaka, Khoriya, Kunikhop and conclude at Dimise. The distance of 24.9km starts at 2800m, drops to just above 2000m and then climbs again over 14km to 2906m. 

For the runners it was a day of excitement and nervous anticipation. Kathmandu is located just over 1300m, so, to suddenly be at 2800 and have to run is a big ask. Gladly, the runners dropped down to 2000m after a slightly uphill start. However, the long final climb to the finish was a real test.

Sumun Kulung Rai, a previous participant of the Everest Trail Race set the early pace pulling away over the early km’s. However, Spain’s Miguel Heras was not allowing the Nepali to gain any advantage and the duo marked each other throughout the day. It was Sumun who took the tape with a late charge to beat Miguel with a handful of seconds.

Gerard ‘Blacky’ Morales placed third with a solid race and pacing.

Anna Comet, also a previous finisher of the Everest Trail Race ran a strong and solid race pulling away from Mauela Vilaseca who placed 2nd at the 2018 ETR. Anna was very strong, and even in the closing km’s looked well in control with plenty of energy left.

Manuela knows how challenging the ETR is and was no doubt respecting the race, the distance and the altitude on day 1 finishing a very strong second ahead of Nuria Dominguez.

Day 1 will no doubt be remembered for the new track, the isolation, the complete lack of any tourists and local life that seems unaffected by the crazy world around it. One got a feeling that for some, we were the first non Nepali people they had seen.

News in the local area had got out about the race and some had walked up to an hour to experience the start – the buzz of the helicopter not doubt adding to the fascination.

One cannot emphasise enough, that no matter how majestic the trails are, no matter how stunning the mountains are, that without the people, Nepal would miss a really integral element that makes this place so special. This new route once again introduced us to a raw people who were only too welcome to open their arms and welcome us in to their home – now that is special.

IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

Day 1 Results:

Suman Kulung Rai 3:03:40

Miguel Heras 3:03:56

Gerard (Blacky) Morales 4:15:04

 

Anna Comet 3:45:23

Manuela Vilaseca 4:10:22

Nuria Dominguez 4:24:18

Please check online via the Everest Trail Race Facebook page for full Results.

Day 2 Preview

At 26km with 1916m of vertical gain and 1819m of vertical loss, it will be a tough day, particularly in the first 7km the runners will pass over Pikey Peak at 4100m. Passing through Jase Bhanjyang, Lamjura La, Jumbesi, the route will conclude at Pungmucheat just over 3000m.

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The Elements EVEREST TRAIL RACE #ETR2019 – Registration and Travel

Collect bib numbers, receive road book, kit check and leave ones luggage at Hotel Shanker and now, The Elements ETR 2019 became a reality for all the runners.

Jordi Abad provided a detailed briefing to the runners and this was followed with a group meal. One runner said, ‘It feels like the last supper!’

An 0500 call and then 0600 departure on Sunday and suddenly the whole ETR was on the road to camp 1.

It was quite the journey, 9-hours of winding dusty roads, loud Indian music and the repeated sound of car horns to warn on coming traffic that you are coming around the bend at speed. Many were daunted by the journey but in reality it was quite an adventure showing all of us a new area of Nepal. 

We experience village life, workmen and women in the fields, impromptu shops created from scraps of wood and the on occasion, one passes through a small village.

A lunch break by the river with the Sunkoshi Bridge as a backdrop and by 1600 hrs everyone was in camp 1 receiving Spot Trackers, rationed water and an allocated tent to spend the night.

Camp is made up the runners section and staff section. Nepali Porters and Sherpas are on hand to look after everyone and cook in a makeshift/ mobile kitchen. The planning of the ETR always amazes me.

The Elements Everest Trail Race is now underway and tomorrow, at the stroke of 0830 Monday 11th, the 40+ runners will be released on to a new route and a new adventure.

Leaving Patale, the journey will encompass Lakap, Kerung, Chyangsar, Meranding, Bhittakharaka, Khoriya, Kunikhop and conclude at Dimise. The distance of 24.9km starts at 2800m, drops to just above 2000m and then climbs again over 14km to 2906m.

It’s an exciting time for the race – a new route, new adventure and new experience.

IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

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