inov-8 PARKCLAW 275 GTX REVIEW

I have to be honest, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to using inov-8’s new shoe offering, the PARKCLAW 275 (I tested the GTX – Gore Tex). Why? Well, inov-8 have always impressed by producing shoes that are specific to a runner’s need – typically, getting a grip in muddy trail. Over recent years though, many new inov-8 shoes have appeared that have merged that ‘specificity’ and in all honesty, I have always been impressed by what has been on offer.

The PARKCLAW though just didn’t entice me.

I have to say, I was a little silly. It turns out that the PARKCALAW 275 is a great shoe and in all honesty, it’s a shoe that will appeal to so many.

Many runners want a shoe that does more than just one thing. The PARKCLAW is going to be that shoe. Good on the road, good on dry trails, good on rocks, cushioned, wide toe box, 8mm drop and great feel.

Inov-8 have produced a real surprise!

THE SHOE

Maybe the ‘PARK’ in the name signifies the ever-growing parkrun community that every weekend assemble all over the world and bang out a 5k amongst friends. Let’s face facts, it’s a huge community and if you can get a slice of that pie, it’s a great thing for any brand. But many of those runners may want to mix things up with a little road-to-trail or easy trail runs. This is where the PARKCLAW can step in!

I need to clarify here that the PARKCLAW is a shoe that works for any runner. I have been using it on my road loops of 5, 8 and 12km and they have been great. Equally, they have been excellent on my local canal tow path and forest trails.

The shoe has an ‘in-between’ outsole that provides grip for trail but not too much grip for road. The lugs at 4mm are semi-aggressive but importantly are close together so road running feels good. META-FLEX at the front allows the shoes to bend near the metatarsals and at the rear is a Dynamic Fascia Band. Three different lug colours are present which show how the different compounds ensure grip on different surfaces.

Drop is 8mm which is now pretty much standard, gone are the days of 12mm drop and higher. 8mm drop is a perfect starting point for most runners and particularly nice if running longer.

Fit is neutral and true to size. I always use a UK9.5 and these are perfect.

Toe box is wide – 5 on inov-8’s fit scale (here) so all you Hobbits should have a huge smile.

Cushioning is 12mm at the front and 20mm at the rear which provides a plush feel and not at the compromise of losing a feel for the ground. The Cushioned ride comes from Powerflow+ which does a great job at protecting but not at the loss of energy return. Combined with META-FLEX the Powerflow+ makes the propulsive phase a pleasure.

The upper is classic inov-8, breathable and lightweight. It has support on either side of the lacing section which pulls in to hold the foot firm once laces are adjusted accordingly. Importantly there are double eyelets at the top, so you can lock-lace should you wish. The heel area is plush as always with inov-8 and there is additional support to hold the foot firm and help with gait. The tongue is padded and gusseted. Toe box is reinforced and protected.

IN USE

This is a very comfy shoe. Slipper like in feel and it was easy to pull them on and run with no bedding in. I was amazed at how comfortable they are. The Cushioning is unlike any other inov-8 shoe I have used. Maybe similar to a TRAIL TALON.

The key thing for many will be the wide toe box. Hobbits you will love them! I am fortunate that I can use precision shoes and then enjoy and benefit of a wide toe box when I want to be more relaxed and allow my foot to splay. The PARKCLAW is really comfy.

Gusseted tongue is padded and a real winner. Keep saying it, all shoes should have a gusseted tongue just makes sense!

The lacing is standard and it’s possible to adjust and get a great fit and feel. I used the additional eyelet at the top to ‘lock-lace’ but found I didn’t need it, the shoe fitted so well.

Running on the road is a real pleasure with excellent comfort, great feel and great energy return. At no point did I feel I was in a trail shoe. Transition to hard trail was seamless. The PARCLAW is a great all-rounder and one-stop shop for those who need something that can do a little of everything.

The 4mm lugs handled grass, rock and trail both in wet and dry but when the trails became muddy, grip was compromised. The lugs are too close together and not long enough to get the required purchase. This is not a criticism, it’s just a fact! Quite simply, if you are needing a shoe with greater off-road grip, you need another model of inov-8. The PARKCLAW is not intended for this job!

SUMMARY

The PARKCLAW  275 is a real surprise. It’s a shoe that you can use day in and day out when you are mixing terrain. A great example would be say living in London and going for a long run when you mix road with sections of trail in Regents Park, Hyde Park and so on. The shoe though equally sits as a road shoe or dry trail shoe. I had no issue using the PARKCLAW 275 for either purpose.

The toe box is wide, and this may well be a real deciding factor for many. I know so many runners who need or prefer a wide fit – look no further.

The PARKCLAW would actually make a great shoe for a race like Marathon des Sables when an out-and-out trail shoe is not required but when cushioning and wide toe box is welcome. It is definitely a contender.

The PARKCLAW 275 will never be great on muddy technical terrain. The outsole is not aggressive enough and the wide ‘5’ fit would make the shoe feel sloppy and lacking precision.

Ultimately, I think inov-8 created this shoe as an ‘introduction’ shoe. A way of enticing roadies to trail. In doing so, they have created a stand-alone shoe which I have been using daily, and yes, it’s equally great as a walking shoe.

A jack of all trades is never brilliant at any one thing but the PARKCLAW 275 does a great job at making the mix and transition.

Finally, I tested the GTX version, so, should you wish, you can also keep your feet warm and dry by letting no water in. Of course, GTX doesn’t let water out too, so, if the water comes in over the top of the shoe, your feet will stay wet. Always with considering! However, over the winter months I could feel the benefit of the Gore Tex on cold days.

PARKCLAW 275 on inov-8 HERE

 

2106: A Year In Podcasting with Talk Ultra

 

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2016 is over and 2017 is here. Now is a good time to take a look back and refresh the mind (and ears) about all the great audio that we produced on Talk Ultra in the last year. Episodes 103 to Episode 125.

Episode 103 was look back at some of our all-time highlights and the show included: Timmy OlsonKilian JornetDavid JohnstonScott and Jenny Jurek and a bonus, Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

Episodes 104 to 125 looked at the sport of ultra, trail, mountain and skyrunning via in-depth interviews. What are the highlights? It’s so hard to say… I like to believe that all the audio we create is inspirational on so many levels.

However, for me, some of my highlights are:

  • Episode 104 – Zach Bitter running super-fast for 100-miles.
  • Episode 109 – Mina Guli
  • Episode 110 – Jasmin Paris
  • Episode 112 – Nicky Spinks
  • Episode 114 – Kaci Lickteig and Jim Walmsley
  • Episode 115 – Jason Schlarb
  • Episode 117 – Martin Yelling
  • Episode 119 – Karl Meltzer
  • Episode 122 – Pete Kostelnick
  • Episode 123 – Adam Campbell

2016 was a great year.

January 2017 is significant, Talk Ultra is five year’s old and as a show we are proud that we have produced a wealth of content for free. The show will always be free! However, demands on time, production costs, editing and so on, really impact on the Talk Ultra team, therefore, if you love the show please help us out.

We have set up a Patreon page and you can support the show from as little $1 per month. As you move up the Patron levels we are offering special offers and you can even appear on the show.

Please check out Patreon HERE and we hope you can support us.

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https://www.patreon.com/talkultra

Episode 125 of Talk Ultra is our Christmas Show – Happy Christmas everyone! We have interviews with Zach MillerCaroline Boller and Samantha Gash. We also have a review of the year and Niandi Carmont is co-hosting. HERE

*****

Episode 124 of Talk Ultra is all about the Everest Trail Race with a selection of audio from 5 participants – Andreja Sterle PodobonikCasey MorganJennifer HillTom Arnold and John Percy. We bring you news from the ultra world and Niandi Carmont co-hosts. HERE

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Episode 123 of Talk Ultra and this weeks show is a special, one off edition with Adam Campbell HERE

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Episode 122 of Talk Ultra and we have a 1 hour interview with Pete Kostelnick all about his amazing, record breaking run across the USA. Ryan Sandes talks Raid de la Reunion and Casey Morgan talks about Madeira’s EcoTrail Funchal and the Everest Trail Race. The show is co-hosted by my good buddy from the Twin Cities, Kurt DeckerHERE

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Episode 121 – On this weeks show we speak with Els 2900 Alpine Run race director, Matt Lefort, about his super tough Andorran race. Niandi Carmont brings us a selection of audio, recorded in the Simpson Desrert, as Australia’s 2016 Big Red Run took place. Ian is interviewed by a Portuguese magazine and Speedgoat is back co-hosting! HERE

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Episode 120 – Alex Nichols tells us all about his first 100-miler and how how he won it! Emelie Forsberg tells us about her return to Kima and finding solace and new skills in India. Jasmin Paris is on fire and we sum up an incredible 2016 and ‘another’ round record and finally Speedgoat Karl answers your questions about the Appalachian Trail FKT. HERE

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Episode 119 of Talk Ultra and we have a 1-hour special interview with Speedgoat Karl Meltzer on his incredible record breaking FKT on the AT. We also have interviews with the male and female winners of the Superior 100, Mallory Richard and Frank Pipp. We have the news and Niandi co-hosts. HERE

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Episode 118 of Talk Ultra and this week is going to be a short and sharp show… it’s all about the UTMB races and Trofeo Kima. We have interviews with Jo Meek who placed 2nd lady at the CCC and Damian Hall who placed 19th in the UTMB and recently completed a ‘FKT’ on the South West Coast Path in the UK. This weeks show is co hosted by Albert Jorquera. HERE

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Episode 117 of Talk Ultra and it’s a packed show. We talk with Jonathan Albon who last year won the Tromso SkyRace and this year placed 2nd. Debbie Martin-Consanitalks about running long and her recent CR at the North Downs Way 100 in the UK. We also speak to my fellow podfather and good friend, Martin Yelling, about his inspiring, ‘Long Run Home.’ The News and Niandi co-hosts. HERE

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Episode 116 of Talk Ultra and We speak with Beth Pascall who obliterated the female record at the UK’s Lakeland 100 and placed 4th overall in the process. We also speak with Donnie Campbell who won the Lakes Sky Ultra. We have the news, results and Niandi Carmont co-hosts while Speedgoat Karl goes for a jog on the AT! HERE

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Episode 115 of Talk Ultra and we have an interview with Hardrock 100 winner, Jason Schlarb. We also speak with Elisabet Barnes about her Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun and Big Red Run double. Speedboat Karl is with us on the countdown to the AT and of course we have the news from around the world. HERE

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Episode 114 of Talk Ultra and we have two interviews from Western States – Ladies champion Kaci Lickteig and the incredible Jim Walmsley who looked to break all WSER records only to go off course at 92 miles. We also speak with Joanna Williams, the outright winner from South Africa’s Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun. We have the news, ultra chat and Ryan Sandes co-hosts! HERE

*****

Episode 113 of Talk Ultra and We have a show with a selection of audio from participants who took part in the 8-day, 400km Cape Wrath Ultra (Ita Marzotto, Jenny Davis, Louise Watson, Luke Robertson, Richard Beard and Ted Kristensson)and the 190-mile, single stage, Northern Traverse (Angela White, Clare Turton and Eoin Keith). We have the news and Niandi Carmont co-hosts. HERE

*****

Episode 112 of Talk Ultra and we speak with Nicky Spinks about that incredible DOUBLE Bob Graham Round. Emelie Forsberg joins us to tell us all about her injury, how she feels and when (we hope) she will be back and we speak to ‘The Jeff’s’ an inspiring husband and wife who took respective 1st places at the Salt Flats 100. HERE

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Episode 111 of Talk Ultra and it’s all about Transvulcania. We speak with Chris Vargo who placed 5th, Alicia Shay who placed 4th and Ida Nilsson who blasted around the course to take the ladies victory. We have the news, a chat with Holly Rush and Speedgoat Karl is back. HERE

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Episode 110 of Talk Ultra. This weeks show is a Marathon des Sables special with a load of great content from the Bivouac by Niandi Carmont and then a series of post race interviews with Sondre AmdahlElisabet Barnes and Elinor Evans. If that wasn’t enough, we have an interview with Jasmin Paris who has just blasted the Bob Graham Round ladies record to a new level. HERE

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Episode 109 of Talk Ultra. We speak with inspiring adventurer and I2P ambassador Ray Zahab about his amazing Antarctica 2 Atacama expedition. We also speak with an amazing Australian lady, Mina Guli, who ran 40-marathons across 7 deserts on 7 continents in 7 weeks. We also have a little pre-MDS chat and Speedgoat is here. HERE

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Episode 108 of Talk Ultra. We speak with 2016 Transgrancanaria champion, Didrik Hermansen. We have a chat with Brit Paul Navesy about winning the 100km Anglo Celtic Plate and Jason Schlarb gives us the lowdown of skiing the Hardrock 100 route in 4 days. Niandi gives us a stress fracture update and brings us another Big Red Run interview and Speedgoat is here after ‘another’ 100-mile victory. HERE

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Episode 107 of Talk Ultra. This show has so much content, we speak with Lizzy Hawker about her amazing 200km Kathmandu Valley FKT, Ryan Sandes talks about his 2015 and his new book, Trail Blazer. Gavin Sandford tells us about his amazing double Marathon des Sables challenge. Niandi catches up with past participants of the Big Red Run in Australia who will return in 2016 and Speedboat is still on the AT. HERE

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Episode 106 of Talk Ultra. This show is all about The Coastal Challenge multi-day race in Costa Rica. We talk in-depth about Niandi’s experience and we bring you a selection of interviews to give you a feel for the race. HERE

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Episode 105 of Talk Ultra. Niandi and Ian are back from a multi-day training camp in Lanzarote, The Spine winner, Eoin Keith tells us all about his race and we speak with Rocky Raccoon and Fling Race winner, Matthew LayeHERE

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Episode 104 of Talk Ultra and I am pleased to say Speedboat is back. On this show we talk with rising Australian star, Lucy Bartholomew. We speak to fast man, Zach Bitter about running 100-miles super quick and Candice Burt talks Hurt 100 and the appeal of 200-mile races. HERE

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Episode 103 A very happy new year! Talk Ultra is 4 years old and to signify this landmark we are bringing you 4 interviews from our back catalogue, one from 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015: Timmy OlsonKilian JornetDavid JohnstonScott and Jenny Jurek and a bonus, Sir Ranulph Fiennes. In addition, we may well bring you a few sounds, music and memories. HERE

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inov-8 TERRACLAW 250 Shoe Review

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Niandi Carmont gets her claws out and test the new inov-8 Terraclaw 250. A shoe that offers a wide toe box, grip, cushioning and an 8mm drop for longer days on mixed terrain.

Please note all photographs in this review are the male colour ways . The ladies version as reviewed is below.

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REVIEW

The Terraclaw is a great dual purpose trail shoe for “earthy” mostly dry trail as well as offering enough grip to be used on trail with moderately grassy/ muddy sections. As I’m not an aficionado of technical slippery and extremely boggy terrain, this is definitely the shoe to fit my foot in more ways than one.

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What definitely makes this trail shoe even more attractive for me is the wide toe box or in inov-8 jargon “standard fit” as opposed to the “precision fit”. The roomy toe box allows my toes to splay comfortably as I’m running irrespective of any swelling in hot weather over long distances. This is an absolute must for me as like with many ultra-runners who have been in the sport for some time, I have an issue with a collapsing right arch and thus a wider right foot.  In my case narrower trail shoes usually lead to chafing in between the toes and ensuing blisters.

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Another interesting key feature of this model which attracted me is inov-8’s innovative patented Dynamic Fascia Band™ (DFB) technology. What this means in layman’s terms is that the anatomical position of the plantar fascia ligament is replicated and the function of the human foot’s ability to utilize the “windlass effect” is duplicated. As body weight moves forward onto the metatarsal heads and the toes begin to extend, tension on the inov-8 fascia band™ increases. When the heel leaves the ground, the inov-8 fascia band™ resists elongation of the medial arch and carries the entire body weight of the runner converting the shoe into a rigid propulsive lever. This helps the athlete to run more efficiently, more economically and thus a tad faster. How cool is that for an injured right-foot heel striker with a collapsing arch like me? I certainly feel I’m dragging my right foot less.

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In addition to this the shoe is very breathable with a soft with a slipper-like feel. In fact this model is almost too comfy for a trail shoe! At 250G it is a relatively light shoe yet lightness is not sacrificed at the expense of cushioning. There is enough cushioning in this trail shoe to run on rock, gravel or stony terrain and inov-8 have got the balance just right and so if like me you still like to feel the ground underfoot you won’t be disappointed. The shoe sticks to inov-8 heritage of getting you low to the ground but the lack of a rockplate will allow more irregular rocks or sharper rocks be felt in the foot. It’s no great issue but one you should be aware of.

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If you take a peek at the sole of the shoe, you’ll quickly understand why this shoe offers good grip on most terrain.  Inov-8 have developed 5 distinct outsole compounds to deliver maximum grip on a wide variety of terrains and in changeable weather conditions. The Terraclaw outsole is composed of Dual-C, in other words a mix of medium sticky and hard sticky compound.  This particular technology uses rock climbing rubber technology.

In principle the shoe should therefore also offer a reasonable amount of grip on wet rock. However, I was not convinced after having tested it on the initial section of the Garmin Mourne Skyline race course. Running down the wet stone steps was tricky and a shoe like the inov-8 Mudclaw 300 (HERE) would be more suited to that terrain despite the aggressive outsole.  Personally from having tested the shoe on various terrains and in different seasons and weather conditions, I would say it is more suited to dry trail and trail with short road sections. The shoe transitions well from one to the other. It would perform less well on extremely boggy terrain, very steep and slippery grassy climbs/ descents (fells), stony river and waterfall sections.  I also found the cleats wore away quite rapidly with over-use. I’m on my second pair in the space of 3 months as there is noticeable cleat wear where I heel strike and on the forefoot where the foot lifts off. Of course, if you use the shoe on just soft ground or trail, the outsole will last longer! However, I believe that inov-8 are trying to find a shoe here that does all jobs? The rise of ‘city-trail’ a key indicator why this move from inov-8 makes sense. But whenever you make a compromise, you very often end up with something that does nothing well. Certainly, if you want an out-and-out shoe for wet, muddy and slippery trail this is not the shoe for you: look at the 212 (HERE) or 300 (HERE). Equally, if you want a shoe for just road, this is not the shoe for you. But if you want a shoe that enables you to run road, run trail, have comfort and all with a pleasing drop of 8mm this is definitely worth considering.

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The triangular spaced out lug design of the shoe is interesting too.  The purpose of this is to release debris, grit and small stones. However I found that it was not effective in releasing big clumps of muddy grass which got entangled in the lugs.  On the plus side because of the lug design the shoe is easy to rinse off after muddy trail runs.

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The Terraclaw offers good toe and foot protection in spite of its light weight with a full rand and higher stack height. Like other inov-8 models the 2 Meta-flex grooves on the outsole (pinky-red color on the Ladies shoe) at the forefoot and the heel allow for natural foot flexing making for a smoother run.

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It’s a neutral shoe that fits true to size but be warned, the roomier toe box may make the shoe feel a little ‘sloppy.’ If so, try lacing the shoe using this method HERE, it will hold your foot tight but still allow the freedom for your toes.

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Last but not least – the color is great! Nice and sober – black with a hint of pink and blue. Personally I’m not one for garish bright run shoes which quickly look muddy.

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TESTING

I have tested this shoe on several types of terrain and in various weather conditions:

  • A 2-day ultra around the Isle of Wight with a total mileage of 117km in hot weather and on dry trail, road sections, grassy coastal trail and some short technical ascents. My conclusion: this shoe is very versatile – I had no issue moving from trail to road sections. The grip on dusty trail is very good.
  • A one-day 42km trail in Lanzarote running on dust roads, through very rocky lava fields, on beach sections in soft sand, on pebbles, on stones, gravel and up and down slippery dusty mountain sections in hot weather. My conclusion: the shoe offered great grip in dry conditions. I tend to be too careful and overly think technical descents but found that I had more confidence with the Terraclaw.
  • Wet muddy trail training runs in the Midlands in rainy cold weather. My conclusion: If the terrain is not too muddy the Terraclaw offers sufficient grip. However, I felt it lacked grip in extreme boggy conditions.
  • Training runs on the West Highland Way. My conclusion: Good shoe for this type of terrain which is not extremely technical and very runnable.
  • Wet training runs on the fells in the Lakelands. My conclusion: Again I feel the shoe does not offer sufficient grip on really boggy and slippery terrain.
  • Training in the Mourne mountains in Northern Ireland. My conclusion: The shoe was great on forest path and trail sections but lacked grip on wet rocky sections on descents and steep grassy descents. The Mudclaw 300 would probably be more suitable for this kind of terrain.
  • Training runs on forest path near Paris. My conclusion: The shoe is very versatile and transitions comfortably from hard road surfaces to softer forest terrain.

CONCLUSION:

PROS:

  • I like it – I’m already on my second pair.
  • The patented Dynamic Fascia Band™ technology favors a more economical and thus more efficient run style.
  • The Dual-C grip is sufficient for moderately wet conditions.
  • This model is extremely comfortable.
  • It is lightweight shoe with ample protection and great cushioning.
  • I love the roomy toe box.
  • Great color
  • Very versatile shoe – an all-rounder

CONS:

  • I’m on my second pair. It lacks durability mainly due to lug wear.
  • It doesn’t offer sufficient grip in more extreme conditions

If you’d prefer the same show with a lower drop (4mm) the 220 version is available with a unique lacing style.

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TECHNICAL SPECS

Weight: 250G / 9OZ

Fit: STANDARD

Footbed: 6MM

Midsole: COMPRESSED EVA

Shank: DFB™

Drop: 8MM

Sole: TERRACLAW™

Compound:DUAL-C

Running a mult-day race? Check out our training camp http://d.pr/f/18cqZ

inov-8 website HERE

Inov8 say:

From single track to steep descents, the TERRACLAW™ performs on the widest range of trails imaginable. Our unique lug design releases debris and grit like no other, delivering optimum grip with every foot strike. The higher mileage version of the TERRACLAW™ range, this shoe delivers extra protection and comfort courtesy of a full rand and higher stack height.

Recent Printed Publications for iancorless.com

TCC Lead Page

The first few months of 2015 have been very rewarding and I have had several articles and features printed worldwide in a series of top ranking magazines.

From the rainforests of Costa Rica, to heat of the Sahara. Anton Krupicka looking broken at Transgrancanaria, Joe Grant between a rock and a hard place at The Coastal Challenge and Sir Ranulph Fiennes beating the heat at the Marathon des Sables.

Here are the magazines with links

Like The Wind HERE

Runners World HERE

Trail Running Magazine HERE

Competitor HERE

Outdoor Fitness HERE

Here is a selection of the printed articles. All my tear sheets can be viewed HERE

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MDS 2015 Darren Outoor Fitness UTLD Runners World 2015 TCC 2015 Trail Running Mag MDS Sir Ranulph Fiennes captured_spread

Salomon Sense Mantra 3 – Review

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When Salomon signed Ellie Greenwood and Max King (just ran 2:17 for Olympic qualifier) for 2015 sponsorship, the two current 100km champions, it was a clear statement that the brand wants to make some headway on the road as well as trail.

The new S-Lab X Series (Here) is an out-and-out road shoe but Salomon are also very keen to capture all of hose runners that run on road, trail, road, trail and then road… but not necessarily in that order. The birth of CITYTRAIL. It’s not rocket science but if in doubt, CITYTRAIL shoes combine the best of a road shoe and then mix it up with a trail shoe.

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The original Salomon Mantra (2012) was ground breaking. However, the shoe has come a long way from its original incarnation and although the new Mantra 3 does hold some of the original traits, it’s fair to say that the Sense Mantra 3 is a completely new shoe.

Imagine taking the much loved S-Lab Sense, breeding it with the original Mantra and in many ways you have the Sense Mantra 3.

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Do you like the S-Lab Sense in either normal or soft-ground versions? If so, you are almost certainly going to like the Mantra 3.

The shoe has all those wonderful S-Lab characteristics that we have all come to love:

  • Sensfit
  • Endofit
  • Lace pocket
  • Quicklace
  • OS Tendon
  • Ortholite
  • Profeet Film

So many buzz words but in brief they all add up to…  awesome!

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Okay, I fully appreciate that here I am again waxing lyrical about another pair of shoes and arguably another pair of Salomon’s that are a joy to wear. But I only tell it like it is… I loved the Sense 3 SG and I loved the Sense Pro, so, combine those two shoes and you arguably have the Sense Mantra 3. BUT the shoe has some significant differences.

©iancorless.com_Mantra3-7596First and foremost, the sole of the shoe has been redesigned and it has a completely new look. Need a shoe for soft or muddy ground? Look elsewhere. But if you are mixing road, hard trail, rocks and anything in and around that scenario, the Mantra 3 is a dream.

©iancorless.com_Mantra3-7565 The shoe feels very cushioned and plush. This almost certainly comes from Endofit. Lets face it, once you have used Endofit; other shoes feel a little sloppy. Endofit holds the foot snug, secure and as such provides great feel and security. Basically it’s a wrap for your foot.

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The Mantra 3 has 15mm cushioning at the rear and 9mm at the front. I was a little surprised by those stats. The shoe feels a little more cushioned than that but I don’t mean that in a negative way. You still have plenty of feel, loads of response and arguably the 6mm drop provides an ideal sweet spot.

Weight is awesome at 275g (UK8) and the shoe feels light. Flexibility is great and when out running, the shoe actually makes you want to increase your cadence and pick up the pace. I loved that feeling… I just wish my lungs and heart could keep up with the shoes.

©iancorless.com_Mantra3-7573Lacing is legendary and the ‘Quicklace’ system works flawlessly. I have no problems with this system but it is fair to say that if you like to tweak your laces and loosen them in places, that is difficult to do here. Excess lace is stored in the equally legendary ‘Lace Pocket.’

I personally found that my shoes sized a little small. I use UK9.5 in Sense 3, Sense 3 SG and Sense Pro but I found that I needed a UK10 for the Mantra 3. Of course this may just be a one off? However, if ordering online, keep this in mind.

©iancorless.com_Mantra3-7593 The noticeable difference in the Mantra 3 is the toe box! It is without doubt considerably wider and roomier than any other Salomon shoe I have used. So much so that I found myself tweaking the tightness of my laces to compensate. I know only too well how many people complain that Salomon shoes are too narrow. Well, this may well be a shoe for you to try. I thought the Sense Pro had a wider toe box but the Mantra 3 is definitely wider. This all may be part of Salomon’s new strategy as the S-Lab Sense 4 and Sense 4 SG have a slightly wider toe box too. Depending on how you run and what your preferences are, the wider toe box can be a negative as much as a positive. Having used both versions of the Sense 3 and the Sense Pro (and loved them) I found that at times I had a little ‘too’ much movement in the toe area on the Mantra 3, which didn’t give me the precision feel I am used to. We have to remember here that the Mantra 3 is a hybrid shoe, so this additional freedom is intentional. Certainly on longer runs this additional area was welcome should your feet swell and expand.

©iancorless.com_Mantra3-7585The heel area of the shoe is plush, holds the foot tight and has no friction. Toe protection at the front of the shoe is minimal, so, should you get on some really rocky terrain, be careful of your toes.

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The outsole as I mentioned has been redesigned and I have to say that if you keep to hard trail, rocks or road the grip is great. Equally I had full confidence in wet conditions. If you are heading out into the mud, this is not the shoe to take… look at the Sense 4 SG, Speedcross or Fellcross.

As mentioned, the Ortholite/ Sensifit combination provides a plush and cushioned feel and the addition of a Profeet Film adds security and protection from the road and/or trail surface.

In summary, the Mantra 3 is a great shoe for someone who mixes up road running and trail running on a daily basis. But don’t be put off by this ‘compromised’ approach. For me, the Mantra 3 is a great dry trail shoe or a great road shoe, I would have no problem running for extended periods on either surfaces. The 6mm drop is ideal for many providing a sweet middle ground and the cushioning is ideal for long runs. It is arguably a perfect long distance dry trail shoe. If I was running a race similar to Western States, I personally think the Mantra 3 would be my preference over the S-Lab Sense 4. The additional cushioning, roomier toe box and extra height on the drop for me make this shoe a winner for ultra runners.

Pros

  • Endofit
  • 6mm drop
  • Weight
  • Cushioning
  • Wide toe box
  • Lacing
  • Lace pocket

Cons

  • Toe box may be too wide for some
  • Sizes a touch small (for me anyway)
  • No good in mud

Specs

  • Weight 275g
  • Drop 6mm
  • Cushioning 9mm/ 15mm
  • RRP £90.00
  • Available early 2015

Salomon really are extending the CITYTRAIL range in terms of shoe range and clothing. Take a look HERE

Salomon Logo

inov-8 – Race Ultra™ 290 – Shoe Review

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inov-8 release their first ever ultra running shoe and we were lucky enough to get hold of a test pair 3-months ago, albeit in a UK8. That ruled myself out of any run testing but Niandi Carmont stepped up to the mark and gave the new Race Ultra™ 290’s a beating in the build up to Comrades. Here are her thoughts.

The Race Ultra™ 290’s is a first for UK shoe manufacturer, inov-8 but definitely not the last based on my testing of them. I picked up these shoes in the middle of March, so, I have had them for exactly 3-months; a perfect test period for any shoe!

In preparation for the 2014 Comrades I was reluctant to do all my training on road. Funny really, I used to be a ‘roadie.’ However, like so many others, after finding trail I have been reluctant to go back to the hard stuff… Road running was going to require a lot of motivation so I decided to alternate between trail and road just to get the miles in and to keep my motivation going. The Race Ultra™ 290’s proved to be the perfect shoe when mixing things up.

Usually it takes me a while to get used to new shoe models never mind new brands. I was a little anxious this time as this was my first experience of inov-8 footwear. I was pleasantly surprised – I required no adaptation or transition. The shoe has a slipper-like feel and is a perfect compromise in terms of cushioning and weight (290g/UK8). The gusseted tongue is padded, holds the foot firm and the thin laces pull tight, stay tight and provide reassuring security to my foot irrespective of the conditions. The toe box is wide, spacious and certainly has room for swelling feet should the need arise from multiple hours of running. Toe protection comes from a reinforced area that actually extends all the way around the shoe.

Prone to foot injuries I need cushioning but usually find it hard to get a trail shoe that is able to offer:

  • Cushioning.
  • Lightweight.
  • Good grip.

The Race Ultra™ 290 ticks all these boxes. Yes I know you can get lighter shoes. Yes I know you can get more cushioning and yes I know I can get a shoe with more grip. The secret of the Race Ultra™ 290 is that it has averaged all these elements and comes up with a great all round package. So much so, that I would say if you were looking for one shoe to do all things, you wouldn’t go wrong with a pair of these!

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Injected with EVA, the footbed is 6mm with 10mm at the front and 18mm at the rear offering a heel to toe drop of 8mm. Inov-8 as a brand have pioneered the transition to a lower drop shoes for 11-years and the Race Ultra™ 290 may well provide ultra-runners seeking to transition say from 12/13mm drop shoes towards a more minimalist drop a perfect opportunity. Equally, if you run in 6/4/3 or zero drop shoes, the 8mm may well provide you with a more ‘relaxed’ day on the trails. After all, this is the purpose of the Race Ultra™ 290. It’s all about making hours on trail and/ or road more pleasurable and less tiresome but this depends on your own run style and preferences. For me 8mm sits very well for longer runs. The flatter outsole ensures a stable ride without the loss of proprioception and as the hour’s pass and fatigue sets in, the 8mm drop and added cushioning are welcome.

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Transitioning from road to trail is not an issue as obviously this shoe has been designed specifically for this purpose. It’s without doubt an all round shoe that excels on hard pack trail events that may include road and rocky sections. Tested on dry sun baked French trail that incorporated a mixture of hard clay, stones and rocks the Ultra 290 excelled, in softer / grassy sections the ‘Tri Endurance’ compound provided confidence. Should the trail become very boggy and/or muddy, grip is compromised. This is to be expected in a shoe that is trying to be all things in one package. However, if these sections are short and provide a very small percentage of your run (say 10-20%) this is a compromise worth making for the comfort and security the shoe will provide for the remainder of your run.

Race Ultra 290 2[1][2]

On UK trail it proved to be a good all-weather shoe offering good grip for a multitude of conditions. Door-to-Trail is a term that is being used quite considerably at the moment and I do feel that the Race Ultra™ 290 fits well in this bracket.

A nice little non-negligible feature for the runner with smelly feet is the patented X-STATIC® foot bed, ensuring that the bacteria feeding on sweat will be kept at bay! I’ve had these shoes for a while, they have been through mud, wet and grass and I guarantee they are completely odourless!

The shoe also has the option to take custom Race Ultra™ Gaiters (available separately). They clip onto inov-8’s unique on-the-shoe attachment system. This is very cool. The shoe has attachment points built in and thus allows the gaiter to be added or removed as required with minimum fuss. I don’t use gaiters very often, however, having tried these I think I will use them more. They stopped mud and stones entering the shoe from the top and to be honest, once on, I didn’t even know I was using them. I can see this feature being added to more shoes in the inov-8 range. Should you wish to use the gaiter with other shoes, a fastener is supplied to make this possible.

A feature I would have liked is a more trail-friendly lacing system that offers a place to secure or store excess lace when the shoes are tied. It’s a minor quibble and may very well have been an omission as this would be redundant if the gaiter was worn.

In conclusion, inov-8’s new Race Ultra™ 290 shoe will be a hit. I am sure of it. If you are already an inov-8 user this may well be your new ‘go to’ shoe for your daily runs when an ‘all rounder’ is just what you need. If you are new to ultra running and only want one shoe, this will be perfect place to start. I really can’t find any negatives about this shoe other than the obvious…. If it’s really muddy you won’t have enough grip but that isn’t a criticism of the shoe, it’s more about having the wrong shoe for the job.

Check out inov-8 HERE

Shoe will be available from July 2014

 

Niandi Carmont

Niandi Carmont – Niandi is South African born, a former resident of Paris, she now lives in the UK. A runner for over 20-years; Niandi has completed Comrades Marathon 13-times, Washie 100 2-times and has finished well over 100 marathons and ultras  all over the world. Currently residing in the UK, Niandi splits her work life between the UK and France.

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Epic Marathon Camps – Morocco

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Another year will soon be over, it will be January and you will be feeling the effects of all those extra calories and you will realize that you are way behind with your training… yes, Spring is just around the corner and irrespective of your 2014 events distance, your are going to need to kick start your training and get in shape! What better way to get the ball rolling or should I say, the legs running than a week in Morocco.

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Epic Marathon Camps are ideal for runners of all ability and provide the opportunity to train and learn with like-minded individuals in a fantastic location, close to Marrakesh, Morocco.

The foothills of the Atlas Mountains will become your playground. Alice Morrison and Charlie Shepherd will be your hosts for the week along with coaches, Holly Rush and Karl Zeiner.

rsz_prvenuerun3 Combining excellent facilities with superb views and a high level of comfort. The hotel for the week has two swimming pools, a spa, and numerous different areas in which to exercise or relax. The venue’s style and philosophy fits perfectly; to offer a traditional Moroccan experience in comfort and style and with access to some superb scenery that is perfectly suited to physical training.

‘It’s quite simple, both Charlie and myself have entered the Marathon des Sables for 2014. Charlie has great experience of Morocco and has already coordinated multiple camps in the area, it seemed logical that we should extend our portfolio to a run specific camp,’ explained Alice.

Holly Rush is a TeamGB athlete and in 2013 placed 7th lady at the highly competitive Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa. In addition to this, Holly won a Bronze medal at the World Mountain Marathon Championships.

Karl Zeiner recently placed 16th overall at the ‘Ring of Fire’ in the UK and brings an extensive knowledge of marathon and ultra marathon training to the camp.

I asked Holly about her expectations of the camp and what participants can expect…

‘We are specifically targeting runners who want to get away from the January blues at home and get stuck into some focused, specific endurance training with like minded people in beautiful surroundings.’ Holly said with a look of eagerness on her face, ‘The January camps will be a great way to kick start the New Year with a possible eye on a spring marathon or ultra.’

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Morocco is the ideal place to enjoy some winter sun without a long haul flight and yet once you arrive it will feel like you could be in another world. Participants will have the opportunity to train on a variety of surfaces, road, trail, sand and of course hills so every run can be different.

The camp can be as involved as each individual person requires. The team will offer plenty of easy running, all guided of course so that it’s possible to investigate the surroundings. Specific session will be mixed in to the week, threshold, marathon race pace, reps and hill repeats will keep everyone literally on there toes.

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A unique selling point of EMC (Epic Marathon Camps) will be the magnificent location, high-end accommodation and facilities and of course the knowledgeable staff with quality training.

‘The camp will provide the perfect running experience allowing each and every person with one-to-one sessions with Holly and Karl.’ Explained Charlie. ‘It doesn’t stop there… days are based around running, core building, stretching and in the evenings lectures will be available about specific subjects to help progress each participants individual progression in the sport they love. Tired and aching bodies will be eased with in-house massage as required.’

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Running is not only about miles, it is also about the food we eat and how we can enhance food choices so that we become efficient in every aspect of the sport. To that end, a nutritionist will be available for the whole week (a keen runner and cyclist herself) inspirational, balanced and incredible cuisine will be provided. You know you are on to a winner when the chef says, ‘I would never sacrifice taste for calories’.

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Places are limited for the January training camps, January 11th to 18th/ January 19th to 26th.

The price for the all-inclusive week (transfers to-and-from the airport in Morocco, food, soft drinks, laundry and all services from the coaches) will be £1,495 for seven days (excl flights)

Please use the enquiry form below to receive a special £50 discount from the Epic Marathon Camps team.

LINKS

  • Training Camp Dates HERE
  • You can view the website HERE
  • Follow on Twitter @EpicMCamps
  • And ‘Like’ on Facebook ‘Epic Marathon Camps’

*This is an advetorial post on behalf of Epic Marathon Camps

Arc’teryx Squamish 50

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ARC’TERYX SQUAMISH 50 ULTRA RACE GETS SET FOR SECOND YEAR OF SUCCESS

(VANCOUVER, BC) Aug 10 2013 – No longer a fringe sport, ultra running attracts not only top athletes but marathoners who want to push to the next level and challenge themselves on uneven terrain. This weekend, 600 such runners are arriving in Squamish BC, for what is slated as one of the toughest ultra races on the trail circuit.

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It feels like survival. The Arc’teryx Squamish 50 ultra run is a really TOUGH race.  There’s even disclaimer on the sign up page to discourage first time racers!

The 50 mile course, 85% of it single track, has 3800m/12,000ft of climb and descent. Technical and wild, it’s also grueling, remote and punishing terrain, albeit with stunning views. Welcome to ultra running, Canadian style.

But in only its second year of existence, the Arc’teryx Squamish 50  sold out in its first two weeks.  And this weekend, August 10, 2013 an international roster of 600 runners from 9 countries will put themselves through the paces, running courses of 50 miles, 50km and 23km.

The event is sponsored by Arc’teryx, based out of North Vancouver, BC, a brand that is no stranger to extremes.

Relatively new as a sport, ultra running covers distances longer than a marathon. The runs are uniquely about pushing personal limits, pushing those limits hard and pushing them far.  At Squamish, the back half of the 50 is more difficult than the first. To reach the finish line is victory.

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Gary Robbins, one of the two main organizers of the Squamish 50 and no stranger to Ultra Running himself, credits the striking surge in popularity of these races to an

“Experienced road running/marathon community that’s looking for a new challenge and a younger generation that’s going straight onto the trails. In addition there is a growing mainstream culture with an intense focus on personal journeys and fitness. Ultra running is no longer looked upon as a fringe sport pursued by extremists, as much as it’s an extreme challenge that is doable by the vast majority of the population.”

Having a local high performance outdoor brand sponsor the event underlines the intensity of both the course and the event. Robbins is quick to note that.

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“Arc’teryx was the very first brand Geoff (Langford) and I approached about coming on board as our title sponsor. Arc’teryx has a heritage of quality, innovation, style, and mountain culture that instantly helped our event gain international exposure and credibility.”

Lawyer and local Arc’teryx athlete Adam Campbell describes ultra runs this way; “There are certain races that you do to see how you stack up against the rest of the world and then there are certain races where you’re looking at this incredible scenery under insane fatigue. Your senses become quite heightened.” Campbell, one of the world’s top flight runners, will be competing in this year’s event. Also in the exclusive field are Americans Karl Meltzer, current World Record holder of the most 100 mile victories of all time (34); and Krissy Moehl, ultra running superstar and recent winner of the Mt Fuji 100 miler in Japan. Canadians David le Porho, Lisa Polizzi, Nicola Gildersleeeve, Catrin Jones and Jason Loutitt are strong contenders, as are dark horses Nathan Barrett of Vancouver and Stacey Cleveland from Penticton.

“This is our home turf and it’s this tough terrain that we design our products for, ”says Laura Fergusson, North American Events and Athletes Manager for Arc’teryx. “We have athletes participating who are true competitors and working with Geoff Langford and Gary Robbins on this event is a positive partnership for our brand. It’s a huge win.”

The 50 mile course begins at 5:30 am, Saturday August 10, with a final cut-off of 9:30pm. That is 16 hours of suffering. Not quite true. Suffering implies there is no benefit, no reward and with these views, challenges and the camaraderie of going to the brink and surviving, that is simply not the truth.

Race start times:

5.30 am = Start for the 50 mile race – start line is Ocean front.

8.00 am = Start for the 23km race – start line is Quest University

9.00 am = Start for the 50km race – start line is Alice Lake Provincial Park

Expected first race finishers:

23km – about 9:45am

50m – about 1:15pm

50k – about 1:30pm

*All races finish down town Squamish from about 9.30 am* onwards

PRESS RELEASE provided by Arc’teryx

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

NO, it is the ATV 19+

Copyright Reebok

Copyright Reebok

Just when you think you have seen it all… run shoes with five toes, run shoes that look like a goat hoof or shoes that are built on inches of marshmallow and then Reebok bring us the ATV 19+. Lets face it, Reebok don’t really have a great reputation for ‘great’ run shoes. Will this nippled alien beast change that?

I haven’t seen these shoes yet. But they are about to be released onto the world on Feb 1st. Are we ready for it? I have no idea…

Bill McInnis, head of advanced innovation at Reebok thinks we are. Apparently he is a former NASA scientist! He says:

“The ATC 19+ has 19 bumps (hence the name) on the bottom of the shoe which are designed to grip as much terrain as possible each time you move. ATV? ‘All Terrain Vehicle’ – In other words, the shoe is designed to  mimic how a real ‘ATV’ grips any terrain that is put beneath its wheels. The shoes ‘dig’ through the top layer of the surface and get traction on the layer underneath”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMsPej0LIP8&feature=player_embedded

Jury is out on this one… on first impressions I can’t imagine it working too well in the wet, particularly on roads/ pavements or in the mud. But hey, I shouldn’t jump to conclusions… just because they look weird doesn’t mean that they wont perform.

Lets see what happens after Feb 1st!

Reebok ATV19

Copyright Reebok

As a footnote. I have just seen this YouTube clip. Oh dear… any credibility that Mr McInnis gave the shoe in his ‘clip’ above seems to disappear rather quickly here.

Salomon Sense Ultra

The long awaited ‘Sense Ultra‘ has arrived. THANK YOU Santa……

As many of you will know, the ‘Sense‘ has become the shoe of choice for those who are wanting to run on trail with a minimalist and responsive shoe. However, we can’t all be as efficient as Kilian Jornet or Andy Symonds.

The Sense Ultra offers a little more but holds true to all the elements that have made the ‘sense’ so popular.

The Salomon S-LAB Sense Ultra Racing is one of the lightest trail shoes ever made. It is heavier than the Sense but has added strengthening of the sole for longer and harder races.

It has the new lacing system: Quicklace this reduces the weight of Sense.
Dynamic Traction:  allows the Salomon S lab Sense  optimum grip in all conditions. It wasdeveloped by Solomon with the greatest athletes without any compromise. It has different grip and texture which has been designed to optimize grip when it is necessary.
EndoFit: has an inner liner to the shoe designed for positioning the foot optimally.
Drop: a low 4mm drop to provide a natural contact and feel with the ground.
OS TENDON: Thanks to this system inserted in the sole of the S lab intermediare sense, there is a natural flow with excellent energy return.
Profeet Film: is a protection film that will protect your foot area from angular or sharp objects that are on the trail. The Sense offers maximum protection despite its lightness.
Weight: 240g in 8.5 U.S.

When you lift up the box you think wait a minute… they forgot the shoes! Not so. These ‘runners’ are super light.

The lacing system as with all Salomon in reassuring and holds the foot firm.

The addition of the internal ‘Endofit’ makes the shoe more comfortable than you would ever imagine. They can be a little tight to get on at first and you may initially think; uh oh, wrong size. But once your foot is it is snug and supremely comfortable. The most comfortable shoe I have ever worn.

I am not a small guy and the therefore I always felt the original ‘Sense‘ was maybe just a little too minimal for me… certainly on longer runs! not so with the ‘Ultra’. The additional cushioning is immediately apparent.

The sole has grip but nothing like the ‘SLab Softground‘ or ‘Speedcross‘. The shoe is therefore certainly more suited to road and hard pack (or rocky) trail. If your running in soft ground they perform perfectly but if you are a great deal of mud the added grip of the Soft Ground or Speedcross may be a better choice.

In use they are a dream to wear. On the roads they are light, responsive and provide that feel that I have had with traditional racing flats. The bonus with the ‘Sense Ultra’ is the hold of the foot. The speed lacing and Endofit provide supreme comfort. On the trails this becomes even more apparent as the foot moves from left to right with changes in terrain.

It’s early days in testing but this shoe will not be of my feet for a while… they are so comfortable I would even be tempted to use them as slippers.

Now then, I need to go run…..

As a foot note, (no pun intended) Spring/ Summer 2013 will see a new Sense model – ‘Mantra

I saw this shoe earlier this year at Cavalls del Vent. A couple of the Salomon runners tested the shoe (Emelie Forsberg and Philipp Reiter) By all accounts a great edition to the range but too early to provide some detailed feedback.

The Mantra will be an everyday trainer in the same mold as the Sense and Sense Ultra. It’s a door-to-trail hybrid. With it’s 16mm heel and 10mm front (6mm drop as opposed to 4mm) and 260 grams weight, it looks to be a featherweight trainer without requiring the user to go to a 4mm drop shoe. Salomon has been heavily delving into exactly how different heel-to-toe drops effect actual stride speed which has resulted in their “Natural Motion Construction.”  A lower heel drop supports a mid-foot or forefoot strike that in turn better enables muscles, instead of joints, to absorb shock. Ultimately, their argument is this builds greater balance and overall running efficiency. More to follow….

Sense Mantra

Sense Mantra