VJ Sport Xero 5 Winter Studded Shoe Review

If you read my shoe reviews on this website, you will already know how much I appreciate VJ Sport shoes, the trio of iRock3, XTRM and MAXx for me, set the bar when it comes to running shoes for mud, rock and mountain terrain. I have yet to find shoes by any other brand that matches them… Admittedly, Scott and inov-8 do come close with some recent offerings, in particular the Supertrac RC2 and the Terraultra G270.

In October 2020 I reviewed the Xante by VJ Sport, a winter studded shoe that excelled in snow and ice bringing all the many attributes seen in the MAXx and providing an awesome winter shoe. My only negative of the shoe was a 10mm drop BUT in all honesty, it never impacted on my running experience. I did mention however that a lighter, 8mm drop shoe was available, the XERO 5.

The Xante was a fit 4 with 10mm/20mm cushioning and 20 carbon steel studs, 5mm lugs and weighs in at 336g for my EU44/ UK9.5.

The Xero 5 is a fit 3 with 10mm/18mm cushioning and 20 carbon steel studs, 5mm lugs and weighs in at 294g for my EU44/ UK9.5. A significant weight saving between the two shoes considering the cushioning is only marginally different.

Further Reading:

Ice Running HERE

Winter Running HERE

Embrace Winter HERE

Winter Camping & Fastpacking HERE

The XERO 5 first off looks great in black and orange with a hint of red. Although listed as a fit 3, I personally have found little difference between the Xante and Xero and in all honesty, I would even say the Xero may be a little wider in the toe box? Feels more like a MAXx.

Light, agile and responsive, the Xero are a real pleasure to run in and not at the compromise of comfort.

Like the Xante, the upper is windproof and has a water-resistant upper but it is not insulated. While insulation is not absolutely necessary, it does make more sense, particularly for a winter shoe. Having said that, I compensate by using neoprene socks by inov-8 or Sealskinz. This ensures warm feet, even in the coldest and trickiest conditions.

VJ uses FITLOCK on the upper which provides the most secure and reassuring hold. The upper feels like a part of the foot and not something extra making sure there is no unwanted movement, especially important when running on any technical terrain. Integrated with the shoes lacing system, the FITLOCK tightens the shoe on the inside of the arch and provides incredible hold. It’s the best there is!

The 5mm Butyl outsole lugs grip both in the wet or dry and the addition of the 20 carbon steel studs provides the ultimate reassurance when running in snow and particularly ice. The secret of winter running is to trust the shoe, the outsole and the studs. The studs perform superbly gripping as and when required, the only time for caution is after rain and then a quick freeze. If the ice looks shiny and like water, take care, I have yet to find a winter stud that grips 100% in these conditions. In 99% of cases, the reassured application of your body weight pressing through the shoe and making contact with the ground is what provides the grip.

Sizing is true to size; I use an EU 44 for all VJ shoes and the Xero 5 sizes the same even when using a neoprene sock or thicker merino sock. The lacing system is so good, there is incredible flexibility to loosen or tighten and there is the option to lock lace if required.

Toe protection is excellent and the heel box, as on all VJ shoes is relatively minimal and unpadded but has superb and reassured hold.

IN USE

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

The Xero 5 as with all VJ shoes just holds the foot wonderfully and there is an extra comfort in this incarnation that I have not found in the XTRM or MAXx.

The cushioning is balanced and the 8mm drop ideal. The 10/18 works well allowing feel for the ground without any compromise. Ice running can be tiring but I have found the Xero 5 a pleasure.

The upper does its job protecting from wind and water but insulation would be nice.

Summary

There is nothing not to like in the Xero 5, well, ok, maybe a lack of insulation… Other than a lack of insulation, this VJ offering is everything the Xante was and is but in a lighter and lower-drop package. Of course, winter shoes for many are a luxury, it all depends on how much snow or ice you get. But trust me, if you get regular ice, a specific bespoke shoe for winter running is so much better than any ‘add-on’ micro spikes. You get a true real run feel, and the Xero 5 give me everything that a XTRM would give me but with 20 carbon steel studs. I personally get to run for 3-5 months on snow/ ice so I can expect a pair of winter shoes to last one or two winters, for many though, winter shoes will last several years basically down to the fact that snow and ice does not really impact on the outsole. Just make sure you clean the shoes and dry correctly after use. And don’t worry if you see the studs go rusty, that is normal! 

I have been using five pairs of winter shoes with studs over the last 3-4 months and two are standouts, the Xero 5 being the winner and the Icebug Route a close second.

Light, agile and responsive, the the VJ Sport Xero 5 are a real pleasure to run in and not at the compromise of comfort. The 20 carbon steel studs provide grip in snow and ice conditions all with great cushioning and an 8mm drop. They are a winner!

These shoes were purchased to test, this is not a paid review.

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

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Salomon Rondane 100 Race Summary – 2020

‘We want as many runners as possible to enjoy Norwegian wilderness and Norwegian mountains.’

All images copyright iancorless.com - all rights reserved.

Established in 1962, the Rondane National Park is the oldest national park in Norway. Covering 963 square km’s, the park contains ten peaks above 2000m, the highest peak being Rondeslottet at 2178m.

Folldal, an old mining village, is the hub for the race with the start and finishing taking place in the same location.

Race day started at 0500 and it was clear from the clear skies that a beautiful day lay ahead for the runners. Maybe too good some would say… 

Although a chill penetrated the early morning air, the arrival of the sun and the early miles warmed the runners up quickly and by the 10-mile point, the format of the racing that would come started to take shape.

Pre-race favourite, Sebastian Krogvig did not hold back early on, opening up a 12-minute lead over the hot favourite, Paul Ogier with 10-miles covered.

For the women, Molly Bazilchuk eased herself in to the day, allowing the early miles to save energy and settle, knowing that a big day lay ahead. She was shadowed by Katrine Andersen.

By 0900, with 4-hours covered, the day was already hot and with a long and tough race ahead, the early miles were best taken easy. With five key aid stations, Nygruva, Dørålseter, Straumbu, Breijøseter and Grimsbu, an ability to be self-sufficient for long periods is an essential characteristic of this race.

A land full of reindeer, mining heritage and traces from the last ice-age, Rondane  provides an opportunity to experience 2000m summits that are very unique and it contast to Jotunheimen, completely different both in look and feel.

At Nygruva, Sebastian was well ahead of the predicted pace and although there had been much talk of 20-hours winning the race, based on the first aid station, sub 16 looked possible. Paul Ogier, running his first 100-mile race had recced all but 5km of the 100 route and with that experience, he paced himself allowing Sebastian to run his own race. Behind, Marius Stengle-Håkonsen, Elvind E Gjøystdal, Staffan Bengtsson, Vegard Triseth and Samuel Fredriksson chased.

Molly, was now taking hold of the women´s race and making her way through the men´s race as was Liv Richter.

Marius Stengle-Håkonsen

Dørålglupen, a wonderful gully of rocks was a significant marker in the race and now Sebastian and Molly were showing there strength. By the aid station Dørålster, Sebastian had opened a lead of over 45-minutes on Paul.

Molly pushing up Dørålglupen

Molly was more metronimic, steady and slowly stretching the elastic over the competition. Liv equally looked relaxed using her poles to climb and descend. Inger Aarberg was looking strong, Katrine Anderson looked to paying a price for the early pace with Molly and Kari Forbrigd, Gro Siljan Hjuske and Inger Haugland looked ready for the long fight ahead.

At all times, the landscape was rewarding the runners with spectacular views. Nestles between rolling mountains, the green landscape was broken with single-track, gravel roads and lakes. The intense blue sky contrasting nicely.

Straumbu was a significant aid point and for many, the key aid before the night section with drop bags available. Sebastian arrived but it was clear that all was not well. Post-race he would confirm that his legs had never felt better, but he had somehow managed to get his electrolyte blance wrong… Sitting in a chair, his heart raced. On medical advice, he withdrew from the race.

Paul Ogier now took the reigns at the front. He looked relaxed leaving the aid station and as he climbed through the forest with the golden sun leaving the day, he looked set for Rondane victory. Marius Stengle-Håkonsen pursued, as did Staffan Bengtsson and Elvind E Gjøystdal.

But Molly was looking increasingly strong with the passing of time and it was clear that the predicted overall podium slot was in contention. Behind, Liv and Inger were having a close battle.

Night is always tough. The leaving of one day, the body naturally craves sleep and rest, for the 100 runner, night time is something to be endured, pushed through and the welcome of a new day brings new life. Luckily, Norwegian nights are not as long as in other places!

Paul and Molly would not welcome the new light on the course, they would both finish their runs in darkness, 20:59:23 and 22:39:07 respectively. Marius would split them in 2nd place overall in 21:42:29. For Molly, it was a 3rd overall placing; an incredible run.

Staffan Bengtsson rounded out the male podium in 24:00:02, placing 4th overall.

Liv fought hard for her 2nd place in 25:26:27…. So hard, she collapsed at the finish and was taken to hospital with a potential stress fracture or kidney issues. It was later confirmd to be kidney issues brought on by a hot day, dehydration and well, running 100-miles! Inger Aaberg completed the women´s podium in 27:33:42.

Coronavirus has stopped racing globally, the impact has been huge. But here, in Norway, a relatively low-key race brought a fierce battle over a truly incredible and beautiful course. 

How beautiful? Well, in some respects, the story of one participant sums it up. He unfortunately took a tumble on the rocks and broke his ankle. After receiving medical attention, he waited for a helicopter rescue and cheered on the runners. Due to demands on the five helicopters that cover the area, he had a long wait… Finally, when back in Folldal, race director Erik Haugland, apologised for the delay. The response was clear, ´Don´t be silly… If you are going to break an ankle, I did it in a perfect place. The scenery was incredible, the waether glorious and I got to cheer on the competitors. I will be back next year!´

Full results are available at racetracker.no

VIEW THE RACE IMAGES HERE

IMAGES CAN BE PURCHASED HERE

Top 5 Male and Female:

  1. Paul Ogier
  2. Marius Stengle-Håkonsen
  3. Staffan Bengtsson
  4. Elvind  E Gjøystdal
  5. Sanuel Fredriksson
  1. Molly Bazilchuk
  2. Liv Richter
  3. Inger Aaberg
  4. Kari Forbrigd
  5. Gro Siljan Hjuske

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

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com

Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com

Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® 2017 Summary – Tromso SkyRace

Starting from the sea and climbing directly to the 1044m of the summit of Store Blamann, the highest summit on Kvaloya island, the Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® is everything a Skyrunning race should be and the route personifies the sea-to-summit concept.

The terrain twists and turns with a variety of mixed terrain – early stage are soft boggy ground. Huge slabs of rock follow, interspersed with snow and ice, the terrain at times require low grade climbing to cover – it is a race that requires ‘hands-on’ scrambling.

Just 20 minutes from Tromso, the Blåmann Vertical Kilometer® is a race that anyone can try and it’s a wonderful introduction to Skyrunning.

Kilian playing on the course as he waited for the first runners.

As expected, the newly crowned Skyrunning World Champion, Stian Angermund dictated the pace and the race on the steep slopes from the sea. He paced himself early on and then opened a lead over second placed man, Alexis Sevennec.

“I took the early stages early and then as the terrain became more challenging, I started to push and open up a gap,” said Angermund after the race. “I felt very good today but may time is slower despite perfect conditions. I am not sure why? I think it may be because I am preparing for some longer races… today was a magic day though, the views were amazing!”

It was a glorious sunny day of blue skies and void of clouds. By the midway point, Stian had a clear lead over Frenchman, Sevennec who looked strong but Angermund was in his own race as he ran all the gradients.

At the summit, Angermund crossed the line in 36:59, Sevennec trailed by 1-min 45-seconds and Pierre Mettan rounded at the podium with a convincing lead over Julien Ançay and Adam Jensen.

The ladies race once again turned into a ‘nail biter’ as Eli Anne and Emelie Forsberg traded blows. “I am a runner, not a scrambler,” said Anne after the race. “I was leading and then as the terrain became more technical, Emelie passed me. We were neck-and-neck and then I made a surge in the closing meters and passed Emelie – it was so close!”

Therese Sjursen who is a VK specialist ran a solid race for 3rd ahead of Hilde Aders who recently made the podium at the recent Dolomites SkyRace. Rounding out the top-5 was Anita Iversen Lilleskare also from Norway make 4 of the top-5 Norwegian,

  1. Eli Anne Dvergsdal – idrettsutøvar – NOR – 45’58”
  2. Emelie Forsberg – SWE – 45’59”
  3. Therese Sjursen – NOR – 47’21”
  4. Hilde Aders – NOR – 48’22”
  5. Anita Iversen Lilleskare – NOR – 48’28”

 

  1. Stian Angermund – NOR – 36’59”
  2. Alexis Sévennec – FRA – 37’46”
  3. Pierre Mettan – SUI – 40’37”
  4. Julien Ançay – SUI – 42’03”
  5. Adam Jensen – USA – 42’45”

Attention now turns to tomorrow and the Tromsø SkyRace® which will start at 0800 Saturday August 5th. You can read a full race preview HERE.