Jo Meek on RUNULTRA

 

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Jo Meek has illuminated the ultra world in the past 18-months placing 2nd at the 28th edition of Marathon des Sables, winning The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica, setting a new course record and an outright win at Iznik Ultra and then placed 5th at the iconic Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa. But it didn’t end…

I caught up with Jo and wrote an article for RUNULTRA on this rising star of our sport.

Please check it out HERE

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Scott T2 Palani (Ladies) Road Shoe Review

Scott T2 Palani_1

Niandi Carmont wanted a special outfit for her 14th Comrades ultra marathon, and why not! If you are going to push the boat out and test yourself (for the 14th time) over just under 90 km’s on the roads from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, you may as well look good, feel good and importantly be comfortable and efficient. Niandi picked up a full running outfit provided by Scott Running and here, Niandi reviews the T2 Palani road shoe.

Niandi Carmont Comrades

Reviews to follow of: Scott eRide Tank, Light Socks and Skort.

Scott is not a brand name widely associated with running but more often than not conjures up images of cycling. Perhaps we need to rethink our preconceived ideas about household brand names. This is the second Scott model I’ve tested although the first road shoe (read the T2 Kinabalu review HERE). The timing was right as I was in pre-Comrades training and looking for a shoe not only for race day but also a shoe to see me through the last couple of months of my race build-up.

Scott T2 Palani_2

The first thing I noticed when I lifted them out of the shoe-box was the weight – at 7.4 oz, this is a lightweight shoe. However it also boasts AeroFoam midsole cushioning which makes it a good compromise in terms of weight and cushioning for the long-distance ultra-runner not seeking to go minimalist. The outsole offers great grip providing great traction on the road, which is a typical Scott shoe feature. Drainage holes on either side of the toe-box keep your feet relatively dry in wet weather conditions. The shoe I tested is a women’s specific fit.

500-meters into my first run I knew that I was going to get on with this shoe. What I like about Scott shoes is the unique patented eRide geometry of their shoes. The rocker shape creates a very stable midstance for a more efficient running style. It might have something to do with the fact that I heel-strike with my right foot and I felt that the shoe helped provide me with a more economical stride. Instead of my heel smacking on the ground, I felt the rocker provided me with more bounce and forefoot lift off. The eRide is a great concept compensating for the lack of sensory feedback and proprioception due to cushioning.

eRide

Scott say about eRide, ‘Get that fleet-footed feeling with our eRide range. The unique rocker shape creates a very stable midstance, promoting the faster and more efficient running style that runners strive for. You`ll be rocking as the miles roll by.’

Basically the unique heel shape causes the foot to roll forward, converting impact energy into forward motion. This is another plus for ultra-runners who irrespective of individual biomechanics will eventually heel strike. Thus the shoe is not only more energy efficient, reducing fatigue through heel striking over long distances but also provides a smoother ride and a more natural midfoot strike.

1. Healthier body position

2. More energy efficient

3. Natural midfoot strike

4. Lower profile heel

5. Smoother ride

6. Minimal and lighter weight

My perceptions of the shoe for this first one-hour training run were thus extremely positive and I subsequently adopted the shoe as my Comrades race shoe. I tested it for every road run over the 2 months preceding Comrades and found that it was a great all-weather road shoe. In very wet road conditions in the UK the drainage holes prevented the shoe from becoming water-logged and in South Africa on the hot tarmac the breathable mesh upper kept my feet relatively cool. Also the grippy outsole on the inside of the arch and the outer side of the toe box provided great grip on wet road.

Scott T2 Palani_3

The toe-box is very roomy even with the narrower female-specific fit and provides ample room for toes to splay or for runners with wider feet. Heel-striking has caused my right arch to collapse slightly. As a result the foot is wider and I often have an issue with chafing as well as a Taylor’s bunion on the outside of my foot which the toe-box accommodated perfectly.

The shoe is neutral with an 11mm drop from heel to forefoot. Cushioning 15mm at the front and 26mm at the rear.

Lastly this shoe is EXTREMELY durable. That is definitely a Scott quality – very little sign of heel wear through heel striking on the outer side of my right foot and this NEVER happens with any other brand of shoe. I’ll definitely get more mileage out of this racing shoe than with other rival products and in the long run (sorry about the pun!) save on my shoe budget!

Scott say, ‘The T2 Palani is a high performance, lightweight neutral trainer and racing shoe for the roads. Unbeatable for anything from short races to marathons as well as all fast training units, it incorporates all essential ingredients of a winning lightweight running shoe.’ 

Tech specs:

Category – Performance

Weight – 210g

Forefoot – 15

Heel – 26

Heel to toe drop -11mm

Technologies

  • eRide
  • eRide flow
  • AeroFoam

Size – US 5-11

Material

  • Upper: Mesh/Synthetic Overlays
  • Lower: EVA/rubber

View the product on Scott Running HERE

Niandi Carmont

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.

Iznik Ultra (in French) – TEMOIGNAGES D’IZNIK ULTRA LE 19 avril 2014

Post by – Niandi Carmont ©

Niandi Carmont & Benoit Laval

Niandi Carmont & Benoit Laval

“Nous courons, non pas parce que nous pensons que ça nous fait du bien, mais parce que nous aimons ça et que nous ne pouvons pas obtenir ce bien-être autrement … Plus notre société et notre travail restreindront notre liberté, plus il sera nécessaire de trouver une issue à cette soif de liberté. Personne ne peut dire, ‘Vous ne devez pas courir plus vite que cela, ou sauter plus haut que cela. » L’esprit humain est indomptable.”

35ème kilomètre, il en reste sept jusqu’à l’arrivée. Je me sens incroyablement fraîche. Heureuse de courir, aucune douleur, pas de baisse d’énergie. J’entre dans un petit village (Müşküle) et mes yeux se remplissent de larmes, impossible de retenir l’émotion qui me gagne.

Coraline Chapatte, 42km

Copyright ©znikultra

Copyright ©znikultra

Devant chaque porte, dans chaque petite ruelle, des villageois assis et qui applaudissent les coureurs qui passent. Ils sont là depuis des heures mais chaque fois qu’un coureur entre dans le village, c’est le même accueil: applaudissements, encouragements. Mais en plus de cela, ces villageois envoient une énergie particulière. Je vous promets, je ne suis pas quelqu’un qui pleure facilement ou qui suis particulièrement émotive, mais en l’espace de 30 secondes j’ai complètement été gagnée par l’émotion.

Et lorsque les enfants ont commencé à tendre leurs petites mains pour que je leur tape dedans et qu’un peu plus loin d’autres enfants se sont mis à courir avec moi, mon visage s’est couvert de larmes.

Vraiment impossible de décrire par des mots ce que j’ai vécu en traversant ce minuscule village. C’est comme si durant ces 800 mètres, j’étais sous l’effet d’un puissant elixir, un elixir d’authenticité et de chaleur humaine.

Benoît Laval, 42km , deuxième homme

Benoit Laval ©iancorless.com

Benoit Laval ©iancorless.com

J’ai trouvé l’organisation de l’Ultramarathon d’Iznik très pro, et les 800 coureurs sur des distances de 10km à 80km sont très bien accueillis. Caner, l’organisateur, a voulu un but au parcours, et c’est un tracé par les crêtes autour du lac d’Iznik, à gauche des montagnes enneigées, à droite le lac. Le parcours est roulant et très abordable. A deux heures d’Istanbul, c’est un formidable prétexte pour aller faire un joli voyage dans cette ville historique au fin fond de l’Europe et traverser le Bosphore pour aller faire ce trail en Asie.

Pour ma part, j’ai fait le 42km, allant faire l’Annapurna Mandala Trail la semaine suivante.

Ce parcours un peu trop roulant n’était pas à l’avantage de mon entraînement moyen, mais je me suis fait plaisir, et j’ai attrapé la 2ème place, la meilleure place que ma forme me permettait. Je retournerais à Istanbul, je retournerais à Iznik…

Jo Meek, 80km, première au classement général

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L’organisation était irréprochable. On m’a très bien accueillie que ce soit à l’inscription à la course ou les soins médicaux pendant la course ou encore l’arrivée. La communauté locale était très impliquée et tout le monde nous encourageait. Le parcours était super bien balisé et les coureurs ont emprunté des petits chemins ainsi que de la piste pour traverser des fermes, des oliviers et ensuite quelques passages sur route. Le climat exceptionnel était idéal pour faire des performances. Sans oublier le paysage spectaculaire – des pics enneigés, le grand lac ….tout cela nous pousser à aller encore plus vite. 

Gallery by iancorless.com © – all rights reserved

Jo Meek Q&A in trailrunnermag.com

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The eyes tell the story—they look through you. Deep in focus, almost blinkered like a horse, Jo Meek has only one purpose. To run as fast and as efficiently as possible over six days and win the 10th edition of the 2014 The Coastal Challenge (TCC) in Costa Rica.

I had seen this look once before, at the end of stage 1 of the 2013 Marathon des Sables in Morocco. Sitting in a bivouac, Meek, 36, of Fair Oak, New Hampshire, had just excelled on the first day of the race. I, like others, looked around in wonder and asked the question, “Who is Jo Meek?”

By the end of that 28th Marathon des Sables, no more questions needed to be asked. Meek placed second at her first Marathon des Sables behind Trail Runner Contributing Editor Meghan Hicks.

Switching from the dunes of the Sahara to the beaches and rainforest of Costa Rica was always going to be a cathartic moment for Meek, particularly when one considered the slated seasoned competition: Julia Bottger, Veronica Bravo and Anna “Frosty” Frost. Unfortunately, Frosty had to withdraw from the race just days before the start. While disappointed at not having the opportunity to test herself against one of the best female mountain-ultrarunners in the world, Meek was unfazed: “It changes nothing. I am here to race and race hard. I would have loved to have Anna push me but you know what? I can push myself pretty hard.”

Read the full article HERE

Jo Meek trailrunnermag.com

Britton & Meek talk Iznik Ultra

iznik LogoIznik, formerly known as Nicea is situated on a beautiful lake in the province of Bursa some 2.5 hours from Istanbul. An important center for Roman and Byzantine times, Iznik has a rich history.

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The city was once surrounded by a stone wall some 14,520ft in circumference. Although this wall remains it has been punctured to allow road access.

From a tourist perspective Iznik has much to offer; peace, tranquility, an insight into local culture and of course some significant monuments such as the Yenise Gate, St Sophia Cathedral (Orhan Ghazi Mosque) and the Green Mosque (Yesil Camil) named after it’s wonderful green tiles.

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Iznik also has an archaeological museum that contains mostly glass and Roman objects. In addition to this history, Iznik is also famous for tile manufacturer and Olives. Tiles from Iznik have been used to decorate many a mosque, particularly in Istanbul.

Iznik Lake provides a backdrop to the Iznik Ultra series of races. It is appropriate that each race should include such a historically important natural feature. Great courses, demanding terrain, small un-spoilt villages and plenty of climbing (at least in the early stages) makes Iznik a great location for racing and leisure.

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In just two weeks time, runners will travel from around the world and congregate on the shores of the lake for a weekend of competitive racing. I caught up with Robbie Britton (inov-8) and Jo Meek (Scott Running) and asked them a few questions about this journey into the unknown..

Jo Meek, The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek, The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

1. What is the attraction to travelling to Turkey?

RB: Turkey is one of the countries in Europe that has been on my list to visit for a number of years now and running a race is by far the best way to see as much as possible! Turkey’s culture and history, alongside the rugged, mountainous landscape for the Iznik ultra is really attractive to me.

JM: It’s a place that I haven’t been to before so that is really appealing. I feel very fortunate that a passion such as running is providing me with this great opportunity.

2. Are you aware on an ultra scene in Turkey… what do you think the competition will be like?

RB: I’ve met a couple of Turkish ultra runners in the UK but I didn’t know much about the ultra running scene in Turkey. I like competition so I am really looking forward to the opportunity to race on new terrain against new competition.

JM: No, I wasn’t specifically aware of any races held in Turkey but I did not imagine for a moment that it would not have a running scene. I regard to competition, I never underestimate anyone when I race, especially when local runners know the tracks and trails first hand.

Robbie Britton, The English Lakes. ©iancorless.com

Robbie Britton, The English Lakes. ©iancorless.com

3. How is your training, have you been doing anything specific?

RB: Looking at the race profile for the Iznik race has made me add a few extra hills to my training, I have been really working on going up and down! I’m currently training in La Palma so hopefully the hills and the sun here will get me ready!

JM: Since returning from the Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica (which Jo won) I have taken a few weeks off to recover, move house and start a new job. I have been learning new run routes; which always makes for runs longer than planned! I have been very specific lately working on my strength for the hills and speed for the flat.

4. Why race distance did you choose this distance?

RB: I’m racing the marathon distance, a little shorter than usual for me but it looks like a tough event! The ups and downs look very similar to the profile at Transvulcania La Palma so I see it as a good chance to race some tough ascents and fly down some steep downhill! 

JM: I have chosen the 80km route because my main goal will be Comrades Ultra (South Africa) in June. The Iznik race provides me with great distance to race over without encroaching too much into the training that proceeds it with fatigue and depletion. 

Robbie Britton. The English Lakes. ©iancorless.com

Robbie Britton. The English Lakes. ©iancorless.com

5. Do you plan to do a little sight seeing, what interests you?

RB: As someone who studied Archaeology at university, I hope to be able to see some of the fantastic sites that Turkey has to offer. I just hope there isn’t anything on the race route that causes me to stop and forget about the race! I’m also looking forward to travelling through Istanbul as it strikes me as a city with a lot of life and excitement!

JM: I would love to see more of the country whilst given this opportunity to visit but unfortunately my annual leave entitlement is exhausted. I remember being dragged around Ephesus as a small child and secretly being totally impressed by such a place so I know Turkey has a lot to offer but I’m sure I’ll return. 

Jo Meek, The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica. ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek, The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica. ©iancorless.com

6. What’s next on the calendar after Iznik?

RB: A few weeks after Iznik I will be back in the hills for the Transvulcania La Palma 80k Skyrunning race in the island of La Palma. 2014 is the year of the mountains for me!

JM: After Iznik I will continue to train hard and devote myself to Comrades for me and then the Lakeland 50. Two totally different races so a lot of training and adaptation required!

Runners will travel to Turkey on Thursday April 17th and racing starts at midnight Friday 18th for the 131km race. The 80km and classic marathon distance races will commence on Saturday April 19th.

Iznik Profile

Follow the action from the Iznik series of races via:

  • iancorless.com
  • facebook.com/talkultra
  • @talkultra on twitter

If you would like to race this year, it’s not too late… go to www.iznikultra.com and sign up! You wont regret it!

Local knowledge:

Bursa (Turkish pronunciation: [ˈbuɾsa]) is a city in Turkey, located in northwestern Anatolia, within the Marmara Region. It is the fourth most populous city in Turkey and one of the most industrialized metropolitan centers in the country. The city is also the administrative center of Bursa Province.

Bursa was the first capital of the Ottoman State between 1335 and 1413. The city was referred to as Hüdavendigar (meaning “God’s gift”) during the Ottoman period, while a more recent nickname is Yeşil Bursa (meaning “Green Bursa”) in reference to the parks and gardens located across its urban fabric, as well as to the vast and richly varied forests of the surrounding region. The ski resort of Mount Uludağ towers over it. The mountain was called the Mysian Olympus by the Romans who lived there before. Bursa has rather orderly urban growth and borders a fertile plain. The mausoleums of the early Ottoman sultans are located in Bursa and the city’s main landmarks include numerous edifices built throughout the Ottoman period. Bursa also has thermal baths and several museums, including a museum of archaeology.

The shadow play characters Karagöz and Hacivat are based on historic personalities who lived and died in Bursa. Bursa is also home to some of the most famous Turkish dishes such as İskender kebap, specially candied marron glacés, peaches and Turkish Delight. Bursa houses the Uludağ University, and its population can claim one of the highest overall levels of education in Turkey. The historic towns of İznik (Nicaea), Mudanya and Zeytinbağı are all situated in Bursa Province.

Reference ©wikipedia

Top Brits head to Turkey for the Iznik Ultra race series, April 2014

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Now in its third year, the Iznik series of races in Turkey are assembling a strong UK contingent of runners to race over the marathon, 80km or 130km distances, featuring Jo MeekRobbie BrittonTracy DeanStu Air and Marcus Scotney. With several races on offer, Robbie Britton and Stu Air will race the marathon distance, Tracy Dean and Jo Meek the 80km and Marcus Scotney the 130km.

Map

Surrounded by eight countries, Turkey has significant geographical importance as it is at a crossroads with Europe and Asia. The noise and colour from an over populated Istanbul are completely contradicted by the sublime tranquility of Iznik, situated on a beautiful lake. Don’t get me wrong! Istanbul is remarkable; it’s an exciting place and certainly, any journey to this region should at least include one-day sight seeing around the old town. The Fire Tower, the Blue MosqueHippodromeGrand Bazaar and Sultanhamet Square; believe me, there is no shortage of things to do.

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Located in Bursa, on the banks of Lake Iznik, Caner Odabasoglu and his team have worked tirelessly to make the Iznik Races not only the premier event in Turkey but also with the 130km race, they also have the longest single stage race in the whole of the country.

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Running and particularly, Ultra running is not a big sport in this region, to that end, Caner with the help of the Iznik community have continually worked hard to put the races and the local community on the running map.

Profile

Using the Iznik Lake as a backdrop, all the races utilize the local terrain to not only provide a beautiful course but also a challenging course. All the elevation comes in the first 80 km’s, so, the marathon and the shorter ultra are very much about going up and down on trails that vary from single-track to wide rutted farm roads. From the town of Soloz (appx 67km) the course flattens and follows the Iznik Lake in a circular route tracing the perimeter to arrive back at the start some 130 km’s later.

Jo Meek ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek (Scott Running) fresh from a victory at The Coastal Challenge multi-day race in Costa Rica has been eagerly awaiting this trip, I have been to Turkey before but only the touristic bits so travelling to Turkey this time to run through the areas I wouldn’t otherwise see holds a lot of appeal. See the culture as I experience the highs and lows of the countryside is a privilege anywhere but especially as a guest in a foreign country.”

Tracy Dean - inov-8

Tracy Dean – inov-8

Jo is right, racing in Turkey is a great opportunity to combine so many different elements, of course the opportunity to test oneself against new competition but also to see a new place and explore a new culture, Iznik has a wonderful history. The Aphasia Mosque amongst others for example intrigues me and it will be amazing to see the architecture of the Hoffman period. I am interested in seeing the tiles that Iznik has a reputation for producing. The main attraction though… food, ha ha to have Turkish delight and fish kebab will be a real treat, just not both on the same dish.” Explained Tracy Dean (inov-8).

Marcus Scotney - Montane

Marcus Scotney – Montane

Marcus Scotney (Montane) recently won the ‘Challenger’ race at The Spine in the UK, “I wasn’t aware of an ultra scene in Turkey, I hadn’t looked into opportunities until I heard about the Iznik ultra. I’m sure the competition will be very tough, especially from local people who will know the route and what the trails are like.”

Robbie Britton - inov-8

Robbie Britton – inov-8

Robbie Britton (inov-8) backs this up, “I’ve met a couple of Turkish ultra runners in the UK but I didn’t know much about the scene in Turkey itself. I like competition so hopefully there will be a few guys to enjoy the hills with and we can push each other along.“

Robbie has a reputation for running long and fast, he has represented GB at the 24-hour distance, however, in Iznik he will race the shorter (but hillier) marathon race, “I’m racing the marathon distance this time, a little shorter than usual but it looks like a tough event! The ups and downs look very similar to the profile at Transvulcania on the island of La Palma so I see it as a good chance to race some tough ascents and fly down some steep downhill’s!”

Stu Air - Ronda dels Cims

Stu Air – Ronda dels Cims

Stu Air (Scott Running) equally has gained a reputation for racing tough, technical and long events; in 2013 Stu had great results at Ronda dels Cims in Andorra and the tough Tor des Geants. Fresh from a top-10 placing at MSIG50 in Hong Kong, Stu too has chosen the marathon distance race, “I have chosen the Mountain Marathon 42km course, as I feel that this distance will help me focus on my weakness (speed) over some of the longer races. I have several races in 2014 which are 100-miles. Transvulcania (80km) on the island of La Palma is a few weeks after Iznik too, so I thought this race would be perfect to help me in preparation for this longer race.”

Caner and the team

Caner and the team

Caner Odabasoglu and the MCR Racesetter Team are passionate ultra runners and have devoted an incredible amount of time, energy and money in creating a stunning weekend of racing on the shores of Iznik Lake. Dedicated to the cause, the 2013 edition will be bigger, better and potentially faster across all three key race distances… watch this space, the Brits are coming!

Race website: HERE

Follow the race at: iancorless.com and on Twitter @talkultra 

Athlete race calendars 2104: 

  • Jo Meek – Iznik Ultra, Comrades (South Africa) and Lakeland 50 (UK) Trail Running Championships.
  • Tracy Dean – Iznik Ultra and Lakeland 50 (UK) Trail Running Championships.
  • Marcus Scotney – Iznik Ultra, British 100km Championships and Ultra Tour of the Peak District (UK).
  • Robbie Britton – Iznik Ultra and Skyrunning Transvulcania La Palma 80km (La Palma).
  • Stu Air – Iznik Ultra, Skyrunning Transvulcania La Palma 80km (La Palma), Hardrock 100 (USA), Skyrunning Kima Trophy 50km (Italy) and Diagonale des Fous 160km (Reunion Island).

Athlete sponsors:

  • inov-8 – HERE
  • Montane – HERE
  • Scott Running – HERE 

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Stuart Air heads to Honk Kong for the MSIG Sai Kung 50

Stuart Air at Ice Trail Tarentaise ©iancorless.com

Stuart Air at Ice Trail Tarentaise ©iancorless.com

Brit, Stuart Air (Scott Running) heads to Hong Kong this weekend to participate in the MSIG Sai Kung 50. Stuart had an incredible 2013, new to Skyrunning, he performed exceptionally well at the very tough Andorra Ultra Trail, Ronda dels Cims with a 13th place. Stuart then followed this up with a top placing at Ice Trail Tarentaise against world class competition.

Post Ronda dels Cims ≠©iancorless.com

Post Ronda dels Cims ≠©iancorless.com

Not content with two tough races, Stuart placed himself on the start line of Tor des Geants. Placing well overall, Stuart set a fastest time for any Brit at the event.

Stuart’s participation at MSIG Sai Kung 50 starts 2014 on the right foot, arguably, Stuart has an incredible year ahead. Hardrock 100 awaits… yes, Stuart was extremely fortunate to be drawn out of the hat and will now line up against one of the most competitive fields ever assembled at the race.

Stuart very much considers himself an Alpinist; embracing the opportunity to go to the mountains, fast and light, Stuart loves vertical and technical terrain.

Coming from a relatively mild but wet UK winter, Stuart feels prepared for the challenge ahead, ‘Training has gone well in the Lake District and Wales’ Stuart said in an interview by Michael Maddess, ‘I have clocked up 60-70 miles and 4000m of vertical per week. The weather has been a challenge, but strong winds, rain and snow all help with the training.’

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LINKS

Scott Trail Rocket Shoe

Scott Trail Rocket

Following on from the extremely successful and popular T2 Kinabalu (review HERE and ladies review HERE) Scott have produced an out and out trail running race shoe aptly named the Trail Rocket.

Sporting many features from the T2 Kinabalu this new incarnation in principal is a completely different beast. The aggressive outsole from the T2 is gone leaving a shoe (and grip) that will fly along on dry and hard pack trail, however, if mud is your thing on first impressions the T2 will be a far better choice.

Scott Trail Rocket SoleFollowing the trend for low drop shoes, the Trail Rocket now has a 5mm heel to toe drop in comparison to the 11mm drop of the T2. However, don’t look at this as an either/ or option. The T2 and Trail Rocket are worlds apart and as such the appropriate shoe should be chosen depending on many factors. I very much see owners of the T2 purchasing the Trail Rocket for faster and shorter sessions and Trail Rocket owners looking to purchase the T2 for longer days when terrain could be very unpredictable.

Scott Trail Rocket UpperThe upper is very breathable with a wide toe box, snug heel compartment that provides a solid and secure fit and importantly, toe protection is good should you have any unwanted encounters with rocks or obstacles on the trail. The shoe is designed to work well with or without socks, the choice is yours. Sizing is true to size, however, if you are going without socks you may want to check what works for you. Lacing is solid and depending on your preferred lacing method the shoe holds firm to the foot and is extremely comfortable. The laces themselves have stretch and once tied hold firm and don’t come loose. Missing from the front of the shoe is the elastic bungee that could hold and retain excess lace (see T2 review). I don’t understand this? It was a simple addition that added no weight but provided a really practical solution to a problem that exists for all runners unless you use Salomon!

Scott Trail Rocket Pair

They are lightweight and versatile trail shoes designed for maximum performance for racing and fast training and as such they won’t appeal to everyone. The minimalistic design in combination with the eRide™ Technology promotes an efficient, natural and fast running style. Arguably, the eRide™ (rocker) is not required for this model of shoe as a 5mm drop will almost certainly mean that your run form should already be good and mid to forefoot landing is normal. However, should you be transitioning to lower drop shoes the eRide™ will help guide you on your way.

eRide

As you would expect, the shoes weigh in at a light 260g (UK9) which is obviously due to the minimalist design and Aerofoam.

Aerofoam

Forefoot cushioning is 17.5 and rear cushioning 22.5 providing a shoe that still provides good cushioning and protection. How far can you run in them? Well it very much depends on your form, adaptation and technique. Without doubt I think we will see many efficient runners covering 100-miles in this shoe, however, for many it will be a great mountain marathon shoe, 50k or 50-mile race option shoe.

Scott Trail Rocket Side

Importantly, the shoe has no rock plate and that my prove an issue for many?

Slipping the shoe on you have that confirmed comfort feeling inherited from the T2 Kinabalu, so, it’s fair to say that if you are a fan of its beefier brother you are going to like the Trail Rocket.

You zip along feeling very light and although this is considered a more minimalist racing shoe, overall comfort is great.

On road it performs exceptionally well, that is a real bonus for many of us who may need to transition to trail either by connecting roads or maybe you need to access trail with a jog to and from home.

On hard trail and rock you fly along. The Trail Rocket has great response and promotes a faster pace… that may or may not be a good thing? Certainly if you are new to ultra racing or looking to complete rather than compete, the Trail Rocket may not be the shoe for you. I would recommend the T2 and use the Trail Rocket for faster training sessions or shorter trail races.

The lack of a rock plate was noticeable when on continued rocky or gnarly ground. It wasn’t an issue or caused any problems, BUT if I was doing a long race over continually tough and technical terrain then this would become a problem and for sure, my feet would be tired. This is not a fault of the shoe, one just needs to choose the appropriate shoe for the terrain and length of session

Ultimately, the Trail Rocket is a great shoe. It doesn’t replace the T2 in any way, in actual fact it compliments it and I therefore I see Trail Rocket owners having a pair of T2’s and vice versa.

Recommended!

Specs:

  • Drop 5mm
  • Upper – mesh with synthetic overlays
  • Lower – eva/ rubber

Scott Running website HERE

Marco De Gasperi – Vertical Kilometer® Hints ‘n’ Tips

Marco De Gasperi ©iancorless.com

Marco De Gasperi is a legend of mountain and Skyrunning. At the age of 16 he gained special permission to climb Monte Rosa with ISF president, Marino Giacometti and a small group of like-minded adrenaline filled mountaineers. It was the birth of Skyrunning.

The rest his history, Marco has six-world titles and a list of victories from races all over the world. Today at 36-years old, Marco is still one of the few runners who can push Kilian Jornet all the way to the line. In 2013 he did just that with an incredible race at Mont-Blanc Marathon and once again at the Dolomites SkyRace.

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Born in Bormio (in the Alps) a hub for skiing and short-track skating. Living at 1200m provided Marco with advantages, however, he only found his true vocation at the age of 10-years. Marco had tried to adapt to Skiing and Nordic Skiing but the reality was soon apparent; he just didn’t have the required size and bulk required to be competitive. The mountains beckoned; daily he would leave the town, climb a peak and return in the same day.

At 12-years old an encounter with Adriano Greco introduced him to the winter past time of ski mountaineering and running in the summer months. Adriano was very much a coach and guide for Marco. He was introduced to a new aspect of sport, a new discipline that was at its birth. In 1994, Marco ran his first Vertical Kilometer® on the slopes of the Matterhorn.

Marco’s knowledge is invaluable in regard to mountains and how to run them! I chatted to the ‘legend’ while he was helping to coach future stars of the sport on a training camp in Portugal

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Do you do any specific training for a Vertical Kilometer®?

My season always includes mountain races and races with plenty of climbing, so, I like to devote myself with specific training in the gym to build strength. For example, I use leg extension, leg press and other exercises such as squats. I also do up and down reps on a large box (60cm high), this is great for strength and endurance. It is also important to apply yourself outside and of course finding a steep incline of 30% and running at a smooth and consistent pace is ideal; it’s difficult to run all the way but I always try.

The Vertical Kilometer® is very demanding and runners incorporate different techniques to reach the summit in the fastest and most efficient way. Hands-on-knees and ‘poles’ are two methods; do you have a preference?

Application very much depends on the individual needs and demands of each runner and the course. For example, you will find many VK specialists come from a Ski Mountaineering background and therefore they are very well adapted and practiced with the use of poles. Certainly, when slopes become much steeper, poles offer an advantage as they help balance the center of gravity and thus provide a more advantageous position. In principal though, I prefer to try and run!

Marco De Gasperi ©iancorless.com

Aerobically it is very easy to just ‘tip over the edge’ with a VK, do you have any special techniques in training to help to pace yourself?

You need to train and understand the muscular and mental aspects that are required to race a VK well. The correct pace is easy to find if your mind is prepared for the challenge ahead. Take long hills in training at an easy pace, try to keep running and enjoy the process have fun! If I don’t have the possibility to train on long steep hills I like to find a short hill that is steep and I do reps at a faster pace than racing… I walk back down to allow recovery and then repeat

Walking for many will be a key element of a successful VK. I am well aware that you will try to run as much as possible. However, do you practice walking?

Long and steep mountains are very difficult, it’s all about efficiency and yes, sometimes it is far more efficient to walk. It’s about balance; I run for as long as possible but a good climber knows when to switch to maintain rhythm and speed. You want to avoid building up too much lactic acid. I consider myself to be a good ‘walker’ and I am happy to switch as and when required. As for practice, no not really, just go out in the mountains and hike. It’s a perfect way to combine fun and training.

Marco De Gasperi ©iancorless.com

You have already mentioned indoor training and strength work. Have you ever trained on a treadmill and what about core and stability training?

Core and stability is very important, without doubt it provides benefits. Every week I do 3-4 sessions of five key exercises to work on this. In regard to a treadmill; it’s not the best way to train for a VK but maybe you have limited options? It can obviously be better than nothing. Just make sure you have it at an incline and work hard.

In regard to particular VK training, is it better to train on shorter or longer mountains; do you have a preference?

I have many years in the sport, in my opinion; I think that too many long mountains are not good for the specific demands of a VK. In particular, as a race approaches keep sessions in the 30-50 minute bracket.

Tricky question for you Marco, other than yourself (obviously) who do you regard to be the best runners at the VK distance?

You are very kind! I am going to split this. Urban Zemmer with poles, Berny Dermatteis without using poles and Valentina Belotti. I guess it comes as no surprise that these runners are all Italian but the records show that they have the fastest times.

Finally Marco, if you had to provide three invaluable tips for running a Vertical Kilometer® what would they be?

  1. Do 6-7 reps 3 times on a trail that is not too steep, rest by walking down.
  2. Make sure you have easier days between hard sessions
  3. To race and perform well on race day, your legs must be very relaxed and recovered.

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Marco De Gasperi is a true champion, not only on the trails and slopes of the mountains but also off them. A gentleman, professional and perfect ambassador for our sport, he gives of his time and experience freely.

As always, it’s a pleasure to speak and learn more about such a wonderful athlete. Thanks Marco!

SWS Vertical Kilometer® Calendar 2014

SPAIN: Transvulcania Vertical Kilometer® – May 8
FRANCE: VK Face de Bellevarde, Val d’Isère – July 11
ITALY: Dolomites Vertical Kilometer®, Canazei – July 18
USA: Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer® – September 12
ITALY:  Vertical Grèste de la Mughéra, Limone sul Garda – October 10

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