Scarpa SPIN Shoe Review

I have used Scarpa shoes and boots in the past and have always been impressed with the mountain pedigree the brand has. So, I was very welcome to receive the SPIN and the SPIN ULTRA for testing. 

The SPIN, in the words of Scarpa say, ‘… with more cushion and protection than the Atom, but a lighter, lower-profile design than the Neutron, the new Spin is the Goldilocks of our Alpine Running collection, for those who want both support and simplicity on rugged trails and craggy ridge lines.

I will discuss and write about the SPIN ULTRA at a later date.

The SPIN is noticeably light (252g for EU42) and flexible. From the first look one can immediately see that this is a race or fast training shoe designed for a mountain environment. For sure, it’s a trail shoe, but I would extend that to be a mountain/ alpine shoe. It has ‘skyrunning’ written all over it and certainly from initial outings it immediately felt like VK’s and SkyRace (sub 42km) terrain would sit perfectly in the SPIN list of ‘go to’ uses.

The upper is mesh and therefore very breathable, structure and support of the upper comes from welded PU overlay. One of the plus sides of this, as in other shoes using this method, there are no seams that can cause irritation or rubbing inside the shoe.

 The lacing is substantial with 5 sets of eyelets and the additional 6th eyelet should you wish to lace-lock. With a comfortable and padded auto fit tongue which extends slightly higher than other shoes I have tested, this is perfect for stopping any discomfort where the top of one’s foot joins the lower leg. There is a ‘lace-garage’ which is so obviously great, I have never understood why all run shoes do not use this method, or at least something similar.

 The heel is padded and plush and really holds the foot with comfort and security. Very noticeable when running or hiking uphill is the hold the shoe gives; it is very reassuring.

It has a ‘sock-like’ fit (SOCK-FITLW by Scarpa) which is just perfect as it provides a wonderful, secure and comfy hold of the foot.

The toe box is well shaped, allows for toe splay but the SPIN is more of a ‘precision’ shoe designed for technical trail and as such it has a narrower fit but not very narrow. Certainly, if you need or require a wide toe box, the SPIN is unlikely to be for you, but you should try it… It has a toe bumper which provides some protection from contact with rocks or debris.

With a 4mm drop one needs to be a more efficient runner. It’s a shoe with cushioning (24mm/20mm) but not excessively so, hence I see that is a shorter/ mid-distance shoe. The midsole is EVA and I would say is on the firmer side, but after several runs one can feel it soften without compromising the shoe. It has a rock-plate, and this works really well offering great protection via a H-EVA Plate.

 The outsole is Vibram which is known throughout the world. MegaGrip is extremely popular and although aggressive, it is not extremely aggressive. It can handle mud but not really sloppy stuff. Then again, very little shoes can do well at everything. If running in lots of mud, there would be better outsoles than this. But the MegaGrip is perfect for the SPIN intentions – mountains, ridges, trails, rocks in wet or dry conditions. The lugs are 4mm and quite spaced out. Grip is very good on a wide variety of surfaces, but it works best on rock, ridges, loose gravel and soft ground. You will see the the SPIN has cut outs in the sole and here you can clearly see the rock-plate. The cut aways help reduce weight and increase the flexibility of the shoe. This is noticeable, especially in the propulsive phase.

The SPIN comes with two foot beds. One minimalist and the other providing more cushioning and structure. This is a great idea! I personally used the more structured foot bed which secured the rear of my foot more. Switching between the foot bed really changes the feel of the shoe, so, if you prefer something more minimal. You will prefer the thinner of the two.

 Sizing is true to size, I use an EU44 and these fitted as expected.

IN USE

 The SPIN has great comfort and the sock-like fit is just perfect. The lacing system is superb at holding the foot and it is easy to adjust should you need. For example, I have a high instep, so I like to loosen my laces but not at the compromise of a secure foot hold. The addition of the the 6th eyelet allows for different lacing options; I didn’t need to lock lace as the foothold form the SPIN is so good. The lace garage is perfect for getting laces out of the way. One of the revelations is the heel area. It’s plush, extremely comfortable and is arguably the best hold I have had from any shoe. Climbing there is no movement or slipping. 

The upper is very breathable and my feet were comfy in either wet conditions or hot conditions. Drainage is good. The welded overlay is adequate and provides good stability. Toe bumper could be better, but it is a minor complaint.

On technical trail, foot roll is minimal, but the SPIN does have a wasp like (figure of 8) shape and so depending on your foot shape, you could have some roll? I had no roll at all. I got no issues with the SPIN rubbing my ankles, a problem I have had with other shoes on technical terrain, this is a real plus!

Cushioning is on the harder side and lacks life and bounce but that is compensated for with great flex, especially in the propulsive phase. Also, you have two foot bed options and the more padded/ supported option was a real boost for me. They are very comfortable shoes. 

The MegaGrip outsole works really well on a whole mix of terrain, wet or dry. But it works best on soft-ground, rocks and technical trail. Protection is very good but occasionally, you may find a stone getting in one of the gaps in the cutaways of the sole. It will not stay there, but if it is sharper, you may just feel it through the rock-plate.

CONCLUSION 

I have been using Scarpa for many years, the Charmoz a personal favourite. But I have never used a run shoe from the brand. The SPIN has been a revelation and certainly for runs up to 4-hours on technical/ mountainous routes, it’s a shoe I will use time and time again. The overall package is excellent combing lightweight, responsiveness, feel for the ground, cushioning, great comfort and excellent grip in most scenarios. It’s a shoe for faster training or racing in the mountains.  

Highlights come from excellent lacing, the sock-like fit, the shoes weight and the heel box.

There is little not to like in the SPIN. It is more of a precision shoe, but the fit is not as narrow as others, so, you would need to try them on to find out if they would work for you.

The only negative, for me, is the cushioning is a little hard and lacks a little life. It is a minor point and actually does not impair how the shoe performs, however, for some, it may influence how enjoyable the SPIN is to wear. 

Specs: 

  • 4mm drop
  • 252g for EU42
  • Upper Mesh w/ welded PU overlay
  • Insole H-EVA Plate
  • Midsole EVA-CM
  • Outsole Vibram Fixion/ MegaGrip
  • Cushioning 24mm/20mm
  • Sock like fit
  • Lace storage
  • Medium cushioning and protection
  • Choice of insoles

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Transgrancanaria 2020 Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ones to watch:

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

Elite list here

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

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

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

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

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

Ones to watch:

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

Elite list here

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Lanzarote Training Camp 2020 – Day 4

It was a double run day today in Lanzarote starting at 0800 with a really great 9-miles with sunrise with trails along the coast leading to the volcanoes around the village of Soo and then a re-route back down to Club La Santa.

We then had a very quick turnaround to a 2-hour presentation by Running Reborn coach, Shanne Benzie. Shane is a the forefront of discussing and analysing run technique to increase performance and reduce injury, as usual it was fascinating.

A break for lunch and then the afternoon was split in to two 2-hour sessions.

Groups 1 and 2 remained on the run track and had analysis with Shane Benzie while groups 2 and 4 ran along the coast to play on one of the volcanoes climbing to the summit and descending.

You can move around the video image by using the toggle button that appears on the left of the video screen.

And then coasteering one of the technical paths returning back to Club La Santa.

Back at Club La Santa, the groups swapped with 3/4 remaining on the track with Shane and 1/2 heading out on the trails.

The day concluded at 7pm with everyone exhausted and exhilarated after a very full day.

Dates for our 2021 Camp will be announced soon HERE

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Royal Ultra SkyMarathon Gran Paradiso 2019 Summary

With 10-peaks to ascend and descend over a 55km course and 4141m of vertical gain, the Royal Gran Paradiso Ultra SkyMarathon is not an easy race, not by any stretch of the imagination. But add more snow, in comparison to the 2017 edition, searing heat and intense competition, it was fair to say that every runner who toed the line in the 9th race of the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series knew they had been in a tough edition of the race.

Starting at 0630, Andre Jonsson pushed the early pace ahead of Pere Aurell, Gautier Airiau,  Ruy Ueda, Cristian Minoggio, Hannes Hamberger, Dani Jung, Andy SymondsBenat Marmisolle and more. With the second peak coming at around 12km with just over 2-hours elapsed on the clock, they were all separated by minutes, each matching each others moves.

By contrast, in the women’s race, Myriam Guillot Boisset took a surprise strong lead ahead of pre-race favourite, Ragna Debats with Antoniya Grigorova chasing.

The summit of Colle della Porta at 3002m saw some key changes with the two early powerhouses of Andre and Pere showing signs of fatigue. It was Gautier Airiau who pushed the pace in the snow looking fast and impressive.

Now, we were seeing Cristian Minoggio and Ruy Ueda show their form as they worked through the field along with Hannes Hamberger, Andy Symonds and Dani Jung.

Myriam still led the women’s race but Ragna looked in control keeping her pace consistent, behind, Antoniya Grigorova chased followed by a group of four that included Oihana Azkorbebeitia and Silvia Puigarnau.

As the race moved into the latter third, Cristian Minoggio had taken the lead with Ruy, Gautier and Hannes hunting him down. Unfortunately Andre and Pere were now struggling, the duo both having bad days, but they did not give in, they both battled to the finish.

Ragna had now taken the lead for the women and the writing was on the wall, but, there was still a long way to go and the heat was getting hotter and hotter.

The 55km course wound through the Gran Paradiso National Park in the royal hunting grounds, hence the ‘Royal’ title. After starting at a lake at an altitude of 2000m at 0630am, the participants had traversed five passes with the magnificent Gran Parasido mountain providing a stunning backdrop towering over the race at 4061m. Moraine, rocks, streams and snowfields provided an ultimate extreme challenge but the end finally came to a conclusion next to the lake in Ceresole Reale.

Cristian Minoggio held off a late surge by Gautier Airiau, the duo crossing the line in 6:50:04 and 6:51:01 respectively.

Ruy Ueda completed the podium in 6:56:49 with Hannes Hamberger and Andy Symonds having a late surge to place 5th.

Ragna Debats flew over the course and in the process set a new course record, 7:52:40. Myriam Guillot Boisset most certainly was the courageous runner of the day having battle alone up front for so long, she obviously payed the price in the latter stage but her second place was well earned in 8:14:53. Third place went to Oihana Azkorbebeitia in 8:45:35 with Antoniya Grigorova and Silvia Puigarnau placing 4th and 5th.

FULL IMAGE GALLERY WILL BE LOADED HERE

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Monte Rosa Skymarathon 2019 Preview

“If you build it, they will come”

– the famous line from the movie ‘Field of Dreams’ with Kevin Costner.

The term has been used time and time again as a metaphor for reaching out, taking a risk and fulfilling a dream. Well, in 2018, Marino Giacometti and Lauri van Houten did just that! They harked back to the roots and the glory days of skyrunning and the race and mountain that created the sport that we all now know today.

It was in Alagna, on the slopes and summit of Monte Rosa that Marino pioneered the approach of ‘fast and light!’ It’s a simple concept, start in the town, go to the summit as fast as possible, turnaround and then run back.

1993, starting at 1192m in Alagna and reaching the Margherita Hut at 4554m and on the way passing Bochetta delle Pisse at 2396m, Indren Cable Car 3260m. Gnifetti Hut 3647m and finally the Colle del Lys at 4250m before the lung bursting summit.

It is pure skyrunning.

And today, the Monte Rosa Skymarathon retraces that pioneering route to spend time in less cloud and more sky.

It’s a route for the experienced only and unlike 1993, the race now requires teams of two, pioneered last year in the 1st edition. Snow fields, glaciers, exposed landscape the steep climb and descent of a couloir and all the time pushing the body and mind to the limit.

In the individual records date back to 1994 when skyrunning legends Fabio Meraldi and Gisella Bendotti completed the outa and back journey in 4:24 and 5:34 respectively.

 

Last year, 2018, the team of Franco Collé / William Boffelli completed in a stunning 4:39:59. The mixed pair team of Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg completed in 5:03:56 – in the process, Emelie set the fastest time for woman.

The stage is now set for 2019 and the 2nd edition of the Monte Rosa Skymarathon, the route as in 2018 will be a full recreation of the 1993 original race with a total distance of 35km and 3500m+ and 3500m-.

From the Indren cable car station, teams (2-people) must be roped with: UIAA 105 approved harness, UIAA 101 approved 8 mm diameter dynamic rope 10m long, UIAA 128 approved rope with two carabiners, micro metal crampons must be worn and ski or cross country poles must be carried.

Top international athletes including skyrunning stars – past and present – and ski mountaineering champions will arrive in Alagna aiming to challenge the incredible records set by those before them. But records only tell part of the story, for a skyrunner or ski mountaineer, this race is more than a race, it’s a journey through time, it’s the purest form of the sport, a hark back to the roots and just toeing the line is a great achievement.

New for 2019 is the AMA VK2 – The course starts and finishes in Alagna Valsesia, 1,192m. It passes by the Bocchetta delle Pisse, 2,396m and summits at the Indren cable car station, 3,260m for a distance of 11 km and a total 2,080m vertical climb. The race takes place on mountain trails with demanding uphill sections, exposed areas, steep pastures and scree and snow fields, possibly subject to severe environmental and weather conditions.

A list of entrants for both races can be found HERE

Due to the nature of the events, equipment requirements are strict HERE

PROGRAM

FRIDAY 21 JUNE, PALAZZETTO DELLO SPORT, ALAGNA

10.00 Race Office opens

Registration, bib and race pack collection

18.00 Mandatory Briefing

19.00 Race Office closes

SATURDAY 22 JUNE, PIAZZA GROBER

6.00 Monte Rosa Skymarathon race start

In case of unfavourable weather conditions the race may be shortened to finish at Colle del Lys or postponed to Sunday, 23 June

08:30 AMA VK2 starts

10.30 Arrival of first athletes of Monte Rosa Skymarathon in Alagna.

On-site podium ceremony of first three men and first three women

16.00 Award ceremony – Palazzetto dello Sport

RACE WEBSITE HERE

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Ultra Trail Stara Planina 2019 Race Summary – Serbia skyrunning

Stara Planina which roughly translates to ‘Old Mountain’ is known to many as The Balkan mountain range which is in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The highest peaks of the Balkan Mountains are in central Bulgaria. Botev at 2,376 m the highest. On the border between Bulgaria and Serbia, the Balkan range runs 560 km from the Vrashka Chuka Peak eastward through central Bulgaria to Cape Emine on the Black Sea.

Stara Planina, one of the most beautiful and most authentic nature reserves that hides the highest mountain peak in Serbia – Midžor at 2,169 meters above sea level. Endless stretches of untouched nature, vast mountain pastures and forests rich in forest fruit and herbs, picturesque villages and interesting folklore.

Ultra Trail Stara Planina kicked off on Friday at midday with the 130km race which has a whopping vertical gain of 5870+. It was a race which was enveloped in mist and rain, but the relentless rain and storms that were forecast, thankfully did not appear.

On Saturday at 0700 three other races that make up Ultra Trail Stara Planina started from the Stara Planina ski resort – 36km with 2370+ the 57km 2350+ and 94km 3890+. The latter race would run till the early hours of Sunday morning and all other races would conclude on Saturday.

Saturday was a mixed bag of weather with dense fog and mist lasting through to midday and then an afternoon of glorious sunshine that allowed the amazing landscape that this area has to offer to finely shine through.

400 runners from over 25 countries assembled to experience Ultra Trail Stara Planina.

This area is a hidden gem. It’s remote, beautiful and wild. To run here, one feels truly remote and isolated from the outside world. The only glimpses of life coming from remote villages where time has stood still. Gostuša talking to a woman in her late sixties, she had never ventured from her village – she told me of how a now derelict building was once a disco. It’s hard to imagine that some 50-years ago a disco was required in a small isolated village. What was a local shop, now boarded up, closed and crumbling to the ground – the demand for supplies making the shop redundant as over the years, villagers have moved away leaving just 20 residing.

To experience the ‘real’ life of a place, one gains an insight into a journey. If it wasn’t for running and adventure, maybe these gems of Serbia would disappear completely?

Posters pasted on walls notify the passing of loved ones and it’s hard not to feel a little sad that in year’s to come, no posters will be posted as the locals, the core of the community will have all disappeared leaving ghost towns in the mountains.

Green lush vegetation with winding trails interweave through this area providing relentless challenging terrain that continuously goes up and down.

Then the arrival of a village, refreshment, a chance to stop, replenish and refuel before heading back out to experience more of the wilds of Serbia.

This area is very inaccessible by vehicle, just 10km’s can take over a hour by a 4×4 vehicle – the runners therefore are truly privileged to experience a testing and challenging journey with the experience of summiting the highest peak of Midžor at 2,169 meters above sea level. To get there though, this year, they had to experience dense mist and snow on the course.

Topli Do a hidden gem like Gostuša but there is more life here, the village is bigger and although much is falling down and wasting away, it has a raw and natural beauty.

Runners here arrive from different directions with Marshalls ever vigilant to ensure that they go in the correct direction.

A highlight, depending on which race you are running, is a technical descent from Midžor or equally, a technical climb for the 130km runners.

In the village of Gostuša an old hall is used as a major aid station where drop bags, a change of clothes and warm food is available.

Finally, for all races, Plaža signifies the final section of the race with stunning views over the mountains and for those who have time to stop, they can look back and trace the journey they have travelled.

Stara Planina ski resort, for all races signifies the end of a truly epic day or days in the heart of the Serbian landscape. The journey of 36km, 57km, 94km or 130km over.

Results:

130km

1 – Nedjalkov Balazs
2 – Jovica Spajić
3 – Danijel Loncarević

WOMEN RESULTS
1 – Nela Lazarević
2 – Ivona Velimirović
3 – Ivana Stanković

94km

1 – Dusan Bazic
2 – Duško Momić
3 – Mariya Nikolova

WOMEN RESULTS
1 – Mariya Nikolova
2 – Cecilia Papay-Sar
3 – Kristina Radović

57km

1 – Dejan Todevski
2 – Filip Todorovski
3 – Dimitar Todorovski

WOMEN RESULTS
1 – Snezana Djuric
2 – Agata Labedzka
3 – Tatjana Jovanović

36km

1 – Srdjan Mate
2 – Marko Popin
3 – Marko Ilic

WOMEN RESULTS
1 – Marija Djordjević
2 – Alana Munnik
3 – Lidija Radulovic

FULL RESULTS HERE

IMAGE GALLERIES AVAILABLE HERE

*****

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Ultra Trail Stara Planina 2019 Preview

Oldest, highest and biggest trail race in Serbia, the Ultra Trail Stara Planina kicks off this Friday, with the 130km race which has a whopping vertical gain of 5870+.

The following races start 0700 Saturday.

36km with 2370+ 

57km 2350+

94km 3890+

Surrounded by Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia based at Stara Planina has a growing presence in the trail and skyrunning world.

Stara Planina, the hub for the weekend of racing is in driving distance of Belgrade and a multitude of flight options that allow the possibility to explore this area.

Stara Planina which roughly translates to ‘Old Mountain’ is known to many as The Balkan mountain range which is in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. On the border between Bulgaria and Serbia, the Balkan range runs 560 km from the Vrashka Chuka Peak eastward through central Bulgaria to Cape Emine on the Black Sea. The highest peaks of the Balkan Mountains are in central Bulgaria. The highest peak is Botev at 2,376 m, which makes the mountain range the third highest in the country, after Rila and Pirin.

Endless stretches of untouched nature, vast mountain pastures and forests rich in forest fruit and herbs, picturesque villages and interesting folklore. That is the true picture of Stara Planina, one of the most beautiful and most authentic nature reserves that hides the highest mountain peak in Serbia – Midžor at 2,169 meters above sea level.

Mt. Stara planina the most beautiful part of Eastern Serbia and it was declared a natural treasure of great importance. This mountain is known for its mild climate, clean air, springs of hot mineral water, while the park “Stara planina” spreads on 142.000 acres.

Zavojsko lake, one of the most beautiful and clearest mountain lakes, lies at the foot of Stara planina. The lake abounds in fish, and passionate fishermen along the bank of the lake assure us that this truly is the best location for catching pike, catfish and carp.

Action starts on Friday with the 130 km race starting at noon (12.00) at the Vidlič mounting hut (from the Pirot side).

The 36, 57 and 94 km races start on Saturday, June 1st at 7:00 AM at Hotel Stara Planina. It is estimated that the fastest 130 km runner should arrive at approximately 0700.

Two runners who will have many eyes on them are Jovia Spajic and Maria Nikolova Miteva who placed 9th at UTMB in 2018.

Race Website HERE

The races are organised by Serbian Skyrunning Association – a team of enthusiasts with an idea to contribute in development, recognition and promotion of skyrunning sport, high altitude ultra-marathon and  other endurance sports, as well as the development, recognition and promotion of sport and mountain tourism in Serbia and the region. HERE

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Trofeo Kima 2018 on IRUN4ULTRA

“For over twenty years, ‘Kima’ as it is affectionately known, has blown the minds and the legs of all those lucky enough to toe the line. This is a race that one aspires too; you need to earn a place on the entry line. The challenge comes no greater. The race is like a precious jewel, hidden away for fear of someone stealing it. Kima is not for everyone, but if you have the experience and the courage, the Sentiero Roma rewards each who ventures on to its tough and technical terrain.” – Ian Corless

READ THE STORY HERE

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Trofeo Kima 2018 – Summary and Images

Kilian Jornet takes back the record at the Kima Trophy with a supreme effort. Equaling the record of Mario Poletti, Kilian took his fourth title after missing the race in 2016. Hillary Gerardi followed her victory in Tromso with another incredible win proving that she is the woman to beat on technical courses!

The 23rd edition of the Kima Trophy that will be remembered amongst one the most beautiful ever after overnight rain cleared to an amazingly beautiful cold day. However, temperatures were cold due to strong winds and ice was present on the course. The race director Matteo Colzada and his staff checked the various critical points on th ehigh passes and postponed the start but to the relief of all the runners, the full route was allowed.

Kima has 52 technical and very challenging kilometers with 8,400 m of total height gain and loss with 7 alpine passes all above 2500m (maximum altitude Cameraccio 2.950 m). 

Already winner of this race and record holder before the Nepalese Bhim Gurung beat it (6h10’44 “), the star of Team Salomon ran with Alexis Sevennec for much of the race. The two raced shoulder to shoulder until the final descent, a real 2000 meters dive from Passo Barbacan to the village of San Martino. Here Kilian launched a winning attack, an attack that allowed him to cross the line in 6:09:19 beating the 06;10:44 mark set in 2016.

Alexis Sevennec 2nd in 6:11:59 was a popular favourite and rounding out the podium was Transvulcania winner, Pere Aurell in 6:20:50. 

The top ten of the day also Andre Jonsson, Leo Viret, Petter Engdahl, Andy Simonds, Cristian Minoggio, Cody Lind and Samuel Equy. With today’s success, Kilian enters right into the history of Kima joining Mario Poletti in the golden book of success.

Hillary Gerardi, did not beat the record of 7:36:21 set by Nuria Picas in 2016 but she produced an outstanding race, following up victory in Tromso. On the first descent towards Bocchetta Roma, Ragna Debats had tried to make a difference and close the gap, but Hillary was too strong. In the high altitude crossing, Hilary pulled away with a slender 5-minute lead, chased by Jasmine Paris, Brittany Peterson, Robyn Owen and Martina Valmassoi. Ragna was unfortunately suffering and dropped back.

 At the end, the South African, Robyn Owen tclosed on the leadership, but Hillary kicked and came back and won in 7:37:29. 

Second place for Robyn in 7:39:01 was a real surprise… watch out for this woman! Third was for the Nepalese Mira Rai in 7:41:46.

The American Brittany Petterson, who had been in 2nd at the midway point, and the Italian Martina Valmassoi followed to round out the top-5!

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VJ XTRM Shoe Review – VJ Sport

Last year I finally got my hands on a pair of VJ Sport IRock 2 (HERE). I was blown away by pretty much everything about the shoes. The upper, the way they held one’s foot, the durability of the materials used, and the outsole was just incredible – the most amazing grip. The only reservation that I had, was how long I could run in these shoes… They are pretty minimal and although cushioned, the cushioning for me would probably only take me to 3-4 hours of running.

OCR World Champion and Skyrunner World Series Champion, Jonathan Albon, agreed. In some of the longer races, Trofeo Kima for example where the terrain is hard, rocky, muddy, has snow, maybe the odd glacier thrown in and when the male winning time is over 6-hours, although the IRock 2 was perfect on grip, the cushioning made a really long run like this tiring for the feet.

With Jon’s feedback, VJ Sport went back to the drawing board, took all the best elements of the IRock 2 and created a new shoe:

VJ XTRM.

The king is dead, long live the king!

Let me just say in simple terms everything that was brilliant in the IRock 2 has been transferred to the new VJ XTRM and what VJ Sport have done, in my opinion, they have created the most perfect mountain running shoe for when the trails are demanding, rocky and throwing all sorts of variables at the runner.

So, what is new in the VJ XTRM.

  • Two new cushioning units have been added to the front and rear.
  • A full-length RockPlate.
  • A medium last.
  • A little extra room in the toe box.
  • New Fitlock.

As I mentioned, much of the IRock 2 crosses over. For example, the outsole is the amazing Butyl Rubber which for me offers the best grip I have encountered on any mountain shoe. The outsole studs are 6mm which offers a good compromise between grip on muddy/ wet trails and excellent grip on smooth and easy single-track.

At 250g for a standard UK8, the shoe is light and 4mm drop sits in a comfortable middle ground for the zero drop fanatics and those who like a more comfortable and relaxed 8mm drop.

Kevlar and Polyester make the upper and the IRock 2 has been the most durable shoe I have ever used, so, I don’t anticipate the VJ XTRM to be any different. There is also Fiberclass stability control.

THE SHOE

Slipping one’s foot into the VJ XTRM one immediately feels the snug and precision fit. However, the slightly wider toe box is noticeable. Don’t get me wrong here, this is not a wide and spacious toe box, so, if that is what you personally need, this may well be not the shoe for you. Please remember though that this is a specific mountain/ skyrunning shoe that will be used on technical mountainous terrain, so, a shoe for this type of running should be precision.

Pulling the laces tight, the FITLOCK takes hold and provides the most secure and comfortable hold of my foot. It is the best I have tried, no question. The laces are excellent, they pull tight and stay tight.

The upper is a mix of materials and is extremely durable. Although it is too early to comment on longevity of the VJ XTRM upper, the materials and comparisons with the IRock 2 are very close. My IRock 2 have been through everything and are still going strong. The heel box has minimal padding but holds the foot secure and is extremely comfortable. The toe box is well protected and ideal for mountain terrain.

The colours of the upper are a little bright. They wouldn’t be my choice, I certainly loved the red & black combo of the IRock 2, but colours are just colours and after a good muddy run, the colours soon become muted.

Like the IRock 2, the VJ XTRM looks heavy, pick them up and you realise they are not, they are super-light!

The bottom of the shoe is what helps VJ Sport stand out amongst the competition and why they have such a following. The Butyl Rubber they use is the best outsole I have ever tested and on rock terrain, dry or wet, they are the most reassuring footwear ever! The 6mm studs are the same as on the IRock 2 and this is significant, the IRock 2 provided the best grip ever, so, to see this transferred over to the XTRM is superb.

IN USE

The IRock 2 last-year was the best mountain shoe I have ever used. This has now been replaced by the VJ XTRM and for me, moving forward, I would always purchase the VJ XTRM and not the IRock 2. For me, VJ Sport may well have killed the IRock 2 because the VJ XTRM is so good.

 sport

WHY?

To all intents and purposes, the IRock 2 and VJ XTRM are very similar shoes. One difference is 6mm drop for the IRock 2 and 4mm drop for the VJ XTRM, this may be a decision maker for some? However, the new additions to the VJ XTRM just make it a much more versatile shoe without compromising what made the IRock 2 great, no, superb!

  1. The added cushioning doesn’t compromise feel for the ground, control, stability for faster shorter mountain running but what it does allow is more cushioning and comfort for longer runs.
  2. The RockPlate is a no brainier, it is added protection and added comfort for little to no additional weight.
  3. The new Fitlock holds the foot as well, if not better than the Fitlock on the IRock 2.
  4. The toe box has been widened to allow for a little more room and toe splay when running longer but not at the compromise of precision and feel.
  5. The upper is as the IRock 2 with Kevlar and outstanding durability.
  6. The outsole is the same, 6mm studs in the amazing Butyl Rubber.

The additions make the VJ XTRM the perfect all-round mountain shoe be that for short or long outings. Whereas, the IRock 2 was a shoe that I personally would not want to be out in for much longer than 4-hours.

SUMMARY

This is the best mountain running shoe I have ever used. For skyrunning, it is THE perfect shoe and for me, all other shoes that I test for that intended use will be compared to the VJ XTRM. Jonathan Albon’s influence can be felt in this shoe and I am sure his feedback with VJ Sport has been paramount in retaining all that was brilliant in the IRock 2 and then tweaking it to add what Jonathan and many other runners wanted; more cushioning, a RockPlate and a slightly wider toe box.

I personally am unable to find any negatives.

Obviously, the Butyl Rubber outsole works so well because it is soft and grippy, so, if you start running on roads and pavements, be aware, the outsole won’t last.

But the VJ XTRM is a formula 1 shoe and not a Ford Escort or similar. Maybe the VJ XTRM should make an appearance for those special runs or races?

However, if you are like me, I think the shoes are so awesome that if I am going to run anything technical, wet or dry, I want these shoes on my feet.

VJ SPORT website

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