La Sportiva AKASHA – Shoe Review

I don’t know why it has taken me so long to run in the La Sportiva Akasha? But, now that I have, I am somewhat perplexed that I have been missing an awesome shoe for months and probably years.

With 350km in the Akasha in just over 2-weeks, I can confirm that they are one of the most comfortable and reassured shoes I have used irrespective of the type of terrain or distance of run.

They are billed as a cushioned, protective and a long-distance shoe. When you first pick them up, you notice two things:

  1. They feel bomb proof.
  2. 2. They are a little heavy.

Of course, bomb proof and additional weight go hand in hand, but if the run comfort and feel is good, a little extra weight is no real issue. Weight is 310g for UK8.

From the off, the Akasha felt immediately comfortable with a great fit, roomy toe box, but not too roomy (3 on a 1-5 scale,) very breathable upper, padded tongue, excellent lacing and foot hold and a comfortable heel box.

The cushioning is notable with 31mm / 25mm stack height for a 6mm drop and lugs are 4.5mm

The cushioning platform is noticeable and especially so when running. It is injected moulded EVA in a single density. It has stabiliser anti torsional inserts and it features the trail rocker that helps slow the transition from heel strike to toe off by isolating and deforming the heel zone separately by providiing a separation

Out if the box I went on an 18km gnarly trail run with loads of rocks and vert. The following day was a 32km run on similar terrain. The shoes were just soooo comfortable and protective. I was cursing that it had taken me so long to use the Akasha and I was already thinking to myself, I need to get another pair…! The cushioning and protection remarkably do not lose ground feel, on the contrary, it’s really good! Of course, not comparable with a more minimalist shoe but hey, the Akasha is not trying to be that!

There is no rock plate, but with this level of cushioning it is no issue. Importantly, there is a real feel for the ground and a life in the shoe. The heal area is very cushioned and bouncy. The Ortholite Mountain Running insert adds to the comfort also. Rocks, irrespective of shape caused no foot discomfort and on no occasion did I feel anything push through the cushioning to make me wince with that all to painful twinge in the bottom of the foot.

Lacing up the shoes, there is an immediate foot hold and security in the instep. This I like. I don’t like sloppy shoes with poor foot hold, especially when running on technical trail. The tongue is gusseted and has a sock-like fit, again, another real bonus!

Overlays provide reinforcement of the very breathable and airy upper around the instep and at the front of the shoe. There is little to restrict the toes at the front and this has been superb when running on any type of terrain. The shoes bend beautifully and make the propulsive phase a pleasure.

Outsole is the aggressive FriXion XT which is unique to La Sportiva and is superb. The grip (4.5mm lugs) is well spaced out to help shed mud. With a built in ‘Trail Rocker’ these Akasha really role along. You will notice red areas on the sole which have a different look to the black areas. This allows for superb heel to toe transition should it be required – depending on your run style and gait.

No matter what I have thrown at the Akasha, they have responded superbly with superb ride, excellent comfort, and superb grip. They even accompanied me on a 16km road run and even then, the performance and feel were excellent.

They are a heavier shoe, but when running in them you just don’t notice it, especially when on challenging terrain.

Regarding size, you may want to consider going a half size larger. I am pretty much always a UK9.5/ EU44 in most shoes. The La Sportiva comes as a EU442/3 (which is a UK9.5+) and they have been great with no problems. However, just recently I ordered a second pair (because I have been so happy with the first) and I ordered an EU45 which has given me just a little more space and toe room. I have yet to run in the EU45.

Summary

Soft and breathable with a slipper like comfort, reinforced upper, superb cushioning, excellent grip and a 6mm drop – The La Sportiva Akasha has been revelation.

Irrespective of the terrain, the Akasha is a shoe that you can grab for any run, and they will perform superbly, be that for a short distance trail runs or a long and lengthy mountain run. It’s a shoe that would be ideal for say UTMB or similar. Feet feel fresh for mile-after-mile in the Akasha and when running back-to-back days, I got no sore points or aches.

It’s rare that a shoe can feel so good on any terrain and yes, they may tip the scales a little heavier than some of the competition but the ride and comfort more than justifies this.

The outsole, like the upper is bombproof and offers excellent grip on trail and rock and while not recommended, it ticks along on the road with no discomfort.

There are several shoes that I go to daily, the Hoka Torrent 2 being one that I can pick up and run on pretty much any terrain and for any length of time. The Akasha has now replaced the Torrent 2 as my daily ‘go-to’ and should I travel and only be able to take one pair of shoes, the Akasha would be the choice. The adidas Speed Ultra is still up there as one of my ‘shoes of 2021’ and for faster runs on more groomed trail, the Speed Ultra would win out. The Akasha will take some beating as a ‘grab and go’ shoe though and it’s rare to find one shoe that does so much so well and in a package that will last and last.

La Sportiva have long and respected heritage in the footwear world in particular with the mountains. This heritage is apparent in the Akasha where they have made attention to detail a priority along with comfort and durability. They have avoided compromise with a little extra weight.

Key Stats

Uppers:

Breathable Air Mesh + PU leather at the rear and Dynamic ProTechTion at the toe.

Lining:

Mesh non slip.

Midsole:

Injected EVA and Cushion Platform.

Footbed:

Ortholite Mountain Running.

Sole:

FriXion XT dual density with Trail Rocker system.

Cushioning:

31/25mm

Drop:

6mm

Ultra Trail Snowdonia 2021 Summary #UTS

Josh Bakker-Dyos

Persistent rain, low cloud, poor visibility, mud, bogs, wet rocks, climbs and descents that made even the most adapted legs scream in pain, yes, that was Ultra Trail Snowdonia 2021.

Missing in 2020 due to the dreaded ‘C’ word, the UTS returned in 2021 to Capel Curig as part of the Ultra Trail World Tour and supported by Hoka One One to confirm the dream of Michael Jones of Apex Running – A big UTMB style weekend of racing in the heart of Wales.

VIEW THE IMAGE GALLERY

With distances of 50km, 100km and the whopping 165km, one word was touted pretty much everywhere all weekend, brutal! And it was… A savage weekend of racing but as Michael says, ‘beautifully beyond belief, savage beyond reason.’

Despite the rain, despite the lack of views, Wales was a stunning playground for trail running. Let’s be clear here, there is no ‘easy’ running at UTS. The 50km is a wonderfully challenging route that may well have surprised many with some of its technical challenges, particularly the climb from Ogwen up to Carnedd Dafydd, compensated for what could be then considered a ‘relatively’ easy run in to the finish via Lyn Cowlyd and Blaen-Y-Nant.

The 100km route followed the early miles of the UTS50 all the way to Pen-Y-Pass but then headed along the Miners’ Track for an extended loop to return via the Pyg Track heading off to Y Garn, a loop around Tryfan and then head up to Carnedd Dafydd via a different route to the 50km and then follow the same run in to the finish.

The 165km is well, just a monster! As expected, it created carnage amongst the competitors. It’s a relentless beasting of mind and body that passes through the whole of Snowdonia. The 100km and 50km routes all utilizing sections of this all-encompassing journey but only the 165km giving the full perspective of how beautiful and hard the Welsh mountains are. As with all races at UTS, it started and concluded in Capel Curig. Heading off to Blaenau Ffestiniog, Croesor it then picked up the 50km and 100km routes to Pen-Y-Pass. Nantmoor, Moel Hebdog, Llyn-y-Gadair and then after Yr Wyddfa it followed the Snowdon Ranger Path for an extended loop before returning via the Snowdon Massif and Pyg Track to Pen-y-Pass. From here, the 100km and 165km routes were identical all the way back to Capel Curig.

Tremayne Dill Cowdry summed it up:
“45 hours to do just over 100 miles and every minute of that was a hard slog.
Mountains, bog, wet rock, tough nav on a marked course, sleep deprivation, mist, rain and the terrain!! Very little was even runnable. I can’t imagine a 100 miler more difficult than that. Easily the hardest I’ve done and definitely the hardest in the UK. I was going ok although I would have happily dropped given the chance but my feet succumb to the permanent wet and I had to hobble the last 20-ish miles…

Stunning landscape

As with all races, someone has to cross the line first, and of course there was stunning performances all weekend. However, the real sense of achievement came firstly from toeing the line and being in with a chance of completing a journey. The second came from completing the journey. Every medal was hard earned.

Josh Bakker-Dyos

In the 165km event, Josh Bakker-Dyos lead from the start and while many expected him to blow up, so fast was his pace, he never did. He was relentless and consistent crossing the line in 28:51:43. It was easy to say, ‘he made it look easy!’ But for every other runner who crossed the 165km line, it was very clear, there was nothing easy on this route! Toby Hazelwood was less than 60-minutes behind in second, 29:45:17, another stunning run! Adam Jeffs rounded the podium with 34:09:54. Alice Sheldon and Becky Wightman were the only female finishers, 45:09:55 and 47:41:06 their hard-earned efforts stopping the clock – a brutal two nights and days out in the Welsh mountains. Only 32 completed the race.

Mark Darbyshire

The 100km route was won, but not dominated by Lakeland 100 champ, Mark Darbyshire ahead of Josh Wade and Jack Scott. Mark crossed in 14:25:47 with 14:33:36 going to second. It was 16:02:05 elapsed before the third crossed the line. Sarah Stavely (21:41:03) won the women’s race with Kajsa Holgersson and Julie Finn in second and third, 22:28:49 and 22:44:53.

Lauren Woodwiss

Harry Jones flew around the UTS 50 route and looked as strong at the finish as when he started, his 6:13:33 a stunning time. It was 6:56:54 elapsed before second place Will Simmons crossed ahead of Spencer Shaw in 7:14:53. Lauren Woodwiss, like Jones, lead from the start dictating an excellent pace over the 50km route and completed her journey in an excellent 7:54:18. Celia Waring placed second in 8:36:18 and Abelone Lyng from Norway, moved up from outside the top-10 women to eventually finish third in 8:43:16 after sprinting for the line ahead of Jenna Shail who was just 13-seconds behind.

VIEW THE IMAGE GALLERY

Abelone Lyng

As Capel Curig slowly returned to some normality on Sunday, it was easy to see that the UTS will become one of the ultimate trail running events not only in the UK but the world. It may not have all the glamour and glitz of Chamonix and the UTMB. It’s a much more grass roots event, some would say a ‘true’ trail running event. Ultimately though, Wales was the hero of the weekend offering stunning routes. This landscape combined with the vision of Michael Jones of Apex Running and a team of dedicated volunteers and supporters will make UTS a ‘one to do!’ However, if you are thinking about the 165 event? Think long hard and without doubt, train hard, it’s a beautifully brutal beast.

‘beautifully beyond belief, savage beyond reason.’

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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Ultra Trail Snowdonia 2021 Preview

Coronavirus pretty much wiped out the 2020 racing calendar and unfortunately, UTS was a casualty at the 11th hour. Gladly, UTS returns for 2021 bigger and better than ever… Supported by Hoka One One® and now part of the Ultra-Trail® World Tour, UTS is the UK’s answer to other big European ultras! Learn more about the Ultra-Trail® World Tour HERE.

Michael Jones of Apex Running Co is a runner himself, so, he has understood the need and desire to race, but also abide by government guidelines and provide a safe race – a thankless task for anyone. Michael has been positive though, always looking ahead, planning and working within government guidelines to bring a safe and stunning weekend of racing to Wales.

Three events that show Snowdonia at its best. The 50km has a 14-hour cut-off, the 100km 33-hours and the 165km a whopping 50-hour limit. Needless to say, 3 very tough events in a tough and challenging part of the world. Covering an area of 827 square miles and established in 1951, Snowdonia is the second largest National Park in the UK and home to the highest peaks in the UK outside of Scotland. From its 37 miles of beautiful beaches where you can surf, to rugged, ridge-laden mountain peaks and an array of pristine lakes inbetween: there is something to please every outdoor enthusiast here! Keen to learn a bit more about beautiful Snowdonia? A great place to start is the Snowdonia National Park Authority website HERE.

The 165km event is the main event of the weekend starting at 11am on Friday 10th September. A route that starts and finishes in Capel Curig, it’s a monster of a challenge.

The schedule for the weekend is HERE

UTS Facebook HERE

UTS Instagram HERE

UTS Twitter HERE

Each distance features 3300/6700/10,000m+ elevation gain, on predominantly technical mountain trails. This makes UTS one of, if not THE toughest Ultra-Trail® events in the world. UTS isn’t just challenging for the sake of it though. With routes that explore Snowdonia’s most scenic valleys, rugged peaks and epic landscapes, these race routes are truly the most beautiful in the UK!

Entry lists are available to view via the UTS website. While most entrants are from the UK, there is a multinational feel with Poland, Sweden, Norway, South Africa, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, New Zealand, Portugal, Czech Republic, Australia, Spain, USA, Germany, Netherlands and more… listed on the start sheets.

The UTS 165 is the stand-out and flagship event offering a stunningly brutal and beautiful tour of the Snowdonia National Park. Starting in Capel Curig, the route takes in the most notable peaks of north Wales.

UTS 100 has technical trails, epic views and is a highlight tour of north Wales.

Arguably, the UTS 50 is an entry level race but still requires respect for the challenges that Wales and its mountains can bring.

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Episode 218 – The Chamonix Tapes 6 – Emily Hawgood and Petter Engdahl

Welcome to ‘The Chamonix Tapes’ an inside look at the adidas Terrex Team during the 2021 UTMB.

Starting on Tuesday August 24th and running through to Sunday August 29th, there will be a daily podcast release for your audio pleasure.
In The Chamonix Tapes 6, we speak with Emily Hawgood and Petter Engdahl.

“This summer has been amazing, from not being able to travel to being here in the Alps for 2-months has been superb! The big goal for this Summer has been OCC. So far the adidas Terrex Team support has exceeded my expectations… The team is growing and we will have some really good years ahead of us, adidas Terrex have the aim to move the boundaries of trail running in a new area of professionalism without losing the sport ethos.” – Petter Engdahl

Show links:


Website HERE

Spotify HERE  

ITunes HERE  

iOS HERE

Android HERE  

Web player HERE  

Libsyn – HERE   

Tunein – HERE

Episode 217 – The Chamonix Tapes 5 – Robbie Simpson

Welcome to ‘The Chamonix Tapes’ an inside look at the adidas Terrex Team during the 2021 UTMB.

Starting on Tuesday August 24th and running through to Sunday August 29th, there will be a daily podcast release for your audio pleasure.
In The Chamonix Tapes 5, we speak with Robbie Simpson.

“I have always like road and I think there is a place for that… But, I am keen to move towards trail and longer distance events. That feeling of running up a mountain on a smooth or technical trail is magical.”

Show links:


Website HERE

Spotify HERE  

ITunes HERE  

iOS HERE

Android HERE  

Web player HERE  

Libsyn – HERE   

Tunein – HERE

Episode 216 – The Chamonix Tapes 4 – Taylor Nowlin

Welcome to ‘The Chamonix Tapes’ an inside look at the adidas Terrex Team during the 2021 UTMB.

Starting on Tuesday August 24th and running through to Sunday August 29th, there will be a daily podcast release for your audio pleasure.


In The Chamonix Tapes 4, we speak with Taylor Nowlin.

My work required if you test positive you need to self-quarantine for 2-weeks. I was working nights and long shifts, so I never felt amazing, when I got Coronavirus I didn’t even know.”

Show links:


Website HERE

Spotify HERE 

 ITunes HERE  

iOS HERE

Android HERE  

Web player HERE  

Libsyn – HERE   

Tunein – HERE

Episode 215 – The Chamonix Tapes 3 – Sabrina Stanley and Ruth Croft

Welcome to ‘The Chamonix Tapes’ an inside look at the adidas Terrex Team during the 2021 UTMB.

Starting on Tuesday August 24th and running through to Sunday August 29th, there will be a daily podcast release for your audio pleasure.


In The Chamonix Tapes 3, we speak with Sabrina Stanley and Ruth Croft.

“I obviously want to do the best for the people who support me and make them proud. I feel I can do this but I want to look at the 15-20yr picture and I enjoy running healthy and fast and I want to do that for as long as possible…. I plan on coming back in 2022 and doing something special.” – Sabrina Stanley

Show links:


Website HERE

Spotify HERE  

ITunes HERE  

iOS HERE

Android HERE  

Web player HERE  

Libsyn – HERE   

Tunein – HERE

Episode 214 – The Chamonix Tapes 2 – Macy and Ekaterina Mityaeva

Welcome to ‘The Chamonix Tapes’ an inside look at the adidas Terrex Team during the 2021 UTMB.

Starting on Tuesday August 24th and running through to Sunday August 29th, there will be a daily podcast release for your audio pleasure.
In The Chamonix Tapes 2, we speak with Macy (Marcel Hoeche) and Ekaterina Mityaeva about shoe design and the new, Agravic Ultra shoe.

“Sustainability, materials and who is the consumer? Everyone deserves a perfect shoe… From the very beginning we knew we were on to something super great. I can’t begin to tell you how many different shapes of the plate we used in so many different materials. If you pair five shapes and five materials this is 25 pairs of shoes we need to test… It was a complex process which was definitely worth it.”

Show links:


Website HERE

Spotify HERE  

ITunes HERE  

iOS HERE

Android HERE  

Web player HERE  

Libsyn – HERE   

Tunein – HERE

Pyrenees Stage Run 2021

©Guillem_Casanova

As UTMB week draws to a closure on August 29th, the Pyrenees Stage Run 2021 will start. The 2020 edition, like most races was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, however, the PSR is back!

Fourteen different nationalities will take part in this epic 7-day journey covering 240km and over 15000m of vertical gain. The Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom will be the most represented countries as participants take on the challenge in teams of two or three.

©Guillem_Casanova

The PSR can be followed live through the website of the race, https://psr.run, and every day a video and photographs of the stages will be published on their social networks.

Starting in Ribes de Freser and finishing in Salardú with two stages in Andorra, the PSR offers the possibility to cross a section of the Pyrenees following the classic GR11 and going through places that you will never forget.

Program for the week.

An adventure, the route will be undertaken as a team, sharing the experience being a key consideration not only for enjoyment but safety. The GR11 is way marked but also GPX routes will be followed.

Daily, all will have dinner altogether and an award ceremony of the day, a briefing of the next stage and a presentation of the photos and videos will be given.

The Route:

Can be viewed in-depth HERE.

Day 1 34.4km 2180M+

Day 2 37.4km 1700m+

Day 3 47.5km 2600m+

Day 4 20km 1900m+

Day 5 39.7km 2680m+

Day 6 26.6km 1820m+

Day 7 32.8km 2300m+

Live Tracking will be available.

©Guillem_Casanova

It is possible to view a Race Book to get an oversight of the PSR but dune in daily to this website for updates, summaries, images and stage-by-stage results as the 2021 PSR gets underway.

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

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Episode 213 – The Chamonix Tapes 1 – Robert Muecke

Welcome to ‘The Chamonix Tapes’ an inside look at the adidas Terrex Team during the 2021 UTMB.

Starting on Tuesday August 24th and running through to Sunday August 29th, there will be a daily podcast release for your audio pleasure.
In The Chamonix Tapes 1, we speak with the adidas Terrex Team manager, Robert Muecke.

“We are not working together with robots. We are working with humans and a team and a team structure is based on human beings. We are here to support humans to their potential. It’s so much more than winning one race, it’s a process that is set up over years.”

Show links:


Website HERE

Spotify HERE  

ITunes HERE  

iOS HERE

Android HERE  

Web player HERE  

Libsyn – HERE   

Tunein – HERE