Busy

What can I say, I have been busy.

Extended family get togethers, races, film nights, gear testing…… The blog has gone on the back burner.

As I write this I am about to head to the Kendal Mountain Festival for a weekend of films and talks.

Next week, I will post my report on Hell of a Hill – 5 trail marathons in 5 days, The North Face Summit Tour and a couple of gear reviews.

In the meantime feast your eyes on this (and if you can make it get your hands on some tickets pronto!)

Tight like a tiger

Today I was lucky enough to get my hands on some compression wear for my up coming challenge.

Calf and quad compression wear from Compressport.

The idea of compression wear is to aid performance, put off fatigue, prevent tears and speed up recovery.

I own a pair of the calf guards which I wear over night after races and hard sessions – and so far they have made a noticeable difference.

So as the dust settles on Sunday 16th, I’ll have be able to report back with my findings.

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Raising the Fell

Fell shoes. Aggressive, durable, very specific.

I love fell running.

Ever since discovering fell running in 2008 when I went to university in Penrith, I have been addicted. Often I would leave the house at 5am, to hit the fells before the tourists, get my 3-4 hours in. My ankles would feel slashed, my muscles agonised, my mind cleansed.

PB Walsh Extreme’s were my weapons of choice. I ran the Glencoe marathon in a pair of box fresh Salomon Speedcross 3’s. No blisters, good ride. After running the Ben in June, I decided I would like a new pair. Something with a wider toe box. Attending a Salomon City Trails run, I was lucky enough to try a pair of Fellraisers, as well as Sense Mantra and X-Screams. The Fellraiser stood out.

My first run in the Fellraisers was Red Bull SteepleChase, in which I put 12 very varied miles through them. Next, 32 miles at the Ennerdale Ultra Marathon. 44 miles, no training, box fresh. How would they perform?

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Low profile and aggressive, they are reinforced brutes. Yet at 290g, very light considering the treads. The Sensifit gives a glove like hold on the foot. Before I tried Salomon’s range, I was very sceptical about how effective their lacing system could be. Laces work for a reason after all. Yet, given the ease and speed you can tighten the Quicklace, every time it provides an even and secure fit. If anything now I look forward to it! The tongue cover and lace pocket both keep crap out and avoid laces being a trip hazard.

The breathable open mess aids airflow and the moulded EVA sole and footbed, provides a cushioned yet supportive ride. Reinforced and supportive Ortholite EVA heel cup keeps the foot firmly in place, providing confidence, when the terrain gets vertical and you bomb down the fell side. Along with this, the front has a wide reinforced tow box, with a high tread for those demanding climbs. Watch the opening scenes of the Steeplechase and you will see why these were great. It also keep the rocks and roots at bay.

 Red Bull Steeplechase

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Now. The tread. And boy does it have a lot. The red is brash, bold and can not hide. The lugs are firm, each with directional sips to allow for mud shedding and greater traction. Whereas many I have tried have worn away quickly on fire roads and tarmac, these are holding up remarkably well. There are no real signs of wear and in the mud, slopes and fire roads, grip has been exceptional.

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However on wet rock, it was like running on ice. The larger lugs aren’t designed for wet lakeland rock, and a lower profile tread pattern would help in those conditions. Secondly, given the amount of reinforcing, EVA and welds, they hold onto water (much like the SpeedCross). This was an issue at my ultra, where a quicker draining shoe would have been beneficial.

But. And there is a but. You can’t have it all, as trail/fell shoes are terrain specific. Whereas road shoes differ from neutral, pro and supernate, trail is trail, mud, wet, dry, the list goes on….and on. Epic shoes. Maid for the fells. For a racing shoe for pure off road, I would recommend the Fell raiser. For trails the sense. For mixed conditions, the Fellraiser ticks every box.

I will be using them for Hell of Hill next week – 5 trail marathons in 5 days. I’ll give you an update after they put in 131+ miles in.

Is 5 four better than 1?

The Saucony Kinvara has become something of a legendary trainer. So much so its a winner of awards annually and is a staple to many runners. This year they launched the Kinvara 5, and after a morning at Pro Feet in London, I too joined the club.

Now I’ve run in several brands over the years; Nike, Adidas, Puma, New Balance, Reebok, PB Walsh, Pearl Izumi and Salomon. Saucony had never been on my radar until now.

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The Kinvara’s are super light, crazy in fact for a shoe thats good for marathon distance. 218.3 grams to be precise. This weight aids to both gait and endurance, as it never feels like you are lugging around weights on your feet. A 4mm drop gives a racing and natural movement, which favours those who mid/forefoot strike. The PowerGrid EVA gives ample cushioning and is highly resistant to abrasions. Mine (pictured below) have run close to 100 miles, both on and off road and they are holding up extremely well. Combined with IBR+ cushioning, it gives a responsive and precise ride, with a grip that rivals any other road shoe out there, even Continental rubber soled Adidas trainers.

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Combined with the sole is Pro-Lock technology, a band which runs up to the tongue. But what does this mean? When you tie the laces (and good laces they are) the band locks either side of the foot, giving a secure and glove like fit. No slipping, full support and structure. Having run without this on the road since with other shoes, it does make a considerable difference. A small change from the 4, but what a change.

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Moving on to the upper, its extremely airy, light, seamless and contains a RunDry lining to prevent chaffing. Breathability isn’t an issue, but more importantly given our wet climate, water doesn’t hold. The tongue and upper are super comfortable, with the welded overlays providing additional structure.

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Durability isn’t an issue. Look above, these have 100 miles in them and other than discolouration of the soles they look pretty much brand spanking new. And that is my only real gripe – the colour of the soles. Why make them white? I mean, they look nice in the shop, in photos and lifestyle shots. However in the real world they discolour, stain and otherwise look tatty.

These are now my favourite road shoes, so much so I have another pair. Though they are costly at £105, they are worth every penny. You’ll get consistent miles, an awesome ride and look like you have baby crocs on your feet. What’s not to like?

Maybe a darker sole for number 6?

Floods of tears

As I woke up this morning I turned to look at my phone and check the time. Shit, it’s 8.45am! I have to be in work in 15 minutes. Bleary eyed I made my way to the shower and my thumb flicked on twitter, something I am sure many other smart phones users will be used to, turning on apps without intention due to touch screen technology. Eyes focused on the screen and saw my directors post;

“Just heard of the tragic passing of Alan Hewitt, long term friend & colleague, the cause of many fun times at work & a loss to the industry”

My brain carried on, brushing over the message, still in a haze from my slumber. And then my brain stopped. It’s Aldo.

Alan was a larger than life man, both in personality and stature. When I first met him I was intimidated, as he towered over me. But I soon learnt he was incredibly considerate, wickedly cheeky, straight shooting gentleman. Many a GoPro event was spent crying my eyes out through his humour and he never failed to raise a smile. Straight to the point, he would tell you if you were wrong, but never did you feel spoken down to. His knowledge was incomprehensible, his individuality unrepeatable.

Work today has been an odd one, the atmosphere in the office not its usual self as everyone processed the news in their own way. Viewing countless photos and reading tens of comments tonight, my emotions finally released and I sat alone, tears streaming down my face, yet still with a smile.

I’ll miss you big man.

You were an individual.

You were are gentleman.

You are Aldo.

Time to dry off

Shoes are abused during races and training. Mud, water, rocks and other sharp objects continuously attack the soles, sides and toeboxes.

It’s good to maintain your gear.

Wash it, dry it out extensively and give it the once over. Look for tears and snags, loose threads and other iimperfections. Mentally note these and keep an eye on them.

These small things can increase the life span of all manner of equipment.

Gear may evolve annually, but maintainance remains the same.

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