When a room of cyclists, runners and triathletes are given a pair of socks, you could understand the enthusiasm may not be at the same levels as a soft-shell, shoes or GPS watch. However much like inner tubes in a bicycle tyre, they are fundamental to a comfortable and effective performance.
Yet, when you know what’s contained in ashmei’s Trail Running sock, you may never overlook this trivialised piece of athletic clothing again.
But let’s skip back in time momentarily.
The Ambassador Programme
The reason I and many others were being handed socks, was as we had been selected for ashmei’s ambassador day. This is a day where athletes from all 3 disciplines are invited down, all hoping to be selected for ambassador programme. Now an ambassador does more than photo shoots and a blog/social media post here and there. One key area is representing the brand at races, both your own and those sponsored/hosted by the brand. Furthermore, product development. The best way to test new designs, materials and ideas is through athletes in varying climates and situations. There is little point testing on a treadmill or turbo in an office, as all you have created is the perfect gym outfit.
So, many exciting roles for those lucky few.
Having applied and being selected, I took the short drive down from Milton Keynes to Aldbury. I’d already spotted some familiar names on the communications; Simon Freeman and Lenka Istvanova. I had met them at the Like the Wind Pop Up in Shoreditch last year and subsequently bumped into Lenka at a couple of races. After snacks, name tags, funny facts and lots of introductions Stuart Brooke, ashmei founder, presented the birth of his brand and its unique story and ethos.
Following this interesting presentation looking at the methodology of product development at the brand, the advantage was clear for everyone to see. Prioritising Performance, Quality and Style in that order ensures products which are achieving the highest performance levels.
We were also shown the difference between a oil based garment and that of Merino. Lets just say many people felt the heat was turned up, as their polyester shirts cooked them and me!
And now its sock time!
Merino Carbon combines the temperature regulatory benefits of merino wool, with the wicking and drying properties of carbon. Now, cyclists and triathletes, lets not get this mixed up with carbon fibre. This isn’t going to save you weight or give you greater power transfer with each pedal stroke.
What it will do is absorb water 10x faster than not treated fibres, and dry twice as fast.
Big claims, with even bigger performance and comfort benefits.
As the clouds closed in, temperature dropped and wind picked up, the majority had come dressed for a run, with only a handful taking the cycling option.
Lead by members of the team, we set off onto trails in the Ashridge estate, taking on the rolling hills at a steady pace. This was not a race, not a test of athletic ability. Instead, this was a chance for us to get to know the ashmei team as well as each other. With many varying and inspiring stories to tell, the 6 miles of chalky trails were over all too quickly. More over as I had run around the group taking video footage with my GoPro.
Back at base it was tea and medals all around – or in this case an Easter cake, croissants and juice.
But not before we were offered the opportunity to give feedback on the socks.
- Super comfortable
- No movement in the shoe
- Controlled temperature for longevity of run and the 13 hours I wore them for
- Superb fit, no excess material and not overly tight across the toe box
- Ventilation – will have to wait until it gets warmer
- Aesthetics – high level of detailing which fits with the entirety of the ashmei range (many brands don’t bother)
- I would and will be using these regularly to give long term use feedback
Following on, 5 funny facts were read out from the participants, including;
“I often forget my trunks when going to the pool”
“I forgot my tri-suit at my first triathlon”
“I wish I hadn’t shaved, at work and in the cycling industry I’m called Chuck Norris” (mine)
As all the best things in life there is an end point
As I left, I felt really enthused by what I had experienced. I had gained a deeper insight into the brand and their philosophy in product development. I had once again got to see the Like the Wind crew. I had met 50 other like minded people who are all achieving incredible athletic feats of endurance.
And I had some awesome socks.
In fact I only took them off at midnight, so wore them straight for 13 hours including a 6 mile trail run, which is testament to Stuart’s design philosophy; creating items for performance rather than price points.
Thank you to Stuart, Simon, Julie, Lenka and everyone else (I apologise for not remembering your names).
Now there is no denying I will be watching my inbox intently, hoping to see an amazing email in the following days, but either way, I would wholeheartedly recommend keeping an eye out for their next ambassador day.
You won’t regret it.