I’ve just been getting used to running more frequently, having gotten a real ‘buzz’ out of my new Saucony Triumph ISO•SERIES road shoes. They’re so comfy and easy to run in, I’ve managed to run every day for the first time in months. I’ve actually had a small blister on my right foot as a result, but that’s to be expected when you start using your foot in a completely new way, more often and allow yourself to run faster, spending a lot more time with more force through the big toes.
What helped then, was Wednesday evening – where you might already have noticed we had a Head Torch Run Out with guests Salomon, who supplied a wealth of footwear for people to test while taking on a 7.5 mile route on Derwent Edge. In short, it went brilliantly well and allowed me to play on softer ground for a change (my usual routine being to road run for 7.5 miles each day over two visits, each 3.75 miles – between home and the store). I could therefore try an off road shoe and help my foot to calm down by changing things up a bit. Worked a treat. And what a night…
It was a blast! We ventured from the start at Fairhomes – the car park under the Derwent Dam, onto the first climb toward Lost Lad (the beginning of the 9 Edges Race route). Up and over – we steered toward the trig point at the very top and began a loop that saw us following a couple of miles worth of flagstones, a bit of bog, some open moorland and a testing single track or ‘trod’ that teeters over some vertical drops here and there. All of this before rejoining the path we used to ascend, dropping back down to the edge of the Derwent Reservoir and back to the cars.
Such fun. Everybody’s been talking about it since. We had a good strong turn out of 27 runners, with just about everybody already kitted up for such a challenging route. Main point of concern was the mist, which had visibility down to a few meters in places, which combined with the glare from the head torches meant we could barely see the ground well enough to place our feet. Slow going then, but just as well, since the limestone rocks, steep steps and flagstone paths threatened to have us on our backsides if we weren’t careful.
There were occasions where the surface got the better of us, with a few runners counting as many as three small slips along the way – but none so serious as to cause more than embarrassment. It was often the person laughing who’d slip next. Way it goes.
On this occasion I assumed the role of back marker, wearing my trusty Lightbender so Stu could keep easy track of the group when spread into single file. Worked like a charm, especially as fellow runner Peter Down had chosen the exact same arm band and the pair of us took turns at the back. The secret weapons in all that mist however, were Stu’s Walkie Talkies that we’d brought for communication between myself at the back and Stu up front. Perfect. I can’t say we didn’t abuse them slightly, with comments ranged from “eh?” and “say again!”, to Stu announcing that he was “Holding hard”, which duly became a theme for the remainder of the run. They did prove invaluable though, since they allowed us to check grouping in poor visibility and at one point early on, allowed me to notify Stu of a faulty head torch near the back, which I replaced temporarily using my own spare – then switched for a test torch we’d brought for runners to use if they fancied. So we had it covered.
In fact, we had everything covered. We all had a great laugh plodding across the snaky flagstones, dodging potholes and puddles while glimpsing the occasional vertical drop to our right. The pace was such that we all had breath for conversation, which meant we were all busy nattering to each other the entire 2 and a quarter hours that we were out. None of us could believe quite how long it had been, but the time really had flown thanks to the good time we were having.
Helping to keep me buoyant, were the shiny new Salomon S-LAB Fellcross 3 that I’d been offered for the run. Insanely grippy in the mud and wet grass. Felt a little snug to begin with, mainly on my left foot (which is slightly larger than my right) but soon eased and probably felt the most secure by the end of our jaunt. They were comfy while allowing me to feel exactly what was under foot. I opened up on occasion for a dash over soft ground, rocks or steep banks and none of it seemed too great a challenge for this spiky 4mm drop off road racing shoe. In short – loved ’em. Best of all, next morning the blister had calmed down completely and was beginning to toughen up. Hurrah!
Well worth having tried then, but there were also Head Torches on offer courtesy of Petzl, with several people benefitting from an upgrade and one or two noticing the improvement Petzl offered over what they’d brought with them. Suunto too, had brought some test product from their impressive Ambit3 range of sport and outdoor watches. Suunto Representative Ian was on hand before and after the run to assist in uploading all data collected during the run and answering questions about the incredible features these watches offer. They impressed everybody – especially Accelerate friend Lotty Bradford who was lucky enough to be testing not only footwear and watch, but also the new Movesense Bra from Salomon and Suunto combined. She has contributed a full review which you can read here, but in a nutshell – it’s a technical Sports Bra that accommodates the latest and most easy to use Hear Rate sensor via a one click hub right in the centre. So no more wrestling with strap upon strap while exercising. Very clever.
As for me, no Bra, but I was decked out in my usual Odlo Baselayer, which might have been enough to be honest, but I doubled up with the inov8 150 Stormshell which meant I was fully waterproof and snug as a bug up top when the breezy night air must have had the ambient temperature down to around 3 degrees. The inov8 Race Elite 195 3QTR tights were perfect for sparing me the soggy ankles you might get with full length tights and felt plenty warm enough. My Scott TP20 run pack offered enough belt mounted storage for gloves in case I’d needed them (I didn’t) and some snacks that I ended up ignoring. The mesh pockets on the shoulder straps were perfect for inov8 Race Ultra .25 Soft Flask one side and Walkie Talkie on the other. Inside I had dry bag full of inov8 Race Elite 260 Thernoshell for spare warm layer, mobile phone, spare batteries and spare head torch. I also had full waterproof trousers and spare beanie hat to replace my inov8 Wrag 30 that as ever – turned out to be the perfect headgear for wearing under my torch.
I wasn’t wearing one of the all singing, all dancing Ambit3 watches, but I did have on my faithful Suunto Quest, paired with GPS Pod – so below is a link to that evening’s info and the map below shows the route at a distance. I shall be returning to this one in the daylight, ideally when it’s been dry a while and see how it is when you can see the amazing scenery in all its glory. I suspect Accelerate will also be adding this route to the list of summer 2015 run outs for the same reason.
The Movescount info from my GPS can be viewed here.
So thanks to Salomon for the test shoes. Thanks to Suunto for the watches and the time spent uploading for everyone. Most of all, thanks to all who came along and joined in the fun. Bring on the next Head Torch Run! Details of all our events can be found by visiting the ‘events’ section of our Facebook page or website.