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Screw this!

 

Saucony have taken a bold step and released trail shoes which openly invite the user to customise them…

By drilling holes in them, or screwing screws into the underside.

And before you dismiss the idea, think about the possibilities.

We all appreciate a good trail shoe.  Comfort over an outright fell shoe, but more responsive and protective than the softer road alternatives.  The studs you find on most trail shoes offer traction and if made of the correct rubber, a lot of grip as well.  But only to a point.  No one shoe will work on all surfaces.  In fact, most appear to be aimed at a very specific terrain, from wet grass and mud to hard packed dirt or rock.

So what about a shoe designed for year round use, on all kinds of surfaces, with potential to adapt to seasonal requirements….?

The Mad River trail shoe from Saucony is just that.  A fully customisable shoe which will tolerate the use of additional metal studs – screwed into its outsole.

I mean, it’s a fair shoe to begin with.

4mm off-set from heel to toe.

Reasonable depth of cushion, but nothing too excessive while headed for softer ground anyway.

Roomy toe box, secure midfoot, rather like the Peregrine.

Then there’s the clever way in which the Mad River allows for the runner to adapt the lacing to suit their foot.  the fit can be tailored via two rows of lace holes, some of them loops, some of them eyelets.

 

photo – courtesy of Gear Junkie

Wide feet, high arches, tendonitis, spurs, plantar fasciitis, whatever the issue, there’s likely a lacing configuration to make life easier and the Mad River accommodates this very well.

The interior of the shoe is constructed as a one piece sock, with integrated tongue to prevent debris from entering.  They’re also gaiter compatible, with a loop at the forefoot and midfoot ‘gaiter track’ to allow the stirrup to sit flat to your foot and avoid being stepped on/broken.

The outsole has plenty of counter-directional aggressive sticky rubber lugs to begin with, but  here’s the weird and wonderful part:

The same ‘mapped’ outsole (marked up with what to use and where), will also serve as a super fast-draining wet weather shoe for those running through puddles, or as we suspect, obstacle courses with frequent waist deep troughs of dirty water to contend with.

photo – courtesy of Gear Junkie

Simply drill (yes drill) the underside where it suggests and create your own drainage.

Running on ice?  Mad River excels.  Running on wet weather trails?  Mad River excels.  Obstacle course racing?  Mad River excels.

The only thing I’d be worried about is chancing wet limestone….

The jury’s out on the wet limestone….  I mean if banana skins and eels had babies….

Purchase Mad River here.

 

 

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Polar Ignite Review – completely plagiarised by Houghboy

In an unprecedented move, I’ve literally ripped off another review here, because I couldn’t say it any better.

So courtesy of Mr. Duncan Bell via T3.com, here is a review of the all new Polar Ignite, a watch which has me excited, since it looks great, features colour touch screen and state of the art wrist based heart rate, but most importantly, might actually last for the time it takes me to complete an ultra distance event!  Oh and the price is what you’d expect from something ‘entry level’, which I assure you, this ain’t.

If, like me, you fall in love with this watch, you can purchase one here.

Fitbit fitness bands AND Garmin running watches could both be burned to the ground by Polar Ignite

A hybrid of lifestyle activity tracker and hardcore fitness watch for under £200

Polar of Finland has generally tended to make hardcore running watches for hardcore runners – the Vantage range, for instance. These have been very much ‘Garmin rivals’, although I dare say Polar doesn’t put it like that. With Polar Ignite, however, it’s putting tanks on Fitbit’s lawn, adding advanced sleep tracking and ‘wellness’ features to its usual range of formidably powerful fitness and activity monitoring tools. It’s also quite keenly priced, at least compared to the flagship Vantage V watch, with prices starting at £174.50.

For more casual fitness and wellness seekers, Polar Ignite offers the usual step-counting and all-day heart monitoring, so you can reassure yourself that you are not dead or in a coma. Accurate step and calorie tracking is promised, and the battery is good for a solid 5 days.

There’s also Sleep Stages Plus (‘scientifically validated with third parties’, you’ll be glad to know). This means monitoring of the stages of your sleep (light, deep, REM) in a similar way and with similar depth to Fitbit’s market-leading zzzz-counting software. A ‘Sleep Score’ – again, similar to Fitbit – lets you know how successfully you have slept.

However, Ignite also has something potentially much more useful in the form of Nightly Recharge. This uses your Sleep Score and information gleaned from the daily tracking of your activity and workouts to offer ‘personalised tips to help adjust your daily plan, so you can continue to improve your sleep and recovery, and ultimately improve your performance and fitness.’

Well, it could be useful or it could be crap. But at least Polar is trying to offer insights beyond steps taken and hours of sleep and exercise achieved. The key to this analysis is heart-rate monitoring (in fact, tracking the intervals between beats), and Polar’s Precision Prime cardio tech is arguably the best wrist-based tracking in the business.

The same heart-rate tracking excellence means the Ignite should also be a great fitness watch. Over 100 sports and activities can be tracked, while Polar’s FitSpark offers a daily, personalised training guide based on your fitness level, training history, and Nightly Recharge score. Polar Ignite can suggest exercises and targets within broad cardio, strength training, and performance categories – you select the actual cardio workouts you want to do, so it’s not overly prescriptive.

A Vo2 Max estimate is also made from the wrist-based, optical heart tracking, although at present this is only for runners not cyclists or cross-fit enthusiasts. Polar calls this ‘Running Index’ and it’s a very simple and easily understood way to rate your running. Using your training and fitness data, Ignite can also serve up a Polar Running Program, offering personalised guidance on training for races from a 5K to a full marathon.

Again more in the lifestyle and wellness area, Serene is another new feature and yet again, a similar one to what you’ll find on recent Fitbits. It offers ‘guided breathing exercises’, with visual cues helping you breathe in an allegedly stress-relieving manner.

Finally, swimmers will be glad to know that the Ignite is not only waterproof to 50m; it also offer indoor and outdoor swim tracking with metrics including stroke rate and distance swum.

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Gritstone Fixtures: Round Five – Great Hucklow Fell Race

 

Coming up in the Gritstone Series next week, Sunday 7th July, 11:00am – is the Great Hucklow Fell Race.

Okay, so the first thing is, looking at the official web page, they almost don’t want you to get there!

Here’s the section on reaching the race on time…

“Registration, start and finish are all at Great Hucklow Primary School, Great Hucklow (SK 178 781 map). Registration will be open by 9.30am or so and closes at 10.30am. Registration is close to the race start, but for most will be a fair walk from car parking.

Bus – Travelling from Sheffield? The No 65 leaves Sheffield Interchange at 09:35 and arrives in Great Hucklow at 10:27, cutting it fine for registration. You’ll need to pass a few hours before the return journey though, leaving at 16:33.

Bike – a few people most years make a proper day’s exercise of it and cycle to the registration. The hilly 25km from Sheffield, say, will give you a good excuse for a slow race time.

Train – Great Hucklow is around 8km and a hill away from 4 stations (Hope or Grindleford are most accessible) on the Hope Valley line between Manchester and Sheffield. Only really useful if you bring a bike on the train, or fancy a long walk here and back.

Car – parking is limited and we are keen to keep the overall environmental impact of the event to a minimum, so please car share so far as possible. Follow signs and instructions for parking areas. Designated areas have limited space, so you may need to find road side or on street parking – please park considerately remembering that residents need access to driveways and that the village main road is a bus route.

There is no parking at the school, and competitor or spectator vehicles are not allowed up the school lane from the main road through the village; please allow time to find parking and walk for up to ten minutes”.

Grrrreat!

But I did this race back in 2012 and it was a blast.  Year on year it turns out to be one of everybody’s favourites.  So what’s the deal…?

Well, look at this relief graph of the terrain/climb on the course:

Now factor in the weather, with plenty of rain until recently (perhaps not enough), we’ve ended up with news like this about the conditions out on the race route…

So parts of the course will be wet to say the least.  And do recall that shortly after the first major hill, there’s a good downhill stretch through reeds and bog which will hardly bother one runner, but consume the next entirely if they don’t look where they’re going.  All good fun.  Type 2 fun* anyway.

Besides, it’s only £5 to enter on the day and no complicated online entry confusion.  You race or you don’t, according to how you feel on the day and your ability to reach the start (arguably the hardest part).

In years gone by, there was always a free slice of flapjack for all participants, but I’m not entirely sure that they still follow that tradition, as the race has moved around a little and changed hands during the last 7 years.  Still, one can hope…

Established in 2002, this is a real Fell Race, one for those who enjoy hills, but for a change, it starts with a brief downhill stretch, so you might just get into a rhythm before the hard work kicks in.  Sure, there’s a lot of climb, but there are also road sections, single tracks, mud paths, trods, grassy meadows, farmers field, wooded sections, stiles, bog and wetland.  It’s quite ‘featured’ you might say.  There are some pretty little areas to ignore as your heart and lungs try to escape through your face, but the highlight always seems to be Race HQ, where people tend to congregate for a change, thanks to the fair weather and civilised start time of 11:00am.

Once the race has come to a close, most people are keen to hang around (waiting for that bus a mere 4 hrs later) to swap stories and battle scars.

While I raced in 2012, having just entered into the world of Fell Racing that year, I recall mistaking this for a much shorter course and believed that it was almost over at around 4 miles, only to glance up to the horizon and see a queue of runners far off in the distance.  The eventual measurement appeared to be closer to 7 miles and I was ‘hanging’ by the end.

You’ll get wet.  You’ll get muddy.  You’ll get tired.  You’ll grin from ear to ear.  You’ll enjoy a very friendly atmosphere at Race HQ.  You’ll likely avoid cycling to/from the event.  You may get flapjack…

*Type 2 fun is when you enjoy looking back at what you just did, despite not necessarily enjoying it while it was happening.  (Type 1 of course is just fun all the way.  With Type 3 being no fun at all – ever).

Type 1 – Smiles

Type 2 – It’s gonna be worth it!

Type 3 –

Supported as ever by inov-8 All Terrain Running and Accelerate.

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On Running Cloudstratus – first look…

 

You can have too much of a good thing……

….but sometimes – MORE is MORE!

 

Meet Cloudstratus.  The all new deep cushion, high miler from On.

These ‘double-decker’ shoes, at first glance take some getting used to, but boy are they equipped with some serious cushioning?!

But cushioning alone can be too much of a good thing, unless stable.  Which is why Swiss running engineers On have fashioned the Cloudstratus in such a way that it still remains structured enough for a responsive ride, strong push off and a feeling of comfort throughout what may, for many, prove to be longer runs than they previously imagined possible…

The genius, as ever, with these is in the ‘Clouds’ under foot.  The carefully crafted tubes provide a specific measure of collapse, while avoiding the point at which a runner might simply sink into their own footwear.  The shock absorption is at a premium, while the foot come to rest very comfortably upon a firm, responsive material which feels secure under-foot when you begin to push.  The difference here, with all On shoes following much the same pattern otherwise, is that with the secondary layer of Clouds, the runner can enjoy more of the same sensation, with increased protection from impact- without loss of return when propelling themself.

So the jury’s out, but the idea is sound enough.  The shoes are very nice indeed.   Oh, and it’s an 8mm drop from heel to toe, something are in On’s case, with the majority so far featuring 6mm or 7mm off-sets.  So if you’re used to having plenty of shoe under you.  If you like and get along with an 8mm heel to toe drop, then these puppies just might end up being your new favourite pair of trainers.

Can’t resist?  Purchase a pair here.  Ladies…. here.

Here, feast on some statistics…

 

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British Masters 5K Road Champs, Horwich, Sunday 16/06/19.

Dot Kesterton is no stranger to BUZZ, with plenty of experience, teaching runners half her age how it’s done!

Running for #TeamAccelerate, as well as Sheffield’s Steel City Striders & her local ladies club ‘Smiley Paces’ – she competes within the V60 category (outdoing many in the V50 & V40) and runs like she means it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

British Masters Athletics Federation 5K Road Championships,

Horwich, Sunday 16th June 2019.

Thanks to the phenomenon of Parkrun, my Saturday morning fix, I have become adept over the last six or seven years at plodding round Sheffield parks for twenty something minutes a time over a measured 5K distance. So it seemed a natural step to apply all that preparation and experience and enter The BMAF 5K Road Championships in Horwich, Bolton last Sunday.

Horwich, a pleasant town just off the M61 hosts an annual running, race walking and cycling festival. The event organisation is efficient; there is a spacious new leisure centre as a base, plenty of additional toilets and the town centre, traffic free course is flattish, just 153’ ascent overall.

The festival incorporates the British Masters race as part of the event. This is for athletes over 35 years old and is set in 5 year age categories from 35+ with no upper age limit. It also serves as a qualifying race for the England Athletics Celtic Nations International Masters Cross Country race in mid November, this year to be held in Southport.

As an FV65 I checked the start list looking for my adversaries. Yes, a few familiar names popped up.

The real talent in the line up was Angela Copson, now FV70 but a formidable World Champion across a range of events, track, road and Cross Country, I have yet to beat. I noted that men in the race outnumbered women by around 2-1.

After collecting my number, a thorough warm up and several ‘just in case’ toilet stops, I lined up with the cream of British older athletes for an 11:00 start. Children’s cycle races preceded the race, a joy to watch as big and little kids on an assortment of bikes pedalled their hearts out on the course.

For all my aforementioned experience at Parkrun I still leapt off at the claxon like the proverbial startled ferret and recorded a 6:35 first mile, ridiculous at my age (67) and with two miles and no puff to go. Forced to slow down by the horrible rasping sounds coming from deep inside my throat I tried to gulp more air and look as if I knew what I was doing for the remaining two laps. Angela was clearly having a rest day, being the only FV70 in the race, but I had business to attend to and a medal to claim.

I finished, wrecked, in 22:02minutes, a 2019 PB by 12 seconds. Angela was right behind me, looking infuriatingly serene, but I had managed to beat her, just. This gave me a gold medal and a 92%AG and top UK ranking for my age, so perhaps gasping all the way round was worth it after all.

I know that the race calendar is full at this time of year but I do recommend this event as a fast and flat road race. To run as a British Master you have to join a regional club like Northern Masters AC as second claim club but then options of regional, national and even international competition become possible. I went to Horwich as the only Sheffield competitor. It would be great to have a few familiar faces with me next year.

The race was won by Mick Hill M40, Leeds City AC in 15:36 and by Kelly Edwards F40 Leamington Cycling and AC in 17:43.

Dot Kesterton, Steel City Striders.

19th June 2019.

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