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Tag Archives: Mountain Running

Saucony Xodus Ultra, Tried, Tested and Reviewed

Accelerate Community member and Accelerate Trail Runners run leader Graeme has been lucky enough to get his hands on a pair of the new Saucony Xodus Ultra. Now available from the Accelerate store, to find the specs of the shoe Click Here >>. Keep reading to hear how he got on. Spoiler alert, they are good!

I’m not normally a reviewer and I won’t go into too many technical details. I’ll just concentrate on how they feel to run in.  I normally wear the Scott Supertrac Ultra, so this was my main comparison.

 

Straight out of the box

My first thought was that they were a bit big for my usual 10UK. However, slipping them on I realised they could easily be tightened up. The springy laces, along with the super stretchy upper, moulded to my odd shaped feet straight away.  Lots of lovely room for my forefoot and no heel slippage.  So all held in place but would it be too tight?  Well no, the upper stretches where it needs to: around my feet’s lumps and bumps — all good and no ‘squeezing’ of the forefoot even when the foot bends.

 

First run thoughts

So off for a swift 7k run around my local loop. The first of 4 runs in them from 7k to 29k. All on a mix terrain, from mud, packed trails, gravel, tree roots, wet rock and even some quite long tarmac sections.  Nothing bothered them.  On all the runs they felt very plush; especially in the heel. This felt very soft and forgiving.  Would I get the control my iffy feet and ankles need?  Yes again, all felt very stable, so soft and stable. I have no idea how that works, but it does.  The cushioned forefoot, lacking in some shoes, now also became noticeable whilst running. Lovely, and no aching, which I sometimes get after a while wearing a firmer shoe.

With such a high stack height I started off careful making sure not to slip or twist an ankle.  I soon realised I didn’t have to bother, I just didn’t notice it.  With such plush cushioning there can sometimes be a loss of ground feel, however, not in these and they have a rock plate.  The balance between ground feel and ground intrusion seems well balanced.  I even deliberately ran over some sharp rock edges and while I could feel them, they didn’t intrude or hurt.

 

I’ve even run a tarmac Parkrun. Admittedly bobbing onto the grass wherever I could.  With no sense of dragging a big and heavy shoe around, they felt light and easy to run in.  No doubt the shorter distance, ‘fast’ shoes would feel lighter but I don’t normally run in those, I need cushioning, it worked for me.  In all the runs I have done there was no rubbing, or blistering from the off even with wet feet.  The Saucony’s felt much more cushioned and possibly lighter than the Scott though I’ve no idea of the actual weight of each.

 

Conclusion

Pros: well everything; a highly cushioned straight out of the box shoe that can do just about anything bar extremes of terrain (I suspect – but who knows!).

Cons: Nothing except possibly that they run a bit big, but if you’re running long distances and need that extra room then maybe don’t bother going down a half size — it didn’t get in the way for me especially when I ran a longer distance using thicker socks.  Oh, and mine are bright yellow – not a colour I’d normally pick but I’ve worked on that and they now are a muddy, mottled yellow/brown!

 

Has the all new Saucony Xodus intrigued? The Men’s can be found here >> and the Women’s available here >> Or you can pop down to the Accelerate Running Store to try a pair out.

Scott Supertrac 3: Tried, Tested and Abused

Meet the new and improved, do it all, mountain shoe from Scott the Supertrac 3. Team Accelerate Athlete and all round shoe nerd Harvey has been busy putting them through their paces.

Both the men’s and women’s are available in-store and online from Accelerate. The men’s are available here >> and the women’s here >> 

Get to know the Supertrac 3

  • 320g in men’s 8UK 290g in women’s 6UK
  • 8mm drop 29mm in the heel 21mm in the forefoot
  • 6mm deep lugs providing All Terrain Traction

Let’s start with a few specs, the new Supertrac 3 comes in at 320g for a men’s 8 UK and 290g from women’s 6 UK. The 8mm drop combined with Scotts new AeroFoam+ midsole and iconic eRIDE rocker results in a fast and poppy turnover. A new ripstop upper solves lots of the durability issues that have appeared in older versions.

First impression:

Out of the box they have a sturdy and well built feel. The fit through the midfoot feels a little narrower than other Scotts but eases after the first few uses. A padded tongue and heel counter gives the shoe an extra plush feel, ideal for spending all day in them. New for version 3 of the Supertrac is Scotts Aerofoam+ midsole, the same as found in their RC lineup. Boasting better weight to cushioning ratio and having increased energy return is certainly something you can feel. I never got on with the older version they felt heavy, clunky, and cumbersome. Well, all that’s changed, they now feel poppy almost helping your legs to turn over at a faster cadence without trying. Flipping the shoe over is where it gets exciting, chunky 6mm chevron lugs make light work of muddy trails, however, thanks to their larger volume don’t lose out on harder trails or connecting roads. The All Terrains Traction Scott claim certainly fits the bill.

How are they holding up:

After around 90 miles of use, amazingly. I have to admit that I’m not the most diligent with cleaning my shoes. And still, these beauties are showing hardly any signs of wear. I have used them in a real mix of conditions. From hard packed trails, gravel, loose dirt to deep soul sucking mud, the outsole still looks in great nic. A shoe designed primarily for the mud and tougher going trails then I have been blown away by how well they handle themselves on longer road sections. Traditionally with a shoe that has deeper lugs, you sacrifice its ability to run on the road, the Supertrac 3 doesn’t! The upper and in particular where the little toe sits still looks solid, this is very reassuring as this is where previous models have failed.

Who is the Supertrac 3 best for:

If you are after a grippy trail come fell shoe with a good amount of cushioning that can tackle running on the road for a prolonged period. Something you can spend all day in, then the Supertrac 3 could be just what you are looking for.

Sold on them and want a pair right now? The men’s are available here >> and the women’s are available here >>  Or if you are not quite convinced, pop down to the Accelerate Running Store and try a pair out now.

Head Torches, What kind to get and why

Its that time of year again. The nights drawing in, clocks going back, scrambling around to find the head torch you haven’t used since last winter. Only to find it ran out of battery a long time ago. Maybe its time for a new one? Well with a plethora of different models, designs and styles all boasting different lumens and burn times how do you know which is right for you? We have tried to put together a little guide that will hopefully de-mask the confusion of getting a new head torch.

The first question you need to ask yourself is what am I using it for. This for us breaks down into the two categories, being seen or seeing.

Being Seen

  • Commuting
  • Road Running
  • Non-Technical trails

These types of runs don’t always require a huge amount of light. If you just want to be seen when running on the pavement a hi-vis vest might do just the trick. However, if you are road running on unlit areas where you need a touch more light the Petzl Bindi, really comes into its own. Its lightweight and compact design still packs enough punch to light your way. Weighing only 35g and pushing out 200 lumens. It’s great for sticking in a commuting bag as a just in case or for dark evening runs that’s just pushing it a little too much without one.

Seeing

  • Off-Road, Trail and Fell Running
  • Technical Terrain
  • Long Night Time Adventures

Heading off-road? well, this is where it gets a little more confusing, so here come a few more questions.

  • What sort of terrain are you planning on running on?
  • How long are you going to be out for?

Brightness:

Depending on the terrain you are heading for can affect the amount of light you might need. A good guide to follow, the more technical of the terrain the more light you need. This is where Lumens* can be miss leading. As a torch with a white light may seem brighter than that of a yellow-tinted light. However, having a lower lumen count. This is where it can get confusing with different opinions. Personally, I think you can never have too much light. But others are happy with 200-lumen head torches. Here at Accelerate, we have a range from Petzl and Silva that cover a lot of different brightnesses. Starting at the Silva Trail Runner Free H with 400lm but a very white light all the way up to the Petzl Swift RL that has a whopping 900lm, my personal favourite.

Battery Life:

If you are never out for more than a few hours the battery life of your touch won’t be too much of a worry. But if you are into longer nighttime adventures that are hour on hour the life of your torch is much more of a concern. No one wants to be stuck on the side of a dark hillside with no lights. The Petzl Nao+ Head Lamp or the Silva Trail Runner Free Ultra are both great examples of torches that can go all through the night and still have power left over in the morning. Their only downside is the battery pack on the back of your head that increases the weight.

Hopefully, we have managed to spread some light on what head torch you need but if you are still unsure as to what you need either give the store and call or pop in and we are more than happy to chat you through what you might need.

To see our full range of head torches follow the like here >>

*Lumens = Light Output. In simple terms, Lumens are a measure of the total amount of visible light (to the human eye) from a light source. The higher the lumen rating the “brighter” the torch will appear.

Race to the stones 100k – Virtually

On July 6th 2020 Accelerate community member Simon headed out what can only be described as a monumental challenge both physically and mentally. Keep reading to hear what crazy feat he attempted.

 

The alarm goes off and I rush to silence it because I don’t want to wake my wife up: not at this hour. I creep through to the bathroom where I find my running kit piled in the corner ready for me and then I make my way downstairs to grab a quick bite to eat. I unlock the front door and in the porch I pull on my trail shoes and look out at the weather that awaits me. It’s raining, not enough to need wet weather gear on a normal day… but this isn’t a normal day. I put a rain jacket on and dig out a pair of waterproof trousers that I’ve never even considered running in before. They are far too heavy for the job but the clock is ticking and I need to be on my way. Already, momentum is everything. I quickly add a pair of gloves and a fluorescent beanie hat to complete the look and at 04:54 I push the start button on my Polar watch as I head down the road on my way towards the Redmires reservoirs. I look at the sky and am amazed at how light it is already – despite the gloom of the weather – and I hope it is still light when I finish… whenever that may be. As I begin my journey down the lonely street, I have time to think about how I ended up here.

It was probably about a year before that I signed up to do the 2020 Race to the Castle, a 100km event from Kirkharle to Bamburgh Castle. I’d run a couple of marathons previously and managed

to run/walk the Dig Deeper 50km as the sweeper back in September 2019 but this was a chance to go beyond double figures! I convinced myself, as I often do, that it wasn’t as far as it sounded. ‘It’s only a 10km run done ten times, isn’t it?’, I would say to anyone who asked. I began training in earnest under Stu’s eye at the start of 2020 and everything was on course until Coronavirus hit. It was inevitable that an event involving over 1000 participants would be cancelled and so in early April we changed the plan and settled down to a more ‘routine’ form of training.

 

However, as lockdown continued and I ran my regular route round the reservoirs I kept hearing that voice in my head saying ‘It’s only this 10km run ten times, isn’t it?’ By late June it was no longer a question of IF I was going to try this, it was WHEN… and then Threshold Sports announced their Virtual Race to the Stones. The running stars had aligned and I had to break it to Stu what was going to happen. In fairness he took it well and within the week I was starting my first of what was planned to be ten laps of Redmires.

 

The first lap was uneventful, other than losing a glove on the way round, but I realised that the mix of a head wind, my height and the wet weather gear was going to be a problem… it was like running with a parachute on. On the second lap I decided a fast walk in to the wind was more efficient and used the wind to help me on the way back… I also found my glove! For each lap from then, it was always a fast walk out and as much running as I could manage on the way back… which was very little after about 60km!

My porch served as basecamp between each lap, with a box of provisions placed there the night before. The routine was to write up my time and distance on a backboard, take a photo to send out on social media, plug my watch and phone in to recharge and then eat and drink what I could. Bananas, apple juice and chocolate featured highly and I aimed to get through all this and back on the road in under 20 minutes, which I usually achieved.

 

I was out of the waterproof trousers after lap four (a marathon in those!!) and after lap six I had a change of socks, shoes and top. I also switched to my road shoes which were kinder on my tired feet when I hit the tarmac but I felt every stone through their softer sole on the off road sections of the route… ouch!

As time passed, so did the kilometres and before I knew it I was well beyond my previous experience. I felt worst on lap eight but by then I had a few running friends joining to keep me going and for laps nine and ten I had quite the posse along… all socially distanced of course. In the end lap ten didn’t need to be the full 10km, as each previous lap was actually 4-500m longer than planned leaving me only 6km to do, so I never made it round the reservoirs the tenth time.

I passed the 100km mark just before I got home, making it back at just after 21:30, 16 hours and 44 minutes after I started… and it was still light! I had done it.

Running and walking 100km on limited training may not be easy or even sensible but it isn’t impossible. It’s amazing what we can achieve if we put our minds to it… and have friends helping too. Fancy doing 100km? Want my advice? Go for it… it’s only doing a 10km run ten times after all!

Scott Supertrac 2, Making the fast, faster!

Accelerate-Scott Team member Harvey has been lucky enough to get his hands on a pair of the new Scott Supertrac 2’s and over the last month has been putting them through their paces. Keep reading to hear what he has to think about this iconic shoe from Scott.

When I initially heard Scott were updating the Supertrac i was very sceptical as they have easily been my favourite trail and fell shoe for the whole 2019. Weather it was racing or training, short or long it worked for it all. Thankfully Scott follow along the lines of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. And wow, I think they nailed it. Everything I loved about the Supertrac 1 has remained with some very subtle tweaks to push it to the next level.

Straight out the box and I knew that they hadn’t changed too much. The main changes are an update to the outsole and a redesigned upper and lacing system.

Redesigned – The Upper
The biggest and most prominent change has to be the update to the upper, it now uses Schoeller’s Coldback fabric for better breathability, heat protection and increased comfort. Something I found with the Supertrac 1 was that the upper always felt a little tough and restrictive. Now however the Scheoller fabric hugs your foot allowing it to move but still maintaining a lock down feel you can trust. This could also be due to the update on the lacing, with an extra eyelet to help when using a runners loop to further lockdown your foot. Perfect for those steep technical descents where you need to be able to trust in your shoes. In terms of longevity with the new material, I have done just over 100 miles in mine and they aren’t showing any signs of wear.


The Outsole
The next change you can see is to the pattern of the outsole. The lugs have been spread out to help reduce the amount of mud that can get stuck in them without losing traction. When you are running this isn’t something you are likely to notice straight away. It certainly doesn’t hold them back. I have taken them on some pretty rough descents and not once did it slip or give me any reason not to trust them completely. Weather it was wet rock, deep mud or long grass they just didn’t budge. Just what you want from a trail shoe that can easily cope with a little open ground and fell.


The Midsole
The finally change they made is to the feel of the midsole, it is, to me, feeling a touch softer than its predecessor. This is due to the grooves which have been added to the midfoot area of the outsole allowing more flexibility throughout the shoe. For me this is no bad thing and I know of a few people saying the 1 was a little to firm at times. With this slight change it makes them feel even more lively when you hit a hard packed trail or road section. They continue to feel responsive, with the advantage of also feeling more nimble through more rugged terrain.

After 100 miles, they are showing hardly any signs of wear, very true to scott.

This is definitely an upgrade for the Supertrac while keeping most of the features that made them the shoes people love. If you liked the 1 then the upgrade is worth a look or if you are after a new pair of trail or fell shoes then these could be a big contender for you.

Get your pair now, Mens here >> Ladies here >>

Running and Music, a perfect harmony by Will Burton

Will Burton is a member of Team Accelerate-SCOTT, and regularly trains with the watchful eye of coach Stu. However Will is also incredible when it comes to playing the Tuba, so amazing in fact he made it to the finals for Young Muscian of the Year for Brass instruments. Post competition Will has put pen to paper with his thoughts on the correlation between running and music.

With music, just like running, I feel it is always important to push yourself. In both disciplines, finding new challenges brings about the greatest improvement.

 

I was certainly nervous before the competition, but following previous weeks, months and to some extent years of preparation I knew this was a challenge I was ready to tackle. Performing to a panel of professional musicians and an audience in the Dora Stoutzker concert hall in Cardiff was a great experience. Perhaps the best thing about the event was being able to put my name out not only to people who attended the performance live, but all the viewers at home too.

Like with running races my performance wasn’t perfect – there were things I wish I could have done better. But no performance, be it musical or athletic, is ever perfect. However, these mistakes always serve as something to learn from, allowing us to improve.

 

Given the current pandemic it can be difficult to summon the motivation to tackle new running challenges; after all, there are no races to train for! However, there are plenty of goals to work towards as runners despite the current situation. For example, time trials are a great way to test yourself over a set course or distance, providing point of focus in your training. Now might also be the time to double down on strength and plyometrics, or perhaps cross-training to keep your exercise interesting and alleviate stress on your knees and feet. There is plenty to go at, you just need to find what works for you.

 

Good luck with your training!

Accelerate Lifestyle Limited

Accelerate UK: Sheffield and the Peak's Largest dedicated Running Store Road Running, Fell and Trail, along with Adventure Racing are all covered in store. A wide choice of product is backed up with an unprecedented level of experience and running knowledge. At Accelerate we love our running, we would suggest it shows.