Sandbaggers – UltrAspire Kinetic Rucksack / Running Vest

The weekend just got a whole lot better. We are heading to Elgin this weekend and that means a return to running in the excellent Quarrel Wood. As if that wasn’t reason enough to enjoy the weekend, some shiny new kit has arrived for me to test courtesy of I have had my eye on UltrAspire packs for a while now and in particular, the Kinetic pack as I prefer to use bottles for my hydration.

With an uncanny kinesthesia* sense, this is the first performance bottle vest backpack! Finally, those who love bottles can return to them wearing a revolutionary vest! With an emphasis on freedom of movement, form follows function, in this power packed race vest. Also featuring Body Rhythm™ harness, this pack is built from the waist up to retain a low center of gravity for balance and control while animating the pack with motion capability that mimics the movement of a human athlete’s hips and shoulders, as opposing forces in motion. This means the pack moves multi-directionally in tandem with the wearer.

*Kinesthesia relates to that sense that detects bodily position, weight, or movement of the muscles, tendons, and joints, and intuitively responds to them all.

Can’t wait to hit the trails and test out the Kinetic. First impressions are really positive. The pack is of a very high quality build, stuffed with neat little features, and comes in at only 436g (size large). Full review to follow once I have had a chance to fully test out the pack.

Thanks to for providing the Kinetic for review.

Ultra Cavalls del Vent

Terry Conway, who broke the records at both the West Highland Way Race and the Lakeland 100 this year, will line up alongside the likes of Kilian Jornet, Miguel Heras, Dakota Jones, Anton Krupicka, Joe Grant, Philipp Reiter and approximately 1000 other runners at the 4th edition of the Ultra Cavalls del Vent this weekend.

The Ultra Cavalls del Vent, covering 84km with 12,000m of vertical ascent & descent and an average incline of 14% is Terry’s first international race. All the very best to Terry.

Inov-8 Trailroc Review

I was lucky enough to try the new Inov-8 Trailroc 235 trainers at the recent Scottish Barefoot Run and was impressed with both the roomy fit and excellent grip of the shoe. I was surprised at just how sure footed I felt ascending and descending Salisbury Crag and wondered how the shoes would perform on longer runs.

The guys over at Ultra168 have answered that question. Testing the 245 and 255 versions of the new Trailrocs, the reviewers came to the conclusion that, “like much of the Inov-8 range, it serves one purpose and one purpose well, to go long”.

Philips Sports SHQ4000 Headphones

Update 9th April 2013: The Philips Sports SHQ4000 Headphones lasted 6 months before the sound completely cut out in the left ear bud. After checking to see what sports headphones were available, I opted to return to Sennheiser, this time selecting the Sennheiser PX 685i Sports. Fingers crossed these last longer than 6 months. Failing that, they do at least come with a 2 year guarantee.

Original Post:

Having destroyed yet another pair of Sennheiser PMX80 sports headphones I decided I had best order up a replacement pair. As a result of my small ear cavities I have found that most headphones just don’t sit well in my ears and, more often that not, fall out again within minutes. That’s before I even add exercise in to the mix!

Approximately 5 years ago I found Sennheiser sports headphones, lime green PMX70s and then orange PMX80s. I have gone through around 5 pairs of these headphones in those 5 years but, given the daily use, ‘abuse’, and regular lashings of sweat, a lifespan of approx. one year seems acceptable enough to me.

While in Menorca recently another pair bit the dust with the usual issue of intermittent sound in one ear bud signalling their demise, no doubt the result of too much exposure to sweat. Given that exactly the same thing happened the last time I was in Menorca, I had the foresight to pack an emergency pair, a pair of over the ear headphones that I had purchased in Menorca back in 2011 to see me through the rest of the holiday and the flight home.

Unfortunately, when it comes to running, the replacement headphones just wouldn’t stay in and, as such, I decided just to enjoy the sounds of Menorca rather than my usual dose of trance.

Back in the UK I had to find a replacement pair and, upon looking for the usual Sennheiser PMX80s, found that they were either no longer available at the ‘usual’ retailers or were considerably more expensive than they had been previously.

So, time for a change, and, after much deliberation, I opted for the Philips Sport SHQ4000 headphones.

“Whether you’re at home or on the move, enjoy all your favourite tracks with the Philips Sports SHQ4000 washable neckband headphones. With its flexible lightweight neckband and bass thumping stereo sound, these headphones feature ultra-soft silicone caps which sit comfortably in your ears. These sweat-proof headphones provide fantastic sound isolation to help minimise environmental noise and with its 1.2m cable, the Philips Sports SHQ4000’s are great for use outdoors.”

So far I am impressed. Comfortable, flexible and washable with a good enough sound quality and, most importantly, they stay on when I move! Here’s hoping they last at least a year!

Luongo Footwear

I was delighted to hear from Michael Luongo of Luongo Footwear with regard to the possibility of reviewing this new brand of minimalist footwear. From their website:

“Running in Luongo’s is a true barefoot experience. Luongo’s provide you with the absolute minimal footwear needed. You’ll be closer to the ground than ever before, and better because of it.

Truly inspired by all of the positive changes in his body after switching his own workouts to barefoot workouts, founder and creator Michael Luongo also transitioned his walk and run programs to barefoot or minimalist programs. Luongo, an established personal trainer in San Diego and owner of BodyRefinery in Encinitas, CA, wanted a more ‘bare’ footwear than what was currently available on the market.

Taking it upon himself to create the ideal footwear, he has succeeded in creating a one-of-a-kind that brings you closer to the ground than any footwear currently on the market.”

I have run in quite a few minimalist shoes over the past two years but never in a product with such a soft sole, which is described as follows:

“100% super grade, puncture resistant, slip resistant, 3mm neoprene with an extra slip resistant surface texture (SRST). Your new neoprene soles were designed to run on almost any outdoor surface or treadmill”

With a stated aim of protecting feet from cuts, scrapes and dirt, whilst, at the same time, offering the closest running experience to actually running barefoot, this looks like an interesting product and I am looking forward to receiving a pair to review. Full review to follow once I get a chance to try them out and, in the meantime, why not check out their website and Twitter feed:

Look Out! Owls!

I came across the following article on courtesy of Facebook. Having myself been ‘accosted’ by an owl while out trail running late at night, it was interesting to read of similar experiences, albeit on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Running along the Formartine & Buchan old railway route, in the pitch black bar the light of my headtorch and listening to trance music on the headphones, I was more than a little shocked to find the light of my torch reflecting off of an incoming owl as it swooped down right at me. Under the circumstances it looked massive, though the reality of the situation may have been quite different! Regardless of size, the continual swooping and diving of the owl made it obvious that I was an unwelcome guest and I ended up about turning and running away from the owl, back in the direction that I had come from.

The incidents reported involve owls mistaking women’s pony tails for squirrels and mistaking reflective arms bands for an animal’s reflective eyes.

Barefoot To Strike Again

The success of the inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run has made it to The Scottish Running Guide:

“The inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run and Conference proved such a success that plans are already underway to host the event again next year. Barefoot and minimalist running enthusiasts were greeted by sunshine as they took to Edinburgh on Saturday (15 September) for the run which is based on the New York event and aims to help promote the natural running movement.”

The article even includes a ‘quote’ from me, taken from my blog post:

“Another runner, Jonathan McIntosh (Mackintosh), said: ‘An excellent, highly informative day was had by all and we even got a glimpse of what summer should have looked like, albeit a slightly windy version from our viewpoint over Edinburgh from the crags underneath Arthur’s Seat.'”

If you are looking for a great read, be sure to check out ‘Australasia’s only magazine devoted to the dirty art of trail running’, trailrunmag. The website itself is worth checking out but don’t miss the excellent ezines, a cracking read and packed full of excellent articles accompanied by glorious photos. You won’t be disappointed!

100,000 Bugs!

Congratulations to The Running Bug on reaching 100,000 members today!

“Today The UK’s fastest growing website for runners,, hit its 100,000th member.

The Running Bug brings runners of all levels to a place where they can share their passion, get involved, be encouraged and encourage others to run more and enjoy their running.

The site provides a unique and comprehensive mix of social content, interactive tools, social and community features and commerce.”

Inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run Summary

A collection of photos showing future Merrell Product, Inov-8 Trailroc 235s, and the route of the Scottish Barefoot Run & Conference, mostly in and around Salisbury Crag.

New post at The Running Bug, ‘Inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run Summary‘.

An excellent, highly informative day was had by all at the inaugural Scottish Barefoot Run and we even got a glimpse of what summer should have looked like, albeit a slightly windy version from our viewpoint over Edinburgh from the crags underneath Arthur’s Seat.

The event got underway at 11am with registration and the opportunity to view current and future product from the likes of Merrell, Vibram Five Fingers, Vivobarefoot, Inov8 and Pearl Izumi.

Vibram Five Fingers and inov8 offered participants the opportunity to try out some product while out on the run and I opted for a pair of the new Inov8 Trailroc 235 with a 0mm drop.

The run was from Bruntsfield Links down to Holyrood Park entering by the Commonwealth Pool, up on to Salisbury Crag and along the top, providing excellent views of the Castle and the rest of Edinburgh, then down to the Palace and on to the Royal Mile at The Scottish Parliament. The route then headed up to the Castle and dropped into the Grassmarket. From there, it was up some old town steps to Lauriston Place past the spectacular Heriots School, into Middle Meadow Walkway and back to Bruntsfield Links.

With a perfect mix of terrain, taking in the sights and sounds of Edinburgh (pipers on the royal mile for that traditional Scottish sound) and a distance of just over 5 miles (not including the slight ‘detour’ my wayward group took!) the run had something for all tastes and served to promote Edinburgh as a potential running destination. I think there were more than a few of us left wishing that we had somewhere as cool as the Crags to run on a daily basis, especially given the close proximity to the city.

I ended up running for a while with top Vibram Barefoot Coach Helen Hall and her partner, and benefited greatly from advice offered both directly to myself and to others. I immediately felt the benefit of some of the tips, including:

  • Adopt a similar zig-zag approach on descents as you would while skiing as this saves the legs and lets you better control your descent
  • Stand tall and push from the rear – avoid slouching forward
  • Rotate the upper body
  • Aim for a high cadence with lots of little steps. Your feet should land underneath your body rather than far in front of it which helps to avoid heel striking

After a leisurely lunch out on the Links, the group decanted to the Eric Liddell Centre for the afternoon’s events, the conference element of the day. The conference was excellent, with 2 great presentations, each with a slightly different focus. Both Ben le Vacant from Vivobarefoot and Matt Walden from Primal Lifestyle, official distributor of Vibram Five Fingers in the UK, delivered informative, engaging presentations that kept the audience interested and, more often than not, amused. I particularly liked the point that 3.6 million years worth of evolution can’t be wrong!

All participants received a pair of TEKO Socks and there were various other freebies on offer from buffs to keyrings.

The event finished with a Q&A session which, I am sure, could have run on a lot longer had time permitted.

This looks likely to be an annual event and a Facebook group has been set up to promote minimalist running in Scotland.

Thanks to event organisers Colin McPhail and Donnie Campbell for an excellent day, and also to all of the helpers on the day. Thanks also to all the companies who came along to instruct and to let participants see and use both current and future products.

The Scottish Barefoot Run High Speed

The following video, prepared by Colin McPhail, shows the route that was taken on the day.