Harris Robert Mackintosh

It’s been an ultra event of a different sort for me these past few days and, for once, one where it’s not been me who has been in pain. Our first child, a son, was due to arrive on 20th February 2013 but decided not to make an appearance until today, the 28th. Leanne’s waters broke back on Saturday evening, with contractions starting the next day, making for an ‘ultra birth’ by the time baby actually arrived. Unlike most of my ultra events, I had the ‘easy’ part this time round – staying awake – and even that proved tough enough!

Welcome to our world Harris Robert Mackintosh,

  • Weight: 7 pounds 11.5 ounces
  • Born: 14:45 28th February 2013

New Merrell Spring Styles Available Now

The Merrell shoe range has been refreshed and updated in time for Spring, with new models and colour options available. Those looking for something for longer distances should check out the new aggressive trail shoe, the Mix Master Tuff (review), while minimalist fans should check out the Vapor Glove, Merrell’s most minimal barefoot shoe to date, and the Bare Access 2. See what Birthday Shoes have to say about the Vapor Glove and Bare Access 2 below:

Mix Master Tuff

Feel the freedom of more ground connection with our tough-as-nails Mix Master Tuff: a minimalist hiking shoe with 4mm drop in its lightweight cushioning, and an ultra lightweight upper built to last. Our Float™ midsole’s low profile, athletic design gives you better ground feel and control. Sticky lugs feel aggressive in town and on the trail.

Upper/Lining

  • Fabric and synthetic upper
  • Bellows tongue keeps debris out
  • M-Select FRESH naturally prevents odor before it starts for fresh smelling feet
  • EVA anatomical footbed
  • Reflective details for increased visibility in low light

Midsole/Outsole

  • 4mm Drop / 12mm Cush / 23mm Stack Height
  • Merrell air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
  • Merrell Float™ midsole is 10% thinner and 25% lighter to provide more feel and ground control
  • Trail Protect pad in the forefoot offers additional support off road
  • 3.5mm lugs for more street to trail feel
  • M-Select GRIP tunes each outsole with durable traction that grips when and where you need it

Men’s Sizes: 7-12,13,14,15 Men’s Weight: 10oz (1/2 pair)

Barefoot Run Bare Access

The best of all barefoot worlds, our Bare Access shoe has a 0mm drop to let your feet land flat, and uniform toe to heel cushioning – an ideal feature for longer distances, harder surfaces or transitioning to barefoot running. Its breathable upper adds to your foot freedom with its feather-light construction.

Upper/Lining

  • Mesh and synthetic upper
  • Molded eyelets for secure lacing
  • Fused rubber toe bumper provides durability and protection
  • External heel stability arm
  • M-Select FRESH naturally prevents odor before it starts for fresh smelling feet
  • Reflective details for increased visibility in low light

Midsole/Outsole

  • 0mm Drop / 8mm Cush / 13.5mm Stack Height
  • Vibram® outsole

Men’s Sizes: 7-12,13,14,15 Men’s Weight: 7oz (1/2 pair)

Barefoot Run Vapor Glove

Give your feet a breath of fresh air on the run with the barefoot breathability of our Vapor Glove. Zero drop cushioning lands your foot pancake flat for full ground contact, merged with its all mesh upper (washable!) that molds to your foot while ventilating heat and moisture.

Upper/Lining

  • Breathable mesh upper
  • External TPU heel sling for contoured support
  • M-Select FRESH naturally prevents odor before it starts for fresh smelling feet
  • Mesh footbed
  • Reflective details for increased visibility in low light
  • Wash as needed in cold water (gentle cycle). Air dry

Midsole/Outsole

  • 0mm Drop / 0mm Cush / 5.5mm Stack Height
  • Vibram® outsole

Men’s Sizes: 7-12,13,14,15 Men’s Weight: 5oz (1/2 pair)

First Impressions – Mizuno Wave EVO Cursoris and Levitas

Approximately 2 weeks ago I took delivery of the Mizuno Wave EVO Cursoris and the Mizuno Wave EVO Levitas, the latest offerings from Mizuno, designed to encourage a mid-foot or forefoot strike, with zero drop between the heel and toe. There’s no disputing that the shoes had an immediate impact. I had an idea of what to expect from web searches but I don’t think I was adequately prepared for seeing them ‘in the flesh’ – They are ‘colourful’!

Aesthetically, the Cursoris fare better where I am concerned. Orange happens to be one of my favourite colours and, as such, I will admit to loving the vibrant orange of the shoe. The purple of the Levitas was admittedly less to my liking, bordering on the edge of ‘acceptable’ in terms of my preferred colour schemes. However, I have grown more used to the purple and my colour reservations were helped along the way by two young cousins who described them as ‘cool’. (Writing that, I just feel so old for some reason!). Regardless, at the end of the day, aesthetics don’t factor into the equation when it comes to the performance of the shoe.

When it comes to actual use, the Cursoris were the first to be tested, initially with a short treadmill session and then again, on an 8 mile trail run. I am fully aware that the shoe is intended for pavement but wanted to test the Cursoris to see how they fared in off-road conditions. It was a beautiful frosty morning, slightly wet underfoot from rain and melting snow, with minimal mud en route.

Despite the lack of a trail specific sole, they actually fared well. They don’t offer much in the way of support, something that I noticed when a stray rock presented itself underfoot, trying its best to turn my ankle, but then, as I said previously, they really are intended as a road shoe. With 12mm cushioning, you don’t notice much underfoot – other than occasional stray rocks! Would I use them off road again? Probably, but only in similarly favourable conditions. Given the sole, I don’t think it would cope overly well with muddy conditions and/or tougher terrain than the former railway line, the Formartine & Buchan Way, that I often train on.

The Levitas have 8mm cushioning, and are touted as more of a race shoe. They have considerably more support around the heel, no doubt to increase stability while racing. So far I have only tested these on the treadmill (honestly nothing to do with my earlier gripe about the colour!) on a few shorter length runs.

At this point in time, the Cursoris is my firm favourite out of the two (still nothing to do with the colour!). The fit and feel of the shoe is just that bit more forgiving and I prefer the ‘slipper like’ comfort afforded by the shoe. However, this may well change over the weeks as I try to give both shoes a thorough test. Keep reading the posts as I test the shoes out.

There’s an excellent, very thorough review of the Cursoris and the Levitas by Fred Brossard over at the Runblogger website. Fred captures the essence of the shoes in his review:

“Mizuno’s designers have obviously read and studied the ‘What should a real minimalist shoe feature?’ theories that flourish on the web. In their first minimalist offerings, they very seriously tried to respect 5 key principles of minimalist shoe design: zero-drop, wide toebox, minimal structure, light cushioning, and flexibility under the metatarsals which leads to two quite different shoes: the Levitas is a real racer, and the Cursoris is great for smooth, easy runs.”

Shoe Summary

Cursoris

  • Still retaining underfoot cushioning for protection
  • Lightweight, breathable overlay
  • Wave technology in midfoot provides impact protection upon footstrike

Levitas

  • Lowest shoe, bringing the runner closer to the ground
  • Open mesh upper, breathable and lightweight
  • Low number of overlays to reduce possible abrasions on the foot while still holding it securely in place

See what the rest of the UK Test Team have to say about the EVOs:

Ultimate Disappointment

I first posted about the Ultimate Direction Signature Series of packs back in October 2012 and have hankered after the Peter Bakwin pack ever since. Those of you who regularly read this blog may be familiar with my impatience at getting the pack (patience may well be a virtue, but it’s certainly not one of mine!). Anyway, after months of waiting, my Peter Bakwin Signature Series vest finally arrived with me this weekend. My initial joy was short-lived as it soon became clear that the pack was just too small for my large frame. I quickly checked the specifications for the M/L pack again. Fits a 32″ – 40″ chest. I actually hadn’t thought to measure my chest before ordering and, a quick check with the tape measure later, I realised that my chest was at least a couple of inches outside of the maximum limit.

As such, for me, the hunt for the ‘perfect’ pack continues. This will hopefully be the Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 12 Set 2013 Backpack. More to follow shortly on this front.

For a thorough review of the Peter Bakwin pack, check out this review from UltraBobban:

Ultimate Direction Signature Series Peter Bakwin Adventure Vest

Features (Front):

  • GPS Pouch (buttons accessible)
  • Bottle holsters can carry 26 oz.
  • Gel or bar pouches (4)
  • Electrolyte or valuables pocket (2)
  • Fully adjustable Sternum Straps (2)
  • Emergency whistle

Features (Back):

  • Cuben Fiber bellows for large or small loads
  • Secure Lat Pockets, with full pocket behind (2)
  • Two sizes main compartments
  • Single pull bungee compresses entire pack
  • Trekking pole (2) and Ice Axe loop (1)

Sizing At Chest (Unisex):

  • S/M: 28 – 34 in. / 71.1 – 86.4 cm
  • M/L: 32 – 40 in. / 81.3 – 101.6 cm

Specs:

  • Volume Capacity: 61 in.3 / 12L
  • Fluid Capacity: 2 x 20 oz. bottles / 2 x 591 mL
  • Weight: 12 oz. (17.5 oz. with bottles) / 340 g (496 g with bottles)
  • Height: 16 in. / 41 cm
  • Width: 9 in. / 23 cm
  • Depth: 4.5 in. / 11 cm

Materials/Design:

  • Cuben Fiber: Used for the sails of America’s Cup racing yachts, this non-woven fabric is 15 times stronger than steel and 40% stronger than Aramid fibers, and is extremely resistant to moisture, UV, and chemicals
  • Velvetex: The edge banding is very soft for greater comfort
  • Power Mesh: All pockets and super stretchy, so small loads won’t bounce and the vest expands as you need it to.

Sport Pursuit

You may already be familiar with the www.sportpursuit.com discount website.

“SportPursuit is the UK’s first members-only sport private sales website, offering our members insider access to winning sports brands every day, always at unbeatable prices.”

Current sales include both Hoka and Inov8, well worth checking out if you are a fan of either brand:

  • Hoka (up to 47% off)“The word Hoka is derived from the ancient Maori language and roughly translates to ‘now it is time to fly’. That’s just how it feels to run in a pair of Hoka One One shoes; with each and every step your foot takes flight.”
  • Inov8 (up to 69% off)“Inov-8 believe in natural running. Their products are designed to be lightweight, minimal and functional, giving runners the confidence and freedom to run hard through any environment and over any obstacle. Step up your running game by slipping on a pair and break free from the mould!”

Barefoot Running And It’s Impact On Running Economy

Thanks to Natali at www.brandnation.co.uk for bringing the following article to my attention.

A brand new study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports demonstrates that, after a familiarization period, running economy is better in Vibram Five Fingers than in conventional running shoes. Running economy is a measure of how efficiently you use the oxygen you breathe in when running. If all other factors are the same between two runners, the one with better running economy will be faster.

The study, ‘Four-week habituation to simulated barefoot running improves running economy when compared with shod running‘ by JP Warne and GD Warrington, looked at the oxygen uptake, heart rate, stride frequency, and foot strike patterns of 15 trained male runners when completing running economy tests, 24 hours apart. The runners had no prior experience of barefoot running.

Initially, there was no significant difference in the running economy of the subjects. However, after a 4 week familiarization process, running economy had improved by 6.9% in the simulated barefoot running state.

“Running has been largely influenced by footwear manufacturers in recent times, where large-scale movement toward shoes offering comfort, cushioning, motion control, and support has become the normal procedure for running enthusiasts. However, this large-scale move into supportive footwear has been questioned in the literature over a number of years (Robbins & Hanna, 1987; Richards et al., 2009; Squadrone & Gallozzi, 2009; Lieberman et al., 2010), and has led to a recent growing interest and participation in barefoot (BR) or simulated barefoot running (SBR). Aside from potential lower injury risk (Robbins & Hanna, 1987; Richards et al., 2009; Lieberman et al., 2010), it is suggested that the change in gait when transitioning into less cushioned shoes, SBR or BR can have a positive effect on running economy (RE; Squadrone & Gallozzi, 2009; Hanson et al., 2011).”

The study used Vibram Five Fingers for the simulated barefoot running aspect of the study.

“One product, however, that exhibits minimal cushioning, support, or structure is Vibram FiveFingers (VFF; Vibram, Milano, Italy). This relatively new product provides a simple “second skin” for the foot in order to simply offer protection on modern-day surfaces. Recent research by Squadrone and Gallozzi (2009) proposed that there are common characteristics between BR and VFFs that merit further investigation as a tool to simulate BR.”

Given the considerable improvement in running economy over the 4 weeks, the study concluded “that some degree of adaptation is taking place that cannot only be explained by changes in shoe weight or design”.

The study suggests that running economy in simulated barefoot running improves as a result of a period of familiarization and, further, that improvement is indicative of adaptations taking place in the body, most likely as a result of increased proprioceptive feedback from the foot.

Given that the subjects were trained runners, an unexpected result was that, over the 4 weeks, running economy while running shod improved by 2.32% between tests. A plausible explanation for this is that the adaptations and technical changes to running occurring as a result of the barefoot simulated training were ‘transferred’ to shod running.

It’s Here – Well, Almost!

Just got word from Catriona of www.out-run.co.uk that my long awaited Ultimate Direction Signature Series Peter Bakwin Adventure Vest has arrived in the UK and should be with me tomorrow.

Ironically, with Bubbs due in just 6 days, I don’t think I will be running too far down the trail to test it – just in case!

I reckon I will make use of both the North and South routes of the Formartine & Buchan Way, running no more than 5 miles out of Ellon in one direction before turning back, running through and then out the other side of Ellon for another 5 miles. That way at least, I should never be too far from home!

Trail Running Digital Magazines

Issue 4 of Trail Running Canada (Winter, Issue 4) is out now with the usual mix of race coverage and reviews. Well worth a read, though obviously with a Canadian content bias.

Content includes:

  • Clara Hughes running for the love of it!
  • 5 steps to more enjoyment on the trails
  • Lost! On my first 100 miler
  • Beginner tips
  • Reviews of the latest and greatest trail gear
  • Inspiring stores of Oleg Tabelev, Runners of Compassion

Also, if you haven’t already downloaded #7 of Trail Run Magazine (Australia/New Zealand), or any of the back issues for that matter, do it now before the magazine becomes a subscription only affair. Edition #8, available mid March, will unfortunately be the last free issue.

“Yes, we’re getting with the future and it’s coming to portable screen near you. Unfortunately that kinda whiz bang technology costs money, so yes trailites, we’re finally after two years and eight editions of dishing the free dirt, going to ask you to cough up a few pence so you can continue to enjoy all the grit and gruel you’ve come to know and love within the pages of our filthy magazine. Don’t stress, it won’t be a budget breaker – we’re taking $14.95 at this stage and a few bucks per issue if you want to get the back editions. “

Injinji Performance 2.0 Socks

The www.ultramarathonrunningstore.com will be stocking the latest range of Injinji Peformance 2.0 socks from March onwards and you can already see the forthcoming range on their website.

Injinji toe socks eliminate skin-on-skin friction, one of the primary causes of blisters, and encourage proper toe alignment. Made from soft, breathable COOLMAX®, the socks offer superior moisture management and wicking, helping keep your feet dry and free of hotspots.

Performance 2.0 RUN

Injinji RUN socks offer restriction-free movement and eliminates skin-on-skin friction which is one of the primary causes of blisters. The 5 toe sleeve design and superior fibre construction keeps feet dry and protected on any surface at any distance.

Performance 2.0 TRAIL

Injinji TRAIL socks are engineered for the uneven and unpredictable terrain of trail running. With a double elastic cuff to keep dirt out and hold the sock in place, you’ll be ready to take on the trail ahead.

Ex-celerator 2.0 COMPRESSION

Injinji COMPRESSION socks provide graduated muscle compression in specific zones : precisely where your muscles need it.

Injinji LINER

Injinji Liner socks provide a thin sleeve protective base layer to complement your favourite outer layer sock.

View the complete Injinji range at www.ultramarathonrunningstore.com: