Inspired by Lone Peak, one of the rockiest, toughest mountains in the Wasatch Range, The Lone Peak™ was designed to conquer the Wasatch 100. While the foot-shaped design allows athletes to stay relaxed and comfortable for hours, this do-everything mountain shoe promotes happy feet, increases ankle stabilization and improves form with the Zero DropTM platform. The Lone PeakTM features an innovative, sandwiched StoneGuardTM system that deflects rocks into the midsole for a smoother, more stable ride. Stand above the rest with the ultimate trail running shoe.
As someone who has run the 10k, 1/2 Marathon and Marathon events of the 3 in 1 Moray Marathon event, I was really saddened to come across the article Moray Marathon’s Last Legacy in the online version of the local paper, The Northern Scot.
Opening the article, expecting to read solely about the positive effect of this excellent event, I was shocked to read that the 2013 event, in which I participated in the 10k, looks set to be the last ever Moray Marathon.
The following is taken from the Moray Marathon web site:
“After 32 years of successful events organised by runners for runners at an affordable price, we regret that the 2013 event was the last to be organised by the current committee.
A three-in-one event like the Moray Marathons takes a lot of organising over the preceding year by a committee of volunteers.
We get a lot of help on the day but without a strong committee it is not possible to ensure a successful event.
We have tried for several years to attract new members to the committee including, recently, a mailshot to all local clubs and an article in the local press. Despite this we have failed to recruit sufficient numbers to keep the committee up to strength. As a result we are forced to end the Moray Marathons.
The committee wishes to thank the Sponsors, The Macallan for their 32 years of great support as well as Moray Council, former committee members and their families, all those who have marshalled & manned watering stations, helped lay out & clear up the course, recorded times & finishers, collated results, handed out medals & prizes, made sandwiches, erected scaffolding, stored, maintained and delivered signs and other paraphernalia. and a host of other jobs.
We would also to thank Gordonstoun School for allowing us to start the half Marathon in their grounds; all those who donated cups and prizes; Sandy Mellis for his P.A services, the T.A. and RAF for the loan of tents, Elgin Library for the use of their premises, Alan Milne Motors, Elgin for the loan of lead cars, providers of first aid cover, amateur radio groups for assistance with communication and many many others who have helped make this a great community event and especially all the runners and their supporters who have come back year after year from all over the world to compete and enjoy.
Finally, thanks go to our secretaries who, down the years, have been the heart of our efforts and without whom the events could not have taken place.”
Anyone who can help save this event is encouraged to contact:
Moray Marathon Committee,
Elgin Community Centre,
The North Face Isotherm ½ Zip Shirt arrived with me just in time for the drop in temperatures that heralded the end of a brilliant summer and, since that point, it has been in constant rotation, having been worn not just for running but for anything and everything from hiking and biking to general everyday use.
When it comes to the worst of the Autumn/Winter weather, most notably the snow and rain, the Isotherm will be paired up with a breathable waterproof layer to add that additional element of protection. At the time of writing I haven’t yet had the opportunity to test the Isotherm in extreme cold but, from the forecast, it would appear that I will not have to wait too long to be able to do this!
The Isotherm ½ Zip Shirt comes in Nautical Blue/Estate Blue or TNF Black/Asphalt Grey colour combinations.
The Isotherm offers a really comfortable fit, neither overly large nor overly tight. My standard XL size provided the perfect fit and it was as comfortable sitting at a desk as it was out on the trail. The only potential issue would be with regard to the sleeves which, with their built in mitt protection, are slightly longer than standard sleeves. However, the mitt element can easily be folded up into the sleeve.
As you would expect from The North Face, the quality of the garment is excellent, well constructed with neatly stitched seams and good attention to detail. Despite repeated washes over the short time that I have had the Isotherm, it shows no sign of degradation at all.
The Isotherm uses proprietary fabrics developed by North Face, including FlashDry™, which incorporates microporous particles to improve moisture management and temperature regulation during outdoor activity. FlashDry™, used across a wide number of products in The North Face range, accelerates the removal of moisture from the skin, enabling the user to stay drier and more comfortable for longer. FlashDry™ is permanently embedded in the yarn and won’t wash out.
The Isotherm ½ Zip is part of The North Face’s Flight Series running collection, athlete tested and competition proven, and, as such, you have high expectations for the garment.
The Isotherm consists of a wind resistant core which blocks the wind and helps to retain heat, with a wool blend on the sleeves and FlashDry™ paneling for ventilation on the sides of the garment, down the back, and under the arms.
The built in sleeve mitts can be folded up inside the sleeve or simply rolled up around the wrists when not in use. However, chances are you are going to want to make use of the hand protection afforded by these, especially in the chillier temperatures. They are no substitute for gloves in really cold temperatures but are certainly useful on those days when gloves would be overkill and result in overly hot hands.
The double zip used in the ½ zip neck is one area where the attention to detail is evident. I actually overlooked this feature at first, not appreciating just how useful the double zip could be. It facilitates optimum control over ventilation, enabling full coverage when zipped up, ample ventilation when zipped down, or a combination approach if the bottom zip is used. Zipping up from the bottom permits easy ventilation of the chest area without the need to leave the neck flapping around, a useful feature for those days when the winter sun heats you up.
The neck of the garment has a cover to prevent the zip from rubbing against your skin.
There’s a useful zipped chest pocket that’s perfect for holding a key or a lightweight MP3 player.
360 degree reflectivity is provided as a result of reflective logos and use of reflective trims, with the traditional The North Face logo on the front, and a Flight Series logo on the rear of the garment.
I was initially quite surprised at the combination of materials on the Isotherm. The shiny core seemed at odds with the wool blend sleeves and FlashDry™ paneling. However, having tested the Isotherm in a variety of scenarios, I can see how well the separate elements work to provide the perfect conditions for running.
The Isotherm ½ Zip Shirt certainly ticks all the boxes if you are looking for a top that offers wind resistance, temperature regulation, breathability and comfort. It’s the quality product that you would expect to come from The North Face and the combination of a wind resistant core and FlashDry™ paneling results in a garment that doesn’t leave you chilling in your own sweat. The double zip and built in mitts are useful additions to the garment, adding to the overall functionality. Definitely a garment worthy of consideration if you are looking for something to see you through the colder months.
Vivobarefoot have launched the ultimate off-road shoe, the Trail Freak.
“Vivobarefoot launch the Trail Freak, the next step in the brand’s performance range of shoes for trail running.
Scheduled for release in Spring 2014, Vivobarefoot’s most advanced trail shoe offers the ultimate off-road running aesthetic supported by the brand’s dominance in pure barefoot technology and performance.
Worn by trail running star A J Calitz (2 x Red Bull LionHeart Winner, 2012 and 2013), the Trail Freak is a lightweight, breathable shoe with a natural wide fore-sole design which allows toes to splay as nature intended, optimizing barefoot feeling and sensory feedback.
Featuring ‘V Trek’ outsole construction designed for maximum surface contact on off-road surfaces, a duo reflective mesh and printed structure giving a more comfortable and secure ‘second skin’ fit with maximum breathability, the Trail Freak is designed to allow your feet and shoes to move as one, no matter what nature throws at them.”
(Vivobarefoot Press Release)
Outsole construction: V Trek Rubber outsole specifically designed for off road surfaces with multi-directional lugs to maximize surface contact for superior barefoot traction
Outsole thickness: 2.5mm with 4.5mm lugs. Outsole material: V-grip Rubber
Removable insole: 3mm Poliyou Insole for additional thermal protection when necessary
Lining: Dri-Lex Performance lining with lycra: Lightweight, performance lining for moisture wicking and superior comfort
Upper: Reflective Mesh. Thick, dual layer mesh with a reflective thread
Upper: Printed Structure. Flexible yet strong printed upper gives a natural and secure fit
Lacing: Toggle. Fasten securely with strong wire-like laces and toggle
“You could carry up to 3 litres of water quite comfortably if you wanted too but there would be limited space left for other stuff. It’s the first vest to come with two bottles and a 2L bladder too, so it gives some flexibility to experiment with ways to carry water and other gear.
The flat bottles are nice and close to the body and kept there very snugly by the stretch mesh pockets. The sternum strap clips can be a little tricky to get open and closed with your fingers at first so it takes a bit of practice if wearing gloves for sure.”
The Race Ultra Vest was voted best in the performance equipment category by a panel of expert judges and named a 2014/2015 ISPO AWARD GOLD WINNER
“The Race Ultra Vest, which is new for spring/summer 2014, is the best-fitting pack ever brought to market. Made entirely of stretch mesh and fully-breathable 3D Airmesh, the insanely lightweight vest is form-fitting design innovation at its best.
Weighing just 195g and capable of carrying four litres of kit, the vest, which boasts seven pockets, delivers zero bounce when running. It feels more like a second skin on the body, rather than a rucksack. By positioning two pockets much lower than comparable products, a pair of 500ml bottles can sit flatter and more stable to the side of the body. This ensures easy access to bottles and minimal fluid bounce.”
Inov-8 Hydration Pack : Race Ultra Vest
Specifically designed for water bottles and a 2L shape-shift reservoir. An all mesh, fully breathable body-tight vest with stretch pockets ideal for ultra distance racing. Can carry three litres of fluid and features six adjustable straps to ensure a secure fit. Comes supplied with a two-litre reservoir and two 500ml uniquely designed flat bottles which hug the body to reduce unwanted movement.
Large stretch mesh pocket to rear
Insulated reservoir sleeve
2L shape-shift reservoir
Two large mesh pockets to front double as bottle holders
Two large mesh pockets to front top
Two smaller stretch mesh pockets to front top
Volume Capacity: 3.5L
Fluid Capacity: 2 x 500 mL bottles and 1x 2L bladder
Weight: 195 g (~550 g with bottles and reservoir) / 6.8 oz. (~19.4 oz. with bottles and reservoir)
Height: 36 cm / 14 in
Sizing At Chest (Unisex)
31 – 44 in. / 78 – 112 cm
Note: Measure wearing the clothes you intend to wear
The North Face FL Race Vest has been in development for a number of years now and has been seen on the backs of The North Face athletes such as Jez Bragg and Sebastien Chaigneau throughout the development process.
I have yet to see the vest in anything other than photos but Ian Corless provides an excellent overview of the vest over on his web site, describing it as sitting “between the inov-8 Race Ultra and Salomon S-Lab products”. Sounds like a great product that has found its own niche.
Waist packs are excellent for holding keys, gels and fluids that would otherwise be cumbersome to carry. The latest offering from Ultimate Direction, the Jurek Endure Hydration Belt, is an excellent minimalist waist pack with space for the bare essentials.
Anyone at all familiar with the ultramarathon scene should be able to immediately identify the man behind the belt, ultrarunning legend Scott Jurek, and it would appear that Jurek’s vast experience has been well tapped to create a quality product where the attention to detail is second to none.
The Jurek Endure hydration belt is available in black or citron. While I actually do like the citron/lime green colour, the pairing of this with aqua blue just doesn’t work for me as far as colour combinations go and, as such, I opted for the far more sedate grey and black offering. I can see, however, that the brighter option is not without merit as it would likely benefit the wearer in terms of increased visibility.
The Jurek Endure is so light and free of movement that it’s possible to forget that you are wearing it. Most waist packs that I have tried in the past have suffered from bounce and/or movement of some form, more often than not leading to chaffing. This is not the case with the Endure.
The first time I used the Endure, I adjusted the belt strapping to provide a comfortable but secure fit and I have not had to touch it since. This is largely due to the elasticated holder that serves a dual purpose. It secures any excess strapping, stopping it from flapping about. Further, it ensures that the desired strap positioning is retained. I’ve had packs in the past that have required constant adjustment and it ranks as one of my pet hates, especially when said adjustment has to be done mid race. As such, I think that this is a particularly neat feature.
Another plus point is the left hand side fastening, which ensures that there is no direct pressure on the stomach area, something that helps to avoid digestion issues when running.
The Jurek Endure is constructed from strong, lightweight, highly breathable Hex Mesh. The mesh does not absorb moisture and, at the end of one particularly sweaty run, I was surprised at just how sweat free the pack was, unlike the soaking wet t-shirt and shorts that I was wearing at the time. The pack also makes use of Silnylon, silicone impregnated for ultra lightweight and durable waterproofness, and Velvetex, super comfortable and soft edge binding.
Typically, waist packs come with a single 5-600ml bottle or two 5-600ml bottles. The Jurek Endure comes with two 10oz/295ml bottles. The reduced bottle size obviously impacts on the volume of fluid that can be carried, thereby impacting on the distances that the pack can be used for. However, the use of 2 smaller bottles spreads the weight evenly, adding to the stability of the pack. Further, the 2 bottle approach opens up fluid options. Typically, I have opted for one bottle for plain water, with the other carrying some form of juice or water with a High 5 tablet added. In terms of volume, I have found the two 295ml bottles to be sufficient for short to medium distances, even on hotter days. However, fluid requirements vary from person to person.
The bottle holders on the Jurek Endure are stiffened at the front, which helps when it comes to retrieving and re-holstering the bottles on the move. An elastic cord helps to ensure that the bottles remain in place. This is fairly easily removed and re applied as and when required and there is a small plastic clip to assist with this. I did find that the plastic clip isn’t always all that easy to grab and, ideally, I would have preferred a larger, cloth based method of pulling the elastic back. This aside, the fastening mechanism works well and I always found the bottles to be secure.
I’ve already mentioned that the belt strapping provides a perfect fit, secured by the elasticated holder. There’s also one further useful addition, two moveable race clips that permit the attachment of a race number to the belt. If, like myself, you hate sticking pins in t-shirts, you will no doubt appreciate this functionality. Further, given that the weather in the UK often necessitates the use of waterproofs, your race number will remain visible. While you might resort to a waterproof jacket on your upper body, covering any number attached to a t-shirt, rarely do you see runners use waterproof trousers.
There is a large, moveable side pocket on the right hand side of the Jurek Endure. This well sized pocket is perfect for carrying gels or energy bars and can be worn on the left side if preferred. It’s also a good fit for an iPhone 5 but, with the addition of a headphone connection, can be fractionally on the tight side, especially if you are prone to taking your phone in and out for the purposes of taking photographs and/or answering texts and phone calls. If I have one criticism of the pocket, it is that the zip placement, on the top of the pocket, occasionally results in the pocket moving rather than the zip opening, necessitating a two handed approach to retrieve the contents of the pocket.
There’s a stretch mesh pocket on the rear, located between the two bottles, that is fastened with a small Velcro strip. As with the bottles, an elastic cord can be used to help secure any items placed in here. There’s not a huge amount of space in the pocket but you can, for example, squeeze in a buff and a pair of thin gloves at a push. Alternatively, it will hold a few gels and/or energy bars. It’s also possible to secure items on top of the pocket, such as a lightweight jacket, using the elastic cord. I am always concerned that anything positioned here disappears without my noticing and, as such, I always try to somehow clip the item on to the pack.
Safety reflectors positioned on the rear of the waist pack serve to increase your visibility to traffic.
The Jurek Endure from Ultimate Direction is my new go-to waist pack for short to medium distance runs and supported long runs where there is no compulsory kit requirement. It’s the perfect pack for those who like to travel light and its limited capacity ensures that you are never going to over pack for your run.
Granted there are a couple of minor adjustments that I would like to see to make the Jurek Endure truly perfect. However, it does come close to perfection, especially with regard to the lack of bounce and the fastening mechanism that ensures it stays exactly in place.
“Ounce per ounce, the Jurek Endure belt does more than any other waist pack. Scott wanted twin bottles because they balance the load, and you can use one for water and the other for your sports drink mix. One can quickly stash a windshell, gloves, and even a hat into the stretch mesh pocket and innovative bungee system, and the movable front pocket allows you to whip out a bar gel without breaking stride. Hydration products should be at your finger tips when you need them but they should just provide you with the bare essentials and the Jurek Collection from Ultimate Direction really does that.”Scott Jurek
Fluid capacity: Comes with 2 * 10 oz. bottles
Weight: 163g / 6 oz (8.5 oz with bottles)
Pocket Size: 16.5 x 7.6 cm / 6.5 x 3 in
Pouch Size: 10.2 x 10.2 cm / 4 x 4 in
Bottle holsters are stiffened with lightweight foam for quick access
Front pocket is sweat resistant and moveable, with foam backing
The Deeside Way, also known as The Royal Deeside Line, currently runs from Aberdeen to Banchory with additional sections from Aboyne to Ballater and in the Blackhall Forest, on the outskirts of Banchory. Ultimately, the aim is to join these sections with a final uninterrupted route of approximately 45 miles from Aberdeen to Ballater. The Deeside Way starts at the Polmuir Road entrance to Duthie Park, just behind the David Welch Winter Gardens. The route runs through Aberdeen, Peterculter, Drumoak, Banchory, Kincardine O’Neil, Aboyne, Dinnet and Ballater and passes close to Crathes Castle and Drum Castle.
The track is now part of the National Cycle Network, as National Route 195.
The Deeside Railway Line opened in September 1853, running between Aberdeen and Banchory. This was extended in December 1859 to include Aboyne, and, in 1866, to Ballater.
“The line was planned originally to end at Braemar but Queen Victoria was afraid her privacy would be disturbed by hordes of tourists at Balmoral so she bought land along the route between Ballater and Braemar to prevent this.”(http://www.cyclegrampian.co.uk/trail/deeside.html)
Like so many other railways, the 1963 Beeching Report sealed the fate of the line and it closed to passengers and freight in 1966.
The D33 Ultramarathon
The D33 Ultramarathon was first run in 2010, from Duthie Park in Aberdeen to the outskirts of Banchory and back. This out and back race of 33 miles in duration is an increasingly popular event and is often the first ultramarathon that people run, myself included. At just 5 miles over the 26.2 miles of a marathon it is a great ultra for first timers and seasoned ultramarathoners alike.
The humorous race instructions from the D33 website:
“The concept is simple, turn up at the Duthie park car park in Aberdeen and register and run the first section of the Deeside way to Banchory, check in with marshall, turn round and run back. Total distance out and back is 33 miles. No entry conditions apply, if you think you can then enter and do it. If you get half way and find you can’t, phone registration with your race number, tell them you are a loser and take the bus home. Support, there is none required but if you want your mum to meet you half way with a jam sandwich then thats ok with us. Checkpoint at 1/4 way, half way and 3/4 way, roughly 8ish miles, 16 and a half miles and 25ish miles. Get to half way turn around point, then run back. You get water at the checkpoints, if drop bag needed at the checkpoints clearly mark your bag with your number or carry yourself or get from your Mum. Cut offs – This is a race for runners it’s not for walkers so lets be sensible, I want to be in the pub at a reasonable hour so run as fast as you can.”
The West Highland Way, Scotland’s most popular and successful long distance trail, was officially opened on 6 October 1980, becoming Scotland’s first officially designated long distance footpath.
“The 154Km (96miles) Route starts at Milngavie passes through Mugdock Country Park, follows the shores of Loch Lomond, passing Ben Lomond, through Glen Falloch and Strathfillan, crossing Rannoch Moor, past Buachaille Etive Mor to the head of Glencoe, climbing the Devil’s Staircase, descending to sea level to cross the River Leven at the head of Loch Leven before entering Lairigmor and Glen Nevis and finishes at Gordon Square in Fort William.” (http://www.west-highland-way.co.uk/)
Most people walk the route over anything from 5 to 9 days. Approximately 85,000 people use the West Highland Way each year, with some 30,000 walking the entire route.
“The path uses many ancient roads, including drovers’ roads, military roads and old coaching roads and is traditionally walked from south to north.” (Wikipedia – West Highland Way)
A number of people, however, favour a faster approach to completing the route. The West Highland Way plays host to 3 different ultramarathons:
The West Highland Way Race was first held in June 1985, between Duncan Watson and Bobby Shields who arrived together in Fort William in a time of 17 hours 48 minutes. They opened the race up to fellow runners the following year. In the initial years, no more than a few dozen runners started. In 2012, they year I first ran the West Highland Way Race, a record 172 started the race with 119 finishing in conditions that can best be described as apocalyptic!
As of 2012 a total of 737 people, affectionately known as ‘The Family’, have successfully completed the challenge.
The Cateran Trail is a fully waymarked walk of 64 miles (103 km) that lies at the heart of Scotland, approximately 1½ hours north of Edinburgh. The Trail takes its name from the feared cattle thieves who raided the rich lands of Strathardle, Glenshee and Glen Isla.
The route follows some of their old drove roads and ancient tracks across a varied terrain of farmland, forests and moors. It boasts breath-taking scenery in a corner of Perthshire relatively unknown to walkers.
A circular route, the trail has no real beginning or end allowing walkers to join at any of the many settlements along its length. Blairgowrie, as the biggest town, is where most walkers choose to begin. The nearest village is never more than 7 miles (11 km) away and gradients vary from easy to moderate. The Trail’s highest point is only 650m (2100 ft) above sea level. Signposts, stiles and bridges marked with the Trail’s distinctive red heart logo, make it easy to find your way.” (http://www.caterantrail.org/)
“This is a walking route full of breath-taking landscapes with a wide range of changing terrain that should suit long distance walkers of any age. Situated on the southern end of the Highlands in the Heart of Perthshire and the Angus Glens this route provides the walker with a true feel of Scottish landscape and offers a glimpse of the lifestyle of the Caterans in the 15th to 17th centuries.” (http://www.walkthecaterantrail.com/)
The trail is named after the Caterans, marauding cattle thieves who roamed the more lawless areas of the Highlands from the Middle Ages until the 17th century.
The Cateran Trail Ultramarathon
The Cateran Trail Ultramarathon covers 55 gloriously scenic miles of the Cateran Trail. The race, capped at 85 participants, is a lot smaller than many of the other Scottish Ultra Marathon Series events but benefits from a fantastic ’family like atmosphere’. The race ‘HQ’, the Spittal of Glenshee Hotel, is largely taken over by runners and support crew and runners benefit from a generous accommodation offer for the weekend of the race.
Registration for the race takes place at the Spittal of Glenshee Hotel, with a race briefing outside the hotel in the early morning before runners are then led the short distance to the race start.
Runners have 15 hours to complete the 55 mile route which includes some 7450ft of ascent. The somewhat brutal finish to the race involves a climb, starting at the 49 mile mark at Enochdhu (approx. 243 metres), rising to the race highpoint at An Lairig at around 53.5 miles (approx. 650 metres). The climb is rewarded with a glorious descent of more than 300 metres down to the finish line 1.5 miles later at the Spittal of Glenshee Hotel.
Anyone considering participation in the race should ensure that they have sufficient clothing to cope with all weathers. I completed the race for the first time in 2011 and spent the final 5-6 miles battling the elements in torrential rain. The ascent to the highest point of the race was less about following the path than wading up and through a shallow stream and the descent focussed on remaining upright in gloopy mud that was set on uprooting you. Losing your footing on the descent is made all the more embarrassing as any falls are witnessed by those runners and support crew awaiting your return in the Spittal of Glenshee Hotel!
The Cateran Trail Ultramarathon is a 2 point qualifier for the UTMB races.