Vivobarefoot Ulysses

Catching up on email after an excellent day spent out in the sun looking after my son, Harris, I have to admit to finding myself excited by the content of one email in particular. Vivobarefoot announced the Ulysses today,

“Refined over millennia. Perfected for summer.

Inspired by the huarache, the ULYSSES sandal is a classic reborn – we have taken a design used over millennia and simply improved it. When ancient wisdom meets modern shoe making and materials, an evolution that captures the essence of summer style is born. The ULYSSES brings barefoot functionality to the free toe summer movement.

A new addition to our on road running collection – that would be perfectly at home on the beach – the VIVOBAREFOOT Ulysses is the ultimate barefoot running sandal.”

Anyone who reads this blog will already know that I have been spending a significant amount of time in Vivobarefoot shoes of late, in the Freuds (casual/lifestyle), the Evo Pure (road), and the excellent Trail Freak (trail!).

That’s why I was so excited to read about the Ulysses this evening. I spend a considerable amount of time in sandals/flip flops over the summer months but, at least to date, there’s been nothing that has been comfortable enough to run any distance in.

That’s most likely changed with the huarache inspired Ulysees. I Know they are not the first huarache style footwear but that patented puncture-resistant sole certainly appeals to me and I have come to trust Vivobarefoot product to provide a supremely comfortable, minimalist shoe that doesn’t get in the way of letting my foot do its thing! 

Return Of The Mac’s Mojo

It’s been 21 days since my last post, hardly the scenario I expected when I put all that hard work into the www.pixelscotland.com revamp.

However, it’s not without good reason. For one, Harris has, as always, been keeping us busy, and also entertained. He has also taken to rising around 5am, something which tests even my penchant for early rises!  I’ve had to curtail the late nights just to keep up with him, with an obvious impact on the time available to me when I actually add to and develop this web site.

Secondly, I’ve been a man on a mission, finally getting around to all those jobs that I have put off for years. This weekend, for example, I managed to fit in a complete clear out of the garage, alongside playing dad and head chef at Mac HQ. I’ve finally cleared space to let me get my weights out and once again resume weight training.

As far as exercising is concerned, I have once again found my mojo, and it’s not just the running mojo! It all started with a swim in the newly opened Aberdeen Aquatics Centre, linked to the equally impressive Aberdeen Sports Village. What started out as a single swim is now a 4 times a week regular visit, slotted in to the day in place of taking lunch at my desk.

The overall impact has been huge and I would once again consider myself to be back ‘in training’, albeit still at a lesser rate than pre Harris days, and, of course, all done to fit in with his schedule. I’ve been mixing up swimming, walking, running, the spin bike, treadmill and cross trainer quite happily, with no actual plan, just taking what I feel like at the time, or what best fits the time available.

What’s more, in mixing it up quite so much, I haven’t found myself feeling like a ‘slave to the miles’, as I have done in the past when training specifically for ultras.

Even at this early stage of training, I am already formulating a full on ultra challenge that will see me tackle some of my favourite terrain, outwith an organised event and, with a bit of luck, in the company of a good friend. Hopefully more to follow on that front if things go according to plan.

I’ve also been busy on the review side of things, with a review of the Salomon Sky Tee for The Running Bug, and with reviews to follow of the Vivobarefoot Evo Pure, Vivobarefoot Trail Freak, Altra Lone Peak 1.5 and, finally, the long awaited The North Face FL Race Vest that I first spied on the backs of the likes of Jez Bragg and Sebastien Chaigneau a couple of years back.

In keeping with the minimal, zero drop, footwear approach, I have also been enjoying feeling slightly smarter than usual in a pair of Vivobarefoot Freud’s. Thanks to Vivobarefoot, I can now maintain my preference for minimalist footwear without having to wear out my trainers.

Finally, I’m feeling decidedly upbeat, despite being a Monday and back in the office, as I have only 4 more working days before we head back to The Cairngorms once again.

I can’t wait to get back on the trails and, this time around, we will be located in Rothiemurchus, close to Loch an Eilein, offering the best possible access to the numerous Cairngorm trails.

Expect loads more photographs, routes and reviews to follow, including a full review of the Croozer, a review of The North Face FL Race Vest, and, again if everything goes to plan, a review of a piece of kit that was recommended to enable me to cut back on the amount of water that I have to carry – a Sawyer Mini Filter.

“At just 65grams, and fitting in the palm of your hand, this is simply the best there is for Weight, Size and Performance. Drink directly as a straw, attach to Sawyer Squeeze Pouches, use inline, or attach to standard threaded bottles. The MINI uses the same exclusive 0.1 micron hollow fiber membrane filter used in our other filters. Although not quite as quick as the SP129 version, you will still be bowled over by the flowrate of this amazing little filter. The MINI comes with a 100,000 gallon (378,540 Litre) guarantee which is still the best rating there is ANYWHERE, and will last for anybody’s lifetime.

Simply fill up the pouch at a lake, stream or river, screw the filter directly onto the pouch and: 

  1. Squeeze the bag & filter water into your water bottle or container of choice
  2. Drink directly from the filter which has a built in cap for on/off functions
  3. Attach the filter onto most threaded water bottles including 2 litre bottles.”

[more information…]

Garmin Seeks 50 VIRB Cam Testers

I first saw that Garmin were looking for 50 testers for their new VIRB outdoors adventure cameras while I was in the Cairngorms last week. I have to admit to fancying one of these cameras so Garmin, if you read this, please do consider my own application :o)

It’s a straightforward process. Register your interest online and you will then receive an email confirming your registration. At this point you can respond to the email providing any additional information that might support your application.

Well, this outdoors loving dad would welcome the opportunity to test out one of these units and I’m already counting down the days to our next Cairngorm holiday in June! The ability to video Harris enjoying his Cairngorm surroundings would be great and something that we could look back on in future years.

It would also have been good to have along to record some of my ultra exploits over the past few years.

Fingers crossed :o)

Check out the gallery of photos from our last Cairngorm trip.

VIRB Specifications

  • True 1080p HD video recording with 16 MP CMOS image processor
  • 1.4” Chroma Display:
    • High-res;
    • Colour;
    • Easy setup, playback & adjustments
  • 2000mAh lithium-ion battery:
    • Lasts up to 3 hours;
    • Rechargeable;
    • Removable
  • Still image capture:
    • Photo Burst & Time Lapse
  • Rugged, durable, waterproof (IPX7)*
  • ANT+ wireless connectivity, for remote control via Garmin device
  • Free VIRB Edit desktop software

VIRB Elite also adds:

  • High-sensitivity GPS accelerometer & altimeter
  • Wi-Fi connectivity, for use with smartphone app

Details from http://sites.garmin.com/virb/

Cairngorms Holiday, May 2014

We were due to arrive in Coylumbridge on Friday 25th April. However, a sickness bug struck myself and then Leanne, rendering us unable to travel until the Sunday. Two days gone out of our seven before we had even arrived! Given how bad we both felt (I lost 1/2 a stone in 24 hours thanks to vomiting alone!), we were happy just to be there and determined to make the most of the remaining 5 days.

I’ve seen us spend 14 days in the Cairngorms in the middle of Summer and have 13 days solid torrential rain so my expectations are never that high when it comes to the weather. Monday started misty but soon gave way to temperatures of 22 degrees, making the Cairngorms the hottest place in the country. Bonus! The rest of the week, although not as hot, ranged from sunny to very occasional rain showers and ended with a beautifully sunny day that saw us delay our planned departure by a good few hours.

Myself and Harris made the most of the trails on our doorstep for our early morning run/walks, with Harris enjoying the comfort of the Croozer. We were then joined by Leanne and various family members for walks throughout the day, enjoying trails both old and new.

The above gallery gives an indication of where we went, exploring the trails of Rothiemurchus, the Uath Lochans & Farleitter Crag, Lochan Uaine – The Green Loch, Revack and Loch an Eilein.

So, back to normality come Monday but I can’t complain too much. We are heading back to the Cairngorms for another week in a months time. Can’t wait :o)