If people think minimal running is crazy- the Reebok ATV is completamente locos!

The Reebok ATV has an aesthetic only a mother could love. A blind deep-sea mother, maybe that lady from The Little Mermaid? These suckers are sure to not sell well but will still move more units that Skora and Luna combined. It is a crazy crazy world!!!!

The ugliest shoe ever??? The least sensible??? I don't know.

The ugliest shoe ever???
The least sensible???
I don’t know.

Mother????

Mother????

Reebok make excuses for this abomination that is straight from the Springfield nuclear waste dump at  Reebok web site – enter at own risk.  you be the judge.

Know any other shoe monstrosities?

If you would like to take part in research that might prove this sort of footwear is good or bad, follow the link. I did. Hope I don’t get randomised into Hoka’s!!!  🙂 University of Newcastle Running Shoe Safety and Performance Testing Program

Mt Glorious Mountain Trails- A race up a Mountain or two.

Saturday the 22nd of February was the day, 147 mad souls travelled to Cedar Flats and the start line for this years Mt Glorious Mountain Trails race. TRAQ (Trail Runners Association of Queensland) had managed events perfectly with busses and easy parking/registration. I was excited, today I would give the Luna sandals a race baptism and a nifty new Inov8 race vest. I had also regained sensation in my right leg post disk prolapse! Wow.

We are ready right???

We are ready right???

Proper running footwear was worn.

Proper running footwear was worn.

The course looked straight forward, bit of a climb then easy, down hill and then up again. I could do this!? Stupid me.

Looks simple enough?

Looks simple enough?

Things started well with a drive up through the bush then rainforest of Mt Glorious and later down to Cedar Flats. Only dilemma was, it looked steep, the ridges menacing and despite riding my bike up here many times, I had never run it. The cosy Mini felt better each minute, I didn’t want to leave the car. My daughter is three, she won’t notice if I pike? Still Mike my trusty running companion and chief motivator/guru seemed up beat? Peering down the valley towards the creek line below, ‘It looks kinda steep Aido?’ bloody Hell.

Three waves coalesced at the starting line and were sent off with a bag piper in full kilt-kit. I think she played Waltzing Matilda? The plan was simple, take it easy up the initial steep bit and then hit the go button. Mmmmmm, my 4-500m ‘steep bit’ went on for about 4 km. After 20 minutes I was deep in ‘the red’ and only 2km from the start. We were ALL walking, I could not talk and was reprimanded by a New Caledonian lady for not cheering her on, how?? “Alez!” Gasp, groan and sniffle next time, I promise. As runners, you all know how it goes, just keep going and it will end, we don’t stop. I was tempted.

Wave one, ready to go!

Wave one, ready to go!

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The sporty, cheerful New Caledonian. All in Black…….

After 4 km and 450m of climbing it did ease off. We were now atop Northbrook Mountain and doing a few up and down bits, it was cool. Next came a fun set of switchbacks and a long fast descent. My Luna sandals were a bit too minimal for this, ouch ouch ouch! (I was wearing Mono’s the street/road/trail version and not one of their trail specific options). A chap who runs by Phoenix Aquila came past me, it was great to meet my internet friend, a speedy Mt Warning resident who might be a hippy. I chatted to Silvia Smith from ‘near Rockhampton’, she used to be from Holland and has beaten me twice now. We are both doing the North Face 100 in May, why?

Steep and rocky trails. Ouch!

Silvia’s GoPro race video.

The pleasant trail soon turned nasty again after a typical TRAQ low-key check point at England Creek. Mmmmm pretzels. We were on the up again. Not as bad as last time, I could run (at walking pace, 90% of it). My walking was slower, more painful and harder on my ticker so I Ultra shuffled/jogged next to a walking Mike. 600m of climbing followed over 10km. That sounds easy, it was a struggle.

With time, the soil turned from decomposed granite, to red volcanic stuff and the rainforest loomed. Then bang, we were in it. Ever walk into the lobby of a hotel in summer? This is how we felt. 5 Degrees cooler and soft earth under our sore feet. A few km of this pleasant business and we took a sharp left onto even more lovely primo single track. The vines and roots were all deftly marked in yellow TRAQ tape to save us from our selves. We hit some stairs, a final obstacle, reminiscent of something out of ‘The Hobbit’, moss covered and wet the Lunas slipped, I was crawling on all fours up this stuff.

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Cool rainforest section. Nice.

Beautiful rainforest trails.

Beautiful rainforest trails.

We could now hear the motorbikes and the odd cheer so picked up the pace for home, I fell over. Up again and into the sun and finish line! Nobody noticed, two sandal clad warriors strode towards the line, they were presenting awards to the winners and coaxing people onto busses. I did a Kilian Jornet and blew kisses to the unaware crowd. My daughter declared me ‘disgusting’. A heroes welcome?!

It was a great day out. We finished in our 3 hour projected time and did it in what most people would call ‘flip-flops’. No body was injured. My wife and daughter soon recovered from our gross muddy appearance and let us get in the car for home. I had a massage to attend!

TRAQ need a big thank you. No corporate signs, cheap, fun and friendly. A great race! Hats off Ian and  Huberien. To the winners, they are superheroes, our German friends Florian and Moritz run like mountain goats and Harriet makes the hills seem flat. We are in awe. Lesley and Gigi transported Mike and I to and from the event in style and good cheer, I am blessed. The only gripes I have are my own, why so slow? Why so sore? Well the answer is simple, it was a Mountain Trail, up Brisbane’s best mountain, Mt Glorious!

Post script, here is a great video made of the race by Silvia Smith, from near Rockhampton….. incase you missed link above. Silvia Smith GoPro video.

How not to run up a hill.

This is how not to do anything, let alone run up a hill. I am slow, injured and should be with my family. Nice views though of Noumea and the kite surfers down below. The Skora Forms work well on rough dry rock, grip in this scenario is good. A normal shoe with a heel is a disaster in this situation. You roll your ankle, they get caught in ruts et cetera.

iPhone in my hands makes for a bad camera man!

Why minimal is maximal?

This is simple, we humans are good at one thing, running. We think a bit too. Minimal is the word but natural is the aim. ‘Minimal’ shoes/sandals that don’t get in the way allow us to run as we evolved. You have no heel and little cushion so you step lightly, often. That is the way we do it best. You get injured less, fatigue less and if you feel the deck (dust, dirt and all) you might just enjoy it more.

There is a lot of literature and debate either way on this topic. I am not here to prove it, just talk about my experience of it. I like running in sandals best. I can’t all the time. They are slower, can cause troubles (grip, slip and cuts) so I use shoes. For me, a rounded low heel is the go, only Skora seem to do this and who else makes goat skin running shoes? I certainly don’t enjoy running in my old clod-hoppers. I have tried it and I can’t go back.

My massive shoe collection could be given away now I have tried a few  out. Maybe a few too many. Luna sandals and Skora are all I wear now, oh maybe Inov8 if a rock plate is a must. I wish I could have some money back! I would give it to Lesley or spend it on Gigi to make up for all the time I spend running 🙂

Blog 2 done!

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Skoras in New Caledonia

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No, I don’t have three legs.

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Vibram Five Fingers, the Daddy of minimal running.

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Luna sandals, Monkey feet are happy feet, it’s easy and fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LINK-Skora- These are the guys who make my favourite running shoes.

LINK-Luna sandals- Luna Monkeys can apply here!

Some Links and media-Endurance and Evolution /Running and  EvolutionLink to BJM article suggesting I am being hoodwinked

Glasshouse Hares and Hounds 2014. A late race report of personal failing.

Back in january I did a 55 km trail race in the Glasshouse Mountains. In its self, a great event,  personally it was a moronic race towards a climax of folly that began some months before.

I knew the race was coming, I knew I had holidays before the race, I knew my wife was down on me running too much. I decided not to tell her. I would wait, let her know closer to the date, holidays came, still no race revelation, I wimped out. Why? Because I knew it was silly and she would tell me the obvious truth of the matter. A 55 km race, in Summer heat after a 2 week family trip to a tropical island? Training on family holidays is very uncool and extreme. I was injured too, in need of a neurosurgeon. It sort of makes sense……..

Well I did tell her a week out and she said go do it. I press ganged my father into crewing for me and we were  go. Only problem, injury. On Dec 31st I woke up in a state. My right leg didn’t work, it hurt and I was all numb on my shin. Months of mild back pain was a warning, a disk was about to go boom. 2 Weeks of suitcase and 3-year-old lifting had probably done it. Running helps my back in general and these heroic lifting feats were new. You think????

Noumea single track- tough uninjured.

Noumea single track- tough uninjured.

I was weak, I could not walk, I would collapse if not paying attention, it seems a functional quadriceps is important. Crossing the busy streets of Noumea was a terror.

The diagnosis was obvious, I surely had Motor Neurone Disease and would soon die? I put this to the side though and carried on. I battled up the hill behind our hotel in Noumea but was slower than ever (see post, “How not to run up a Hill”). It was dire. Once home I jogged about a bit and tapered, from what, I don’t know. The race was coming up.

A 3-30am start about 2 hours drive from home at Woodford meant a sleep out. Dad has a Ute so I camped in the back on a swag while he hunkered down on a camp bed, both under the stars. Other intrepid runners were there under mozzie nets and in vans, it was quite a scene in the Woodford swimming pool car park in early January. I could not sleep, dozens of painkillers and wriggling like a worm gave no comfort, it was a knee bent, half hitch side lying effort to get 20 minutes max. I wore Skins, what a dick.

At 2-30am my alarm beeped me into the upright position and I started dressing. Stressed out, dopey and in pain, this was hard. My Petzel on, I could find things in the dark and slowly put the race bag together. I gave Dad instructions (one bottle each aid station and this bag of goodies at half way). I went off and got weighed.

The start was an intoxicating scene. All headlamps and goofy enthusiasm. Some of it rubbed off on me. I had to sit down. My back and leg hurt so much.

Puff puff.

Puff puff.

I had a plan, 6 min/km would see me finish in 5hrs 30 mins. The course was relatively flat, it was cool for now and I could usually do that pace in a doodle. Well, the dark, my ego and surrounds led me to go ‘fast’. Keeping up really. Making hay while the sun didn’t shine, I don’t know. I wasn’t looking at my watch. You find your self in a group, they look reasonably fit but casual, so you think, it’s the bunch for me but YOU are an unfit,  injured, joker in the pack. I kept up for about an hour.

After crossing muddy ditches, pools and awkward tracks in the dark my energy was gone. Less one leg you have to work HARD to move forward. I was at threshold and didn’t know it. I went pop. A quick trip off piste for “a chat to nature” and I felt no better. Knackerd and dropping past all sorts of runners I had time to ponder my physical state. The back was not so sore, the right leg didn’t work and only hurt a bit but in all I was exhausted. Check point two coming up.

Ok, I'm off again...

Ok, I’m off again…

I forgot my boat, crossed this in the dark too.....

I forgot my boat, crossed this in the dark too…..

I put on a brave face for dad and handed over my Petzel in the morning gloom. A tough section under power lines before had serious erosion and ruts, an allegory of my running past and present. Dad didn’t let on but he could see I was toast. The terrain eased off and was flatter after a section of 500m whoop de doos and then a long down hill. A few more check points with a steady decline in form and function passed by. The elites were coming the other way now, flying, relay runners had caught me and enquired after my health. Then half way.

Whoop de doos.

Whoop de doos.

Dad politely didn’t ask if I wanted to quit. Just as well, I did. A cheerful runner called Silvia (from near Rockhampton) kept me company for a km or two before the turn around. She was doing it easy. Many people asked if I was alright. Advice was being given. I was being weighed. Bets on my withdrawal were being taken.

Pushing on, grovel grovel

Pushing on, grovel grovel.

It is at this point you delusionaly think you are being tested. You KNOW the right thing is to quit. A serious thing is not right with your body but you keep going. You have to prove to yourself and every doubter that you do not quit. It is a temptation but that is all. Any right-minded person would go home.

Heat suffering selfie.

Heat suffering selfie.

Walk run, walk run, jog, shuffle. Just move forwards. Time leads to progress and you just need to put in the time. Delerium never came but anxiety did. When does this stop? At the last check point I felt a little better, all the walking had made for some regeneration, I had a bag of ice in my cap. I did eat and drink well, it is easy on the walk. So I jogged off into the last section at a grinding clip in the 34 degree heat.

The last 4km was punctuated by an encounter with a fellow sufferer. He was worried about the cut off time. I did not give a toss. He wanted to lead me the wrong way, I said (channeling Bear Grylls), “The foot prints go this way?”. Was he real or a dryad/banshee/fiend sent from the otherworld to take finishing away from me? He was real, and on the finishers list, well done!

Almost home.

Almost home.

Next I came across the photographers car, stuck in the mud. I tottered past without offering help. A man with tats and a very large ute was in attendance. The line must be somewhere ahead?

The scorching sun made the last road section hotter than Vulcans jock-strap, I stuck to the grassy footpath and slipped over, then turned right into the pool. I stumbled accros the line after around seven and a quarter hours. The race medic looked surprised to see me. A first aider came quickly. The helpful fellow runners were cheerful in welcoming me home. Next I had ICE in all the wrong places. Under arms and in my groin. The shoes were removed. 10 Blue-Black toes were revealed capped in bulbous blisters. Killian’s shoes wont be worn again.

This was the end and it felt foolhardy. Why put my self into this state for a race I didn’t know existed a year before? This journey was heading nowhere fast.

I have no answers.

RIP.

RIP?

Almost dead.

Almost dead.

The end of every sit-com has a lesson. This had many. Don’t run injured. Tell your partner what’s coming up and be prepared to listen. And if by chance you do descend into the pit of folly, take heart in that you now know, you will probably never stop running, no matter what.

Importantly, TRAQ put on a great show. A fantastic event where I was supported and welcomed as an old friend by new comrades. The course was tough and well marked. Dad was a regular Doc Hudson of pit-crews. I think Ian is a champion. I will be back.

I also have to thank Lesley, who sent me a text 20km from the finish, “Too much aido.” she is always right.