TRAQ Flinder’s Tour, Glasshouse Mountains 2014.

Another Sunday and another fun day out.

Off up Mt Beerburrum.

Off up Mt Beerburrum.

I was not going to do this race, I wanted to but had done the Gold Coast Marathon 3 weeks before the start and thought I was asking too much. Then a chance encounter with a fellow TRAQ tragic and well, I became enthused. I asked the support crew and yep, I was in! I entered via my iPhone at the local sushi restaurant, 4G is a marvellous thing.

So, a week out, I entered, 2 weeks post cold/flu Marathon failure and my Guru Mike had a back keeping him off the trails. Coach Hanny was away, in Bulgaria helping kids with bad hair and acne follow the map and run hard for Australia at the Junior World Orienteering Champs. I also had no Amaze Balls or Shots bars left, I thought I did but no. Hmmmm, no coach, no race food, no preparation and no idea re the course. Prequel for disaster??

Fortunately not. I managed to find out we climbed a mountain at the start, good to know, I scrounged some older gels together and looked at my shoe pile. This takes time, I have way too many. I decided to go minimal. Very minimal, Skora Cores, these have no midsole, are zero drop, have about 11mm of rubber/insole etc to protect you and a floppy upper made from well-bred goats. No lugs, No rock plate and no toe bumper. Should be fine. The Inov8 gimp vest was selected for its lack of space (other than for a  bladder, iPhone and some food), I even downloaded a playlist lasting 7 1/2 hours for the day. Joy Division, Morrissey and AC/DC. Sorted.

I knew Les and Gigi would not come up with me but we pretended they would until about 5am, once I was dressed and ready to go. I hoped they would come up later. A non-starting car in the garage might hinder them though?

Now the race, it was inspiring, the course, the atmosphere, the friendly fellow runners, all were terrific. We had to enjoy the day, a stark reminder, a sad reminder a terrible reminder of human frailty had all of us wiping tears from our eyes before the gun, as Ian gave an emotional speech commemorating the death of Roger Guard. His son, bravely added a few words and offered to run the first stage with us. Nobody was going to take this run for granted.

Poor balance.

Poor balance.

The run up Mt Beerburrum was truncated a bit and easier than I feared, we then went out over its Eastern shoulder in a loop of beautiful single track. It was dripping rain from the trees and the views were magnificent. An encounter with a slippy rock section made me cautious. I met a group of guys who kept me well entertained for another 10kms. Sil (from near Rockhampton) was with me too so, that made about 6 of us. It was great. Silvia grew up in Holland and it was a rough time for her with the MH17 disaster very raw and ugly.

Eventually, checkpoints, toilet stops and tiredness split us all up and it was over the gap between ‘The Twins’. A lucky deviation from the original plan, it was a great bit of track with some vertical, some technical and some almost me horizontal challenges. Then down to the Glasshouse staple forest trails. This time punctuated with muddy pools and tricky bridges. Soon enough 25km runners were coming the other way and we were treated to some humiliation as they sped towards us. For the first time ever Jodie Obourne was doing a shorter distance than me!

Plodding through the single track with Sil.

Plodding through the single track with Sil.

After the school and a weigh in, we did it all again. Sort of, just in different directions and with 30km in our legs. I had a goal, under 6 hours and ran to that. My last outing on these trails was a disaster and I wanted an attainable target. I managed this with a wee wobble towards the end. Maybe 4km of survival mode on the nice single track, that now felt steep and rough. The shoes were just fine, a few rocky spots gave me grief mind.

I crossed the line with 4 minutes to spare, feeling tired but good. Les and Gigi had made it to the finish and we enjoyed a burger before heading home.

This was a really nice day out, the run, the company, my family and the enjoyable course all came together. I found out you don’t need months of planning, just a desire to go and run. Some of us can’t because of injury, or worse, some of us have our lives taken away in an incomprehensible moment. If running slowly, long distances in beautiful bushland is your thing, well there is a lot to be thankful for that we can.

Thank you Ian and all the other TRAQ crew, the potatoes were excellent. I also think the ladies at the ‘Tuck-Shop’ were stars. Thank you Lesley and Gigi for coming to join me, I am truly blessed. Thank you to Bec Frendo for inspiring me to go and do what I enjoy so much! I can’t wait for my next chance to go run in the bush, slowly…..

Newton Distance- Weird Science.

I enrolled to be a Lab Rat. The University of Newcastle are doing a study on shoes and injury. I volunteered.

After 4 weeks of logging a diary I was enrolled and randomised. This was dangerous, some God awful shoes were on offer. I am talking Hoka One One here and things with springs in them. Brands I had never heard of, 10mm plus heel drops. I was lucky enough to get the Newtons.

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My main shoes for 12 long months.

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Heel looks big but is relatively low.

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4 lugs. I think they now have 5.

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Lugs.

They are a lowish trainer, 2mm drop but no advertised stack height, I think it’s about 12mm. They are pretty standard fare but for one thing. They call it POP or ‘action reaction’, it is one of those energy return ideas. If it worked we would all use it. Energy for free! Yay! Any way there are 4 big lugs in the fore foot that go in and out with your foot strike, it is meant to bounce you into the next stride.

 

Well, it might do that but what it mostly does is feel weird. You have to strike in the forefoot or you are going to fall over. I do, more so than the shoe would want so it is easy for me to adjust. I have no pain, they are fine to run in even if I feel a bit like I am wearing Japannese flood clogs. They fit well and have a very ‘look at me’ colour scheme, Fluoro everything.

 

What more can i say? They are gizmo shoes. I hope the feeling of stepping on a rubber square goes with time and they disappear like I desire. Skora shoes are the very opposite of this, the Newtons are talking the same talk but not walking the same walk. You can’t walk in these things anyway.

 

I suggest Newton do away with the rubber lozenge, or minimise it. Focus on low, fast design and they will go on. It is a question of finding your niche in a thick pile of shoes hence the lozenge will stay and I wont. Come the end of the study I am GONE! at 9.98 m/s/s.

Newton Home page.

Skora Form- A Review.

It is obvious I love this shoe.

Why, is a good topic and also what I would want to improve in my favourite shoe?

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In limited edition blue CAMO.

I first saw this shoe online at the beginning of my minimalist adventure. It fit the bill, zero drop, low stack height and with a focus on natural running. What I noticed most was the look. How cool could it be? Goat leather and sheep lining, hello! I was a keen cyclist still at the time and Rapha make gloves from the same material, I knew it was good.

I read a few reviews and it was obviously a premium product from a fledgling company. Even better. The cost was steep for running shoes but nothing on anything in the cycling world and I am not easily put off by cost.

The order was placed.

Of the three Forms I have bought since, none have disappointed me.

I love the supple leather, the design and the very natural feel they give. You are essentially running with no gizmos and the shoe is just protecting your feet from abrasions and a little impact.

This is not an insult, but it’s like running in Dunlop Volleys, except they are flexible, fit and wont give you blisters.

Who else has sheep skin lining??? Huh???

Who else has sheep skin lining??? Huh???

The tongue and lacing is very cool, off to the side and one of those design features that ‘disappear’. A good thing.

The sole rubber is  long wearing and even a person like me gets at least 400km before I start to think about a worry, they can be worn some more, 400km more! Some others get 1000+ km a pair. I have a nasty habit of scuffing the lateral aspect of all my shoes.

Sole matters.

Sole matters.

There is a round heel just like your foot, sensible.

Round heel and adjusting straps.

Round heel and adjusting straps.

You can use them for anything, road, grass, trails (only  very rough trails will be too much as there is no rock plate) the 13mm stack earns big all rounder points.

So the cons? Skora have a long lace fetish, it is in every review, they are always too long. Way too long. This is made up for in part by the neat logo on the ends, a nice touch but please, make them shorter!!!!

A nice detail touch.

A nice detail touch.

There is a tab at the heel to adjust the fit at the rear? I don’t know, it is sort of useful making the shoe 1/4 of a size in each direction but it could either be more effective or deleted.

The sole was not very well glued in earlier models. The toe can peel off. I have glued one toe cap back on. Easy and I think it’s my trail running that does this. It is brutal on all shoes and at the time I was in New Caledonia running of VERY rough stuff.

I think the rear heel area is over done, too much material and could safely  be pared back.

While leather is snug, long lasting and pretty, it is not mesh. So, as a Queenslander who does some sandal running too, these are my hottest shoes.

Small niggles for such a stylish, sensible, multi purpose shoe. They even look cool enough for casual wear, bugger that, Form-al wear!

I will keep buying these suckers, I love them. You could do much much worse than owning a couple of pairs of Forms and nothing else.

Do your self a favour, check out Skora’s web page.

Inov8 Race Ultra Vest 2014-Update.

Further use of the Inov8 Race Ultra Vest has given me moderate grief.

The loop holding my bladder tube has broken, I can fix this myself but should I have too? It is unfortunately too small (UTMB/TNF100 etc NO WAY). If you see some one wearing one at an event with any mandatory gear, ask them where their sherpa is. If you use the bladder the back compartment is too compromised. You can squish, squeeze a lot in (not all I am afraid) but the rear compartment then goes round and it is now NOT easy to wear. Also, good luck filling the bladder and then getting it back in.

Busted bunge.

Busted bunge.

This may not be what the thing is for. It is what I bought it for though.

So, the vest is a winner on many fronts, just can’t handle a big load. It is great if only part filled, treated very gently and you are 10km to the next checkpoint.

The clips still suck.

AM

Inov8 Race Ultra Vest 2014 – Review.

Well you are sure to have heard of this. If not you will. Inov8 have come up with a new take on the race vest, sort of. They have moved the bottles to the side and low, plus decided to use crazy clips that will infuriate all who buy one.

We are ready right???

Vest on, never mind the goose wearing it.

The Inov8 web site has a nice spiel about the vest and I would point you there for information and glorious pics. Here you can read about a punter/goose like me, using one.

Inov8 web site and Race Ultra Vest page, no mention of clips…..

First, it looks great and is well finished. It is light and very adjustable. One size fits all, well you can adjust it to fit you, I did in a few minutes and it fits better than anything I have tried before. You get 2 x 500ml bottles and a 2l bladder from Hydrapac. That’s almost the price ($100 AUD) accounted for. Compared to any S-Lab kit it’s cheap and all the bits and pieces make sense, unlike the complicated, Salomon stuff. It wont fall apart either, see previous brand.

You get all this in, easy peasy just using the front pockets.

You get all this in, easy peasy just using the front pockets.

So its comfy and has low bottles, do they work? Yes, the bottles are fine. They don’t get in the way and as they are a bit down low, the splash-splosh noise factor does not seem to bother me much. That’s a big plus for anal me. Ultimate Direction (UD), I am talking to you, noisy bottles on the chest shit me. There is no bounce.

The chest pockets are ample and will easily hold an iPhone with a cover. Scott Jurek are you there??!!! The UD vest does not.

Mmmm comfy, well made, looks good, nice bottle set up, the bladder? This is a winner too. An open top at the back makes so much sense. Easy. You don’t need to dismantle your gear and re-pack it to fill the bladder, UD I am talking to you. The tube routing is even sensible, straight forward and intuitive. Salomon, ‘Why under arms? Why make me pay for a bladder? Oh you gave me 2 free leaky, squishy sperm collection bottles…….’, I digress.

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Really well made.

So, fits, water is easy and simple, looks tops and wont fall apart, rust up or drive you mad with splish splash every step, WHAT IS WRONG WITH IT???

The clips, they have used a new clip design for every little clip on it. They are impossible to undo. I tried it on and almost had to cut the straps off. I was contemplating seeing my patients wearing the damn Gimp vest all afternoon once it arrived. Race one and I could only undo one. I was tired and sad about it. Two doctor friends could not undo it either. We must be stupid? I have almost mastered it now but only by brute force and wearing an Elastoplast strip on my finger, I suspect I will develop a callous.

The clips, you push that tab away and it unlocks, sometimes.

The clips, you push that tab away and it unlocks, sometimes.

This lunacy aside, the bag is almost big enough for a big race, I have not packed it yet but it has stretch and a net on the back, I will make it work. There are optional pockets you can buy that replace the dreaded straps + clips with a pocket+ more of those wretched clips, offering some extra space. Regular Joe’s like me will need them.

My verdict? Like a Shakespearian hero it has it all but ultimately a fatal flaw. Would you knowingly buy a race vest you might die getting out of? One that could send you into a frothing madness at your final checkpoint in dream race delirium? You might, because it does everything else perfectly and Elastoplast might be on the mandatory gear list…… 🙂

Link- Another review from Endurance Limit.

Link- Ian Corless is a fan, no mention of the f’ing clips mind.

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