Runners Kitchen- Ultra Fuel!

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During The North Face 100 I ate a heap of Amaze Balls and wish I had more. I am sure the enormous quantity of gels I sucked down made life hard towards the ‘rear end’ of the race.

I think eating real food as long as you can is the way to go, then once your gut shuts down, it’s time for liquids and gels.

This week-end I have a 53km trail race and will be eating my final supply of these suckers before ordering more. They are like Nanna’s Rum Balls, minus the Rum…..

Check them out here.

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.

Trail training in the city. Spring Hill trails.

Trail running is in many ways, a privilege. We run in the bush, often in National Parks or State Forests. Most of us have jobs or study so can’t always make it to the nearest mountain for an adventure. This is where we have to use our imagination.

Albert park, incline and soft grass.

Albert park, incline and soft grass.

The Windmill, historic top of Spring Hill.

The Windmill, historic top of Spring Hill.

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Steps, good training for TNF100.

In my job I have a park over the road. Apart from being littered with hobos and the occasional unfortunate murder victim, it offers good training. There are steep slopes, scrub, dirt, steps, rocks, pine needles and all sorts stuff. You might find it a bit repetitive but you can have a very good time running around in Wickham Park and then skip back to work a regular urban warrior.

Get in the lift and go run.

Get in the lift and go run.

Rock hopping in Roma Street Parklands.

Rock hopping in Roma Street Parklands.

You can swim at lunch too!

You can swim at lunch too!

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