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…..

The Pinnacles Trail Classic 2014- Upper Brookfield.

How can I write a race report without disaster? What went wrong? What was interesting?

Well, my dog and daughter kept me up the night before, leading to an evaporation of the lift I was promised. Young Harman tried to eat my race vest as I stumbled out the door in the dark. Not very impressive???

Beagle sabotage.

Beagle sabotage

The race description sounded tough, a real brute. Starting at the Gold Creek Reserve it takes an 18km loop around the reservoir. Clockwise this year. I don’t know if that makes it easier or not. It was not easy. The signature feature of the race is the short sharp climbs, 18 in all. A mini Ronde Van Vlaanderen, or Tour of Flanders for the cyclists out there. Not a lot of climbing in all, 900m or so in 18km but the rapidity/frequency and grade of these beasts was telling.

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Wave 1.

 

 

 

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Profile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About 120 starters took off in waves from 6-30. After a pretty low-key address from race director Peter Holles you knew it was a TRAQ race, friendly, informal, relaxed.

 

Sensible shoes.

Sensible shoes.

I took the final group as I was late after parking a way down the road, I was not carpooling and have a conspicuous vehicle. Best not alienate myself further with my fellow trail runners. It all went ok from the gun, I was soon passed by almost everyone and overtook one sole runner requesting a ‘new leg’ due to cramp. Up and down we went, I ran most this time. Walking to the crest of only half a dozen. The scenery was stunning, wide eucalyptus forest with spots of grass trees and a quaint hippy/yuppy house made of stone along the way. This is mountainous country and I knew it well from past adventures on the MTB.

I was wearing some sensible shoes, New Balance numbers designed by Anton Krupicka, they are not available anymore but are low, fast and very minimal BUT with a rock plate! Wow, this course needed it.

After a while a question did come up. There are 18 climbs right? I had lost count and was starting to swear. The colourful signs along the way didn’t give a number, was ‘The Beast’ 8 or 9??? Still, the km were coming down and I knew the last 3-4 km had to be down hill. At this point, Ms New Leg came past me, bummer. I caught her up again going down the penultimate hill but debated the chivalry of this sort of thing. This internal monologue lasted all the way to the final dash when I made a run for home. chivalry be damned!

Rough trails.

Rough trails.

Standard steep fare......

Standard steep fare……

It all went well. There is no way I could have gone any harder. I was not last and had a great time. The family were there to greet me, even the Beagle (No domestic pets allowed). The organisation was as always perfect and the winners awesome. A great local race. I will be back! I even donated my massage to Lesley, who looked like she needed it more. A beagle pup can do that to you!

A big thank you to TRAQ for putting on another great race and to all the volunteers who make these things happen.

Support crew.

Support crew.

 

TRAQ- Link to results.

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.

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