Monday, April 23, 2018

Skechers Performance GO Meb Speed 5 Review: Smooth. Smooth and Fast Racing Flat

Article by Peter Stuart and Dave Ames
Peter: It’s the season of the racing flat around here. Holy moly--I’m weeding through so many awesome and light racing flats--it’s making my head spin. The GO Meb Speed 5 is the latest iteration of Skechers Performance's pure racing flat. I found the 3 and 4 to be super stiff and didn’t log a ton of miles in them. So how does the 5 stack up? Is it a better shoe than the Adidas Sub-2? Read on to find out…

Dave:  Skechers Performance is a run brand I have significant experience with as I used to handle most of the East Coast sales for the run specialty channel.  The GO Meb Speed series and I go way back and I have always raced and worked out quite well in these shoes, as well as the entire line. It’s a brand that just works really really well with my foot, my gait (M Strike and I get along nicely) and I love forefoot pop.  Skechers Performance consistently brings this to the table for me.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Salomon S/Lab Ultra Full Review: Race Ready Fit for Long, Hard Hauls

by Jeff Valliere and Sam Winebaum

Salomon S/Lab Ultra

Introduction/Initial Impressions:  

Jeff: I was not entirely sure what to expect with the S/Lab Ultra. Version 1 the S/Lab Sense Ultra was a big hit for me, as it was for many others given how quickly it sold out and became Salomon’s #1 selling S/Lab running shoe of all time  (despite the premium $180 price tag). For my use and preferences, I found the 1st version to be fast, light, stable, secure, with excellent grip and reasonable cushion/protection, especially when compared to previous Salomon S Lab shoes.  It was somewhat revolutionary. The new Ultra was completely reworked and may as well have also had a different model name as it has a different last, different outsole, different upper and an ounce heavier per shoe. I couldn’t help but wonder why Salomon so drastically overhauled a shoe that was so near perfection for so many.
My initial impressions however were quite positive.  Even though heavier, they still feel lighter than I imagined, fit was not as narrow as rumored and I liked the color scheme of red/purple much more than I anticipated.

Sam: I found the original S/Lab Sense Ultra to have one of the most comfortable uppers of any trail shoe or even road shoe I have run recently. I found the first S/Lab Sense Ultra overall to be excellent on moderate terrain but quite soft despite its dual density middles. Its forefoot protection was on the light side and its flexibility had me more leery on more technical terrain than in the XA Elevate or Sense Ride. 

So I was excited to see the new beefier upper of the Ultra and intrigued by its new Energy Save forefoot insert. The shoe was designed for the requirements of Francois D'Haene, multiple time UTMB winner including 2017. It is clearly focused on, and intended to provide protection and performance during long hard slogs in rough terrain, something the first Ultra was bit light for. I was somewhat taken aback by the added weight (going from 9.7 oz/275 g to a substantial 10.7 oz/303 g) and seemingly much narrower fit and especially toe box width. As Jeff said they are not as narrow as they seem. The fit overall is excellent, secure and comfortable, and pressure free the very front along side the tips of my pinky toes and big toes where it is lower and narrower feeling than recent Salomon trail shoes such as the Sense Ultra, XA Elevate, and Sense Ride.

Reebok Floatride Run Fast Multi Tester Review: FAST, Very Light and Friendly!

Article by Derek Li with Dave Ames, Sam Winebaum and Peter Stuart

Reebok Floatride Run Fast
Reebok hasn't been a brand one would associate with running shoes in recent years. That hasn't always been the case. Until 2017 their focus seemed to be more on cross-fit and obstacle racing. In the 1980's this wasn't the case as Reebok athletes such as marathon great Steve Jones (still affiliated with Reebok) set a world record in Chicago while Sydney Maree set the world on fire in the 1500 and 5000 in the same period.

Although Adidas-Salomon acquired Reebok over 10 years ago, it was only in 2017 that Reebok started to show some signs of the trickle down technologies that Adidas used to gain inroads into the running market in recent years such as TPU midsoles and knit uppers. In early 2017, Reebok gave us a taste of things to come when they released the Reebok Harmony Road, sporting their first foray into a TPU-based midsole, KooshRide (which seems to behave similarly to Adidas's Boost foam). 

Subsequently, Reebok released the first shoe in its Floatride range, the Floatride Run (RTR review), featuring a knit upper on a new dual density midsole platform combining super light and responsive PEBA with EVA, hoping to turn heads in both the running and athleisure markets. 

In July Reebok will be releasing the second shoe in the Floatride line, the Floatride Run Fast. The Fast is already proving itself at the front of the pack as 4th place 2018 Boston finisher Tyler Pennel wore them, while Nicole DiMercurio 6th, wore a version of the 3 oz.Pro (RTR preview) to great success.

The Run Fast, like the earlier Floatride Run, also pays homage to Reebok's long run heritage (over 100 years) and to the original 1984 Sydney Maree Trainer. You can see that they have once again printed Maree’s personal bests on the underside of the insole of this shoe. 

If the Run was designed with comfort in mind, the Run Fast has taken matters a step farther by giving the shoe extra gears and dropping the the weight significantly well into race flat territory while retaining a cushioned and highly responsive ride.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

In Depth Adidas Adizero Sub2 Multi Tester Review: Highly Engineered yet Simple, Sleek, Light and Elegant State of the Art "Flat"

Article by Sam Winebaum, Derek Li, Peter Stuart, and Mark Dorion.

adidas adizero Sub2

"Breaking 2", "Sub2" the big brands have unleashed great athletes and innovative shoes in a marketing and athletic quest to break the magic two hour barrier. Nike lined up the VaporFly 4% a super cushioned, flashy looking super cushioned racer with a carbon plate. adidas has taken a different tack focusing its contender the adizero Sub2 on:
  • simple, subtle and elegant design, 
  • very light weight from a low stack Boost Light midsole- a new firmer, much lighter version of its Boost midsole foam, 
  • very light, airy, deceivingly simple and subtle looking, super supportive Microfit upper, 
  • and a single continuous slab of Continental Microweb outsole with no plastic or carbon plates.

The contenders couldn't be more different in their approach!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Brooks Canopy Jacket Review: Desi Linden Made the Right Call!

Article by Sam Winebaum
As spectators and fans surely noted, Desiree Linden flew to victory at the 2018 Boston Marathon wearing a jacket, The Brooks Running Canopy Jacket in Hansons-Brooks Team colors. No singlets and sleeves for this tough and clever runner on such a cruel weather day!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

ASICS Gel Cumulus 20 Initial Review: Solid Smooth Daily Trainer

Article by Sam Winebaum

Sometimes after one run I know! This is the case in the Asics Gel Cumulus 20. ASICS gave me a pair to test at their new downtown Boston creative studio Boston Marathon weekend. I have never run the Cumulus but had been impressed with beefier Nimbus 19 although I found it on the heavy side with a somewhat disconnected rear and front ride. The Cumulus 20 is one fine daily trainer and will for sure be in the running for my annual "What a Daily Trainer Should Be!"

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

UA ColdGear Reactor Exert Jacket Review: Versatile, Light & Highly Adaptive Insulation. And Pockets!

Article by Sam Winebaum with Jeff Valliere

UA Reactor Exert Jacket 
MSRP $150. Available now. See stores below.

                                        Women's                                                        Men's
I am going to say this right up front. The Reactor Exert is among, if not the most, versatile and effective, high output cool to colder weather run, hike, and even everyday insulated jacket I have ever tested. It certainly challenges an old favorite the adidas Terrex Agravic Alpha Hoodie, a very light windbreaker with a touch of front insulation (RTR review). 

It has been my daily run companion since I received it mid winter. At RTR we have been very surprised and pleased by Under Armour new refocused efforts in running and more specifically here the outdoor market. We were delighted with the UA HOVR Sonic road shoe for its innovative design- top to bottom, superb ride, modern understated style and value price (RTR review).  Here UA heads into both road and trail territory with the versatile Reactor Exert.

Monday, April 09, 2018

QALO Silicone Rings: Quality Athletics Love Outdoors!

Article by Jeff Valliere

QALO (pronounced Kay-Lo) stands for Quality Athletics Love Outdoors.
I can't stand wearing my wedding ring.  Not for the nefarious reasons some might opt not to wear a ring, as I love my wife and am proud to be married to her, but wearing a heavy gold wedding ring is very bothersome to me.  I have a knobby knuckle, so, as is the case with any solid ring, needs to be sized to fit over said knuckle.  But, my finger behind the knuckle is skinny and the ring flops around causing constant annoyance.  My gold wedding ring is also blocky and heavy and when I grab anything heavy, it digs into my finger.

My two tone gold "Aspen" ring with Elk Range of Colorado etched in, too nice to beat up and too uncomfortable to wear for anything else aside from formal occasions.
I am active, not just running, but hiking, biking, skiing, mountain climbing, rock climbing, endless yard and house projects, tinkering in the garage working on bikes, cars, lawnmowers, etc...  I also primarily run on rocky mountains where I am often using my hands on steep rocky slopes, scrambling over rocks, grabbing trees and branches and not only am I nervous about dinging up my nicely carved gold ring, but also worry about catching my ring on something and being injured (Google "ring avulsion" on the web).  As a result, over my 14 years of marriage, I have only worn my ring on special occasions.

Enter QALO silicone rings.  I had been vaguely aware that silicone rings exist, but got a closer look while visiting the QALO booth at Winter Outdoor Retailer, where I was given a good overview and a sample ring to try.

QALO rings come in a wide variety of styles, colors and sizes for both men and women.  I chose a smooth design in a grey color, as it is subtle and could be confused for a dark silver or titanium band.  I like that it is inconspicuous and does necessarily draw attention, though others like to color coordinate or make a statement.

Below are just a few of the offerings from QALO. There are many men's and women's styles

Comfort is amazing, as I hardly know that I am wearing it as I go about my busy daily life without ever thinking about it being on my finger.  It flexes, bends and seems very durable thus far, with no visible flaws after several months of daily use.  The advertised tensile strength of 22 lbs to break is also very attractive to me, as I am confident that catching my ring on something would most likely just stretch the ring, or break without causing injury to my finger.  I have given it a few test pulls and can stretch it over a few fingers and it immediately snaps back to the original size.  If the ring happens to break in what would otherwise be a serious mishap, no big deal, they are inexpensive enough and presumably have less sentimental value.
If the wide variety of stock colors/designs are not enough, you can also order custom rings, where you can add monogramming, engraving, as well as custom patterns and designs.

If you run, are active in the outdoors, around the house, at your job, or just can't stand wearing a heavy metal band, I highly recommend checking out QALO silicone rings, they have impeccable customer service, a wide variety of quality products all at an affordable price.

Jeff Valliere is a former pro cyclist who now runs and climbs the mountains of Colorado. He has been top 5 Masters, top 25 overall, at the Pike's Peak Marathon several times, finishing 2d Masters in 2015. Jeff loves vertical accumulating more than 500,000 vertical feet per year, has climbed all the Colorado 14's and 200 of the 13's and has held FKT on several. 

The Qalo was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.
Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere
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Friday, April 06, 2018

adidas adizero Sub2-Analysis and First Runs Impressions Review: An Elegant, Hyper Light, Fast, and Comfortable Race Flat

Article by Sam Winebaum, Editor

adidas adizero Sub2 Review
Update: Read our In Depth Multi Tester Review here
Breaking 2, Sub2 the big brands have unleashed great athletes and innovative shoes in a marketing and athletic quest to break the magic two hour barrier. Nike lined up the VaporFly 4% a super cushioned flashy looking super cushioned racer with a carbon plate.  adidas has focused its contender, the adizero Sub2, on a subtle and elegant design, incredibly light weight, simplicity, Boost Light a new firmer, much lighter version of its Boost midsole foam, a very light, airy, deceivingly simple and subtle looking super supportive Microfit upper, and a single continuous slab of Continental Microweb outsole.

The contenders couldn't be more different in their approach! 

After a few short runs at varying paces are my initial impressions of the Sub2. A full in depth review with comparisons will follow.