Thursday, October 19, 2017

Racer Stories: Racing Fast While Doing Good. Sally Reiley Runs Her 5th Sub 3:38 Marathon in Chicago, All in Her 6th Decade

Article by Sam Winebaum

We love to tell the stories of exceptional "older" athletes. Earlier this month we featured Joost De Raeymaeker's story (RTR article), 2:29 Berlin Marathon PR at age 49. Here we bring you Sally Reiley's story.

Sally Reiley is a remarkable athlete who races fast while doing good, lots of good. Late to the marathon, and even to competitive running, she started racing in 2014 at age 54!  Her goal was to run the 2014 Boston Marathon to raise money for the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital in Boston, an institution she and her family have long been involved in, and to show that in the year after the bombings we were all Boston Strong.

She trained smart and well and ran out of the rear of the pack in the charity division at the 2014 Boston Marathon clocking a 3:34 in her very first marathon, ever.
Since then she has run three more Bostons, all sub 3:40, all faster than 3:38, with a PR of 3:29 at the very warm 2017 Boston Marathon.

Sally has raised a stunning $132,000 for eye research along the way. She decided to race the Chicago Marathon in 2017, this time to raise funds for the ALS Society.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Torin 3.0 Review: New More Comfortable Upper, Firmer Ride

Article by Sam Winebaum with Dominique Winebaum

Altra Torin 3.0 ($125)
Weight: 8.7 oz./247 g men's 9, 7.5 oz.213 g women's 8  per Running Warehouse 
Average of my size 8.5 sample weighs 8.6 oz./244 g (one shoe 8.5 oz./ 240 g, the other 8.8 oz./ 249 g)
Stack Height: 24mm heel/24 mm forefoot, Zero Drop
Altra Running Torin 3.0
The Torin is Altra Running's core neutral road trainer. It features Altra's signatures: the Foot Shape toe box and Zero Drop or midsole height difference from heel to toe, most modern shoes have heels 4-10 mm higher than forefoot. It has a supportive comfortable upper, and very decent flexibility for its 24mm forefoot cushion stack, this from Inner Flex,"tennis strings" like grid molded into the midsole. 
The Torin 2.5 (RTR review) was one of my favorite shoes of 2016 for its balanced construction and decently firm midsole which had me not noticing it had no drop from heel to toe , trail worthy upper, and responsive yet cushioned ride. So, how does the 3.0 measure up? 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Bose SoundSport Free In Ear Headphones Review: Wire Free, Superb, Rich, Immersive Sound. Like Bose Speakers!

Article by Sam Winebaum, Editor

Bose SoundSport Free
$250. Available now, see end of article
App: Android and iOS

RoadTrailRun will soon have a round up of all the new  2018 run ready headphones.  We could not wait to review what we think is the best sounding earphones of 2018, the Bose SoundSport Free.

The Bose SoundSport Free is a sweat and rain resistant, completely wire free in ear headphone. They have a 5 hour battery life with 10 hours more from the case with its convenient LED meter on the outside. Press the lightly latch on the sturdy, handsome case and up to 5 lights show your battery level.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

2018 Hoka One One Cavu and Mach Details and Initial Reviews: Hoka Re Discovers Its Mojo? Comparisons to Clayton its Predecessor.

Article by Sam Winebaum, Editor

Hoka One One will launch two new light performance trainers in 2018: Cavu and Mach.
Both are in Hoka's new Fly performance line. Hoka has had some great shoes the last few years but often they had compromises built in that left the final result less than ideal. Based on our initial testing these new models have no such compromises. Our full multi tester review is coming soon. Both will be available in February 2018

The brand new Cavu and Mach ( a direct successor to Clayton in what should be considered a larger "update"... and name change),  have sub 8 oz weights, plenty of cushion, response, and comfort for such light weights. By the numbers they are very, very similar but actually are quite different on the run.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Polar OH1 Optical Heart Rate Sensor Review: a comfortable, accurate, and much-welcome alternative to the standard chest strap

Editor's Note: We are thrilled to have Larisa Dannis test and review the Polar OH1 optical heart rate sensor for her first article as a contributing writer at RoadTrailRun.  Larisa is a huge proponent of heart rate based pacing over all kinds of road and trail terrain. Reliable sensing is key for her.  She tested the OH1 while preparing for the Javelina 100 later this month on the trails of New Hampshire's rugged White Mountains, at the Vermont 50, and on the roads.  
The results of her heart rate based training and racing approach shows as among many great results she was 2nd at the Western States 100 in 2014, was US 50 Mile Road Champion (5:59:11), ran 2:44.14 at the 2014 Boston Marathon, and qualified for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials. Her personal web site is here.

Article by Larisa Elaine Dannis

Polar OH1 Optical Heart Rate Sensor
$79.95. Available now.

Up until this opportunity to test an optical heart rate sensor, I’ll admit I was doubtful of the technology. Early reviews – especially those covering wrist-based devices – spoke of questionable accuracy, data transmission issues, and a need to cinch the sensors down uncomfortably tightly.

As a gal who’s relied heavily on heart rate data in training and when racing (something I talk about in detail here), I went into this testing period thinking nothing could replace my ever-reliable heart rate chest sensor.

37 hours and 220.6 miles later, the Polar OH1 has thoroughly changed my mind. In fact, at this stage I can’t imagine going back to using a chest strap again.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Racer Stories: Just Shy of 50, Joost De Raeymaeker Runs a PR 2:29:03 Marathon in Berlin. He tells us how he did it. And yes the Nike Zoom Vapor Fly 4% was in the Mix

Article by Joost De Raeymaeker

Editor's Note: We are thrilled to bring you Joost's race report. Currently hailing from Angola, he got serious about his running only in the last five years and has progressed dramatically to a 2:29 PB at Berlin just recently, at age 49. Nursing an injury he decided to run Berlin in the Nike Zoom Vapor Fly 4% after also evaluating the Nike Zoom Streak 6 and Speed Rival 6.


I ran as a child, until the end of 6th grade. Then I took up music more seriously and basically didn’t run again until I was in my 30s. It was more or less an on and off thing, but good intentions were never far away, so after a couple of years of trying, but failing monumentally at rebuilding some sort of running habit, mostly because of too much traveling as a photojournalist, it was in 2012, at the age of 44 that I finally got around to it. Writing an alternative Portuguese language travel guide to Angola, where I now live required me to stay at home for most of the year, at the kitchen table, tapping away on my laptop.

So why not run a half marathon, I thought, and started training. I was too late to sign up for one of the Lisbon (where I was living at the time) half marathons, but managed to get into a beautiful 20k along the coastline. Afterwards, I felt like that wasn’t that big of an effort, so I signed up for the Lisbon marathon in December and started training. It was the last one before it became a Rock and Roll marathon, and I finished it in 2:54. Still feeling a little underwhelmed, I took on a 100k in April, finished it, and got myself injured.

Since then, I’ve run a number of ultras and some shorter races as well, but unfortunately, there aren’t many opportunities to race in Angola. My marathon times kept getting better as well. I guess there’s something to be said for the benefits of training in tropical heat and humidity.

My marathons before Berlin 2017:
Lisbon marathon 2012: 2:54
Lisbon marathon 2013: 2:52
Hageland marathon (mostly off road) 2013: 2:50
Berlin Marathon 2015: 2:43
Amsterdam marathon 2016: 2:35:36 (2nd in 45-50 age group)
Hageland marathon 2016 (off road, 2 weeks after the Amsterdam one): 2:47, a course record

When I started out, I ran in anything I could afford, but when I started training for my first marathon, a friend suggested getting a pair of Pegasus. For the race itself, I bought a pair of Zoom Elite 5, a shoe I still find absolutely fabulous (I still have them, with more than 1100 miles on them). I have run in Adidas Boost, Saucony Ride and a couple of other brands, but mostly stick to Nike. The simple reason is that where I live, it’s impossible to try out and buy most running shoes at a local store. Having them delivered here is a pain, so I rely on friends bringing them over when they go to Europe, or I have them delivered there as well before I travel there. I know what to expect and with the help of a few sites and facebook groups, I waste as little time aspossible sending stuff back because it’s not to my liking.

Berlin 2017
This year’s edition of the Berlin Marathon was meant to be a test for me, to see if I was ready to take on the 6 Majors for top 3 spots over a 3 year period after turning 50 in February 2018. From checking the results of the 6 Majors, I calculated that I had to be able to better my 2016 PB of 2:35:36 a little to be absolutely sure to get at least 3d place.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Racer Stories: Travelers Beer New England Half Marathon. Nike Zoom VaporFly 4% Takes Me To A 9 year Personal Best !

Article by Sam Winebaum

Sunday October 1st I ran the Traveler's Beer Half Marathon, a point to point course from the New Hampshire International Speedway to the New Hampshire State House in Concord. I ran 1:35.24 my fastest half within a few seconds in the last 10 years. I won the 60 and over age group after dueling the eventual second place finisher for 4 miles.
The course has a net 230 foot drop with 436 feet of climbing on the way down. It included about 9.5 miles or so of beautiful country roads including a couple of miles of dirt, well shaded from the bright sun on a perfect weather day for running with about 40 Fahrenheit (5 C) at the start and mid 50's (12 C) at the finish.
We were bused out in the fog from in front of the gold domed granite NH Statehouse, watched over statutes of the famous NH statesman and orator Daniel Webster and the NH's only president Franklin Pierce, a not quite as memorable character as Daniel Webster..

We started at the Speedway but unlike Nike Breaking 2 we did not lap the oval. The one mile oval would have gotten boring pretty quick. The track seats 110,000 and the week before hosted a NASCAR race. 
 The weekend before there were up to 110,000 Nascar fans were in the stands behind me. Sunday, one solitary race car practicing and not a soul beyond a few runners checking out the infield.

The Race

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Merrell Bare Access Flex and Trail Glove 4 Reviews: The Bare Essentials for Road and Trail

Article by Peter Stuart and Dominque Winebaum

Peter's Review
The Merrell Bare Access Flex ($90) is a lightweight, zero drop road/trail hybrid shoe. It weighs in at 7.3 oz/ 207 g for a men's size 9, 6.5 oz/184 g for a women's size 8 with a 15mm zero drop stack height. It's a pretty minimal shoe with a terrific upper and just enough protection to go out and have some fun.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Brooks Running Levitate Tech Details & First Run Impressions Review: Stable, Consistent, Dynamic Ambulation

Article by Sam Winebaum
Brooks Running Levitate
The Brooks Running Levitate ($150) is an all new, premium neutral trainer featuring an innovative DNA Amp midsole which works in harmony, and we don't use that word lightly, with a flexible arrow shaped outsole. This is a energetic, if heavier shoe, for long miles in great comfort. Levitate has a 8mm drop. Available September 30th. 
Brooks Running Levitate
The weight spec is 11.2 oz/318 grams in men's size 9. Our sample size 8.5 weighed 11.1 oz.
11.2 oz.
You say... Isn't that heavy for even a premium daily trainer these days?  Let's put the weight aside for the moment as in our first run the energetic smooth ride had us feeling we were in a lighter shoe and certainly lighter feeling and more lively running than many shoes in its class such as the ASICS Gel Nimbus 19  (RTR review), adidas Energy Boost 4 (RTR review), or even Brooks own Glycerin 15 (RTR review), all weighing somewhat less. 

Altra One V3 Review: Not the One

Article by Peter Stuart
Altra brings out its 4th version of the One (I think...there was a 2.5, was there a 1.5?).  The description is that it's a 'lightweight race day shoe".  At 7.9 oz/224 g for a men's 9, it's not THAT lightweight--and in fact has gained about 1.3 oz/37 g over One 2.5, while also losing 2mm of stack height. So, enough griping, what are the specs and how does it run? As I said it's 7.9 oz, zero drop and has an 18mm stack height.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fitbit Ionic Review- All Day Useful, Animated, Colorful, Beautifully Crafted GPS/HR Watch with Deep Health and Wellness Tracking Features

Article by Sam Winebaum
Fitbit Ionic ($299.95) Available for Pre-Order from Amazon  here
First deliveries early to mid October 2017
The just launched Fitbit Ionic represents the brand's first true smart training watch. It has both GPS and wrist heart rate on board and of course the full compliment of Fitbit insights. More than a "tracker" the Ionic also includes:
  • on board coached Fitstar workouts such as abs and chest, the animated color screen shows you how to do then
  • a "wallet" for contactless payments for that after run coffee or beer
  • multiple sport modes including swim tracking with 50M water resistance so suitable for any swimming and the shower. 
  • a built in 300 song music player, including the ability to download Pandora Plus and Premium stations
  • smart phone notifications
  • a battery life spec. at 4 days all day use and 10 hours GPS/HR training mode that doubles its obvious Apple Watch and Android Wear competitors and approaches battery life of many dedicated GPS watches 
In my testing I found the Ionic to be a perfectly serviceable, very comfortable on the wrist run companion with the added benefit of Fitbit's excellent cardiac health and sleep monitoring. The screen sharpness and clarity is outstanding I really appreciated the longer battery life compared to my Apple Watch Series 2.

Friday, September 15, 2017

First Hands on Impressions. 3 Fashionable, Light New GPS/HR Watches: Suunto Spartan Trainer, Fitbit Ionic, Garmin Vivosport

Article by Sam Winebaum

Competitor Running just published my article covering these three just introduced GPS Run Watches here.

I have tested all three. My RoadTrailRun initial impressions and live photos  are below.
Update: Full review of the Fitbit Ionic is here
Left to Right: Suunto Spartan Trainer, Fitbit Ionic, Garmin Vivosport
Front to Back: Suunto Spartan Trainer, Fitbit Ionic, Garmin Vivosport
 Brief Descriptions and Impressions

Monday, September 11, 2017

Salomon XA Elevate-First Runs Impressions Review with Comparisons to Sense Ride and S/Lab Sense Ultra

Article by Sam Winebaum

Editor's Note: RoadTrailRun will have an in depth review for the XA Elevate soon where I will join with Jeff Valliere, running trails above Boulder and Larisa Dannis, hammering long technical runs in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Salomon XA Elevate
Weight: Test sample in US M9:  10.7 oz/304g
              Production: 10.4 oz/295g (US 9M) 9 oz./255g (US 7W)
Stack Height: 25mm/17mm (8mm drop)
Lug Height: 5mm
MSRP: $130
Available 12/1/17 at REI in the US, general distribution 3/1/18

We first saw the XA Elevate at Outdoor Retailer where it was Salomon's big introduction along with the S/Lab Sense Ultra 2 (preview article here). It was for sure flashy and low slung looking but stiff flexing  it felt it had more hiking vibe than run vibe. It joins the line up sitting just above the Sense Ride (RTR review here) in overall cushion and protection and just below the Pro Max with its higher stack but lower height lugs RTR (review here).

First Impressions 
Salomon kindly sent us a sample and first trying them on underfoot they did feel like a hiker with prominent support under the arch, lots of noticeable cushion and protection upfront, a very secure upper hold and somewhat larger lugs than the Sense Ride and Sense Ultra 1.  

Friday, September 08, 2017

Coolcore Apparel Review: All Conditions Comfort and Cooling Performance

Article by Sam Winebaum with Dominique Winebaum
We have long been obsessed here at Road Trail Run by apparel which is effective for running comfort at the extremes of heat and cold. In warm weather perceived and real comfort comes from how cool one's skin feels and in  minimizing wet cling of fabric to the skin. Cooling using fabrics can come from
  • a variety of chemical and other treatments (Columbia Omni-Free Zero, 37.5)
  • the actual structure of the fabric to allow not only rapid evaporative cooling but also less clammy cling to the skin when wet. The approach Coolcore takes.
  • fiber selection,for example Titanium fibers in adidas Climachill article here to actually conduct heat away from the skin
  • reflective outer layers on the fabric (Columbia Omni-Shade Sun Deflector 
Of course, fabric color is also a factor with lighter colors generally less heat absorbing. In colder conditions staying dry is the key and many of the same characteristics of rapid evaporation and fabric structure needed in heat can apply to keep garments drier and more comfortable in cold. The differences generally are the fit, generally snugger in cold, deeper structures or "fuzzies" on the skin and on the outside to insulate being main difference between hot and cold weather comfort and performance.

We have long kept an eye on Coolcore a local to us Portsmouth, N.H, company.  Their fabric technology (see here) relies on structure to provide cooling and drying power and less wet cling. Coolcore achieves this by wicking, transporting moisture, and regulated evaporation. No added chemicals are used to achieve the performance and comfort of these synthetic fabrics.  Early on Coolcore was involved and still is in cooling towels that when wet provide a distinct cooling effect as well as some licensing of the fabric technology into work wear and general athletics. For several years we have wrapped a Coolcore cooling towel around our neck during long trails runs, very effective and tested a t-shirt a few years ago that was effective in cooling but was a fairly crude slick feeling fabric with plenty of wet cling . We were eager to try their latest  introduced at Outdoor Retailer in July and put it to the test.

Cool core had their fabrics tested on specialized equipment, and not just anecdotally via user impressions, at the Hohenstein Institute, a 60 year old independent testing and research institute for the clothing industry  The fabric was tested against 7 competitors and three competing technologies, un named but we might assume Climachill and Columbia were in the mix.  The testing results are here and also illustrated below. Coolcore won several awards for fabric technology innovation.

In the Hohenstein testing Coolcore came out with the highest performance scores in the three tested categories of Cooling Power, Drying Time, and Wet Cling.  One must always take such company sponsored testing with a grain of salt and actual on the run use in varying conditions of humidity, temperature, sun combined with color of garment, wind, if used under another layer along with of course each runner's preferences also go into the mix.

This said when compared to standard technical t-shirts, and other cooling claiming shirts on many runs and hikes in varying conditions and even cold conditions, in combination and overall, the Cool Core outperformed any of our many high performance and cool claiming shirts.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Scott Supertrac RC - A Top Tier, High Performance All Mountain Racer

by Jeff Valliere

Scott Supertrac RC
9.6 oz. (272 grams) US Men's Size 9 or 8 oz. (230 grams) US Women's Size 8
(9 7/8 oz./281 grams for my US size 10)
25mm heel/20mm forefoot
$150 Available Now

It has been some time since I have tested/reviewed a Scott shoe, I think it was the Eride AF Trainer a few years ago, but it did not make much of an impression on me either way.  I was sort of on the fence reviewing this one, but the look of the outsole really appealed to me and it looked like an interesting all mountain shoe overall.  Turns out, I was pleasantly surprised at how well this shoe performed!  It feels light and high quality out of the box, very well built, with buzz saw like sticky lugs, a race profile and blinding neon yellow coloring to confirm that you had better be moving quick in this shoe.

La Sportiva/Polygiene Odor Free Clothing Review

by Jeff Valliere with Sam Winebaum

La Sportiva Motion T-Shirt - $39.00
La Sportiva Rapid Short - $129.00

Polygiene Odor Control is a silver salt which naturally occurs in water and soil. It is co-applied in the finishing stages of garment manufacturing so no extra water is used.  Long used in health care, silver salt has been extensively tested for skin sensitivity. Polygiene only inhibits growth of bacteria on the fabric to reduce odors and not with naturally occurring skin bacteria. Polygiene's motto is " Wear More, Wash Less" as the energy and water savings over the lifetime of such treated garments can add up.

Jeff: The La Sportiva Motion T, made from Polygiene Odor Control treated fabric has quickly become one of my favorite running shirts. The shirt is light, very breathable and has a great cut that is comfortable, lays well, drapes just below the hemline of my shorts at just the right level, without feeling like a dress or an 80's crop top.
Sam: I agree with Jeff this is one comfortable, light T. Stretchy and a bit slick and sticky when wet. I wish the fabric was more mesh like and had more texture.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Revant Optics Replacement Prescription Sport Lenses

by Jeff Valliere

Revant Optics was founded in 2009, soon after founder and CEO Jason Bolt crashed while mountain biking and damaged his sunglasses.  When he tried to buy replacement lenses, he found that they were no longer available, so ordered a batch of 200 lenses from the manufacturing company, kept a few pairs and sold the rest.  The idea was born to make available lenses for sunglasses, new and old, at a fair price and offer great customer service.

I'll admit that I had never heard of Revant Optics before being offered to review a set of their lenses and when I learned that they offer prescription lenses as well, I was quite excited.  My Oakley Flak Jacket prescription lenses were over 8 years old and even though I have a very mild prescription, things were getting a touch fuzzy.  Even with insurance, performance oriented prescription eye wear costs a good bit of money and I kept putting it off.

I scrolled through the Oakley options and soon (as I expected I would) found the Flak Jacket.  I could have used the search function and got there faster, but was interested to see all of the model glasses where replacement lenses were available and was blown away.  That was just Oakley!

Saturday, September 02, 2017

2018 Inov-8 Previews & First Run Impressions Review ParkClaw 275 GTX Invisible Fit, RoadClaw 275

Article by Sam Winebaum

Inov-8 a British run shoe brand which was really first, starting in 2003 to design a line of trail "running" shoes from the ground up as not only running shoes but from day one with variable designs of outsoles and midsoles for different terrain types and distances.  I first wrote about Inov-8 in 2007 here after testing several different models. 
Looking back at that article, and after seeing their 2018 line I  clearly see that Inov-8 has stuck true to its mission of designing a wide array of terrain specific models for ice and snow, mud and wet, rock, mountain trail, moderate "park" trail, and road. 
The 2018 RocLite 315 (left) stays true to the 2007 RocLite 315's (right) all terrain endurance mission

Most models are not so specific that they don't cross over categories but each is called out with a sweet spot. I am currently testing the ParkClaw 275 a trail with some road capablities and the RoadClaw 275 a road shoe which can easily tackle easier trails

All Inov-8 shoes regardless of terrain and distance purpose, be they 2007 or 2017 models, share key characteristics:
  • firm, stable midsoles with embedded Meta Shank or Dynamic Fascia Band inserts built into the midsoles. These plates mimic foot bio mechanics with a fingers shape and depending on model are more or less substantial with hard rocky terrain trail shoe shanks such as in the TrailRoc line extending more coverage under the front of the foot for rock protection and lighter terrain versions thinner fingers such as in the RoadClaw
  • very supportive rugged uppers in all shoes, including road shoes, which generally fit on the snug side but over the years getting more front of the foot volume. 
  • within each model, often different upper choices including the new Invisible Fit Gore-Tex, ballistic nylon for super abrasion durability, as well as more conventional mesh. 
  • of course an outsole designed for specific uses and terrain types
  •  a new Sticky Grip outsole compound claiming 50% better forefoot and 20% better heel traction than its predecessor launches in 2018 on some models with others having a Tri-C or Dual C outsole which can include Sticky Grip rubber as one of the 2 or 3 different compounds in the outsole.
  • within each terrain type shoe model frequently with at least two and often more levels of cushioning, basically stack height difference, distinguished by Inov-8's Arrow System marking and by differing weights called out as the number in the model description: RocLite 305 vs. RocLite 315.
2018 Previews
I visited Inov-8's US headquarters in Massachusetts a few miles from the start line of the Boston Marathon and across the railroad tracks from Hopkinton State Park and its many trails.

The shoe wall Jim Howard, General Manager showed us just includes running shoes. A whole other wall had cross fit, weight lifting, and obstacle course shoes. Inov-8 stability, firm outsoles and rugged uppers have made them very popular for these sports.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Salming Speed 6-If Looks Could Kill

Article by Peter Stuart with Sam Winebaum

The Salming Speed 6 ($130) is an uptempo (duh, check the name) more racer than trainer--coming in at 7.4 oz./210g for a men's size 9, 6.5 oz./ for a women's size 8 according to Running Warehouse. It loses a full ounce in weight from the Speed 5.  
It has a heel height of 23mm and a forefoot of 17mm, 6mm drop. It's a firm shoe underfoot with looks that make me think of Blade Runner or a Japanese street corner. 

There is so much branding on this shoe it's hard to believe. But how do they run? Are they speedy? Read on to find out what we think about the ride and relative ups and downs of the Speed 6. Let me just say, in advance, that I'm glad there were only two SPEED movies, and we could have done without the 2nd. That said, here are the reviews:

First Impressions and Fit
Sam: Wow! Peter is right about the branding. I kind of like the loud look in a combination of bright fading to green yellow and muted swampy green. 
Sam: The build quality and finish from Sweden based Salming is among the best of any shoe company, and it sure shows here. These are beautifully build and finished shoes.
There is plenty of durable rubber, a surprising amount for such a light shoe. 
My pair is a half size up from my normal 8.5 with the fit a bit roomy. I could easily go true to size with thinner socks.  Salming has lost the more substantial overlays of its Exo Skeleton found in prior models and this is a good thing as it makes the fit more consistent from heel to toe. The fit is what I would characterize as higher volume and "tubular" feeling over the foot meaning with no sensation of a change in pressure from the rear to the front, decently roomy at the forefoot and as with prior Salming a bit pointy up very front of the shoe. I did not run in the Speed 5 so can't compare but have run in the Distance D4 and EnRoute.

Sam: The upper is a two layer very fine mesh with extensive overlays. The foot is stabilized by the thin Exo Skeleton overlays, the yellow green lattice and strips in the pictures. I did not find the upper particularly breathable but also certainly not overly warm. Compared to the Distance and En Route the upper is more comfortable overall, less snug than the Distance (RTR review) with its thicker external Exo Skeleton overalays  and easier to dial in than the somewhat sloppy upper of the Enroute (RTR review).
Peter: Sam, I love when you handle all of the technical stuff! I'm a big fan of the upper on the Speed 6. As busy as it looks, it works for me visually. I find the fit to be true to size and it holds my foot well in all the right places. I love the high reflectivity as I've been heading out for pre-dawn runs lately. It's a very deluxe and dialed-in upper.

Speed 6 puts on an incredible show under the lights!

All dark areas of the upper are actually highly reflective as seen when flashed with the camera.
The flash photo also highlights the thin strips securing the mid foot.

Sam: The midsole is made of Salming Recoil foam in 2 grades of firmness with what is called out as a softer Recoil R heel insert embedded in a single density or Recoil. I must say the heel did not feel soft but it sure is decently responsive if quite firm. I think the shoe could benefit from a deeper central cavity just in front of the heel to allow some more deflection of the heel and overall slightly softer foam with more actual "recoil".
Some will appreciate the responsive firm snap of this midsole, and I certainly did at faster tempos less so when run slow but after all this is a Speed shoe by name. It is firmer at the heel than the Enroute which I found to soft there.  Interestingly the EnRoute also has a similar Recoil R heel insert yet I found that shoe's heel to soft at least in contrast to the firmer fore foot. Maybe the Recoil R insert in the Speed is firmer or more likely the overall EnRoute midsole is softer.
Again this is a performance/racing oriented shoe with a midsole feel along the lines of the ASICS Roadhawk FF which is more trainer and  New Balance 1400,  or even Nike Zoom Streak 6 racer, two others I find overly firm for all but shorter racing. ASICS with its firm FlyteFoam seems to get more of a rebound sensation out of its firm foam.
Peter: Man oh man is this a firm feeling foam. Unfortunately I don't get a lot of recoil from the recoil--it just feels firm. Sam, I disagree on the 1400 and the Zoom Streak 6. While they are both on the firm side, the 1400 has some give and the Zoom Streak 6 is so much snappier. 

Sam: The defining feature of Salming shoes is its Natural Running Support System which combines a mid foot Torsion Guide System to stabilize the foot after which, at 62% of the length of the shoe from the heel, there is an anatomically correct flex groove at a 75 degree angle towards the medial side just behind the first orange forefoot outsole band in the photo above. This location is called the ballet line.  As with all Salming there is a distinct sensation of plenty of stability at mid foot followed by a very natural feeling and smooth toe off.
Peter: It's funny, given the ballet line, you'd think this shoe would transition through the gait cycle effortlessly, but that isn't the case for me. I feel like I have to PUSH through each stride. The outsole feels both stiff and firm for me and it's just not a smooth transition. I've hoped that it might break in, but hasn't done so yet

In addition to the 75 degree angle first flex point, three other flex grooves are located further forward in an approach similar to the Enroute. 

Sam: This ain't no mushy ride! The ride is firm and responsive as a fast shoe should be but... I do think the heel is overly firm especially in contrast to the agile smooth running forefoot.  Salming tells us the forefoot midsole is firmer than the heel but I don't feel this.  I think  due to 62/75 design with the perfect flex and the deep flex grooves the contrast between heel and forefoot is a bit more jarring than I would like. A somewhat more relaxed heel ride, followed by the mid foot stabilizing Torsion Guide System, a feature similar to what adidas puts in its softer midsole Boost performance shoes such as the Adios, would really help me dig this shoe as a half racer and faster daily trainer.

Peter: Rarely I have I wanted to like a shoe more (based on looks and what, on paper, is my kind of shoe). Unfortunately it's just not a shoe that works with my body mechanics. The ride is really clunky for me. I feel like I'm fighting with the shoe to get through a run. I'm not expecting a shoe to do the work for me, but every once in a while a shoe just seems to get in the way of running naturally--and this shoe seems to do just that. I've tried a variety of tempos and distances in these and I just can't get a great feeling run in them. 

Peter: The Salming Speed 6 wasn't a great fit for me. The upper is terrific and I like the shoe in theory, but couldn't get a great feeling run in them. They are super firm and pretty stiff. If they work with your biomechanics I think they'd be a great race shoe, they're just not for me. I'd love a substantially more flexible version of this shoe that was a little less firm. 
Sam: I agree with Peter on the upper being terrific. Rarely has a more race oriented upper felt so great without the usual "lock down" mid foot constriction and/or cramped toe box. And the look says fast.   I do like a race weight shoe I can run with some comfort and ease on other days for example the adidas adios Boost 3 or the lighter yet Vaporfly 4%. Here the ride is just a bit to firm overall especially at the heel.

Comparisons to the Speed 6 (7.4 oz)
Salming Distance D4 (7.6 oz.) RTR review
Sam: The 2016 Distance is slightly softer underfoot and for me and is not as responsive. While I raced a half in them they just don't feel as speedy as the Speed 6.  The upper is pointier up front and the denser Exo Skeleton overlays more noticeable. They sit somewhere between firmer trainer and softer racer with less focus than the firm, fast Speed 6. 
adidas adios Boost 3 (RTR review)
Sam:  The class of comfortable racers. Somewhat heavier and with not nearly as refined an upper the adios can still make mid packers or world record holders smile in comfort and at speed at a variety of paces and distances. 
Nike Zoom Streak 6 (6.4 oz) RTR review
Peter: The Streak 6 is similarly firm, but way snappier. It's a race shoe that is just aching to go fast. Works better with the way I run. 
Sam: While the Streak 6 is snappier it has a rough narrow heel landing for me and the snappy part only kicks in at race paces. I reserve mine for 10K or shorter races and never for training. I would not hesitate to take out  Speed 6 for tempo and faster runs. 
New Balance 1400 v5 (7.4 oz) RTR review
Peter: The 1400 V5 is shaping to be one of my 2 or 3 favorites of the year. It's more flexible and softer than the Salming. Good at any tempo and perhaps the most natural feeling runner of the year (The Zoom Elite 9 is the other contender)
Hoka One One Tracer 1 (7.4 oz) RTR review
Sam: Also a firm shoe and identical weight. The Speed 6 to be a more refined overall package and ride, the Tracer being stiffer and more awkward for me although having a slightly softer but lower  heel and about identical forefoot stack.
Skechers GOmeb Razor (7.7 oz) RTR review
Peter: Speed 6 and Razor are pretty similarly stiff, but the Razor has a little more give--feels better at tempo to me. 
On The Cloud (7.4 oz.) RTR review
Sam: While its upper is a bit "casual" fitting with its optional bungie lace for faster running and to snug with real laces,  under foot the Cloud is softer and easier on the legs despite being firm. The Cloud Elements really work in this shoe. My denim and muted green Cloud also goes casual with less of the bright lights of the Speed!
Saucony Kinvara 8 (7.8 oz) RTR review
Peter: If the Kinvara 8 works for you, the Speed 6 might work too. They feel similarly clunky to me. 
Sam: While the Kinvara 8 tend to bottom out at the heel for me, leaving me lingering back there in transition, the Speed 6 heads in the other direction at the heel, firm and without much give wanting me to get off it as quick as possible which the forward part of the shoe 62/75 design facilities. Upfront the Kinvara has a stiffer feeling transition. The Speed 6 upper is superior in fit and comfort.
ASICS Roadhawk FF (8.1 oz) RTR review
Sam: I feel this may be the closest comparison. While the transition of the Roadhawk is not as smooth due to excessive firm outsole rubber upfront making them stiff  its equally firm midsole is more forgiving and dynamic but has a more awkward to forefoot transition. At $30 less the Roadhawk upper while very decent is snugger, rougher feeling and doesn't disappear on the foot as the Speed 6's does
Altra Escalante (7.8 oz,) RTR review
Peter: These two are polar opposites. The Escalante is flexible, soft and barely there. 

For Peter and Sam's run bios visit our reviewers' page here

The Speed 6 was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Visit our Index Page here for over 60 of in depth 2017 shoe and gear reviews
Visit our 2018 Previews Page here for 2018 run shoe, apparel, and gear previews 

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Friday, August 25, 2017

Saucony Triumph ISO 4 First Run Impressions: Smooth All Over

Article by Sam Winebaum, Editor

Just got in my 1st run in the Saucony Triumph ISO 4, actually wearing the ISO 4 on one foot and the ISO 3 on the other to closely compare.
Triumph ISO 4
Now with a full Everun TPU midsole, it is nicely energetic but unlike full Boost TPU midsoles without EVA or plastic pieces to stabilize such as the Ultra Boost, here it is stable and tamed due to the burly outsole or maybe the different makeup of Everun which seems slightly firmer than Boost. 

The downside of the full Everun midsole in ...weight. My size 9 pre production sample weighs over 11 oz. Final production weight should come in at 10.6-10.8 oz so very close to the weight of the ISO 3 of 10.5 oz They do run way lighter than their weight due to their smooth transition and rebound and also for that matter lighter than the 10.7 oz Triumph ISO 3 on my other foot. We will be confirming final production weights as early samples can vary.

The redesigned decoupled (see longitudinal grooves up front) outsole makes them transition more smoothly than ISO 3 but overall with a touch less of a firmer pop off the heel despite the fuller rubber coverage there as the midsole is softer but also transmits far less shock. 
LEFT: Triumph ISO 4 RIGHT Triumph ISO 3
The upper is very plush, decently supportive but light on the foot overall with less overlay material in the ISOFit bands than ISO 3. No pressure points anywhere. As a result, the half size up sample size 9 is a touch to big for me whereas at half up the ISO 3 is just right.  I would go true to size with a next pair.
LEFT: Triumph ISO 4 RIGHT Triumph ISO 3
More miles to run for sure but Triumph ISO 4, despite what appears despite a class leading weight, to likely to become a new favorite in the premium, plush daily trainer category for his just right cushioning softness, comfortable upper, and smooth transitions.  
When compared to the ISO 3, my early impressions is that overall it is a slightly softer shoe, one that transitions more smoothly, but while bouncier from the Everun with a touch slower response. The upper is clearly superior in comfort and hold and more accommodating  
It is smoother running at slower paces than the heel heavy TPU based Energy Boost 4 (RTR review), has a more refined less constrictive upper than the Gel-Nimbus 19 (RTR review) its closest comparison in terms of ride, a firmer more stable heel than the Brooks Glycerin 15 (RTR review), and a softer ride and easier toe off than the Nike Vomero 18 (RTR review). Fans

Available November. $160. 
Full review soon. 
See our review of the Triumph ISO 3 here
See our Saucony Spring 2018 preview article here

The Triumph was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Visit our Index Page here for over 60 of in depth 2017 shoe and gear reviews
Visit our 2018 Previews Page here for 2018 run shoe, apparel, and gear previews 

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Hoka Speed Instinct 2 Review: Race Ready Crowd Pleaser

Article by Dominick Layfield

Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2
Hoka's stated weight: 9.5 oz/269 g M9,  8.1 oz./230 g M8
Measured weight of US M10: 10.3 oz/293 g per shoe
Stack Height: 25mm heel/ 22 mm forefoot, 3mm drop
$130. Available now.
Historically, I've not felt much love for Hoka One One shoes.

They arrived at a time when the running community was enjoying a dalliance with minimal shoes, and when I first saw them, Hokas looked like clown shoes.  I dismissed them as a fad that would quickly be forgotten.

I was forced to take them seriously when they were publicly espoused by ultra-running royalty like Karl Meltzer and Dave Mackey.  However, when I tried them on, the foot shape just felt wrong.

The first Hokas that I actually liked were the (long-discontinued) Huaka.  I was given a old demo pair by the local Hoka rep, and while I still felt that the foot shape was not quite right for my feet, I really enjoyed the shoe and wore them until they had no tread left at all.

Fast forward a few years, and despite the fact that Hokas were becoming more and more dominant in the trail and ultra-running world, I continued to resist: every pair I tried on (e.g. Challenger ATR) felt shaped for someone else's foot.

However, when researching shoes to wear for Western States, I couldn't help but notice the really impressive cushion-to-weight ratio of the Clayton 2.  Although a road shoe, the outsole looked like it might have enough tread for trail use.  When I saw a Facebook photo of the great David Roche wearing Claytons at the finish line of a trail race, that clinched it.  I ordered a pair, and was pleasantly surprised.  They felt very much like the Huakas, and nothing else that I'd found came anywhere close to the weight. (~470 g/pair  8.3 oz/shoe for US M10)

Although I had a disappointing day at Western States [Editor's Note: coming back from an injury Dom finished 14th], the Clayton 2's performed well.  And the only minor issues I encountered were the lack of any toe protection (which I discovered when I kicked a root in the dark), and a few times getting jabbed by a sharp rock through the outsole cutout.  If I had to run the race again tomorrow, I'd pick the same shoe.

However, for a longer, more rugged race, like the upcoming UTMB, I want a little more protection.  So when I was offered the chance to review a pair of the Speed Instinct 2, I jumped at the chance.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

2017 Aspen Backcountry Marathon/Half Marathon Race Report

by Jeff Valliere

Aspen Backcountry Marathon/Half Marathon
August 12th, 2017

Once again I was fortunate enough to race the Aspen Backcountry Marathon/Half Marathon sponsored by adidas Outdoor.  I participated in the half marathon last year, which was one of the best race experiences that I have had, not only because of the amazing course, excellent race organization and the fact that it is held in Aspen, but I was able to bring the family along.  I could potentially do that for any event, but in Aspen, there are so many nearby activities and attractions to keep them occupied while I race, I do not feel guilty about being away running for several hours, as they are likely having a better time than I am (I am having fun, but in a painful sort of way).

Photo credit: Trey Kinkead
When invited back for 2017, I jumped at the chance.  My wife, daughters and I were very excited to return to Aspen and relive the good times from last year.  Additionally, this was the last weekend of summer vacation and there was no better way to top off a great summer of outdoor adventures.

The Aspen Backcountry Marathon continues to steadily improve each year and I noticed a marked improvement over 2016.  The courses for both the marathon and the half marathon have continued to be tweaked and improved over the years and this year was no exception.  Both races (the half and the full) now feature even more singletrack than before, greatly reducing the already minimal stretch of paved bike path required getting to/from the main trails.  The direction of the course also alternates each year, so it was great going in the opposite direction, as it seemed like a different race.

Another improvement is that the prize purse has been increased, paying generous cash prizes for the top marathon finishers and adidas Outdoor has also generously increased the amount of gift cards they give out for the top race finishers, King of the Mountain winners and all the way down through age groups.

There was also more great gear given out this year included in the entry fee.  At packet pickup, each racer was given a very nice adidas Ultimate Tee, then a choice of adidas running hat or visor, as well as an adidas gear bag/backpack.  Packet pickup was also very easy, quick and efficient.  Course maps were provided and the then the race meeting was informative with a description of the course, race rules, leave no trace ethics (cupless course) and everything else that needed to be covered about the race and the course.

Race tee, pack (they were out of blue/gray by the time I arrived), hat, cup and great handmade trophies.

Post race, each racer is given a nice stainless steel drinking cup with vouchers for food and drinks afterward, that can be cashed in at one of several vendors who have set up shop in Rio Grande Park in conjunction with the annual ducky derby.  I was also given a wet/iced towel (a small, but welcome comfort) after the race for cleaning off, received a complimentary massage from Aspen School of Massage Therapy, gorged on watermelon and a variety of other fruit and snacks (before cashing in my lunch coupons).

I somehow managed to pull off a second consecutive win here, accompanied on the podium by Women's Half Marathon champ, Penelope Freedman who was 3rd overall.

Race entry fees are also quite reasonable, a steal actually when you compare to other races around Colorado and the Mountain West.  Then factor in the great schwag, prizes, chip timing, great organization/support, amazing course and setting, this race is really tough to beat.

2017 Pricing:

Full Marathon

  • Dec 1 – Jan 31: $70
  • Feb 1 – Apr 30: $80
  • May 1 – Jul 31: $90
  • Aug 1 – 7: $100

1/2 Marathon (21K)

  • Dec 1 – Jan 31: $70
  • Feb 1 – Apr 30: $75
  • May 1 – Jul 31: $85
  • Aug 1 – 7: $90
As great as all of that sounds, what I really appreciated most as a father of 6 year old twins, was how much there was to do in and around Aspen as a family.  We enjoyed fine dining, went on hikes, rode the gondola, went to the farmers market, perused gem and fossil shops, rock climbed, swam, attended a jazz concert at the top of Aspen Mountain and enjoyed the Duck Derby Festival, complete with bouncy houses and kids activities that share Rio Grande Park with the race.

Easy above treeline hiking on Independence Pass

 Views from the Aspen gondola, from here you can see much of the course

Wildflowers galore at the top of Aspen Mountain

We happened upon a jazz concert while hiking above the Aspen gondola

But, Aspen is expensive you say?  Yes, of course Aspen is pricey, but there are alternatives for the budget conscious.  There are less expensive rooms if you plan ahead.  We stayed at the St. Moritz Lodge just a few blocks from town, where they have some pretty reasonably priced bunk rooms (as well as standard rooms and rooms with a kitchenette), a nice shared kitchen, continental breakfast, happy hour wine and a heated 92 degree pool (where my kids spent a total of 10 hours over the 3 days we were there).  There is also plenty of camping in the area, Difficult Campground, Weller Campground, Silver Queen, Maroon Creek, Castle Creek and Pine Creek to name a few.  Another great option is Snowmass Village, where rooms are more reasonable and a free shuttle provides access to Aspen (don't miss the Snomastodon museum).

The St. Moritz Lodge, great pool and accommodations

One other observation we made was how nice and accomodating we found everyone to be, from the friends we made associated with the race, to people we met around town (locals and visitors).  It was quite refreshing to be around so many positive and friendly people.

Everyone I talked to after the race had nothing but great things to say about the course, the town, the organization, the prizes, food, support and freebies.  Many people that I spoke with are well into making this race into an annual tradition.

Since racing in Aspen in 2016, I have been promoting the Aspen Backcountry Marathon/Half to friends, strangers and far and wide on the internet.  After 2017, I am even more impressed and will increasingly heap praise and recommend this to anyone I know who likes to run and is looking for a well run, affordable race in a beautiful setting with lots of great perks.

A huge thanks to adidas Outdoor, Pete Shuster, Loren Gwartney Morshead, Melissa Wisenbaker, Maureen Poschman, Toni Case and the Aspen Chamber of Commerce, City of Aspen and Parks and Rec..

See you there in 2018!
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Visit our Index Page here for over 60 of in depth 2017 shoe and gear reviews
Visit our 2018 Previews Page here for 2018 run shoe, apparel, and gear previews 

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