Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Follow our 2020 Run Introductions Page

We will be regularly updating our 2020 Run Previews and Introductions Page with article links and videos as we report from Outdoor Retailer in Denver throughout the week and as more emerges later this year.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!

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Salomon 2020 Introductions: Sonic 3, Sense Ride 3, Cross Pro, and XA Pro 3D

Article by Sam Winebaum and Jeff Valliere
At Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2020 in Denver this week Salomon introduced a major update to its three shoe Sonic 3 road line and a new Sense Ride 3 all sharing Optivibe a new dual density midsole technology 6 years in development. Optivibe seeks to address what Salomon calls the golden triangle of fatigue and performance: vibration reduction, shock absorption, and rebound.  Salomon also showed us the Cross Pro a very foot conforming and foot shapes friendly (we tried one on) stretch knit, its first more generally commercially available shoe emerging from its ME:SH project.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Trekking Across Switzerland on the Via Jacobi: Trip Report and Detailed Gear Reviews

Article by Sam Winebaum and Dominique Winebaum
Dominique and I recently completed a 200 miles (320 km) trek  in 13 days - across Switzerland on the Via Jacobi/Jakobsweg or as it is known in English the pilgrimage route of St. James of Compostela which goes from Northern Europe to Spain.  

During the trek, we tested gear from Mammut (a Swiss brand), Hoka One One, REI, Smartwool, Salomon, Ultimate Direction Polar, Coros, and Oofos.
As we put to the test different types of gear through varying weather and terrain conditions over a two-week period, this article combines gear reviews meshed with sights from our trip and some background information about the Via Jacobi. Our gear reviews are the core of this article (but look at pictures). Trip beta is at the end. Please feel free to comment if you have any questions!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Altra Torin 4 and Torin 4 Plush Multi Tester Review: Approachable Zero Drop in Two Distinct Flavors

Article by Sam Winebaum, Jeff Beck, Canice Harte, Michael Ellenberger, and Dominick Layfield

Altra Torin 4 ($120) and Torin 4 Plush ($140)

Sam: With the Torin 3.5, Altra offered two different uppers (knit or mesh) on the same platform with the  usual A-Bound plus EVA midsole. With the Torin 4 and Torin 4 Plush, we see two different riding and fitting shoes with the Torin 4 intended to be the lighter more performance fitting and running flavor and the Plush the more cushioned, bouncier more comfort oriented daily miles flavor.
Both share a common base midsole as Altra moves the midsole to its new Quantic foam, also in the Superior 4 while completely revising the outsole and the decoupling (which are the grooves which smooth transitions) which are also identical on both. The Plush adds 2mm of stack (cushion) to the Torin 4 platform by using what looks like a TPU (think Boost or Everun like material) Strobel board under the sockliner and also includes a premium EVA sockliner whereas the Torin 4 glues the sockliner directly to the midsole.
Both have engineered mesh type uppers with Altra’s effective A-Straps to lock the foot to the mid foot. 
The Torin 4’s upper is lighter and more breathable with a full and snug bootie construction similar to the Torin 3.5’s. The Plush upper is denser, more like a knit with a conventional tongue and is designed for a more open yet still secure fit all around.

Our team of testers put both to the test.

Updated! New Balance Fuelcell Rebel Multi-Tester Review: Make Way for the Newest Superfoam on the Block?

Article by Mac Jeffries, Peter Stuart and Derek Li
Editor's Note: Mac's initial review is updated with Peter and Derek's testing results.

New Balance FuelCell Rebel ($130)

Mac: The FuelCell shoe has been on my radar for months now for a number of reasons.

First, I am a big believer in midsoles that offer great energy return. For years, shoe companies focused primarily on shock absorption; Adidas changed that trend with the introduction of Boost, which used TPU polymers instead of EVA foam to offer better energy return and durability, but at the cost of greater weight. Since then, shoe companies have pushed the boundaries of lighter weights and better energy return, two traits once considered to be mutually exclusive.* These shoes promise great energy return at a light weight - consider me intrigued.

New Balance told us the foam midsole in the Rebel and other Fuelcell series shoes:
"...exceed(s) any rebound in the history of New Balance foams. All of these foams have a minimum of 39% more rebound than Revlite, and nothing in this Fuelcell product line is Revlite....We are able to use multiple densities to still achieve these very high rebound scores, something we consider unique to this compound and part of the magic of Fuelcell....The Fuelcell Rebel offers this high rebound carrier along with a forefoot part of even slightly more rebound".

More on how different Fuelcell shoes compare below.

Second, the placement of the plate under the mid  foot seems to be in the perfect spot for the mid foot strikers such as me. I was interested to see how this shape and placement compares to the Vaporfly and Project X. More on this later.

Third, that weird lateral flange caught my eye. If we land on the outside of our foot and then roll in, doesn’t it make sense to have something extra over there? The final product is a racer you can train in more than a trainer you can race in, and I am going to go ahead and spoil this one for you: this shoe rocks.

Pros: Very well done upper. Lightweight. Midsole is promising. Flange seems to be at least somewhat effective.

Cons: Possibly too soft for some. Forefoot volume may be a tad shallow. Flange seems to be at least somewhat ugly.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon 2 Initial Review: Superb Upper Update Now Matches Ride Performance

Article by Mac Jeffries and Sam Winebaum

Editor’s Note: Our full multi tester review follows soon but we wanted to share our first impressions of the Beacon 2 as what has changed and what has remained the same is so crystal clear.

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon 2 ($120)
Sam: I first saw the Beacon 1 at the New Balance booth at the 2018 Boston Marathon. It had a sort of “lifestyle” easy going, not really a performance running shoe look, slipper like classy and soft upper and all. When I saw that it had a new form of Ground Contact GC Fresh Foam and almost no outsole, unlike the other Fresh Foam models with their stiff full coverage outsoles I knew it likely be a fine running shoe. Then I heard about the weight at a mere 7 oz or so and I was sure!

Indeed it was one of the big surprise and best shoes of 2018 for just about everyone on our test crew and thousands of others. Yet, back to lifestyle… The Beacon 1 upper was for me to loosy goosy and unstructured in hold and did not keep up with the superb platform. So it was with great interest that I first saw the Beacon 2 at The Running Event last December. When I saw the rear thin molded heel to lace up area of the upper, highlighted by a different color on my test pair, I felt that this update might really perfect the Beacon.
Mac: Finally… the Beacon has come BACK! I vividly remember trying on the OG Beacon in a NB store in Tampa a year ago this month: I could tell it was something different just sitting on the shelf, and after squeezing my foot into their size 13 and jogging down the hallway, I had to have a pair. Incredible cushion to weight ratio, firm protection, simple construction, smooth ride… so good.  Since this was before the nationwide release, I did what any reasonable person would have done: looked up the phone numbers of all the NB stores across the country until I found one that had a 14 in stock and would ship it to me. In fact, the v1 is one of the few shoes that I have bought multiple pairs of the same shoe and version, and I was getting ready to buy a third pair on closeout at RW when, at my doorstep, obviously delivered by Santa himself, updated Beacon 2 arrived. Good news: they didn’t screw up a good thing. Consider me giddy.  

Peter: LOVED the Beacon! Ran 400 miles or so on first pair, bought another, put about 300 on those. Such a great, simple, efficient jack-of-all trades shoe. As time moved on and other shoes came out (Razor 3, Hoka Rincon, Peg Turbo) I didn’t run as much in the Beacon. Now here comes the Beacon 2, with a great looking upper and the same great ride. How does it hold up? How does it compare to the other NB shoes with Fuel Cell?

Mac: Upper. Everything that you liked about the v1 is still here - firm, lightweight cushion.
Sam:  Significantly improved mid and rear of the shoe lockdown as well as front hold.
          Dramatically less moisture absorption. Half of Beacon 1 which gained 1.8 oz in the rain.
Peter: Upper looks better, retains less water and fits great without any messing around.

Mac/Sam: Besides the upper, the rest of the shoe is virtually the exact same. Although I love - present tense - the feel of the v1, we always want something better; I would have loved some anti-gravity foam or something. Outsole still sketchy on wet stuff.
Sam: Slightly shorter and pointier in upfront fit compared to v1
Peter: Novelty of light, bouncy ride may be eclipsed by the newer foams by NB such as FuelCell.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Under Armour UA Velociti 2 Review

Article by Mac Jeffries

UA HOVR Velociti 2 ($120)
Mac: I was curious: all I have heard about Under Armour shoes is that they are not on the same level as their competitors… until recently that is. There is a small pocket of runners who have been telling anyone who will listen that the HOVR foam is as good as any EVA foam out there. That, coupled with a motivated design team and a 2nd generation model made this feel like a great time to give UA a first try. So, is this the greatest thing since fully gusseted tongues? Read on!

Mac: Responsive. Runs lighter than it actually is. Feels great on foot & striking appearance; these are actually my current go-to “wear-around” shoes. Embedded MapMyRun chip seems to work fine.

Mac: At a spec’d 9.0 oz /255 g, it is on the heavy side of “Lightweight Trainers”. Foam not as lively as Floatride or Hyperburst. For the amount of stack, I expected a little more underfoot protection.

Friday, June 14, 2019

New Balance FuelCell Propel Initial Run Video Review: High Rebounding Fun!

Article by Sam Winebaum

New Balance FuelCell Propel ($110)

The New Balance FuelCell Propel checks in at about 9 oz /255 g with a 6mm drop. Releases August 1, 2019. It features an exciting new midsole foam called FuelCell. FuelCell is said by New Balance to have a minimum of 39% more rebound that its Revlite foam found in its performance shoes such as the 1400 and I can say after one run it sure does! It is the training companion to the FuelCell Rebel (RTR Review)

Soft and very bouncy FuelCell is well contained by a broad midsole geometry and a full contact outsole. The Propel is an exciting new option in the lighter daily trainer category going head to head with Nike offerings with React and Zoom X foam, Skechers Hyper Burst, Reebok's Forever Energy, and for sure New Balance's own Fresh Foam.

The upper is very roomy, comfortable, and well held. So far I am feeling that the Propel will be one of the biggest smiles, fun to run shoes of 2019. Releasing soon (exact date to follow)
Watch our Initial Video Review with Details

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Move Free Designs Summit Cap Review

Article by Peter Stuart, Sam Winebaum, and Michael Ellenberger

Move Free Designs Summit Cap ($30)
Move Free Designs website:

Peter: The Move Free Summit cap is a great little hat. It’s more than that though--it’s also the creation of a really inspiring runner who is a joy to follow and who is working to share his joy of running and nature to a wider audience.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Nike Zoom Pegasus 36 Initial Runs Video Review with Comparisons to Pegasus 35 and Vomero 14

Article by Sam Winebaum

Nike Zoom Pegasus 36 ($120)
Stack Height: 28 mm heel / 18 mm forefoot, 10 mm drop
The highlights of the 36th edition of the Pegasus are a 0.4 oz / 12 g drop in weight to just under 9 oz / 252 g brought about by effective changes to the upper.
Nike achieved this weight drop by effectively slimming down the rear of the shoe's collar padding, getting rid of the painfully snug extended  padded tongue and opening the fit by having the FlyWire enter further down the sides of the mid foot.

There are no noted changes to midsole or outsole but I did notice a very, very slightly more flexible, softer, and bouncier ride for Peg 36  when running Peg 35 on one foot and Peg 36 on the other. The ride remains classic Pegasus.

I tested the Pegasus 36 on one foot and the Pegasus 35 on the other and detail the differences in construction, fit, and ride while also comparing to the Zoom Vomero 14 (RTR Review), my 2018 Shoe of the Year,

Watch the Video Review and Comparisons with all the details

Our full multi tester is coming soon!

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Salomon Sonic RA 2 Video Review

Article by Sam Winebaum

Our full written review is coming soon. In the meantime our video review of the Salomon Sonic RA 2 ($130).

I estimate (based on comparing my size 8.5) that the size 9 weight is 9.2 oz /261 g or about 0.5 oz /14 g heavier than the Sonic RA, largely I assume due to a full contact outsole and re sculpting of the midsole side walls
The middle shoe in the Sonic RA line, it is the daily trainer with the Sonic RA Max 2 (RTR Review) having a more assisted (stable) transition through its more lateral decoupling line location and the RA Pro (RTR Review soon) with its medial focus decoupling can be thought of the uptempo quick shoe in the line.
In brief, I find the changes to upper which is now more pliable and smoother fitting with fewer overlays and mid sole outsole lead to a fuller ground contact, smoother transitioning shoe than RA Sonic 1 placing the Sonic RA near the front ranks of durable sub 10 oz daily trainers.  The Vibe cushioning system with a tibial vibration reducing Opal insert at heel and forefoot is effective in making the relatively firm Energy Cell+ midsole responsive and easier on the legs than it would be otherwise.
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
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Hoka ONE ONE Clifton 6 Multi Tester Review: A New Softer Upper and Slightly Softer Midsole the Headlines

Article by Hope Wilkes, Derek Li, and Sam Winebaum

Hoka One One Clifton 6 ($130)
Sam: The Clifton is the shoe that put Hoka on the “road map” more than any other. The original was a very light 7.7 oz with the same and current 29 mm heel and 24mm forefoot stack, had tons of bouncy soft energy, was notably unstable for me at the heel, very fast but not for me for longer runs as a bit hard to tame and unstable at the heel.

Over the versions Hoka has adjusted the formula to get more life out of the shoe and make it a touch more stable and longer lasting. Changes in rubber configuration, somewhat firmer versions then softer then firmer, different uppers with each and every version controversial when compared to the original groundbreaking version 1, some preferring others not.
The Clifton 6 returns to a somewhat softer midsole, rearranges the front outsole and midsole geometry for a softer smoother transition, adds a soft pliable engineered mesh upper and loses a full ounce, 28 g of weight to come in about 8.9 oz / 252 g. Not the 7.7 oz of the original but notably lighter. If you want a lighter feel with the same stack and a touch firmer ride look to the new Rincon (RTR Review) which comes in July at an amazing 7.1 oz / 201 g. For hard core fans of the original Clifton 1 it is likely the more logical successor if its minimal more unstructured upper works for you,

Hope: There are two models that I’ve inducted into my personal running shoe hall of fame: the OG Clifton and the OG Fresh Foam Zante. 2014 was a watershed year for great shoes! The OG Clifton was my shoe of choice for the marathon distance and for my first 50-mile race. They were so light and comfortable I almost suspected witchcraft. I could tell that the first update changed a lot that I loved about the shoe, so I’ve stayed away from the Clifton since the OG version. I still have three pairs from the original release (not the recent re-issue) in my closet. Given how militant I have to be about donating old shoes to save storage space in my apartment, that’s a testament to how much I love the OG Clifton.
I’m making a point to explain my love for the OG Clifton because I really, really don’t love the Clifton 6 and I need you to understand that I’m not a Hoka hater. Nor am I some sort of edgelord who delights in ripping a shoe that’s likely to be a best-seller no matter what I say. I’ve given rave reviews for other 2019 models because I felt those shoes were great. By the same token, my less positive comments here are thoughtful and genuine.
Hope: Forgiving yet still responsive cushioning, rockered shape encourages speedy turnover, simple good looks
Derek and Sam: High Volume Fit. Very comfortable upper.
Sam: weight loss of 1 oz. / 28 g gets the Clifton back into a strong weight to cushion ratio
Hope:“bucket seat” midsole sidewalls, very little flexibility, decorative stitching that isn’t taped on the interior
Derek: Firmer ride than I would like for a Clifton.
Sam: Stiffer and more ponderous than the lighter by 1.5 oz Rincon

Tester Profiles
Hope is in her 20’s and after several ultras is now more on the road. She has a marathon PR of 3:47. She trains about 50 miles per week with many of her runs in the (broad) 8:00-10:00/mile range. She is happy to hit 7:30 miles on tempo days.
Derek is in his 30’s and trains 70-80 miles per week at 7 to 8 minute pace in mostly tropical conditions in Singapore. He has a 2:41 marathon PR.
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 62 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 45 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the 1:35-1:41 range and trains 40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces in the 9 minute range. He is 5'10" tall and weighs about 165 lbs.

Altra Running Paradigm 4.5 Review: Massive Zero Drop Cushion with some Bounce

Article by Jeff Beck and Jeff Valliere

Attra Paradigm 4.5 ($150)
Jeff Beck: The Paradigm 4.5 is Altra’s latest version of their massively cushioned road shoe. As a .5 update, this update see only minor changes from the Paradigm 4.0, essentially a slight tweak to the knit upper. While the Paradigm is technically a moderate support shoe, it uses Guide Rail and StabiliPods, which result in a very unobtrusive stability - effectively making it a neutral shoe for neutral runners. Featuring both Altra staples of zero drop and an oversized toe box, the Paradigm 4.5 is an exceptionally cushioned, albeit heavy, daily trainer designed to eat up big miles.

Pros and Cons
Pros: Jeff Beck - Incredibly well cushioned with bouncy, not mushy feeling Breathable upper -Lots of rubber for lasting durability unlike early generation of Paradigm -Massive platform width keeps this high stack shoe feeling stable -Light guidance/stability elements don’t detract for neutral/supinating runners Cons: Jeff Beck - Little touches are wrong, ie laces are way too long, rear pull tab to narrow to put finger in, Seattle Seahawks colorway offensive for Cardinals fans -Midfoot fit is baggy -Heavy, and feels massive on the foot -Zero drop can put extra strain on lower leg

361° Meraki 2 Review: Carbon Fiber Plates. Too Much of a Good Thing... or Not?

Article by Dave Ames and Hope Wilkes

361° Meraki 2 

Dave:  It’s no lie that 361 has been pumping out some decent shoes. 361, or from what I always heard, is made up of a bunch of ASICS guys and gals after ASICS went through some changes.  Not a bad thing, because I have really seen some improvements in their shoes over the past few years. I was a big fan of Meraki 1 and with the 2 now in my hands, I was eager to give this baby some workload.    
Hope: Makes sense that 361 is staffed by some former ASICS employees. The Meraki 2 gives off some serious ASICS vibes, but with amped up quality. I don’t get too excited about shoes in the daily trainer category, so while I’ve been aware of 361 for a while, this is the first model I’ve tried from the brand.

Dave:  Good looking shoe.  Decent fit with a nice mold around the arch.  Good lacing scheme.
Hope: Agree with everything Dave said. Materials and construction are top-notch. Seems to drain well and is adequately breathable despite thick tongue.

Dave:  Tongue is too thick.  Meraki 2 feels a lot slower than the 1 did.  Quickfoam fails to snap off of the forefoot, due to too much stiffness via the Quickspine carbon midsole plate.  Just an average shoe for mileage days for me. Not quick enough for speed.
Hope: Too much outsole + carbon midsole plate = stiff shoe.

Tester Profiles
Dave Ames is 37 and keeps in sub 3 shape in Southern California while transitioning to Ultras. He is a professional running coach at Ame for it Coaching and trains a mix of at least one quality workout, one long run and aerobic miles on both roads and trails.
Hope is in her 20’s and after several ultras is now more on the road. She has a marathon PR of 3:47. She trains about 50 miles per week with many of her runs in the (broad) 8:00-10:00/mile range. She is happy to hit 7:30 miles on tempo days.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Strava's 2018 Year in Sport: 6.6 billion miles from 36 million athletes crunched and analyzed

Article by Sam Winebaum

Every year, Strava crunches its vast repository of activities uploaded by millions. For the 2018 Year in Sport report that was 36 million athletes in 195 countries uploading at total of 6.6 billion miles in 32 sport types!

We bring you a few of the key findings below. How did you compare to these averages?  Please share and comment below.

Women favor the half marathon as their key race distance and running as their top activity while men lean towards Ride and the marathon and half as their top run race types.

Goal setting and following them leads to more workouts uploaded! I wonder how many who set (overly ambitious) goals were interrupted by injury vs. those with less ambitious goals or no goals?
International readers, what is the significance of May 6 and September 16, 2018 as key activities days? In the US July 4 is our national holiday and November 23d is Thanksgiving Day where it is tradition to race a short race usually around 5 miles before the big turkey meal.

We run and especially ride longer further and longer together and especially hiking and walking time and riding distance.

No matter where we run, and no matter the gender, our average run distance is about the same at around 5 miles.

No matter where we run we run about the same amount of time on average but US runners do those runs somewhat faster than Global runners.

Participation in Strava activities tagged as Race increased by more than 10% Globally with US women's race participation increasing more than 28% year over year.

Run and Bike commuting grew dramatically in 2018.

How did you compare? Did you run or bike commute? Set a Strava goal? Please tell us. Comments welcome below.

All Infographics Strava 2018 Year in Sport Report
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