Monday, October 15, 2018

Skechers Performance GOrun Razor 3 Hyper Review: Set to Shave Down PR's?

Review by Sam Winebaum, Dave Ames, Cheyne Inman, Hope Wilkes, and Peter Stuart
Editor's Note: We welcome Hope Wilkes and Cheyne Inman to the RTR review team. Hope is an ultra runner from Virginia now moving over to the marathon where she has a recent 3:47:40 PR. Cheyne is Southern California based. He has a PR's of 1:06:57 for the half and 2:25:38 for the marathon. See their full bios along with those of our other reviewers here

Year after year Skechers Performance continues to innovate with a focus on reducing weight and dynamic midsoles, producing shoes that are increasingly fun to run in and more lightweight than their predecessors. Continuing this tradition, they are launching the GOrun Razor 3 Hyper, an approximately 6.1 oz/ 174 g, 23mm heel/19mm forefoot (without 3mm flat sock liner), 4mm drop trainer/marathon racer. It will retail for $125, when it comes to market in November. Other colorways will be released over the next several months and timed for major marathons in mid-January, mid-March, and mid-April; namely Houston, Los Angeles, and Boston.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Running Headlamp Roundup Reviews - Petzl Actik Core and Bindi & Princeton Tec Snap and Fizz

by Jeff Valliere

Gone are the long summer days of starting runs at 5am, or running until after 9pm without some sort of supplemental light.  We are just past the autumnal equinox and I am already relying heavily on a headlamp, at least for a portion of my runs several times per week.  I have a handful of lights, some that are more than 500 lumens, but are somewhat heavy with large battery packs and require a vest or pack to stuff away when not needed.  I go to these lights for any longer runs that will be 100% in the dark or in complicated, unfamiliar terrain or where route finding is critical.  However, for the majority of my bread and butter running on familiar trails, I have recently been more interested in headlamps that project the most light for the least amount of weight.  Battery life is important, but less critical, given that my morning runs I'll just need the light for the first half of my run, 30 minutes or an hour, or to just get me through the end of a run for the same amount of time.  Or, lightweight enough to keep in your pack for just in case emergency circumstances.

Petzl Actik Core
82 grams
350 max lumens
The Actik Core weighs in at 82 grams (16 grams lighter than my Garmin Fenix 5X GPS watch!), has a USB rechargeable battery pack that can be swapped out for replacement rechargeable battery packs, or, 3 AAA batteries, projects 350 lumens for just over 2 hours and costs $69.99.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Salomon S/Lab Sense 7 SG Review - Ultralight, Screaming Fast and Protective Race Rocket

by Jeff Valliere and Sam Winebaum

Salomon S/Lab Sense 7 SG

Introduction/First Impressions:
Jeff: I have not run in the S/Lab Sense SG since version 3, which I liked, but were a bit to thin and not quite durable/protective enough for my daily runs on rocky, technical trails.  The SG 7 feels even lighter and more pared down, with noticeable refinements in the upper, as well as somewhat of a reworked outsole, completely continuous vs. the weight saving cutouts used in the SG 3.

Trying them on, they just feel impossibly light and just beckon to go fast, partly because of the low weight and pared down nature, but also feel responsive just standing still.  Plus, in bright red, you just kind of have to run fast in them.  Expecting them to be very narrow and slim, I was a little surprised that even with a race fit, there is a bit of extra room in the forefoot, not sloppy, but accommodating.  I was also struck by the narrowness of the outsole particularly in the midfoot and heel, questioning if the SG 7 would be stable in technical terrain.
Sam: The Sense 7 is my first S/Lab Sense and I was somewhat terrified that such a light minimal shoe would just not be enough underfoot for slow old me. The Sense 7 SG represents years of careful refinements to the "Kilian" shoe, a pure trail racer created for the Salomon S/Lab elites. 
With version 7 the big focus was on reducing weight while maintaining all capabilities. The wizards at S/Lab got the weight down from the prior version's 7.9 oz to an amazing 7.4 oz/211 g for my size 8.5 US. so about 7.6 oz / 215 g in a size 9.  Most of the weight reduction comes from the new upper it appears. The price does not go down with weight, still $180 for this incredible work of shoe craftsmanship. 

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Full Review - The Ultimate Garmin? The Ultimate Multi-Sport Watch?

Article by Jeff Valliere and Sam Winebaum

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Sapphire 
($799.99 USD)

The mighty Fenix 5 series goes Plus. This multi-sport, fully featured, rugged GPS and wrist heart rate watch series has nearly every sport feature, performance and physiology metric imaginable. The Plus series has a wide range of significant upgrades over the original Fenix 5 series, enough so that Garmin probably should have just called it a Fenix 6.  

Friday, October 05, 2018

Apple Watch Series 4: A Runner's Review

Apple Watch Series 4 
Article By Michael Ellenberger
Editor's Note: Michael shares his impressions of the Apple Watch Series 4 as a running watch. He has owned all three version of the Apple Watch. So this 67:43 half marathoner and third year law school student at Northwestern picked up the 4 and put it to the test on the run. 
The Apple Watch Series 4 (40mm) in "Space Black" Stainless Steel 
Despite never really “loving” the Apple Watch as a running watch and frequently falling back to Garmin, I’ve owned 3 different variants of it: the original (now colloquially “Series 0”), Series 2 (the first with GPS), and most recently Series 3 (the first with LTE Cellular). As an avid Apple user (though not without his grumbles), the opportunity to write this review for RTR was all the incentive I needed to pick up a new Series 4. I purchased this with my own money (and quite a large amount of it, as will be covered) and have tried it out over the course of a few days. Because of my familiarity with the Apple Watch line, there was almost no learning curve to the Series 4 – anyone upgrading may well notice an increase in speed, especially from pre-Series 3 models, but nothing particularly new to master.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% Fly Knit Video Review

Cheyne Inman gives us his first impressions of the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% Flyknit ($250) in his video review below. The Vaporfly is the recent world record and Breaking 2 attempt marathon shoe and a great easy on the legs choice for any distance. You don't have to be a world record holder not even close to enjoy their benefits but it is not a "jogging" or casual shoe given its full stiff carbon plate and forward driving springy feel.

It weighs 6.7 oz/ 190 g US Men's 9 with a 39 mm heel/ 29 mm forefoot stack (including non removable sockliner) according to Running Warehouse here. It launched October 4th and no surprise sold out very fast.
If you can't find the Vaporfly you might try the Zoom Fly Flyknit. It substitutes React foam for Zoom X but still has a carbon plate. It weighs more but is a fine alternative. See our initial review here

Reviewer Bio
Cheyne Inman competed in college at the University of San Francisco where he was the first athlete in school history to win the West Coast Conference Championships. After college he was a head coach in cross-country and track at the high school and collegiate level before moving on to managing athlete sponsorships at Skechers Performance. Currently he is coaching the 2017 California State Championship team at West Torrance High School and pursuing a career in real estate. He enjoys running in neutral running shoes for the trails, track, and road and typically runs over 100 miles a week. He has pr’s of: 5k- 14:36 10k- 30:23 half marathon- 1:06:57 marathon- 2:25:38

The Vaporfly was a personal purchase
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Monday, October 01, 2018

Brooks Running Ricochet Review

Article by Sam Winebaum, Jeff Beck, Peter Stuart, Sally Reiley, and Dave Ames

The Ricochet represents the 3d Brooks with DNA AMP polyurethane (PU)  in the midsole after the Levitate and recently introduced guided stability Bedlam. Whereas the the Levitate and Bedlam have 100% DNA AMP midsoles, the Ricochet is targeted as a more  “up tempo” option, with DNA AMP under foot then and then below Brooks standard BioMoGO DNA EVA blend. EVA is lighter and thus part of the concept is to reduce the considerable weight of its siblings while combining the pneumatic, long last resiliency of DNA AMP with more conventional lighter materials.

The Ricochet comes in at approximately 10.3 oz/292 g for a men’s size 9, so at the high end of a performance oriented trainer and about the same weight as the Ghost 11, but still considerably less than the Levitate 2 which weighs 11.7 oz. All three DNA AMP models share Brooks FitKnit upper and a similar outsole configuration although the Ricochet has a more conventional rubber outsole than the other two’s translucent rubber.

Of course comparisons also come to mind with the identical weight Brooks Ghost 11 daily trainer, lighter 9.2 oz Launch 5 performance trainer, and 9.5 oz Ravenna 9 light stability trainer. We will compare all of those as well as others here, Well, in the end while weights do matter, in the end it is about ride and purpose. 

Brooks headlines Ricochet as follows:
"A lightweight that is anything but"
Rarely has so much innovation weighed so little.
Chock full of technology in a lightweight frame, the Ricochet fuels your run by returning the energy you give with every step you take.”

Read on to see how it measured up to the headlines.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Garmin vivofit jr. 2 Kids Activity Tracker Review - A Tool To Inspire Health, Fitness, Wellness and Chores!

by Jeff, Amelie and Isabelle Valliere

Garmin vivofit jr. 2 Princess Edition
$79. Available Now


My soon to be 8 year old twin daughters often like to make fun of my obsession interest in running gear, particularly my Garmin GPS watches that I wear and am distracted by on a daily basis.  When given the opportunity to review the latest vivofit jr. 2 kids activity tracker in Disney Princess livery, they were exited about the idea, listing a handful of school and neighborhood friends that also have vivofits.  With all 3 of us sporting Garmins on our wrists, the activity/daily step showdown was on!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Karhu Ikoni Ortix Review: Plush, Energetic, Smooth Transitioning Finnish Sports Bear

Article by Sam Winebaum

Karhu Ikoni Ortix ($130)
The elaborately named (and hard to remember) Ikoni Ortix from long time Finnish sports gear manufacturer Karhu (Finnish for Bear) is a truly memorable shoe, and the wonderful surprise of 2018 in the plush daily run trainer category.

Usually I find shoes in this category a "chore" to test as they tend to be heavy to begin with, often pushing 11 oz as the Ikoni does at 10.8 oz and even heavier as some of its competitors such as the Brooks Levitate or Saucony Triumph ISO are.  They can be either overly soft (Glycerin 15 and Energy Boost 4) or overly stiff, not very bouncy and lumbering (NB 1080v6). They tend to be difficult to transition for me, especially at slower paces. Weight aside, and it runs considerably lighter than its weight, the Ikoni threads the needle through all these big shoe issues brilliantly by delivering:
  • a very well cushioned softer ride with great energy from its Aero Foam a blend of EVA and TPU, 
  • some targeted support at landing and a noticeable forward propulsion effect to guide transitions from the mid foot Fulcrum of firmer compression EVA and a nylon Propulsion Foil or plate, 
  • a smooth flowing rocker from its gently curving overall Ortix geometry which even includes a shaping of the last directly underfoot, while also including some very welcome toe off flexility as well, 
  • a very comfortable, easy fitting engineered mesh upper developed using data from over 1000,000 customer foot scans using Fit id 3D scans by exclusive US partner Fleet Feet Sports.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit Initial Road Test Review: Zoom Fly 2.5%?

Article by Sam Winebaum

Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit ($160)

The Zoom Fly Flyknit, the second in the series, available now, arrives with big changes. The "new" Zoom Fly is a racer trainer suitable for uptempo training and longer racers. The original Zoom Fly (RTR review) "appeared" similar to Nike's ground breaking Vaporfly 4% (RTR review) but ran quite roughly and firmly, with less pace range and weighed considerably more than the Vaporfly.

The new Zoom Fly substitutes:
  • the mostly plastic propulsion plate of the original for a full carbon plate similar but not as wide as the VaporFly's, 
  • the original's Lunarlon midsole for Nike new React but not the Zoom X of the VaporFly, a
  • and the engineered mesh upper for a Flyknit upper with no overlays and no heel counter.  
While the weight for this 10m drop shoe creeps up about 0.2 oz to approximately 8.6 oz /244g (my sample US M 8.5 weighs 8.325 oz/236g)  the ride is almost completely changed and approaches that of the VaporFly in its dynamic spring yet well cushioned feel. The dynamism of this uptempo trainer racer far surpasses the Epic React (RTR review), a shoe I found somewhat better cushioned, particularly in forefoot but dull in its ride and performance.

Polar Vantage V and M Introduction: 14 Sensors Polar to Measure Wrist HR in the V & M, Running Power and Muscle Load Metrics in the V, Battery Life up to 40 hours

Article by Sam Winebaum
Polar Vantage V
On September 13th Polar announced two new multi sport training watches: the Vantage V ($500) and Vantage M ($280).
Polar Vantage M
Both watches promise high accuracy GPS and wrist heart rate monitoring and include Polar's excellent training features and programs. The Vantage V adds advanced features and metrics including barometric altimeter, Running Power and associated Muscle Load sensing and calculation, as well Training and Recovery Load Pro. Spec battery life in training mode are very robust, maybe class leading, but our testing will tell if any GPS accuracy compromises are required for up to 40 hours for the V and 30 hours for the M. And in a departure from prior more rectangular Polar watches they are round in shape!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Racer Stories: Dominick Layfield's 2018 UTMB Race Learnings and Gear Report

Article by Dominick Layfield

UTMB 2018
For those of you who don’t follow ultrarunning obsessively.  UTMB = Ultimate Tour of Mont Blanc. A race that does a long (~170 km/106 miles), hilly (~10000 m/30,000 ft gain) loop around Mont Blanc, starting in Chamonix, France, and running though Italy and Switzerland before returning to France. It’s a huge race, with ~2600 entrants. There are longer races, and there are hillier races, but nothing matches the prestige and excitement around UTMB.

After last year’s debacle (in which I got pulled by the race medics), my goal for UTMB 2018 was specifically, unambiguously, to finish the race.  I told myself that I wouldn’t pay any attention to time or position.

Naturally, as soon as the race started, I started to imagine a stunning performance that would stand in stark conflict with my meager training and unfocussed preparation.  But I was quickly and rudely brought down to reality. From the start, my heart rate was too high, my pace too slow, and my body out of sorts. My quads felt shot on the first downhill.  It was immediately clear that if I kept pushing, I would guarantee a repeat of last year’s DNF.

So on to plan B -- which was really the original plan A -- Take it easy and enjoy the race.  And to cut a 27-hour story short, that’s pretty much what happened. I had a phenomenal time, ran with a smile on my face, and finished 50th.  Hoorah!
Obligatory photo from race check-in, on Thursday.
Things I learned (or re-learned) at this year’s UTMB:

Monday, September 10, 2018

Salomon Sense Pro 3 Review

Article by Jeff Valliere 

Salomon Sense Pro 3

Introduction/Initial Impressions:

The Salomon Sense Pro 3 is the latest lightweight speedster in the Sense line, packed with many S/Lab attributes, all at a lower cost.  The Sense Pro 3 out of the box has strikingly good looks, is light, narrow and toothy, if a bit stiff feeling.  Fit is snug and race ready, though a bit more accommodating in the forefoot.  They feel quick and ready to roll fast without any urging.

Weight: 8.9 oz US Men's size 9 (9 5/8 oz./276 grams) US men's size 10 / 7.9 oz US Women's size 7
Sample US Men's 8.5 (8.7 oz/246 grams)
Stack: 20mm/16mm (4mm drop)
$130 Available now

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Race Report: Run Mag Mile 10K, Chicago, Illinois. In the Reebok Floatride Run Fast Pro!

Article by Michael Ellenberger

Race Report: Run Mag Mile 10K, Chicago, Illinois
I just recently ran the “Run Mag Mile 10K” in Chicago - a pretty terrific course that takes you north and south along the titular Magnificent (“Mag”) Mile on Michigan Avenue, along with some out-and-back stretching along Lake Michigan. Scenic… but on Saturday, quite exposed and windy! Fortunately, the wind was at an angle such that I think we benefited more than we lost to it, but still - a bit demoralizing to be out there all alone with no cover! I’ve been training in the Nike Epic React and Pegasus Turbo, favoring the Peg Turbo for those really slow recovery days, and the Epic React for anything a little quicker and/or longer. My initial impressions from the Peg Turbo have cooled, if only a little, as it just feels like they doesn’t have the responsiveness I want for any kind of faster turnover, and they can come off feeling sloppy. For slower miles, it’s still the go-to.
For the 10K, I decided to take out the Reebok Run Fast Pro (RTR review).

Saucony Xodus ISO 3 Review - Because sometimes your feet deserve an armored tank


The Saucony Xodus ISO 3 is a beast of a trail shoe made for every type of terrain. A complete redesign from the Xodus ISO 2, it combines a very comfortable sock-like upper wrapped in Saucony's ISOFIT system, now sitting on top of a new full EVERUN midsole (the big update) and a very burly outsole.
The result is a heavy duty shoe that is marketed toward muddy terrain but which chews up rocky Arizona mountains just as well. If you are looking for the one shoe to take with you everywhere (except the road), the Xodus could be everything you are looking for. Just make sure you aren't too weight conscious, because this may be the heaviest shoe on the market today.