Monday, July 29, 2013

Outdoor Retailer Summer 2013 Preview: Run Shoes and Gear, a few of many finds to come this week.

I will be at Outdoor Retailer checking out all the new stuff. This is a preview based on pre show press releases.

Magellan Echo- Smart Phone fitness data on your wrist.
Echo Watch Magellan

The Echo watch coming fall 2013 much like the Pebble is designed to communicate with your smart phone fitness apps via Bluetooth Smart and a Wahoo (sensors) open API. I am particularly excited as it is planned to communicate with Strava. I typically start Strava and store it away in my nifty Ultraspire Quantum belt (review here) and never look until I am done. In a race I run the Nike+ watch in parallel. With the Echo I will have a run data feed to my wrist. Not sure that is such a good thing but... MSRP $149, $199 with heart rate monitor.

New Balance Fresh Foam
New Balance joins the low drop, highly cushioned runner trend with Fresh Foam based shoes. I really like my Altra Torins, adidas Energy Boost (cushioned but not low drop), and Hoka One One Rapa Nui. I will have more info after their launch event at OR
New Balance Fresh Foam
Saucony sent me the following information about changes for Spring 2014. Mostly upgrades to PowerGrid and new uppers.

         The all new Guide 7, with its award-winning heritage, represents the longest development initiative in the brand’s history. We’ve sweated every detail and refined every element to complement the runner for the long run.  

·         The Hurricane 16 offers Guide-like stability with even more plush cushioning underfoot and the Triumph 11 features a midsole made entirely of PowerGrid™ for a supremely cushioned yet lightweight ride.

·         The Saucony Natural Motion Collection includes the Virrata 2 with a reconfigured upper and added heel support as well as the Mirage 4 with upgraded PowerGrid™ technology in the heel and a FlexFilm™ redesigned upper for a seamless fit and feel.

·         The Peregrine 4, new for the Run AnyWhere Collection, features an upgraded nylon fiber mesh rock plate for reduced weight and added flexibility.  PowerGrid™ replaces ProGrid™ in the heel for more optimal cushioning."


This cool Aussie company, Scrubba, sent me an email and I will be checking out their "pocket sized" washing machine. Put your clothes and a bit of water and soap inside, seal, scrub using the built in washboard on the inside of the bag. Very cool for travel and to clean a few running clothes overnight. Bag doubles as water tight storage on the trail.

Inov-8 will be launching a tri specific line called Tri-X-Treme. Most of their recent road runners have gotten pretty minimal and this return to a bit more cushion is welcome. The 275  seems to a close cousin of the Road-X 255 one of my favorite running shoes in recent years with yet a bit more cushion.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sneak Peak: 2014 Hoka One One Conquest Road Runner Updated.

I was at the SpeedGoat 50K all up and around Snowbird UT last week. A fabulous race which I spectated actively running all over the mountain in my Hoka One One Rapa Nui, review here.

Hoka was the race sponsor and legendary ultra runner Karl Meltzer is the Race Director and a long time Hoka athlete. Here he is awarding Tony Krupicka his second place beer glass and medal in his Rapa Nui. The third place finisher Jason Schlarb ran in Rapa Nui. Hokas were very popular in the field at SpeedGoat and increasingly at Ultras and on the roads. 

Hoka Conquest
Hoka One One 2014 Conquest
Hoka had a single Conquest on display at Speedgoat although I saw a few other prototypes around. I also spent time with Hoka at Outdoor Retailer. The Conquest won one of the very prized Outside magazine Gear of Show awards and there are literally thousands of exhibitors.

Hoka One One Conquest

The Conquest is an approximately 11 oz road shoe (although as with the Bondi many will run it on trails as well). In addition to a seamless upper of very fine see through mesh with an inner lining, the real story with Conquest is that the midsole is made of 2 compounds. Previous Hokas were made of a single layer of EVA. The second layer (the R-Mat) will not be traditional EVA but a compound designed to provide energy return a firmer more responsive ride, in my opinion a key improvement. While both layers are the same firmness the materials have different characteristics. While one  can go forever in Hokas, the cushy softness does seem to take a bit away from speed and responsiveness on the road and has some forefoot instability on very rough trails. These last two comments have been my only hang ups with the Rapa Nui which is a more minimal and flexible Hoka similar to the Conquest.

The following diagram from Hoka illustrates the construction. While the photos above would seem to have the foot way off the ground you actually sit far down into the foot frame.  Stack height is approximately 29mm heel and 25mm forefoot without insole, a 4 mm drop shoe so equivalent in stack heights to the Hoka Bondi and a bit higher than the more flexible Rapa Nui which is at 26/21.

The suspension frame yellow blades when combined with the top midsole allows water drainage. While hard to see in my photo above, the notches go all the way through the shoe, daylight seen through. I don't think this suspension stability frame is a gimmick.  The idea is that blades provide lateral stability, to bring the foot forward to push off. As they are not rigid they are adaptive to different stride types. One thing I have learned in talking to Hoka folks is that they take the geometry of their unusual midsoles very, very seriously basing it on a deep understanding of lateral, horizontal, and vertical forces coming from ski design.

Hoka One One 2014 Conquest

Hoka One One 2014 Conquest
I can't wait to try the Conquest!

2014 Hoka One One Bondi with new seamless upper. 

2013 Speedgoat 50K Snowbird, UT-Photos and Video

Another incredible Speedgoat on a cool day with occasional sprinkles. Sage Canaday (Scott Sports) takes the win, broke Kilian Jornet's  course "record"  taking the win by less 2 minutes over Anton Krupicka (New Balance) who closed fast in the long downhills.  Anton also broke Jornet's record. Third, Jason Schlarb (Hoka One One) wearing the incredible Rapa Nui I reviewed here. Max King (Montrail) , a World Mountain Running champion faded a bit from 3d to 4th but was in the  hunt for the podium through 22 miles.  Unfortunately I was ahead of the top women most of the way, so did not catch Stephanie Howe winning, also in a record time. Results at IRunFar.

At the first pass over Hidden Peak (top of tram) at about 8.3 miles the first two places were set. Sage was the only one of the leaders, along with Schlarb to run the top steep stretch and his uphill skills (US record holder at Mt Washington NH Road Race and a sub 2:20 marathoner) would give him the edge in the end despite a hard charge by Anton Krupicka who closed an 8 minute gap at Sugarloaf Pass down to less than 2 minutes at the finish.
Sage Canaday was one of the few leaders who ran the entire final slope to Hidden Peak- He won the $1000 prime. 2013 Speedgoat 50K 

Sage Canaday-2013 Speedgoat 50K 
Max King-2013 Speedgoat 50K 

Max King- 2013 Speedgoat 50K 

Anton Krupicka- 2013 SpeedGoat 50K

 Jason Schlarb comes over Hidden Peak in 4th place, running strong

After Hidden Peak I went over to Sugarloaf Pass, the connector between Alta and Snowbird, and caught the leaders coming out of the first part of the long climb out of Mineral Basin. After a short downhill just after where these pictures were taken they would scramble the top of Baldy at 11,000 feet. 

Sage Canaday-2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass. Coming through the meadow

Sage Canaday-2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass

Sage Canaday-2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass. Canaday was the only one of the leaders to run this very steep short stretch

Sage Canaday-2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass

Tony Krupicka-2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass

Tony Krupicka-2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass

Tony Krupicka-2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass

Tony Krupicka-2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass

Max King- 2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass

Max King- 2013 Speedgoat 50K Sugarloaf Pass

Canaday and his Dad. Sage kindly offered me a beer and I gave him my two cents worth on Sierre-Zinal his next race in Switzerland.

Race Director and ultra legend Karl Meltzer awards Tony Krupicka his beer glass and medal

Canaday congratulates Krupicka. Bryon Powell of iRunFar to the left providing incredible live coverage, as always.

Tired runners!

iRunFar's great race coverage and more photos here
My photos and post from 2012 Speedgoat here

Monday, July 01, 2013

Wool for Summer Running? Finally Yes! Ashmei Race Vest and Socks

Since the advent of light merino wool running shirts several years ago I have been looking for  true "summer weight" wool. When the weather cools and in winter I almost always run in wool from Ibex and Icebreaker. Come summer and above 60 F I have gone back to synthetics.
Wool has great thermo regulating properties and is practically stink proof so I have been on the lookout for lighter cooler wool.

This year I discovered wool apparel from Ashmei that recognizes that when it's really hot,  pure wool needs some "technology" help to keep us cool.