Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Review New Balance Vazee Rush v2: A Great Value!

Article by Sam Winebaum, Editor Road Trail Run

In a running shoe market increasingly dominated by $100  if not $150 shoes the Vazee Rush v2 ($89.95) stands out as a fine flexible neutral trainer at a great price and at  a very decent weight of 9.6 oz/274 grams, 6mm drop. Often lower cost translates into weight due to the use of stitching but there is nary a stitch in the Rush. Is it as refined in upper and road feel as a close cousin the slightly lighter 9.1 oz  premium $150 Vazee 2090 (review here)?  No,  but for $60 less it is a lot of shoe for the money.
New Balance Vazee Rush v2
New Balance Vazee Rush v2
The upper features an innovative 3-layer construction, actually 4 layers as there is an inner partial bootie from about midway from the lace up to the end of lace up joining tongue to midsole.  The inner liner is bonded to the black support layer with a thin fairly rugged black mesh over the top. The foot is fairly well held. There is no sewing anywhere in the shoe except the far back single achilles heel seam. I would not call the fit sock like but it is consistent in pressure, if a bit relaxed over the entire foot with the upper's construction noticeable over the toes.  The toe box is more than decently roomy with no tight spots or seams felt. There is a bit of sensation over the toes that the support overlay layer is not far away above your toes but no issues. The upper construction contributes to the Rush v2 great flexibility.
New Balance Vazee Rush v2
New Balance Vazee Rush v2
The midsole is made of a new foam mix which New Balance calls Rapid Rebound.  My sense is this is a mix of New Balance's Revlite found in other Vazee shoes and something intended to give a bit more bounce. New Balance says it has 17% more rebound than their usual foams. While the midsole ride is cushioned it is firm with more noticeable road shock than the 2090 with its Nitrogen infused TPU shock vibration absorbing layer and more podular midsole outsole construction. The midsole feels similar to the 1400 with a bit more firm rebound and fits between the 1400 and Fresh Foam Zante.

New Balance Vazee Rush v2
The Rush v2 does not skimp on outsole coverage, likely contributing to weight. There is plenty of rubber in 2 densities with the yellow front softer than the pink red rear. The diamond shaped front outsole coverage with openings and long longitudinal grooves contribute to a long smooth easy flex, reminding me a bit of the older Saucony Kinvaras.

Ride and Recommendations
The ride is on the firmer side particularly at the heel with some road shock transmitted. This is not a marshmallow type ride. The forefoot is somewhat softer than the heel and nicely flexible. It is closer in feel for me to a tempo, even a racing shoe than a pure trainer and that is how I have been running it. This said it is certainly plenty cushioned enough for daily training for those who like some robust road feel or as a marathon racer. It would be a great trainer for high school distance runners.

New Balance has done a great job coming out with a quality lively run shoe at a very reasonable price. Not as refined as some of the competitors, even NB's own quite similar Vazee 2090, it is none the less a great and welcome option in a sea of ever pricier run shoes.

Score 4.7 out of 5
-0.15 for somewhat firm rough ride
-0.15 for overall foot hold
Score is as compared to other run shoes at all prices. As a value the Vazee Rush v2 is 5/5!

The Vazee Rush v2 was provided at no charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.

Click Here for RTR's other 2017 Run Shoe Previews: New Balance, Brooks, Saucony, Salomon, Altra, adidas Outdoor, Hoka and More!

Click Here for RTR's Latest Running Shoe and Gear Reviews. 
Over 45 in depth Road and Trail Shoes reviews so far in 2016!

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The Vazee Rush v2 for men and women is available from here
The Vazee Rush v2 for men and women is available from Road Runner Sports here

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Review Garmin Vivosmart HR+: Activity Band Sized GPS Run Watch. Yes Full GPS Run Capablities on Board!

The Vivosmart HR+ is Now On Sale at the links at the end of the article!

Article by Sam Winebaum, Editor Road Trail Run

LEFT: Garmin Vivosmart HR+ RIGHT: Garmin Fenix 3 HR

The tiny Garmin Vivosmart HR+ ($200) sits at the far opposite size spectrum of the Garmin line from the top of the line Fenix 3 HR (see our earlier comparison of 2016 Garmin run watches here) . As a basic GPS run watch and 24/7 activity, sleep, and HR monitoring companion it a great choice especially if your wrists have other watches, bracelets on or if like me you just don't want to fuss changing watches for different purposes. The key difference between this year's Vivosmart HR+ and last year's HR is the addition of GPS.
LEFT: Garmin Vivosmart HR+ RIGHT: Garmin Fenix 3 HR

The Vivosmart HR+ sits closest in size and capabilities within the Garmin line up to the Vivoactive HR ($250) which is clearly more watch than band.
LEFT: Garmin Vivosmart HR+ RIGHT: Garmin Vivoactive HR
LEFT: Garmin Vivosmart HR+ RIGHT: Garmin Vivoactive HR

Key Features 
  • GPS tracking of your run: pace, distance, time, auto-lap, auto-pause, heart rate
  • Garmin Elevate 24/7 heart rate monitoring with instant access to current, average resting, and high and low for the last 4 hours.
  • steps, calories, and floors climbed, incredibly it has a barometric altimeter for the floor count.
  • phone music player control
  • phone notifications: calls, texts, social media, etc..
  • 5 day battery life with 24/7 heart rate monitoring, up to 8 hours in GPS training mode
  • always on screen, 2 stats per view, easily swipe up down to to see next, definitely sun light readable despite small size
  • swim suitable
The Vivosmart HR+ is operated via a single button and a touch/swipe screen
  • swipe up or down from time view for HR, music controls, activity stats, notifications, weather. Touch to select
  • press the button to access the workout modes (Run, Cardio, or Other), Settings, Synch, Do Not Disturb, Alarm Clock, and Find Phone, and Bluetooth pairing. Touch to select 
Run Mode
When selecting run mode you have the choice of outdoor (with GPS) and indoor run (without GPS). Satellite acquisition is slower than other larger GPS watches likely due to a smaller antenna given the tiny size but adequate, about a minute. Once acquired, press the single button to start and stop your run then save or discard. As you run you can swipe through up to 5 screens with 2 data fields per screen. 

The default data fields are:
Timer, Distance, Pace, Calories, Heart Rate Zones, Heart Rate, and Calories 

Additional data metrics are available by configuring in Garmin Connect and then synching.
They include: Average Pace, Lap Pace, key metrics for me

I was unable to get these changes to metrics to synch to data fields on the watch after multiple attempts. I did a hard reset back to factory settings and then re paired and synched and they were where they were supposed to be. I subsequently tried to change another field and after synching it had not changed so it looks like a hard reset and re-pair may be needed to set changes.While I can't see changing the 5 screens of data  now that I have Average and Lap Pace it seems the issue also affects the Run-Options and Heart Rate Zone Alerts, something runners may want to vary more often. I have an inquiry into Garmin about this bug.

You select run options from the watch run start screen once GPS is acquired by touching the 3 lower dots to access a menu. You can turn on or off auto-pause and auto-lap on the watch (and in the app) as well as get Run Options previously configured via Garmin Connect. These options can include.
  1. a single selected zone HR Zone Alert which will alert you if you are below or above the range. 
  2. a single  run_options alert pick
  • run "walk" mode alert with time for each type of segment configurable, a basic substitute for an interval module.
  • Virtual Pacer alert, by selecting a goal pace.
  • Time, Distance, or Calories alerts.
The stats displayed on the run, 2 data fields per screen are supposed to be configurable via Garmin Connect but I was unable to add 

On the Run and 24/7 Use Impressions and Conclusions

While the satellite acquisition is slower than more substantial Garmin watches it is nonetheless adequate. The screen is highly visible despite its small size in bright sun. Auto-laps appear and are useful and accurate as to distances on my set routes when compared to other high end watches. I say enough, as even high end watches vary somewhat on the same route done multiple times Heart rate values generally match the Fenix 3 HR and Polar M600 I wore simultaneously. 

The Garmin Connect app and site keeps track of all the data in great detail if a bit busily. I was  surprised that not only did our runs show all the usual stats but cadence, stride length, average HR and max heart rate are all there for review. 

The pleasure of this watch is that while a mostly full featured GPS run watch it is totally unobtrusive, thin in width and very light. Never a need to take it off  I am pretty sure this is the smallest GPS watch on the market. 
Always there, capable enough for most runners and with the ability to also track your activity, HR, sleep, and exercise intensity this is one fine little watch, if I can get average pace to show!  It is even available in multiple colors including Imperial Purple and Blue. It contrasts with the Fitbit in having the GPS on board thus not requiring a phone to track runs as Fitbit does and being a touch less "stylish".  Recommended and will be Highly Recommended if changing Run Options did not require a hard reset of the watch and re pairing.

See Road Trail Run's in depth comparison of the other 2016 Garmin watches (Vivoactive HR, 735XT, 235, and Fenix 3 HR) here

The Vivosmart HR+ was provided at no charge to RoadTrailRun. The opinions herein are entirely the author's

Click Here for RTR's other 2017 Run Shoe Previews: Brooks, Saucony, Salomon, Altra, adidas Outdoor, Hoka and More!
Click Here for RTR's Latest Running Shoe and Gear Reviews. Over 50 in depth Road and Trail Shoes reviews so far in 2016!

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Purchases at the links below help support Road Trail Run. Thanks!

The Vivosmart HR+ and Vivoactive HR Now on Sale!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My Sneak Peak at New Running Tech Gear is Live at Competitor

Outdoor Retailer and August are big months for holiday season wearable tech launches in GPS, rn apps, music, and the latest form training innovations. I was on assignment at OR and this month to surface the latest for Competitor . Some neat new products are out and coming soon. See the gallery I authored at the link
Competitor Sneak Peak at New Running Tech Gear
RoadTrailRun and Competitor will have more on the new products and others to be announced in the next few weeks.

Click Here for RTR other 2017 Run Shoe Previews: Brooks, Saucony, Salomon, Altra, adidas Outdoor, Hoka and More!

Click Here for RTR's Latest Running Shoe and Gear Reviews. 
Over 40 in depth Road and Trail Shoes reviews so far in 2016!

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Twitter: @roadtrailrun 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

ON Cloudventure Review: Great Looking, Steady, Sturdy Trail Cruiser. For Mellow Trails Only!

Article by Sam Winebaum and Jeff Valliere

ON Running Cloudventure PC: Jeff Valliere

The Cloudventure is ON Running's first trail shoe. Swiss Engineered ON  shoes feature CloudTec cushioning, a series of hollowed through outsole pods designed to deflect on initial impact then rebound when weight comes off. Beautifully built ON shoes really show that legendary Swiss quality.
Jeff Valliere and I look at how ON's trademark CloudTec pods translate to ride and performance on a variety of trails from Utah smooth single track to the rocky technical trails above Boulder.

Basic Stats ( Running Warehouse)
Weight: Men's 10.8 oz/306 g (size 9) Women's 9.6 oz/272 g (size 8)
Stack Height: 25mm (Heel), 20mm (Forefoot)

First Impressions and Runs
Sam: At first glance with its dense Swiss Army gray uniform upper,  prominent toothy CloudTec elements, and unseen long, rock protecting SpeedBoard the Cloudventure says more hiker than trail shoe to me. And while at 10.8 oz this is no hiker but it is not the lightest of modern trail runners either with a weight right with the Brooks Cascadia and Montrail Caldorado.  On the run the Cloudventure for me is best suited to slower than faster paces and smooth cruiser trails. The grip is outstanding on softer grit, the forefoot cushion soft on landing and with great protection but stiff. And, this is a good thing as this one comfortable shoe for long, easy ambles.  On smooth Utah rolling single tracks, for easier days it was a joy to run. Thinking it might be good on the road I tried it there and found it strangely firm, running like a shoe with far less cushion, likely to the lugs being far easier to compress than ON road shoes and lower in profile, particularly in front and the firm midsole. This said while I struggled with it on  the road, the overall cushioning is far more balanced than the CloudFlyer and Surfer, were particularly in the heel.
Jeff:  I was immediately struck by the good looks and well built feel of the shoe.  The materials used to make the upper are of the highest quality, sturdy, well constructed and it is clear that no corners were cut.  When I first slipped my foot in the shoe, I found fit and comfort to be excellent, but perhaps ever so slightly on the roomy side.  I figured I could compensate a little by tightening the laces up a bit more, but was unable to do so, much of which I attribute to the very thin and static laces.  The Cloudventure feels a bit heavy in the hand and equally so on the foot, as Sam notes, comparable to a Cascadia or Caldorado.

ON Running Cloudventure
Sam: The upper is a single layer of densely woven, thick engineered mesh with an inner bootie attached to the tongue at the midsole and running to the front of toe.  There is a substantial thick but not overly firm toe bumper.
ON Running Cloudventure
ON Running Cloudventure PC: Jeff Valliere
The rand overlay between midsole and upper is heavily reinforced with a layer of thick rubber running from the heel to the toe on lateral side but tapering towards the front of the shoe. On the medial side the reinforcing stops at the 3d lace hole, for some added flexibility at toe off. The reinforcements remind of an approach shoe.
ON Running Cloudventure PC: Jeff Valliere
Both the tongue and heel collar have thin and firm padding. This is not a plush padded shoe. It's all business.
ON Running Cloudventure
Sam: The upper fit me well with good support all over without being constraining.  The heel counter is very firm and extends all the way forward to the inverted U but isn't overly high, a good balance. The upper is durable and well reinforced in all the right places.
The very long thin laces are problematic. While they work well at the front of the lacing a wider lace or a lace loop would better cinch the midfoot and prevent frequent re tying.
Jeff: I found the upper to offer good support under most circumstances, but when I pushed this shoe on steeper, more technical terrain, rock hopping, etc... my foot would move around a bit inside the shoe, as with the ultra thin static laces, I was just not able to lock down the midfoot quite enough to compensate for the added volume.  I was still able to maintain control, but the sliding inside the shoe was noticeable.  
In viewing the Cloudventure, ventilation appeared to be limited, but I found breathability to be better than expected, even when the temps are in the 90’s.  
The toe bumper and rand are thick, protective, sturdy and hold up well to abuse in rocky, technical terrain.  The heel collar/cup is on the low side, is slightly boxy and does not conform perfectly to my heel.  Despite that though, I found it to hold well, is comfortable and never caused any issues or blistering.  The materials used for the upper, particularly around the forward edges of the collar are quite stiff and rigid.  The materials soften a little over time, but I notice it each time I put on the shoe throughout the test period.  Even with thin socks though, I never noticed excessive rubbing or had any blister issues.  As alluded to earlier, the laces stand out as something that could stand to be improved.  They are about as thin of laces as I have ever seen on an athletic shoe and are excessively long.  They are somewhat difficult to snug up and then over the course of a run, loosen up and require re-tightening.  Even with double and triple knotting, due to the static rigidity of the laces (and thinness), they can come completely untied.  

Outsole/ Midsole
ON Running Cloudventure PC: Jeff Valliere
The secret sauce of ON Running are the CloudTec pods. The pods are channeled shaped outsole pieces which deflect down with weight and then pop back when un weighted. To keep from deflecting sidewards as weight is applied the teeth on the yellow outsole pods lock into ridges in the midsole. 

ON Running Cloudventure
ON Running Cloudventure
The pods on the Cloudventure are notably easier to deflect and are lower than the road CloudSurfer (review here).
ON Running  CloudTec Pods: Cloudventure compared to Cloudsurfer
Sam: Does this translate into a soft shoe? Not really as the midsole is very firm and the incorporated Speedboard within the midsole stiff. The front pods in particular seem to take any firm edge off of trail obstacles without compromising feel or stability and without making the shoe overlay firm up front. Toe off is pleasant and assured but not particularly dynamic for me.
ON Running Cloudventure PC: Jeff Valliere
The heel firmness and stability is just about right for a rougher trails shoe for me.  Wait didn't I say I preferred the Cloudventure for easier cruising trails and moderate paces.
Yes I did as there is more inside the Cloudventure, what ON calls its Speedboard.

The Speedboard is a full length plate embedded in the midsole to provide a springboard effect and direction to toe off from lateral to medial as well as some light pronation guidance. To make it work as intended I think the runner has to be dynamic and strong, like Jeff and not like me! I find it stiffens the shoe considerably not in an inflexible sense but in a long gradual firm flex. I prefer an easier flex upfront with strong mid and rear foot support,  this last which Cloudventure has in spades. 
Jeff: I found cushioning to be on the firm side, but offered quite a bit of protection and comfort over long periods, no matter the terrain under foot.  I found the Speedboard beneficial in that it offers great rock protection while maintaining a reasonable amount of torsional flex, most notably when leaping/balancing from rock to rock.  I found response to be a bit sluggish at toe off, no matter the surface or gradient, which, combined with the weight of the shoe, does not inspire quick or spirited running.

The outsole has what ON calls "Micro-Engineered Grip Rubber". There are 4 zones of differing grip patterns along with an overall fine pattern of diamonds. 

ON Running Cloudventure
ON Running Cloudventure
ON Running Cloudventure
Sam: I have found traction outstanding on fine lose grit over hard surfaces, middle of summer dry Utah conditions. I pay close attention to the nuances of grip on uphills and the Cloudventure just sticks, not even the slightest slipping when pushed or steep. My 30 or so miles were mostly smooth single track taken slowly with minimal technical difficulty and relatively few rocks with 6 or 7 miles of road thrown in. Zero wear for me but none of my terrain was technical. 

Jeff had a different outsole experience...

Jeff: The Cloud pods are the most unique/outstanding aspect of this shoe and I’ll admit to being a bit skeptical of them at first.  On climbs, I felt that the pods compress a bit upon toe off and the compression gave an ever so slight feel of inefficiency.   This was most noticeable on harder surfaces, particularly rock and more particularly uneven, pointed rocks.  I also noticed that when landing a pod on the crest of an angled/pointed rock, I noticed a bit of an awkward “pivoting” sensation.  Whether any of this truly leads to inefficiency is debatable, but for me, the perception was there.  However, what the pods lack in ascending advantages, they more than make up for on flatter ground and particularly on descents.  
I found that they offered a good bit of extra cushion on the downhill, compressing and conforming to the terrain in such a way that they would absorb much of the impact before the midsole cushioning had to.  I also found traction in technical terrain to be excellent, in part because of the way that the pods conform to and grab the terrain underneath.  

My biggest concern however, is the durability of these pods.  After a mere 30 miles of running on a combination of paved road, gravel paths/dirt road and ~20+ miles of rocky, technical singletrack (with a bit of off trail), I have already lost 1 pod in the forefoot and one of the heel pods is also well on it’s way to destruction.  Granted, the trails here around Boulder that I run are rocky and technical and are sure to reveal any weaknesses in the durability of a shoe, but I test all shoes on the same terrain.  This level of wear after such a short period is quite concerning.

Ride and Recommendations
Sam:  Much as with the CloudSurfer I have a hard time getting past the Speedboard and to some extent the pods and the firmness of the midsole at landing to arrive at a dynamic fast ride and WOW factor. For some reason I feel somewhat disconnected from road or trail in ON shoes. Others with strong leg drive and push off likely will find them more dynamic.The Cloudventure is for me a very fine moderate pace shoe, highly protective and easy to run and a delight on smoother graded single track, taken easy, and based on Jeff's experience smooth trails with few technical rock sections. This where they should stay until ON figures out how to make the lugs more durable.  As far as great looks and utility as an easy hiker, travel with some running and everyday shoe, outstanding.

Jeff: I found the ride of the Cloudventure to be best suited for easier to moderately paced runs on less technical trails.  I was unable to get any pop or snappy response out of the Speedboard and overall the Cloudventure did not feel at all performance oriented, if not sluggish and somewhat inefficient on the uphills.  I would recommend this shoe for those looking for, well, I’m not sure.  Due to the surprisingly rapid rate of wear of the pods, I have trouble recommending this shoe despite liking many other aspects (traction, protection, quality of the upper, cushion, comfort, looks/style).  I think this shoe would be a reasonable alternative for the Cascadia fans who feel it has become too narrow and want a roomier toe box and overall fit, but who run moderate to well graded, softer terrain.  Additionally, the Cloudventure, with its classy good looks, would make a great all around daily shoe, as it dresses up well and would look great out to dinner, social events, or traveling where you need to pick a shoe that looks nice, yet can handle hiking and running.

Jeff's Score
3.6 out of 5
-0.2 for thin/static laces
-0.2 for sluggish feel/lack of response
-1.0 for outsole durability
Sam's Score
4.2 out 5
-0.3 for sluggish and stiff feel on anything other than moderate paces on easy terrain.
-0.3 for lack of versatility on rougher terrain given Jeff's outsole durability experience
-0.1 for long and thin laces
-0.1 for weight

The ON Cloudventure was provided at no charge to Road Trail Run.  The opinions herein are entirely the authors'

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Jeff Valliere's Race Report: Aspen Backcountry Marathon and Half Marathon

August 13th, 2016
Article by Jeff Valliere

My family and I are still on a major high after spending a long weekend in Aspen, Colorado for the Aspen Backcountry Marathon/Half Marathon.  I have been trail racing for 12 or so years and have participated in some great races here in Colorado and the West, yet I’ll admit to settling in with a few favorites, primarily because I truly enjoy them, but also somewhat out of convenience and familiarity.  After racing the Aspen Backcountry Marathon this weekend, I am definitely adding it to my summer race calendar.
When I was first invited by adidas Outdoor to run the Aspen Backcountry Marathon in the Spring, I reluctantly turned down the offer, as it is held 8 days before my A race of the year, the Pikes Peak Marathon.  Also, with twin 5 year old daughters and complicated work schedules, I did not want to be away from the family for two weekends in a row.

One evening however, I casually mentioned the declined invite to my wife and she thought I was insane to not go and suggested we make a family getaway out of it.  That was all I needed to hear, so I threw caution to the wind and signed up.  I later learned that, new for 2016, they were offering a half marathon option, which made more sense for me given the proximity to Pikes.  Perfect! I also knew that there would be plenty of fun stuff to do for my family while I raced and so many options for fun before and after, as there is so much to do in and around Aspen for the entire family.  Endless opportunities for hiking, biking, outdoor activities and kids activities just for starters.
Views from high on the course (Jen Allen photo)

I can’t say enough great things about this race.  The organization is superb, the website is informative, with all you need to know about the race, maps of the course and local information. Packet pick up was well run and the pre-race meeting was quite entertaining, conducted by a funny and enthusiastic (very tall) dude with a mullet and Southern accent.  I appreciated the comic relief and laid back atmosphere.

Though I studied up on the course, I did not have a chance to do any recon like I would prefer, so I worried a bit about being able to accurately navigate (especially after having gone off route elsewhere in the past).  For good measure, I printed a small map along with the written directions, which made me feel good, but as it turned out, this course was so well marked with ribbon, signs and colored tape, it was very easy to navigate, even while in the red zone racing at my physical limit.
Stunning aspen groves (Jen Allen photo)

The half marathon course is a somewhat heart shaped loop that runs essentially clockwise from the race start at Rio Grande Park, downstream along the river on a mix of paved bike path and rocky, somewhat technical singletrack.  This first few miles provided a great opportunity for a relatively gentle warm up and sorting of the field, before the long and sustained climb onto the ridge of Red Mountain. The climb was entirely runnable, as it was not particularly steep, but did get a bit warm, as it is mostly exposed to the rising sun.  I was quite happy to be wearing my adidas Climachill (review) Tee and cap, as this material is airy and cool, a step above any other shirts I have ever worn.

The views on the ridge at 10,000 feet are spectacular, looking toward Pyramid and the Maroon Bells. Even better were the mature stands of aspen trees, surrounding the smooth, narrow and fast, rolling singletrack.  This was by far my favorite section of the course and without a doubt would be hard to find such a magical and enchanting trail, anywhere.
A flat section of trail on the descent (Jen Allen photo)

After the long climb and a few miles on the ridge, I was beginning to tire a bit and was looking forward to blasting the downhill and getting to the finish.  I had it in my head that the course was fairly non-technical, but this new section of course specifically for the half marathon was certainly more technical than I anticipated in spots.  I was very thankful to have picked the adidas XT 5 Boost (Sam's RoadTrail Run review here).  
adidas adizero XT Boost

adidas adizero XT Boost
The XT 5 Boost is incredibly fast, light, responsive, stable and has excellent traction with its Continental sticky rubber outsole. They even ran as well on the pavement as they did on the most technical rocky sections of the descent. Truth be known though, I did not think of the shoes once while I was running, as they performed so flawlessly, it was like they were an extension of my body.
(Jen Allen photo)

After negotiating the lower section of boulder strewn trail (that somewhat resembled the creek bed it runs adjacent to), I was thankful to pop back out onto the paved bike path, though it was anything but the easy cruise into the finish that I had hoped, since by now my legs were a little shaky and I was feeling a bit worked.

Soon enough though, I was greeted by the finish line and helpful volunteers handing out drinks, orange slices, watermelon and a nice metal cup with the race logo.  My timing was also perfect, as my wife and daughters arrived as I was crossing the line, after a morning enjoying the concurrent Ducky Derby and associated festivities.

Post race was a blast, with all of the race action going on, chatting with old friends and making new friends, while enjoying the complimentary lunch.  Title sponsor adidas Outdoor also had a tent set up with all of their latest and upcoming offerings to check out.  I can’t wait to try some of their new shoes, as they are improving by leaps and bounds.  If you runs trails, I can testify that the XT 5 Boost, Agravic (review here) and the X-King (review) are among the very best and more than worthy of consideration (with the X-King and XT 5 earning spots on my “save for special occasion” shelf).  

Prizes were generous as well, with cash awards for top finishers in the Marathon, as well as very nice awards for the Half Marathon King of the Mountain and 1st Place overall (both male and female). I somehow managed to eek out the KOM and win the overall, so in addition to the amazing awards, I also got a $200 adidas Outdoor gift card for my efforts (they had a whole stack of gift cards to hand out, so it appeared they were more generous with the awards than advertised).
Shaking hands with Loren from adidas Outdoor.

Not sure who made these, but that are quite nice and look great on the mantle at home.

All in all, this was a universally enjoyed and well regarded race, as I talked with many fellow racers afterwards and heard nothing but praise for the race organization and adidas Outdoor, (who also provided awesome tech tees for the racers as well).

A huge thanks to adidas Outdoor, specifically Peter Schuster, Loren Gwartney-Gibbs and Kristen Bujold.  
Also thanks to Toni Case and the City of Aspen, Sam Winebaum at Road Trail Run and of course my wife and daughters for joining on the trip and inspiring me to run fast.

This was such a great race and amazing weekend, I can't wait to run this one again, I highly recommend!

Disclaimer:  adidas Outdoor sponsored me for this race and provided shoes and clothing of my choice, however, all opinions are 100% unbiased.  The adidas XT 5 Boost and Climachill clothing worked perfectly and are top of the line products that I highly recommend.

(Jen Allen photo)

Jeff Vailliere's Bio
Jeff Valliere is a former pro cyclist who now runs and climbs the mountains of Colorado. He has been top 5 Masters, top 25 overall, at the Pike's Peak Marathon several times, finishing 3d Masters this year. Jeff loves vertical accumulating more than 500,000 vertical feet per year, has climbed all the 14's and 200 of the 13's and has held FKT on several.  He often runs and climbs at night. Passionate about the sport but also the gear he has reviewed hundred of shoes for various magazines and sites and participated in product testing for many brands.  Formerly a bike mechanic he now works in Satellite Imagery. He has twin 5 year old daughters who keep him ever busier yet.

Click Here for RTR's other 2017 Run Shoe Previews: Brooks, Saucony, Salomon, Altra, adidas Outdoor, Hoka and More!

Click Here for RTR's Latest Running Shoe and Gear Reviews. 
Over 40 in depth Road and Trail Shoes reviews so far in 2016!

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Twitter: @roadtrailrun 

Monday, August 15, 2016

HOKA ONE ONE 2017 Previews: New Dynamic Stability Shoes: Light Arahi, Premium Gaviota. Roomier Bondi 5 and Challenger ATR 3

Hoka One One's Outdoor Retailer focus was on two new light stability shoes: the 9.3 oz/265 gram Arahi ($130) and the 10.5 oz/ 297 gram Gaviota ($150). 

Next Generation Motion Control
As we saw at Outdoor Retailer this year and over the last year in general with the new Altra Provision 3.0, the Brooks Transcend 3&4 , Skechers Forza, and Hoka's own Infinite which controls pronation through a very wide under mid foot platform, and which does not continue into 2017, there is a definite trend towards much less intrusive pronation control. Now often called "guidance" or in Hoka's case "Dynamic Stability" the very firm medial posts and plastic pieces to "control pronation" and which add weight are eliminated in favor of higher rear of mid foot extensions of the midsole into the upper or dual density midsoles closer in density to each other or a combination. The results are shoes that are lighter and of greater appeal than traditional motion control shoes. More neutral runners can also comfortably run them and find more support as legs and form tire. I have had no issues running in any of these new generation stability shoes although I still prefer neutral race shoes with some under the mid foot only stability such as found in the Adios Boost or Salming Distance or the subtle heel area post of the Brooks Asteria (RTR reviews index here).

Hoka One One J-Frame

Hoka has chosen a combination of a dual density midsole and some sidewall extensions introducing its J-Frame in the two new shoes.  Hoka has had an Active Foot Frame in many shoes with the foot sitting down into the midsole. The J-Frame extends the concept with a firmer density foam on the medial side all the way to the front of the shoe with just firmer sidewalls of the same J-Frame unit up the heel side lateral side. 

Arahi ($130) 
The Arahi is remarkably light for a motion control shoe coming in at 9.3 oz with a 29mm heel/24mm, 5 mm drop maximal stack height in men's, women's 28 mm/23mm 7.6 oz/ 215 grams
Hoka One One Arahi Outsole
Hoka One One Arahi medial side
Hoka One One Arahi lateral side

Hoka One One Arahi lateral side
Hoka One One Gaviota Lateral Side
The Gaviota($150) is a premium J-Frame stability shoe. It weighs 10.5 oz/297 grams with the same stack as the Arahi 29 mm heel/24mm toe, 5 mm drop in men's, women's 28 mm/23mm 8.6 oz/245 grams.  The J-Frame is made of Hoka's great RMAT material, a high rebound EVA/Rubber blend.  Available January.

The blue midsole material is the RMAT J-Frame.  Even though I love RMAT I might lean towards the lighter Arahi.
Hoka One One Gaviota Medial Side
Bondi 5 ($150)
The popular Bondi Hoka's original road specific shoe gets the last of the Clifton 3 so we expect in the regular width wider than Bondi 4. At 10 oz/ 284 grams the Bondi 5 has a stack is 33 mm heel/ 29mm heel men's, 31 mm/ 27 mm women's. The upper is now engineered mesh which should contribute to a more accommodating fit, especially important in such a high stack shoe with a relatively stiff flex. 
The Bondi 5 will be available in wide for 3 of the 4 color ways (but not the orange below) for men and in 2 wide color ways for women but not the blue below.
Hoka One One Bondi 5
The outsole on the lateral front has increased rubber coverage. In Bondi 4 there was a gap in coverage just back of the toe wear area.
Hoka One One Bondi 5
Hoka One One Bondi 5
Hoka One One Bondi 5
Hoka One One Bondi 5
Challenger ATR 3 ($130)
The Challenger, dubbed by Hoka as the Clifton for trail running, gets the last of the Clifton 3, so more accommodating. Hoka told us runners will find it a touch roomier and  more accommodating. The lugs are wider spaced, still 4mm in height, so not extreme, making the Challenger ATR more than suitable for road running as I found with version 1. As with the other shoes in this article the Challenger features 3D Puff Print for additional detailed support. Men's weight 9.5 oz/269 grams, stack height 29 mm/24 mm. Women's 7.9 oz/ 226 grams, stack height: 28 mm/23 mm.
Hoka One One Challenger ATR 3
Hoka One One Challenger ATR 3
Hoka One One Challenger ATR 3
Clayton 2
Hoka did not give us a preview of the Clayton 2 but the catalog calls out a "refined mid foot fit" with an updated upper and a new sock liner which hopefully will resolve  the front of the arch blistering some saw in version 1. 

Click Here for RTR's other 2017 Run Shoe Previews: Brooks, Saucony, Salomon, Altra, adidas Outdoor, New Balance and More!
Click Here for RTR's Latest Running Shoe and Gear Reviews. 
Over 40 in depth Road and Trail Shoes reviews so far in 2016!

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