Article by Jeff Valliere, Sam Winebaum, Michael Ellenberger, and Joost de Raeymaeker
Quick Strides is a weekly article here at RTR. The format and content will be as our contributors wish.
The RTR team all over the world is continuously testing and using dozens of run products for road and trail. Some are provided by brands, some are personal purchases, some are for upcoming reviews, others are not, and finally some are long time favorites and go to’s.
Jeff Vaillere (Colorado)
Jeff V: Sam and I just wrapped up a fantastic weekend in Snowmass, Colorado for the Ragnar Relay race and were guests of Outside PR and New Holland Brewing. We had a really great team of 8, composed of fellow media folks. I was unsure as to what to expect from such an event, but had an amazing time, running 3 separate courses of buttery smooth singletrack for a total of 15 miles, with amazing views of the valley and nearby Elk Mountain range.
The race setting in the Aspen/Snowmass area is as if straight off of a postcard, very lush and green, quaking aspens, wildflowers, towering snow capped peaks and infinite recreational opportunities, no matter your preference.
The race was very well organized, well staffed, the courses well marked and was so much fun. While not the traditional trail race that I am used to, the relay event was quite an amazing, interactive bonding experience with a great group of old and new friends. The teamwork and camaraderie will never be forgotten and the human interaction was so welcome after more than a year of Covid related near isolation. Being vaccinated was a requirement for the race and everything just felt totally back to normal with minimal, but well thought out precautions.
Outside PR, Hoka and Camelback also hooked each of us up with a goody bag, with Hoka shorts, tee, long sleeve tech mid layer and a fresh pair of Hoka Zinals, as well as two awesome mugs from Camelback.
I wore the Zinal (RTR Review) for all three of the run loops, which were absolutely ideal for the smooth singletrack, intermittent stretches of pavement and very fast and swoopy descents. Traction, cushion, comfort and response were all top notch.
An added bonus was that I got to bring the family and we were put up in a very nice room at the Limelight Hotel, 2 miles up the road in Snowmass Village along with several other team members (half of us, those with families in tow, were at the hotel and the other half “glamped” in tents right at the start/finish area). The Limelight was very nice and new, with an amazing breakfast spread each morning, great service and the kids really enjoyed the pool and hot tub. I plan to write a more detailed account of my experience very soon.
Also, upon my return last night, I had a pair of Craft CTM Ultra (RTR Review) waiting on me. I have not run in them yet, but, but they feel very well cushioned, huge stack height and a minimal, airy flexible upper. Quality feels top notch and the packaging was impressively premium. I’ll be contributing to our already published review soon.
Sam (New Hampshire and Utah)
I joined Jeff and media folks from Gear Junkie, Outside Magazine, as well as freelance writers, fsponsor New Holland Brewing and organizing PR firm Outside PR which represents New Holland and Hoka among others at the Ragnar Trail Colorado this past weekend.
It was my first Ragnar and I was super glad I did it. I have never been eager to ride in a van for endless hours for their road relays but the trail version is something completely different.
Each of 3 loops ( 3.8 miles, 4.6 miles and 6.8 miles) starts at the same place: the Athlete’s Village with camping right near the start finish. Each runner on teams of 8 completes all three loops.
We were in the Glamping tents.
Apart from all the outdoor experts not figuring out the first night before the race that sleeping on a canvas cot in near 40F weather led to “convection” cooling from below… we all slept a few hours between legs like babies the next night on the ground. We had plenty of shade, coffee, hydration and especially New Holland beer and snacks immediately at hand.
Emily and Alice were our hosts from OutsidePR arranging everything impeccably while running very fast during their legs.
New Holland invited us to a wonderful farm to table dinner the night before the race with everything sourced in Colorado, except some oysters from Maine which made me feel at home.
Each course was paired with one of their excellent beers. I wanted to, but stayed away from the Beer Barrel Bourbon!
Consensus dinner favorite was the Hazy IPA. The “hydration” fav after each leg was the Lightpoint. It is a 3.7% ABV which New Holland calls “the ultimate post-run summer beer! A functional white ale that offers a low-calorie option without compromising full craft flavor. Brewed with coconut water, raw honey and orange peel, this refreshing brew is best enjoyed with friends after a day of hard work and exercise..” I agreed more than once!
My day leg was hot around 80 F, very sunny, and extremely dry (8% humidity). Not too bad really but after less than a week at 7000 feet, the 8000 foot base elevation was felt.
My two night legs were in the 40’s so a big, and welcome change. Jeff and I used our Kogalla light bars (RTR Review) and they illuminated the trail ahead with a soft natural light just right, especially for timid old me who was able to sort of move along on the steep downhills with no crashes!
My last night leg was at sunrise on the Red loop.
We were given the Hoka Zinal (RTR Review) and they proved perfect for the courses which had steep uphills and then fast downhills on very smooth, mostly obstacle, free somewhat sandy single track with also plenty of road in the mix.
Responsive, stable, well cushioned, with a superb, simple upper they raced magnificently for all including me and were so comfortable I never took them off even for the 6 hour plus drive back to Park City.
The whole Ragnar experience with such a great team of folks was fantastic and I highly recommend doing a Trail Ragnar. The organization, route marking, and courses were all fabulous!
Our team finished 18th overall out of about 120 eight person teams losing time when 2 of our legs assisted injured runners (dislocated shoulder and torn hamstring) for a considerable amount of time including down to the road and help, the right thing to do.
Michael (Chicago) : Nothing so exciting as Jeff for me this week, but an opportunity to test a bunch of shoes in a short period, which is always a treat. While some shoes are under embargo and can’t be discussed, I will say that nearly every brand has something new and exciting in the works, it seems - and even manufacturers that haven’t made many big moves in the recent past are churning out compelling options.
I’ve only done a single run in the Craft CTM Ultra (RTR Review), but I would put out a word of caution on sizing - my 8.5s are quite small, and I think a 9.0 would likely be a better fit (aka a half-size up from my normal).
Finally - U.S. Olympic Trials for Track and Field start next week! I’m excited to follow the coverage of it all (even if I’ve been a bit lacking in following the sport over the past couple years).
Joost (Angola, Africa)
I have even less exciting things to talk about, shoe-wise. The only pair I have in for testing, I can’t talk about yet. What I have been doing recently though, is putting my RunScribe footpods through their paces and I’m struggling a bit as to where to start for a full review of them.
Basically, they are a multi-axis gyroscope you attach to your shoes and at the end of your run, you download the data via an app and get 45(!!!!) metrics you can then try to analyse. All of this is rather specialized and at this point more intended for coaches or professionals who want to analyse their athlete’s or their own gait. It is easy to detect imbalances between your left and right sides that can lead to or stem from injuries and indicate you have to work on certain aspects of your gait, flexibility or strength.
Most metrics don’t really mean anything per se, but start to get meaning because the RunScribe database of recorded runs and metrics grows steadily and you can compare your data and numbers with other runners (and of course yourself, to check in on any changes).
These images are from a tempo interval session I did last week in a pair of Atrey Artist, with the first couple of metrics (which are pretty standard), the shoe print showing where I actually land and toe off and how much force I apply and also some of the more esoteric metrics. There is a lot to digest and at first, things might be a bit lacking in meaning, but when you start using the pods regularly, you get an idea of the influence a specific shoe has on your gait, efficiency, impact etc. Lots of geekery, but interesting at that!
RunScribe are launching a new faster version of their gait analysis system and the current version is on sale for 50% of their normal value.
EUROPE Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
AUSTRALIA Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
AMAZON Men's & Women's SHOP HERE