Monday, June 28, 2021

Quick Strides #7: Cascadia 16, Adios 6, Terra Kiger 7, Xodus 11, GoreWear Ultimate Short, Topo MTN Racer 2, Joost’s Recovery and Injury Aids, Via Ferrata Colorado, Running in Iceland, Back to Zero Drop, Altra Rivera @ 100K

Article by Johannes Klein, Nils Scharff, Mike Postaski, Renee Krusemark, Cheng Chen, Joost De Raeymaeker, and Adam Glueck

Quick Strides #7: Cascadia 16, Adios 6, Terra Kiger 7, GoreWear Ultimate, Topo MTN Racer 2, La Sportiva, Via Ferrata Colorado, Running in Iceland, Altra Rivera @100K, Back to Zero Drop, Joost’s recovery and injury aids. 

Quick Strides is a weekly blog type article at RTR. The format and content is as our contributors wish. More blog post than in depth reviews, we hope to bring our readers yet timelier brief information in advance of our full reviews as well as fun and interesting content from our many perspectives on this wonderful sport.

Johannes (Germany)

100K Update: Altra Rivera

The Altra Rivera is holding up very well in every aspect. Some of the rubber on the outer edge of the platform is beginning to smooth out, which is accounted for by my stride. The outsole is still providing more than adequate grip on both dry and wet pavement, as well as gravel.

The EGO midsole is as soft and springy as ever and performs very well throughout all workout speeds and distances. I’m confident that the shoe will sustain its performance for another 300 kilometers before starting to break down. My German language review here, English multi tester review here

First Impressions: Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7

When first trying these on at home, I was impressed by the seemingly secure fit of an upper that looked like one you would find on a road racer (except for the protective overlays maybe). Unfortunately, that initial feeling of security was put into perspective on my first run. Midfoot lockdown is lacking, especially on downhills. What I will say, however, is that the upper is very breathable. I haven’t had the opportunity to test in wet conditions, so my judgement on water resistance will have to wait for the full review. I expect the shoe to absorb water rather quickly, but I’m hoping it will shed the moisture just as fast.

The midsole, while springy and fast feeling due to React and Zoom, is somewhat unstable. I attribute that to the air pocket in the forefoot, which tends to force your foot to the medial or lateral side, depending on the terrain. The outsole has performed well on (dry) gravel, roots and rocks so far. 

My German language review is coming soon. English multi tester Kiger 7 review HERE

Nils (Germany)

I’ve been on vacation in the Alps the last week and had the Topo MTN Racer 2 as well as the Brooks Cascadia 16 with me. I first and foremost was pumped to try out the MTN Racer 2, but the longer I’ve run in “real mountains” the more things have turned. While the MTN Racer 2 is nimble, quick and very comfortable it lacked rock protection and especially lateral stability. I think it might be the perfect shoe for my more mellow home trails. My German language MTN Racer 2  review is coming soon. English multi tester MTN 2 review here

But as I was running alpine trails the Cascadia 16 took my heart by storm! 

I probably never had such an all around performing mountain shoe on my feet. The initial fit felt a little bit stiff, but the upper broke in and now I have nothing to complain about. It’s very protective, dries quickly and looks amazing! The midsole is soft enough to hike all day but responsive enough to shoot for FKTs. The ballistic rock shield protects from almost everything the trails had in their quiver and the outsole performed outstanding even on wet rocks (yes that’s possible without a Vibram logo on the bottom - looking at you, Nike!). I think the Cascadia will be reserved for future trips in the Alps as it left nothing to be desired!

My German language Cascadia 16 review soon. Multi tester English review here

When I arrived at home yesterday evening the Terra Kiger 7 waited on my doorstep. So there’s the next “midweight” trail shoe to compare against the two I recently put through its paces. But it might take some weeks - my backlog is pretty stacked at the moment.

Other than that I just want to mention my La Sportiva TX5 hiking boots. I bought those last year as a replacement / light option for my 10 year old Lowa Camino GTX. And what can I say - I’m more than pleased! They weigh almost 50% less than my old boots and while they are less protective for sure (category A/B vs. B) they are all I need even for the most challenging 1-day-hikes. Things might turn if you are backpacking for several days, but that’s not my standard use case anymore. Last week we were out for roughly 100km of hiking with 6500m of elevation change and the TX5 was all I needed!

Mike P (Boise, Idaho)

The quest - the ultimate running shorts. We all know about it.  Shorts that fit just right, at just the right length, with just the right pockets, and very importantly - no chafing!  For background- I do most of my normal runs in Patagonia Striders - they are nice and light, have a smooth boxer liner, and at 7” are just the length I like.  I have 5 pairs of these.  The only issue with these is that there is only 1 small pocket in the back.  Patagonia also makes a Strider Pro version with much better pockets, but they switched to a brief liner several years ago.  WHY??? Takes them out of the equation for ultras (chafing).  If anyone from Patagonia reads this - please please bring back the boxer liner. 

For longer runs and ultras, I have tried various 2-in-1 shorts, and some tights, none of which need to be named, as there was always something off.   Too tight, bad pockets, material too thick, scratchy seams.. I’ve also tried various waist belts to no avail - I have a bit more “shape” in the “trunk” area so anything meant to sit on the hips just rides up.  I like the Salomon Agile 250 belt, which sits higher up on the waist rather than the hips, but I have to cinch it down which makes it a bit uncomfortable.


Enter the GORE  Ultimate 2in1 Shorts Mens!

Handy pull tabs on each pocket, very good reflective details

I swallowed hard, used some rewards credits, and ordered a pair of these (regular price $160).  I have used them for several long runs so far, and 2 events including a 24 hour  timed race as well as the River of No Return 108K last weekend.  I love everything about them, and they are now my go-to long run/ultra short.  I do not regret dropping the coin on these at all.  Highlights (in no particular order) include-  Solid inner tight, not too compressive, the material is sturdy but not thick. The outer short is super light and not noticeable - a good thing.  The pockets are excellent, varying widths around the waist band, with no bounce at all.  In my races I held gels, honey stinger waffles, chapstick, sunscreen, spare headlamps, gloves, LMNT drink mix tubes, trash wrappers, and other small items.   There are also two pockets on the side of the leg which I don’t like to load up, but are good for storing course maps, cards, cash, phone or any small flattish items. 

Interior of the tights - note the extra fabric layer which is on the front side

Just a few notes - the length of the inner tight is on the longer side, which is a matter of personal preference.  I had zero chafing over both races - a full 24 hours and 13+ hours for the 108K.  I applied normal lube in essential areas before the start and did not have to re-apply at all during either race.  My one gripe which is very minor (and also more of a general running shorts gripe) is that the waist tie is on the inside of the waistband.  It is definitely more comfortable to have the knot on the outside and not against your skin, but I guess most companies care more about the look.  Also, GORE says that they updated the sizing as all their stuff typically runs small.  I followed their advice and ordered my regular size Small. They were super tight and I exchanged them for a Medium - my only size Medium running shorts.  

Sam has previously reviewed the shorts in more detail  HERE

Renee (Nebraska)

I left the Nebraska terrain for some higher elevation in Colorado. I had a great time doing Via Ferrata near Estes Park with Kent Mountain Adventures, which was a great way to experience the Rockies without the crowds and traffic within the more popular national park areas. I would absolutely recommend the experience for those who want to “climb” but do not have the skills or experience.  

I wore my UltraSpire Legacy Vest 2.0 for hiking and Via Ferrata. I reviewed the vest for RoadTrailRun last year (review here), and I continue to wear the vest when I need the capacity of a pack with the feel of a vest. The vest is a great way to carry water. I carried a water bottle in the back zipped pocket plus extra water in the back side pockets. I used the front pockets to carry small snacks and my cell phone. 

Also, kudos to the coverage of Western States 100 by Corrine Malcolm and Dylan Bowman on the WSER 100 YouTube Channel. Their internet and video coverage of the race was basically non-existent the entire time, yet they still covered the event well. Three females finished in the top 10, which is awesome, and Nebraska runner Kaci Lickteig placed 10th for the female runners. iRunFar had great coverage of the event too, providing solid updates on their Twitter feed. 

I received the Craft CTM Ultra (RTR Review), which was a fun comparison to the Carbon Ultra (RTR Review) I’ve had for a few weeks and will be joining the reviews soon. 

I keep thinking of them as “trail” shoes because they were developed with Tommy Rivs, but both shoes are road shoes that can handle some buffed, smooth paths. Surprisingly, they are both stable for high stack and high drop shoes, although they run much better on the road than on crushed rock paths or dirt roads. RoadTrailRun has runners from all over the world (literally) reviewing these shoes. I like the CTM Ultra better than the Carbon Ultra because of the lighter weight. I think the shoes are a good option for runners who like a high-drop, long distance shoe.

Cheng (Michigan)

Returning to Zero Drop

Over the past winter to spring training cycle, I managed to put it all on the table, hitting the highest mileage and fastest personal bests since I started running in 2019. This peaked in mileage of over 93 miles a week with a half marathon PB of 1:21. During this journey, I applied as easy to run shoes as possible, and steadily slid to higher stack heights and midsole drops, leaving the likes of Altra in the dust…

In the past, I had always stressed on the importance of training low and racing high (in terms of midsole drop). This idea was based on the personal anecdote and existing research literature that pointed to greater toe spring degrees (rockers) being correlated to work being shifted up the kinetic chain. Here, it was noticeable that running in low-rocker zero drop shoes like Altra/Topo would cause more calf and lower leg fatigue—the classic racing flat effect. This, in combination with high mileage, was simply not manageable. Instead, I began running in many high drop, well cushioned, and highly rockered shoes such as the Nike Invincible*, New Balance Rebel v2*, and Mizuno Wave Sky 4* (see review links below).

Further beyond shifting stress away from the calves, I also ran most of my tempo runs in the Nike Tempo NEXT%* as a training companion to the Alphafly, my top pick for 2020 (see RTR review here). With the Tempo/Alphafly platforms, the goal was to intentionally learn to not only engage the Air Zoom rocker by landing midfoot, but to also learn to depend on the well cushioned heel, especially on downhill surges. This led to great racing results but at the expense of an increasingly weak lower leg.

Now, as I begin a new cycle, I’m returning to natural running, starting with the Altra Paradigm 5.0*. After a few runs, it’s noticeable just how much I’ve come to depend on higher drop shoes with the main delta coming from internal vs. external ground contact dynamics. That is, while I’m mostly a midfoot striker, higher drop shoes actually lead me to internally heel strike even if the shoe lands flat externally. This effect is completely missing in zero drop shoes—you land where you strike as there is no drop to support an internal heel strike.

The lesson is sorely obvious, pun intended. Running again in the Paradigms, the calves are more sore, but it’s refreshing to shift more attention back to the feet, nimbling approaching each step. My strategy is to run in Altras as I rebuild mileage and calf strength before I shift back to higher drop shoes during race-specific periods in the fall as I aim for even greater weekly mileage and new personal best. Feel free to contact me below or via Instagram (@MrChengChen) as I frequently chat with the RTR readership!

*RTR Reviews of Shoes Mentioned:

Cheng is a CrossFitter turned runner. He lifts and base builds in the winter while racing in the summer with personal bests of 5:29 (Mile), 1:21 (Half), and 18:25 (5K). In Michigan, Cheng leads a local racing team and is also an ambassador for Gazelle Sports and the Detroit Free Press Marathon - use code CHENGROCKS for a discounted entry! Follow him on Instagram (@MrChengChen) for more.

Joost (Angola Africa)

It happens to us all at some point. You’re on an easy run, just relaxing and all of a sudden, you feel a shooting pain somewhere you didn’t expect to happen. Most of the time, it just disappears the same way it appeared - into nowhere -  after a couple of strides, but sometimes, you know something is not right. You’re all warmed up, so you think (at least, I do, stupidly): let’s just run those 5 more km I planned and then have a decent stretch. When you stop, things aren’t too bad, but as you cool down, it dawns upon you that you might be dealing with a real injury.

Most of those injuries are not major and will let you get back to running after a day or 2 of rest, but I’ve had the misfortune to have had 2 major lower back/sciatica/SI-Joint/Piriformis injuries in preparation blocks for marathon majors at the most unfortunate of times in 2018 and 2019. The last one had me sidelined for 2.5 months with a sacral stress fracture.

Last Thursday, I felt a sudden lower back pain around L5 at 6k of one of the easy evening 10k runs I’ve been doing. As it wasn’t something that stopped me in my tracks, I was again stupid enough to continue to 10km. Next morning there was some pain, but I was more or less ok, so I was even more stupid and ran another 10k, for which I paid the price. Irradiation of the pain into my SI joint and trouble getting up after sitting and vice versa. It’s now a couple of days later and the pain is mainly isolated to L4-L5-S1 and I’m looking into options and fighting as hard as I can the temptation to just try and run.

Like many runners out there, and especially those who like me, live in places where access to good specialized sports health care professionals is not easy, I’ve gathered a bunch of “torture” intstruments along the years and various injuries to cope with at least part of the problem. 

Apart from the usual foam rolls and balls for myofascial release, I’ve also bought a percussion massage gun from Addaday and a TENS/EMS set by Powerdot. The BioZoom Edge with Bluetooth from Addaday has an app that will guide you. In the past, it wasn’t really up to snuff, but recently, it’s been getting a lot better. I also use it as a pre and post workout massage tool (apparently not enough). 

The Powerdot (they’ve been recently acquired by the people who make the Theragun percussive massager) also has a very good app you use to tell it what exactly it is you want to do (Performance, Wellness, Smart Pain Relief, Smart Recovery or Focus on a specific area) and it will set up a program for you. It can even set up recovery programs automatically after it detects a workout if you let it connect to Apple Health, Strava or Garmin Connect. It will just pop up and tell you it has a program ready for you.

A combination of these two tools and hopefully a helpful Shiatsu massage and a PT session will hopefully get me back to running soon, otherwise, I will have to go through my usual mourning process over the next couple of days. I can tell you I won’t be good company if that happens...  What are other people out there using for their niggles, injuries small and big?

Adam (New Hampshire visiting Iceland)

While I’ve preferred the Xodus 11 (RTR Review)  in the White Mountains of NH where it’s flexibility and lower stack lead to me feeling comfortable and precise with foot placement, the cushion, stability, rocker, and protection of the Endorphin Trail (RTR Review) surprisingly elevates it as a hiking/backpacking shoe.  

I’ll be updating our Multi Tester reviews for both this week with my full conclusions, but both are excellent trail shoes that held up well against snow, volcanic rock, and volcanic ash.  

I’ve also tested the new adidas Adizero Adios 6, and my review is HERE.  

It’s a modern reinterpretation of a classic lightweight racer/trainer.  The upper is incredibly thin and breathable yet still comfortable.  The continental rubber outsole is ferociously grippy without greatly increasing the weight of the shoe.  The Adios 6 features 2 foams, lightstrike (a traditional EVA) in the heel and wrapping around the forefoot, and a sizeable chunk of lightstrike pro through the entire midsole in the forefoot/midfoot.  Lightstrike Pro is the same high energy return, super light, efficiently damped foam as is in the Adios Pro, Pro 2, and Prime X.  

A plastic Torsion system on the bottom helps maintain stability and keep the transition between the two foams seamless.  Overall, it maintains everything I love about traditional tempo shoes (not max-cushion), super responsive, connected to the ground, moderately flexy, stable), while introducing excellent forefoot snappiness and damping from the Lightstrike Pro up front.  It’s one of my favorite unplated shoes.

Some mentioned products were provided at no charge for review purposes others were personal purchases. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content.
The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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