Thursday, September 30, 2021

Quick Strides 19: Atreyu Base Model v2 300 miles. Scott Pursuit, Speed Carbon and Kinabalu. VJ Spark. Alex wins her race. A summer of Prezi Traverse Shoes. Half IM Adios 6, adizero Prime X and Adios Pro. Tifosi.

Article by Michael Elllenberger, Ryan Eiler, Jeremy Marie, Alex Tilsely, Adam Glueck, Mike Postaski, and Sam Winebaum

Atreyu Base Model v2 at 300 miles. Scott Pursuit, Speed Carbon and Kinabalu. VJ Spark. Alex wins her race. A summer of Prezi Traverse Shoes. Half IM Adios 6, adizero Prime X and Adios Pro. Tifosi.

Michael (Chicago)

Atreyu Base Model v2 Durability Update 

At approximately 300 miles (at least 250; my log is not complete when it comes to long-term shoe mileage): 

The newest Atreyu base trainer has held up very well after a fair number of miles - the outsole shows some distinct wear, and has lost a bit of tack on the road, but the cushion feel after a couple months of training remains. 

This actually differentiates v2 from v1 further in my book - whereas I think the original Atreyu went a little “flat” after 200-250 miles, I don’t get the same sensation in the v2. Besides testing shoes as they come in, I’ve kept the v2 around as my daily trainer throughout some (relatively) high-intensity weeks, including on several tempo and progression runs, and they’ve held up terrific. With all the shoes in the backlog, I don’t know that I’ll take these to 400, but I am confident they could make it - with the caveat that, as they wear, I do think viability on slick roads or rough terrain may be limited.

Jeremy (France):

Adios 6 Half IM triathlon

Well, I played it safe and decided to take the trusty Adios 6 instead of the “received 15 min. before leaving to the race” Scott Speed Carbon RC. And as expected, the Adios delivered during the 21kms run leg of the race. The airy upper was really nice to have given the shiny weather, and the accommodating toe box was ideal to have after the bike leg to let toes splay.

I seeked comfort and a dynamic ride, both of which were offered by the Adios.

I talked about the target watts in the my last Quick Strides, aiming at around 310...and I ended up at 301W: 

I just stayed a bit too comfortable during the run….but hey, you gotta learn how to let it all go out!

Save for that, the race went well as my first experience, and it was soooo good to feel the pre-race stress once again!

Would I have run a faster 21kms with the Speed Carbon? No clues, but…

Scott Speed Carbon RC

...the first run in those was really interesting.

Light (265g per shoe in 10.5US) given the stack height, the cushioning clearly has a dense flavor to it, without harshness at all. As my first carbon-plated shoe, I feared a really inflexible run, too directed and constrained for my liking, but it looks like the Carbitex DFX plate really works as advertised (stiffening when upping the pace) and it makes the shoe roll nicely even at easy pace. 

As Sam described in his mini-review of the shoe, it offers a stable run and the forefoot stack gives a lot of energy return in a very controlled way (i.e not bouncy), due to the density.

I just have some reservations on the fit, specially around the heel, but I need some more miles in them to tweak this.

Our full multi tester review of the Speed Carbon RC is coming very soon.

Ryan (Boston)

Meanwhile in Boston…

The fall racing hype is in full swing. I’ve heard people who don’t even run talking about ‘tapering’ lately! Needless to say, a lot of people are looking forward to the first physical running of Boston in what feels like forever.

I’ll be trying my hand at 26.2 this weekend, and my weapon of choice will likely be the Adios Pro v1 (RTR Review). They’ve collected about 150 miles so far, but are probably still the fastest distance shoes I have on hand. Their Lightstrike Pro midsole still feels spunky, and the only degradation I’ve seen is in the foam sandwiched between the outsole and the ‘energy rods’, which has begun to compress slightly. On the outsole, the rubber has started to wear through near the toe, but only slightly.

On the accessory side, I’ve been digging the uber-affordable ($25) Tifosi Swank SL

They’re hands-down the best running sunnies I’ve worn for the price. Excellent optical clarity, super lightweight, and no delamination issues like some of the other sub-$40 brands out there. They also stay in place very well thanks to rubberized nose pads, and they sit just far enough off my face that I rarely have problems with sweat getting onto the lenses. Best value purchase I’ve made this year.

Alex (Washington DC):

Last week, I wrote about committing to the La Sportiva Jackals (RTR review) for my adventure racing exploits, in spite of some quibbles with the heel rub. I dusted the Jackals off again this past weekend for a second race, and not only did they hold up brilliantly -- I traded my Feetures socks for Darn Toughs, which may have been the difference? -- I won the race overall! 

It was my first solo adventure race, so my first time navigating off-trail without my partner as a safety net. I had no idea how it would go, but was thrilled to get all the checkpoints and cross the finish line more than an hour before the cut off. The race was held at the beautiful Shenandoah River State Park, and the Adventure Addicts team put on a flawless event with a well designed course. (Also, I have to shout out the other gear that helped me get on the podium: Zensah calf sleeves, a Deuter speedlite pack, and a good old fashioned Timex Ironman watch, since GPS watches are a no-no in AR.) 

After back-to-back race weekends I’ve been giving my legs some time off this week, but am excited to test out the Scott Pursuit next week!

Sam (New Hampshire)

adizero Prime X

I took the Prime X through its paces perched 50mm above the ground, clearly the highest stack height shoe I have ever run. The ride is soft from all the Lightstrike Pro with clear energy return from the foam and a dual layer of front propulsion: 5 Energy Rods as in the Adios Pro 2 plus 3 lower blades. The front stability is excellent and the irid super fun. The narrow rear landing with so much foam (but with a stabilizing 9th carbon plate at the heel) favors faster paces over slow jogging paces where things can get shaky. In terms of foam and ride feel it is closest to the somewhat softer and bouncier RC Elite 2 from New Balance but with more of everything.

Prime X is clearly a “performance” oriented model and not to be confused with say the lifestyle oriented and much heavier Ultraboost in the adidas performance running line up. It makes for a fantastic long run decently fast paces training compliment to the other 2021 adidas trainers and racers. I wish it was IAAF legal for marathon racing as it would be top pick for me.  Read Derek’s full RTR Review (with link to my initial video review) for more details.

Mission Vented Cap

I am a run cap freak having dozens in my collection. Wearing glasses and often sunglasses over my prescription glasses keeping sweat away from all those lenses and eyes is always important to me and in all seasons.

Years ago Mission, a brand focused on “cooling” including bandanas and such used fabrics from Cool Core, a company local to me.  I found Cool Core very effective in T-shirts. I don't believe Mission uses Cool Core anymore but am unsure.

Their Vented Cooling Performance Hat  promises a rapid cooling effect when wet by sweat or water.  Well it has been warm and very humid here in New Hampshire in September but not hot.  

The cooling mesh inner band and I think the front black lining do an incredible job absorbing and evaporating sweat, among the best of any I have ever tried with the cap, never soaking through as every other one I have tried tends to do. Is it because it is more substantial in build combined with the magic fabrics I don’t know but sure has been effective in that respect and cool and comfortable. And the cap will pass for a standard baseball cap anywhere.

Scott Running Pursuit

The RTR team has received several Scott road and trail shoes for testing. I had already received the Carbitex dynamic flexing carbon plate powered Speed Carbon and just received the Pursuit, a plateless higher drop (8mm vs 5mm) light trainer with the same dense yet lively midsole foam but in a single density as opposed to the dual density plus plate make up of the Speed.

My first run indicates this 8.82 oz /250g shoe offers a great combination of plentiful cushion, stability from its midsole without posts but with a few low down stiffer overlays. It has a very easy to find rocker, as does the Speed Carbon and while plateless has a rigid profile with a touch of front flex. Scott has been working on rocker geometries for over 12 years and it really shows in both shoes. As I ran them I kept thinking the Pursuit (at the same weight) is a slightly firmer more dynamic rocking, higher drop Clifton or a beefed up more stable New Balance Beacon.  

Top: Kinabalu Ultra RC Bottom: KInabalu 2

Next up after my half this weekend will be testing the two Scott Kinabalu trail shoes. Others on the team will be testing the tech mountain focused SupertTrac models. Sharing the same family name and 29mm heel, 21mm forefoot, 8mm drop, the two Kinabalu serve different trail running purposes and have different uppers, midsoles, and traction patterns.

Top: Kinabalu Ultra RC Bottom: KInabalu 2

Kinabalu Ultra RC: 9.45 oz / 268g US8.5 engineered mesh upper, single density midsole, rock plate, man made trails traction. $160. 

Kinabalu 2 :10.16 oz /288g denser spacer mesh upper with more substantial overlays, dual density midsole, no rock plate, more flexible upfront, more aggressive any terrain traction. $140. 

A Live Half!

I am running my first “live '' in almost 2 years this Sunday, the Rock Fest Half. The course is very flat with about half along the ocean. A few years ago the remnants of a hurricane were sending waves over the storm walls near the finish spraying us and having us go through ankle deep water. Refreshing to say the least!

I am debating shoe choices… After a fast 4 mile run in the Alphafly with great energy I am wondering if I will get into trouble later in the race with their soft, narrow rear geometry.  Not so much about stability but sore calves as I inevitably will be heel striking more in the last miles.   

I am also considering the Scott Speed Carbon, far more stable and denser with its pace adaptable Carbitex plate. I am ruling out the RC Elite 2 as I find it too soft for me, more a marathon than half shoe while super pleasant to train in. 

Adam: (New Hampshire, the mountains part!)

The past 2 weekends I’ve done 20+ mile runs in the White Mountains of NH trying to find my favorite mountain running shoe.This  past weekend I ran the Presidential Traverse (20 miles, 8200 feet of vertical and rocks in the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3.  

I ran another Prezi earlier this year in the Saucony Endorphin Trail (RTR Review).  While the Xodus 11 (RTR Review) has good energy return from its beaded TPU foam and an excellent outsole grip, I found that it’s slightly stiffer than I’d like for articulation over rocks, and that the foam feels hard after 20 miles.  The Endorphin Trail is a fantastic hiking shoe, but the high stack height and stiffness make it harder to work with on truly technical mountain runs.

Last weekend I ran the Bonds Traverse in the Saucony Xodus 11 (24 miles). The upper of the Xodus is dirty, but still holding up well.

I was reminded of why I appreciate the S/Lab Ultra 3 so much, as it has just the right amount of grip, traction, protection, and articulation for bouncing from rock to rock.  

The S/Lab Ultra 3 is an absolutely ferocious shoe in the mountains. 

Bonds Traverse:

I’ve also been testing out a personal pair of the Nike Aeroswift Half Tights.  I’m a huge fan of compression shorts, and although these aren’t as compressive as my preferred 2XU MCS run shorts, they’re more comfortable, and I love the pretty stripes.  The other gear I’ve relied on for these runs are Darn Tough wool nordic socks, my Salomon Adv Skin 12 Set Pack, a Craft Active Extreme baselayer, my Odlo Zeroweight Reflect Jacket, Bliz Fusion Sunglasses, and my Garmin Forerunner 935 GPS watch.  

The Saucony Endorphin Speed Shield is fantastic.  It’s an Endorphin Speed, but slightly warmer, lighter, and water resistant.  (RTR Review)

Mike P (Boise):

Shoe picks for Bogus 50M (Boise, Idaho)

Unfortunately I had to pull out of IMTUF 100M two weeks ago due to illness. It was quite a disappointment after a lot of training.  I picked up a stomach bug the week of the race - which my daughter brought home from preschool the previous week. It seems to be a recurring pattern that I end up getting whatever she had shortly afterwards. I’m sure the parents of young children out there can sympathize. Anyway, I was quite drained during the early part of race week, and with everything going on it was best to pull the plug and not take any risks. I started feeling better right around race day, so I quickly switched gears to focusing on an upcoming 50 miler here in Boise. Aside from training, I also had to shift focus gear-wise as the terrain and the distance for this race will be quite different from the 100 miler I was preparing for. 

The race starts at the base of the Boise foothills, ascends up to Bogus Basin Ski Area in the first 28ish miles, then descends back down to the finish over the final 25ish miles. Total elevation gain roughly 9-10k feet. The terrain is mostly dirt/dry singletrack with some scattered rocky (not super technical) sections. I did some test runs and decided that I will definitely wear Salomon Pulsars for the 1st part of the race. I haven’t been able to race or even run in them much since I got them due to focusing mainly on longer distances. They are definitely a snug racing fit, especially up front - I wouldn’t typically consider them for this distance. But the first portion being mostly ascent, the extreme light weight should be an advantage and the detriment of the tight toebox will be less of a factor running majority uphill. 

[Clearly the Pulsar with the most precise fit, VJ Spark is no slouch either - with a much more accommodating toebox. Brooks by far the most voluminous, and least secure. Interesting sizing with the Salomon and Brooks both 9.5 US, the VJ is 10.5 US]

For the descent (which also traverses several ridges, so there are some sneaky climbs - especially being the backside of a 50 miler) - I originally planned to go with the Brooks Catamount. They are somewhat light in weight, firm, and protective. I figured I could manage some of the technical parts which are not necessarily their strong suit, and take advantage of their pure straight ahead speed and responsiveness in the flats and smoother downhills. 

[Check out that rocker on the Pulsar. VJ is clearly the most technically oriented.  The Brooks by far the stiffest with some flex just at the front. Weights: Pulsar - 6.5 oz, Catamount - 9.9 oz, Spark - 9.2 oz]

Then the VJ Spark arrived for testing.. I took them out for a few test runs and decided right away that I need to try them for the 2nd part of the race. The fit is just so good, roomy in the toebox, very secure, super agile, and of course amazing traction. As compared to the Catamounts, they won’t have the same amount of protection, or flat out speed. On the other hand, they will definitely be better for climbing those sneaky 2nd half hills, more agile for some of the downhills, and I’m hoping that my feet will be happier at the end of the race with the roomier toebox and overall much better and secure fit. Stay tuned for the results and VJ Spark review - if it performs as I expect, it will definitely be among my top shoe picks. 

RTR Reviews posted this week at the Latest Reviews tab and below:

New Balance Fresh Foam More Trail v2 Multi Tester Review (9 comparisons)

Saucony Endorphin Pro+ Review & Video Review

Topo Athletic Terraventure 3 Review
Topo Athletic ST-4 Multi Tester Review

adidas Adizero Prime X Review (11 comparisons) Video Review

Carbon Plated Trainers Comparison ReviewCraft Race Rebel, Adizero Prime X, Nike Tempo Next %, Scott Speed Carbon RC, Hoka Bondi X, New Balance Fuel Cell Lerato
Sanuk Donna Aerokush Outdoor Slip Ons Review 

 Some tested samples 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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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Asics GEL-Kinsei Blast Review: Return of the Samurai?

Article by Bryan Lim

Asics GEL-Kinsei Blast ($180 US)


Bryan: In my early years in secondary / high school all the way back in 2006, the very technical GEL-Kinsei was born. It became an instant hit. Inspired by samurai armour, its designer Hisanori Fujita wanted the shoe to replicate the way in which it protects the body while still allowing it to move freely. 

Gel-Kinsei 6, the final iteration before the Kinsei was discontinued in 2017


This influence was mirrored in the shoe’s construct. For example, the angle of the sneaker’s heel mirrors the angle of a samurai’s katana swords.

The GEL-Kinsei was groundbreaking stuff. It had exceptional technical design. Some innovations include a biomorphic fit upper,  the trademark Impact Guidance System in the midsole and the weight-reducing Trusstic System technology that is still extensively used in ASICS shoes today. Placed under the arch of the shoe, the Trusstic System provides torsional stability.

It appears immediately that the Kinsei Blast retains the popular maximalist approach, in a technical sense that its predecessors thrived on, but with modern adaptations including a PEBAX plate, FF Blast midsole and ample Gel used in the heel and midfoot. Read on to find out if the Kinsei Blast is relevant in today’s running shoe scene.

I would also like to take this opportunity to disclose that I am an ambassador for ASICS Australia. What this means is that I receive shoes at no charge, but am not compensated by the brand in any way. Whilst I am obliged to promote the brand on my personal social channels, it has been agreed that I will continue to review shoes of all brands impartially.  

Pros: Looks great, well balanced, good vibration dampening and protection 

Cons: Heavy, expensive (conversion rate is not favourable in Australia, retailing at AUD $300), somewhat muted ride


Weight: men's / (US9)  11.71 oz / 332g   Official:  10.93 oz / 310g 

Stack Height: 28/18mm midsole stack height. Approximately 38/28 full stack height.

Available now. $180