Thursday, September 02, 2021

Quick Strides 15: Fuji Lite 2, Topo ST-4, Camelbak Ultra Belt, Jeff completes the Boulder Green Mt Grid, LEOMO Form Analysis, Hoka Zinal, Traifly G300, Decathlon Evadict

Article by Sam Winebaum, Cheng Chen, Mike Potaski, and Jeff Valliere

Sam: (New Hampshire)

An active week of running and hiking for me in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in Vermont and along the coast along with of course all kinds of testing.

Friday I ran with RTR Contributor Adam Glueck on the trails at Dartmouth College. It was the first time we had met in person.

We first ran the nordic ski racing trails first (Adam a top notch racer showed me the best line on ice through the famous corkscrew steep descent) and then onto the golf course and down to the Connecticut River on the cross country course where I raced decades ago when I was a student.   

The Hoka One One Zinal (RTR Review) was ideal on mostly smoother terrain with many short steep ups and downs.  I also tested the Hoka One One SG Short with its dual layer rear storage: zip pocket with behind a long slot ideal for stashing a phone. 

I passed off ta Camelbak Ultra Belt ($55) to Adam for further test and reluctantly so as this slip up over the legs belt held the included full 500 ml Quick Stow flask, phone, and car keys without any bounce during our run.

The main purpose of going up North was to hike with college classmates on the Appalachian Trail.  Last year we “relayed” the 50 or so miles of Dartmouth maintained AT. This year we set up base camp at Camp Pemigewassett on a beautiful lake with a loon (a waterfowl) waking us up every morning with its distinctive and  haunting call. 

BBQ, beer sampling, a woods tall tale, hot showers, air pass through log cabins all made for a comfortable and “classic” camp experience.

On Saturday we hiked Mount Moosilauke with small groups doing various combinations of trails and meeting on the summit.  I did the very steep Beaver Brook Trail with its cascades, ledges and in places bolted in steps and hand rails.

Shoe du jour was the Inov-8 Trailfly G 300 Max (RTR Review)  a massively cushioned, impeccably gripping giant of a shoe with an unusual rear decoupling “hinge”. I had run them plenty and even hiked them on snow but this was my first time hiking them on technical terrain. They were an ideal shoe for the terrain. Unlike other trail runners or boots,  the hinge allows heel and forefoot to function more independently over terrain in a sense molding to the contours and obstacles more than one is used to but with near total stability.  

The Trailfly passed the no sore feet and legs test the next day during a 6.5 mile trail run followed by a hike back in Vermont on the AT  back in the Zinal. I was none the worse for wear with no sore feet or quads as is usually the case after a White Mountains hike on endless rock after a day in the TrailFly. I imagine they would be an ideal thru hiking option as well and not to worry they run well too even roads but are quite heavy 

I love my Leki MCT 12 Vario Carbon poles but learned that they are not a pole for the Whites as they can jam between boulders and snap. So back to my trusty Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ. This adjustable length pole is a fantastic hiking and running companion although not as light and stiff as the Leki but more durable down low.

During the week I also tested the ASICS Kayano Lite 2 (review soon) and the light and lively ASICS Fuji Lite 2 with its bouncy Flytefoam midsole and stout ASICS Grip outsole. 

So far the Fuji Lite 2 seems to be an ideal door to trails shoe with silent, smooth and well cushioned manners on all types of moderate terrain including road. I did an initial video review after my first run in them.

I also ran in the Decathlon Evadict Trail Running Comfort Tight-Shorts, Decathlon, a French brand designs and manufactures sports products in every category (even scuba) you can imagine, all at very, very reasonable prices. The Evadict short has ample storage in its waistband (mesh pockets and a large rear zip pocket with well reinforced top seams and both a compression liner and a brief and all for $40, so far less than the other shorts in our super shorts with storage round up article. No bounce, nicely compressive but maybe a bit too much for my tastes for training.   I plan on adding it to the round up after more testing.

Cheng (Michigan)

For the first time in a while, I had a down week of running where my workouts were a notch less intense. This gave me both the opportunity for both a step-up in weekly mileage and the bandwidth to test the LEOMO form analysis system.

LEOMO is a performance analysis company from Japan currently headquartered in Boulder, CO. They initially launched with a focus on competitive biking but are now branching into running. Along with Youtuber Kofuzi, I had the chance to be one of the first non-elite runners to field-test their prototype analysis units.

As seen in the kit photo, LEOMO is much more complex than single-pod devices like Stryd. It is a complete 5-sensor kit along with a data capture unit and various other accoutrements to support the devices. The system captures a totality of data, forming a complete view of the runner’s performance and form. LEOMO’s technicians will then professionally analyze this data before producing a set of actionable reports.

I will be writing an in-depth review of this product/service. For the moment, I will say that LEOMO is next-level—actually many levels above what is currently on the market. This is basically form analysis as-a-service where they ship the lab to you. Stay tuned!

Mike P (idaho)

First Impressions - Topo ST-4 and Asics Fuji Lite 2

Returning from my Germany trip, I’ve got 3 weeks ahead of the IMTUF 100M up in McCall, Idaho.  I kept up regular training the past week - while trying to feel normal again after 18 hours travelling and 8 hours of time difference.  This week and next I’m tapering, as well as finalizing gear, shoes, and logistical planning.  I did the race last year for the first time so I have a much better idea about how to plan. I’ve got two new shoes to test, I’ll give my first impressions here after a couple of runs in each-

Topo ST-4

[nice and supportive contouring under arch]

My first pair of ST’s from Topo, although I did have the Fli-lyte 2’s a couple of years ago, which I really liked.  The ST-4’s feel similar underfoot, with very nice and supportive contouring under the arch. I would call it a “friendlier’ zero-drop platform. The Fli-lyte’s do have a few mm of drop, so if you like the fit and feel of the ST-4, but are wary of zero-drop, those would be a nice alternative. Speaking of fit and feel - classic Topo - secure midfoot lockdown, comfortable and roomy toebox.  The cushioning level is just enough to dampen road harshness while at the same time keeping you aware of your ground contact with each stride (in a good way).  There’s a lot to like about this shoe so far, and I will definitely be adding it to my rotation.  I’ll have much more to say in the full review.

Asics Fuji Lite 2: 

Super Flexible

Another light and quick option, this time for trails.  My only other experience with Asics is the Trabuco Max (RTR Review) - the Fuji Lite’s are a very different shoe.  Whereas the Trabuco Max is a high stack, stiff, and rockered shoe, the Fuji Lite’s feature a much softer, even squishy, midsole, which makes the shoe very flexible.  I had a nice, fun short run in them - I enjoyed the soft and bouncy ride. They felt very light and I found myself going a bit faster than I intended to on what was supposed to be an easy/aerobic day. My first impression is that they may end up being limited in terms of terrain.  While the upper fit is very nice and comfortable, I don’t think it’s locked down enough in combination with the soft midsole to tackle anything more than very moderately technical trails. I’d be a bit nervous taking twisty/rocky turns at speed in these, although at slower paces I’m sure they would be fun. 

Jeff V (Colorado)  

I am completely caught up on shoe testing/reviewing, so it has been fun to go through my shoe shelves and picking out whichever shoe I feel like from the archives.  The hardest part of reviewing, and please don’t shed a tear for me, is not getting to revisit some of my favorite shoes, as I most always have something new to test and by the time I can get back to said favorite shoe, a newer version has been released.  It is a tough life being a shoe reviewer.

In the past week I have run in the Hoka Mafate Speed 3 (RTR Review), Brooks Cascadia 16 (RTR Review), Topo MTN Racer 2 (RTR Review), TNF Vectiv Enduris (RTR Review) and the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 (a tribute to Francois after watching UTMB live over the weekend).  These shoes just seem to get better and better, but are by no means a complete list of my favorites and I look forward to more revisits until I get a new pair of shoes to test.  

The really big news in the house though is that my almost 11 year old twin daughters started running Cross Country at their middle school last week.  They were a bit reluctant, mostly because of the time investment and balancing with homework, but we very cautiously convinced them to stick with it.  While they were waffling, I offered them up GPS watches to use to track their training and that really seemed to light a fire.  

One of them chose the Polar Grit X (RTR Review) and is having a great time digging into the deep training and sleep metrics.  It is fun explaining to them what all of the different scores mean and how to interpret them, also to guide them through the pitfalls and concerns of being a new runner and stressing the importance of easing into it slowly and methodically.

The other daughter chose the Suunto 7 (RTR Review), appreciating the GPS run watch capabilities, while having fun with the smartwatch awe factor and different apps she can get.  Of course, these watches are on a trial basis and if they become too distracting, I’ll take them away (Polar is not overly distracting, but I can see how the Suunto 7 might need to get replaced with the Suunto 9 Peak).

I think they will both be good runners if they stick with it and they already want to join me on more mountain runs, so that is a step in the right direction.

I also completed another project I have been lightly working on over the last few years, running my local hill (Green Mountain) every calendar day of the year, including leap year (not all consecutive, just covering each calendar day of the year over multiple years since I began tracking in Dec. 2004).  

Back in January 2018, my friend Bill got to talking about completing the Green grid that our mutual friend Homie turned him and his wife on to. At the time I had nearly 1,400 ascents of Green, so figured I must have all 366 days (including leap year), so I went home that night and carefully went through my records and found 12 days that I had no record of climbing Green, so went ahead and started clicking off those dates.  

Somehow Aug. 26 kept eluding me for various reasons from being too busy, tired from the Pikes Peak Marathon the day before or just forgetting, but this year I remembered and made it a priority. Officially it took me 1,702 recorded ascents to get my 366 grid.

 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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Jeff Valliere said...


Carl said...

Any plans to review the topo terraventure 3? Would love to get the Jeff and Dom take on that shoe!

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Carl,
Terraventure 3 review coming soon. Just received.
Sam, Editor