Friday, 31 July 2015

Racereport 2015-10: Stimme 6k

I was a bit frightened. My skinny pins haven’t seen a severe track workout or any tempo outing in the past couple of weeks. After the Engadin contest my swimming came back pretty pleasantly but the running practice was not the finest. The Swiss mounts brought a decent thrashing and the engine was not too willing while travelling on land.

Despite that, all my exercise effort is on the forthcoming SwimRun battles in Breca, the splendid ÖtillÖ and the season ending in Kosters. Consequently a 6k road competition looked like a true fitness assessment. A intolerable distance.

21:24 was the result after, not as much than 6.000 meters round town. I haven’t run that fast for a while but it felt okay. The pacing was decent as I was able to pick up during the closing kilometres. All good so far. At least a moral display that the fitness is there.

37 days until the start of ÖtillÖ.

Friday, 24 July 2015

shoeporn: Hoka One One - Huaka

In 2010, at a period when the minimalistic movement was at a peak, something entirely different and totally contrarian showed up on the constantly pulsating running bazaar. Frenchman’s Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard, both former Salomon employees and gifted runners themselves, created a shoe brand called Hoka One One. As you pronounce “O-nay, O-nay”, these kicks are christened after the Maori language expression meaning "flying over the earth". And exactly that was the phrase Nicolas used to describe this piece of pure “maximalism”. “It’s like flying!“ were the words Mermoud describes his construction. At the time his concept was something that went totally against everything that was seen before. People were not used to this style of shoe. Especially at the time the brand hit the market.

Efficient ride  - minimal weight
 In April 2013 Deckers Outdoor, the mother company for UGG, Teva and other footwear brands bought Hoka One One. Subsequently a lot of cash was invested in the expansion and marketing of this extra softened, widespread, stable and super-light running shoe. Still it feels strange to witness something that huge and chunky. My individual adoration for the minimalistic style to running shoes is not a top-secret. However I was pretty keen to check what it is all about. I already shaped an picture and an opinion in my head. I wanted to proof all my preconceptions. So what is it all about? The Hoka One One Huaka arrived and I had the chance to track a proper check-up.

Hoka Race-Lace System

Full Ground Contact Design
 The Huaka is one of the lightest produces in the current series. Only the Clifton is lighter . I desired to start sensitively and selected this model. My initial dash with the maximal style shouldn’t be to “max”. A “lightweight and fast ride” is what the product descriptions offers. When I unboxed the Huaka I was astonished. Everyone knows the weird feeling. You expect something bulky to be heavy. If you then experience something different it creates a stunning feeling. The RMAT midsole (“Engineered midsole volume which is up to 2.5 X the volume than standard running shoes”) in fact is massive. I have never had such a sole at any shoe. Last time I witnessed something like this must have been back in the raving days. As some of my elder readers will reminisce a footwear-product named “Buffallo” (Click HERE if you up for some reminder!). Well, we won’t go more into that for now.

Strategic Hi-Abrasion Rubber Zones

Ultra-Lightweight No Sew SpeedFrame Construction
 I hurried to understand how they really sense in motion. The lacing system was the first part that absolutely amazed me. Leave aside the simply old-school way of lacing up your running shoes. The Huaka comes with a permanent (and I guess tough to replace…) lacing structure. They named it ‘Race-lace’. The whole construct is a cord based system which depends on a tiny toggle. The usage is pretty fine and easy going. However you’ll receive an “old-school” shoelace with the shoe. The tongue of the shoe feels great as it is very thin and well-shaped. To access the shoe you need a bit of understanding. For me it was hard to get my big feet (US 13) into these kicks. I learnt that you have to press down the very back of the shoe and tuck myself in with a bit of force. Certainly no shoe you want to have for a fast triathlon changeover. With a bit of time for the lacing system it shouldn’t be too tricky to make more space for an easier entering.

2mm Heel to Toe Offset
 Then it’s a go. With a 2mm drop the Huaka feels pleasant straight from the start. As I usually run with low drop shoes it’s a well know feeling. Please be aware that, when not used to such a radical style, this could be different pressure to your muscles and tendons. The soul of the shoe is the massive sole that is composed of a material called RMAT, which is a blend of rubber and EVA. Raised sidewalls in mid and rear-foot part of the shoe support a fast gait cycle. And exactly that could be describes as the feeling that sticks out for me. While having a well softened shoe there is still a accurate feeling of moving reckless and effectual. Notwithstanding the “highness”, the shoe feels safe and proper during diverse speeds. Although I had certain strange encounters on technical trails, the Huaka is a harmless and dependable companion for any kind of road runs. I valued to take ‘em out for long runs on the cemented boulevards. The precision and the stunning reaction made the Huaka a great partner for longer beating on roads. From my knowledge the shoe shaped fewer tenderness and muscle exhaustion while on the street. Still on easy trails the Huaka was a solid partner. Overall the Huaka offers top-notch responsiveness joined with decisiveness in the cushioning you would not really expect from a shoe with such a sole.

Offset: 2mm, Heel: 27mm, Forefoot: 25mm

Great companion for longer road runs.
 Having experienced the Huaka as a lighter model, it would be exciting to see how his ultra-lightweight comrade, the Clifton, feels. It looks like the Huaka is a “pumped up” type of the Clifton. More than that there are a series of very fascinating shoes in the pipeline. While I saw some samples of road and track flats, Hoka One One looks to drive the market and their progress even further. Hoka One One will stay attention-grabbing and definitely will raise eyebrows with their altered approach to running shoe construction.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Racereport 2015-09: Engadin Swimrun 2015

“Anything about that competition in Switzerland? How did it go?”

I guess I have to put pen to paper. Better late than never. Exercising and travelling cut the time in front of the keyboard pretty short. Kind of a good thing I guess. But now. Let’s get at it – Engadin SwimRun 2015. Tillbaka i den magiska dalen!

Pre-Race jogging along lake Silvaplana.

After last year’s uniquely positive memoirs round the first SwimRun race outside of Sweden, it was a no-brainer to head down south for yet another time. German Sparkle get-together slice four.

The Swiss region of Maloja is an incomparable place. Mats and Michael knew what they were doing when they decided to set up the competition just there. By this time, the 1,100 people town of Silvaplana as well as the people of the entire area have fully adopted this race. It appears that folks around there recognise the soul and elegance of multisport-racing. It’s vital to get a community behind such an event. That it worked out so fast says a lot about the faultless organisation and the competitors that know how to behave in such a natural setting.

GSP approaching the first swim. Amazing atmosphere well captured by Jakob Edholm.

We travelled down early to enjoy the valley and relax properly before the race. Not easy in such an setting. A gondola ride to the observation deck of the Corvatsch station (3,451 m) brought amazing views towards the Eastern Alps and lots of laughter with the Utö Troop. Race briefing was crowded. With the grow of the sport the starter field rose even more. Still a great atmosphere with the typical distinct briefing showcase. Just like last year the weather should be the highpoint. The vale was heated up and the H2O icy as usual. Overheating in a wetsuits and the hopping into 12 degree water is an experiment for the physique.

Race morning saw gorgeous sun. Fast-Starters got caught pretty early on and the field stretched out quicker than previous year. People do miscalculate the versatile course and the skill to run in a wetsuit. Although you can witness certain procedures in more practised racing crowds just like Utö early in the year, the Engadin race pulls plenty of first timers. With almost no races on the continent this is rather apparent. To see how well trained and experiences athletes in SwimRun is pretty interesting. Sometimes it reminded me on our first race last year. We learnt a lot. Not necessarily about the character of the sport but primarily how to function effective as a team. For me the beauty of SwimRunning is down to the team racing characteristic. Sure, the activity itself is incredible. The relentless variation of the two disciplines and the enjoyment to travel from point to point across astonishing environment is a blast. To do all of that with a friend, this is the essence of the sport. And also by far the major trial.

Nuff said. Stoke!

A solo person won’t be successful. This is pretty apparent. Not essentially the fittest mixture of two racer will be successful. It is the finest squad that gets through all the emotions, the difficulties and the fights of a 53 kilometre race. Leave your ego at home. It’s merely about the team. It is about the performance of two people. Some people in the endurance sport scene do not understand that from time to time. They will learn very fast in SwimRun. And precisely that is the beauty of this sport.

Prominent feature of Jakobs GSP picture on the offical race website.

So what did Fabian and I do? Well, another time we provided a team performance that could be easily described as faultless. We communicate a lot. We joke a lot and we grieve a lot. This is what makes it so special. There is no individual self-image. There is only the proper GSP-style. The finest style.

Final proofs after 47,5 km of running and 5,75 km of swimming:
  • 7:02:18 hours of racing
  • 33:55 Minutes behind the winning team
  • 10th place overall and 8th man team
  • Same ranking as last year
  • 47 Minutes quicker on a lengthier course

Friday, 17 July 2015

In Pictures: Washington, D.C.

A week in “the District”. Check my tumblr for more capital action.

http://runssel.tumblr.com/

Tune of the day: If you know the original, this will blow you apart. Jungla Jazz performs Calibres remix of T.E.E.D's  "Garden".

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

On point with Björn Englund

When we left the sunlit Utö island a couple of weeks ago we met Björn at the local dock playing with his dog. “Nope. Unfortunately not!” was his reply when I enquired about another get-together in Switzerland in a few months. Coincidentally he was not accurate and he will be wearing the bib with the number 1 in this year’s Engadin SwimRun meeting. Before heading over to the remarkable Engadin vale I chatted with one half of last year’s Engadin SwimRun winning team as he will be attacking the competition in union with fellow swede and SwimRun extraordinaire Lelle Moberg, present SwimRun World Champion.

Daniel Hansson on the left wont be able to race Saturdays Engadin SwimRun. Current World Champ Lelle Moberg on the right will be teaming up with Björn. Picture: Nadja Odenhage
Runssel: You and your companion Paul Krochak had a fruitful outing at last year’s Engadin SwimRun competition. This year you are back to preserve your title with 50% of the up-to-date ÖtillÖ winning team, Lelle Moberg. How did this mix come about?

Björn: Lelle contacted me just last week asking if I wanted to race Engadin SwimRun with him as his usual partner, Daniel Hansson, is injured unfortunately. I got a day off from the boss and did some last minute flight and accommodation bookings and managed to get all the logistics together, with A LOT of help from my sponsor HEAD swimming.

Runssel: As the course in Switzerland differs to your normal Swedish racing set-up, did you do something distinct in training to prepare for this?

Björn: As this was a last minute decision I have not trained as much specific mountain running as last year. Nevertheless I have run a LOT and done some lengthy sessions of open water swimming. Already I have done two SwimRun races this season. However, me and Lelle have not yet raced together. This will be the first time for us competing as a team.

Björn on the left leading the bunch out of Utö harbour. Picture: Nadja Odenhage
Runssel: Tell us a bit about the equipment you are going to use this Saturday?

Björn: I will race in the most recent HEAD SwimRun race suit. I will use ordinary hand paddles and the brand new HEAD pull-buoy. I will use two swim caps (one extra under the race swim cap). For shoes I’ll use the Inov8 x-talon 190.

Runssel: A drop-out rate of about 50% exhibited that a lot of teams underrated the conditions of an alpine race in this format. Besides overtaking Lelle and yourself, which vital tip would you give away to fellow competitors?

Björn: My tip for fellow competitors would be to go easy on the first climbs, you will need good legs for the second part of the competition. Talk with each other during the race, be open about how your body feels, if you need to go slower, communicate it to your partner. If you are the stronger team member, help you partner. Always stay positive! And don’t forget to lift your eyes from the ground in front of you. Have a look at the scenery, this is a truly spectacular course!

Lelle Moberg with partner Carolin Holmqvist crushing the competition at last years Engadin SwimRun.  Foto: JakobEdholm.com
Runssel: What is your preferred part of the course and why?

Björn: The two most rememberable parts from last year was the one where we were heading down to the striking Mountain lake for the first swim. The other one was swimming in the small lake above the turning point in St.Moritz, the 17 degree water felt like a warm bubbelbath!

Runssel: All the best for Saturday!

Björn exits the water during this years Utö SwimRun. Picture: Nadja Odenhage

Sunday, 5 July 2015

shoeporn: Merrell - All Out Charge

With the freshest “All Out Charge” I got to test-drive yet another Merrell model. After my review of the “Bare Access 4” (Check it HERE) I was hyped to try a more thicker, further cushioned style out of Randy Merrell’s newest stock.

Besides advanced stability I immediately was astonished by the weight. Less then 600 grams is not very much for a pair of shoes with these qualities. The well-placed cushion combined with the stable fit of the shoe does create a secure feeling without being too clumsy. Once you get used to the uncommon impression of the so called “HyperWrap 360° fit system”, a semi-attached tongue system, the shoes delivers a natural, yet not barefoot like, feeling. The toe box might be a bit small but never gave me any problems. Overall it felt good and stress-free to use that shoe. Blisters were not seen despite me using it heavily in the first few days I got them.

Streets, Trails and whatever else that got under these things were dealt extremely satisfactorily. I do not want to overstress the description of an everyday training shoe but the “All Out Charge” is just about that. Style combined with flawless usage - Just what I want.

While travelling a fair bit, I enjoyed the nimbleness combined with the variety that this shoe overs. The sole is not to aggressive which could be a problem on wet technical trails but for all my running in the last few weeks it served to be absolutely amazing. A nice low stack height of 22/16mm is forming a nice drop of 6mm. This allows and nice sensitivity which I really liked. This brings you a confident feeling while doing trail-intervals as well as proper response on the road.

Working the "All Out Charge" around Bratislava

6mm Drop with 12mm Cush and a fairly low stack height of 27mm

The well designed M Select GRIP tunes outsole

I dig the little details

The so-called UniFly midsole offers protection as well as traction

Lovely placed Mesh upper

Light and sleek

Color coding: Spicy Orange paired with Lime Green

The inside

The outside


Friday, 3 July 2015

Vilnius

I had the chance to spend a bit of time in and around Lithuania’s capital Vilnius. Though the Old Town is one of the largest in Europe, I adored the distinction of all the timeworn soviet touches of this 550,000 people city. Running is varied with some cycle paths, timeworn boulevards and traily parks.





Tune of the day: Jamie XX - Obvs
and Muax feat. Da Gorilla - Ready to Fight. Are you ready for LeTour?

Checked: Bellroy - Elements Sleeve

Simple and hence useful kit amazes me. A standard plastic sack used to assist me fine while cycling or running. Several coins, a few notes and the vital cards required a waterproof home-base.

Some weeks ago I got a parcel from Bellroy with their latest creation the “Element Sleeve”. The mighty extravaganza about the super-slim leather case is that there are no actual extravaganzas. The diminutive skinny envelope just works and does what it supposed to do - stock and secure the nitty-gritties.

Currently I use the Element Sleeve during my daily training routine. Having all my needs efficiently stored away in the small pockets of my running or cycling shorts, it is just too pleasant to stop using it. With the water resilient leather there is no way that sweat, mud or rain gets close to your needs - Thoroughly functional and pretty smart.

To give it an extra protections during rough mountain-bike trips, I used some shoe laces and two pins. I used one on the upper side of the Element Sleeve and tucked the other one neatly on my bike-jersey.

10cm x 7.4cm of stylish pleasure.
Can hold up to 6 cards.
My usual setup: 4 cards, 1 key, 20 euro worth of notes.
Don't mind the water. The Sleeve doesnt too...


Saturday, 27 June 2015

GSP newspaper feature

Once you made the Heilbronner Stimme there is no turning back!

Great piece about the GSP in a German Newspaper. Click the pic for a direct link or read the english version.

http://www.stimme.de/heilbronn/nachrichten/region/Gemeinsam-am-Limit;art16305,3399302



Thursday, 18 June 2015

shoeporn: Merrell - Bare Access 4

Once Randy Merrell set up his shoe trade in 1981 he rapidly gained recognition through characteristic and long lasting trekking boots. The scenic green mountains territory of Vermont, USA was an impeccable backyard to test new developments and generate a mindset for superior outdoor equipment. A major move in an innovative dimension was the usage of the then all-new Gore Tex material back in 1981. Randy played his cards right when he steadily boosted the product-line to the desires of the increasing outdoor community.

Nowadays, a mere of 30 years later, the brand still drives the market. Further types of shoes are being developed and the running market seems to be a new major focus. The understanding of shoe technologies comes into play with their up-to-the-minute assortment of models.

As I'm always drawn to the minimum approach of shoe styles, the Bare Access 4 held my attention. With a shiny Vibram sole and a slender design this 181-gram lightweight surely glances speedy. The initial jog down the street gave a first sign of what's going to happen - pace. A very direct sense with an efficient 8 mm cushion and the absolute highlight: 0mm Drop (Applause!!!) . With its low cut and comfy thin material this kick is undoubtedly entertaining if you want to get reckless.

As I continue around my traditional trial-circlet that leads from concreted lanes to wobbly trails plus off-road episodes from side to side of my local forest, I get to appreciate a fine made shoe that essentially offers a structured build with a dynamic response. Through several runs the Bare Access supplied a negligible mood without being to stiff and damp. A great all-rounder that worked on the track, while swimrunning plus on the daily training jaunt along the local boulevard. If you would like to run relaxed this shouldn't be your choice. I catched myself several times speeding as the sprightly gait asks for dynamic workouts.

With a retail price of only 100 EUR the Bare Access in its fourth version is a serious contender for some of its costlier competition. There is a lot to like with this one. I look forward to take this one out for more running. Let the fun commence.

Looking slick and fast - Bare Access 4
A blue and beautiful zero drop shoe
Vegan friendly footwear. Hello Aline!
The pretty Vibram outsole
Traditional lace closure
0mm Drop & 8mm Cushion & 13.2mm Stack Height

Tune of the day: Handbooks Debut Record "Thank You". A beast of a record!