Tuesday, 9 February 2016

On point with Calum Neff

Running a 1:11:27 Half Marathon is pretty impressive. Doing that together with your 11 Month old daughter is something that is really unique and also the stroller half marathon Guinness world record. 31 year old canadian Calum Neff just stormed to the overall victory at Saturday’s Katy Half Marathon in Katy, Texas. Pushing his youngest daughter all the way to the finish. Some performance! I caught up with the Canadian living in Houston for a quick chat about his race and running with his daughter.

That was some pretty remarkable running you revealed at last weekends Katy Half-Marathon in Texas. Pushing your 11-month-old daughter to a 1:11:27 Half is genuinely fast. Was she scared?

Thank you, I think I was the scared one! I was so cautious of not hitting a cone or tripping up! Holly was loving it, her little arms were waving around and clapping, she basically only says "dada" and a few other words so the rest was babble. When I push my eldest her long hair blows up over the stroller- put the two together in the double and its the greatest view ever. Holly is so happy, peaceful, and continent- her grandparents call her the Holly-lama, never met a kid like her that wakes up with a smile everyday, a perfect running partner.

Leading up to the competition how did you merge stroller runs in your training routine? Was there any distinctive preparation?

I have spent the last 5 months completely focused on Houston Marathon training which happened three weeks ago (January 17th). It didn't go exactly how I wanted with my hamstring tight and cramping on me. I was only 20" off last years personal best of 2:22:59 and overall felt amazing even after coming through half in 1:09. So I know I'm in great shape right now. During Christmas I had the girls out in the double stroller to see the neighbourhood Christmas lights, we would bring along a Bluetooth speaker for carols which was a lot of fun. Tapering and recovering from Houston allowed me to get the stroller out a lot more, especially to test out the new Thule Glide stroller which was great compared to the double which we got from a garage sale! I'll usually run to the track with the stroller and let the 3 year old run around while I do a workout, we did a few quarter repeats with the stroller and I usually take a bayou trail home if its dry. On longer days I'll pick out a new park to go play at and we've even brought fishing poles along on one run! Even in Houston you can find nature and adventure which is part of what this whole record was about, get outside with your kids!

Now that you set the unofficial half-marathon WR with a stroller will there be an attempt on Michael Wardian’s Marathon stroller WR (a wicked 2:42:21 ran in 2007) anytime soon?

I'm just getting the Guinness evidence submitted this week which is substantial so I expect this to be official soon. Yes I think I have a good shot at sub 2:30 so I just need to figure out the right place to do it (I would LOVE it if Houston let me race with the stroller but I believe its against policy (I'll have to take the race director out for some beers). Wardian ran 2:42 at the Frederick Marathon. Interesting note, he later had a stroller-dual with Zac Freudenburg in 2009 at the Route 66 marathon where Zac ran 2:32:10 but must have not had enough evidence or a rule was missed for Guinness. Either way I would like to go under 2:32. I just found out about Kris Houghton running 1:12:11 in 2013 so I'm happy I was well under the "official" record.

What is the trickiest part of running that fast pushing a stroller? Do you have any tips?

Finding the right stroller has to be one of the most important- there is nothing worse than a stroller that doesn't track straight and drifts left or right, speed wobbles are also no fun. The Thule Glide has amazing performance with lots of nice features. I think a lot of people think they have to be straight behind the stroller with two hands at all times, feel free to move left or right- if the stroller tracks straight you don't even need to touch it sometimes so your form doesn't have to completely change if at all. Keeping the kids happy requires many tricks, we don't bring a tablet but the music is fun, snacks and drinks are great especially when they share! Thankfully very light wind on Saturday, nothing worse than running with a stroller in the wind so I can't help there.

Which stroller model did you use and why? Did you make any special adjustments and what shoes did you use?

As mentioned we used the Thule Glide. I was looking for a stroller with a fixed front wheel (even the ones that have option of locked and swivel I find drift too much), large wheels, light weight, and the adjustable handle is great too. The harness system is very easy and safe which was my main concern. Guinness rules state the stroller must be stock commercially available with no modification so this was straight out of the box except for adding camera mounts. I run on the Altra Endurance Team and my go to shoe for racing is the very light One2.5, the zero drop (heel and toe height is the same) has helped keep me injury free the last few years and with a foot shaped toe box my feet are stronger than ever and do not show the wear of a distance runner at all.

What is on the racing itinerary for the rest of the season? Will there be another shot on your marathon PB after your 2:23 in Houston early in the year?

I love to race so my calendar is always full with everything from one mile to ultra distance on any surface and terrain. I'll be doing lots of the Trail Racing Over Texas events this year, some really unique trail runs around the state including one in the US Sky Running series. I'll be in LA this weekend to watch the US Olympic Trials and run the LA Marathon on Sunday, more for fun but if I'm feeling good I will get after it. I want to take a shot at the Canadian 50k record and national championship, and the next goal race for me is the Wings for Life World Run where I will race at the Niagara Falls, Canada event in May going after 70+ kilometres before being eliminated in the unique race format.

Which team is going to win the Stanley Cup? 

Ah man, I've been out of my Canadian roots too long but I will always say the Toronto Maple Leafs!

Follow Calum on his Website, Instagram, Twitter, Strava and via his Blog

Monday, 8 February 2016

slowtwitch: Training in La Palma, Spain

In December i spend some weeks training on the island of La Palma. For slowtwitch i wrote the following article. Espero que te guste!

It is difficult to deny that there are many similarities between Hawaii's Big Island and La Palma, Gran Canaria, Spain despite 14,000 kilometers of sea between them. Both of these islands were created by volcanic activity thousands of years ago. Both feature an amazing range of climate zones and stunning natural backdrops, and the two landmasses are world renowned for their astronomical observatories, but there are also some differences.

Hawaii’s Big Island is a household name for triathletes and sport enthusiasts everywhere. La Palma, the fifth largest of the seven main Canary Islands, is not well known within the endurance sport scene, although triathletes, runners and cyclists venture to the nearby islands of Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Teneriffe. But La Palma is a jewel in its own right when it comes to training.

Throughout the Christmas and New Year holidays, we spent a couple of weeks training around La Palma and were amazed by the raw beauty and plentiful training opportunities. Some other training destinations feature tourist attractions and lots of extras, this place is just the basics. Not many huge hotels or training resorts can be found here. Peaceful little hotels, old-style guesthouses and a range of rental houses are on offer. Mass tourism has not yet taken over this traditional spot, evidenced by the tranquil island vibe that can be felt just about everywhere on the La Isla Bonita.

Few airlines serve the airport of Santa Cruz de la Palma directly (not to be confused with Santa Cruz de Tenerife!), so most people fly in via Tenerife, Gran Canaria, El Hierro or mainland Spain hubs Madrid and Barcelona. There are a few direct flights offered from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Much like Hawaii's Big Island, this little Spanish volcanic island holds much for triathletes to explore and experience.


It is difficult to find many good training pools the island, but it is even harder not to plunge in the striking Atlantic sea which offers several great spots for open water drills. Local athletes commonly train beside the Santa Cruz marina as it features numerous buoys. La Palma is not an island well-known for its beaches because of the many harsh volcanic cliffs around the coastline. Still, beaches can be found and we had proper session in the Atlantic Ocean every day.

There is a charming 50-meter open air pool above the city of Santa Cruz. The pool is located in the sports complex “Ciudad Deportiva Miraflores”. Properly it is one of the most stunning pools you ever swam. Despite the prominent location of the complex and the beautiful vistas, the pool was never crowded.


Triathletes should be aware that La Palma is not an ideal place for smooth base miles. But the biking is still exceptional - the main roads as well as the smaller streets are in great condition and the little alleys are magical. But there are very few flat places to ride so you will need some base fitness to fully appreciate and enjoy cycling on La Palma. There are several popular bike routes, none of the streets are crowded and traffic is very easy going. Infinitesimal roads wind across the terrain, and the ascent to the island's highest point, the Roque de los Muchachos (2,423 m), is an outing you will never forget.

While the island is good for road cycling, there is also an immense variety of off-road paths to explore. It is difficult to choose which bike I would take to the island.


La Palma is well liked by hikers and trail-runners for its massive network of exciting and varied paths. The trail running scene is rapidly developing here, and the hard-hitting “Transvulcania” ultra marathon crosses the island each year. The 73.3 kilometer competition is part of the global Skyrunning series, and takes runners from all over the world through 4,415 meters of elevation gain.

The rich nature paired with well-marked hiking trails is heaven for run training, but just as with the cycling options, runners should expect plenty of elevation changes. However because the local roads are not busy, flat runs are an option on some sections. Alternatively, the “Ciudad Deportiva Miraflores” not only features the pool that was mentioned earlier, but it also provides a perfect synthetic track that never seems to be crowded.

La Palma is a pretty singular place. It is not a typical training ground, but this is precisely what makes this spot so extraordinary and inimitable. This island brings you back to the essentials of the sport.

This volcano rock has the shape of the island. We found it during one of many training runs alongside the “Ruta del los Volcano". The trail is a part of the GR 131 long distance footpath that covers sections of the island.

Humble wooden cabins like this can be rented all over the island. These simple huts are a smart base for a training camp on the Isla de la Palma.

La Isla Bonita’s highest mountaintops reach over 2,400 m above sea level, and the base of the landmass is situated almost 4,000 m below sea level. The northern part of La Palma is dominated by the “Caldera de Taburiente”, with a width of 9 km and a depth of 1,500 m. Trails range all over the Caldera - a picture-perfect spot for running sessions.

A hotspot for open water swim training – the Santa Cruz shoreline.

Swimming in the open waters is easy with weather like this.

No, this picture is not taken on Hawaii’s Manua Kea. Due to its location and the elevation of its mountains, La Palma's main peak, the Roque de los Muchachos, is home to a number of international observatories.

Roads like this, combined with minimal traffic, make cycling pure joy.

While riding across the mountain, it is common to enter one side in complete cloud cover and find the other side flooded in sun.

A track with a view. The 400m oval in the “Ciudad de Miraflores” complex is a stunner.

It is hard to not get side-tracked during intervals.

The outstanding 50 meter pool next to the track.

Tenerife’s highest point, the Teide mountain, can be seen on the horizon.

All images © RUNssel

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Racereport 2016-03: XC Regionals

"If you're shiverin' get off the pot
Let the original rapper rock the spot"
KRS-One - Slap Them Up
Don’t ask. My Cross Country chronicle on regional soil continues to be a stinker.

I really love this discipline but I just cannot get it right. This time the regional champs hit me pretty ruthless once more. I DNF’ed.

Despite hitting all the training sessions I cannot execute above threshold level somehow. The season is still young but my body needs to function appropriately.




Credits: H.Utz

Credits: H.Utz

Credits: H.Utz


Tune of the day: Junior Boys - Over It

Saturday, 6 February 2016

shoeporn: Mizuno - Wave Rider 19

The Wave Rider already is a Mizuno classic. Now issuing its 19th (!) edition this is the up-to-date version of this well-liked neutral kick. Looking back a couple of years, I jogged one of the elder styles of the Wave Rider. I recall the shoe to be a fabulous light training shoe, which I used for marathon tempo runs and normal training runs. Then I picked up this version. I was keen to sense the transformation throughout the years. 
It is pretty apparent that this is a quality made shoe.  Specifically the upper sock liner is effectively designed, smooth and decently soft. While the underfoot feel is a bit stiff the overall flexibly is great. I ran the shoe on longer workouts and during track sessions. Although the Wave Rider is direct, snug and smooth it still delivers sufficient cushion to guarantee a sensitivity that generates a lot of enjoyment while working out properly.

A smooth design is significant. The 19th version of the Wave Rider looks great. Mizuno reorganized the upper style with additional resilience and shock attenuation. This increases foot comfort throughout the run.

Mizuno’s Parallel Wave technology is a widespread characteristic with the Japanese company. It is designed to integrate more firmness into their models. Unlike the rest of the shoe brands, Mizuno uses a grade of foam thickness to generate stability. Basically there is plastic material that runs along the forefoot and the heel for best foot control. The sprightly U4ic midsole together with the corresponding wave technology comforts a bouncy approachable strike and gusted rubber in the forefoot area offers durability and softness.

Mizuno’s existing Runbird was revealed for the first time at the 1988 Seoul Olympics when Carl Lewis and Florence Griffith Joyner won gold medals wearing Mizuno shoes.

Nope. The Wave Rider is undeniably not a stability shoe. Although the Wave Plate in the forefoot portion offers some light assistance for the foot, there is not much stability seen anyplace else. The set-up offers a firm, fast ride and a stiff heel counter.

With the 19th style the Wave Rider appears to have a bit more midsole material then preceding models. Furthermore the upper got an excellent re-design. Although the toe box seems a bit sloppier, it is very accommodating for wider feet.

A mere of 229 grams is not that much for such a playful and comfortable shoe. I treasured this shoe throughout faster tempo track tests and speed workouts - a boundless all-rounder.

The so-called “Blown rubber” in the forefoot area surges cushioning and responsiveness. Flex Controllers placed in high flex areas on the outsole act as miniature wave plates for increased flexibility and reduced weight!

Mizuno calls its outside rubber “X10”. It is located in the heel and is created of robust carbon rubber for boosted traction

All pictures (c) RUNssel

Monday, 1 February 2016

Racereport 2016-02: Dirty Race - Murr Crossduathlon 2016

"You can't bust a cherry or crush a grape
and if you ain't got this tape you're in bad shape"
D.M.C. - Hit It Run
It is an annually procedure. The last Saturday in January is Dirty Race time. As every year I was looking forward to some nasty early season competing. Examining the running form and trying to survive on the mountain bike with petite bike exercising is what it is all about for me. Like every year I was pumped to see friends and battle a race I really love. Duathlon is a great multisport arrangement. Combining the two disciplines with the “Cross Factor” is something I really enjoy.

The battle in Murr was a sellout. Like last year and the year before. People know what they get and the competition is always good. Following a long phase of training during the early months of the year this race is a appropriate system check for many.

Mountainbike training wasn’t on top of my schedule in the last couple of weeks. Throughout the festive period our weekly Tuesday night ride group died out a little. A couple of days prior to the race I assembled my MTB. It was still tucked away from the La Palma excursion a couple of weeks ago. Being an OK off-road cyclist I could take help of some technical talents nearly every year. The weather has been pretty bad the last editions I showed up. Unfortunately not this year. No snow, no rain – this does not really enlarge the “Dirt Factor” of this race. It also meant I couldn’t hide my bike form alongside the puddles and the techy fragments.

The first 5k run started off reckless. I remained relaxed in the big group and tried to secure the legs a bit for the upcoming bike segment. Long story short, I hurt straight from the start. I did not catch the rhythm and I was not able to get my pulse up. On the cycle I never found a rhythm either. I pushed a bit but the body did not reply the way I desired. More people passed me and I began to agree that this is not my day. On the final 4k ring I tried to stay optimistic. As I ran the out-and-back part I saw some of my friends and training partners now on the way back to the finish line. Some of them in great positions. Some of the energy I had left was used to cheer these dudes on.

Every time I raced in Murr I had a decent result. Not so this year. Merciless. Not to ruthless as it is also a great occasion to see so many friends that I haven’t met since the summer season. It is an event I always want to come back. Perhaps with a bit more preparation on the bike. We will see.

Tune of the day: Rack - Konflict Selection Mix  

Friday, 22 January 2016

shoeporn: Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 3

An elegant look merged with a nice neutral gait. Nike’s off-road warship performs as a great all-rounder. The third style of the Terra Kiger makes a prodigious and direct impression on the road and beside.
Sturdy rubber material alongside high-traction lugs are placed to help against sneaky undergrounds. As long as the soil is not wet and mucky the sole does a good job. As the sole profile is not too aggressive there can be sneaky encounters once it’s getting damp, mud-covered and rough. Nonetheless a good sole for a variation of undergrounds. Also 4mm drop from heel to toe are just down my alley.
The Oregonians are using their well-liked Flymesh material throughout the upper part of the Kiger. It provides a great and cosy fitting but my shoes got ripped whilst running some technical and stony segments. It did not disturb the performance of the shoe, as it is only the external material that easily got damaged.
Zoom Air elements located around the heel and in the forefoot area do offer a sprightly, reactive stride. The efficient Phylon midsole part helps runners with a midfoot strike.
One of the highlights is the asymmetrical tongue. It offers a efficient wrap around the foot which is very pleasant once you hit the trails.
Classy appearance joint with by a swift and exciting performance.
A sole that provides good traction on modest and non-technical trails. Advantage is a respectable general functioning that contains a blameless touch while running on the road. Once the soil gets to challenging the design of the sole wont help too much.
Amid 320 grams Nike’s Terra Kiger 3 delivers robust grip and a reckless lightweight flexibility. Designed for a neutral foot motion it’s an exciting shoe.
The Nike Kiger 3 gives you an supreme mixture of ground feel, cushion and guard even without the use of a rock plate in this shoe.
Exceptional agile design joint with a fun overall performance. The Kiger number 3 is a shoe that is pleases trail and tarmac.

All pictures (c) Runssel