Tuesday, 5 December 2017

racereport 2017-11: Hellas Frostbite

I get a message on my phone: “What is the last chance to race a SwimRun this year?” It is my pal Basti texting from Germany. He is keen for some exercise and a leisure stopover in Stockholm. However it is already late September there is still one competition left in the calendar.

The first Saturday in December is the traditional day for a classic in the SwimRun diary. I had seen the photographs and I had heard the anecdotes. What sounded like a entirely absurd idea caught my attention and those of several of my group of friends. SwimRun itself is pretty distinct as you possibly face all kinds of weather conditions, but a SwimRun in Swedish wintertime sounded like the satirical icing (!) on the multisport cake. The decision was made quick and a group of friends was organized to come over to Sweden. The apparent choice of activity: Hellas Frostbite SwimRun - conceivably the frostiest Run-Swim-Run competition on the calendar.

As soon as you face extreme circumstances, the equipment talk goes into an extreme as well. With an outside temperature of about +/-0 degrees combined with a water temperature of just about +1 degrees we had some extended debates on what to wear. From experienced Frostbite competitors I heard that it was pretty common in the last few years that people did overheat. The running chunk of the race around Hellasgården is significantly longer then the swimming fragment. Dependent on the water temperature the distance of the swim will be altered by the race-directors. Albeit there was no snow this year, layers of ice on the shorelines of Källtorpssjön combined with frost in the forest and on the footpaths was clearly visible.
I picked some finger paddles, neoprene swim gloves, a neoprene thermal skullcap and the mandatory swim cap. All of this matching an ARK SwimRun suit with long sleeves and short legs. Under the suit I was wearing a sleeveless compression shirt and an old prototype SwimRun suit with no sleeves. Looking back this was way too much. After about 2 kilometers I could feel my body boiling but the thought about the forthcoming swim part was way to imminent to get rid of some shelter against the frosty waters. At the end of the first out of three loops I was actually looking forward to enter Källtorpssjön.


The crowds were already lined up to observe the main spectacle of this race. This left not much time to think and rest. Straight in and high turnover crawling towards a jetty that was approximately 40 meters away from the swim entrance. It was nice to get some agreeable body temperature back and the cold water was not too crazy on the skin. I climbed out of the lake and opened up both of my wetsuits to allow the body to keep the good temperature.

Just a couple of weeks after my end-of-season break the running form was not really on top and I lost some places in the last rounds. Overall it was so much fun to be out there, experience such a unique event and see how much fun everyone had. Wrapping up such a race with good friends in the neighboring sauna and cooling off stark-naked with a jump into the Källtorpssjön makes it even more special. The Hellas Frostbite delivered and can straightforwardly be called “The mother of Winter SwimRun”.

Friday, 1 December 2017

shoeporn: Saucony - Liberty ISO

Fresh and Clean - Saucony expands their product line with a brand new model. The 275 gram Liberty ISO is the newest addition to their performance line. With its slick and clean light-weight design it certainly draws the attention. This model can seen as the robuster and more stable sibling of the popular Freedom ISO. 
Saucony aims to provide a broad set of running options. A medial TPU guidance frame in the inside of the midsole aims to limit lateral motion and therefore provides some extra support to this light shoe. For a shoe in this weight category the Liberty provides amazing cushion and a decent support for overpronators without making the shoe to stiff and clumsy. A big part of the active feeling is down to the Everun TPU midsole. Apparently this EVA material delivers a 83% energy return. I did not had the chance to measure it but the responsive feel is definitely there. 
The prominent Logo pattern on the medial post of the sole highlights the structured support frame of the Liberty. A comparison to the Freedom is imminent. While there are certain similarities the overall support is way better in the Liberty then it is in the Freedom. With the Liberty being only a couple of grams lighter, the difference in weight between the shoes is very little though.
Saucony stays true to their style. The appearance of the shoe is fast and classy with the distinctive outfit that is known throughout the scene. A full-length Everrun midsole ensures that the comfort is there. While the Freedom was the first shoe with a full on Everrun protection, the Liberty adds on this feature. Saucony calls it "lively cushioning". That pretty much hits the note. 
A short history lesson - Saucony started their shoe production back in 1898 in a place called Kutztown, Pennsylvania. At the beginning they were specialized in kids shoes. The factory building was situated on the high banks of the Saucony Creek. The distinctive brand logo represents the reek's constant flow, and the boulders lining its creek bed.
Isofit  - More and more companies offer shoes with an sock-like inner sleeve inlay. At an performance based running shoe this helps to avoid possible movement of the tongue. Despite that the overall feeling while running with the Liberty feels amazing as the thin stretch mesh adapts to the shape foot and holds it perfectly in the shoe. I can also see a big advantage for Dua- and Triathletes when it comes to fast transition times. 
Late Starter - Until 1977 Saucony was pretty unknown to the masses of the running community. In that year the running media turned the spotlight on the brand as it continued to surprise runners in tests and reviews. 
The direct 4mm heel-to-toe offset totally hit the note for me. While it helps to maintain a natural and efficent stride, it makes your body work and creates a direct feeling throughout the run. Throughout the years i experienced this with a lot of performance based Saucony shoes. Also the Liberty will make the Saucony fanbase happy and will surprise runners that are experiencing Saucony for the first time.
If you ever ran in Saucony shoe you will remember that softish feeling. It is down to this outsole. I think the sole feels great and with its softer approach the grip is nice and controlled maybe sometimes a bit to spongy on the ground. 
Nice little details can be found all over the shoe. Saucony not only knows how to please runners feet, they also add some nice visual features. 
Sauconys midsole technology goes by the name Everun. The Technology ensures a sweet and responsive feeling and the energy return can be felt, especially during high paced runs. The lively material is used throughout the full lenght of the shoe.  
Fact sheet - Offset: 4mm, Heel: 22mm and Forefoot: 18mm
Very durable, comfortable and soft mesh material in the front part combined with thicker and rougher mesh, which includes the ISOFIT bands, in the back offer a great overall feeling while striding. The construction is very supportive without being to stiff and dense. Saucony places the ISOFIT bands in the right places to ensure a comfortable and safe feeling.  
It did not take me long to get friends with the Liberty ISO. It is a go-to everyday training shoe which i can see myself racing in over longer distances. Saucony delivers the known feeling in a shoe that combines lightness with stability and comfort. A mix that is pretty hard to achieve but well finished.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

INSTAssel: Red Clay

Ein Beitrag geteilt von runssel (@runssel) am


Winding back to marvellous times on less-crowded clay boulevards around Iten. When I first came to Kenya’s Rift Valley area in 2009 a white guy running down the road was the highlight of the day for most of the local youths. With the town getting more and more exposure in the world of running quite some things have changed the last few years.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Stockholm to Norsborg


All flicks by YO RC


Tune of the day: Pete Rock - Lost Sessions

Saturday, 18 November 2017

INSTAssel: Band rehearsal

Ein Beitrag geteilt von runssel (@runssel) am

Band rehearsal today. Some beautiful 25 Kilometers around Tyresta nationalpark. [Flick: Alan Scott]

Friday, 17 November 2017

INSTAssel: chasin’

Ein Beitrag geteilt von runssel (@runssel) am

"Life is like a track and everybody racing. You about to get caught by the same shit you chasin’" Masta Ace - Every Other Day

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

shoeporn: Nike - Zoom Fly

Nike's spectacular "Breaking2" event in early May 2017 around the Formula 1 racetrack Autodromo Nazionale Monza was the prominent and highly stagged kick-off for a new distinctive style of running shoes. After several years of development with their leading athletes, Nike used the paced PR-marathon stunt to launch their Zoom Fly and Zoom Fly 4% models to the hyped-up public. Along the way the aim was to run 42,195 kilometer under the magic 2 hour mark. I had the chance to give the "cheapest" and heaviest version of the product line a go - The Nike Zoom Fly.
While the 4% model was used by most of the elusive 30 pacemakers throughout the event in Monza, Italy, the actual shoe that was worn by the main runners Eliud Kipchoge, Zersenay Tadese and Lelisa Desisa is a special version made for each indiviual foot. Until today this Zoom Fly Elite version is not available to the public but can be seen on several top road runners that are sponsored by the Oregon brand. 
Love it or hate it. The Swoosh is huge and grabs the attention. A signature style of the whole product line. You better judge yourself. I certainly like the unique and fresh approach.
The backside of the shoe has the classic design that is popular amongst many of Nikes racing shoes. Albeit the sole.  It is aerodynamically shaped to gain further advantage for each runners stride. Wired.com analyzed the recent NYC Marathon and found out that this shoe could be actually considered doping. You might check yourself - ARTICLE
This version of the Zoom Fly comes in four different colourways. I opted for the classic and simple Black, Anthracite and White. Some new color themes already got released and saw a wicked all-white version as well as a homage to the Chicago Marathon with a stylish Taupe Grey-style Zoom Fly. Knowing Nike, this won't be last special release. 
So what is the difference to the "bigger brother", the 4% version? It is the midsole, and that is the new kid on the block where Nike tries to set the standard. The shoe has a carbon infused nylon plate. This plate however is a little bit heavier then the one Nike uses in the 4% version. Nike claims that the pricier shoe is stiffer and lighter. While i can judge the lightness i don't feel that the Zoom Fly lacks stiffness.
The upper is feels great and has a comfortable and simple layout that i enjoyed a lot. The thin layer is engineered around a Flyknit like mesh material that helps to keep weight down. No overlays are used - i like!
Front End - Certainly the shoe is fun. I enjoyed the top speed range on the track and tempo runs and i also used it while running easy. The stiffness of the forefoot is there and makes this shoe a bit special until you get used to it. Once you "feel" the shoe you start to enjoy it and you can feel the spring-off that the sole delivers. 
Im a fan of thin tongues. The Zoom Fly does therefore know how to please me. 
Another shot that highlights the high, yes very high, back of the sole.

It is obvious that the new style of performance running shoe is an answer towards the cushioning trend that Hoka One One started a while ago. Nike intruded more cushioning and responded to the demand of their runners to have a more comfortable racing flat. The 10mm drop that the shoe offers is something that has only been witnessed with Hoka so far. 
Strategically placed rubber pads and a full forefeet piece of rubber are the characteristic of the Zoom Fly. This shoe clearly is made for road running. The sole has the traction you want and supports a fast stride.
After several miles in this new-style running shoe im pretty much sold. While Hoka introduced me to the cushion based side of running flats, the Zoom Fly takes it to another level. I enjoyed this shoe during a wide set of workouts and it is fun. The sensation is certainly unique but after you get used to it you will use it. After this test im looking forward top what is coming next and im eager to get my hands on the Elite version of that shoe. It seems that Nike managed to release yet another memorable shoe after years of unspectacular releases. 

Friday, 10 November 2017

INSTAssel: Fuel Cell

Ein Beitrag geteilt von runssel (@runssel) am

With new additions to the shoe shelve like this, it is even harder to endure the off-season.