Monday, 31 March 2014

#shoeporn: Scarpa - Minima

Stammi bene Minima!

Italian mountain mafia Scarpa should be well recognized by now. Hiking, Climbing, Trekking… Essentially everything that includes mountains and rocks is Scarpa’s home turf. The business history is pretty remarkable and you will find a great novel on their website. An irish found shoemaker based in Italy looks like a noteworthy mixture to me.

I understand I’m a bit obsessed with the history of shoe companies but lets get straight at it, at least this time. Let’s have a closer look at the Parisotto family’s latest trail running installment. Lets witness the most minimal shoe in their running portfolio, the Minima.

If you ever had the chance to experience a Scarpa shoe you know where the relatively high price range comes from. The whole make of the shoes is special and ambiances value. The robustness of the shoes is recognized and treasured. I know people who have Scarpa hiking boots that are older then their (school) children. As I empty the shoebox I’m not surprised to find the same consciousness of craftsmanship with the Minima. The upper consists of a microfiber arrangement, thermo-welded on a 3D mesh base, which is well created, and quality is evident.

As the sun is still out I rush to take some photographs of the clean kicks. I lace ‘em up and take ‘em on my local test trail. The immediate feeling when I step into the Minima is the pretty wide cut of the shoe. For me that is a great feature and appreciated. People with thinner feet could have a problem or might take the shoe a size smaller.

My opening tarmac section feels good. But immediately you get the feeling of a true lightweight and as the name states, a minimal shoe. The cushion is something you need to get used to. It feels pretty rigid and there is not much guard as the used rubber is reasonably stiff. Another feature that I instantly appreciate is the 6mm drop. That makes me happy and I bounce straight into the first off-road part.

The Vibram sole feels good and as I roll along the first single track I know that off-piste is the way to go. Now the hard sole and the „Compression molded EVA“ material for a better fit makes sense. The sensation for the ground is solid and enjoyable. I cruise on and I am fascinated by the “low to the ground” sensitivity that is more then evident. Mud sections and a bunch of leafy curves seem to be no problem with the sole. Solid ground feeling supports a natural stride and the spaced lugs do also make sense and protect the feet.

The sun is setting but I appreciate jogging along with the Minima and extend my loop. I try to find the drawback with these shoes. I continue my test jogs and continue to be happy with the minimal feeling of that shoe and the hard sole. The only problem - the sludge and dirt doesn’t wash itself off automatically to enjoy the look.


Tune of the day: I recently got my hands on the new Miles Davis – Live at the Fillmore Bootleg Series (Vol. 3). This collection is the newest piece in Columbia’s bootleg series collecting unreleased Miles Davis live material. Simply unreal stuff that’s being performed by Miles and his band. Together with the all new Diamond D & Pharoahe Monch track Rap Life as well as Girl Talk's & Freeway's Tolerated piece it is a load of great music floating around. 

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Test: Headband Pro Buff - Anton Krupicka Signature Collection

There is not much to judge about a head sweatband really.

Buff’s Headband Pro comes in with the characteristic and already presented TK Design.

The simple band keeps your skull nice, comfy and stylish. Faultless for autumn and winter weather.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Test: Anton Tank Top & Shorts by Buff

Some words about the all-new “Anton Krupickas Signature Collection by Buff” from my pal Fabse who ran the kit during the recent Rome Marathon. Thanks for the guest post!

I gratefully got my hands on a set of singlet and shorts of the recently released Anton Krupicka signature series. The Spanish Headwear specialists from Buff teamed up with the Nebraska-born trailing powerhorse and the result was an apparel series, which also includes the usual headbands, hats and neckwarmers.

The eye-catcher of the set is the top with its bright green-yellowish batik-style color - apart from the fact that the set includes a top at all. The chest-print shows a sketch of Toni’s treasured Flatirons mountain range including a view of the bearded himself, which is the unique feature of the signature series and designed by Anton himself. Apart from the flashy colors, the garment is very minimalistic - just as you would expect from an ultra-lightweight focused nerd like Mr. Krupicka. The tank top is made from 100% polyester 4-way stretch with very low-profile seams. The shorts are classic running shorts (100% Polyester) with integrated inner pants, elastic waistband (14% Elastane), but no pockets.

I wore the set for the first time in a race, which I usually would not do or recommend. But after I tried it for a few minutes the day before at my warm-up run, I was sure it would not be a hassle.

The top:
The very lightweight material makes for a very comfortable feel. Especially for warm conditions, this piece would be the weapon of choice. For me the biggest Plus was the soft material. Even though I tend to get sore skin quite quickly in singlets, this one was a positive surprise: no chafing at all. Muy bien amigos.

The shorts:
Same thing for the chafing. The very soft material is also found in the inner pants as well as the outer shorts. Thumbs up! Apart from that, not much to say here. Pretty solid running shorts with a comfy feel. I personally would appreciate at least a little pocket as I prefer to have my hands free. But I guess the minimalistic approach has no room for that.

Overall a great outcome of the Spanish-American cuadrilla. The colours are a matter of taste but the facts speak for themselves.

Vamos a correr.

Tune of the day: DJ Trace - After Hours 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Racereport 2014-05: Maratona di Roma

D'un male nasce spesso un bene. 
Do I really want to script something about this jog? Not really to be direct. Maintaining a blog does also mean to write about unpleasant experiences and that’s what is laid out in the next couple of sentences.

It would have been the icing on the cake to this weekend excursion to the Tiber. Yet again, the miserable truth of road racing and a long overlooked stomach whinge caught me badly.

Till I paused at around 22k into last weekends Maratona di Roma it all went like envisioned. A sub-3 hour finish was on Fabian’s and my whish list. However a marathon does not end at 22k. I had to rest. Essentially, my stomach required me to stop. It did not take to long and I vomited. I puked a lot and the race-officials must have been a little bit anxious. Some dudes just came along and asked me if I want to take a shuttle back to the finish. “No, grazie!” was my answer. Luckily. I took some time beside the street to recover and then went on to finish well outside my goal and ability. It has been a while since I broke the 3-hours on the road and I obviously would have loved to dip below the magic mark yet again or even get a good long run in (as seen in Quito or Santiago de Chile). Maybe I lacked some long or tempo training runs, maybe my stomach got upset with the gels I used. Possibly. Maybe.

So I did not score the icing, but the cake was certainly a pleasing one. Had a blast during the weekend with my good mates Fabian and Steffen. It was not my first time in Rome but I’m always astonished by this city and fascinated by the charismas of this matchless place and the Italian people. Combining all off that with racing it is just a perfect environment, at least when you get something out of the actual race.

The marathon itself does not really feature a fast or flat course. What it features is a remarkable course around the city and most of the tourist attractions. The race website features the fact that you run across 7,6k cobblestones. I’d say it is way more. Also my Garmin and the general feedback of fellow runners told me that the course is a bit longer then it should be. It all did not really matter during this Sunday long run. Put it in the pipe and smoke it. Unfortunately. Onto the next one.

Anyway. Grazie Roma.

Brooks News / Race Website / Pope

Tune of the day: Kornel Kovacs - Szikra

Monday, 24 March 2014

Racereport 2014-04: ECCO Indoor Trail

Some of my instagram images surely raised some inquiries. While pretty much well-known around Germany, the Ecco Indoor Trail meeting in Dortmund is pretty much nameless abroad. Running non-natural trails protected by a large roof? It surely is something different and it certainly raises the eyebrows across a genre affine running community.

Yes. It is strange and it undeniably isn’t true “trail running” as people would like to identify the new hysteria in running. But are benchmarks like Sierre-Zinal or Zegama also “real” trail-running or mountain running or whatnot? Well. The Ecco Indoor Trail in Germany’s city of Dortmund has it’s own niche and it’s forte. When the weather outside is unpredictable and cranky it is good to know that you can go inside and race without wind and rain.

When I got the offer by Ecco to go up and experience their race I was just too curious. Determined by some new territory, a new style of racing and the stories of my buddy Flo Reichert it did not take me to long to agree. The best way to judge something is essentially doing it.

I was jogging for an hour round the time-worn Westfallenhallen in Dortmund and pretty much went straight to the start line. A tense and winding course like this makes it necessary to have separate starts for each contestant. It is a battle against the clock and only the top 10 dudes get to race against each other in the last duel of the day.

The 6 loop-race was the one I selected. You can choose from single day races which start on Friday with the 3-loop race continue with the 6-loop race on Saturday and finishes off with the 9-loop race on Sunday. The course takes you through tight corners, over fallen trees, up steep ramps, over footsteps, across the hallways and over different kind of synthetic obstacles.

At first I took it defensively as I had the Rome marathon coming up next weekend. But after I got in the atmosphere and rhythm I absolutely enjoyed the course. It takes a distinct strength to deal with the short sprints and the hurdles. It is fun and it is special. As you have to run across this “a-bit-more than 1k” loop you need to pass people. This is something that can get a bit tricky from time to time and made for a more challenging atmosphere.

Generally it was a great experience and a nice way to spend a weekend. It still is weird and it still raises the eyebrows but certainly in a positive way.

Image Set 1
Image Set 2

In Pictures: ECCO Indoor Trail, Dortmund, Germany - Part 2

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

In Pictures: ECCO Indoor Trail, Dortmund, Germany

Tackled the Westfalenhallen in Dortmund for some indoor trail extravaganza that past weekend. Report and extra photographs to follow. Until then people.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

“The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”

I never experienced the Japanese running culture myself but I’m regularly drawn to races and gossip about the local scene over there. The Japanese fashion of road racing is very passionate and intriguing.

On a recent expedition past Japanese websites I came across the great work of Shota Matsumoto, a Japanese photographer born in 1983 in Osaka who now calls Tokyo home. His “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” exhibition features some amazing racing and training pictures.

Check his website and enjoy the solitude.

Copyright © Shota Matsumoto
Copyright © Shota Matsumoto

Friday, 7 March 2014

Headphones Review: Philips SHQ3200

Philips is a household name. No introduction needed there. With their “ActionFit” Series they provide a nice set of sports earpieces. I gratefully got my hands on the Philips SHQ3200, an earloop piece out of this series.

While jogging, headphones should be there and don’t cause any troubles. Whilst running or cycling I clearly do not want to fix them over and over and the sound need to be on point. Not much to ask for, really.

Straight to the point so - The SHQ3200 is a pretty suitable compatriot when you out there training. The sound is quality and pretty decent. While it lacks a bit of punch in the bass it still delivers a great clean sound atmosphere. Particularly the midrange sound is where I found the SHQ3200 on top of his game. The sound is convincing and brings solo instruments and voices a clear benefit. If you are searching for a really loud, high volume headphone. This is not the one for you!

Maybe more important then the sound is the fit when it comes to an earpiece that should be a handy training partner. The earloop is alterable and after you get used to the shape it fits precise and secure. You can individually alter the loop-piece, so with a tiny bit of patience you will make this one fit for good. The cable has a perfect length and I found the little clip particularly handy to have a secure fit and no troubles with the cable moving around.

Another feature, which adds to the stability and the confidence, is the water resistance. I never had earphones that were sheltered against water. Looking into my box with old gear there are quite some headphones that lost the war against sweet and rain. Big bonus point there!

With the pleasant and individual look as well as the great processing you will find a good day-to-day partner for your runs. And also the price is pretty decent. The interweb tells me that you get this piece for about 28 EUR. That is pretty fair!

Tune of the day: Chinensis - Pacific Sunfall

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Lunch Loops

Painful rip
in my upper hip
I guess it's time
to take another trip

Curtis Mayfield - Little child runnin' wild