Monday, 2 March 2015

shoeporn: New Balance - Fresh Foam Zante

This enthusing chunk of foot-apparel will hit the shelves of your preferred running dealer in just a few days. Brighton, Massachusetts, based New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. is on heavy rotation with attention grabbing releases. The unique looking green machine is the up-to-the-minute creation. Let’s have a closer look what it has to offer.


There is not much doubt that New Balance got the design dead-on lately. Coming from a fairly tedious looking running shoe background, they are now hitting the market with very lean, fresh and tasteful looking performance shoes. Since last 2 years they picked up their game vastly. Further they keep introducing inventive product designs and concepts. The last few releases continued to hold this level and by expanding their Fresh Foam line 2015 starting with the latest Zante they keep improving even further!


Based on the Fresh Foam 980, the 213 grams light-weighty Zante is a tuned-up, thereof speedier version of this well know light trainer. A nice stretchy mesh upper creates a nice feel in the toe box and gives the feet good space without loosing a “grippy” fitting. While the mesh is soft it is likely to scratch on the sides (specially in the front), which happened to my shoes while unintentionally skidding a curb or a step.

With a sweet 6mm heel-toe balance it transports a reckless emotion straight from the first impression. Usually I’m fascinated by simpler runners with fewer drop, not so with the Zante. Besides the fairly huge portion of cushioning, I still got a straight, fast feeling while running thanks to a toe spring that reminds me a bit of the adidas Boost technology. It even supports a natural stride and an incredibly smooth heel to toe transition, which I found to be the highlight for myself. As I hit the ground with the forefoot I found this shoe to be very good. For people striking with the middle-foot I can see a bit more cushion and thereof a bouncy feeling due to the concept of the sole.

If you are looking for a well-designed, multitalented lightweight training shoe for your up-speed road workouts or long run, the Fresh Foam Zante is going to be your partner without a doubt. It will interest to see what’s next from a very active New Balance camp.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Checked: La Sportiva Cirrus 3/4 Tight & Scirocco Jacket

A couple of weeks ago I received a parcel. Once I raised it, I wasn’t precisely sure what’s going to be inside. It was way to light for shoes and it was to light for kit. At least that’s what I presumed. I opened the carton and besides some paperwork I found La Sportiva's Cirrus 3/4 Tight and the Scirocco jacket. While unpacking further I couldn’t believe the weightiness of the equipment. Immediately I decided to take the gear for a nippy spin. In the following weeks I continued to use the tight and the jacket extensively while exercising on midwinter streets and ice-cold trails.

For some reason I’m a vast admirer of 3/4 tights while working out. It still gives you a touch for the conditions but shelters one of the most vital body fragments for running - the knees. Instantaneously the Cirrus felt diverse because of the light sensitivity. 136 grams are not that heavy. The smooth structure felt good but a bit unusual. Stretch textiles gave a pleasant anatomical fitting with a light firmness sensation spread around my thighs. The striding effort felt light and the motion did not get distracted whatsoever. Even through colder runs I never had a icy emotion thanks to the body mapped padding and the well positioned ventilation zones.

A bizarre, because unfamiliar, gimmick is the missing elastic band. La Sportiva didn’t use a band or any fixation on this model. I wasn’t too sure what is going to happen while running round the trails with my phone and keys in the (roomy) center back zip pocket. Nothing happened, would be the firm reaction on all the concern I had before the runs. Without being too close-fitting the Cirrus makes its job and stays where it belongs. A remarkable jogging 3/4 trousers!

Similar with the Scirocco wind jacket. 184 grams are particularly lightweight and sense like all these grams won’t be able to give good shelter against wind and light rain. While feeling a bit fragile first, the jacket delivers a prodigious impression as its high standard fabrics give you a very reliable feeling straight from the start. This continues during action. It’s rare that a jacket is that well cut. The fit is faultless. The length, the sleeves and the body fit work. Full stop.

The impression of the jacket is distinct and this emotion lasts. Very well made specifics can be found on the stow pockets and the zippers. My personal highlight was the microfiber lined hood and sleeves.

Another La Sportiva piece that doesn’t disappoint during the daily routine. These Italians know how to make Trail- Couture.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Silence Circle

I got this set of kicks three years ago. A running shoe made out of recycled material caught my attention. Something different.

This well designed racing flat was such a great training buddy and an upright racing weapon. Until yesterday I easily spend more then 1500 kilometers in this pair of shoes!

The whole idea of the Green Silence project was something well thought out and executed. Last year Brooks stopped building these flats. Yesterday I put them back where they came from - the recycling bin.

You will be missed.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Maiden Voyage

Pretty much the strongest mountainbike frame i’ve ever ridden.

Just got the brand new Giant XTC Advanced SL1 in 2015 version. Took it out for a turn around the local tracks and came back with a huge grin.

A very well assembled set-up around those 27.5" tires.

Can not wait to race that thing!

Tune of the day: Hashim - Al Naafiysh

Saturday, 14 February 2015

tested: ZAOSU - Z-Matrix

Straight outta Cologne, Germany, ZAOSU comes up with some pretty attention-grabbing swim outfits. I got the chance to exam Yong Zhao’s latest knee-long racing jammer – the so-called Z-Matrix.

Besides the distinguishing appearance this piece of equipment is pretty well made. A fine and very comfortable compression on the thigh and a faultless fit make up for an accurate racing brief. The ZAOSU Z-Matrix ticks off all FINA-Rules and definitely is an attention grabber in and out the H2O.

With a fair retail price of 44,99€ there is nothing to blame really. No excuse for sluggish swim routines so.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

On point with Robbie Britton

Without a doubt, Robbie is a matchless character in the long-distance running scene. With his distinct down-to-earth style British humor, he certainly is not afraid of an authentic or witty comment. Neither is he afraid of attacking any distance or terrain. 400 meter ovals, asphalt or mountain paths do not stop him. The 28 year old man of Kent appreciates his nomadic lifestyle and loves to race.

After a brave 8:47 hour effort a couple of days ago at the Tarawera 100 kilometer race in New Zealand, Robbie used his well-deserved recovery period to reply to some questions.

Credit: James Appleton

runssel: Why running? What inspires you?

Robbie: I just love to race, be it on a 400m track or around the mountains, competition drives me.

I get inspiration from so many places, people I meet around the world, books about mountaineers, polar explorers and anyone who has faced and overcome a struggle. If you read "The Worst Journey in the World" (edit: A chronicle of the 1910–1913 British Antarctic Expedition led by Robert Falcon Scott) it puts it all into perspective when your legs hurt a little at 85 miles...

Plus, anyone who lives life like Johnston Livingstone Seagull (edit: a tale written by Richard Bach) inspires me.

Credit: Alexis Berg

runssel: After a solid 26:48 h workday at last year’s UTMB you'll be back battling this year’s edition. What have you learned and what are you going to change?

Robbie: Well, I went there last year to get a feel for the race and learn about it, as part of a 3 year plan to be competitive out there. If I gave you all the secrets I learnt then I'd have to worry about racing you too!

I learn by making mistakes and thinking about them. Last year at UTMB I got excited and pushed too hard at 130k. I thought "I'm only 30k from the finish" but that's still a huge distance in the mountains so I paid a price for that. You don't have to go fast at UTMB, you just have to maintain a good pace throughout!

Credit: Alexis Berg

runssel: Why didn’t you duel Michael Wardian in the mile the day after UTMB?

Robbie: Because Wardian is real fast over a mile! Mike's a great bloke and I had a good chance to chat to him at Tarawera just now. He overtook me at about 95k this time, so I guess it's 1-1 for us now. I'm definitely not racing him over a mile next time though, the longer the better :)

Plus I love my recovery after a big race, sitting on my backside, eating good food, drinking and getting my body & mind ready to train again!

Credit: Alexis Berg

runssel: Which competitions are still on your bucket list?

Robbie: Having just ticked the Tarawera 100k off the list it's got smaller! Western States and Leadville are both on there though, but I want to go when I'm a bit quicker! I may apply for WS next year, it's top of my list.

Both the North & South Pole are on my bucket list, not racing though. I want to go big with some expeditions, although not for a few years yet.

I suppose the London Marathon is on that list too, as I'm from London but have never run it! One day eh?

runssel: What is the best running shoe you've ever worn and why?

Robbie: inov-8 X-Talon 212 without a doubt. It's light with great grip and I've run 100 miles in those bad boys. I know I'm sponsored by inov-8 but it's a shoe I was running in for ages before they finally gave in to my sponsorship harassment.

Credit: Iznik Ultra
runssel: Running around in circles for 24 hours seem absurd for most people. You seem to love it. This year you are heading to Torino to beat your 239km PB. Describe the thrill!

Robbie: Have you ever not just wondered "How far could I actually run in one day?" You find out just how far, mentally & physically, you can push yourself with as few other factors as possible!

I don't know if "love it" is the right term though, I love representing my country, I'm intrigued by how far I can go in 24 hours but ask me 18 hours into a race and I definitely won't use the word love.

You have to look at the positives though, such as the fact you are never more than 200m from your food, friends and a toilet! You can't get lost on a 24hr race and I get to wear a Team GB vest for the World Champs in April. Such an awesome honor!

Credit: Alexis Berg

runssel: Please give a hint about a typical training week and your favorite session! Any cross training?

Robbie: Typical training week includes key tempo & hill sessions mid-week, followed by a longer run at the weekend. I don't often run over 2:30 though, you don't need to run HUGE mileage to run ultras. It's more about consistently getting fitter & stronger, keeping that speed in the legs and not knackering yourself out.

Before Tarawera I averaged 90-100 miles a week with a fair few hills in there. Hills are important. I love hills.

As for cross training, I try to do some bouldering but don't go often enough. Core strength is key to a good ultra but neglected by so many, myself included at times.

runssel: Favorite record at the moment?

Robbie: On top of the World by Imagine Dragons. That's a race day tune, for sure! It's how your taper should make you feel.

You better trail Robbie via his website, FB and Twitter