Monday, 18 July 2016

Friday, 15 July 2016

shoeporn: Haglöfs - Gram Pulse

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Steadfast and vicious – fresh trail running swag from Sweden’s finest – Haglöfs. The brand new Gram Pulse.
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Not only aggressive looks. The latest Gram Pulse is constructed for jagged and rough topography. Following some previous running - shoe models this one is by far the most aggressive and trail running specific shoe out of the Haglöf labs.
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Something that does not really need a mention is the flawless quality of this shoe. I dig Haglöfs style when it comes to needlework and value.
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Pretty hard to oversee – The distinctive orange outsole goes by the well-defined term of “Wet Grip Rubber+“ (For the nerds: AHAR+® Rubber). I treasured the style and shape of the profile. The grip is fierce and allows a proper challenge of the centrifugal forces.
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Spotless and efficient - Water repellent nylon mesh paired with proper TPU.
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The midsole is properly shock absorbing with the backing of a high density Solyte + Gel. Credits to Asics for the support with this one.
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Pretty noticeable is a clear link to Asics Runnegade model. Both shoes are not equal but it is hard to deny the connection between the two.
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The outsole is something else. I treasure the grip of the self-cleaning outsole and the soft rubber.
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Tarmac and paved lanes is not the favoured underground of the Gram Pulse. Till now I have run numerous miles in it and notwithstanding a saggy display on concrete the shoe totally delivers on wet and challenging trails.

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The weighbridge displays scented 260 Gram of trail shoe joy.
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A true soldier on the trail and off the footpath - Never mind the road crossings, he does not like that.
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Haglöfs arrays a proper exclamation mark to the trail running collection. I dig the new Gram Pulse and I cannot wait for rain and soaky trails – I undoubtedly have a suitable partner to accompany me.

Tune of the day: Suff Daddy - Piano Joint

Racereport 2016-06: Breca Buttermere SwimRun

I wrote a little report for slowtwitch.com about our race in Buttermere 2 weeks ago.
In only its second year, the Breca SwimRun around the Lake District of northwest England was a sell-out. Only 17 teams took part in last year's inaugural race, but this year 93 adventure-seeking endurance twosomes took on 17 alternating legs of swimming and running. The course is demanding and harsh, but journeys through a picturesque chunk of county Cumbria. The race organization chartered the entire Buttermere Youth Hostel to house most of the participants, and the pre-race vibe was hectic but social. One competitor jokingly noted that, “This place looks like there is a convention of some weird cult going on!”

Although England is comprised largely of flat terrain, that is not true of Buttermere. It is an entirely English landmass, located 910 meters above sea level in the craggy Lakeland National Park. This place is a perfect playground for SwimRun racers, combining distinctive green hills with numerous lakes of varying sizes. Even though the sport of fell (trail) running is gaining popularity in this area, duos jogging around the remote country roads with wetsuits and flotation devices are still a rare sight.

As usual for this part of the world, the weather was miserable, both leading up to race day and on the day of the race. As the wind picked up, teams lined up in front of the hostel and were directed to the first swim section across Buttermere Lake. Sporadic spells of sunlight permitted quick views of the splendid Fleetwith and Haystacks summits on the south side of the lake. The field spread out straight away, and last year's winning team Clapham Bruderwunderz was first out of the water after the icy 600-meter opening swim.

During the first trail and off-trail segments, it became apparent that the racers would get wet feet even on land. Strong winds and rain showers also made for choppy and difficult-to-navigate swim segments. Swim distances ranged from 400 and 1,000 meters. Run segments on timeworn country roads and craggy footpaths treated runners to sheep and cow gates to be hurdled over or scrambled under.

After 30 kilometers of swimming and running, the first three teams were within 15 minutes of each other as they approached the highlight of the course, the ill-famed Honister Pass. Over a distance of about 1 kilometer, competitors faced 576 meters of elevation gain and grades up to 25%. The stunning views on top of the pass were almost completely obscured by the severe weather conditions, which continued to worsen throughout the day. Running across the ridge towards Dale Head, teams faced hefty winds, hail and rain. “Weather wise that was a pretty miserable day. The good thing is that you are out there with a friend. It is easier to suffer when you are with someone. You just don’t want to let your friend down,” said Alan Scott (half of the winning team Clapham Bruderwunderz) as he took a big sip of beer at the finish line. Scott and his teammate Hamish Cropper won this event for the second year in a row and set new course record of 05:41:20.

After 6km of swimming and 38km of trail running, combined with 1,900 meters of vertical ascent, the SwimRun teams crossed finish line at the Buttermere Youth Hostel where race director Ben De Rivaz greeted each participant with a cold can of beer. Knut Baadshaug of the third placed team The German Sparkle Party summed it up: “You know you are in for a hard day's work when you sign up for this race. But it is impossible not to enjoy this expedition through the fells!”

The terrain offered many challenging sections.

What a gorgeous SwimRun playground.

And when the running gets boring… Well, you know that there will be another swim section anytime soon.

The German Sparkle Party en route to the next swim segment.

No words needed.

Athletes face striking but icy 6 km of lake swimming.

Racers from all over Europe assembled in front of the Buttermere Youth Hostel.

That was a tough but beautiful day!

The finish line beers taste even better when you are first across the line. The victorious Clapham Bruderwunderz re-hydrate in style.

Scrambling up a section with a positive attitude.

At all times it is worth to share smiles and positive energy. A cheerful Alan Scott faces rain and wind with smiles!

Breca Buttermere 2016 Results

Men

1. Clapham Bruderwunderz (Hamish Cropper and Alan Scott) 5:41:20
2. British Military Fitness Race Team (Ross Macdonald and Rob Smyth) 6:00:00
3. The German Sparkle Party (Markus Rössel and Knut Baadshaug) 6:10:20

Women

1. Team Axolotl (Abey Lawrence and Robyn Hawxby) 7:11:50
2. Jewson Jewels (Samantha Anderson and Sophie Edge) 08:22:38
3. D&G (Chrysothemi Spiliopoulou and Grace McGlen) 08:45:37

Mixed

1. Ben and fliss (Benjamin Bussman and Felicity Hannon) 6:47:20
2. Team Tallås (James Pratt and Helene Pratt) 07:03:45
3. NOTIMETOLOUS (Louis Wyness and Louise Hanley) 07:13:40

All pictures: wildmanmitchell.com

Tune of the day: Tonedeff - Polymer [LP]

Friday, 8 July 2016

Throwback: Chrissie W. banging out a 2:48:54

Roth, July 2010 – as I was crewing for a mate I had the chance to shadow Chrissie Wellington during the end of her run portion at the Challenge Roth. As I was following her on the bike, I recorded the above clip and uploaded it. As the big classic is about to go down Sunday week, I got reminded of this little piece of sport history.

Above and beyond being surprised that this clip has more than 30.000 clicks by now, I’m still astonished by Chrissies performance that day. She jogged a incredible fast and steady 2:48:54 marathon to finished in a time 8:19:13 which still stands as the world best time over the Ironman distance.

Let’s see what Jan Frodeno delivers as he attacks Andi Raelerts 7:41:33 Men’s WR on the fast course round Franconia.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

INSTAssel: A day around the lakes!

Ein von runssel (@runssel) gepostetes Foto am

Racing with and amongst friends never gets old. Yesterday just proofed it! [Picture: Breca SwimRun]

Tune of the day: Oddisee - Alarmed

Monday, 27 June 2016

On point with Paul Krochak

Throughout a marathon training session back in 2012 Björn Englund told Paul about SwimRun and ÖtillÖ. It did not take much to convince Paul. The two formed a team and ultimately became one of the most successful Duos of the sport. They won the World Championships back in 2013 and 2015. These days the speedy Canadian is a household name in SwimRun racing. 



Pretty unusual for a Canadian schoolboy Paul started playing ice hockey at an early age. He also swam competitively at national level. Furthermore he had a crack at all sorts of sport like football, basketball, skiing and mountain biking. He then found his big inspiration in triathlon, long distance running and ultimately SwimRun. 

Paul grew up in a small town in the middle of the rural Canadian Saskatoon province, moved to Vancouver and then onwards to Sweden in 2010. 

As Björn Englund left the sport after last year’s ÖtillÖ, Paul found a new race-partner in Sweden-based Frenchman Nicolas Remires. After an unsatisfactory competition in Utö the two won in Boras with a new course record. In the aftermath Paul found the time to respond to some of my enquiries about SwimRun.

runssel: You were successfully competing with Björn Englund for several years and raised the standard for SwimRun racing. Since Björn decided to step away from the sport after the 2015 season you were left without a partner. What was the motivation to go ahead with the sport and how did you link up with Nico Remires?

Paul Krochak: Björn and I definitely had a good run together. To be honest, after 2015 I wasn’t totally sure if I would continue with SwimRun and wasn’t actively searching a new partner. Nico contacted me sometime in November to see if I wanted to race with him. I knew Nico to be a really nice, humble guy with a lot of passion for the sport so I gave it a little thought. Add the fact that SwimRun is a tough sport to give up and after a couple sessions together Nico and I decided to team up.

Paul (left) and Björn celebrating their first ÖtillÖ win back in 2013. (Pic: Nadja Odenhage)
 runssel: Nico and yourself notched a 5th place finish at your first race, the Utö SwimRun. Not the outcome you would have expected I guess. As a crew, what did you guys learn from this competition and what did you fine-tune to come back with a course-record setting win in Boras?

Paul Krochak: Utö definitely did not go as planned. We both seemed to have off days physically but what was really bad was that we were completely out of synch with each other as teammates. At the same time, the teams who beat us were really strong that day. I gotta admit, we were feeling pretty humbled after Utö. So after the race we took a long look at all the mistakes we made and came up with a strategy for how we could work better as a team and what we each need to work on individually. Borås was a nice result because it told us we were moving in the right direction. But Utö also shows us that a lot of teams are hungry for the win in September. This really motivates me.




Grinding hard. Midway at the 2015 edition of ÖtillÖ. (Pic: Jakob Edholm)
 runssel: Frequently Endurance sports create very egotistic characters. Sometimes SwimRun squads struggle to display their physical capacity because team play is miscalculated. What brands a perfect SwimRun companion for yourself?

Paul Krochak: Hehe…You’re right about the ego thing. A lot of us of have long backgrounds in individual sports and have gotten pretty good at moving our own bodies quickly over long distances. But with SwimRun there are two people that need to move quickly and any two team-mates can be very different athletes - physically, mentally, psychologically etc. It’s so incredibly important, and often challenging, to understand how to get the team , i.e. both athletes, to perform optimally at the same time - physically and mentally. There’s no secret recipe to this, just a lot of understanding and appreciation for your partner.

runssel: Why are you a blameless SwimRun partner?

Paul Krochak: I don’t know, I just see this sport as something that should be fun – period. It’s completely uninteresting for me to do this sport just for winning; it’s more about enjoying the process, training and racing with great friends and pushing ourselves to the absolute limit. Sometimes things go well and other times less so. To start laying blame on others when things aren’t going well would take away from the fun factor.

Paul and Björn telling war stories at the ÖtillÖ 2015 finish line. (Pic: Jakob Edholm)
runssel: With ÖtillÖ in 2 months’ time, the season gets busy. In what way do you adjust your training en route for the World Championships? Do you have a specific training schedule laid out? What would be a key session for Nico and yourself?

Paul Krochak: We already train a lot during most of the year so the only real adjustments are to start focusing on longer sessions. There’s no specific training program laid out but the next 5-6 weeks will be pretty heavy. I’m a bit of a purist so like to keep my classic road/track running and indoor swim sessions as part of the rotation. But then there’s a lot of specific training, running in the forest/terrain, open water swimming and of course long SwimRun sessions. I’ll be in Canada (West Coast) for the month of July. We live right on the ocean and have mountains right from our backyard. It’s a bit of a SwimRun playground. I guess the key session is the long SwimRun session a few weeks out.

runssel: Will you chase one more marathon PB this fall?

Paul Krochak: My eyes are set on ÖtillÖ so it’s too soon to start talking about a fall marathon. But probably.

Done and dusted! (Pic: Jakob Edholm)
runssel: Personally, which sporting record do you rate the highest?

Paul Krochak: For me personally, the Sub 8hour ÖtillÖ is huge. Not sure if we’re quite there yet as SwimRun athletes but I do think it’s within reach. I’ve also been chasing the sub 2.30 marathon for over a decade now so that’s a big one. More generally, I think breaking the 2-hour marathon is one of the bigger records I see in professional sport. I think this will happen before too long.

runssel: What kind of music do you listen to at the moment?

Paul Krochak: No one ever asks me about this but it is a passion of mine. I'm big into Hip Hop, Breaks, Soul....etc. but for the last couple years I've really got into African music. There's a great web show on Brighton Juice called Afro Bass. A couple of old school crate diggers host the show and find some really original stuff. I highly recommend it =)

Paul is sponsored by Head Swimming, Inov8, Suunto, Gococo and Lululemon Athletica. He runs with FK Studenterna (road and track) and swims with SK Neptun.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Get crunked up!

It’s getting busy. The SwimRun season is in full swing now. Preparation is done and the races are waiting.

Today we combined some leisure strokes and jogging with some material testing before we are travelling back to the picturesque Lake District. Next Saturdays Breca Buttermere SwimRun will be our second outing in and around the challenging Lakelands of England’s north.

Just a week after that it is time for another excursion back to the Engadin gorge for the Engadin SwimRun.

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