Gear Reviews

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A new level of experience! Read the race report here...


Sports In-Ear Monitors (IEM): Corded or Bluetooth?

Word of caution: Please exercise vigilance when plugging in during an outdoor workout. Be always mindful of traffic and other safety threats. The majority of my listening happen in the gym, at the KLCC Park (where there are high human traffic) and 1K loops around my housing area. I don’t recommend running solo with the ears plugged. Always use your better judgment and never listen at extreme levels of volume, nor for an extended period of time.

With more than half of my week’s running done in the gym, I’m pretty much plugged into my iPod whenever I’m at it. Stock earphones that come with the media devices and smartphones just won’t do it for me. They’re sonically harsh to the ears and don’t fit well, often dislodging from the ears as you get progressively sweaty.

While you can wear just about anything (including over-the-ear types provided you don’t care about the sniggers you get from others) when working out, it’s always more practical to go with sports models which are weather/sweat/shock/dust-resistant. Consider as well, those that come with multiple sized ear-buds and in-ear hooks (usually made of silicone, example here) for a customized and secure fit, or how some brands are supposed to be worn. Case in point, Shure’s recommended method of fitting (see here).  As you can expect, there are a bewildering variety for which to choose from and much depends on your preferences and budget.

Since I’ve had experiences with IEMs of varying price-point and brands, from Sony, Yurbuds, Ultimate Ears, Shure, JBL, Bose, and Griffin to Jabra, I thought I could point out some obvious and not-so-obvious tidbits for you, what with the holiday shopping season coming up.

First, some pros and cons on each type.


  • Pros
    • No-brainer connection – Stick the 3.5mm jack into the portable and you’re ready to rock and roll.
    • Cheap to expensive – Prices can start from RM70 to RM450. Non-sports models can even sport a RM1,000 price tag, but you won’t be using those in the gym anytime soon!
      Audio quality – You get what you pay for due to the components (e.g. drivers, cabling) used in the production of the IEMs. Since audio quality should always matter if you love your music, a general rule of thumb is to stay away from those sub-RM100 models.
  • Cons
    • Pesky cords – You’re hard-pressed for time and want to just go but untangling those bits are a pain. These days, many manufacturers tend to put some attention to the design by using braided or flat cords to reduce tangling but it still happens to some degree.
    • Fit – Cheap IEMs may not come with replaceable ear tips and the last thing you’d want is your IEMs getting dislodged due to sweat. Noise-isolating types will improve sound quality as well.
    • Choices – There are a wide variety to choose from. Finding one that fits you well, provides good audio quality and yet doesn’t bust your wallet is often a maddening process of trial and error.


  • Pros
    • Wireless! ‘Nuff said.
    • One-time setup/pairing – In theory. In the case of Jabra, switching devices will require a reset on the IEM and a fresh pairing on the new device. This is regardless if the 2 had been paired previously, which is annoying. Other makers may have different setup.
    • Audio quality – You get what you pay for, although in a critical listening scenario, a wired headphone will almost always trump a wireless one.
  • Cons
    • Pairing – If you’ve multiple devices in which your media files sit, such as an iPod and an iPhone, you may need to unpair the previously set device. I’ve only ever use Jabra and that’s one of their misgivings.
    • Battery life – Typically maxed out at 5 hours and below. OK for the most part but may be too short if you race an ultra, for example. Additionally a micro-USB cable or a proprietary charging dock (in the case of the Sony Smart B-Trainer) is necessary for recharging purposes.
    • Needs charging – Full charge typically takes 2.5 hours
    • Pairing – May not be a consistent experience, depending on the brand. Refer to the same point under Pros above.
    • Cost – Typically twice (or more) the price of a corded variety.

So here are my preferences:



  • Sony AS800AP
  • Jabra Sport Rox Wireless (reviewed here)
  • Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless (iPhone required since it works best with the app. Reviewed here)

The RM317 (10% rebate if you hold a MySony membership) waterproof  Sony AS800AP has been a real joy to use. It has all the ruggedized features, great fit courtesy of the in-ear hooks and multiple-sized buds, and simply sounds fabulous. Its wide frequency response of 5Hz to 25KHz provides a controlled low-end (necessary in a workout setting) yet has enough of the mids and highs to keep you engaged in the train ride home. The AS800AP would be the one I’d bring along anywhere. There’s a significantly more expensive Bluetooth version as well but that one has a 5-hour battery life and a narrower frequency band.

Since we’re at it, I might as well cover a little on home listening. My favorite unit at home is the Sony MDR-1A (reviewed by What Hi-Fi | Head Fi). While there are esoteric and hi-fi brands out there which cost an arm and a leg, recent models from Sony have been fantastic, providing excellent listening experience each I put them on. While home listening doesn’t require the thumping bass of sports IEMs, the music doesn’t need to come out flat either, and the MDR-1A has an ultra wide frequency response to handle just about the genres I typically listen to. The amount of clarity alone was the best I’ve experienced. It works fantastic with the 64GB Mi Note which has a built-in DAC and amp (that bit of power brings the music to live and able to drive most headphones). Additionally, the Mi Note handles uncompressed and lossless formats like FLAC, APE, and DSD, among others, like a charm out of the box. If there’s one media device you should get as a portable media player, it’s the Mi Note (I’d use it like an iPod Touch). And yes, it’s a fine Android phone to boot. Since relinquishing the Note to my wife, I’ve resorted to pairing the RM250 Fiio headphone amp to the iPhone 6+ to get a bit more punch. The Fiio is very transparent in its duties and add no noticeable coloration to the sonics.

Hopefully there are enough tips in this post to get you started on the path to better audio-on-the-move. Keep in mind that great products need not be super expensive. Happy shopping!

Rhino Shield Crash Guard and Rhino Shield Screen Protector

Smartphones are ubiquitous these days. If you’re one of those not in possession of a hand-me-down, you would know that the price of a smartphone is hardly pocket change – a month’s paycheck if the brand is that of a certain fruit ;). It makes sense then that you will want to protect that investment of yours. Nope, not insurance (well, at least not what I’m alluding to in this case) but physical protection like the Rhino Shield .

That’s the Rhino Shield Crash Guard you see in the photo. Launched as a Kickstarter project, it was the highest backed iPhone project on the crowdfunding site. The Crash Guard is a 2.5mm slim profile bumper unlike the bubble-wrap thick ones you’ll find in some stores. Weighing under half an ounce you certainly won’t feel like you’re lugging a rhino. Instead of a smooth surface, the designers wisely opted for a matt texture for easy grip. An important consideration since I consider myself a somewhat power user. Unless you’re hardcore butterfingers, you won’t be dropping your phone anytime soon. Even if you do, you can count on the Crash Guard as your final line of defence against phone annihilation. All ports remain accessible with the bumper on, including Beats cans, if you’re one of those users. No issues plugging in my Sony MDR-1A and Shure SE, nor the Fiio headphone amp.

The Crash Guard comes in a nice box and includes the back protector and tools to help you fix the said protector. “Hang on, how about the front screen protector?”, I hear you ask. That’s where the separately sold Rhino Shield Screen Protector comes in, which I’ll cover below. But first some photos of the Crash Guard which comes nicely packed. The bumper comes with a back protector which can be found in a slide-out envelope/sleeve.

The nicely packed back protector. Comes with the Crash Guard.

So what’s so special about the Rhino Shield Crash Guard? EggDrop Technology. On the inside of the bumper (made of a new polymer blend) is a  series of honeycomb-shaped texture which disperses the impact across the entire bumper – much like how running shoes’ midsole material do their job – thus saving your phone.

The underside of the bumper reveals the honeycomb structure. Not very clear in this shot, sorry about that.

Before the bumper is fitted, you’ll need to first install the back protector. The thin layer is hardly noticeable as you can see below.

The back of the phone taken care of, it’s time to get the Rhino Shield Screen Protector (see the yellow envelope with the large “Impact Protection” words in the photo at the top of this post) onto the face of the phone. Now, the Screen Protector is the special one in this protective detail if you ask me. Sold separately, it’s just 3 times the thickness of a sheet of paper (0.029cm to be precise) yet offers 5 times the impact protection of Gorilla Glass 3. The Screen Protector is of the clear type and has the following properties.

Finally, fitting the Crash Guard bumper is easy. Snug and secure there’s no sliding around. It’s pretty much a personal preference but I thought the black bumper would complement the space grey model better.

The manufacturers claim that installing the Rhino Shield Crash Guard along with the Screen Protector can protect your device against more than 225 pounds (or close to 100Kg) of pressure. Now, I wasn’t about to use my phone as a test unit but check out the videos below.

The first is the 11 feet drop test. Unless you’re truly confident of your product, this isn’t something one would be doing. You can also watch David Pogue’s test here.

And how strong is the Rhino Shield Screen Protector? This strong. Mind you, I was wincing throughout the video! It’s crazy, man!

With the launch of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, the Crash Guard and Screen Protector tag team couldn’t have arrived on our shores at the right time. Per their website, they’ve solutions for popular models from HTC, Samsung, LG, Sony, OnePlus, Google, and Motorola too but you’d have to buy direct from their website Incidentally, Evolutive Labs was founded by some boffins who dabble in Material Science and Metallurgy from the University of Cambridge. Brilliant nerds, I say.

Now, the iPhone owners can get their units from the list of stores nationwide below. The Rhino Shield combo set which includes 1 Rhino Shield Crash Guard bumper and Rhino Shield front and back impact resistant screen protector. The set retails for RM298, a small investment for an expensive device, won’t you say so?

Kuala Lumpur
  • 1 Mont Kiara – iStore
  • Bangsar Village II – epiCentre
  • Cheras Sentral – IT World
  • Lot 10 – Machines
  • Low Yat – Mac Studio & ID Wholesale Smartphone
  • Fahrenheit88 – epiCentre & Connect
  • Mid Valley – Machines & Connect
  • Nu Sentral – Machines
  • Pavilion – epiCentre & Connect
  • Publika – iStore & My Chameleon
  • Suria KLCC – Machines
  • The Gardens Mall – Machines
  • AEON Anggun Rawang – IT World
  • Atria – Mac Studio
  • Bukit Tinggi – Machines
  • eCurve – epiCentre
  • Digital Mall – iStore
  • Empire Shopping Gallery – Machines
  • Encorp Strand Mall – IT World
  • IOI Mall – epiCentre
  • Jaya Shopping Mall – Mac Studio
  • KLIA 2 – Machines & Connect
  • Lim Kok Wing University – epiCentre
  • Paradigm Mall – Mac Studio & My Chameleon
  • Setia Mall – Machines
  • Sunway Pyramid – Machines & Connect
  • The Main Place – Machines
  • The School Jaya One – iStore


  • First Avenue – iStudy
  • AEON Seri Manjung – IT World
  • AEON Station 18 – IT World
  • AEON Taiping – IT World
  • Ipoh Parade – IT World
Negeri Sembilan
  • Palm Mall – IT World
  •  City Square – Machines
  • Desa Tebrau – Machines
  • Komtar JBCC -Ascentouch Resources
  • Danga City Mall – Ascentouch Resources
  • Sutera Mall – Ascentouch Resources
  • Batu Pahat Mall – Ascentouch Resources
  • KB Mall – IT World
  • Ba Zhong Commercial Centre- Pronova
  • Prima Square –
  • Bintang Plaza – Optiprimus

Disclosure: The Rhino Shield Crash Guard and Rhino Shield Screen Protector set is provided courtesy of Distexpress (M) Sdn Bhd, the authorized distributor of Rhino Shield in Malaysia.

Press Release: Amnig | I Am Warrior 10km Run

6th August, 2015: Selangor was the official launch of Amnig| I Am Warrior 10km Run. Organized by AG Lifestyle Sdn Bhd and officiated by Mr. Colin Cheang, the Chief Executive Officer of Amnig, this event returns for the second year after a very successful turnout for Amnig | Run To The Max 2014.

Inspired by last year’s event, this year’s theme – I Am Warrior 10km Run’s vision and aspiration is to promote not only running as a healthy lifestyle but also to instill a spirit of warrior facing every challenges with full commitment and endurance to the last. Incorporated into this year’s run are  fun activities before and after. We have received many sponsors to collaborate with us.


  • Warm up session by E-Fitness.
  • Warrior face paint challenge.
  • Taping for prevention by WQ Park.

During: Beverage by Suntory at various interval drink station.


  • Light refreshments & Suntory Beverage
  • Amnig mini runway show.
  • Prize Giving.
  • Face painting challenge result.
  • Lucky draws.
  • Amnig : wheel of fortune.
  • Speed Kick challenge demonstrating speed, agility, strength.
  • Therapist demonstration of preventive and recovering of injuries.
  • E-Fitness displaying their services.

And that is not all, goodies bag full of surprises – for starters a specially designed Dry-Fit running T-Shirt awaits you.

With the 4 categories opened for registration, the event has received encouraging response from the running community. The Organizer target to register 2,000 runners over the two (2) distances – 10km and 5km.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Amnig | I Am Warrior 10km Run is scheduled to be held on the 6th December 2015, at West Garden Boulevard, ONE City, Selangor.

Online registration of Amnig| I Am Warrior 10km Run can be made at The Marathon shop. For group registration with discount, register at or email to Do also “Like” the event page on Facebook at

Race Entry Pack Collection
Date : 3rd & 4th December 2015 (Time : 12pm – 8pm); 5th December 2015 (Time : 10am – 6pm)
Venue : Amnig Concept Store @ 83A, Jalan 21/37, Damansara Utama, PJ.

About Amnig:
Amnig (a private label) is a sportswear focusing on performance and sports-inspired lifestyle design and make for running, training, wellness / fitness and team sports. The high quality De-Hydrato fabric is used in our “Amnig Maxforce Compression” line for HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) sports e.g. mixed martial arts, boot camp and triathlon.

Amnig’s emblem, the contour of the face of a race horse, symbolising speed, agility and strength inspiring our workmanship/ innovation in material and design to new boundaries by fusing , sports and lifestyle to creating comfortable sportswear for warm-ups (pre-workout) and fashionable for high street lifestyle (post-workout). Shop online at at an affordable price.


Amnig has kindly offered 9 slots for readers of the blog to participate in the Amnig | I Am Warrior 10km Run on 6th December. This is a fast route, for sure. All you’ve to do is to put a comment under this post that you’d like to run. Simple isn’t it? Do include your valid email so that I can send you the registration form you to complete and return to me before 31st Oct. Thanks Amnig!

Shoe Review: Altra Torin 2.0

Note: Be sure to read to the end of the review to know how you can get the Altra shoes at a special time-limited price!

I’ve been intrigued by the shoes from Altra for a number of years. Alas, they were not sold in the country, and are not as widely distributed in other parts of the world which I’ve visited. What captivated me was the trademark wide toe box (marketed as FootShape) their shoes come in as well as their take on Zero Drop which adopts a cushioned approach as opposed to the “ground feel” approach taken by other companies. The only cushioned zero drop shoe I know before the Torin was Saucony Virrata.

From Altra running website.

The sizing of Altra shoes are slightly different. For example I typically wear a US10 (exceptions are 10.5 for certain adidas models or even 11 for some of Nike’s), but fit the US9.5 on the Torin. The best way to be sure of your Altra sizing is to utilize the Shoefitr Guide Altra included in their product page. Enter your current shoe brand and size and you’ll get the Altra equivalent.

Since the Torin 2.0 is my very first Altra, I’m unable to comment on how it measures up against the 1.5 or other models although I read from other reviews than the 2.0 has a lower toe box (but same width) than the 1.5. Stack height of the 2.0 are 27mm front and back, so it’s not as close to the ground as most lightweight performance shoes out there. In comparison, the 11.1oz GOrun Ultra Road (US10, reviewed here) has a 30/26 stack height.

The entire upper is made of close-knit mesh. Due to the prevailing air quality issues, I’ve not been able to take the 2.0 on long runs to determine the breathability of the upper. I’ve not had sweaty feet from the couple of short ones I’ve managed, though.

Lateral view.

Medial view.

Welded overlays with generous reflective strips go round the shoe. The Torin’s upper has a soft feel to the touch. Lacing is the regular type and the flat laces are non-stretchable. Incidentally, the lace eyelets are pretty snug, so a one-handed approach to removing the laces won’t be as easy.

The Torin 2.0 has an semi-rigid internal heel counter and the silvery strips you see are reflective!

The Torin 2.0 has a segmented midsole which makes for a soft and flexible ride. Comprising of dual layer EVA with A-Bound foams which Altra claims to result in less compression over time

Finally, FootPod outsole mimics the bones and tendons of the human foot where lugs are mapped to the foot. The pods are both foam and rubber depending on the areas of wear. It’s nice to note that solid rubber are used directly under the toe off zone of the shoe because I expect that area to be stressed the most. Deep flex grooves cut this way and that throughout the outsole, attracting small pebbles along the way.

The wear experience of the Torin 2.0 is unlike any I’ve experienced before. Its pillowy plushness is reminiscent of the Skechers GOrun Ultra (GRU) yet with a lower stack height and a zero drop configuration, the Torin 2.0 provides better road feel (albeit still considerably muted) and added nimbleness to the wearer’s movements. Its interior has an almost sock-like feel. All that in a package that are a couple of ounces lighter than the GRU.

There’s a noticeable midfoot bump when you first put on the shoe but that feeling goes away as you start your run. There’s always a hint of bounce that came along with every midfoot landing and forefoot toe off. At first, I was quite conscious of my gait, this being a zero drop shoe and all, but after a few Ks into the run, my pace started to pick up and I was able to settle into a nice momentum. The smooth and bouncy ride was one that was easy to like. It certainly felt refreshing to step away from the “if-you-don’t-feel-the-road-you’re-not-wearing-the-right-shoe” school of thought because heck, it was pretty enjoyable running in the Torin, short the runs may have been. Once well and fully adapted, the runner should have no problem taking the Torin for marathons and beyond.

Lighter than Nimbus, Vomero, Triumph, GRU, Ultra Boost.

Nevertheless, the shoe is still a zero drop and thus, some transition is necessary to work yourself into the new way to run on top of letting your body adjust to the added loading on the achilles. Altra has done a great job in providing plenty of tips and information on how to transition to their shoes on their website. Below is the recommended transition period as suggested by the company.

Suggested transition period by Altra.

From the purveyors of Zero Drop and FootShape toe box comes the Torin 2.0, a cushioned and lightweight take on the zero drop movement. In my limited time in them, I really like the roomy toe box and its blend of plush cushioning with bouncy responsiveness. Which is why I’m so darn frustrated of not being able to run outdoors with the continuing smog.

Runners Unite has kindly offered readers of this blog a special 30% discount. All you’ve to do is to quote ALTRAJAMIE when making your purchase online by visiting and sending a PM via or Whatsapp Miss Tan at +60124230661. Offer ends Oct 12th 2015, so if you’ve been wanting to try on an Altra, now’s the time!

Disclaimer: The Altra Torin 2.0 was a review pair provided by the Runners Unite and I continue to be frustrated by the air quality and thus missing out on more runtime in the Torin!


Subang Jaya 10K Race Report

Barely 200m into the race, I turned and told CY that that was the furthest I’d run in a week. The country was so badly hit by smog from Indonesia (allegedly perpetrated by Malaysian and Singaporean plantation companies) that going outdoors was a foolhardy undertaking.

Initially I was quite unaffected by the foul air quality but eventually the inevitable hit – feeling of malaise, body sores, stuffy and watery nose was plain depressing. Around the same time, my lower back flared up with dull discomfort that spread to the glutes. It wasn’t exactly a fun time leading up to what would’ve been a frantic series of races in September. Better now than December, I suppose.

In any event, the air quality was fantastic as I drove to the USJ6 Shell station at 5am. I was glad to have made the decision to arrive early since more and more cars started to pour into the location, looking for valuable parking spots. I munched on a cereal bar and drank from a bottle while slowly taking the time to gear up.

Photo-bombed by a nose digger! Photo courtesy of Mrs Cap’n.

A couple of hours later, we were flagged off by MPs Hannah Yeoh and Wong Chen. The plan was to run really easy and not let the stress take its toll on the recovering body – am still on meds after all. The crowd wasn’t that big and most elites were either at the BHP Run or had run the Firefighters’ Half the evening before. However as the roads opened up, so did the crowd and I was able to stride along nicely. Zijill, CY, Nick and Choo were just behind. By the time we turned into Persiaran Setia, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to sustain the 4:44 2nd K and thus picked a cup of drink and simply stood aside waiting for the rest to catch up. From that point till the 8K mark, we ran together.

Without a word to Zijill, Nick, CY and I conspired to pull her along to what we had hoped, a podium position. We had counted the number of women in her category on the other side of the road and thought from the looks of their expressions and form, she would be able to pick them off one by one.

And that started a fun, and thankfully distracting pastime for me, working with CY to pull Zijill past the other women. It was fun playing the stalking game. Heck, if I wasn’t able to race satisfactorily, I might as well help a (hopefully) future GCAMer along to a good finish.

That we did, passing one after the other until she moved from 10th to 7th. Eventually, I couldn’t sustain the pace and the increasingly warm weather (the smog had also returned) was taking its toll. I had to let her go on her own after the final water station. I peered behind but CY didn’t make the move to take over. I spotted 2 more women ahead which I wasn’t sure if she eventually dropped.

Photo courtesy of Mrs Cap’n.

CY caught up with me as I ran the final 200m on the track and the result was the goofy shot you see above. Overall, it was a well organized race. Naturally when the organizers decided on a 7:30am start there was going to be traffic management challenges. Subang Jaya is a mature and thriving township, and we did encounter a few intersections where the motorists weren’t as willing in sharing their roads. If only we had started at 6:45 or 7am, it would’ve been a win-win situation for most people.

I rushed back to the car and brought out the MPIG Run flyers for distribution – the gang thankfully helped in the distribution (thanks guys!). That done, it was back home for the familial duties.

Having evaluated my present circumstances, I will log a DNS for SCKLM in a couple of weeks’ time. It’s just too much too soon for me. I’m in no condition to run especially when the air quality remain poor. Instead I’ll focus on getting well and slowly work myself back to race fitness once the smog blows over.

Shoe Review: Saucony Zealot ISO

Most runners know Saucony from the Lexington-based company’s best seller, the Kinvara. The Kinvara continues to work well for me, having worn it for 2 of my best marathons to-date. It offers lightweight responsive cushioning in a 4mm drop configuration that’s neither too minimalist nor overly engineered monstrosities.

But Saucony has a few stalwarts in its stable of shoes too, from the dependable workhorses like Ride, Guide, Hurricane to the Triumph (review by CY here). On the lighter end of the scale, there’s the Endorphin Racer, Fastwitch (both of which unfortunately aren’t sold in this country) and Virrata. And now, there’s another which is a little harder to peg, the Zealot ISO.

Released as part of the 3-shoe ISO series (the other 2 being the Triumph ISO and Hurricane ISO) in early 2015, the Zealot is a completely new shoe. Some say it replaces the Cortana (not related to a certain IT company from Redmond!) but I’ve no experience in the Cortana to comment on that. It’s a harder shoe to define, since it’s a little of everything – it doesn’t appear as performance-based as the Kinvara, yet the Zealot is lighter than Ride (and just 0.2oz heavier that the Breakthru). Plus, it has an offset of 4mm, similar to the Kinvara. Let me try to break it down as simply as I can, starting with the upper.

ISOFIT, if you’re unaware, is Saucony’s fitting technology, an inner sleeve or bootie that wraps around the foot. The sock-like fit is then complemented by the external cage which functions like fingers extending upwards from the midsole providing a semblance of structure and support to the shoe. The ISOFIT sleeve has a soft spine running down the middle (in blue) and ventilated mesh on either side of it. The construction and choice of material of the ISOFIT allow for a fit that’s just right, never constrictive nor overly snug. The use of mesh means ventilation isn’t compromised either. The vamp sports a zigzag patterned mesh and the upper is held together by soft PU and welded overlays, as well as harder plastics towards the rear.

The cage looks like a stencil cut-out. Since the material used isn’t as thick as those from Salomon or adidas, the weight of the shoe is kept low. The Zealot’s flat laces are minimally stretchable and secures the shoe well in all my runs without coming undone. I’ve tested this via single or double knotting and I always ended my runs not having to stop to re-tie my shoes.

Although the fit is near perfect for me (forefoot is a little roomier than the Kinvara), some could experience minimal bunching of the ISOFIT spine should they cinch the laces a little too tightly. When auditioning the shoe, just try out several sizes to be sure you get your best fit.

At 8.95oz (254g) for my US10, the Zealot would be in the sweet spot for many runners as their marathon shoe. In contrast, Asics Nimbus 17 and Cumulus 17 weigh 11.4oz and 12.6oz (US9) respectively. Each ounce of weight saved without having to compromise on the support and cushioning counts a lot over the course of 42KM. Running light is even more crucial if that 42KM comes after a tough swim and an energy-sapping bike ride.

The all-round padding isn’t excessive. Saucony wisely left the plusher treatment to the Triumph ISO. So what we get on the Zealot feels just nice. RunDry material around the collar is standard in the ISO Series and Kinvara, so you can find the same here as well. Since the tongue is part of the ISOFIT system, you won’t be annoyed by any slippage.

Around the back, an external heel counter cups and locks the heel down nicely. I like the fact that the piece of plastic is configured differently – broader near the base for support and in strip form towards the collar. Again, weight savings without compromising the support.

Still on the upper, there are plenty of large reflective elements all over the shoe, even on the outsole. Added to that is the ViziOrange colorway that will ensure you stand out under all lighting conditions.

There’s a considerable amount of midsole flare here, just like what you would see on the Kinvara.

Midsole flare is quite substantial here.

The perforated sockliner is removable and sits on top of a layer of thin foam.

The task of support and cushioning falls on the PWRGRID+ (Powergrid+) midsole. The crash pad, the yellow section in the photo below, is made of SRC (Special Rebound Compound), and it’s meant to offer a smoother heel to toe transition.

The outsole is largely a full contact one. As you can see, the instep is filled in (blue triangular foam in the arch area) resulting in a pretty stable shoe. While there are scuffing marks there – it’s made of foam anyway – other sections of the outsole are without a doubt durable. The yellow lugs, interspersed with deep flex grooves, from the front to midsection are made of IBR+ (Injection Blown Rubber) which is the firmest form of blown rubber I’ve experienced. The orange bits at the heel section are Saucony’s XT900 carbon rubber, which are even harder to the touch. So how does it all come together?

I’ve logged over 50K in the Zealot and one of the reasons why I nearly always reach out for it is because of its versatility. It’s built like a traditional shoe, but has a 4mm drop similar to that of the Kinvara (my favorite marathon shoe). At the same time it’s at least 2 ounces lighter than most trainers in the market today. It has a plush step-in feel but takes on a different character the moment you take your first steps, which is when you’ll notice the firmness of the outsole. Thankfully, that initial jarring effect is tempered by the softer Powergrid+ midsole, so the firmness never gets into uncomfortable territory. The same could be said of the heel where the slight stiffness goes away once you get into a groove.

This is a shoe that will be enjoyed running at a brisker pace due to that responsive nature. Toe spring is moderate but enough to get you a smooth and snappy toe-off.

The longest distance covered in the Zealot was a 21K of varied pace and elevation. It’s light enough that I’m able to get into a quick cadence going up the hills and protective enough to dampen the shocks coming down the other side. I encountered no hotspots nor any irritation of any sort from the ISOFIT sleeve. A friend has even worn it for a 60K road ultra and raved about it.

The Zealot is, without a doubt, one of the most versatile shoes out there.  Some may feel that not having a standout quality is a sign of weakness but just look at the football giants and their utility players who can play in any position, covering end-to-end and plugging holes in the team. There’s always room for such players in the clubs. And there’s always room in the crowded shoe cabinet for a shoe like the Zealot.

Disclaimer: The Saucony Zealot ISO is a sample pair provided courtesy of Saucony Malaysia. It is available now from Running Lab and Stadium outlets for RM469.

Shoe Review: adidas Supernova Glide Boost 7

Note: Be sure to read until the end of the post, to find out how you can purchase the adidas Supernova Glide Boost 7 at a very special price.

The second half of the year is typically extremely busy. As such, I very much prefer my key races to be over and done with in the first half. Exceptions, however, can be made for the Standard Chartered KL Marathon (SCKLM) since it’s the home marathon and the organizing team is one which engages fellow runners instead of just focusing on reeling in the numbers.

I was invited by adidas Malaysia to the launch of the official licensed merchandise of the SCKLM yesterday. Since I was going to be out of the office to settle a few pressing matters in the Bangsar area, I took the opportunity to first spend an hour at the adidas outlet in Gardens. One of the products to be featured was the Supernova Glide Boost 7 (SGB7), a neutral cushioned trainer.

adidas first debuted the Boost midsole material on the Energy Boost and has since updated many of their shoes to the midsole platform with much success. The Boost midsole has been one of the best I’ve experienced and if there’s one downside, it would be that their shoes are increasingly generic looking. The SGB7 is as generic as they come. To the casual observer, it could very well have been the Sequence Boost, Response Boost or even the grand-daddy Energy Boost. While I don’t have the Sequence and Response, I’ve enjoyed wearing the Boston Boost 5, Adios Boost, Energy Boost, and Ultra Boost [review]. And also plenty of other brands. So hopefully I can put the SGB7 into perspective.

The SGB7 isn’t a flyweight shoe. At 11.25oz for US10, it’s a full ounce heavier than the Energy Boost [review], the extra baggage comes from the additional layers of mesh (see photo below where the green layer peeks out from under the top layer mesh) as opposed to the Techfit upper used on the Energy Boost.

Engineered mesh upper. Not sure why the mi logo is still there though, since the company has done away with the pod device for some time.

The toe box is surprisingly roomy, uncharacteristic of adidas. My toes were able to splay and the upper is a little stretchy. As such there’s no restriction even if you dorsi-flex your toes. There’s a thick welded overlay across the front of the toe box and moving to the midsection of the shoe, the 3 stripes work in unison with the lacing system to give a secure fit. There are no

The external heel counter is quite substantial, similar to that found on the Energy Boost. There are plenty of reflective elements all over the shoe, with the branding stripes, and the logo and model name providing different levels of passive shine.

Step-in feel leans towards soft rather than plush and the same feeling extends to the toe-off as well. The SGB7 isn’t as plush nor pillowy soft as the Ultra Boost but your feet will still be pretty pampered, with the dampened road feel. I’d say that the forefoot cushioning sits nicely between that of the Ultra Boost and the Energy Boost.

The tongue is integrated with the upper in the form of a sleeve/bootie, so there’s no chance of it sliding around over the course of a run. Since the bootie is pretty thin, the shoe’s breathability isn’t compromised. The SGB7 isn’t as airy as the GRUR but at least I didn’t end up with a soggy shoe on a very hot run.

The SGB7 has a flared midsole especially towards the rear of the shoe, which provides some degree of stability. If it isn’t obvious enough already, you’ll notice that the shoe’s midsole comprises of 2 layers of foam where a firmer green EVA layer sits on top of the softer Boost. Interestingly the green material doesn’t cover the entire forefoot – I discovered this after removing the sockliner (a thin material carpets the surface under it) only to reveal 2 cutaways exposing the Boost foam instead of the green material which I now believe occupies only the fringes of the forefoot section.  This setup creates a softer push-off for the runner, with the road feel in that area more muted than that experienced in the Energy Boost.

Notice the exposed areas in the forefoot area, exposing the Boost midsole.

Continental rubber outsoles used on several Boost models have proven their durability and traction qualities, and it’s nice that the SGB7 is accorded the same treatment as well. AdiWear rubber is used in the heel section. Connecting both forefoot and heel is the TPU torsion shank. Again, these are typical configurations used on adidas shoes. Forefoot flexibility is adequate.

I’m a Michelin fan but Continental rubber works fantastically well on selected adidas shoes.

The 7th version of the Supernova Glide Boost is a fine shoe for long runs. It offers a good balance of durable cushioning and support, and substantially cheaper than the Energy Boost. I’ve read from other reviews that other comparable shoes are the Saucony Ride 8 and Nike Pegasus 32 but it pretty much comes down to your preference of fit, responsiveness, cushioning and weight. If you’re running the Standard Chartered KL Marathon and are interested in snagging the SGB7, be sure to read the offer stated in the Disclosure below.

Disclosure: The adidas Supernova Glide Boost 7 is a media sample provided courtesy of Adidas (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. Initial review is based after running and walking in them for close to 30K. Its available now at Adidas boutiques in the country, retailing for RM430. For a limited time only, the shoe is offered at a special price of RM299 to registered runners of the Standard Chartered KL Marathon. All you need to do to enjoy the price is to show proof of your race registration when purchasing the shoes at the adidas stores.

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