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Kasumigaura Marathon 2016

When \\\\\\\"blustery\\\\\\\" wasn\\\\\\\'t even the right word. Read the race report here!

31st Marathon and my 6th Consecutive GCAM. Race report here.

 

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Gold Coast Airport Marathon Race Report

This year’s trip to the Gold Coast was a mixed outing for me. On one hand, I was thrilled to finally have the family along this time, and we also saw a record number of Malaysians in the race. There were also a number of firsts for me: visited a couple of theme parks, a wildlife sanctuary, drove the streets of the Gold Coast and up to Mt. Tamborine and an unforgettable cruise along the calm waters off Runaway Bay.

On the other hand, with the nagging PF impeding a more aggressive approach to training (although I did run the risk of greater issues by hitting 130K over 8 days prior to taper week), I wasn’t able to run the race I wanted to. I started the marathon with a heavily taped foot and an anti-inflammatory tablet post Saturday’s shakedown run when there was still pronounced pain. I really don’t want this to sound like an excuse for a below par performance, so this will be the only part I make reference to the PF being an impediment. The race was run and I didn’t hit the goal time and that was that. After analyzing the past 2 years’ splits and training, some things will have to change before my next marathon.

The HTT group which traveled from MY on Thursday. Photo taken at the Currumbin Life Saving Club adjacent to the scenic Elephant Rock Lookout.

Touching down at Coolangatta late Friday morning after a 5-hour sleep, I could afford a more leisurely bedding-in period, adjusting to the weather and the addictively languid, yet for some reason exciting, vibes the Gold Coast offers. This was my 6th consecutive running of GCAM and I’m ever closer to the 10-year club! There were over 250 Malaysians for GCAM16, so while there were many of us on the same flight, there were just as many independent travelers outside the tour group who were already in Australia. Lunch was at the Currumbin Life Saving Club right next to the Elephant Rock Lookout where the views were just stunning all-round. Next port-of-call was of course the Expo for the race number collection. Everyone was very disciplined and made it out of there on time for the shuttle ride to the Mantra Legends Hotel for check-in. Very smoothly managed by Holiday Tours & Travel (HTT) so far. As much as I wanted to sort out my stuff in the room, a run to stretch out the legs appeared more appropriate at that time and after rounding up a few from the training group, we headed towards Broadbeach before returning by way of the Gold Coast Highway to the hotel. Not before running into superstar Yuki Kawauchi (who would place a second behind the winner Kenneth Mugara on Sunday) jogging in a polo top! He acknowledged my  “Gambare Kawauchi-san!” shout with a big smile and a resounding “Hai!” and a big wave. Such a character! After an early dinner of bacon pizza with Jeanie and family and the training group guys, and getting some drinks from the supermarket, I was back at the hotel to call it a day.

At the expo. A number had gone into the expo hall for the bib collection and shopping!

7K run to loosen up the legs. Included some photo sessions along the way!

Saturday meant the arrival of the photogenic duo of Nick and CY. While CY needs no effort in looking good for the camera, Nick has vowed to hug everything in sight with a vengeance. As arranged, the plan was to meet at the Surfers Paradise arch for the Shakedown Run. Before that, I needed a quick apparel change back at the hotel following a fantastic lunch at The Fishhouse Restaurant. By the time I hustled there, a large group had already congregated and everyone looked set to really enjoy themselves the next day. Plenty of photo ops ensued but we were only able to cover just half the planned distance due to some road works on the way to Main Beach. No one complained though as they probably had an eye on next morning’s race. Dinner consisted of cappuccino and a super-large plate of pasta – in that order. With the race gear packed, there was one final thing to do which was to tape the right foot up before hitting the sack at 10:30pm.

Shakedown Run

I leapt up at the first sound of the 4:15am alarm and after the bathroom rituals, wolfed down 2 energy bars and half a bottle of sports drinks. By 5:20am we were at the hotel lobby ready to move out.

5:20am at the lobby of the Mantra Legends.

Race morning was expectedly cold. As I stood at the tram stop at 5:30am with the guys, I was glad to have layered up very well – a Saucony tri-top, 2 disposable race tees, a Saucony hoodie and EXO windproof jacket. I also had my Saucony beanie and gloves on, so I was warm and toasty. We got on the first tram to arrive and 20 minutes later we were at Southport joining the hordes of runners walking to the race precinct. The Halfies were just flagged off so we had to wait a little before crossing over to the main field. Security presence was strong and there was better human traffic control this time around.

At the Surfers Paradise tram stop @ 5:30am.

It wasn’t quite as windy this year and we could afford to shed our layers earlier before going through the warm up routines. Along the walk to the start corrals, I joined a number of locals in watering a tree. Considering the level I was at, I’d downgraded my original goal to finishing in any timing under 4 hours, which was still dicey given the circumstances. I positioned myself in front of the 4-hour pacers, a position I would maintain until the 38K mark (more later). GCAM is known for being a sunny race, at least all the previous 5 editions I’ve ran have been so. This year would be the same. Temps hovered around 15-17 Celcius early part of the race and peaked at 20 Celcius when I finished. Real-feel was hotter since it was cloudless.

It was approximately 10 Celcius at 6am with temps rising.

As it turned out, I ran very well hitting all the splits necessary for my original goal time (OGT) right up 26K before I started dropping 20 seconds per K. It may not sound like much but with over 16K left to run, that trend would mathematically add up to more than 5 minutes lost. In reality however, one would usually lose between 30 seconds to a full minute per km. Or more.

By 30K I was a full minute behind the OGT. By 35K the deficit had risen to 3 minutes. I was well and truly beaten way before I even hit the turnaround at Runaway Bay. The cramps on both quads and calves were so severe that I thought I’d fall. Since the little steps of the portable toilets could potentially trip me over, I decided to just pee in my shorts. Water was plentiful to wash it off anyway and I needn’t waste anymore time struggling in the toilet than I’d already lost.

I’d stopped looking at the watch for some time but the thought of my kids kept me going. I didn’t want to give up like this. Just when I started to rally myself, the gun-time 4-hour pacer and his charges passed me! Sigh…

Washed and dried!

If you’d seen me then (thank goodness for the absence of photographers along that final part of the route!), you’d agree that my running form was far less graceful than a person in crutches attempting a Swan Lake routine. In the haze of pain and self-deprecating thoughts I was lavishing on myself, a Race Motivator suddenly popped up, urging on another fellow sufferer next to me. Her words of encouragement resonated with me and kept me going.

Along with the many supporters along the course, the kids I high-fived earlier, and the record number of times my name was cheered, I credit this Motivator for getting me across the finish line in 3:57.58 (net time). An implausible yet very fortunate timing given how bad a shape my quads were in. I also think my decision to pee on the go worked in my favor as well. I would have wasted 2 more precious minutes had I ventured to the potty.

Nearly everyone in the photo PR’d, some rather spectacularly!

Once back at the agreed meeting point between the stage and the baggage tents, there was so much happy news of awesome results all round that my disappointment was completed forgotten. Nearly everyone ran their best timings in GCAM16. Jessie got her Boston Qualifier, which really wasn’t a surprise given her standout (albeit compressed) training. Plenty of sub-4 performances by many too. It was a truly wonderful moment to be there listening to their race accounts and I couldn’t be happier for them!

All these ladies PR’d: 1 missed going under 4 hours by a shade, 1 BQ’d, 1 finished under 5 hours!

With my 31st marathon done, I can strongly attest that it doesn’t get easier. You battle Father Time and his baggage – slower recovery, higher chances of injury among them – in pursuit of improving yourself. It’s time to reconsider another approach to training rather than to doggedly pursue the old ways. The marathon remains my focus because I know that I can do better.

All the 2016 medals.

 

A post breakfast group photo back home to wrap up the year’s GCAM edition.

Despite the rather poor personal showing, this year’s GCAM has been a runaway success.

    • Record overseas participation, including from Malaysia.
    • Better race day weather than last year.
    • Crowd support continues to grow.
    • Thrilling finish in the men’s marathon. Looks like Yuki Kawauchi (whose mom raced a 3:48 marathon in the same race!) will be returning yet again next year – he’s obviously hooked to the Gold Coast :D !
    • Greater number of runners in the training group (please join us for training!)- made plenty of new friends with whom I’m sure will continue to train with us. Team Malaysia truly personified the “Come For The Run, Stay For The Fun” tagline! Just check out the photos below!

  • Post-race holiday with family and friends were super enjoyable. We drove, cruised, ate plenty of seafood, trekked (a little!), got close to the local wildlife, and took in the cool and clean air of the mountains and sea.

I would also like to thank Khim, Tourism and Events Queensland and the organizing team behind GCAM for their hospitality and support to Team Malaysia. Not forgetting RSH-Saucony Malaysia and AfterShokz Malaysia for the gear. And of course, much appreciation to my family for their undying support during my marathon training – they may not understand the reasons behind the early morning runs and grouchiness of missed workouts but they’ve always pulled more than their share of chores around the house. It is only fair that I should always do my best and honor their sacrifice in every race that I do. I know the turns along the GCAM course like the back of my hand and I’ll be back to do it justice next year!

AfterShokz Trekz Titanium Headphone Review

In all of my reviews on earbuds and earphones, I’ve always emphasized on the importance of exercising safety when considering running outdoors to music. I’ve my personal safety protocol when it comes to running with earbuds plugged in.

Music continues to feature in many of my runs these days, more so these days having moved nearly half of my weekday sessions to 5:30am. On double days, I alternate between the outdoors and the treadmill. Without some kind of diversion, I wouldn’t be able to get through the miles without losing my sanity!

When I read about a new sports headphones to hit the Malaysian shores recently that focuses on safety, my interest was piqued. Relying on bone-conduction, the AfterShokz Trekz Titanium (ATT) lets you listen through teeny vibrations generated by patented transducers which are then conducted to the wearer’s inner ear by way of the cheekbones. As you can guess, that method leaves the ear canals uncovered, all the better to allow the wearer retain a fantastic level of situational awareness. I’ve put the gear to test and came away pretty impressed. There are some compelling pluses and some areas which can be improved, so let’s get to it.

Where are the earphones? I was listening to music when I took this shot. :D

The ATT comes in a medium-sized box and inside is where you’ll find a zippered soft carry case, a QRG (Quick Reference Guide), a pair of foam earplugs, a pair of silicone FitBand (should you require a snugger fit), a micro USB cable, and a small 2-year warranty card with online registration. The earphones itself is made of flexible titanium encased in silicone sleeve so you can confidently handle the device with confidence. The micro USB charging port is located under the rubber seal and 45-minute charge from a PC topped up the juice – charge indicator will change from red to blue. The unit probably still had a good amount of juice left hence the shorter than the published period of 90 minutes.

Micro USB port for charging.

Blue = fully charged!

The Volume Up button doubles up as the power button as well and the wearer will be greeted by a female voice prompt. The first pairing was with my iPhone which was very easily and quickly done.

Pairing was very easily done.

Bluetooth and battery level indicator are displayed on the phone.

From then on, it was a matter of getting acquainted with the unique listening experience. Unique because with the other earbuds, surrounding sounds are always blocked out, allowing for an immersive musical experience. With the AfterShokz, you get to hear everything from the sound of the photocopier, colleagues chatting and of course, your music. Audio quality (AQ) is a mixed bag. On paper, the frequency response ranges from 20Hz to 20KHz, which isn’t the most dynamic in the market. Given that the Trekz Titanium adopts an open-ear concept, the music will always lose the low-ends. If you’re looking for thumping bass, the ATT will not impress. However, the mids and highs were surprisingly open and presented with great clarity. The AQ will vary by wearer due to anatomical differences, sensitivity to frequencies and how one positions the device. You do have the option to stick the 2 foam plugs in to block off the outside noise resulting in AQ changes – bass levels are immediately boosted, ideal for casual listening when not working out.

A point worth noting is that there’s a little sensation of vibration when music is being played depending on how loud you’ve set the volume. It isn’t uncomfortable but I thought it’s something I should mention.

Sweating profusely but the ATT still held on nicely.

With the indoor listening out of the way, it was time to take the ATT outdoors. Since I dislike lugging my phone when I run, I paired the headphones to the iPod Nano 7th Gen. To pair the ATT to another device, just hold down the power button to put it back into search mode. The Bluetooth pairing was quicker than my Garmin in acquiring a sat lock, so it was a very quick affair as well.

Again, there was practically no bounce from the ATT, even when the pace picked up. I was able to detect all ambient sounds, passing traffic, approaching vehicles from behind and to even engage in a conversation. It was as if I was running to background music rather than an in-your-face experience. If anything, I found toggling the volume to be a rather fastidious affair, finding it hard to engage the correct buttons.

The ATT fits over the ear and the transducers rest just in front of your ear, on your cheekbone. Looking at the Trekz Titanium’s band, I thought that the headphones will bounce a fair bit as I run but none of that happened. Well, I’m pleased to report that I thought wrong. The fit was secure from the get-go. Changing of the tracks were easily done with the multi-function button on the left earpiece. Double-tapping it will advance to the next track while triple-tapping it will reverse the selection. Pausing requires a single tap as is taking a call (which I separately tested at home) via 2 noise-canceling mics located at the tip of both earpieces.

Techies will be interested in the spec sheet below:

 

So the AfterShokz has surprised me. Granted, one shouldn’t expect ground-shaking audiophile quality music (even though the mids and highs are pretty sweet) out of it but as workout headphones with a strong emphasis on safety, it performs as described. A few friends and I remarked that it would be nice if a 4GB flash memory for music storage can be incorporated into the left earpiece so that there’s no need to carry around another MP3 player or phone.

Pluses:

  • Excellent situational awareness.
  • Bluetooth.
  • Good fit with no bounce.
  • Very easy to connect.
  • Voice prompt.
  • IP55 sweat-resistance.
  • 6-hour battery life should accommodate most training runs.
  • Open mids and highs.
  • Reasonable pricing for a pair of Bluetooth earphones.

Can Be Improved:

  • No internal flash storage.
  • Weak low end
  • Access to volume controls needed some getting used to.

Word of caution: Regardless of the earphone design, please be always mindful of traffic and other safety threats. Always use your better judgment and never listen at extreme levels of volume.

AfterShokz Trekz Titanium is distributed by Distexpress (M) Sdn Bhd and retails for RM499. is available at TheMarathonShop outlets.

Disclosure: The product was made available for my use as an AfterShokz Ambassador.

A Prolonged Case Of The Pee-Eff

This file is made available under the Creative Commons

The last 4 months have proven to be a testing period for me, running-wise. Hardly a run went by without some level of discomfort and pain as a result of a prolonged bout of PF. I’ve not sought external consultation and treatment but I suspected that the flare-up was caused by a session in a racing flat early in the year. Per standard PF symptoms, the pain centered around the heel and arch areas of my right foot but unlike the usual cases, the pain can strike at anytime of the day, even when I was seated or in bed.

I’ve been blessed with staying injury-free for as long as I’ve been running (since the early ’90s!) by exercising caution and not hesitating in taking a couple of days off if I don’t feel right, so this was downright annoying. As a result, I’d been training sub-par, laying off nearly all speedwork and hillwork, and also limiting my time in 4mm-drop shoes. The Saucony Ride 8 became my go-to training shoes and I even ran Kasumigaura Marathon in the 8mm Breakthru. When I needed a bit of pace, I relied on the Zealot (while 4mm, it afforded a cushy ride).

Then a couple of days’ ago, the pain disappeared. It was literally a heavy day with strength training sandwiched between 2 runs. The discomfort, still present and noticeable, wasn’t as pronounced in the morning right up to the early evening. However, as I cleared each mile, I suddenly realized that there was no pain in the area. A little apprehensive, I waited a week to see if the condition stayed the same or if the pain would recur.

Now that the monitoring period has elapsed, I’m pleased to update that for the most part the pain is gone. The discomfort no longer reach the levels nor persistence I’ve experienced in the last few months to the point that I ‘m now able to engaged in faster-paced running and maintaining form and concentration without the distraction that comes with dealing with the pain.

Now that I’m nearly recovered, I thought I’d share with you what I did to get better – it’s basically EVERYTHING. I read up whatever I could from various online resources (Competitor, RW, and other physio sites), applied release techniques, trigger point massages, rolling and stretches not only at the trouble spots but also directed plenty of focus on the calf where tightness is known to exacerbate the PF. I also taped the foot up (a placebo effect or otherwise, I found it to provide some relief) prior to Kasumigaura and came away from the race unscathed, even though I spent longer time on my feet than usual on race day due to challenging weather conditions. I watched YouTube videos to get a better idea on where to target the massaging. I believe there’s no silver bullet for the PF problem but an amalgamation of the remediation steps taken. On top of what I’ve mentioned, here are more measures which I took:

  1. Reduced my time in low drop shoes, running more in the cushier Ride 8.
  2. Wore an orthortic for arch support.
  3. Avoided over-stressing the arch and heel areas by laying off/reduce hillwork and speedwork.
  4. Incorporated stretching and massaging several times a day as part of my on-going daily routine.
  5. Be patient. Some issues just need time to resolve.
  6. Incorporated lower leg strengthening regimen as the foot got better.

The recovery couldn’t have come at a better time as GCAM16 draws nearer. If you’re saddled with PF, here’s a short video by renown Gold Coast physio, Brad Beer, on how to work that area. Here’s hoping you get better soon too!

Press Release: Saucony® Unveils Game-Changing Technology – EVERUN™

Delivering Continuous Cushioning to Runners, No Matter How Long the Run

THE ALL NEW EVERUN TECHNOLOGY
Global performance running footwear and apparel brand Saucony pulls no punches in writing the next
chapter of its performance innovation success story. Maintaining its relentless commitment to elevating the running experience through innovation, the brand announced today the launch of Saucony EVERUN™, its most advanced technology to date. Brand-new for Spring 2016, EVERUN represents a new era of cushioning innovation, delivering a continuous cushioning experience to runners, no matter how long the run.

First launched at the New York City Marathon, Saucony’s Triumph ISO 2 and Guide 9 are the first models in the Saucony line-up to be powered by EVERUN. The technology will later be incorporated into the new Hurricane ISO 2, Kinvara 7 and Peregrine 6 which is set to be available in Malaysia February 2016. EVERUN will be supported by the brand’s biggest marketing launch to date and will coincide with the retail launch of the Triumph ISO 2 and Guide 9 at the New York City Marathon. “EVERUN is not only a game-changer for us but for the industry as well,” said Patrick O’Malley, senior vice president of global product for Saucony. “Runners are once again responding to the benefits of cushioning, including increased energy return and underfoot comfort. One of the primary objectives in the development
of EVERUN was to deliver a continuous cushioning experience to runners, combining smoother landings
in the heel with reduced pressure in the forefoot.

“Our designers came up with a fundamentally new approach we call Topsole™, a breakthrough
construction process that positions our best cushioning material closer to the foot. The result is that
EVERUN delivers the same plush feel in mile one as mile twenty, continuously giving back to runners,
especially at the end of the run when they need it most,” added O’Malley.

EVERUN Delivers Two Key Benefits

Lowers Peak Pressures:
EVERUN’s patent-pending Topsole construction process positions a 3mm layer of Saucony’s revolutionary EVERUN foam material closer to the foot, directly under the sockliner, instead of embedding it in the midsole below a layer of rigid cement. This construction process distributes propulsion force over more area, reducing local peak pressures while delivering a dramatically more lively and responsive ride.

Absorbs Impact:
The EVERUN Landing Zone and heel insert provide remarkable impact protection, maintaining cushioning properties three times longer than standard EVAs while returning 83% of the energy absorbed, according to research in the Saucony Human Performance and Innovation Lab. Typical EVA foam heats up, getting softer the longer the run just when the body fatigues and needs impact protection the most. The EVERUN technology addresses this breakdown of cushioning and consequently, joint protection, in running shoes during the course of a run.

Introducing Max And Miles
The Saucony EVERUN Series of performance running shoes will be supported by the biggest marketing launch in the company’s history. “Not only is EVERUN a breakthrough in cushioning and construction technologies, but this is also the first time that Saucony is using video animation in a marketing campaign,” said Mary O’Brien, vice president of global marketing for Saucony. “We’re always looking for the best way to tell our story. We knew that video animation would not only be entertaining and fun, but it would make a rather intricate technology story clear and meaningful to runners everywhere.”

The launch campaign focuses on the ground-breaking idea behind EVERUN, occurring in a secret
laboratory in an undisclosed location. The new multichannel global marketing campaign features an
animated video starring fictional lab technicians Max and Miles, the purported inventors of EVERUN.

The conversation between Max and Miles provides a unique and amusing take on their eagerness to share their newly-discovered continuous cushioning technology with runners everywhere. While Max delivers a serious high-tech explanation of EVERUN’s myriad benefits, Miles eagerly gives his own perspective of EVERUN in excitably unscientific terms: “There’s this stuff we came up with … amazing stuff! You should see the stuff this stuff can do!”

The EVERUN Product Lineup

Triumph ISO 2


The new Triumph ISO 2, the successor to the Triumph ISO (named “Editor’s Choice” by Runner’s World; Spring 2015 Shoe Guide), is the brand’s super-plush neutral trainer now featuring a full-length EVERUN Topsole and EVERUN Landing Zone, TRI-FLEX outsole and ISOFIT upper.
RRP: RM 529.

Guide 9


The lightest Guide ever (9.7 ounces in men’s size 9) has been completely updated for Spring 2016. With
an SRC Landing Zone in the heel, a Dual Density medial post and a full-length EVERUN Topsole, the Guide 9 provides an efficient stride while also delivering a lively, resilient ride. A new TRI-FLEX outsole helps prevent late-stage pronation while a seam-free toe box provides comfort and allows the toes to splay during the latter phase of the gait cycle.
RRP: RM 469

Hurricane ISO 2


The Hurricane ISO 2, heir to the Hurricane ISO (named “Best Update” by Runner’s World; Summer 2015 Shoe Guide), blends the benefits of a premium stability shoe with unparalleled cushioning. An EVERUN Topsole and EVERUN Landing Zone along with a PWRGRID+ platform provide shock attenuation and set the foot up for an efficient transition. The ISOFIT saddle is engineered to provide additional stabilizing support. A Dual Density medial post offers superb guidance while a lightweight Support Frame secures the heel upon foot strike.
RRP: RM 529

Kinvara 7


Lockdown fit, a quick, resilient ride, and a great underfoot feeling are the calling cards of the award-winning Kinvara running experience. The latest edition gets an EVERUN Heel Insert for cushioning where it’s needed most, while the sleek, FLEXFILM-infused upper supports the foot with every stride. A new outsole configuration that includes TRI-FLEX and wider lugs delivers more ground contact and increased flexibility and durability.
RRP: RM 429

Peregrine 6


With a protected upper, heel and forefoot rock plates, and a new PWRTRAC outsole, the Peregrine 6 gives runners the means to conquer any terrain. EVERUN in the heel delivers shock-dampening cushioning, while the highly flexible midsole allows runners to adapt and react to uneven surfaces.
RRP: RM 429

For more information on EVERUN, visit:
www.saucony.com/everun
https://www.facebook.com/saucony.my/

 

 

For more information, please visit www.rshlimited.com, www.facebook.com/RSHMY.

For more information contact:
Advertising and Promotions Department
Tel: 03-5123 2668 Fax: 03-5637 0531
Yi Xuan Lai, Executive Advertising & Promotions │yixuanlai@rsh.com.my

Shoe Review: Saucony Kinvara 7

My experience with the Kinvara dates back to version 1 (ViziPro version), the 3, and 2 pairs of the 5 (the Runshield as well as the regular version). You can say that I’ve a pretty good idea on how far the K has come since the early 2000s. Since major changes are put into the odd numbered (1, 3, 5) Kinvaras, I’m in a unique position to have experienced the enhanced editions. Since I’ve ran my best marathons in the 5s, I’ve a soft spot for the Kinvara.

The K5 weighs 7.5oz while the 7 has a slight increase. Do note that the K5 has a substantial mileage logged and the wear and tear is sure to have shaved off some weight. Taking that into consideration, I’d say an increase of 0.3oz on the K7 would be a reasonable guess.

The Kinvara has always been positioned as a low drop (4mm), conventionally stacked (23/19mm) lightweight trainer/racer. Its DNA have been that of simplicity, although the shoe has seen its ride qualities alternating between soft and firm. When v7 was announced last year, I was already enthused, bugging Frank when the release dates would be. The thought of a new midsole material, new upper and a rocking look only added to the impatience! Having used the Ride 8 as a slow-burn trainer, and the Zealot ISO the ultra versatile shod, I was eager to bed in the K7 quickly in preparation for the 3 marathons I’ve committed to this year. Through the help of a friend, I secured the Tokyo edition (¥9000) and promptly got down to seasoning it. The brand had a large presence at the Tokyo Marathon expo, from the looks of the photos here.

Medial side. Moderate toe spring.

Lateral side.

The aglets have the Tokyo identity as well.

Aside from the Sakura-motifs, the Tokyo edition certainly lives up to the visual aesthetics of Toshikazu Nosaka, a pro skateboarder and artist. There’s a bit of Zen in the understated black and white colorway punctuated by the green Saucony logo. It’s been awhile since I wore a shoe with this much white and I’m torn between dirtying it and giving the shoe its due (i.e. putting many miles and getting them dirty and soiled)! #firstworldissues. A consolation is that the entire range of K7’s are lookers themselves, and replacing this pair eventually will not be as painful a thought. The regular colorways that we will see in Malaysia (3 for men, 2 for the women) will no doubt appeal to many, what with the anything-but-boring dark-to-light cues. The Boston Green Line edition which is due out in time for the world’s second oldest marathon has a simpler all-green take.

K7 Boston edition. Photos released by Saucony.

The upper is an improvement over the K5 in several ways, from the greater use of Flexfilm overlays. The sleeker logo, relocated to a more forward position, is now a thin strip which means it no longer presses down onto the top lateral side of the forefoot when flexed at push-off. The mesh looked ever more refined on the K7 as well. Apparently the position of the Pro-lock has been moved back a little for better midfoot support, but the feature isn’t something I particularly needed.

From top: K7, K5, K5 Runshield

Moisture-wicking RunDry lining continues to be used on the sockliner and collar. The padding around the collar is just nice as on the tongue.  The tongue is semi-gusseted which means sliding will be kept to a minimum. What would be nice though, is for the Kinvaras to have a slightly longer tongue – just 2cm extra just so that the laces have a bit more room to secure over.

Removable sockliner is awesomely detailed as well. No Everun foam on the topsole. It lays deeper within the midsole.

The left shot shows the medial construction. Notice that it bulges out slightly, giving the Kinvara a touch of stability. Conversely, the lateral side has a curved indent, promoting a nice transition to the toe-off.

Gone are the reflective strips on the lateral side of the midsole, outsole. All that remains that is shiny is the teensy triangle with the logo. This shot shows clearly the concave lateral and convex/bulging medial sides of the midsole.

Moving along to the SSL EVA midsole, there are changes to be had as well. There are now horizontal grooves on the medial side and a concave impression on the lateral side, possibly to promote a smoother transition. The use of Everun isn’t visible in the case of the K7, unlike the Hurricane and Triumph ISO 2 where the molded PU material can be seen on the topsole as well as in the heel section. Instead, the implementation is much subtler for the K7, with the Everun layer inserted into the heel.

Comparing the outsole of the K7 (foreground) against the K5.

Tri-Flex configuration for the outsole replaces the triangular lugs. While this may seem like a design decision, I notice a subtle change in how the shoe feels. More of that when I cover the wear experience. There are sufficient IBR+ material used to ensure durability doesn’t take a drastic hit. I’ve worn enough shoes over the last 10 years to state that IBR+ is the most durable blown rubber material I’ve experienced. The heel plug remains the dependable XT-900 carbon rubber variety.

I’ve logged close to 80K in the K7 and thus have a better idea on how the shoe rides. Runningwarehouse rate the K7 as firm and responsive, and that would be pretty much my take as well. It has a performance feel to the toe-off phase, not hard but more of a fast and firm bounce, resulting in a very engaging experience. The Tri-Flex configuration makes the midfoot to toeoff transition snappier and urgent than before – I can’t explain how or why, just that it feels that way! Heel cushioning is there but it’s not what anyone would call plush (for that, look to the Ride 8 or Triumph ISO 2) since the Everun layer is placed deeper into the midsole. I like the furrow in the midsole, which extends from the heel to the midfoot area. Besides being a weight-saving move, the longitudinal groove will provide some “center-of-the-pressure” cushioning during the impact-loading phase.

The ride characteristics change as you put in the miles in the K7. Having inched closer to the century mark, I notice a mild midsole softening which should stay the same for the life of the shoe. The wear and tear signs are not as pronounced as expected, a sign that version 7 will most likely outlast my ageing K5 :) . The traction offered by the K7 is exceptional, which is surprising, given the understated appearance of the outsole. The K7’s hold on the wet tiled and brick surfaces felt superbly assured as I ran at pace during one rainy day.

Narrower? Same?

So what of the supposed narrower toebox? I don’t notice it at all, maybe because my choice of socks tend to be that of thinner material. The upper is still a little stretchy, no different from the previous version. That said, if your favorite socks are as thick as those traditional Thor-Lo’s, you may want to first try out the shoes in the stores before committing to a size.

You can surmise then, that the K7 is more suited for uptempo sessions than long easy runs, at least for me. For the most parts, the Kinvara 7 continues its tradition of providing a fast and lightweight ride. The fit remains true and if you’ve been a Kinvara faithful over the years, you’ll recognize it the moment you slip the it on. The slight bump in the weight department doesn’t slow the shoe down. The converse is, in fact, true. An enhanced midsole and a re-tweaked outsole config ensures that all you need to worry about is whether you can keep up with it.

The Saucony Kinvara 7 is available from today at Running Lab – Tropicana City Mall, Stadium and selected Royal Sporting House outlets, and retails at RM429.00.


Thinking of running your best marathon on a scenic and flat course? Well, entries for the 2016 Gold Coast Airport Marathon is now open and early bird rates valid till April 28! With public holidays slated at that time of the year, join a record number of Malaysians and I in Gold Coast this July where you and your family can run and then enjoy what the world-famous holiday destination can offer. For details, please refer to my blog post here where I’ve shared some important info for you to plan your travel and race!

Shoe Review: Saucony Ride 8

Every shoe company out there has one or two designated work horses that are durable enough for daily use. For Saucony, the role is filled by more than 2 actually – Triumph ISO 2, Hurricane ISO 2, Ride 8, Guide 9 and Zealot – with the Triumph, Ride and Zealot serving those with neutral gait. Let’s take a look at what the Ride 8 (R8) brings to the table. R8 takes over from the well-received 7 as the brand’s midrange neutral offering. I wanted something with a little bit more structure yet softer than the Zealot, which I love for those speedier sessions, for the long and easy days as my PF heals up completely.

The Ride and I didn’t quite start off on the right footing. I found the ride stiff and firm the first 30Ks but as the shoe gradually broke-in, the greater my liking for it. With 120K logged, it’s definitely the one for those long fat-burning runs and recovery days. Weighing 10.55 oz (301 grams) and with a  26mm/18mm (heel/forefoot) stackheight, for a 8mm offset, the R8 isn’t exactly what you’d call a performance trainer. In fact, it feels clunky coming off something like the Kinvara. However as mentioned, the out-of-the-box feel isn’t a finality. Put some miles in them and the midsole softens up.

#FTT marked on the upper to support a departed friend when he was fighting cancer.

 

Use of FlexFilm takes over from the thicker strips.

 

Plush tongue and collar padding.

 

The upper isn’t overly-engineered unlike how a typical high mileage trainer is. Other than a few PU strips on both sides of the lateral and medial side panels and in front of the toebox, the upper has a number of thin FlexFilm welded overlays. Unless and until an ISO version is released in the future, wearers will have to contend with this traditional setup. Not that it’s an issue, mind you. The mesh design on the R8 is a little more refined compared to the 7, at least visually. I’ve yet to develop any hotspots from running in them and neither have I ended any runs wearing sweaty socks, which can only mean that the upper’s breathability is good. Toebox roominess isn’t as spacious as that of the Zealot’s but still provides adequate wiggle room for the toes. As can be expected of a cushy trainer, the Ride’s tongue and collar are very well-padded. I found myself lacing up tighter to get a snugger fit. Even with the greater all-round padding and bulk of the shoe, the fit of the Ride 8 surpasses that of the other shoe in the same category, adidas Supernova Glide Boost 7 in that it hugs my better. Needless to say, it fits true to size.

One large reflective patch on the back

 

The XT-900 used on the heel is tough-wearing. This is after 120K.

 

The blown rubber looks to be pretty durable too.

 

The yellow parts of the outsole are made of iBR+, Saucony’s blown rubber.

 

Saucony relied on the usual sandwich combo for the midsole. The ingredients? PowerGrid layer and EVA with a dash of softer Special Rebound Compound (SRC) on the lateral heel side. The new Everun compound will only make its appearance on the Ride 9 sometime end of 2016. The full-contact outsole is holding up well at this point with scuff marks on the XT-900 carbon rubber and mild wear on the iBR+ blown rubber on the forefoot. Do note that I’m not the most efficient of runners so I reckon this pair can easily go 600K, more if you’re a “glider” :) .

As mentioned, the initial feel of the shoe felt a little off but once they’re broken in, they felt great. So much so that I find myself reaching out for it a couple of times a week. For a neutral shoe, the Ride 8 feels remarkably stable and smooth even towards  the end of my recent 29K. Unsurprisingly, running quick miles in them poses a challenge somewhat (that’s where the Zealot and Kinvara come in), what with it built like a tank. You will feel the weight after some miles. That said, at 10.55oz, the R8 is still lighter than the Asics Cumulus 17 (11.5oz), adidas Glide Boost 7 (11.25oz), Brooks Ghost 8 (11oz) and even the adidas Ultra Boost. Make no mistake about it. The Ride 8 is and remains an utility shoe. It can do most of the tasks out there and do it pretty well. There’s no single element that stands out or define the shoe. Rather, it’s a sum of many things that work well together. It may not be the lightest nor responsive Saucony out there but at RM399, the Ride 8 is a darn value-for-money utility shoe for the long haul.


Thinking of running your best marathon on a scenic and flat course? Well, entries for the 2016 Gold Coast Airport Marathon is now open! With public holidays slated at that time of the year, join many fellow Malaysians and I in Gold Coast this July where you and your family can run and then enjoy what the world-famous holiday destination can offer. For details, please refer to my blog post here where I’ve shared some important info for you to plan your travel and race!

Press Release: Saucony® Unveils Game-Changing Technology- EVERUN™

 


Delivering Continuous Cushioning to Runners, No Matter How Long the Run

The All New EVERUN Technology
Global performance running footwear and apparel brand Saucony pulls no punches in writing the next chapter of its performance innovation success story. Maintaining its relentless commitment to elevating the running experience through innovation, the brand announced today the launch of Saucony EVERUN™, its most advanced technology to date. Brand-new for Spring 2016, EVERUN represents a new era of cushioning innovation, delivering a continuous cushioning experience to runners, no matter how long the run.

 

First launched at the New York City Marathon, Saucony’s Triumph ISO 2 and Guide 9 are the first models is the Saucony line-up to be powered by EVERUN. The technology will later be incorporated into the newHurricane ISO 2, Kinvara 7 and Peregrine 6 which is set to be available in Malaysia February 2016. EVERUN will be supported by the brand’s biggest marketing launch to date and will coincide with the retail launch of the Triumph ISO 2 and Guide 9 at the New York City Marathon.

 

“EVERUN is not only a game-changer for us but for the industry as well,” said Patrick O’Malley, senior vice president of global product for Saucony. “Runners are once again responding to the benefits of cushioning, including increased energy return and underfoot comfort. One of the primary objectives in the development of EVERUN was to deliver a continuous cushioning experience to runners, combining smoother landings in the heel with reduced pressure in the forefoot.

 

“Our designers came up with a fundamentally new approach we call Topsole™, a breakthrough construction process that positions our best cushioning material closer to the foot. The result is that EVERUN delivers the same plush feel in mile one as mile twenty, continuously giving back to runners, especially at the end of the run when they need it most,” added O’Malley.

 

EVERUN Delivers Two Key Benefits
Lowers Peak Pressures:
EVERUN’s patent-pending Topsole construction process positions a 3mm layer of Saucony’s revolutionary EVERUN foam material closer to the foot, directly under the sockliner, instead of embedding it in the midsole below a layer of rigid cement. This construction process distributes propulsion force over more area, reducing local peak pressures while delivering a dramatically more lively and responsive ride.

 

Absorbs Impact:
The EVERUN Landing Zone and heel insert provide remarkable impact protection, maintaining cushioning properties three times longer than standard EVAs while returning 83% of the energy absorbed, according to research in the Saucony Human Performance and Innovation Lab.

 

Typical EVA foam heats up, getting softer the longer the run just when the body fatigues and needs impact protection the most. The EVERUN technology addresses this breakdown of cushioning and consequently, joint protection, in running shoes during the course of a run.
————————————————————————————-
Introducing Max And Miles
The Saucony EVERUN Series of performance running shoes will be supported by the biggest marketing launch in the company’s history.

 

“Not only is EVERUN a breakthrough in cushioning and construction technologies, but this is also the first time that Saucony is using video animation in a marketing campaign,” said Mary O’Brien, vice president of global marketing for Saucony. “We’re always looking for the best way to tell our story. We knew that video animation would not only be entertaining and fun, but it would make a rather intricate technology story clear and meaningful to runners everywhere.”

 

The launch campaign focuses on the ground-breaking idea behind EVERUN, occurring in a secret laboratory in an undisclosed location. The new multichannel global marketing campaign features an animated video starring fictional lab technicians Max and Miles, the purported inventors of EVERUN.

 

The conversation between Max and Miles provides a unique and amusing take on their eagerness to share their newly-discovered continuous cushioning technology with runners everywhere. While Max delivers a serious high-tech explanation of EVERUN’s myriad benefits, Miles eagerly gives his own perspective of EVERUN in excitably unscientific terms: “There’s this stuff we came up with … amazing stuff! You should see the stuff this stuff can do!”

The EVERUN Product Lineup
Triumph ISO 2
The new Triumph ISO 2, the successor to the Triumph ISO (named “Editor’s Choice” by Runner’s World; Spring 2015 Shoe Guide), is the brand’s super-plush neutral trainer now featuring a full-length EVERUN Topsole and EVERUN Landing Zone, TRI-FLEX outsole and ISOFIT upper.
RRP: RM 529

 

Guide 9
The lightest Guide ever (9.7 ounces in men’s size 9) has been completely updated for Spring 2016. With an SRC Landing Zone in the heel, a Dual Density medial post and a full-length EVERUN Topsole, the Guide 9 provides an efficient stride while also delivering a lively, resilient ride. A new TRI-FLEX outsole helps prevent late-stage pronation while a seam-free toe box provides comfort and allows the toes to splay during the latter phase of the gait cycle.
RRP: RM 469

 

Hurricane ISO 2
The Hurricane ISO 2, heir to the Hurricane ISO (named “Best Update” by Runner’s World; Summer 2015 Shoe Guide), blends the benefits of a premium stability shoe with unparalleled cushioning. An EVERUN Topsole and EVERUN Landing Zone along with a PWRGRID+ platform provide shock attenuation and set the foot up for an efficient transition. The ISOFIT saddle is engineered to provide additional stabilizing support. A Dual Density medial post offers superb guidance while a lightweight Support Frame secures the heel upon foot strike.
RRP: RM 529

 

Kinvara 7
Lockdown fit, a quick, resilient ride, and a great underfoot feeling are the calling cards of the awardwinning Kinvara running experience. The latest edition gets an EVERUN Heel Insert for cushioning where it’s needed most, while the sleek, FLEXFILM-infused upper supports the foot with every stride. A new outsole configuration that includes TRI-FLEX and wider lugs delivers more ground contact and increased flexibility and durability.
RRP: RM 429

 

Peregrine 6
With a protected upper, heel and forefoot rock plates, and a new PWRTRAC outsole, the Peregrine 6 gives runners the means to conquer any terrain. EVERUN in the heel delivers shock-dampening cushioning, while the highly flexible midsole allows runners to adapt and react to uneven surfaces.
RRP: RM 429

 

For more information on EVERUN, visit: www.saucony.com/everun | https://www.facebook.com/saucony.my/

 

————————————————————————————-
About Saucony: 
Saucony, a division of Wolverine Worldwide, is a leading global running lifestyle brand that fuses performance, innovation and style to create compelling footwear and apparel with its widely recognized brands Saucony and Saucony Originals. Founded in 1898, Saucony continues to inspire runners everywhere with its award winning innovations, including EVERUN™, ISOFIT™, Geometry of Strong™, PWRGRID+™, and the Total Run System™ apparel line. At Saucony, a good day is when we get to run. A great day is when we inspire someone else to run. For more information, go to www.saucony.com.

 

About RSH (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd
RSH (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd is a subsidiary of RSH Limited., which is the leading Pan Asian marketer, distributor and retailer for sports, golf, active lifestyle and fashion products; with over 60 international brand names and a wide distribution network. RSH Limited has a over 420 free-standing stores and 570 shops-in-shop in 11 countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, India, United Arab Emirates, Australia and New Zealand.

 

For more information, please visit www.rshlimited.com, www.facebook.com/RSHMY.
For more information contact:
Advertising and Promotions Department
Tel: 03-5123 2668 Fax: 03-5637 0531
Yi Xuan Lai, Executive Advertising & Promotions │yixuanlai@rsh.com.my
Kiki Lee, Manager Advertising & Promotions │kikilee@rsh.com.my
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