Gear Reviews

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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.

 

adidas Energy Boost Review

Since the dawn of the built-up (or beefy) running shoe, shoe companies have been touting “energy return” as one of the features of their products. From actual spring coils, air, liquid, gel or foam, the shoes are supposed to re-use the force generated from your footstrike to propel you to your next. Unsurprising then that when adidas announced, in no small fanfare, that their new Boost midsole technology will revolutionize the running shoe by providing the “highest energy return in the running industry”. Strong claims which had shoe reviewers and runners raise their eyebrows. Then Dennis Kimetto won the 2013 Tokyo Marathon with the course record time of 2:06:50 wearing a pair of “Boosted” flats. The usage of the Boost midsole was also expanded to include models in the AdiStar and AdiZero range.

Since I’m not a scientist nor one trained in biomechanics, I’ll leave the ruminations in that area to the experts, namely Pete Larson and Amby Burfoot (fascinating post here). As suggested by Amby, “When you try out the Adidas Energy Boost, don’t imagine that you’ll bounce effortlessly off the road or run as fast as Haile Gebrselassie. Instead, run in the store or on the nearby sidewalk and ask yourself: Does this shoe feel like a natural extension of my body? Does it feel like it was almost custom-designed for my feet? Does it give me a smooth, crisp “ride” when I run in it?” In essence, cut out the marketing talk and feel the run. So that’s what I’m going to do – focus on the wear experience.

Because there’s been much focus on the marketing aspect of the shoe, it’s hard to completely disassociate a review from the new tech, so I’ll quickly cover what’s the midsole is all about. The Boost midsole (created by BASF) does away with the traditional EVA (Ethyl Vinyl Acetate) foam for TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) that’s been blown up and fused into a few thousand little units. The material is also said to be more resistant to changes in temperatures and breakdown over the miles run. In the hands, the material feels and looks exactly like packing foam, very soft to the touch.

9.7oz for a size 10 without sockliner

With sockliner.

Closeup of the Techfit upper. The little pod is part of miCoach system. It’s ANT+ so I have it linked to my Garmin. Read it here http://www.jamiepang.com/blog/?p=4486

For a shoe this thick and bulky – 31/21 for a 10mm drop – the Energy Boost feels relatively light. The upper is made of a stretchy material comparative to Skechers GORun Ride’s. I was handed a size 10, which is 0.5 larger than my usual sizing and it was a good call since the shoe has been reported to fit narrow as with all adidas. The trend among shoe companies are leaning towards having external bands (like the Kinvaras, asics DS Trainer, Mizuno Wave Sayonara) to provide minimal structure to the upper. adidas brands their upper design, which has what look like the Powerbands found on their compression wear, Techfit.

Slide your foot into the sock-like (not sure if they’re neoprene) upper and you’ll immediately feel as if your foot is wrapped very snugly. Needless to say, choice of socks and proper sizing are critical, like I said going half a size up would be a good starting point when testing the shoes out. Similar to the Endofit found in the high end Salomons (which I found to be really comfortable), the Energy Boost has an inner sleeve integrated with the tongue which hugs the midfoot. Several reviewers on the Runningwarehouse site commented on breathability issues, to which I didn’t find to be much of a problem.

At the rear is a padded collar and a stripped down heel counter like that of the Nike Lunar Eclipse. The heel counter integrates nicely with several cinch points on the upper overlays to enhance the fit further. This heel section has one of the most comfortable setup I’ve experienced in a built up shoe. It’s soft with just enough elements to ensure a good fit.

miCoach ready so you can insert the pod into the small cavity here. You can see the Boost foam in the footbed.

Closeup of the Boost midsole. Like packing foam innit?

As mentioned earlier, the midsole thickness is quite substantial. It’s a one piece slab of the Boost foam with no cutaways. A thin piece of plastic, the company’s torsion device, is embedded on the midsole. A peek under the removable sockliner shows the shoe to be miCoach ready. I previously wrote about the miCoach system here. A thin hardwearing outsole completes the package. There’s however an odd bumper at the heel, like that found on the Altra Lone Peak or many of adidas’ own trail shoes. How the heck did that find its way here?

Once you’ve laced up and stand in the Boost, you’ll at once notice the softness of the shoe and you’ll feel a little bounce. The heel is a tad like the Hoka except it’s a touch softer. Walking around confirms the (very) smooth ride, hardly restrictive at all. There’s enough overall flexibility.

I’ve done 3 runs in the Boost – a 6.6K, 16K and 23K – to know how they perform. Here’s what I think. I didn’t feel the purported bounce while running but the shoe provides a silky smooth ride. It has plenty of cushioning but not to the point of dampening every last bit of road feel. Heel strikers would probably feel the thick heel cushioning but I couldn’t ascertain that since I was hitting the road midfoot.Despite running in humid conditions the feared sweaty feet feeling didn’t happen.

I’ll be very curious as to the Boost implementation on the AdiZero range where I think it holds the greatest promise. Cut away the thickness, bring the drop down to 4-6mm and I think it’ll make an awesome marathon racing shoe. Due to its bulk, the Energy Boost is best worn for slow and easy runs. Going faster in them felt tedious and going uphill seems to be taking some effort. On the flats and downhill are where this shoe shines. If you can take the price hit, runs mostly easy miles and lean more towards heel striking, you might want to give the Boost a try.

The Energy Boost is already available nationwide at the adidas Performance Concept stores and retails at RM550. They were seeded to me courtesy of adidas Malaysia. Boost equipped AdiZeroes are already in the launch pipeline in a a few weeks’ time.

Press Release: Project Love Sneaker II

Immediate Press Release

Click to enlarge poster

Running Lab Shoe Donation Drive – Project Love Sneaker II

Donate Your Old Shoes For A Good Cause!

Project Love Sneaker (PLS) is a shoe-donation drive organised by Running Lab. The drive which started in 2011 (2008 in Singapore) was organised to serve the running community’s desire to recycle their “retired” running shoes. Not wanting to dispose of “retired” running shoes, runners were looking for alternative outlets to re-distribute their shoes.

Running Lab Malaysia organised the first PLS back in 2011 to serve this recycle desire. With Running Lab located at Tropicana City Mall, over 250 pairs of shoes were collected during the 1-month long drive. Donors were also provided with a RM80 footwear voucher to purchase a new pair. The collected shoes were donated to Orang Asli villages in the Gombak and Kuantan region.

With the encouraging respond to the first PLS in 2011, PLS returns in its second drive where Running Lab Malaysia will be partnering The Salvation Army Malaysia.

About The Salvation Army Malaysia
The Salvation Army is a charitable organisation providing a range of social services to people in need across Malaysia. Services include residential care for children, day care services, tuition programmes and homes for the elderly. The Salvation Army also operates a centre for special needs children in Melaka and a number of community based family support programmes around the country. This year (2013) marks the 75th anniversary of The Salvation Army’s work in Malaysia (then Malaya). Work commenced on the island of Penang and since then operations have spread throughout Malaysia, including Sarawak and Sabah.

The Salvation Army is pleased to partner Running Lab Malaysia in this project. The shoes will be utilised by needy families, both in our centres and in the communities in which we work.

Project Love Sneaker II will run from 1st August till 31st August 2013 and shoes will be collected from Running Lab located at G29 Tropicana City Mall before being delivered to The Salvation Army Malaysia when the drive ends.

Promo Mechanic:
Customers will donate their old/used running shoes to participating stores and receive a RM80 voucher redeemable on their next purchase of regular-priced footwear valid till 05 October 2013.

About Running Lab
Running Lab is a specialty running store retailing technically advanced running apparel, equipment and footwear. We are staffed by sports trainers and experienced runners who have the expertise to match the right shoe to your foot type, which helps to maximize performance and reduce the risk of injuries.  For more information, visit www.runninglab.com, or visit Running Lab Malaysia’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/runninglabmalaysia.

For more Information, please contact;

Frank Chong
Operations Manager
Sports Haven Sdn Bhd                                                                                                                                  
O:
03 7727 8555  E: rlmy@outdoor-venture.com

Asics Fuji Racer 2 Review

Since taking more and more to the trails 2 months ago, I’ve been sampling an increasing number of trail running shoes, so much so that from a sole rep – the Skechers GOtrail – I’ve acquired 2 Montrails and now am in the midst of putting the Fuji Racer 2 (FR2) through its paces. Given that the trails are only possible over the weekends, the 50Ks logged over 3 runs seem like some pretty extensive time put in.

Other than NB and adidas, Asics is one of the mainstream brands which produces a wide variety of trail models, from the beefier Trabuco to the much lighter FR2.

The FR2 follows the path of the successful FR1 and from visual cues, most of the changes are on the colorway. In concept, it remains the lighter and sleeker version of the Fuji Trainer 2 but the differences appear quite distinct. For this review I’ll take a look at the Racer.

True to its name, the FR2 is fits and feels like a fast shoe. It rides lower to the ground with a 6mm offset and has a responsive feel to it. There’s just enough support and overlays topside to give the shoe some structure without weighing it down. As a result, the weight is kept to a very decent 8.35oz. I like the thin laces which you can stow under a lace pocket (just like a Salomon) and also the gusseted tongue which manages to keep out most small pebbles (some still get in, though). The shoe is geared towards maximum drainage and breathability with plenty of open mesh used on the upper as well as ports in the outsole. Water will get in just as easily as they’re squished out. If you’re prone to getting frozen toes from a cold and wet run in a mountain race, you might want to explore another model. Otherwise, this would be excellent in tropical Malaysia.

Very “meshy”.

The lace pocket

There are fluorescent strips all over the top which I didn’t notice until pointed out by my running partner.

The single density responsive Solyte midsole contributes to a firm if flexible ride. I thought there was no rock plate under the forefoot of the midsole as my feet felt it a bit after bombing down the Rover track on my 1st long run (18K, 2:45). After poking around the web, I discovered that there’s indeed a rock plate. I changed my descent technique a little on the 2nd long run (20K, 2:40) opting for quicker turnover and smaller strides instead of bounding, and my legs and feet came out feeling better. I’m more inclined to attribute the absence of soreness to my method as well as better conditioning rather than the barely-there plate.

Closer look at the toe bumper.

The rubber on the outsole has a cross-diamond configuration. The lugs are small and aren’t particularly deep but it’s more than sufficient for dry, mildly loose or packed dirt trails. No issues on the leafy stretches of Dream Trail as well. I wouldn’t call the FR2 a “Door to Trail” shoe but it’ll take a very short road section adequately.

The crisscross configuration of the outsole lugs. You can also see the drainage ports here.

The FR2 did struggle over a clay section of my route when the soil clung to the shoe. However, once the section was gotten over with the soil was quite easily dislodged. Rocky sections are always tricky to negotiate and one can easily wring an ankle, which is why I’m always leaning towards a lower profiled shoe as theiy allow me to react quickly and catching how the feet slips before . The low drop FR2 fulfills that well. The outsole durability is excellent, with nary any wear signs so far. They should hold up well.

I’ve not had slippages going over wet planks and rocks yet mainly because I was pretty cautious about them, relative new shoes and all. But as I gain confidence, I’ll be a little more carefree and see how the shoes perform.

In conclusion, the Fuji Racer 2 presents a fast and responsive ride that’s built lower to the ground. It’s firmness is ideal for fast running and hill repeats on the trails, and it’s got a nice blend of flexibility and structure without the bulk. In terms of sizing, I suggest going half a size larger. However if a softer or plusher ride is what you seek, there are many other options out there.

The Fuji Racer 2 was kindly provided for my review by Gigasport, authorised distributor of Asics in Malaysia.

The Awesome Week That Was

Since the day I maintained some semblance of a training calendar, I’ve marked Monday as the start of week. No reasons for that, just that it coincides with the work week. Recently I made the change to start my week on a Sunday. Why Sunday? I’ve always looked forward to Sundays more than Mondays. Sundays are happier and that’s when I get to run the longest, feel the most positive and get on a high. It makes perfect sense.

Last week was pretty awesome as far as running went and that despite my weekday runs not even hitting double digits in mileage. But the thing was I managed to work out every day, book-ended by 2 awesome long runs. As a result, the week’s mileage ended up more than when I was in marathon training :) . So far the body’s responding well mainly because I paid attention to my HR. Days that are easy are kept really easy between 65-70% MHR. There were a couple of pick ups inserted just to keep some variety and maintain leg speed but I’d say 80% of my mileage were easy.

Saturday’s night run was the highlight. Put together by the Le Sabuns Ultra Group (literal translation: The Soap Ultra Group), the group run was organized as a way to keep the fitness and training going in the midst of the month of Ramadan, where the Muslims will break their fast in the evening, run and perform their prayers before the start of the following day’s fasting. A few of us from the GC training group joined in because a number of us will be attempting distances out (waaay out!) of our comfort zone later part of the year, so the training is always welcomed.

Putrajaya at night on weekends can be a daunting place for newbies what with the many large groups of hell riders and car enthusiasts. It doesn’t help that the ambivalent cops patrol sparsely, avoiding the roads that these hell riders prowl. The car enthusiasts are harmless though and are more intent on chilling out amongst their friends. Even so, running in a group makes more sense. Inevitably though, runners will spread out and one needed to maintain a measure of alertness and situational awareness in many lonely stretches. I found myself running alone after 25K and decided to take the brighter route towards the Pullman Hotel. The roads were quiet but bright. Up ahead, another man could be seen running/walking in the distant along the road to the hotel. I figured I would peel off the main road and head into the Maritime Center for a toilet break.

It was there that I had an amusing encounter. A chap presumably after work was walking on the opposite side of the road and asked in Malay what I was training for, where I was from and staying. I never felt threatened even though he was holding a helmet – maybe because the entrance to the hotel was just there and also I already had an escape route in my mind (always have an escape route!) and as I continued my way, he asked if I’ve a cigarette! Anyway, when I got out from the Center and made my way up the PICC hill, I was very wary of my surroundings but he wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Nope, I wasn’t hallucinating, even though it was already 1:30am at that time.

I wrapped up the run at 32K, mingled with fellow runners at the staging area (there was a pot luck going but I couldn’t eat) in front of the PoJ and called it a night/morning. All in all it was a nice outing and I’m glad to have joined in the fun. Heartfelt appreciation goes out to the organizers as well as generous contributors to the pot luck. Runners really do lead the way in showing that fasting doesn’t have to mean putting on hold training and maintaining fitness.

Now, I’ve got to ask the fellas what “Soap” means in the context of the group name.

Update: The haze is back and it’s a bummer. I’m unsure how bad it’ll turn out but rest assured, outdoor activities will be impacted one way or another.

INTH: How To Run A 100K Trail Ultramarathon DVD Giveaway Winner

And we have a winner! Congrats to the winner Ken Lam and the DVD is on the way to you. Again, I’d like to thank everyone for participating and the exclusive offer for blog readers still stands. Head on to my review to find out how you can buy the DVD for less.

Giveaway – INTH: How To Run A 100K Trail Ultramarathon DVD

Since my early days of blogging in 2002, I’ve never organized any giveaways on my blog, so you can imagine my excitement at putting this up for the very first time. The cool producers of the documentary is giving out a copy of the DVD to ONE lucky reader of the blog. If this is the first time you’re seeing this DVD title, just head on to my short review of the cracking DVD here.

Here’s how the giveaway works:

  1. To enter, simply leave a comment (it can be a simple “I want the DVD!” or a 4-line poetry but no extra beanie points for creativity though :D ) below within the contest window.
  2. To increase your chance, tweet once about this giveaway.
  3. Opens: 12:00AM Kuala Lumpur Time (GMT+08:00), 19th July 2013
    Closes: 12:00AM Kuala Lumpur Time (GMT+08:00), 20th July 2013
  4. The winner will be determined using Rafflecopter.
  5. Announcement will be made by 12:00PM Kuala Lumpur Time (GMT+08:00), 22nd July 2013. Sorry, because I’ll be running throughout the night this weekend, I’ll be too stoned on Sunday :D .

I’ll contact the winner for details like Full Name, Full Address (no P.O. Box please), and Contact Number. Please expect up to 20 days for regular post delivery. So set your reminders and hit the link below to participate!

Enter the DVD giveaway

Good luck!

Press Release: Nike Unveils New Running Technologies and “Nature Amplified” Design Ethos

Nike Unveils New Running Technologies and “Nature Amplified” Design Ethos
Four new innovations are designed to enhance the running experience.

Malaysia, July 17th 2013 – NIKE, Inc., the world’s leading running brand, today unveiled four new innovations at an event at the company’s global headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. The new products are designed to enhance runners’ natural abilities and were guided by Nike’s “Nature Amplified” design ethos, an approach that is focused on designing for the body in motion and fueled by scientific data and athlete insights. Two new running shoes were introduced  — the Nike Free Flyknit and Nike Free Hyperfeel — along with two new apparel technologies, Aeroloft and Dri-FIT Knit.

“Innovation is not about creating for its own sake, it’s about creating something better, designing with a purpose. Running is the heart and soul of Nike and it’s the birthplace of a constant stream of new innovations that will drive the company forward,” said Mark Parker, President & CEO of NIKE, Inc.

Mark Parker, President & CEO of NIKE, Inc. with the keynote.

Trevor Edwards, NIKE Brand President on stage.

“Nature Amplified means designing for bodies in motion and creating incredible new products that work intuitively with the human body,” said Trevor Edwards, NIKE Brand President. “The footwear and apparel we’ve unveiled today is based on insights from athletes and runners at every level, combined with extensive research in our Sport Research Lab. These innovations are data-driven, but body-led.”

FOOTWEAR INNOVATIONS

The Nike Free Flyknit is the fusion of two of Nike’s most iconic footwear technologies — the compressive Nike Flyknit upper and the flexible Nike Free outsole. The Nike Free Flyknit upper features zoned performance mapping and a second-skin fit. The shoe provides the benefits of natural motion and a snug, supportive fit in a single shoe.

 

Designed to feel like an extension of the body by minimizing layers between the foot and the ground, the Nike Free Hyperfeel delivers a natural motion sensation for the runner. A drop-in insole made from Lunarlon foam allows the foot to have direct contact with Lunarlon cushioning. The ultra-thin waffle outsole uses strategically placed waffle pistons for grip and feel, allowing the foot to get closer to the ground.

 

APPAREL TECHNOLOGIES

Nike Aeroloft technology also debuted in the ultra-light Nike Aeroloft 800 Vest, designed to keep runners warm and comfortable in cooler conditions. Insulating down has been combined with precision ventilation that allows heat to escape the body so athletes stay dry.

Aeroloft 800 vest

Dri-FIT Knit top

Dri-FIT Knit is an ultra-soft, lightweight fabric engineered to help athletes maintain optimal performance temperature in a variety of conditions. The technology employs visibly different knit patterns to aid breathability, while seamless construction ensures a smooth fit free of distraction.

###

About NIKE, Inc.

NIKE, Inc. based near Beaverton, Oregon, is the world’s leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. Wholly-owned NIKE subsidiaries include Converse Inc., which designs, markets and distributes athletic lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories and Hurley International LLC, which designs, markets and distributes surf and youth lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories. For more information, visit www.nikeinc.com.

For media enquiries, please do not hesitate to contact:

Amri Rahim
Group Account Director
Milk PR
E: amri.rahim@milkpr.com.my
T: 03.2094.8915
M: 012.305.8829
David Joshua Lau
Account Executive
Milk PR
E: david.lau@milkpr.com.my
T: 03.2094.8915
M: 012.207.9960

 

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