Posts Tagged ‘+V12’

Shoes for testing – Salewa Speed Ascent and Hoka OneOne Rapanui 2S Trail

Firstly I must thank both Hoka OneOne and Salewa for providing a pair of shoes each for me to test out and review. V12 are planning to stock both these brands of shoes and it is great to get a chance to try them out in advance of this ( Salewa Speed Ascent is already in the shop in fact.#

Hoka OneOne testing - so far so good - briliant grip and actually felt really dialled in and positive on the feet. Super cushy but still with ground feel

Looking towards Moelwyn Bach from a cracking little track that runs below Moelwyn Mawr and behind the Stwlan Dam above Tan Y grisiau – this is on the Paddy Buckley round route and it was good to refresh myself with the lay of the land. The climb up from the quarries behind Croesor is wet and rough then gives onto great grass and trail running onto the Moelwyns and the track is fairly level, running well before the steep climb up a zig zag track the face in the shade on Moelwyn Bach. These shoes are the Hoka OneOne Rapanui and are getting a good test


Salewa Speed trail - they come with another pair of laces in case you want to custome lace them - hence the other eyelets on the shoe but to be honest I find the configuration out of the box well sufficient to lock ones fot in a treat

Salewa Speed trail – they come with another pair of laces in case you want to custome lace them – hence the other eyelets on the shoe but to be honest I find the configuration out of the box well sufficient to lock ones foot in a treat. These shoes are alos being given a thorough work out so I can

The shoes themselves are quite different in design, the Salewa Speed Ascent is quite a minimalist feeling shoe with a hard sole and a built in rocker to generate speed on mixed terrain. The Hoka One One is a super cushioned very grippy fell running shoe that boasts ground feel and grip despite loads of cushioning.

Both shoes so far feel great in their respective uses:- I am using the Salewa Speed ascent for fast hard pack and mixed terrain runs, whereas on the off trail mountain bog and gras trips the Hoka OneOne Rapanui is the goto shoe. They fulfil these purposes very well and I will give a review for each of them after I have racked up some more km in them. So Far so good, I like both shoes even though they seem very different. They are both positive on the trail and both seem to suit a neutral mainly forefoot striking running style that I have worked on for a while now… Here are a few pics of both shoes to whet the appetite.

(Just for reference, the actual Hoka Shoes that V12 will stock will be the Meltzer Speedgoat shoe, which is really a great looking and very well dialled in shoe for the UK fell running market – they have a lighter weight upper and also more laces in the speed lacing system.. The Rapanui is definitely a US / trail style shoe and having seen the Meltzer shoe, the tweaks and design changes that it has will really mean its a great shoe ( at the time of writing the Rep for Hoka OneOne rep could’t get me a pair of the new  ones as they have yet to be released to the public – they will be in the shop soon )

Salewa Speed Ascent Mens Trail shoe - not goretex - i prefer to have them draining quickly rather than waterproof

Salewa Speed Ascent Top View – A Test Pair from the Salewa Rep and courtesy of V12

Salewa Speed Ascent

Salewa Speed Ascent Sole – good all round sole Vibram and built in rocker to help propel you on the trail – They feel very positive and definitely encourage a forefoot style running technique and thus feel quick underfoot. Currently Undergoing a testing and wil be reviewed by me soon. First impressions are that they run well on mixed trails and are very positive, if a little firm underfoot, very locked in feel and good ground feel – a neutral shoe with minimal padding and great to run in..They may however feel a bit firm for 20 miles plus, but will be a great all day shoe for fast hiking long distances. We shall see and I will review shortly..

Looking towards Moelwyn Mawr from the descent from Moelwyn Bach - I contoured round above the lake on the way to here and am heading along the ridge in middle picture next..

Testing the Hoka OneOne courtesy of the Hoka OneOne Rep and V12 Outdoor. These are remarkabe shoes and will be fully reviewed when I have put some miles into them. So far they are plush, dialed in, good ground feel and super cushioned with great grip for wet grass and mud . Remarkable shoes indeed.

On Moelwyns with Hoka OneOne plus funky Terrex shorts, Easter sunday

The new super lightweight and super comfortable Adidas Terrex Shorts made out of super light ripstop Pertex. These are incredible and almost feel as if you are wearing nothing, they dry super fast are super comfy, with a zip pocket at the rear for a key and a stretchy mini pouch at the back to take a gel if u need. These are now in stock at V12 too, and just in time for the spring and summer out in the hills or in the races. These would be great for road or trail in fact, lightest shorts I have ever worn and they also look hard wearing. A review to follow later…..

All this shoe testing is also helping me in my quest for Fellsman preparation, my trail speed work stuff will be mostly carried out in the Salewa shoes for sure, with the Hoka OneOne Rapanui’s being used in the Fellsman itself due to nature of the boggy terrain and grip requirements. A rest day tomorrow (Tuesday) then a 15 mile planned over the Glyders from Capel back to the village and a speed session later in the week. The overall mileage will now drop as I begin final preparations for the Fellsman….

The End Is Nigh

Increasingly the last few weeks my mind has been drifting back towards the mountains, and increasingly, as the time since I was in any of them increases I have been feeling a sense of almost exile with regards to my disconnection with them.

The heady days of summer seem such a long time ago now when I felt like I could move endlessly over whatever terrain I chose and felt strong and confident doing so.

I have been maintaining my fitness out here in the flat lands as best I can , even though the longest run I have had since the Bucharest Marathon is about 16 km. Its just nigh on impossible to justify spending longer away from the work environment……

The trails are pleasant and I continue to see some lovely sights as the sunsets, with deer, hares, foxes and all manner of birds of prey presenting themselves as I pass through the landscape, empty but for the odd tractor cutting a late corn field or harrowing a rich brown plowed field…

I can turn the legs over pretty quickly now and feel ok, but increasingly I suffer from a bit of a motivation issue – The closer I get to arriving home, the less inclined I am to worry about squeezing another run in here, except that without the day to day runs here I will lose fitness for the days I want to spend up high somewhere else.

This has been keeping me going and within a week now I am going to be at home…Fantastic indeed and I can’t wait to traverse the hils again with a sense of freedom that a snatched hour here or there cannot quite deliver..

When you have only an hour to run, one is aware of a particular end point and how long it will take to get there. At home by comparison, I think about where to go on a run , not really how long it will take me to get back and that is liberating. The same with our cycle trips, its all about the journey …….

So I am ready for Wales again. From early August til now I have not set a foot on the hills there….Bring it on, they lok great on the webcams I have been viewing the last day or so….

Pank Camp Loop – Best camp location for views and quality loops

Possibly the best 3.5km loop of tarmac I have come across with around a 100m heigh difference and a few diferent hills on a single lap. Telly Tubby style bridges, a couple of short grass tracks and great views means its actualy pretty inspiring to run here, depsite the fact that one is not going anywhere.

Combined with the very hospitable Kurds and our friendly OPF, a bunch of Asaish and lots of holiday makers, its quite an experience. These pictures are all from the quiet end of the camp near the gorge behind Rowanduz Village. This place is surrounded in trails and climbing opportunities. Might have to come back on holiday!!

Paul Dixon flying along at Pank

Soran in the background and Hamiltons Road running up the valley into Iran in the distance

Jim Plaice on the Pank Loop with a great Back Drop

Jim Plaice, one of our gang of four - myself Paul D and Qudrat make up the other 3 - daily battering on the tarmac above Rowanduz. It could be worse?!

Paul D going for it again

Akoyan Valley in the background and the Harmusche ridge. Full of potential routes - biking, running, scrambling or climbing. Rowanduz is such a cool spot. Qudrat,Paul D and Jim P on a mission. 38 degrees C.

Rowanduz, running, Kurdistan

Paul D and Qudrat, more partners in crime on the Pank Loop, steps and sweeping mini paths ad to the fun and stretch the lungs and calf muscles

Rowanduz Gorge behind, Pank Camp super Loops. 38 degrees C. Tired Legs

Pank Loop - Your truly - attacked the steps and the rather fancy red and white paved swoopy paths jioning the tarmac loops, lol

Kit for Work and running Rowanduz

Its been a hot month and a lot of my clothing has ben used for crossover running and working out in the hills, The North Face Trail Guides have taken a good beating, they are over a year old now, and my Adidas Adizero Adios have finally given up the ghost due to excesive trail running in what are in fact a pure road shoe (used them loads in Cambodia).

I am saving whats left of my Adidas Adizero XT4’s for the alps but seriously need a new pair of shoes….

The North Face Stretch trousers, Better Than Naked Shorts, Adidas and The North Face tops – short sleeve that I got from V12 have been great and actually I really did benefit from the wicking nature of both TNF stuff and Adidas. I could wear the t’s throughout the day, then don my shorts and run in the tops as they would dry so quickly. Good airflow and comfortable fit, plus hard wearing are the impressions I get from these garments, all great.

Loads of tarmac km’s lots of ascent and descent, fresh air, salads, work work and more work, and I feel super healthy now and pysched for the Alps trip with Helen … New adventures always…

Uganda and a few plans

Giraffes, gazelle, Elephants etc roam outside whilst I run on my treadmill in my Adidas Adizero Boston 3's... Great looking tracks out and the wildlife looks superb

Lots of wildlife on the commute to work ......

Well here I am in Uganda. A new job in a new place, and all very interesting , hectic and challenging. Every new project brings a whole set of different challenges.

Running wise the first challenge for me is that I can’t actually leave my camp to go running!! Shock horror!!

I am reduced to pounding a creaky running machine and working with some rattly weights. This is going to be interesting when I finally go on leave in late March as I am now super keen to run again, and my health feels back to robustness again….

Running for a couple of hours at a time will be a new thing again after a couple of months break…I am well excited. My red blood cell count should be back to normal now after the malaria, thats the bit that takes atime to recover apparently, hence my lack of energy for a month or two. |I am now back on it I reckon, feeling great….

My next leave, I am heading out to Cambodia to join my wife who is working on an Elephant Sanctuary, more about this in a later post. I am really excited to be mixing up looking after elephants with days out running wild and free in a totally new place, exploring and building some fitness.

So here in Uganda I am reduced to sessions on the running machines and am building up length and intensity, mixing it up a bit whilst ipod tunes stop me goinng daft. So far I am sort of enjoying the torture of the treadmill, but only managed an hour so far. It seems to require a certain mental approach that I am trying to develop.. It seems to produce fast turn over of the legs but I am sure the speed settings are wrong.. I mainly judge my eforts by heart rate.  I alternate with episodes of Talk Ultra, which actually is quite a motivator, hearing of races and exploits from around the globe, plus insights into training, racing, nutrition etc…Anything to keep me sane on the treadmill.

The heat is good, its around 35 to 40 degrees c currently so time spent sweating on the treadmill is good. I am sure you get more value for effort the hotter and more humid it is….. We shall see…

My Adidas Adizero Boston3 shoes are feeling great, I really like them – good cushioning and neutral they hold my feet really firm and even when i am bogging in sweat they feel positive and there is no slippage / squelching. They are wearing well and are so light you hardly notice them on the foot, but the foremotion thing  built into them and seems to make on feel whippy / fast…..

Tales of Trails in Cederberg

So after all the talk about were to stay and all the fun I had with Helen and Cori, its time to get down to the trail running and exploring I got upto for the last few days on my own.

I was staying in Algeria at one of the cottages – Peerboom (Means Pear Tree in Afrikaans) in the narrow valley that makes up the Algeria section of the Cederberg, and is administered by Cape Nature. Its a deep steep sided valley at around 500m altitude, with peaks either side of around 1600m. Its the first part of the park you enter when appproaching from Citrusdal , and as you drop into the valley you can see Southwards towards the Uitkyk Pass, where the valley climbs up to a plateau valley at 1000 metres before heading off further into the wilderness area.

I took plenty of photos during the runs so here we go:-

Whilst here I had 3 full days of great trail running that involved the following:-

Day 1 –  40 km 7.5 hours 2500m ascent Sneeuberg peak 2000m ( it would have been 44km but a couple of  guys passed me and offered a lift – they were mountain bikers themselves and were interested to see where I was from. I couldn’t resist the lift as by this time I was boiling and wantedd to have plenty of gas in my legs for the next couple of days)

Helen and I stayed here for a few days mountain biking , running and horse riding

An Oasis of green in the midst of the rocky landscape, a cool place to stay with a lake for a swim too!! I approached Sneeuberg from the far side on my run, but this valley behind Kromsrivier has some great tracks too

A run from Peerboom up a parallel valley ( Klein Uitkyk ) then a long traverse towards Sneeuberg Peak , a climb to the summit then a descent more directly to the gravel road beyond the Uitkyk pass, returning along the gravel towards Peerboom.

Early in the run a steep valley climb with some triffids to fight through here and there, leads to great views and a levelling out in Fynbos vegetation, before a fantstic valley traverse

Looking down Klein Uitkyk on the Duweisgat trail -on the way to Sneeuberg.Technical trails and a steep climb in the early morning. Running in my Salomons today, probably not the best choice due to technical nature of trails but plenty of cushioning

I set off ful of trepidation as one can really feel the wild and emptiness around one and there is always the possibility of bumping into snakes and other wild animals …. I had chosen a longer route than necessary as I liked the look of the Klein UitKyk and the Duweisgat area on the map, with its tight contours and remote look.  I had my Black Diamond Ultra Distance Poles with me too to help with the climbs  (I have definitely found that they are great for steep power marching and definitely seem to help with reduction of soreness in the quads the day after too). I was constantly aware that the day was going to be a scorcher – 30 plus and kept my eye on water sources to supplement my supply. The water from the streams tastes so good and I was lucky that on this particular day there were plenty of them throughout the trip. Hitting the top of the first pass the route levelled for a km or two then dropped significantly into the top of a super steep and remote valley which looked like a scene from a Conan Doyle novel “The Land That Time Forgot”. My first concern was that I would have to drop right into this to get to Sneeuberg, but a map inspection reassured me that I still couldn’t see the peak…

The land that time forgot? So remote and trails just clinging to the side of the valley. no one around, just rock dassies and the odd Grysbok and lizardd

5 miles into Sneeuberg run and no sign of the mountain yet. Looking down into Duweisgat after ascending Klein Duweisgat

The trail is carved vertiginously into the side of this valley and generally contours round to the left until another steep climb leads to a col and a further plateau covered in myriad rock formations and a less technical trail across some flats towards the Sneeuberg hut… The hut is in fact a shed with hay in it so not wuite like an alpine hut, but it has a great little stream nearby and fantastic views of Sneeuberg and the surroundings, and is about 2.5 miles from the summit.

The Track levelled off for a while, and plenty of streams to fill my Salomon flexi bottle thingy and back pack. Hut just around the corner

A beautiful plateau, with Sneeuberg in the distance my objective. Very technical trails leading up the mountain with climbing at the top, It was somewhere around here that I disturbed a Black Spitting Cobra - one advantage of running poles is that they strike the ground ahead of you and seem to alert snakes to ones presence before you stumble onto them...

From the hut some steady contouring then a very technical, steep and narrow trail leads up to the Southern end of the summit ridge, where some rocky running leads onto large rock steps and some definite scrambling and easy rock climbing moves to progress, with tricky route finding as one gets close to the summit. I spent a lot of time seeking out the best way up, and also had to concentrate as the higher one goes the tricker the climbing becomes and also more exposed, narrow ledges and awkward bridging gave me a cramp at one point.  20 metres below the summit cairn I called it a day ( see caption below) and decidedd to head down…

Hot and remote and a long way back yet. 20 metres from the top. An exposed section of about 10 metres on round pockety slab  above a big drop did not look so appealing and as I wasn't sure whether this was the right direction or not I decided against it...12 miles down 13 to go

Little Pup and Sugar Loaf in distance, looking back towards where I stayed with Helen ( Kromsrivier valley). The last 20 metres above me was an awkward rock slab with scoops and I was not sure if this was the right way to go, after weaving my way around for 20 minutes route finding. Still the ledge I was on now had a great view and it was time for a boiled egg and then the descent....

The descent was technical again and steady, a lot of pole use for stability and a lot of triffid wrestling. Once I hit the travers path back to the Sneeuberg hut I picked up speed and form and turned right down hill at the hut, on the trail that led more directy to the road through from Algeria to Dwarsrivier. I figured a faster descent for 9 km and a steady return on the gravel road would be better in the heat of the af ternoon than  a return on my route, and a bit of variation is always a good thing. No point running the same trail twice unless you have to… The descent was a killer – even though it was a cart track it was a festival of loose rounded rocks and sharp boulders, steep in places and boiling hot down to the road at Oike Boom, , and then in the distance loomed the steady climb back to Uitkyk Pass, which I launched into after another hit of cold water soaking in the river conveniently next to the road track junction!! Another 4.5 km on the road and foruitously a couple of South African mountain bikers passed and were inquisitive enough to say hello , then offer a lift back to Peerboom, so how could I say no!! 40km  after setting off I was back and the cold water pool next  to the house beckoned, to help the legs recover and soothe my mild sun stroke . Ginger sliced into hot water and lots of rehydration salts helped sort me out and then a other hit of Braai and vegetable stew for dinner to fortify myself for tomorrows adventures…..

Food of champions, cooked over wood embers under a starry sky

Braai'ing and wholesome vegetable stew frenzies characterised the time in Cederberg, eat al fresco. This is at Algeria, Peerboom house, but we did the same in kromsrivier. A great way to eat. Not forgetting a nice bottle of S.A Pinotage or Shiraz and some rehydration.....

Day 2 – 25 km Climbing up to Die Gat then a traverse behind the middleberg mountain, then descending to Algeria and a run up along the Uitkyk trail back to my house ( This was planned to be a 10km run, just a climb up to Die Gat, but the terrain was so amazing , I just couldn’t resist exploring further and further, and also a short wrong turn added a couple of of spectacular km to the trip)

Heading out on y second days runnign up Die Gat to head round the back of Middleberg, planning on a short one

Techy tracks climbing up zig zag style in dense vegetation amidst myriad rock scenery, climbing would be great in Cederberg too. Sweltering morning but my legs felt great. Poles helped again on these climbs.

A steep climb up from my abode was all I planned for at the start, and the path was a great stepped technical roccky trail, with loads of Fynbos overhanging it too ( return of the triffids…) Had my TNF Hayasa’s on today as they are firmer on this kind of terrain and my feet feel better with a bit more feedback after a day in the Salomon Crossmax Missions. The Hayasa’s fit like a glove and feel light and fast in this stuff..

17km in on my planned 10km run, the scenery was so fantastic I just had to keep seeing what was round the next corner...

Took a wrong turn before this and started heading off into the middle of no where. This view was just after I passed a rare group of people out for a hike, confirming that the hut lay ahead and I was indeed heading the right way

Once up on the top of Die Gat, I got carried away seeing what was around the next bend, and then 17km into my run and one wrong turn corrected later, a spot of lunch on a rock, and I was nearly at the Middleberg hut nestled in a corner of a high valley above Algeria.

Steep techy and steppy descent ahead in the sweltering heat. A brilliant trail down and a great waterfall along the way, where I stopped with Helen and Cori the week before

Looking down the fine trail and ready to fly.....Legs feeling good but wary about battering them too much as I have another good day planned for tomorrow. I so can't get enough of this area and the trails , they are amazing

Time for a great stepped descent, North wales style down into the valley passed a great waterfall to top up the water supply as necessary, and a hot run up the valley bottom back to Peerboom and my house. The valley trail, if you catch the right trail is great, but I missed it a couple of times due to the triffids again and had to fight my way back online . Very hot finish, but once again the cold pool in the stream was awaiting and it was straight in there to soak the body back to a chilled and recovering state before more feeding Day 3 25 km Consisting of 2 runs. The first run was from Sandriff ( a 20 minute drive away to the South) where I ran steeply up to Wolfberg Cracks, through the cracks and acrosss to Wolfberg Arch and back.

A permit is required for this run as it lies on private land outside the Cape Nature area. The permit can be got from Dwarsrivier office, which also does wine tastings and has vine yards. The rose 2011 is an amazingly good wine that myself and Helen shared a bottle of on our last night before she left to work

Start of the third day involved a good hard climb upwards, and again the poles just seem to add a spring to my step and the legs felt remarkable perky too. All these climbs are so technical that even when descending yoou have to be super careful not to catch a toe and take a flyer.. These rocks are rough and will do some serious damage if you take a dive into them.

A brilliant climb/caving style ascent through the cracks leads to great views over the valley

Amazing colours and amazing views. The Wolfberg arch lies another 3 miles across the rocky plateau

More fine views!! The cliffs are a popular climbing area , although there was no one there when I was . Only a few visitors to the Cracks themselves

Can't get enough of the views and the sense of wilderness this place has. It is spectacularly vast, ancient, peaceful and airy

10 miles round trip to underneath the arch,through wolfberg cracks. Great place for lunch

Wolfberg Arch, after a great scramble and squeeze through the Wolfberg Cracks as part of the run

Looking back towards the Wolfberg Cracks, the sense of this vast place is fantastic. So empty of modernity and such ancient rocks. No traffic noise, nothing but wind and birds

The terrain racks to here is rolling gently and a fantastic mix of solid sandstone steps and dusty trails weaving in and around myriad boulders

Having completed this amazing run, and heading back to Peerboom for yhe customary immersion in the cold pool for 15 minutes , I couldnt resist a blast (stagger) up the UitKyk pass on the gravel road to descend a rather fine looking track I had spotted previously back to the house…….

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