The Ultra Experience

Here's to the adventures of my life which are usually ultra marathon trail running or fly fishing but may include other trips, experiences, thoughts, opinions, or pretty much whatever I want. As co-founder of Altra Footwear my life and adventures seemingly revolve more around developing and promoting the best footwear in the world...and I love it!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

2009 Shoe Review....January 19th-25th

After going to the winter 2009 outdoor retailer I've compiled a top five list of 2009 release trail shoes. I've seen and tried who knows how many trail shoes but this list is what I believe to be the top selling and/or most influencial shoes of 2009. It is not necessarily in any particular order but it is actually quite exciting with some drastic changes for a couple of companies. Anyway, here goes:

#1 Montrail Hardrock $110- After quite the duration, the Hardrock has been changed. Frankly the name itself shows the desperation Montrail is going through, as this shoe has little in common with its predecessor. However, it does look fantastic! With a much lower profile, a forefoot protection plate, medial posting, and in a comparably lightweight package. Traditional Hardrock enthusiasts will have a bit of difficulty switching over but I don't think it will be due to the performance of the shoe; rather this new Hardrock is a totally different shoe altogether. However, it will still be a bomber supportive shoe for a runner that needs maximum protection and support.

#2 LaSportiva Wildcat $100- If you haven't hoped on the LaSportiva bandwagon, this might be your chance. LaSportiva has been growing hugely but most addicts have been liking their light and nimble models. Although not heavy, the Wildcat is a plush smooth ride with a great fitting upper. Using a virtually seamless upper with a modern look, this shoe will handle nearly every trail with lots of comfort. Max cushion, awesome traction, great support. Only drawback is the lack of a beefy forefoot rock protection plate. Yet this shoe will work for and be enjoyed by nearly everyone. It's supportive enough for mild pronators, beefy enough for the big guy, but light and cushy for fast and/or skinny folk. It's bound to become a classic!

#3 Montrail Mountain Masochist $95- Montrail needed a comeback in a bad way. This model looks like the missing link! Although similar to the popular Streak, this model fixed everything that was wrong with the Streak yet kept all the integral qualities that made the Streak popular. It has a lower profile, denser midsole, beefed up better fitting upper, and a fatigue post. The posting isn't enough to really correct much pronation so it will work for a neutral to mild pronator. It should be great as a fast and light training shoe or a racing shoe. Although this shoe is not meant for every runner, I personally can't wait to take it for a spin.

#4 Brooks Cascadia 4 $100- No need to fear Cascadia legionares. This shoe has hardly changed. Aside from the sleak new look, this Cascadia is using an eco-friendly outsole, biodegradable midsole, and has a revamped more protective upper. You won't feel the difference. It is the same perfect shoe it was in 2008. Which is why it still is on my top 5 list despite minimal changes. If you've never owned a pair of Cascadia's repent and immediately go to your local shoe store and buy a pair. You will not regret it.

#5 New Balance 100 $75- Unlike the Cascadia or Wildcat which can be worn by nearly everyone the 100 is a niche shoe. However, this is the latest revolution in trailrunning being manifest perfectly in a shoe. If you haven't heard, Anton Krupicka and Kyle Skaggs are taking over the ultrarunning world and New Balance has combined with these two runners to create one of the lightest most unique trail shoes ever. Step aside Inov8, New Balance has hit a home run! Low profile, forefoot plate, racing upper, and solid traction. It's incredible! Not that I'm strong enough or efficient enough to run an ultra in this shoe but it sure it cool. Maybe as a 25k racing flat. Kudos to New Balance however we will all have to wait until October for its official release.

All-in-all, 2009 looks like a solid year. Other highlights are Gu's new chew called the Gu Chomps(Roctane meets gushers. Bitter but looks like a solid product), Clif Bar's new Shot Roks (a protein malt ball concoction that tastes fantastic!), and Nuun's new Banananuun flavor. I think most vender's are waiting for the market to make a turn upwards before they release any ground breaking technology. 2009 will be survival mode for many companies, so make sure you support your favorites...or else. Aside from those few new items, a new palette of colors will adorn the walls of shops but much will be regurgitation of the same old stuff.

January 19th-25th: Felt a few aches and pains but had a solid 26 miles. All of which was on trails. Who knows how many miles I walked going back and forth from the outdoor retailer. Miles should hopefully be on the rise over the next few weeks. With this latest cold front who knows though. Cold running...but it still is January.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

January 11th-17th

It was great to start training again. I've been itching to get out but haven't found the time. With my schedule balancing becoming better, I am determined to find the time to train and make 2009 a great year.

This week was a balance of treadmill, road and trail totaling exactly 30 miles. It culminated with a great 11 mile trail run on Saturday. I'm feeling a few aches and pains but overall I feel great. Surprisingly I felt in decent shape although I'm sure I was going slower than I thought.

This week will probably be a lower mileage total but it's the annual winter Outdoor Retailer. I'll get my miles walking the show. You can look forward to a review of any new products hitting the market from me next week. Nothing is being hyped aside from an overall concern for low specialty retail totals.

Unfortunately the average consumer in America is being ever more concerned and/or lazy with their purchasing. Online retail and one stop big box stores are hurting but specialty retail is literally dying. Why is this? Having worked in small specialty retail stores for half my life I am biased but what is the allure for buying something that you've never tried on or touched? I can't fathom buying a pair of shoes or shorts that I haven't tried on! Anything to save a buck I guess. For me, I pride myself on buying everything possible from local independent specialty shops. Why support corporate America who cares nothing about you aside from their stocks when you can support your neighbor and local economy? My wife and I have become particularly attached to our local produce stand. You can literally taste the difference. Anyway, does anyone else have a good reason for not supporting and buying from local specialty shops? I would be interested to hear some opinions. Anyway, stick with your New Year's resolutions (usually marketing strategies from corporate America) aka train smart and buy local!

Monday, January 12, 2009

2009 "The Training Begins"

So 2009 is here and already moving swiftly onward. It brings forth a whole year of anticipation for upcoming trips, runs, and adventures. I've accumulated quite the list so far and I'm excited. After what was a transition year in 2008 for me, I'm excited to be in a more stable part in life that hopefully will allow me to focus on what is really important in life....running!

Ok, maybe I can work on accountability, family, work, religion, etc....but when my mind starts to wander, it dreams of singletrack! As far as the accountability is concerned, I've literally just ran whenever I could in past years. Some weeks it was 20 miles and some weeks it was 90 miles. My schedule was always so crazy that I just did whatever I could. This year I intend to keep weekly totals that I will openly post so people can either mock or be amazed. Hopefully it's the later. These will be brief weekly totals, not long daily boring descriptions, and I intend to update my blog more frequently aka finish my John Muir Trail reports.

More exciting news is that the Runner's Corner Mountain/Ultra Team has secured some corporate sponsors! This year our sponsors will be Hammer Nutrition and Golite Apparel. Pretty exciting stuff. Last year with injuries, trips, school, and a new job I didn't race too much so this year I hope to have a full and successful season of racing. Plus after taking the last 3 months off running I'm mentally and physically ready to rip off some killer times. We'll see but 2009 should be a good year.
My race schedule for 2009 is as follows:
Antelope Island 50 miler
Squaw Peak 50
Logan Peak
Scofield Olympic Distance Triathlon
Katcina Mosa 100K
Ogden Valley Sprint Triathlon
Las Vegas 1/2 Ironman
Ogden Valley 50 miler

I think it's a pretty solid race schedule. A couple of these races are still questionable but my key races will be Squaw Peak 50, Katcina Mosa 100K, and the Vegas 1/2 Ironman. Depending on how I enjoy these triathlons a full ironman may be in the schedule for 2010! For now it's all about setting a solid base for 2009 and skiing as much as possible. Happy New Year Everyone.