My Blog

Sommige dingen veranderen gelukkig niet.

De Schoorlse Duinentrail 2017 was voor mij thuiskomen in een prachtig natuurgebied en een mooi testmoment voor mijn rechterknie, zou de blessure weg zijn?

22829250_10155812384744231_714610842086567630_o‘Nee, ik ga echt niet voor een podiumplaats’ …

… niet iedereen geloofde mijn voornemen om rustig aan te doen tijdens de MudSweatTrail Buff Duinentrail – maar toch was het ditmaal echt waar!

In 2016 werd ik hier tot mijn eigen verassing Nederlands Kampioen Trailrunning. Die overwinning luidde een seizoen voor mij in met vele mooie lopen zoals de Belgische Spa Trail, het Limburgse Koning van Spanje Trailweekend, het Italiaanse WK Trail, Canadese MWK Marathon, de Spaanse Pirineosfit Trailweek en de Welsh driedaagse Ring-of-Fire.

Maar ‘je wordt ouder papa’ … en dat geef ik nu toe, dus toen mijn rechterknie vertelde dat het even genoeg was werd rust het adagium … en de geleerde les … neem echt voldoende rust na zo’n intensieve periode.

Vandaar dat ik de Duinentrail 2017 heerlijk rustig heb gelopen, al kriebelde het zo nu en dan wel geef ik toe. Voordeel was dat ik optimaal kon genieten van de herfstkleuren die van de bomen spatten, slingeren over de bospaadjes op mijn vertrouwde INOV-8 X-talon 212’s (voor de derde maal mijn ideale schoenkeuze voor deze bos, strand & duin trail), lekker even de tijd nam bij de twee bevoorradingsposten, wat kon kletsen met medelopers, het hoofd leeg liet waaien – zoals een medeloper dat noemde – tijdens de ‘epische’ windkracht acht tegen, uit het Noorden, laverend over het smalle strookje strand (Iwan Kamminga jammer dat je er niet was maar dank voor de dijkbewaking), en een beetje kon mijmeren over vorig jaar als ik de punten passeerde waarbij ik langzamerhand begon te geloven in het winnen van het NK.

 

En dan finishen … wederom met een grote glimlach de duinhelling naar beneden onder de klanken van de doedelzakspeler … na de finish een heerlijk koel alcohol-vrij Erdinger biertje van Willem van ’t Veer … lekker bijpraten … sommige dingen veranderen niet …

… ook niet dat Zac Freudenberg wat ‘later’ startte, ergens nog verkeerd liep en uiteindelijk enorm knap tweede werd. Dat lopers wederom de afslag misten op het heideveldje – ondanks het pijltje. Vorig jaar leverde dat mij, achteraf gezien de NK-titel op.

Logo_1Dit alles bij elkaar maakt de Duinentrail uniek. Als ‘oudere trailrunner’ wil ik er dan ook voor pleiten om niets aan de Duinentrail te veranderen … behalve dan dat ik hoop in 2018 (weer op 28 oktober las ik) weer voor een podiumplaats te kunnen strijden – de rechterknie kan het in ieder geval weer aan!

 

Statistiekje

  • 35km in 3.18 uur met 670 m+, 27 overall over de finish.
  • Dat ging in 2016 toch wel wat harder in 2.36.

Wijn en bier geven trailrunplezier

Met MudSweatTrails naar het Ahrtal in de Duitse Eiffel voor een Trailrun-klauter-klim tour.

Oktober Bier und Wein Fest in de dorpjes van het Ahrtal in de Duits Eiffel …

Ideaal moment voor een Trailtour zou je zeggen.

DSC_0017Na een dag rondrennen / klimmen / klauteren over de berggraten rond het dorp Altenahr kan ik dat alleen maar beamen.

Wat een herfstpracht, de bruine tinten spatten van de bomen en zelfs de wijnvelden tonen een magnifiek herfstkleurenpallet. Vanaf de, soms best wel steile, berggraten, uitkijkrotsen en de Burg Are kasteelruïne van Altenahr geniet ik van de mooie uitzichten. Dat alle seizoenen in deze dag voorbijkomen draagt eigenlijk alleen maar bij aan de sfeer en het heerlijke frisse herfstgevoel als je door de ritselende bladeren naar beneden rent vanaf de Steinenbergerhaus. Daar hebben we dan net met de groep, dampend en ‘stinkend’ van de trailkilometers door de regen, genoten van thee, koffie en als je trek had enorme punten gebak (genoeg voor zeker twee personen). De ‘stamgasten’ zaten al aan de pullen bier en Sweinen Haxe of zuurkool met worst, dat was voor mij nog even te veel om 1 uur ’s middags – en pas op de helft van de Trailtour.

Zo’n 40 enthousiaste trailrunners in alle soorten, maten en gekte rennen in verschillende snelheidsgroepjes hier deze zondag rond onder de bezielende leiding van MudSweatTrails. Ik had tijdens de Koning van Spanje eind april – dat lijkt al weer een eeuwigheid geleden – een uitnodiging gekregen van Marc Weening voor deze Trailtour. En alsof het zo moest zijn paste deze zondag in ons gezinsplan om de eerste week van de herfstvakantie van de kinderen vanuit onze tijdelijke woonplaats in Engeland op bezoek te gaan in Nederland. Vanuit Eindhoven is het maar twee uur rijden met de auto naar deze verborgen schoonheid, slechts 10 minuten van de Duitse snelweg 61 die menig Nederlander kent van de route naar de Alpen.

Ik had nog nooit meegedaan met een georganiseerde Trailtour maar het beviel prima. Lekker lopen, kletsen, elkaar een beetje opjagen, lachen en ook uitdagend met meerdere klimmetjes over relatief smalle berggraten. Doordat de groep is opgesplitst in verschillende snelheden komt iedereen aan zijn trekken zonder over ‘de grens’ heen te gaan. Aan het einde van de dag met de hele groep napraten en dampen met een ‘eenvoudige doch voedzame’ Duitse maaltijd. De Erdinger alcholvrije Wiessbier was voor mij een smaakvolle ontdekking – de moderne (trail)variant van het Oktoberfest denk ik dan maar – , paste prima bij de Zigeunerschnitzel en zorgt dat ik nog naar huis mag rijden.

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Na een extra rondje richting de kasteelruïne hadden we 26km afgelegd, met 1400 hoogtemeters in 5,5 uren, en … mijn rechterknie deed het nog steeds!

Dat was namelijk best wel spannend, zou de blessure over zijn na drie weken rust? Het lijkt er wel op en daar ben ik enorm blij mee. Mijn les hieruit: neem na een intensief seizoen dat eindigt met een driedaagse trailrun inclusief mijn eerste 100+km goed rust. Kleine ‘pijntjes’ zeggen dan eigenlijk ‘stop even’, doen dus ‘Meneer Klein’ – gaan we doen volgende keer.

En het Ahrtal, daar ga ik zeker nog een keer naar toe.

Er is een uitgezette route, de AhrSteig, van 110km en rond de 3500 hoogtemeters door dit

‘Rode wijn paradijs’ in de Reinland-Pfalz.

Lijkt mij erg mooi om deze route in de maand oktober in twee dagen al trailrunnend te doen met op zaterdagavond dan lekker genieten van de wijn- en bierfeesten. Wie heeft zin om mee te gaan? We kunnen zelf gaan of misschien een goed idee voor een volgende trailtour van MudSweatTrails?

Ahrsteig

INOV-8 Roclite 305 Review

True, strong designed, multi-terrain trailrunning shoe

The INOV-8 Roclite 305 – a genuine multi-terrain trailrunning shoe

DSC_0191After a 1000 kilometres of trailrunning on the INOV-8 Roclite 305 I feel ready to share my experiences. You may notice in the pictures that I have two pairs, I made 800 kilometres on the red and 200 kilometres on the blue.

The trails I enjoyed where very much what I would call multi-terrain: ranging from easy going dry forest, wet grassland, muddy fields, scree slopes to challenging large boulder fields. So besides distance I can also say something about the best terrain for these shoes.

In the INOV-8 Roclite family you will also find a a little lighter version: the Roclite 290 (4mm drop),  a version with Gore-Tex: the Roclite 305 GTX and a boot-design (both with or without Gore-Tex: the Roclite 325 (GTX)  I have no experience with these other versions.

First the numbers and data – from the brochure.

  • The Upper:
    • Strengthened rubber toe-cap shields the toes from obstructive debris.
    • Integrated tongue gusset keeps all debris at bay.
    • Standard fit ensuring the shoe allows for toe splay while lifting (and a good option for those with a normal to wide forefoot).
    • ADAPTERWEB lacing system adapts to the movement and swelling of the foot in motion.
    • X-LOCK system supports and holds the heel in place.
  • Midsole:
    • PowerFlow cushioned mid-sole together with a molded, 6mm footbed creates light underfoot comfort.
  • Outsole:
    • Tri-C rubber compound and multi-directional claw-shaped cleats, each with a wide contact area, providing an good grip over unpredictable terrain and the quick release of debris.
    • Stone protection utilising the Second-generation META-SHANK.
  • Numbers:
    • DSC_0238Weight: 305gm. I measured 336gm for UK size 9.5.
    • Stack: Heel 22.5mm / Forefoot 14.5mm.
    • Drop: 8mm (INOV-8 two Arrow indication).
    • Lug depth: 6mm (how deep are the ‘rubber points’ of the outsole).
    • Footbed: 6mm

My experiences

I will divide my experiences in positive or negative and make where applicable a comparison with other shoes, especially the new INOV-8 Trailroc 285 which I was able to experience also for many kilometres already this season. Obviously this is very much runner dependent. I will describe why I think a feature is + or –  but in the end, as always …

‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating’ –

Choose your own treat after running on these shoes yourself!

(Maybe Ice-cream)!

Positive features

Sturdy – Stand like a rock. The Roclite 305 is for INOV-8 a relative sturdy shoe which I liked when running trails in the Spanish Pyrenees this summer, for example during a two day trailrun following the Carres de Foc. But also during the ‘horizontal rain and hard wind‘ day three of the Ring Of Fire multi-day trail on the Isle of Anglesey I appreciated the grip and sturdiness on the small paths along the cliffs.

You basically ‘stand like a rock’ and feel more supported from all sides.

This I would like to compare with the new Trailroc 285 (see my review elsewhere) which is much more flexible in the forefoot, becoming more stiff from the middle to the back of the shoe due to the stone protection ‘plate’.

True multi-terrain. The rocky, sharp stoned trails in the Spanish Pyrenees felt all right, just as much as running through the Chilterns near my hometown Northwood.

I agree with the advise from INOV-8 that this is a true multi-terrain shoe.

Good rock protection for feet and toes whilst also enough lug depth and size of cleats for grip in mud or scree. I would say that the Roclite 305 is more multi-terrain than the Trailroc 285.

Lacing system and integrated tongue. I am a bit of a fan of shoes with integrated tongues (which Salamon is known for) so I was happy that INOV-8 applied this for the Roclite 305. It gives me the comfortable feeling that the shoe is ‘wrapped’ around my feet, leaving no room to glide or cause friction when zigzagging through the forest or running down a scree slope. Also the lacing system I liked. It may not be designed for this purpose but the ADAPTER Web gave me the option to tie the laces quiet tight around my feet

whilst keeping it a bit more loose above the last ‘ADAPTER web’.

DSC_0239Wear and tear. After a 1000 kilometres the shoes are still in good condition with only superficial wear of the upper front mesh.

Negative features

Not really. To be honest I do not have real negative issues with these shoes. They perform as promoted by INOV-8 and what I expected when using them. If anything, they are a bit more sturdy than you may expect when you have been running on INOV-8 shoes before. But that is more a difference than a negative.

Summary

The INOV-8 Roclite 305 is true, strong designed, multi-terrain trailrunning shoe with a very comfortable ‘wrap around your foot’ feeling. A bit sturdy but you really stand ‘like a rock’. For me I will use these when going into more demanding rocky or unknown terrain, leaving for example the INOV-8 Trailroc 285 or the even flexible INOV-8 X-Talon 212 for the faster trails.

DSC_0835

What are your experiences, please let me know!

 

INOV-8 AT/C Stormshell and Racepant Review

Keep Calm … Carry On … Wear the Stormshell and Racepant!

Sometimes you get what you do not hope for …

Horizontal rain for eight hours, from all 360 degrees, 54km long, 1000m+

However, no way better than to test raingear!

IMG_0432I felt very lucky when I received the INOV-8 AT/C Stormshell (Full zip) and matching AT/C Racepant just before I headed out to the Isle of Anglesey for the Ring of Fire three day trailrun covering 216km and 4000m+ . The trail follows the coastline via the stunningly beautiful Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path (see my running experiences on my weblog).

I felt very lucky because I always like to new trailrunning gear, it makes me smile like a ice-cream-aholic (which I am also!) in a all free ice-cream shop.

But the proof of the ice-cream is in the eating and for rain-gear you need

… indeed rain!

IMG_0433Who wants rain when running around Anglesey? Nobody I think. And for two days we were treated with great sunny weather but the last day was different! Horizontal rain from the west with no shelter for in total 54km to go along the northwest part of the Island including a climb of Holyhead mountain, it could not be better test weather.

To be honest to all you who are reading. I received the clothes from INOV-8 UK when I asked them if they wanted to support me in this trailrun. Their response was extremely generous and I really appreciate that, but it does not withhold me to be critical. I do not think INOV-8 UK expects anything else when they promote themselves as the ‘World leaders in trailrunning gear’.

So here we go … what are my thoughts after 8 hours of rain?

First the numbers and data – from the brochure.

  • 20170909_120254.jpg
    Small, light weight (171 gr)

    The AT/C Stormshell Full zip:

    • Designed for lightweight racing and intense training runs in wet conditions – and it was wet!
    • Roll away hood with wired peak and single multi directional adjustment.
    • Packs away small into its own pocket.
    • Lycra bond cuffs with integrated thumb holes for when it is really cold.
    • Pertex Shield: a 2.5-layer waterproof fabric with 20,000 HH creates breathability.
    • Taped seams, full length zip opening and internal stormflap, aquaguard chest zip pocket.
    • 175 grams (I measured 171 grams, size M).
    • Fulfils all the criteria when race organisers rule a waterproof jacket must be carried as part of mandatory kit.
    • Provides 360° reflectivity.
  • 20170909_120119.jpg
    Small, light weight     (175 gr)

    The AT/C Racepant:

    • The two layer waterproof fabric creates the same breathability as the Stormshell.
    • Stretches to all sides.
    • Soft inner for warmth and comfort.
    • Rolls up to a small pack using an integrated loop on the waistband.
    • Knee high zips for easy put on/take off.
    • 176 grams (I measured 175 grams, size M).

My experiences

I will divide my experiences in positive, negative and where I think INOV-8 could improve the product even more. As always, these observations are very much runner dependent but I hope I can describe clearly enough why I think a feature is + or -.

BLUF (Bottom Line Up front)

It does it job very well!!

It does not let rain in, lets sweat go out, light weight, small package, feels really comfortable even on bare skin and the Stormshell has a great hood.

Improvements could be an even more athletic cut and adjustable waistband of the Racepant and securing the hood cord to avoid ‘wind flapping’ of the Stormshell.

Positive features

 

Does not let rain come in and lets sweat get out . It does what it states on the package! Maybe not a surprise but always good to know. During the day it was relatively warm, approx 13 degrees Celsius, which is not the best temperature for breathable clothing whilst you create more sweat the warmer it is. Underneath I had a long sleeve INOV-8 merino wool shirt, short tights and tubes on my calves. I also wore a buff. Enough to keep me warm and due to the breathability not got wet inside.  After the whole trail I still felt warm and dry. The softness of the Racepants ensured indeed that I did not even realise I was wearing rain trousers.

Versatile design.

The hood is really good!

With just one draw-cord at the back you adjust the whole hood easily around your head.

When needed you can fully secure your face when running head-on into the wind and horizontal rain. The full zip can be opened and secured just below the chin with a button, good when running with the wind in your back or uphill when you tend to sweat more.

The design of the Racepant is straight forward, basic and does the job. The zips are indeed long enough to easily put them on and off with your shoes on. There are no zip pockets or anything else.

Both Stormshell and Racepant indeed pack very small and fit easily with all your other stuff in your trailvest.

Negative features

Not really. To be honest I do not have negative issues with both Stormshell and Racepants. They perform as promoted by INOV-8 and what I ‘hoped’ when, unfortunately, I needed to use them fora whole day.

Possible improvements

No negative features but I have some possible improvements to make the Stormshell and Racepant even better, or if you wish to balance your decision what you may like to wear yourself in the end.

  • The AT/C Stormshell Full zip:
    • The single draw-cord at the back of the hood works really well. However, when running into the wind the cord itself begins to ‘tick’ on your head. Not very hard, but like a metronome following your running pace. This can become annoying after a while. I think it is not that difficult to add a small securing ‘band’ which stop this.
    • Inform the customer that when the jacket gets wet it turns from the original colour (for me green) into a greenish / black. It is as if the jackets opens it pours to let the sweat out but at the same time showing the colour of your shirt underneath (in my case black). It does not inflict the utility of the jacket at all but when I noticed it at first I was a bit surprised.
  • The AT/C Racepant:
    • With my length of 1.81m size MEDIUM was good for the length of my legs. However the waist was too wide. Although there is stretch in the waistband for me I needed to fold the top of the Racepant into the top of my short tight in order not to have it slowly ‘sink’ down. I think it would be easy to add a small draw-cord to make the size of the waistband adjustable, especially with most runners probably have a smaller than usual waist size.
    • Although the cut is already ‘athletic’ I would prefer an even more tighter cut. When I was running full in the wind I still felt as if the pants ‘flapped’ around a bit more than needed.

I hope this review helps you to decide if the AT/C Stormshell and Racepant are what you are looking for. I am completely satisfied and will take them with me whenever I think the weather may turn sour or when it is part of the mandatory kit list during an organised trailrun.

What are your experiences, please let me know!

 

Ring of Fire 2017

The three day round Isle of Anglesey Ring of Fire trailrun was a great experience and ticked many boxes!

√ 135 miles / 216 kilometres / 4000 m+ beautiful and continuously changing scenery (90% through AONB):

  • Day one: rugged coastline with steep gullies.
  • Day two: more gentle farmland, villages, sandy beaches and forest
  • Day three: stunning rough rocky coastline with gorse and heather ending in a climb of Holyhead towards the finish.

√ My longest overall distance in three consecutive days and my first 100+ km day distance.

√ Sunshine, nice and warm on day one and two – horizontal rain and wind on day three.

√ Very relaxed and friendly organisation plus a super personal support team!

To be honest I was a bit frightened when I realised in full that I had entered a three day trailrun covering 216km with a 104km on day two. Maybe I need to read the fine-print earlier before entering,, just like reading the operator manual before trying to use something. However,  I was directly inspired by the name ‘Ring of Fire’ – that caused positive goosebumps! – the place; the Isle of Anglesey, the most northwestern point of Wales, and the whole idea of circumnavigating the island in three days (that is where islands are for, just like there are mountains in order to climb them).

Anyway, so there I went, supported by my whole family, camping at a lovely small, still Wifi free campsite Pen-y-Bont, which I could use for a toilet break at day three because the trail passes the campsite near Four Mile Bridge.


The start was on Friday 1st September at 13.00 from Holyhead Breakwater Country Park, all very relaxed, with 119 people of which 87 had signed up for the full circle and the others for only the ‘Firelighter‘ (great name), i.e. the one day trail option. I wanted to keep a slower than normal trailrunning pace in order to save my self for day two and three. A multistage trailrun is very much about balancing your energy and recuperate ASAP. I only partly achieved this I think, still feeling full of energy, enjoying the great coastal scenery and joining two other runners who had a nice pace we trailed and chatted along. The finish was at Amlwch (a more Welsh is probably not possible), 58km and 6.16 hours later. I felt rather tired, more than I wanted, and quickly changed focus to recuperation.

IMG_20170827_140806_984Back at the campsite a warm shower, huge plate of pasta, a litre RECUPRO (optimal mix of proteins and carbons) from TriSportPharma every hour and six hours of sleep should be enough – but the test would be tomorrow!


20170901_111801Alarm at 0440, children still asleep in the caravan, I quickly get dressed and jump in the car. While my spouse Lonneke races over the Island I eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. A ‘pacer’ guides us at 0600 through sleepy Amlwch back to the Isle of Angelsey Coastal Path. The path is well sign posted and combined with a GPS-track on my watch I hardly needed the printed maps during the three days,

DSC_0250
Honesty book

other than to see where the next Check Point is or Honesty Book (in order to proof you have reached an outpost you need to tear a page out of book – all ‘love stories’). These points became my motivational focus points. I counted the kilometres to the next ‘food point’ where I could enjoy with heart delight from many different bars, sometimes soup or coffee and on day three a breakfast bun made at the coffee shop of the parents of one of the organisers at Rhosneigr, Sandy’s Bistro (great place!). It is funny how you can motivate yourself with a wine-gum every kilometre, or chocolate bar when only 30 kilometres to go.

Day two showed another side of the Island: more gentle, more rural and near the end some larger dune and forest areas. Again sunny and warm, I enjoyed the views at a definitely slower pace than day one, trying to keep an average of 7.5 km/hour.

Other motivators this day are certainly my family who show up at unexpected places. With the GPS tracker they can easily follow my progress, find a good spot for a cheer, a cappuccino (mjam!) or big piece of brownie (double mjam!!).

Just before real darkness kicks in I luckily reach the finish at Aberffraw, 104km and 14.40 hours later. We quickly go back to the caravan to go through the same recuperation schedule which worked fine the first night. The good thing about the long distance and slow pace is that you can eat solid food much easier so I am able to keep eating and drinking (using electrolyte tablets to ensure enough mineral intake) to keep a relative steady energy load in my body.


IMG_0438Day three, again alarm at 0440, but what is that? Rain and wind, a completely different world today with horizontal rain from the west. So no cover from the land side with the trail following the western part of the island. Following the coast I sometime go head-on into the wind and rain. Luckily it is not too cold, 13-15 degrees Celsius so I dress in a long-sleeve merino undershirt, buff, short tights, tubes and my rain running gear which I got from INOV-8 to test (I will write a review later). I hoped that the weather maybe would not let me to test it :), but the weather gods decided differently, so it became a worthwhile test for 54km and 8 hours.

The atrocious weather made the rough coastline even more dramatic and after a (even) slower start than yesterday I got into a rhythm and actually enjoyed the rain, wind and views. Big swells let wave surfers do their tricks in some stunning bays.

I found out these days that I preform best at these long distances by continuous running (or maybe a better word for it: shuffling) at a slow speed of 7 – 8 km / hours.

Other runners have different methods I observe, for example changing regularly between walking and running.  Almost all of us decide for a swift (ahum) walk when going uphill. In the end you keep the same runners in view almost the whole day.

Towards the finish, after the climb upto Holyhead it even dried up a bit. Under the tones of Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash (the link will bring you to the original soundtrack – for every finisher they started the song again, it is engraved in my memory now, with very good memories). I crossed with my biggest smile ever the finish, full circle back to where I started three days ago. Writing this I am still smiling, feeling lucky, proud and privileged that I was able to join and finish … with great help of all the supporters, the organisation led by ‘Bing’ and ‘Q’and most of all my ‘private’ support team … THANKS!!!


Some statistics:

  • On day one 87 persons started with the Ring of Fire, on day three 51 finished.
  • I ended 11th overall and 9th men.
  • First runner finished in 23.15 hours, the last just within 40 hours (total cut-off time was 40.5 hours), first female became 5th in 26.37 hours.
  • My timings:
    • Day one: 58km, 6.16 hours, average 6.31 min/km.
    • Day two: 104km, 14.40 hours, average 8.27, overall average 7.43 min/km.
    • Day three: 54km, 8.09 hours, average 9.06, overall average 8.04 min/km.
    • My average speed was slowly rising every day, and showed that especially day one I went a ‘little’ too fast to be able to keep a steady average over three days.

On day one and two I wore my Compressport Trailrunning clothes (see my review elsewhere on this weblog). On day three, as already written I wore a long-sleeve INOV-8 merino undershirt, Compressport Buff, short tights, tubes and my INOV-8 AT/C Stormshell and Race pants (to test!).

I ran day one and two on my INOV-8 Trailroc 285 which did well of the winding, sometimes rocky but also dune sand trails. Most part of the trail was relatively hard ground so I enjoyed the cushioning and flexibility.

On day three I ran on my INOV-8 Roclite 305, more to have a different shoe and therefore slightly different use of leg and feet muscles than anything else. In the end I appreciated the more sturdiness of the Roclite 305 when battling into the wind and rain.

 

 

Compressport Trailrun clothing

Born in Switzerland
– Compressport Trailrunning Review –

I felt really lucky and privileged this year in April to dress myself in a new set of Compressport Trailrunning clothes. I always really enjoy new trailrunning clothes as others may be thrilled buying a new dress, or the latest jeans. And just as with new jeans, you start to appreciate them more and more when time progresses. It is now August and some 2000 trailkilometers later, time for a review …

Are the ”Born in Switzerland” compression clothes as good as Compressport states?

The most trailrun kilometers I wore a set of:

P.S. The links will bring you to the Compressport website to find out more technical details. My review focuses on my practical experiences of these technical details, did they work for me, do they actually add positively to my trailrunning?

During the longer trails and especially the six days multi-stage PirineosFIT 2017 Jaca Trailweek I used the 140 gram Ultrun Trailrunvest. During shorter runs, or runs were I knew I did not need that much to carry I used the FreeBelt. These two products I will review separately in comparison with some other trailrun vests that I have. The running gloves I will test during fall  /winter 2017-2018.

My Experiences – Summary

If you are looking for Trailrunning compression clothing I think you will not find any better than from Compressport.

It is not cheap but you get your money’s worth of very high quality clothing packed with a lot of technology and nice features.

As always the proof is in the wearing, and that is what I did for many trail kilometres. I hope my experiences will support your decision what to obtain to enjoy the trails …they are there to enjoy and explore.

My Experiences – Detailed

GREAT LOOKS

To start with the most important (not really):

the gear just looks great, has a soft touch and makes you want to keep running!!

IMG-20170703-WA0004To be honest, it is not important at all for the actual running how the clothes look like but for the psychological part of running it sure is! I think most of us, at least I do, will scan how other runners are dressed when in a race or just when passing during a training. For what reason? Partly to check the competition, assuming ‘well dressed’ runners are serious runners, i.e. FAST! Partly to see if there are new ‘goodies’ around.

TECHNOLOGY

The compression technology for which Compressport is well known I found most useful in the short and tubes.

DSC_0129This performance enhancement technology works well for me. Especially the Tubes give me good calve stability and Achilles support. Both are important for me, whilst I had some Achilles heel issues over the years and also the tendency that my calves were the first limiters during a long (marathon) race getting cramps. This is now very much reduced – for the Achilles heel also with custom-made orthotics.

The compression running short provides compression of your thighs: does it help? For this I am less sure than the tubes but it feels good and my own experience and mental proof is that I did not suffer any cramps in either calves or thighs during the strenuous six days PirineosFIT 2017 Trailweek where I ran a mountain marathon every day. The compression is stronger than for example the Raidlight Ultralight short.

The fabrics are a nice combination of:

  • softness, it feels pleasant to the body and does not create any irritation or chafing even after running eight hours in warm weather, sweating a lot whilst wearing a trailrunvest;
  • quick drying from sweat, rain or after a stream crossing – the Tubes are for example much more quickly dry than the Herzog Tubes;
  • breathable, especially the lower part of the shirt, the groin part of the short and the back of the Hurricane Jacket through the ‘compression mesh’. The mess width is large enough for pleasant cooling but luckily small enough not to become ‘see through’ which would be a little embarrassing for especially the short.
  • rubber frictions patches on the short to provide support for your sweaty hands when pushing you upwards to the mountain tops. These I used extensively during the World Championship Trailrunning 2017 in Italy.
  • rubber frictions patches on the the shoulders of the shirt providing support to the trailvest;
  • the sweatband of the visor cap is pleasant, keeps it in place even when in stronger winds and I like the ‘additional’ cooling for my head when compared with a normal cap;
  • lightness, especially the Hurricane Jacket of only 110 grams! The jacket is designed with a stretch mesh back for breath-ability and stretch so you can use it both directly over the shirt but also easily over the trailrunvest when wearing one.

Pockets:

  • The shirt has six pockets all around at the lower part. These are useful for light weight stuff like energy bars / gels but not so much for more heavy things like a mobile phone or a soft flask. The stretching mesh is just not strong enough to keep such heavier items in place when running.
  • The short unfortunately does not have any pockets on the sides or back although I think that would be a good place for mesh pockets for mobile phones for example (compared with for example the Raidlight Ultralight short).

Wear and Tear:

Overall the clothes still look great after several hundred of trail kilometres including several ‘stumbles’ on the rocks and interaction with bramble bushes and dozens of machine / shower washing. Only wear I experienced was loosening of the inner Compressport print in the short, maybe a wrong use of glue? However, this is not what you expect of a primary brand like Compressport.

SIZING

I had some issues with the size advice from Compressport.

Based on their advice I first ordered Tubes size two because I ended up just between size one and two and followed the rule to use the larger size when in doubt. When using these size two Tubes I felt too little compression so I changed them (without any costs) to size one which fitted much better.

The size advice for the shirt also troubled me. I started with size SMALL based upon the advice of Compressport. Although this size gave me a good fit around my chest it had the tendency to creep up around my waist when running, creating a split between the short and the shirt. Although maybe good for the suntan on my stomach it did not feel very pleasant. Unfortunately also MEDIUM had the same issue so I ended up with size LARGE (without any costs). This size was long enough to stay around my waist without creating a bare skin opening with the short. Downside of this is that the upper body compression is less and more importantly that the pockets and the lower part are not stretched enough to keep heavier items in place. Something to consider when acquiring this shirt.

THE OVERSHORT?

I think that Compressport has designed the Trail Underwear Short to be worn in combination with the Overshort. At least that is what is shown on the website. However, I found the Overshort of no added benefit to for example more quick drying of the short or to protect the groin area for any ‘see-through’. Also the Overshort had the tendency to creep up to my waist, above the waistband of the short. That did not feel very pleasant and also ‘looked’ a bit strange. I ended up not wearing the Overshort at all after the first few runs.

Other brands also offer two-layer trailrun short (like the INOV-8 Twin Short) but these are completely integrated as one piece complete with pockets etc. I am not sure why Compressport choose to split the two items.

Your Experiences?

I am really interested in your experiences of the Compressport trailrun clothing and also how it compares in your opinion with other high end trailrunning brands like INOV-8, RAIDLIGHT or for example SALAMON. Just drop an e-mail, 🙂 , CHEERS!

Great Trailrunning in the Spanish Pyrenees

Enjoying the trails in the National Parc Aigüestortes

DSC_0219Two weeks holiday and trailrunning in the Spanish Pyrenees came to an end with a great two day trail through the Parc Nacional d’Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici. Inspired by many day trailrunning trips and a family three day / two night Refugi experience I set out to run the Carros de Foc trail.

croquis_carrosdefocThe Carros de Foc Trail is a high-mountain route (most Refugi are above 2000m and the highest pass is around 2700m) with a circular itinerary of approximately 55km connecting nine mountain Refugi. There are many options and most people will take three to seven days starting at any of the Refugi.

Conclusion: Carros de Foc = Perfect for a two day / one night Refugi trailrun.

I choose to go counter clockwise based on my starting point, Camping Sol I Nue at Espot (great campsite by the way – relaxed, clean and very friendly staff) and advice that the 2700m mountain pass between Refugi Ventosa I Calvell and Estany Llong could best be approached from the West in order to climb (instead of descent) a very large big boulder field.

The reservation for the Refugi Ventosa I Calvell, more or less half-way meant that day one would be a little easier in distance and height than day two. This suited me fine because you need to be at 19.00 at a Refugi for evening dinner. With day two a little longer, ending at the campsite I was not in a hurry other than be ‘home for dark’.

Whilst evening dinner and breakfast was included for only 45 euros I could pack minimally …

DSC_0179… only taking summer running clothes, rain trousers, wind jacket, warm jacket, extra pair of socks, poles, rescue blanket, some plasters, head torch, phone, charger, extra battery pack, about twenty muesli bars, some electrolyte tablets and motivational Dutch candy, i.e. ‘dropjes’. It all fitted easily in my larger 24 litres Race Elite INOV-8 Trailpack. Good thing about running in the Pyrenees is that there are enough clear stream to take drinking water so I only needed a half litre soft flask.

DSC_0165Of I went at 0615, using the gravel road for the first slow ascend to Refugi Amitges DSC_0164(2310m) in time for a breakfast coffee, enjoying the ‘quietness’ of the sunrise only disturbed by multiple deer crossing the road. Although people use the trails, filling up the Refugis with about seventy persons every evening and many more day walkers I still enjoyed most of the two days in total tranquillity …

 

DSC_0173

… enjoying many times the ‘noise of nothing’ during a break or a single ‘Olla, Buenos’ when passing others.

DSC_0213Via the Colomers and two mountain passes of 2600m I ended the first day at the Refugi Ventosa at 1300. A bit early maybe, but it gave me the opportunity to relax / read in the sun, enjoying the beautiful views and just experience how nice ‘boredom’ can be when completely disconnected from the outside (social media) world.

DSC_0196All Refugi have a strict rhythm of evening dinner at 19.00, lights out at 22.00 and breakfast from 06.30. The quality and luxury differs quiet a lot with Ventosa being a ‘little harsh’ with no warm water, only one shower and two toilets for approximately seventy guests. As usual you sleep like ‘sardines in a box’ in a row of 35 people. Luckily I slept near a window because it becomes very warm with all those bodies in a small place. Dinner consisted of soup, followed by a salad, than chicken or a sausage and yogurt as dessert. All right but definitely not high cuisine and ‘just enough’ for hungry mountain walkers / runners. Breakfast was a good buffet with enough calories to get you going again for the day.

DSC_0212The next day started with a challenging climb through a very large boulder field and some snow patches to a 2740m mountain pass. I enjoyed my lightweight pack and flexible trailrun shoes (INOV-8 Roclite 305) scrambling my way upwards, feeling a bit sorry for any with more heavy backpacks and amazed by some younger children making their way.

This day I experienced both steep, rocky trails through large and small boulder or scree fields surrounded by rocky peaks and also nice forestry trails along lakes passing meadows with mountain cows grazing. Sometimes the trail followed ‘a path for giants’, i.e. rough tracks made to build the several hydroelectric dams and pipelines.

DSC_0207The extreme differences in terrain and views after every new mountain pass was what I enjoyed the most and inspired me to keep going!

These two days proofed again the adagio that trailrunning in the mountains resembles walking for inpatient people with an overall average speed of just 5 km/h (excluding long breaks, but including many photo stops!).

But who cares about time, no race, no finish, just yourself deciding when to run, walk, stop for a break.

DSC_0213Already having tasted the Spanish Pyrenees during the PirineosFIT 2017 Jaca Trailweek in June 2017 I would like to advise everybody to also enjoy these great mountain trails.

The Carres de Foc makes for an easy to organise yourself multistage trailrun, at a pace you like, with no ‘pressure of competition – just following your heart beat’ …

… according to my rough scale:

  • extreme = one day;
  • a bit strange = two days;
  • ‘normal’ people = three days.

Whichever category you fit in, I hope I inspired you with this story to also come and enjoy the Spanish Pyrenees, I am sure you will find and enjoy the trails.

Some final statistics (for if you are interested):

Day One:

  • Distance: 24km
  • Running / Total time: 4 / 6 hours
  • Height gained: 1500m
  • Height lost: 1100m
  • Highest point: 2600m

Day Two:

  • Distance: 38km
  • Running / Total time: 8 / 11 hours
  • Height gained: 2000m
  • Height lost: 3000m
  • Highest point: 2740m