‘Der Eggeweg, das ist Toll’

Vier dagen trailen rond het Eggegebirgte – een relatief onbekend maar perfect trailgebied drie uur rijden van de Nederlandse oostgrens.

IMG_20180204_115949.jpgDe Eggeweg loopt over het Duitse Eggegebirgte en verbindt over een afstand van ongeveer 73 km het Teutoburgerwoud (met de welbekende Hermannshöhen weg) met het Sauerland. Hij loopt van de geheimzinnige Externsteine bij Horn – Bad Meinberg tot de oude Saksische Eresburg, de huidige Obermarsberg, in het dal van de Diemel.

P.S. De Eggeweg is perfect omschreven in de link: Eggeweg. Gedetailleerde kaarten, GPX, je kan er alles vinden.

hoogte

4-Day Eggeweg Trailtour

Tja, je moet je eigen trailplannen natuurlijk wel een uitdagende naam geven!

Een eenvoudig plan is meestal het beste plan, u kent het vast wel KISSKeep It Simple and Stupid. En ons plan, van Jeroen Machielsen en ondergetekende, was inderdaad eenvoudig:

In vier dagen het Eggegebergte ontdekken via o.a. de Eggeweg, oftewel zoals ze alleen in de Duitse taal zo mooi kunnen omschrijven:

”Den ersten Qualitätsweg Wanderbares Deutschland”.

Begin februari is het voor ons genieten om in heerlijk winters weer met sneeuw, hagel en een waterig zonnetje de paden te ontdekken rond het Eggegebirgte. Vanuit het oosten van Nederland is het maar drie uur rijden naar onze standplaats in Kleinenberg aan de rand van de heuvelgraat (tot 460m) verkennen we steeds een ander stuk. Met wat puzzelen lukte het om met de auto van Jeroen en openbaar vervoer (trein en bus) redelijk eenvoudig bij onze dagelijkse start- en eindpunten te komen.
Om de benen te strekken na de autorit maken

dag 0

we ’s middags een eerste verkenning vanuit Kleinenberg. Vanaf de ‘Bierbaums Nagel‘ overzien we het gebied: heerlijk rustig, lekker modderig, veel bos en wat sneeuw … dat wordt genieten.

Allereerst het zuidelijk gedeelte van de Eggeweg

‘Obermarsberg naar Kleinenberg’ – 33km, 800m+

De OV-puzzel oplossing was om de auto naar Scherfede te nemen en vandaar een Deutsche Bahn boemeltje naar Marsberg, het zuidelijke startpunt. Zo buiten het seizoen trailen blijkt al snel als nadeel te hebben dat alle koffietentjes onderweg nog dicht zijn.

 

Maar … super groot voordeel is dat je nagenoeg de gehele Eggeweg voor je zelf hebt, inclusief een mooi dun laagje sneeuw en tevens 30+ grote bomen die kriskras over het pad liggen. Deze hebben gezien de groene takken duidelijk niet al te lang geleden, waarschijnlijk met de storm medio januari, het loodje gelegd. Het is dus niet alleen deze dagen trailrunning maar ook kruip-door-sluip-door.

dag 1Via de beklimming naar de kerk/klooster op Obermarsberg, het echte startpunt, zijn we meteen warm, zeker ook door de tekst ‘Friede auf Erden!’,een goed plan!

Broodje eten we in een ‘schuilhut / picknickplaats’ die we regelmatig tegenkomen. Maar niet te lang want het is rond nul graden en al snel te koud als je stil staat. Mooiste stuk is na Blankenrode als we over kleine paden door het bos rennen, zo nu en dan om en over bomen heen en met 413m op de Nadel het hoogste punt van de dag bereiken.

Vervolgens het noordelijke gedeelte van de Eggeweg

‘Externsteine naar Wildebadessen’ – 49km, 960m+

De dag daarna staat het noordelijke gedeelte op het programma, meteen ook het langste stuk van 49km in totaal. ’s Ochtends met wederom een Deutsche Bahn boemeltje, nu naar Horn-Bad Meinberg waar de Eggeweg begint bij de Externsteine. Deze steenmassa steekt pontificaal boven en tussen alles uit. In de zomer kan je met bruggetjes van steenpilaar naar pilaar lopen, maar niet in de winterse sneeuw.

De Eggeweg begint erg mooi vanaf dit punt, over mooie paden, tussen grote naaldbomen door en langs snelstromende beekjes. Gisteren blij met twee cafés die open zouden zijn op deze route … op internet … want na 24km was het klooster bij de ruine van Iburg nog net vandaag dicht (!) en ook in Herbram-Wald was de Golfstübchen dicht. Dus dan maar kort een broodje eten in schuilhut en weer verder.

dag 2De januaristorm heeft ook op dit gedeelte enorm huis gehouden. Regelmatig klimmen en klauteren we over een 10-tal grote naaldbomen voordat we weer verder kunnen. Gedeeltelijk zijn de paden ook goed modderig door de houtbouwvrachtwagens. Voor de laatste 10 kilometer terug naar Willebadessen dalen we dan ook maar steil af om vervolgens via een oude spoorlijn na 7 uur trailen weer terug bij de auto te arriveren, net voor het donker wordt. In onze eigen trailfolder stond dat het best wel een beetje avontuurlijk mocht zijn en dat was deze dag zeker!

Bij het boodschappen doen staat op de parkeerplaats een karretje dat lekker kip aan het spit verkoopt … de keuze is snel gemaakt … en lekker, MJAM!

Morgen uitslapen en dan eens zien wat er gaat gebeuren, wordt in ieder geval weer enkele graden kouder dus de mooie winterse omstandigheden blijven.

‘Over-en-weer’

‘Bonenberg – Teutoniaklippen – Kleinenberg’, 38km, 700m+

Zondag begint anders dan verwacht … te veel sneeuw om met de auto op pad te gaan … echter geen probleem … je kan hier overal prachtig lopen in een winter wonderland. Het wordt een ‘over-en-weer’ over het Eggegebirgte.

 

We maken de eerste voetafdrukken op de paden in het bos. Aan de andere kant van de heuvelgraat zijn helaas de cafés in Bonenberg wederom gesloten, dus dan maar een broodje uit de hand want de wind maakt het behoorlijk koud, te koud om lang stil te staan.

dag 3Het is stil in het bos als we het Eggegebirgte wederom oversteken op de terugweg, wat een heerlijke rust. Uiteindelijk komen we boven op de heuvelgraat toch wat zondagse wandelaars tegen, twee handen vol maar meer dan de afgelopen dagen bij elkaar.

Hermannsdenkmal

‘Augustdorf en terug’, 16km, 400m+ 

Jeroen had nog een mooie afsluiter verzonnen. Vanuit Augustdorf over de Hermannsweg naar het Hermannsdenkmal, leuk 7km heen-en-terug.

 

Wat meteen opviel is dat de Hermannsweg meer een wandelpad is dan de Eggeweg. Er is minder actieve bosbouw waar grote machines de paden tot modderpoelen maken. Wel waren ook hier veel bomen omgevallen en waren verschillende wegen nog afgezet.

dag 4Het Hermanssdenkmal is erg indrukwekkend en mooi om zo helemaal verlaten van toeristen in de witte besneeuwde omgeving te zien. Daarmee was het de perfecte afsluiter / uitloper van onze Eggeweg Trailtour.

P.S. Wikipedia info: Het Hermannsdenkmal werd gebouwd in 1838-1875 naar een ontwerp van Ernst von Bandel en op 16 augustus 1875 ingewijd. Dit kolossale beeld (totaalhoogte van ruim 53 meter) verwijst naar de Slag bij het Teutoburgerwoud en het verhaal van Hermann, die gezien kan worden als een der eerste grondleggers van een verenigd Germaans rijk. Hermann, alias Arminius, gold in de 19e eeuw als de personificatie van Duitse onafhankelijkheid en vrijheid, waarnaar tot 1871 zo lang en vruchteloos was gestreefd.

Afsluitend

Al het goede komt op een gegeven moment ook tot zijn einde. Dat is niet zo erg want daardoor blijft het bijzonder en goed.
In vier / vijf dagen lopen we rond de 155km met 3200m+ door een fantastisch winter landschap dat maar op enkele uren rijden van Nederland ligt. En er zijn nog veel meer mooie wandel / trailroutes in dit gebied, genoeg om nog eens terug te komen.

Volgend plan???

De Hermansweg in drie dagen (3 x 50-60km) … wie weet?

Non-alcoholische nabrander

Naast lekker trailen ontstond tijdens het inkopen doen ook het plan voor een:

Geheel subjectieve Deutsche Alkohol Frei (Hefe-) Weisse Bier test.

Voordeel van alcoholvrij bier is zeer zeker dat je best nog wel een extra glas kan genieten zonder dat het goede moment van het genieten daardoor opeens stopt. Zeker na een dag lang buiten trailen in de sneeuw, want dan kan een biertje er behoorlijk ‘in hakken’.

biertjeWe testen vijf verschillende biermerken (met wat zoeken zijn deze ook in Nederland te vinden).

Gedeeld eerste plaats: de Paulaner en de Schöfferhofer. Beide hadden een ‘echte en eerlijke’ biersmaak en niet zoetig zoals alcoholvrij bier toch vaak is.

Gedeeld tweede plaats: de Erdinger en de Franziskaner. Deze waren iets zoeter dan de eerst geplaatsten. Nog wel steeds lekker trouwens.

Buitencategorie derde plaats: de Krombacher Radler. Eigenlijk een beetje vreemde eend in de bijt van deze test. Veel zoeter, maar dat is ook de bedoeling. Jeroen vond deze ook wel lekker, ik zelf ben geen fan van Radler bier.

Geniet en drink lekker onverstandig (het mag!) van de:

‘Natürlich, Osotonisch en Kalorienreduzierte Alkohol Frei Weizen Bieren’.

P.S. Weet wat je drinkt … en dan zijn deze bieren zeker niet slecht … proost!

  • Een fles alcoholvrij bier van 500ml bevat 115kcal.
  • Een pak van 500ml halfvolle melk 235kcal.
  • Een pak van 500ml chocolademelk 380kcal.

The Trailrunners Belt / Vest / Backpack choice

Overload – Help! – Too many trail packs to choose from. I hope my experiences may help you to make a choice that fit your needs.

FB_IMG_1508699986849Trailrunners are easily recognisable, are they not? Sturdy running shoes, probably compression tubes, double layer short running tights, a colourful running shirt, a Buff and … a trailvest!

BLUF, i.e. Bottom Line Up Front:

I prefer not to carry anything when running, but sometimes it is needed due the distance, the remoteness of the terrain, the mandatory kit list, your own multi-day trailrun plan or the stuff you need to bring into the office for work.

So what are the options? Well in the end probably 100+ if you do a Google search. All have pro’s and con’s and the price range is rather large to say the least!

During my years of trailrunning I ended up with five ‘systems’ of which I use four regularly and one, to be honest hardly ever because it just does not work for me. I hope my experiences will help you to decide what is maybe the most suitable ‘system’ for you.

So here we go,

from small to large and one to four,

adding number five as the ‘system’ I do not use.

Number one: The Compressport Free Belt

freebeltAt first I was a bit hesitant to use this but after a while I really started to appreciate the Free Belt. Main advantage I think is that it is extremely easy in design. does the job, i.e. carry stuff, and in my opinion looks rather cool. I use it for running to and from work carrying my phone, head torch, clean socks and maybe a sandwich. The Free Belt has four equal size spaces and uses stretch to stay in place around your hips and to keep the stuff inside. No zips or buckles that may irritate, get stuck or break. During a weekend trailrun I easily pack my phone, a energy bar and one or two 250ml soft flask.

The Free Belt works for me in the meaning that it stays rather well around my hips and just occasionally has the tendency to creep up towards your stomach area. If this happens all is still well packed and does not fall out.

Be aware is that when you are sweating the Free Belt gets completely wet. That may not be a surprise but you need to pack everything that you don’t want to get wet. The Free Belt dries rather quickly so when you run home in the evening after a day in the office it is dry again!

Summary: Basic, clever designed, not too expensive Belt that can easily carry the essentials for a Sunday morning 3-hours trailrun, looks cool and indeed leaves you as Free moving as possible.

 

Number two: INOV-8 Race Ultra 5 Vest / Pack

race-ultra-5This is a trail pack I really like for several reasons.

As many other trail packs it is lightweight (approx 260 grams) , has a good 5 litre storage compartment which can be compressed with a bungee cord and an emergency whistle. You can use the bungee cord to carry for example a lightweight jacket increasing the amount you can carry.

20170903_130129However, the real big pro’s for me are the two (very) large side mesh pockets and the two separate reservoir zipped pockets wich hold two 500ml soft flask with a 30cm drinking tube.

  • The side mesh pockets are ideal for storing your Buff, mittens, energy bars (or cellophane after eating them – leave nothing but your footprints behind), phone, map etc. They are large enough for all these items and stay secured around your body. Only be careful when you pull off the trail pack because than the mesh stretch does not secure all the stuff anymore that well. These large side pockets is a feature I have not seen on other trail packs. Most have smaller stretch or zipped packs, not the ‘huge’ ones on this vest.
  • The soft flask combination with the 30cm drinking tube allow you to easily keep drinking whilst running and without any bouncing of hard bottles. Just be aware to pull the drinking tube not only through the loop in the zipped pocket but also through the small loop halfway the front straps. If you do not need both soft flasks than the zipped compartments are large enough to fit a 6 inch phone.
For these very good reasons the The Race Ultra 10 litre compatriot was voted best in the performance accessories category by a panel of expert judges and named a 2015/2016 ISPO AWARD GOLD WINNER.
Unfortunately INOV-8 does not sell this type anymore but some other shops do, so please do a search on the internet. There are three successors I think in the INOV-8 inventory at the moment, however be aware of, in my opinion, real downside to two of three.
  • The first two successors are the Race Elite (4 litres) or Race Elite Vest 10 litre, equipped with hard bottles!! Something I do not understand from INOV-8. I think nowadays most, if not all trailrunners (please respond if you do not agree) would select soft flasks to prevent unnecessary bouncing. Also they do not provide the comfort of the drinking tubes. This means you need to get the hard bottle out of the mesh pocket, open the lid, drink, close the lid and put it back into the mesh pocket all the while not really looking where you are running.
  • The third, and in my opinion best successor is the All Terrain Pro 0 – 15 which has the same benefits as the Race Ultra 5 I described. Difference is that you can either have a minimalist Race Vest 0 or a larger Race Ultra 15 by adding a 15 litres pack. How the split between the vest and the 15 litres pack performs on the trails I have no experience yet but it looks a good alternative. This design won a Trail Running Magazine Best Test and reading some reviews on the internet this is a pack I definitely consider when the present is really, really worn out.
Be aware that the Race Ultra 5 come in two sizes. I surely needed the M/L with a regular chest size of 95cm.
Summary: Best Trail pack I have with great a on-the-run hydration system and well sized mesh pockets for all the stuff you want to keep quick at hand.
Maybe we should start a campaign to have INOV-8 put the soft flasks with drinking tubes in all there packs and ban hard bottles :).

Number three: The Compressport ULTRUN 140 Grams Pack

CC Pack frontThis is I think one of the lightest Trail packs at the moment using stretch fabric all around to keep stuff in and save weight. It fits very comfortable and combines a lower clipbelt with an easy to use knotted stretch cord to keep the pack in place.
It has enough room to store the same amount as the INOV-8 Race Ultra 5 but has in my opinion some disadvantages which makes the Race Ultra 5 my favourite when needed to pack just a little more.
CC Pack back
The disadvantages are in my opinion:
  • No bungee cord to add that additional jacket. The Compressport stretch does not need the bungee cord for compression, the design will do that for you. However, you miss that extra storage capacity.
  • Only two small mesh side pockets which hardly fit a 5 inch mobile phone.
  • The pockets on the IMG-20170703-WA0004front straps are just too small to fit two fully filled 500ml soft flasks without the danger that when running and jumping downhill they accidentally drop out (which happend to me in the beginning so now I only fill them to approx 350ml). Also adding drinking tubes is more difficult because there are no loops to keep the tubes in place.
  • The way running poles are stored created chafing at my ribs just where the handle of the poles touch your torso.

Summary: very lightweight and comfortable trail pack. However, the design has some disadvantages with respect to side pockets and soft flask storage. They promote it as a trail vest that will keep you going for 100+ kilometres. I have some doubt with respect to the amount of storage space. I use it for shorter distances or when I do not need too carry too much stuff.

One thing that is really good with this trail pack is the promotion video on YouTube in which they compare a trailrunner with a infantry soldier packing up for field day. 

Number four: INOV-8 Race Elite 24

ultr 24I bought this pack when I planned for a multi-day self organised trailrun with overnight stays in for example a B&B (Ridgeway Trail, Christmas 2016), or a mountain hut on the Etna (March 2017) or in the Spanish Pyrenees (Summer 2017). I also use it sometimes when running to work when I need to bring clean clothing for example.

I like the large zip opening which gives you quick overall access. There is a small zip pocket inside for credit cards etc. The bungee cords enables to compress the pack to the size you want . The pack can be strapped close to your body with adjustable front straps and two straps on either side. The

DSC_0212

front straps also contain two large zipped pockets just like the above described Race Ultra 5. The pack does not come with soft flasks or drinking tubes but you can use them if you want to.

Only disadvantage I have with this pack is that it is really has only one compartment pack. No outside mess side pockets as with the Race Ultra 5. Also no compartments within the large pack itself, for example a mesh zip that could either split the pack in two parts or if zipped open make it one big one. Maybe something INOV-8 can consider with there next design.

At present INOV-8 do not sell this pack anymore but other store do, just take a search on the internet. INOV-8 successor is the All Terrain 25. However, looking at this design it missed the option to pack two soft flask with drink tubes and also does not have large quick stow-away side mesh pockets but two zipped side pockets. In all it is more a small backpack than a trail pack, I am not really convinced (yet). Probably the All Terrain Pro Vest 0 – 15 would perform better in my opinion. A little less volume but all the benefits of mesh side pockets and a on-the-run hydration system.

Number five: INOV-8 RACE ULTRA 1 WAIST HYDRATION PACK

INOV8RACEULTRA1-2I have an older version of the All Terrain Pro 1. My version is not sold anymore by INOV-8 but some shops still offer them besides the new All Terrain Pro 1.

I never really got comfortable with this belt. Main reasons were that it always ended around my stomach area whatever I tried. The belt bounced too much for my liking when carrying two 500ml hard bottles. And there was only minimal room to store stuff like a phone, energy bars etc. Also there was no ‘safe storage’ using a zip compartment of with the Free Belt several stretch compartments.

Looking at the new INOV-8 All Terrain Pro 1 I think this would solve many of the above issues due to the use of soft flasks (which create a vacuum when drinking) and more, and secure compartments.

Summary: A waist pack with hard bottles that does not fit me, sorry. Advise to test it well before considering buying.

Hopefully my experiences are of help, just let me know your experiences!

 

 

Two day trail along the Thames and through the Chilterns

Self organised 77km two day trail through the English countryside.

20171222_102940.jpg
Start of the two-day trailrun at Henley-on-Thames

Just like last year I decided to organise my own multi-stage trailrun around Christmas time. Last year it was a solo three-day trail following the 135km Ridgeway Long distance Path in beautiful cold winter weather just after Christmas.

This year I enjoyed a two day trail together with my friend Wilco Faber just before Christmas in again very pleasant but much warmer (+9 degrees Celsius) weather. Instead of frozen fields we enjoyed a bit of a foggy start in the morning, making especially the second day through the Chiltrens Hills rather mystic.

We started off in the very nice village Henley-on-Thames located , as the name clearly indicates, along the Thames. Before we parked the car for free and safely in a side street (Hop Garderns) we had dropped a bag with clothing and stuff at our B&B in Ipsden. The owner Jill welcomed us warmly and would made sure we could get in if we would arrive without her being at home in order to enjoy tea and Mince Pies. A very pleasant start what would become a great trailrunning day.

25509030_1982344898680422_1866790725_o.png
The route – Following the Thames Valley Path, Chilterns Way, Swan’s Way, Incknield Way, Grim’s Dyke and the Oxfordshire Way.

I had made up a two day trail route myself using several Long Distance Path which I found on the Ordnance Survey Maps. I use the RangeViewer App for my route making, it provides for free already very detailed maps. I upload the route to my GARMIN FENIX 3 watch and together with the App on my rather sturdy but waterproof Blackview BV 6000 phone and the abundant signposting you can not get lost (almost :)).

We started off along the Thames to the West passing locks and fish traps along the Thames Valley Path. After a few kilometres the track climbed up to the Northern scarp slopes / hillsides of the Thames valley following the Chilterns Way. This way I thought to keep a bit away from the more busy part around the city of Reading. The Chilterns are a so-called Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB, and sure it is!) and a great area for trailrunning with plenty of off road forest tracks and public footpaths crossing fields, farms, back gardens and old cemeteries. Lucky me that I live just around the corner.

 

 

There is enough relief, sometimes rather steep but not for long and the tracks are a combination of chalk stones and mud.

Mud was the continuous thread for the two days, sometimes very sticky, mostly OK and fun to run through! 

 

 

At Hartslock we arrived back at the Thames and soon after found a great tea room in Goring and Streatley. The Village Chocolate Cafe was just like how I prefer an English tea room. Nothing fancy, but great refillable pots of tea, good coffee, soups and … delicious cakes, MJAM! Better quality than Starbucks, Nero or Costa and much better atmosphere.

Trailing, just for trailing and not as part of a race is really relaxing. You can decide yourself where to stop for a photo, snack or an hour long stay in a tea room. Or to watch Red Kite birds of prey swirling through the air, wannabe birds, i.e. pheasants trying to take to the air and deer crossing barren farmland. There are also plenty of small resting moments passing all the kissing gates, or you must like to jump over them like Wilco!

 

 

Before we arrived in Goring and Streatley we had covered 30km in roughly two parts. The first 20km in one stretch to the (unfortunately closed) 12th century Mapledurham House Estate where we paused at an old cemetery. Than 13km to Goring and Streatley after which a final 10km followed to Ipsden, to our B&B for the night.

Trailing along the Thames is easy going and the kilometres just followed whilst we chatted away, slipped through some muddy parts and amazed ourselves about the very nice houses build all along the river banks.

Our B&B in Ipsden I found via Air B&B and was just what we needed (‘B&B in Centre of Village, 2 Prospect View, Ipsden’). A warm welcome with tea and Mince Pies, good beds, shower, all very relaxed, a bit chaotic and disorganised, no really meant ‘no worries’ feeling. No problems at all when we arrived just before sunset, all muddy and sweaty. 20171222_184022.jpgAfter a warm shower, more tea and Mince pies we made our way to the King William IV Inn for what turned out to be a great meal. The Inn was full and I think we were rather lucky to find a table for us two. The food was excellent, a little more expensive than the usual English pub but really worth it. Back at the B&B we finished the evening with some wine, cheese and pleasant conversations with Jill and her neighbour who joined us.

All in all Ipsden left us the next morning around 0830 with good memories, including a nice English Breakfast.

The second day was a shorter day (34 versus 44km) but crossing the Chilterns meant some more relief. We followed the old Icknield Way (the oldest road in the UK), Grim’s Dike or Ditch (old demarcating lines) and after Christmas Common (when I saw this place on the map I thought we just needed to go there just before Christmas). The Fox and Hounds Inn was not yet open at 11.00 but after putting on our biggest smiles we could stay in for a rest and warm up from the foggy weather outside and were even offered a cup of tea, how nice!

 

 

It is really great to experience all the kindness of people we met these two days along the trails, in the tea room, the Inn and the B&B.

It felt almost … ‘just like Christmas’.

Because of the early start we arrived already just after midday back in Henley-on-Thames. It was pleasantly busy with people doing there final Christmas shopping. We celebrated the end of our two day trail in the Chocolate Cafe / Tea room with view on the Thames – could not be better!

With these fine memories I already look forward to the next ‘just do it yourself’ multi-stage trailrun …

… feel free to join or provide me with some of your own experiences, cheers!

Almost forgot!

We decided to have a very unscientific test of some energy bars during this trail for no other reason than that I ended up with a bunch of different ones to take along.

 

 

In the end we came to the following ranking – however be aware of the ‘small print’ – proof of the pudding is in the tasting – so ‘just do it yourself’ as well:

Ex aequo:

Followed by

  • (2) Nature Valley Crunchy Canadian Maple Syrup – OK, a bit sweet, great with an espresso, already broken in the package so not useful to eat whilst running. 
  • (3) Powerbar Proteïne plus Vanille: Nice taste but already crumbled to pieces in the package and although meant to eat after a run we still needed to peel the bar from the cellophane, not very practical.  
  • (4) EAT NATURAL Brazil & Sultana. Hardly any taste, does what it needs to do = provide energy.
  • (5) Sultana & Cherry Flapjack – No taste, very heavy. – Flapjack from the local super market is much better, do not buy is our verdict.

And finally some ((not) very useful) statistics:

  • Day 1: 44km, 525 metres of height gain, average 10km/h.
  • Day 2: 34km, 725 metres of height gain, average 9km/h.

 

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.

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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,

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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.

 

 

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 …

 

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… 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

 

INOV-8 Trailroc 285 Review

Flexible and versatile within limits

Lucky me!!

I was challenged by INOV-8 Benelux to test the new INOV-8 Trailroc 285

during the PirineosFIT2017 Jaca Trailweek.

Six days, six mountain marathons through the rocky Spanish Pyrenees are certainly a good testing ground for trailrun shoes called Trailroc not for nothing!

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Plenty rocky uphills …
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… and scree down hills

The new Trailroc do not resemble in the slightest the older Trailroc models, so it is more useful to assess these shoes as a new branch on the INOV-8 trailrun tree.

 

 

First the numbers and data – from the brochure.

  • The Upper:
    • Glued TPU overlays for extra protection on high wear zones.
    • Padded tongue and collar for added comfort.
    • Very breathable mesh lining, good in warm weather.
    • Medium fit ensuring the shoe allows for toe splay while lifting (and a good option for those with a normal to wide forefoot).
  • Midsole:
    • PowerFlow+ EVA cushioned mid-sole together with a molded, 6mm footbed creates light underfoot comfort.
  • Outsole:
    • Combination of three rubber compounds for maximum durability and grip on all hard rocky terrain.
    • Stone protection utilising the new 5th Gen Metashank.
  • Numbers:
    • Weight: 285gm (strangely enough my size UK 9.5 right shoe weighs 319gm and the left shoe 303gm – unsure where the difference comes from).
    • Stack: Heel 21.5mm / Forefoot 13.5mm.
    • Drop: 8mm (INOV-8 two Arrow indication)
    • Lug depth: 4mm (how deep are the ‘rubber points’ of the outsole).
    • Footbed: 6mm

My experiences

I divide my experiences in positive or negative. Obviously this is very much runner dependent. I will describe why I think a feature is + or –  but in the end

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

Choose your own treat after running on these shoes yourself!

(Maybe Ice-cream)!

Positive features

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Stone protection plate

Flexible forefoot. The Trailroc 285 is a surprisingly flexible in the forefoot, becoming more stiff from the middle to the back of the shoe due to the stone protection ‘plate’. I like that very much and would place the Trailroc in between the very flexible INOV-8 X-Talon 212 and the stiffer Roclite 305.

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Three compound rubber sole with 4mm lug depth

Grip on dry stones, grass, forest ground. The trails around Jaca gave me every Comfortable fit, cushioning and ventilation. The comfort in the warm Spanish climate of 30+ degrees Celsius was the feature I was most pleased with. Enough room for your toes whilst I did not slip during steep up- or downhill and without the need to tie your shoes very tightly.

The 8mm heeldrop combined with the relative heavy cushioning gave me the comfort I needed for the daily 40+ kilometres: it is a long / ultra trail shoe.

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Toe protection

Toe protection. The rubber toe protection saved my toes on more than one occasion during the mountain marathons, a nice feature which does fortunately not degrades the flexible forefoot.

Negative features

Protection and grip on larger sharp rocks and scree. I found the protection on the limits for steep downhills on scree with sharp stones of with large sharp rocks. These sort of underground I found difficult to navigate on (realising I was still more a sturdy mountain cow than an elegant mountain goat) but was relatively common during the six days in the Pyrenees. For these sort of trails I would prefer a little stronger designed shoe, and was in my opinion passed the limits for the Trailroc 285. Maybe the Roclite 305 would have done better – there were some other runners using these shoes.

Wear and tear.

DSC_0005My shoes showed, not surprisingly, a relative large amount of wear and tear after 360 kilometres of tough terrain trail running, mainly on the sides of the shoes. This may be a result of my use of the shoes in a very harsh ‘shoe’ environment versus INOV-8 balancing sturdiness with flexibility and light weight.

Summary

The INOV-8 Trailroc 285 is an surprisingly flexible trailrun shoe with a comfortable fit and good cushioning even during steep ascents / descents and with good grip on smaller stone trails. For me I will put it between the very flexible INOV-8 X-Talon 212 and the more stiffer INOV-8 Roclite 305.

However, when running through more rough and sharp rocky terrain I found that I was at the limits of the (stone) protection given by these shoes. Also the grip on muddy paths (due to the 4mm lug depth) and wet stones is limited. These are all features that are runner and terrain dependent.

The amount of wear and tear after 360 kilometres of demanding mountain trailrunning was substantial for INOV-8 shoes. Maybe it has to do with my running style but something to consider before purchase.

What are your experiences, please let me know!