THE WALL

Nothing beats an iconic name for a trailrun and THE WALL just sounds great, and it sure was!

asterix-hadrianswall

asterix-and-the-pictsAlready Asterix and Obelix found out that the Roman Emperor Hadrian had build a Wall (128 AD) to keep the Picts out of his Empire. However, just like that small Gaul village on the edge of Brittany, the Picts kept challenging this border. When thinking about this Wall, you also realise how much easier it is nowadays with a border less EU to trade your salmon for example, but for how much longer with the BREXIT?

img-20180617-wa0042Anyway, politics aside, on a cloudy Saturday morning I started with four runners from Northwood Headquarters and about 500 other ‘lunatics’ the crazy journey of 69 English imperial miles or 112 kilometres to run along Hadrian’s Wall from Carlisle in the West across England to Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the East. img-20180615-wa0000The day before we went to the formal start point of the Hadrian’s Wall Trail at Bowness-on-Solway to smell the Irish Sea ‘mud’ during ebb. This Saturday the aim was to smell the North Sea at least in time to have a beer before it would turn Sunday. And maybe spoiling the plot already a little: we all succeeded – see also the movie at YOUTUBE.

 

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Counting down to 0700 at Carlisle Castle the long and slow shuffle began. That is the fun for me doing such an ultra long distance. You can start very relaxed, who cares for a minute later at the finish? You can start at a slow pace so no problems with digesting your breakfast, so no need to get up four hours in advance. No stress at the restrooms, you can always visit a local pub, tearoom, or a tree. Amazing views? Just 35628990_1945134698884190_3980730265805783040_opause, ask another runner or supporter to take a picture, enjoy the scenery and carry on. At an organised refreshment post, enjoy the plethora of food options available … the first of four official ‘Pitstops’ I more or less rushed through, only realising later how stupid that was … take some time, rest, do some tasting of sandwiches, cakes, bars, tea, curry (!), rice with meatballs … it just did not end. So, the next three ‘Pitstops’ I 35847088_1945135838884076_736377168010936320_otook more time and decided that I did not need any food in between, just water. That is another bonus of the ultra long distance, you can eat AS MUCH AS YOU WANT, because you will burn it anyway during the shuffle.

The ‘shuffle‘ is the ultra long distance equivalent of impatient walkers. However, I think the shuffle is less strenuous than the official ‘Race Walking’. With the shuffle you combine a high stride frequency with a img_20180616_102515small stride length floating more or less along the trail. With ‘Race Walking’ you are mandated to keep ground contact resulting in a, in my opinion, forced way of moving forward.

Knowing that I had to go 112 kilometres I needed to force myself to slow down, come in to ‘shuffle mode‘. I prefer to do this by really ‘looking’ around, more intensely than normal observing the world around me. I am surprised by the different style of runners who join such an event. Some you would not give one mile, but they just go on … some have some additional body weight, but they just go on … some have trailpacks which sloshes around with all kind of loose ‘stuffs’ and not vacuumized drinking bladders, making me seasick just looking … but they just go on …

img-20180617-wa0027Just like Hadrian’s Wall … just goes on. Unfortunately the organisation decided to follow most of the time the tarmac of the National Cycle Path 72 and not the official National Trail Hadrian’s wall walking path. I could have known if I had read the small print! So, it was not really a trailrun but more a ultra distance tarmac run where some parts had a touch and go with trail underground and the remains of THE WALL.

fb_img_1529347365393After about 80 kilometres and the last rain shower I changed shuffle mode from ‘looking outward‘ to getting into the shuffle zone and ‘looking inward‘. Dividing the last kilometres, after already two marathons, in small pieces and giving myself the ‘reward’ of walking for one minute, or a hot tea at the last ‘Pitstop’.

Approaching Newcastle, following the River Tyne embankment, the thrill of getting really close to the finish created another shuffle mode change: ‘Satisfaction, Jubilation, Shivers, JIPPIE!‘. The finish was really in the town centre, people strolling along the boulevard whilst I was shuffling / struggling to move forward supported by cheers from people on terraces drinking a beer or wine.

img-20180616-wa0003Finally across the Millennium Bridge, which every decent city in the UK must have, to HMS Calliope, the Royal Naval Reserve Unit Centre. A prime location along the Tyne with for us the bonus that within 100 metres of the finish line there are showers, a bar with a view on the city, beer, curry and our bunkbeds!

After 13 hours shuffling I layed down for a half hour enjoying the rewarding feeling of completing this madness (which I voluntarily signed up for, no old fashioned navy recruiting, so no moaning!).

The beer and curry tasted delicious but at 2330 we all are done with … than the last bonus of HMS Calliope … the room with the bunkbeds had no windows … so in complete darkness we slept until 0800 the next day.

IMG-20180617-WA0004Sunday … the legs feel OK … WHAT? … yes they feel OK … a bit stiff, but much less than the Innsbruck Alpine 85km, or a fast marathon … one more benefit of ‘The shuffle’ in non mountainous terrain … you feel really tired but the total strain on muscles and joints is less. But I will still enjoy my full week of no running at all, that’s for sure!

For he who wants to know some crazy facts and figures!

Some Training & Preparation

img-20180617-wa0009I did not have a very specific preparation. However, on average I am running about 100 – 130 kilometres per week of which at least one is a longer run of 3 to 4 hours. So the endurance base is already exists. From January this year I first trained for a fast marathon and made 2.43 at the Manchester Marathon beginning of April. April and May I stopped with training for speed and more for the slow speed ultra ‘shuffle‘. In some weekends I ran both days a longer run of 2.5 – 4 hours letting my body getting used to the distance without pushing it too hard. The last May Bank Holiday weekend I ran three consecutive days clocking in total THE WALL distance of 112 kilometres.

Some Gear

img-20180617-wa0047The weather forecast was not great: rain, drizzle, rather fresh. As a ‘cold’ person I decided to run in an INOV-8 3/4 quarter tight with an INOV-8 merino longsleeve shirt as base layer. During the rain showers I used the INOV-8 AT/C Stormshell Jacket, but directly changing it for a short sleeve shirt when it got dry because in the end it was still approximately 14 – 17 degrees Celsius in the sun. And as most times the weater forecast was worse than reality, in all four larger rain showers of about 30 minutes, some drizzle but mostly dry and at the end of the day even sun! All the usual mandatory gear fitted easily in my INOV-8 Race Ultra 5 litres trailpack.

img_20180616_112053As I wrote above, I expected more trail than tarmac and started therefore on one of the multi-terrain trailrun shoes of INOV-8, the Roclite 305. In the end maybe even a road shoe would have sufficed but for me the Roclite 305 gave good comfort to finish without any blisters or pains. I normally ‘grease’ my toes and use a lot of talc.

Some Numbers

I ran the 112 kilometres and 1200m+ in 13.04.32. More than 3,5 hours (!) after the first man finished, 27th male and 30th overall. At the ultra distance the physical differences between male and female are definitely not important anymore. The last person finished in 25.30 as 447th, what an achievement!

The Wall (1)My average overall speed was 7 min / kilometres, i.e. 8.6 km/h. I told you: ultra running is ‘walking for impatient people’. According to my watch I spend approximately 1 hour at the four ‘Pitstops’ making my average ultra shuffle speed between stops an amazing 9.3 km/h, wow 🙂

 

 

 

The Absurdity of Ultra Trailrunning, or not?

Some ‘kitchen table’ philosophical thoughts I had during the 85km and 2900m+ trailrun as part of the Innsbruck Alpine Trail Festival (IATF18).

Reading the book ‘The age of absurdity – Why modern Life makes it Hard to be Happy’ by Michael Foley (2010) I couldn’t stop wondering why I was actually running 85 kilometres around Innsbruck including 2900 metres of climbing and descents during the Innsbruck Alpine Trail Festival (IATF18)?

P.S.1. I got the great tip about BBC Radio 4 ‘The Digital Human’ which discusses the difference between a life with friction and a friction less life. It talks about the same feeling I describe in this blog. Maybe nice to listen to as a podcast during your trailrun.
P.S.2. Why are we doing this? That is the question I want to answer in this article. And I am definitley not the only one. A inspirational movie is ‘THE WHY, Running 100 miles‘.
P.S.3. The GUARDIAN published an interesting article about ‘What running does to your brain?‘. So now it is official: scientific proof that it is absurd but also good 🙂

 

Nobody forced me up those Alpine mountains and said, ”Only come back when you are finished. And by the way, an overnight stay is not included, the idea is to do it all in approximately 12 hours’’.

So, whilst the ‘normal people’ slowly woke up I ran on Saturday morning 28th April with a head torch through Innsbruck, climbed the hills and zigzagged into the forest. The air was still fresh and crispy but it would not take that long to warm up. It would become another sunny and warm day, up to 25 degrees without any clouds. The sunrise was beautiful, at first a red blossom, but quickly with full force enlightening the blossoms in the trees, making the grass in the alpine meadows even more green and the still sleepy and very tidy Austrian villages even more part of a scene out of the romantic Sissi movie.

 

 

That is when my brain wandered off to the question of the absurdity of this all. Or is it absurd? Michael Foley writes about the ‘present age of entitlement’ where people only think and act as if they only have rights and no duties, entitled to a continuous stream of the pleasures of life … and if something is not correct than it is somebody’s or society’s fault and surely not you own or just ‘bad luck’. The call upon entitlement however does not provide a deeper sense of satisfaction and ability to cope with life’s setbacks. For this you need to put in effort and detachment. Effort, setbacks and the like precedes satisfaction, happiness. Detachment provides the ability to observe and think about what is actually going on around you in the world, creating paradoxically more intense engagement …

‘The fool doth think he is wise but the wise man knows himself to be a fool’

(Shakespeare ‘As You like It, Act 5, Scene I – I have not seen this play but the quote posits very eloquently the humbleness in which we can, or maybe should look at life).

The meaning of life is in my opinion most famously stated as to ‘always look on the bright side’. However we are not ‘just’ entitled to be always at this ‘bright side’, we need to find it. To find this ‘bright side’ we need detachment. Micheal Foley writes that …

‘… Real detachment requires ‘Solitude, Stillness and Silence’ instead of the present ‘Commotionism’ (constant company, movement and noise) …’.

 

 

Whilst enjoying the sun, the extremely well stocked refreshment posts, the beautiful scenery, and the many friendly spoken Austrian ‘servus’ I realised that this absurd undertaking of me running 85km in half a day brings for me the pursued solitude, silence and stillness that Michael Foley writes about. An ultra trailrun (i.e. at least a few hours running) by definition goes at a slow pace. The mediating rhythm of running and the physical pains which slowly materialise bring me in a ‘sort of nice flow’. Together with the consciousness that it is my own personal responsibility to start in this event is enough for me to allow my mind the time to detach and wander off.

The K85 followed similar paths as most trailruns I have run both organised and just self-made: as much as possible away from the busy world, through wood, across fields and along river beds. Solitude is not difficult to find in these circumstances, most trailrunners experience their run rather solitary, although there are always those who have the ability to talk for hours. No worries, just drop back a few 100 metres and your are on your own together with the pleasant Silence of nature (although the birds and cow bells are not creating a complete silence, there is a pleasant form of ‘calm’). Stillness may be a strange connection to trailrunning, but not for me. I find stillness in the moments when passing for example a ‘kissing gate’ on the right of way paths in the UK, or during the K85 when passing a corner in the forest and suddenly have a breathtaking view on the snow capped mountains … than I just stop.

received_1939705929375997So what does all these ‘kitchen table’ philosophical thoughts bring me? The realisation that I am very lucky to run in the sun, a little holiday, whilst it is cold and wet at home. That the rest of the family allows me to this instead of coming directly back home after my work abroad was done. Intense enjoyment of the day. A spontaneous pose besides two traditionally dressed Austrian ladies whom picture was just taken that moment. The transition from being in the ‘running flow’ to a feeling of great satisfaction during the last few kilometres ending in euphoria after the finish. Than Solitude, Silence and Stillness are exchanged for sharing stories, memories and ‘thoughts during the trail’ with the other runners. Made even more enjoyable with a few pints of cold alcohol free Erdinger Beer and savoury snacks.

 

 

Ultra trailrunning is absurd! I fully agree but it helps me to make sense of and see the ‘bright side of life’ … and that is all I need.   

Some statistics:

  • In total 150 men and 19 women finished the K85.
  • The men 1 to 150 finished between an very fast 08.07 and more than twice this time of 17.34.
  • The women 1 to 19 finished in the bracket of 08.59 – 17.34 (the last man and woman clearly decided to finish together).
  • I finished as man 54 in 11.14.
  • I was the first Dutchmen of in total three Dutch runners and 19th Men 40 – 50.
  • But to be fair the only Belgian participant and also INOV-8 Benelux ambassador Aaike De Wever (read his experiences) passed the line in a great time of 08.57.

Some trailrun ‘stuff’:

  • I ran on the INOV-8 Roclite 315. These shoes worked well on the dry mixed ground of the not very technical trail consisting mostly softer forest trails, hard packed wide trails and some wonderful small rocky paths along the rivers floating into the River Inn.
  • I wore a 5 litres Race Ultra trailpack from INOV-8 which allowed me to easily take all the required ‘stuff’ with me. The alternative I had brought with me, the Compressport ULTRUN 140 was just a little too small for easy and quick access. It would be great if Compressport would develop a larger trailpack, see also my review: The Trailrunners Belt / Vest / Backpack choice.
  • The Compressport clothes however felt really good in the warm weather and the new R2 OXYGEN tubes did not feel warm at all. Specially made for maximum breathability they did what was stated on the package!
  • In my ‘last week short preparation runs’ in sunny Naples, Italy I noticed again that Compressport produces clothing for the ‘warmer’ Alpine climate with a lot of mesh (beside the compressing fabrics they are known for) and INOV-8 more for the wet and colder UK temperatures, see also my review: Compressport Trailrun clothing.
  • And finally, but surely important, I enjoyed the sun protected by pair of Julbo sunglasses. There any many sport sunglasses on the market. I got in contact with Julbo a few years ago when I won a pair during a trailrun. So the choice was ‘made for me by lady Luck’, but as the stoic would say ‘take advantage of this fortunate happening’.

Chorley-ROOTZ Trailruns, enjoying the Chiltrens and good coffee!

In March I organised the first Chorley-ROOTZ trailrun to raise funds for Run4Cancer. It was so much fun to do that I decided to continue with these trailruns!

To motivate my self better for the Greater Manchester Marathon last 8th April (see my weblog: My bumpy road to the Greater Manchester Marathon) I decided to raise funds for a charity I felt a personal connection with, Run4Cancer.

** Run 4 Cancer is primarily a provider of days out and short-breaks for families affected by cancer and support research into the positive effects of exercise (e.g. running) and how it can help with cancer prevention and recovery **

I had some positive experiences earlier in given trailrun clinincs in the Netherlands and thought it could be a nice way to combine my passion for trailrunning with raising funds.

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First Chorley-ROOTZ participants – 4th March 2018

Based on some recent good coffee experiences after a walk I choose ROOTZ Coffeeshop in Chorleywood as start and end point. Closeness to the Chorleywood Metropolitan Tube station and plenty of nice trailpaths scattered around the hills and Chess River Valley made the area perfect for my trailrunning plan.

It worked out even better than I thought! Thirteen runners turned up, made enthusiastic by some of the local Running Sisters who heard of the event. Even more to my surprise I raised more than 100 GBP for  Run4Cancer and to my delight Jill from the Chorleywood Magazine wrote a very nice article about the event (see at the link and at the bottom of this blog) promoting directly the next Chorley-ROOTZ Trailrun last Saturday 14th April.

This Second Chorley-ROOTZ Trail run was generously, and overwhelmingly I must say, supported by Rootz Coffee Chorleywood with great home-made granola and shortbread cakes.

They were a delicious and well deserved treat for all runners. Especially after 1.30 Hrs trailrunning through Carpenters Wood, Chenies, down the Chess River Valley, up (!) the steep hill towards Church End and finally a down- and uphill (!) to the Chorleywood common … and all in the sun (finally spring has arrived – I hope). Again I was really happy to raise 70 GBP for Run4Cancer, thanks!

Whilst enjoying the cappuccino’s and cakes we decided to continue the Chorley-ROOTZ trailruns every four to five weeks. Starting preferably on a Sunday morning at 0910 (to allow Metro users to arrive from the London side at 0900 at the Metro Station). ROOTZ Coffeeshop owners Phil and Jordan told me they are more than happy to keep supporting this idea with nice cakes and eco-friendly, reusable water-cup/bottles. These we will use at a refreshment post I will set-up somewhere along the route before the start.

Because as trailrunner you take home good memories, leaving nothing behind but your footprints!

Interested to join the next Chorley-ROOTZ Trailrun, just send me a message or take a look at my Facebook events?

 

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Chorleywood Magazine April 2018
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Chorleywood Magazine April 2018

‘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.

Roclite 315, a worthy family member?

The INOV-8 Roclite 315 is new in the Roclite family, how does it compare to my beloved 305’s?

At the beginning of December I was lucky enough to receive a test pair of the INOV-8 Roclite 315. I directly wondered if this new version could be any better than the Roclite 305 which I really like as multi-terrain trail shoe and which was one of my favourite trail shoes this year (together with the Trailroc 285) – see my earlier reviews on the Trailrun goodies review page.

I tested the Roclite 315 these last six weeks, accumulating in total 360 kilometres in very diverse circumstances including snow / sleet and rain, thick / thin / sticky and deep mud, forest / grass / road / gravel and stony paths, short / long and multi-day trails.

With these experiences I feel comfortable to write down my thoughts of the Roclite 315.

Family feeling

In the ever increasing INOV-8 Roclite family you will also find, besides the 305 and new 315:

I have no experience yet with these other versions.

INOV-8 writes that the ‘new’ of the Roclite 315 is in the ‘upper part’ of the shoes. The mid- and out-sole are unchanged compared to the Roclite 305. On close inspection of the shoes I could indeed not observe any differences other than the ‘upper’. For this I will focus my review mainly on the ‘upper’ but first …

First the numbers and data – from the brochure.

  • The Upper, with the ‘new’ in green:
    • X-PROTEC upper for ‘ultimate’ protection and durability.
    • A reinforced hybrid tongue stops all debris from entering the shoe.
  • Just like the 305:
    • On-the-shoe gaiter hooks offer a more secure attachment system that allows you to attach the ALL TERRAIN GAITER to the shoe (it works!).
    • 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 a good grip over unpredictable terrain and the quick release of debris.
    • Stone protection utilising the Second-generation META-SHANK.
  • Numbers:
    • Fit: 3, which for INOV-8 means: the ‘middle’.DSC_0004.jpg
    • Weight: 315gm. I measured 362gm for UK size 9. So maybe a better name would be the Roclite 360 :).
    • Midsole Stack: Heel 16mm / Forefoot 8mm.
    • 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. Obviously, this is all 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 or a warm chocolate)!

Positive features

The Roclite 315 keeps the same positive features as a wrote in my review of the Roclite 305, mainly:

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

This is a truly multi-terrain shoe.

However, during this wet December month I also experienced that for truly muddy, or snow covered trails the Roclite 315 misses the lug depth and aggressive outsole design of for example INOV-8 X-Claw 275. The multi-terrain feature results in a well thought of compromise which you notice when looking for the limits.

The integrated tongues gave me the comfortable feeling that the shoe is ‘wrapped’ around my feet, leaving no room to glide or cause friction.

The lacing system may not be designed for this purpose but the ADAPTER Web gave me the option to tie the laces quite tight around my feet.

Protection. I noticed that the Roclite 315 ‘new upper’ provides more protection against getting wet feet when running through the early morning wet grass, or muddy trails. This is probably due to the change in the upper of the shoe, the so-called X-PROTECT layering. The protective layering extends a little bit longer towards the mid part of the shoe and both the top part and integrated tongue are made of a more durable and by the look of it more water-resistant mess (see picture below).

Negative features

Wear and tear. After 360 kilometres the shoes are still in good condition with less wear of the upper front mesh as I experienced with the Roclite 305 (see right picture below). However, the right shoe showed breaks on both sides in the protective layer, just at the point where the shoes bends the most when running (see two left pictures below). Maybe it has to do with my running style that only the right shoe shows this wear. I am not sure, but it was not something I expected more over not when the Roclite 315 is promoted as having a more ‘increased durability’.

After contacting INOV-8 UK they were more than happy to change the shoes for a brand new pair, an nice example of the generous after sale support you expect from a premiere brand like INOV-8. They also asked me to post the shoes to them to investigate the problem further with a first reaction being ‘unlucky to get a Monday morning shoe’. I will update this post when I have more information.

Beside what I mentioned above I do not have any other real negative issues with these shoes. The ‘new upper’ seems to protect my feet better against wet grass and mud. They perform well in multi-terrain but have obviously their limits when going into more extreme environments with a lot of mud or snow.

Only other thing, I would suggest to change the name into Roclite 360, this comes closer to the real weight and sounds even more ‘cool’ :).

Summary

I think the INOV-8 Roclite 315 is worthy new member of the Roclite family, keeping up the high standards of this sturdy designed, multi-terrain trailrunning shoe with a very comfortable ‘wrap around your foot’ feeling.

Would I change them now this instance for my favourite Roclite 305’s, not really. But I would buy them as replacement when my 305’s are worn out for the additional protection.

What are your experiences? I would appreciate if you would like to share them.

Cheers!

 

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.