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 ūüôā

 

 

 

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!