The Rise of the Ultra Runners – Book Review

Until relatively recently completing a marathon was seen as the pinnacle of a runner’s achievement.

Once they had completed the 26.2 miles runners tended to then strive to do it faster, but not many chose to run further. However recent years have seen a boom in “Ultra Running” with runners swapping tarmac for trails and often covering 30, 50 or 100 miles and in some cases even further over several days. In his book The Rise of the Ultra Runners (A Journey to the Edge of Human Endurance) Adharanand Finn looks into what is behind the desire to go further, to push on for longer and to endure what was not long ago thought to be mad or even impossible.

The Rise of the Ultra Runners book

The Rise of the Ultra Runners

The author was already a fairly experienced road runner when his work as a journalist led him to take the step into ultra running; The Financial Times wanted an article about the Oman Desert Marathon, a multi day stage race and Finn decided that it would be an adventure. This led him on a journey to find out what motivates people to take part in such events and also, having survived 100 miles in the desert, to wonder how far he could push his own physical boundaries. So from there he set about accumulating enough qualifying points to enter and then complete the Ultra Tour of Mont Blanc. Along the way he delves deep into the ultra running scene, interviewing and spending time with some of the sport’s top runners and competing in races in the UK, Europe, South Africa and the USA.

The book gives an interesting insight from two fronts  – there’s the journalistic aspect where Finn interviews some of the sport’s biggest names (including Kilian Jornet, Sage Canaday, Zach Miller, Elisabet Barnes, Damian Hall) and also a personal one as he recounts the highs of finishing and the lows of pain, suffering and hallucinations that he experiences whilst taking part in various races. Finn touches on the questions around doping in the sport and also discusses why – when the marathon running world is dominated by Kenyan and Ethiopian runners – there are no East Africans on the Ultra Running scene.

The Rise of the Ultra Runners gives a fascinating insight into the world of ultra distance running. You don’t need to be an ultra runner yourself to enjoy it but it will certainly appeal to anyone interested in running further than 26.2 miles.

 

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Inov-8 X-Talon G235

Inov-8 have now added the popular X-Talon to its range of shoes with a Graphene enhanced outsole.

Other shoes in the Inov-8 range including the Mudclaw and Roclite have been available with graphene infused soles since 2018, now it’s the turn of the X-Talon. The X-Talon has had quite a few guises since it was launched in 2008 with slightly different weights and a “sticky grip” rubber compound version in 2018. December 2019 sees the addition of the latest incarnation, the G235.

photo of Inov-8 X-Talon G235

Inov-8 X-Talon G235

Features

The new X-Talon like it’s predecessors is a lightweight shoe with an aggressive sole. The distinctive tread pattern has changed little over the past 11 years, the 8mm studs are still spaced sufficiently wide to afford excellent grip whilst shedding mud. The studs give fantastic grip when new but their small surface area means that previously they tended to wear down and become blunted fairly quickly and whilst this doesn’t diminish the grip on rock it means they are less effective on wet grass and mud. I’ve had several pairs of X-Talons and tend to save them for racing then relegate them to a training shoe once the studs have lost their bite! Hopefully the graphene outsole will add some longevity to the studs. What has changed in the G235 is the upper which does away with stitching and is now a seamless, one piece unit constructed from ballistic nylon, with a printed rubber rand adding some protection to the toes. The midsole is only lightly cushioned but a flexible rock plate gives underfoot protection whilst still retaining flexibility. The 6mm drop gives a close to the ground, racing feel and the width size 2 “precision fit” adds to the shoes suitability for running fast over technical terrain.

rear view photo Inov-8 X-Talon G235

no stitching on the ballistic nylon upper

What struck me, other than the lurid orange colour, is how light the X-Talons are. Admittedly mine are only size 6.5 but 187 grams per shoe is light! The “235” in the name reflects the weight of an average sized 8.5 shoe. As with the previous X-Talon versions these feel “light and racy”, it will be interesting to see how the graphene affects the sole wear compared to previous models.

photo of Inov-8 X-Talon G235 on scales

lightweight size 6.5

Technical

Average Weight:235g. Drop: 6mm. Stack height: 13mm at the rear/7mm at the front. Outsole: Graphene-Grip rubber with 8mm studs. Midsole: POWERFLOW+technology Flexible META-PLATE adds underfoot protection. Upper: Seamless, hard-wearing ballistic nylon material with rubber-printed rand.

photo of Inov-8 X-Talon G235 flexibility

a rockplate gives underfoot protection without losing flexibility

Use

X-Talons have long been a shoe that is popular with fell runners and they would also be suitable for orienteering, cross country and obstacle course racing. I’ll use the new X-Talon G235 as a racing shoe where light weight and running fast over muddy and technical terrain are important factors.

RRP:£140

This video gives a very quick look at the G235 

Click link for more details about the Inov-8 X-Talon G235

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Proviz Reflective Clothing

Proviz Sports make reflective clothing for running and cycling.

Not just slightly reflective but really bright, light up the night, dazzlingly reflective!  The sort of reflective that gets picked up by a torch from a hundred metres away. I first came across Proviz when a runner turned up to my winter training session wearing the Reflect360 jacket – we literally could see him coming! Their clothing covers a wide range of sportswear – socks, hats and gloves, shorts and tights, long and short sleeved tops, gilets and waterproof jackets. The reflectivness ranges from small logos and decals to the fully reflective jackets.

photo of Proviz Reflect360 jacket

Proviz – highly reflective kit!

But do trail and fell runners need to wear reflective clothing? You could argue not but if some of your night time runs cross or include short sections of road then being visible to drivers is a good thing, especially if they are approaching you from behind. And yes you do in that worse case scenario where mountain rescue are shining their searchlights looking for you. Lots of runners are also cyclists too and will want kit that they can use for both sports and it really is important to be easily seen whilst riding in the dark. The Reflect360 jackets and gilets really are good all-rounders for both cycling and running.

photo of runner wearing Proviz jacket

spot the runner in the Proviz top

I’ve got the Reflect360 beanie with its highly reflective trim which I use as an everyday running beanie and as mandatory kit for fell races.

photo of Proviz beanie

that’s not a head torch it’s a reflection!

photo of reflective decals on the Proviz beanie

reflective decals on the Proviz beanie

So be seen and be safe this winter with Proviz clothing, see link for more details of their kit:
https://www.provizsports.com/

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Last Women Standing – The Barkley Marathons Film

The Barkley Marathons is a notoriously tough, ultra distance race which only 15 people have ever completed since it was first staged in 1986. No Woman had ever completed it.

Last Women Standing is a film by Summit Fever Media following Inov-8 ambassador and ultra-running record holder Nicky Spinks as she takes on one of the world’s most notorious and secretive sporting events.

The 100+ mile race takes place in Frozen Head State Park, Tennessee and requires the competitors to navigate 5 laps, each involving around 10,000ft of brutally steep, obstacle-laden, muddy mountain ascent through thick woodland and vicious, spiky undergrowth that shreds both clothing and skin. The park surrounds Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, a now derelict maximum-security prison. The impenetrable surroundings have accounted for several failed jail breaks.

The film gives an insight into Nicky’s build up, from the unique application process to the hours before the race where her preparation is made more difficult because runners don’t know the exact time the race will start. Competitors are told of a 12 hour window during which race organiser “Lazarus Lake” will blow a conch – that signifies one hour until start time. Competitors then have 60 hours to complete the 5 laps, ripping out pages from books en-route as proof that they have visited the correct checkpoints. Asked by the film crew if he thinks this will be the year that a woman completes the race Laz replies with a chuckle “No!”

image from Barkley Marathons film

Laz checks Nicky out at the start of a lap

Frozen Head is notorious for its bad weather but the race begins in hot conditions before nightfall sees the temperatures plummet and the runners battling against wind, rain and snow. As other runners drop out (signified by the sound of a bugle) Nicky teams up with fellow female ultra-runner and Barkley veteran Stephanie Case from Canada and the race “virgin and veteran” work together in an attempt to become the first women to complete the grueling challenge. Will they be successful or will the bugle sound for them?

You can watch a trailer of the film here:

The film will have its online international premiere on Tuesday November 19th. Sign up now with inov-8 to watch the free online film premiere: www.inov-8.com/last-women-standing

Boa® Fit – a new lacing system for trail running shoes?

Boa® Fit – a new lacing system for trail running shoes?

There have been numerous design changes to running shoes over recent years; lighter materials, sticky rubber, Graphene infused outsoles etc etc but the method of keeping them on your feet has pretty much been the same – laces. You pull them as tight as feels comfortable, tie them in a knot that won’t come undone (you hope) and forget about them. Simple. So is there any scope for changing to a different system? Is there room for improvement or if it ain’t broke should we not try to fix it?

Boa® Fit System trail running shoes

Boa® Fit System on the Adidas Terrex Two

I hadn’t really given the topic much thought so I was interested when given the chance to test a pair of shoes with the Boa® Fit system. Basically this is a dial on the shoe which can be turned to tension the laces and pulled to release or undo them. The system isn’t new, it was developed almost 20 years ago as a method of fastening snowboard boots and has since been used on sports footwear such as cycling shoes, but I hadn’t come across it used for off road running shoes. The shoes I tested are the Adidas Terrex Two (GTX) and whilst I was interested in the shoe I was most keen to see how the Boa® Fit System performed.

photo of quick release Boa® Fit System

quick release Boa® Fit System

On Test

I wore the shoes for over two months, clocking up over 150 miles in a range of conditions from the hot and dry September to the more recent wet weather. As these are a trail running rather than fell shoe most of the runs were on harder or rockier trails and short grass. They aren’t designed to tackle rugged, boggy fell type terrain.  I wore them for different types of run ranging from long, fairly easy runs of up to 90 minutes to for more intense training such as hill repeats on rough ground and 1 kilometre fast intervals on hard packed trails. I used the Goretex version of the shoe, a non Goretex version is also available.

hill reps with the Adidas Terrex Two Boa® Fit System

hill reps with the Adidas Terrex Two Boa® Fit System

Impressions

To be honest I was rather skeptical at first with a couple of concerns; one that the system was a bit “overkill” and that laces are perfectly fine, and two that the system might fail by getting mud and grit into the mechanism. After a couple of months of testing I have changed my mind slightly. Yes the system is more than you “need” and an ordinary lacing system is fine but the Boa® Fit System does have it’s advantages.

Pros

  • Getting them on and off is really quick! Ok, but you might say that if you can’t afford to spend an extra minute at the start and finish of a run then you’ve got other things to worry about!
  • Adjustable on the go. Occasionally I will go for a run and after a few minutes realise that I’ve either tied my laces too tight or too loose and need to adjust them. Again in the grand scheme of things it’s no big deal but in a race situation it could make a difference. With this system it takes seconds to adjust the tension.
  • Your laces don’t come undone. This is a big plus. Yes it is possible to tie your laces so that they don’t come undone but that often means that when you do want to undo them it is a bit of a struggle – especially with gloves on or with cold fingers. With the Boa® Fit System one pull on the dial releases all the tension and you’re out.
  • Easy to undo. As above, the quick release mechanism makes taking them off very quick and easy. No fumbling around with cold fingers trying to undo those double knots that you tied.

On the issue of the mechanism failing I never had any issues despite deliberately running through muddy puddles. The fact that the system is used on mountain bike shoes indicates that it can stand up to much worse conditions than found during trail running. The dial does stand proud of the shoe so it would be possible to catch it on a rock if running on very technical trails but I didn’t experience any problems.

Adidas Terrex Two GTX in wet conditions

testing the shoes in wet conditions

Cons

  • The Adidas Terrex Two with Boa® Fit System does cost £30 more than the same shoe with standard laces. Comparison here and here.
  • If the lacing system did fail the solution wouldn’t be as simple as replacing the laces.

Conclusion

Despite my initial skepticism I really got to like the Boa® Fit System. Admittedly it is more expensive than the same shoe with a standard lacing system but that isn’t being forced upon you, those on a tighter budget still have the choice. The ease at putting them on and off was probably their biggest attraction. I found myself slipping them on as I left the house to drive out to the Peak District then tightening them up whilst sat at traffic lights (out of gear and with the handbrake on obviously!)  The fact that they can be undone in seconds, even whilst wearing gloves or with cold fingers will be very useful as winter approaches – remember tying that knot that you didn’t want to come undone?!  As the shoes were designed for trail running rather than fell running it wasn’t possible to test whether or not the Boa® Fit System would stand up to the more rugged conditions of say the upland fells in winter conditions. However the fact that the system is successfully used in both mountain biking and ski / snowboarding suggests there is no reason why not.

This video shows just how easy it is to tighten and undo the shoes:

 

Adidas Terrex Two (GTX) Boa – Review

As for the shoes themselves they are a reasonably lightweight trail running shoe, my pair of the Goretex version size 7 weighing 625g. Given the choice I would opt for the standard over the Goretex version – Goretex works well for short durations but if you are out for any length of time or in heavy rain I find that your socks get wet and water soaks down into the shoes. Also any deep puddles that create splashes have the same effect with water getting in through the foot hole rather than soaking through the fabric. Once water gets in, because the Goretex doesn’t allow the shoes to drain freely, you end up running around with water sloshing in your shoes!

The fit is fairly wide and obviously suits that particular foot shape, it might not suit those with narrower feet particularly for example when descending technical trails. The outsole with Continental rubber gave a good grip on hard packed and rocky ground even in wet conditions but the lugs aren’t deep enough to cope with muddy conditions. These are a trail running rather than fell running shoe.

photo of Adidas Terrex Two sole

good grip from the Continental rubber

The Terrex Two have a 5 mm drop (heel 24.5 mm / forefoot 19.5 mm) which feels quite responsive and good for moving quickly on rough ground yet with enough cushioning to make faster paced running comfortable. I have found them to be a good choice for faster paced interval training on hard packed trail terrain.

RRP £129.

Not the cheapest shoe on the market (the standard lacing system is £30 cheaper) but in line with the likes of rival brands such as Salomon and Inov-8.

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Osprey Duro 15 Review

The Duro 15 is the largest of Osprey’s three backpacks designed for trail running.

Having already tested and used the smallest pack, the Duro 1.5, I was keen to look to the other end of the size scale to see what the 15 litre version had to offer.

Features:
The first thing I noticed about the Duro 15 was the number of storage options; the pack has no less than 8 zipped pockets and 5 mesh pockets, all of various sizes! The main zipped compartment on the back can easily hold items such as spare clothes, emergency shelter, waterproofs etc. whilst a rear stretch mesh pocket with clips gives faster access to items; useful when it’s an on – off waterproof day. A smaller rear, zipped pocket has a retaining clip for keys and can fit a wallet or phone. Two decent sized side zip pockets are big enough for hat, gloves and food and are just about accessible without having to be double jointed! I found that these side pockets are also deep enough to hold rigid water bottles without them bouncing out whilst running.

photo of Osprey Duro 15

rear side pockets can be reached without being double-jointed!

The zipped pockets on each hip are easily accessed on the run and provide another option for smaller items such as snacks, gels, compass, car keys etc. Finally a zipped pocket on one side of the chest is just large enough to fit a phone although it’s a tight fit if you have a full soft-flask on the same side.

photo of Osprey Duro 15

zipped hip pockets are easily accessible

 

photo of Osprey Duro 15

2 mesh pockets and a zipped chest pocket holds a phone

On the front straps there are two deep, mesh pockets that house the soft-flasks or can be used as storage (another option for accessible phone storage). They also have elastic retainers for the soft flasks and an emergency whistle. Two smaller mesh pockets below these would hold a compass, gels, electrolyte or salt tablets etc. There are also two elasticated pole loops on the top shoulders for carrying lightweight hiking poles when not in use. To be honest I didn’t try to use these as I don’t have any poles, but I can’t see that they would be particularly easy to access whilst wearing the pack.

The Duro 15 offers versatile hydration options coming supplied with two 500ml soft-flasks with straws and a 2.5 litre bladder that fits into a dedicated zipped pocket with clip to keep the bladder in position. The bladder has a wide mouth which makes refilling and adding energy or electrolyte powder easy and the hose has a clever disconnector which allows the bladder to be removed whilst keeping the hose in place. This is really useful for mid run refills and stops you having to unthread and re-thread the hose and also makes for easier cleaning. The hose has a bite valve with a twist closure to prevent accidental leakage. Whilst running the hose can be kept in place by a strong magnet that attaches to the sternum strap. This does a surprisingly good job at keeping the hose in place but has the downside that you need to keep your compass well away from it! The magnet is easily removable if this is an issue and I’d recommend taking it off if you are using a compass.

photo of Osprey Duro 15 bladder

wide mouth 2.5L bladder and hose connector

If you don’t want to use the bladder, then two 500ml soft-flasks (supplied) can be stored in mesh pockets on the front of the pack on the lower chest. The long straws make drinking on the go fairly easy, however I found it quite difficult to get the full bottles into their pockets as the fit was too tight. Also it wasn’t possible to put the straws behind the straps designed to keep them in place without bending them in half (something I’m not sure is good for the straws). Osprey do make smaller 250ml flasks which are a better fit.

photo of Osprey Duro 15

500ml soft flasks: tight fit and the straw is difficult to position

The Duro 15 is a unisex pack that comes in two sizes, Small / Medium or Medium / Large, mine being the smaller version. There is lots of scope for adjusting the pack with tensioning straps on the front, hips and waist plus elasticated straps across the chest that can be unclipped and attached in a number of positions.

photo of girl wearing Osprey Duro 15

unisex fit in 2 sizes

photo of Osprey Duro 15 adjustment straps

straps allow the pack to be adjusted to fit

The elasticated straps allow your ribcage to expand and so don’t restrict your breathing. The chest straps can be unclipped single handedly although I found them a little tricky to fasten at first. The back is slightly padded with a mesh design to help breathability and I found the pack comfortable, although as with any pack without a “back plate” you need to pack carefully to ensure that nothing hard digs in and causes discomfort.

photo of Osprey Duro 15

adjustable, elasticated chest straps and magnet for hose

At a touch over 500 grams the Duro 15 isn’t a super-light pack, but this means it is more comfortable and has more features than a lighter pack. With an RRP of £140 it isn’t cheap, but it feels like it is built to last.

What would I use it for?

The Duro 15 isn’t designed as a lightweight race vest, it is more suited to longer days on the hill where you need to carry more equipment, for example mountain running in winter or in bad conditions. It would also be a good choice for multi day races and it has become my go to pack or for supporting long distance challenges, using it on the Bob Graham and Paddy Buckley Rounds where I needed to carry equipment for someone else as well as my own. I would also use it as a summer walking pack.

wearing the Duro 15 on Bob Graham support

wearing the Duro 15 on Bob Graham support

Pros:

Loads of storage, good hydration options, comfortable, durable.

Cons:

Not cheap. Difficult to get the 500ml bottles into their pockets!

Verdict:

A comfortable pack with lots of storage and hydration options. Ideal for long, remote runs, multi day events or runs where slightly more carrying capacity is needed.

RRP £140

Available from Osprey https://www.ospreyeurope.com/shop/gb_en/duro-15-2019

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Inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 Launched

Inov-8 have recently launched their much awaited Mudclaw “G” 260 shoe with graphene infused rubber soles.

photo of Inov-8 Mudclaw G 260

Mudclaw G 260

I’ll be using a pair over the winter months to see how the graphene outsoles cope with the harsh, Peak District gritstone terrain and I’ll post a review once I’ve done a decent amount of miles in them.

Inov-8’s press release on the new Mudclaw reads:

THE MUD RUNNING SHOE WITH THE WORLD’S TOUGHEST GRIP

British-born brand inov-8 have launched the ultimate shoe for running through mud.

The new MUDCLAW G 260 is the first-ever shoe in this category to utilise graphene – the planet’s strongest material.

200 times stronger than steel, graphene has been infused into the rubber outsoles, making the studs stronger, more elastic and harder wearing.

inov-8 Product & Marketing Director Michael Price said: “The rubber studs look more like claws or fangs. Through extensive testing we have found that these new shaped studs give the best possible traction when running or obstacle racing over muddy terrain and, unlike racing spikes, also provide underfoot comfort on harder ground.

“By adding wonder-material graphene to the rubber it makes the studs 50% stronger, 50% more elastic and 50% harder wearing – statistics scientifically proven by graphene experts at The University of Manchester, whom we have collaborated with on this project.

“Since 2003 we have carved out a worldwide reputation for designing off-road running shoes with the best grip. Now, by pooling all our expertise and learnings from those last 16 years, we have taken it to a new level, delivering footwear with the world’s toughest grip.”

The revolutionary shoes, which will benefit both trail and fell runners as well as obstacle course racers, orienteers and cross-country athletes, all whom regularly run or compete in muddy conditions, are on sale now priced at £140 from www.inov-8.com and selected retailers.

Amongst the athletes to have rigorously tested the MUDCLAW G 260 is international Great Britain mountain runner Ben Mounsey. The 37-year-old has been wearing a prototype pair of the shoes for several months and has clocked up more than 1,100 miles in them. During that time inov-8 have also worked to further improve other elements of the shoe, including the durability of the upper materials.

Mounsey, an inov-8 ambassador, said: “I’ve been blown away by these shoes. I’ve never got such good mileage out of a pair of running shoes. The grip when running over soft and muddy ground is the best I’ve ever known.”

inov-8 first used graphene in their TERRAULTRA G 260 shoe – an award-winning product launched last summer for runners who train and race over hard ground trails. The brand also sells graphene grip footwear specific for hikers and crossfitters.

Graphene is produced from graphite, which was first mined in the Lake District fells of Northern England more than 450 years ago. inov-8 too was forged in the same fells, with the brand now trading in 68 countries worldwide.

The scientists who first isolated graphene from graphite were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010. Building on their revolutionary work, a team of over 300 staff at The University of Manchester has pioneered projects into graphene-enhanced prototypes, from sports cars and medical devices to aeroplanes and now sports footwear.

Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan, Reader in Nanomaterials at The University of Manchester, said: “This is just the start. Graphene is a such a versatile material and its potential really is limitless.”

MORE INFORMATION

Technical specifications eg weight, drop etc here: MUDCLAW G 260 tech sheet

Video of Mudclaw G 260 in use.

See similar reviews here https://fellrunningguide.co.uk/category/reviews/

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Mud and Blood Windproof Jacket Review

Mud and Blood trail running clothing is designed and developed in North Yorkshire.

In a market dominated by international brands I was interested to hear about Mud and Blood and put some of their products to the test and the cool autumn conditions were ideal for trying out their windproof jacket.

photo of man running in the Mud and Blood windproof jacket

running in the Mud and Blood windproof jacket

Made of ripstop nylon with a durable water repellent coating the smock style jacket is very lightweight (my size Small weighed exactly 100g) and packs neatly into its own zipped pocket.

photo showing weight of Mud and Blood jacket

exactly 100g (size small)

This makes it easy to store and it takes up little room in a bumbag or running pack. Features include a fold away hood which fits into the collar and is secured with velcro, a two way zip, elasticated cuffs with thumb holes and a rear zipped pocket.

On Test:

I wore the jacket for most of my runs over a two week period in both dry and showery conditions. I liked the fit (although fit is always subjective depending on your body shape), style and colour scheme; an understated grey with red trim (also available in neon yellow or white). The hood is a basic design and can’t be tensioned or adjusted in any way and so tends to blow down if you’re running into the wind, a problem I’ve found with several more expensive jackets.

photo of Mud and Blood jacket

stowaway hood

The thumb loops allow you to pull the cuffs down and prevents the sleeves from riding up and so helps to keep your wrists warm. The jacket didn’t feel as breathable as some other windproofs that I’ve used and there was a bit of moisture build up on the inside during a couple of runs. Having said that the DWR coating did help prevent me getting wet during a couple of short, sharp showers although I would always choose a fully waterproof jacket in heavy rain.

photo of Mud and Blood jacket

thumbs up for thumb loops

The thing I found least useful on the jacket was the rear pocket which is situated on the lower back like you would find on a cycling top. This made it fiddly to unzip whilst wearing it and I found that I had to stop completely when I tried to put my gloves away mid run as it was impossible to reach behind me and unzip whilst on the move. It you only intend to use the pocket for your car keys this isn’t a problem but it isn’t very useful for gloves, map, compass, gel etc that you might want to access during your run. Also the shape of the pocket is quite shallow (think mobile phone shape) and so it doesn’t hold much. I think a much better design would be to have the pocket on the breast.

photo of Mud and Blood jacket

rear pocket is hard to reach

At RRP £40 the jacket is cheaper than several of the more well known brands and so offers good value for money.

Verdict:

Neat, lightweight and affordable. Pity the zip isn’t on the front.

More details of the Mud and Blood clothing here: https://www.mudandblood.com/

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1000 Mile Trail Socks – Review

Who doesn’t enjoy the feeling of putting on a new pair of socks?

Ones that hug you and feel soft beneath your feet rather than those mis-shapen, threadbare and holy things that you seem to have been running in recently! 1000 Mile Trail Socks are my new socks; a blend of acrylic and Merino wool that are anatomically shaped offering different amounts of padding to different parts of the foot.

photo of 1000 Mile trail socks

1000 Mile trail socks

The forefoot, heel and toes have more padding for comfort and this extends up the achilles to reduce friction and offer more protection. The top of the foot and under the arch has a thinner construction allowing more ventilation and the elasticated top hugs the calf, without being too tight, and prevents the socks from riding down.

photo of 1000 Mile Trail Sock

padded achilles and elasticated top

I found the socks comfortable and soft and I liked the fact that I couldn’t feel the toe seam meaning there would be no friction issues on long runs. They are quick drying and the Merino wool helps keep your feet warm when wet whilst its antibacterial properties means that they are likely keep your feet fresher that purely synthetic socks, especially when damp or sweaty.

1000 mile trail socks

different padding for different parts

Comfortable and affordable the 1000 Mile trail socks are ideal for cooler months when you might want a slightly thicker sock and for runs where you don’t mind having wet feet.

RRP £12 (twin pack)

More info about 1000 mile socks here: https://1000mile.co.uk/

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Veloforte Energy Bars – Review

Veloforte offer a range of energy bars designed to fuel endurance athletes whilst using natural ingredients.

I’m always keen to try different products to fuel my long runs and races and I much prefer to eat things with “real food” in them rather relying on gels. Veloforte offer just that, tasty products using natural ingredients. Inspired by the Italian Panforte – a special food that was reputed to fuel the Roman Legions – Veloforte bars are now hand made in the UK. The bars come in three flavours; Classico, Ciocco and Di Bosco and each have their own distinctive taste. The Classico has a slightly Christmas cake taste with its candied peel and orange zest, the Ciocco a deep cocoa whilst pistachios and berries flavour the Di Bosco bar. (I personally prefer the deep, dark yet not too sweet chocolate taste of the Ciocco bar.)

photo of Veloforte energy bars

Veloforte, Italian inspired energy bars

The bars come individually wrapped as a 70g serving with just less than 300Kcal per bar so contain plenty of energy to fuel long days on the hill. The bars are quite dense and chewy so are more suited to use on ultra type events or long training sessions rather than as a quick fix during a shorter race. All three bars also contain almonds and have around 5g of protein so make a good post run snack to help recovery.

photo of Veloforte Ciocco bar

datey, nutty, chocolatey – tasty!

As well as being available as individually wrapped bars Veloforte also offer a Mixed Bites bag. This contains all three flavours of bar but pre cut into bite sized pieces. This is ideal if you want to eat little and often and solves the problem of what to do with a half eaten, unwrapped bar. The bite sized pieces come in a handy zip lock type bag which is ideal for stuffing into your bumbag or running pack pocket for easy access on the go.

photo of Veloforte Mixed Bites

handy bite sized lumps in the Mixed Bites bag

Verdict – Tasty with good blend of Carbohydrate and Protein and using natural ingredients, Veloforte bars are ideal for fueling long distance endurance events. I’d include them in my nutrition for events such as the High Peak Marathon or the Bob Graham Round where the pace is slow enough in places to allow you to chew and breathe at the same time! They also make a good post race snack.

photo showing Veloforte nutrition information

Veloforte nutrition information

Veloforte energy bars are available here: https://veloforte.cc/

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