Saucony A6–Real time Review # 3

 

Please note: I am not getting paid for this review, nor have I received any compensation including free gear from Saucony. I’m just a runner.

10/13/14 – Third review – 291KM

Well, I am a little further along from where I said would review again. I continue to rotate through my various shoes, but the last 3 weeks has seen a volume increase on these as the other ones have worn down respectively with one of the other pairs being fully retired. This means, these shoes have seen more long runs closer together.

It is becoming very obvious that they are starting to reach the end of their life cycle.

Specifically;

– The support along the upper is now starting to fold slightly and I have had to adjust the laces at least twice to snug the shoe back up.

– The foam is starting to give way, and the cushioning is not quite as energetic. Certainly, I am feeling the impact more on the long runs then I did.

– The fabric on the inside of the (heel) back of the shoe  has rubbed away and I have had to place duct tape. This caused some blisters while running one day.

However, this shoe is considered a minimal shoe and a racing flat. So, in my humble opinion, at almost 300KM this is still pretty good. I have now purchased another pair of these and I intend to start phasing this pair out and limit the runs to shorter, intensity runs 15K or under.

My primary concern about this shoe when I started out, was whether or not the foam/rubber bottom would hold up against the rural roads. I am very happy to say it has. An unexpected benefit was not having to pick rocks out the soles as I did with the A5s. ( remember those little holes in the soles? )

Overall, I like this shoe a lot and I will continue to purchase. But – I would have liked to see it hold up a little longer and this is why I knocked the durability down to a 4. Tied to that, I knocked performance down too since it impacted my training slightly as the shoe has degraded, especially in the last three weeks. The 2 pairs of A5’s I have been rotating through are at ( or just over )400KM and I am hoping to see this shoe hit that as well.

Here is my rating. I’ll put one more review out at 400K or earlier if the shoe goes out of commission before that.

Scale 1 – 5. 1 being horrible, 5 being simply awesome

Fit – 5

Performance – 4

Durability – 4

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08/24/14 – Second review – 136KM

 

I’ll be honest, at this point, I am very..VERY happy with this shoe. The sole is standing up to the pounding of rural life so far and the upper is much better than the last pair.

I honestly would say, that so far, these shoes are definitely an improvement over the A5.

I am still rotating my two older pairs of A5 and this pair, but at 136K I have enough miles on them to get a feel. I also raced once in them, and they came through with flying colours.

As you’ll recall from my post below, I was concerned mainly about the sole of shoe holding up to the “chip and tar”, dirt road surfaces. There is some sign of wear, however nothing I would not expect with a minimal shoe. ( see pics )

The Upper has been through a few bouts ‘o sweat and water, including one Triathlon so a little collapse is normal. However putting the shoe on, it still fits nicely and there has been no need to adjust laces.

Scale 1 – 5. 1 being horrible, 5 being simply awesome

Fit – 5

Performance – 5

Durability – 5

I’ll review again around 200K..Stay Tuned

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Scale 1 – 5. 1 being horrible, 5 being simply awesome

Fit – 5

Performance – 5

Durability – 5

 

Previous Post

I’ve decided to do a real time, ongoing review of the Saucony A6. Every 50K or so, I’ll  provide an update on the shoe and how it is holding up.

Why? I loved the A5, and I came to the A5 out of necessity.  I want to love the A6, but I am concerned about the wear of the sole as it appears to have reduced for the most part to blown rubber that many companies are using to reduce weight. If you’ve read my review on the Mizuno Evo’s, you’ll understand my concern.

Conditions around my house – Rural Canada, Eastern Ontario. It’s a mix of dirt roads, chip and tar pavement and real pavement.

Purpose – Training and Racing

Number of Pairs – I rotate through 2-3 pairs of road shoes and right now my last couple of pairs of A5’s are reaching the end of their life being around 370K. That is why I brought the A6 into the mix. I also trail run, so some of my longer distance runs are in trail shoes. ( this means reports will probably happen monthly, but accelerate as I move through shoes and flip flop back forth between road and trail )

07/09/14 –  Initial Run

IMG_20140717_074817Initial Impression – shoe feels more durable and a little stiffer. It’s very light and the Upper certainly gives the impression it will last longer. This is line with the current communications going out.

This was a Taper week for me heading into an Trail Ultra on the weekend, so I had a single low mileage run to do on the 9th. I slid these on for the 8K run.

The feel of the shoe was very nice, and actually seemed to fit my foot a little better than the A5. The upper seemed much more in tune with how my foot curves and this meant it relied less on me playing with laces to get the fit correct. The stiffness of the sole made itself known, but it was a good mix and did not take away from the purpose of the minimal feel.

The run, although only 8K, was very comfortable and the ride smooth. Now…all shoes are smooth at the start right? That’s why I am reviewing every 50K.

 

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On completion, I took them off and inspected. They were a little dirty..but all was well.

I am hopeful that nothing was lost and that the A6 will be as good a shoe as the A5.

 

 

 

 

 

So, here is my review. Please understand that this could change as we go along

Scale 1 – 5. 1 being horrible, 5 being simply awesome

Fit – 5

Performance – 5

Durability – 5

See ya soon!! Stay Tuned!

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Dion Eastern Ontario Snowshoe Series

 

I started writing my race report for the event in Frontenac, when I realised that I was probably not going to say much different then I did last year. So I decided that maybe I’d write a quick report on the entire series.

 

Why?

If you love to run, you need to try Snowshoe running. It’s unlike anything you have ever tried, but three times as fun. It is hard work, but you are always in control of the amount of effort you put into it. Being able to run on trails that would be (otherwise) inaccessible is an amazing feeling. Whether you are running through an open field or a snow lined canopy within a bush, winter running does not get any better than this. I should also add that if you are after a cardio workout, you get all the benefits of working your hardest interval session without the pounding of running on pavement.

 

Who?

The series is sponsored by Dion Snowshoes, directed by Spafford Health and Adventure and hosted by different people who have fallen in love with the sport. You will see the hosts ( and the directors ) pulling on shoes at some of these events.

 

When and Where?

Dion Eastern Ontario Snowshoe Running Series – Race Dates:

· Saturday, January 11, 2014: Summerstown Forest Snowshoe Race – Cornwall, ON
· Sunday, January 19, 2014: Frontenac Snowshoe Race – Frontenac Provincial Park, Sydenham, ON
· Saturday, January 25, 2014: Brighton Winterfest Snowshoe Race – Brighton, On
· Saturday, February 8, 2014: Westbrook Snowshoe Race – Westbrook, ON
· Sunday, February 16, 2014: Frozen Ass Snowshoe Race – Batawa Ski Hill, Batawa, ON
· Sunday, February 23, 2014: Switzerville Red Barn Snowshoe Race – Napanee, ON

* February 28 – March 2, 2014: Dion US Snowshoe Running Championships – Bennington, Vermont, USA (Open to International/Canadian racers too. Note: Not part of Dion Eastern Ontario Snowshoe Running Series).

 

 

 

What is the atmosphere like?

Picture yourself arriving at a friends house for a day of skating. It’s light, jovial and fun. In fact, you may not even recognize that this is a race at first. Once the start comes, it becomes purely about business for some but good fun for all. On the trail, there is a good chance you will be encouraged at least 10 times by someone. After the race, it returns to the light and fun atmosphere. During the awards, it is normal to hear jokes being cracked and laughing as people drink their coffee and eat their post race meal.

 

I don’t have a pair of snowshoes!?

There are some limited pairs you can borrow from Derrick, but you need to contact him early to make sure a pair is reserved. And no…they are not the same type of shoes your parents may have used to trek through the bush.  

 

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What’s my favorite part?

I have to say, post race is my favorite. Sitting around and chatting with people while the awards and draw prizes are handed out. There is never a shortage of draw prizes and they range from books, fleece socks or other useful gear that runners can never be short of.

 

How do I find out more?

Check the website out, drop me a line or contact Derrick or Sara directly!

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers!

UltraSpire Alpha Vest Review

 

Note: I am not being paid, nor did I receive anything in this review for free. I purchased everything mentioned.

 

In jumping into Ultras and Mountainbiking, it became very evident early on that carrying bottles was not going to be enough.  I needed somewhere to store my fuel and a larger reservoir for liquid.

I owned a camel back, but it was not practical for what I wanted. The storage was all at the back, which meant I had to stop and unbuckle it each time I wanted something. It also sat much higher with a tendency to bounce more. This caused wear on my shirt and chaffing on my skin. I feel it is more suited to hiking, where time was less an issue and stopping was normal.

Derrick Spafford of Spafford Health and Adventure has a lot of years experience built up in the Ultra field. What he uses, carry’s a lot of weight with a lot of people, myself included. He carries the brand in his online store so I knew that it was going to be something worth looking at.

 

So, as with the shoes, I am not going to write a review with a lot of technical jargon. My reviews are based on “ Does it work?”

 

What I wanted

– Something that would sit lower on my back, and not between my shoulder blades

– Something that carried light, I did not want to feel like I was wearing a bullet proof vest

– Something that would give me access to storage, quickly, and without having to stop.

– Something that would transfer liquid in the tube, at a rate that would not have me sucking my toes up

– Something that did not have the fluid tube dragging across my neck for 10 hours. 

 

After doing the research and speaking to a few more folks, I decided to give the Alpha Light Weight Race Vest a try. I contacted Derrick, made the purchase and he had something in the mail to me within a day. I arrived at my door within 3 days. Great Start!

 

Initial thoughts

– When I removed the vest from the box, it seemed to be a little bigger and I was concerned initially about feeling bulky.

– You can see this vest is very well constructed.

– The Feeding Tube is bigger and much stronger.

– For opening and closing the feeding tube, it’s push and pull for on and off, no valves to open and close.

– Lots of storage, aside from the reservoir, there are two pockets up front that can accommodate extra bottles or other items. There are also multiple smaller areas for storing whatever, all with either zippers or magnetic closures

Filling it

– Filling is very easy, and much different than the Camel Back. Where Camel back opted for a threaded twist lock, Ultra Spire has you fill from the top. You then fold the top down and lock it in place by a slide on fastener. This eliminated any chance of spill and does a wonderful job of sealing it very tight. I shook my mix and held it at several angles and not a drop spilled.

– The reservoir itself holds 2 liters and is made from a clear, strong plastic. Clearly marked for filling levels.

– The tube is detachable with a simple lock and clip, which makes cleaning it Ultra Easy. ( See what I did there? )

– Sliding it into the vest is easy and it quickly reattaches within 30 seconds.

Using it

-So far, I have worn it is very simple. I fill the 2 liter with my fuelling drink, put a bottle of water in one of the front pockets and gels and food in the other. Without it on, it felt heavy. Once I put it on, I was amazed at how quickly the weight seemed to balance. I clipped into place and felt comfortable. The back sits lower then my other one and does not bounce. The drinking tube is well positioned, in that it does not ride too high, or too low. The construction of it is a little heavier duty and to drink you pull to open and push to close. This makes it easier as it can all be done by your mouth with little effort. Pulling fluids is simple and volume very good requiring minimal effort to transfer from the pack to your mouth.

                                                                        

-There are a fewAfter running 9 hours in haliburton, I forgot to take this off for a little while. little pouches as well with magnetic closures that snap into place quickly and easily. Good for storing odds and ends, or other little smaller needs while running.

-What I really liked about this? After running 9 hours, it was still as balanced and light as when I started. There was no bouncing, no rubbing of fabric around the shoulders ( leading to chaffing and a worn out shirt ) and wearing it was not an annoyance or burden.

– Although I have not done so, I have seen people wear this with two bottles in the front and their “stow-away” stuff in the back where the reservoir normally fits.  This makes this vest very, very versatile and able to cover a wide range of adventures or length of races/runs.

 

 

 

 

Over all

-For anyone that is looking for a great fitting, multipurpose nutrition vest, I recommend this without hesitation. You can run unsupported for quite some time with all the options available. 

For more information or to buy one, talk to Derrick Spafford of Spafford Health and Adventure

 

 

Packs and Vests: specs

Alpha Lightweight Race Vest (Back)

Alpha Lightweight Race Vest (Front)

Alpha – Lightweight Race Vest – NEW!
Finally, a vest where you can reach into the back pocket! Brought to you by our UltrAspire Elite Immortals! High on their wish list was a racing vest, which did not have to be removed in order to access contents stowed in the back.

Features
• Comes standard with a 2 L reservoir.
• External shock cord for jacket or reservoir compression.
• Proprietary Passage Pocket™ with left and right-handed access, which is fully accessible while wearing the pack. No worry dual magnetic closures.
• Reservoir rides lower in the small of the back for better center of gravity.
• Ultra-lightweight, and first in the industry use of large hole mesh for increased breathability.
• Reflective details on the front and back for nighttime visibility.
• Stretch panels in the side with elastic mesh pockets for trash.
• Two lightweight mesh pockets in the front to carry bottles or food.
• Sweat proof Magnon Electrolyte Pocket™.
• Zippered small elastic mesh pocket on shoulder strap.

Available colors: Steep Green (S/M), Precipitous Blue (L/XL)
Weight: 200 g (340 g with reservoir)

Mizuno EVO Cursoris Review

 

I thought I would take a little time and start providing some reviews for the gear I am using. My first review will be on the EVO Cursoris and it should be known, that this is review based purely on my use. I received no benefit from Mizuno Canada and bought my shoes at full market value. I’m not going to get into a lot of technical data, I’ll leave that for others. My point is simply…”Does it work…yes or no?”

(I am also currently running in the EVO Levitas and will write a review for that later.)

 

My History with Mizuno: I like Mizuno and like most people, it took me a while to find a brand that truly felt like it belonged on my foot. I have a longer, narrower foot and Mizuno fits me well. Over the last year, at the advice of my physiotherapist and coach, I have been bringing my shoe height down to a more natural drop. The last shoes I ran in before the move to the Cursoris were the Ronins.  Prior to that I ran in Wave Riders  and Precisions. It’s been a slow progression, so  at the introduction of the Cursoris, I was very interested and ordered a pair as soon as they became available.

 

Product Details from the webpage 

    • Designed to provide a more stable platform and cushioning for someone transforming to a midfoot strike.
    • ZERO RAMP offset between the heel and forefoot provides a natural plane tailored to a midfoot strike.
    • WAVE TECHNOLOGY in the forefoot for maximum protection, comfort and a smooth ride.
    • Flat-bottomed forefoot design coupled with a wider platform provides stability and assurance from foot strike to toe-off.
    • 12mm/12mm heel-forefoot design offers a more protective ride.

 

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First impressions out of the box

    • – Very light and flexible, this shoe felt like a dream in my hands
    • – You can twist these shoes
    • – On my foot, it was very light and barely noticeable.
    • – It was almost 4 oz lighter then my Ronin 4’s
    • – No drop compared to the 10mm drop.
    • – Almost see through fabric

 

First Run

Pro’s

– Immediately aware of the ground

– Great feedback with each Landing of the foot

– Very Light

Con’s

– None

 

After a few runs

Pros

– very addictive shoe, comfortable and light.

– fabric holds up well through conditions

– water, sweat, sport drink, winter

Cons

Mizuno seemed to find a way to reduce weight by stripping the rubber sole away. If you notice the above picture, you will see that only some of the sole is rubber, the rest is foam. This is the one downfall I can see with this shoe. The foam does not last long, and you will be going through shoes quickly if you are a medium to high mileage runner. Also, you will notice on the heel, there is a planted piece of foam. For some reason, these pieces started tearing off. After 3 months, these shoes were dead because of the foam, but otherwise structurally intact.

– One other concern I have is winter-ability. Having picked this shoe up in February and still transitioning to a zero drop, I did not get a lot of Winter Running in. I am not sure how the lighter fabric and foam will hold up to the wet, sandy and salty conditions of a winter run. There is not much fabric to separate elements ( as mentioned the fabric is light ) and it’s possible a shoe that already wears out fast could wear much faster. You can probably expect wetter then normal feet.

(Note: it should be noted that I live in Rural Eastern Ontario. My road surface varies from paved, chip and tar and plain gravel.)

 

Overall Review

I really, really like the feel and comfort of this shoe. The foam sole situation is a little dicey for me and I am not happy that I will be going through shoes much quicker, but I am willing to live with this (for now) given the other benefits. Obviously, the less is better concept does have some counter balances. It fit well, it was very light and very comfortable to run in.  I will be looking for a shoe this fall to carry me through the winter, but this shoe will do a good job for the other 3 seasons. If Mizuno puts a little more effort into their sole, this shoe will move from being good to  great. If they can do this without adding weight, it will be excellent!