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Review: AktivX Lace Locks

From: Justin McGovern

Review: Tied laces? Or Locking Laces? I’ve heard the back and forth and have encountered my fair share of pros and cons to both systems on various shoes. I think Salomon has the best “out-of-the-box” locking laces and Reebok’s were the worst. Depending on the amount of water and mud on a course seemed to factor in how often I’d have to adjust the locking laces. I wore Salomon Speedcross 3s for the NJ Beast and only had to tighten them once or twice. I wore Reebok All Terrain Super ORs for the Killington Beast and it felt like I was CONSTANTLY tightening the lace locks. They stretched and I had them so tight they were killing the top of my feet. I bought the ActivX laces to replace the ones on the Reeboks and their first test was the NJ Super. I never had to adjust them once. They held tight but flexed enough to be comfortable. The locking mechanism also worked like a charm to get off when caked with mud. I find the Salomon’s lock gets gunked up and a bit tough to loosen when there’s mud in it. I’ve just bought my 3rd pair of ActivX laces to replace the regular tie laces on my Inov-8 Terraclaws. Plus for the price (about $8) they’re totally worth a try!! MAKE SURE YOU DONT CUT THEM UNTIL YOU KNOW HOW LONG THEY NEED TO BE TO GET THE SHOE OFF!!

Do you own this product? Leave a review below!

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Review: DGearOG – Full Fingered

dgearfull
From: Hannah Hawley

Review: I bought these gloves at Dirty Girl Mud Run for Polar Bear. I had zero intentions of wearing them until winter. Well, after running Shale Hill on a hot sunny day, I realized when the heat got high for Shale Hell, I wanted something to protect my hands from burns on the metal. These worked awesome for that. They also helped protect me from the ropes that I find hurt my hands. Overall, I want to get a fingerless pair for summer events and highly recommend the full finger for winter events to avoid frost burns from the metal when the temperatures dip scary close to 0F.

Do you own this product? Leave a review below!

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Review: Under Armour F4 Receiver Gloves

From: Ann Priestman
Product: Under Armour F4 Receiver Gloves

Review: I’ve been wearing these for dry, cooler weather races for a while now, but wanted to wait until I wore them through some mud/water to write a review. I’ve now worn them to Warrior Dash, Bonefrog, Barre Spartan Sprint, and Samurai Sprint, and couldn’t be happier with their performance.

I tried on a few pairs at Sports Authority (R.I.P) and got a medium, then went back after a few races to get a small (the extra room was uncomfortable on hanging obstacles because my hand would feel like it was falling out of the glove). The small fits me perfectly, and I usually don’t even notice I have them on during races. There are small holes in the palms that help with drainage and make them a bit more breathable. They are also easy to clean – after rinsing I put them in a mesh bag and throw them in the washer (watch out for the velcro – it can ruin other clothes). The gloves start with a tacky layer on the palms which eventually wears off, but the grip is still fine.

For me, the performance of the gloves during races has been fantastic. At Samurai Sprint, with its oddly placed rope climb immediately after the slip and slide, I had no problem gripping the rope while my companions found it too slippery. Same with the thin, mud-covered ropes at Barre. The one downside is that they can actually a bit too grippy for widely spaced monkey bars since they don’t let your hand rotate around the bar at all. But I’m happy to have them on for the majority of obstacles.

It should be clear by now that I’m very happy with these gloves. The price is high (~$30) but for me it’s been worth it.

Do you own this product? Leave a review below!

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Review: dGearOG fingerless OCR gloves

I love finding local companies in our space. These guys are based in Vermont.

dGearOG make gloves for OCR. They’re a spin off of Damascus Protective Gear, and have been making protective equipment for military, police and corrective use since the 50s – think gloves, knee/elbow pads, riot suits – during last years Baltimore riots, they were shipping gear in for the officers. They also make archery gloves too. These guys know what they’re doing!

For OCR gloves can be controversial, of course.

Should you wear them? Do you need them? Do they hinder, or help?

dGearOG Gloves
dGearOG Gloves

I’ve never really bothered, to be honest, unless it’s purely for warmth in a winter event – so when I heard about dGearOG and their OCR specific glove, I was interested in learning more.

I stumbled across them in a weird way. They were posting photos on Twitter of the small team they sent to the VT Beast in 2015 – and lots of photos of gloves in different patterns being used on obstacles. I messaged them through Facebook and they offered to ship me a couple of pairs of gloves to check out. They weren’t quite ready for production yet, and didn’t have them for sale in stores or through their website – so I jumped on the chance to check out a pre-production set.

They shipped me an XL and M in their fingerless style – both with slightly different patterns, but the same features – fingerless gloves with super grippy palms, pull loops, velcro closures.

The first race I tried them at was Shale Hill – and if you know Shale Hill, you know grip and grip strength are key to many of their obstacles. I wore the XL and offered the M up to Chris “Flux” Hoey, who also isn’t typically a glove guy – we wore for the whole course, and tried them out on everything from traverse pipes, walls, ropes and more.

What we found:

The grippy palm was excellent – in dry conditions it was glued to pipes and ropes. In wet conditions, it was less useful, but the quick pull tabs meant you could get it off quickly, and it would stay right side out, so its easy to pull back on again after a wet rope obstacle.

“They definitely help protect your hands from extensive wear and tear on a long course. The grip surface is great until it gets wet. It would be no extra benefit in a rope water climb though.” – Flux

The velcro held tight, and is of a type that won’t get gunged up mid-race – contructed of a plastic, more than a fabric, this isn’t going to be a point of failure.

We both found that the gloves moved around on our hands more than we’d like – it has so much grip, that when hanging from the Zig Zag of Awesomeness at Shale Hill, the glove held tight and our hands slid inside – a testament to proper fitting (remember, neither of us picked our sizes!). In fact, dGearOG have said they reduced the overall sizing of the gloves as a result of that feedback, so they should be fitting snugger from the vendor than before – which will be perfect.

“You never know what race day conditions bring, these gloves are a must have in your Arsenal to be ready for whatever may be thrown at you. Built to perform and last there are no seams in the grips to get caught on and provides protection for race torn hands!” – Flux

Those quick pull tabs are WAY more useful and functional than I initially gave them credit for. How often have you dug through your bag after a race and found socks or gloves or sleeves inside out and gunky – and had the unpleasant experience of turning them back around? The pull tabs keep the gloves right way out, and mid-race? Perfect.

Ultimately, gloves will always be a personal preference. Maybe you want to protect your hands, maybe you have rough and tough skin already and don’t want to lose “feel” mid-race – but if you DO want to protect your hands, these are a fantastic way to go, not too expensive, and the brand is local, and focused on OCR. The have new styles coming, including a full finger, and a pink option for the ladies – so keep your eye on them!

Twitter – https://twitter.com/dgearog
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/dgearog/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/dgearog/

Have you tried dGearOG Gloves? What do you think? Leave your feedback in the comments below!

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Review: Icebug Zeal OLX – long term wear

We posted our first look at the Icebug Zeal OLX on April 10th, 2015 – since then they’ve been on many courses, many laps, many miles – and I wanted to do a recap discussing their long term wear. With the 2016 season coming, the chances are high we’ll see shoes from last season on sale and getting moved by retailers for cheaper – so, how did these guys hold up?

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Reebok All Terrain Super OR – first look

Reebok All Terrain OR 2015

This morning, the mailman dropped off a couple of boxes, direct from Canton, MA – headquarters of Reebok HQ – and in those boxes were some new shoes to check out – the Reebok All Terrain Super OR.

This is, effectively, the third generation of All Terrain Super – and just like they do with their other shoe lines, Reebok has gradually and incrementally improved the shoe with each revision.

Check my comparison of the first generation here, and the Thunder 2.0, a more casual/training version of the All Terrain that was released in the second generation.

So – what do we have here.

Weight: 7.8oz for mens, 6.4oz for women’s
Drop: 5mm (7mm at the front, 12mm at the rear)

This is a racing shoe. Unlike the Thunder 2.0, this is not a training / casual shoe. There will be a Thrive model coming soon for that. This is for hitting the courses, completing obstacles, and getting you through quickly – not for long miles on mountains.

According to Reebok, the shoe weighs 8oz – and if you’ve worn either previous model, it’s about the same weight. It has an 8mm drop, but frankly, with the minimal mid sole, it feels much lower. The shoe is definitely a light weight, minimal feel shoe.

Reebok All Terrain OR 2015They’ve kept the things that worked – this is key, because in many area’s, the shoe DID work well. The tread pattern and depth don’t appear to have changed. The lugs are aggressive and if anything like previous generations, they work well. The H2O draining is effective and easily the most unique, most appreciated feature of the shoe.

They’ve changed things that didn’t work – the material of the upper – at least in the first generation – failed all the time. I wore mine out quickly, with my wide toe box. The second generation was more resilient, but in my Thunder 2.0’s, it did feel plasticy at times. Having said that, I wear my Thunder 2.0’s all the damn time – just not for racing. The new CorDura material they use here is considerably improved over last year.

Reebok All Terrain OR 2015

I have no idea why they included speed lacing. In OCR, thats a recipe for getting gummed up and difficult to use.

The fit – this is polarizing. This is a race day shoe, so the fit is designed to be snug. I get that. However, I have a fairly wide toe box, and these feel tight to me. This is what ripped the sides out of my old All Terrain Super’s. However, the material feels much sturdier, and the actual FEEL is comfortable. I could wear these all day, and doubt I’d blister – but if you’re looking for a wide, roomy and more comfortable fit, these won’t be the shoes for you. I’ll have to wear these for a while to see if they’re the shoes for me.

Watch my video review, below – lots more detail in there. Also scores are being given BEFORE a test wear – and I’ll update once I’ve got miles behind me – I feel I can make educated scoring now, due to the similarity with previous generation shoes.

Also check out our first look at the more plush Reebok All Terrain Thrill’s for 2016!

For your own opinion on these shoes? Login and leave your ratings!

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Featured Review: Wicked Mud Run

Wicked Mud Run is a central MA based OCR held on the venue used by Elevated Training – we sent Nicole along to check them out!

wickedmudrunlogoThis Saturday, I headed to Shrewsbury, Massachusetts and Ski Ward to represent the NE Spahtens at Wicked Mud Run. It was one of my first media gigs, and I was very excited. Judging by the Facebook event, the team was going to have a small turn-out, but I was planning for fun nonetheless. The sun was shining. It was cool and comfortable. It was the perfect day for a 5K obstacle course race!

I arrived at Ski Ward about an hour before the scheduled team heat. As per the email sent to race participants, parking was free. (Spectators too, which was nice because it looked like some people brought their kids.) Ski Ward is, in the words of the British, “wee.” It’s more of a bunny slope than a ski mountain. In keeping with that, there was a small dirt parking lot in front, and then a small lodge at the foot of the hill that served hamburgers, ice cream, and beer. The parking was steps away from the festival area. You could leave you bag in your car easily. They also provided a free bag check, which is what I did, having no place to leave my car keys otherwise. These nice little perks – free parking, free spectators, and free bag check – definitely provided a good impression.

After getting out of my car, I headed into the festival area to pick up my bib. Here I hit a bit of a snag. The registration and bib pick-up line was long and slow moving. At one point, they even had to take people who were doing the 11:00 a.m. heat and have them cut to the front of the line so that they’d make it to the starting line on time. As it was, the first and second heats ended up starting a few minutes behind, though nothing serious. Spending a fairly long time at registration at a pretty small race is kind of a hassle and could have been avoided by having more volunteers at registration. (That being said the volunteers that were at registration were awesome! Sorry you guys were so overworked.) On the plus side, I got to spent my time in the registration line chatting with fellow Spahten Marc, who was volunteering, so I cannot say that I had anything other than a pleasant wait.

Wicked Mud Run FestivalAfter receiving my bib, I decided to walk around the festival area. It was very small, but the booths that were there were interesting. There was a bag check that was giving out Honest Tea. Zoobells was there – these kettlebells are seriously so cool, and I really want to get some; the koala is extra adorable. There was also a local obstacle course racing gym. The tables were limited, but it was a nice assortment of small and local businesses. The festival atmosphere was enhanced by a live band that was playing on the far side of the starting coral.

 

Soon, they called our wave. I stepped into the chute with a couple of other Spahtens. There were some brief remarks, music played, a horn sounded, and without much fanfare, we were off.

 

The race started with a short wall of around 4’ followed by a climb up the hill. There was a small backlog at the wall but nothing serious. I quickly rolled over the wall and begin jogging/hiking up the hill. Next up was a ladder wall. It was short – probably around seven or eight feet, but it was given some interest by having the rungs on the far side of the ladder wall be on a diagonal.Wicked Mud Run Start

We then entered a stretch of wood with some trail running. The terrain was nice featuring some rolling hills with rocks and logs mixed in. It served to keep things a little bit interesting. In the woods, we encountered an inverted wall with a net attached. I was running with fellow Spahten, Shaina, who is a regular at Elevated Training. She mentioned that normally the inverted wall and the net are two separate obstacles. Today, for Wicked Mud Run, they were conjoined to aid people with the wall and make things more beginner-friendly.

After the climbing the net and sliding down the inverted wall, we headed down the hill to a very short rope climb. The climb was maybe 8’. Max. I did the j-hook and two pulls up and I was to the top. I dropped down and was ready to slalom my way back up the hill.

 

From this point, I do not exactly recall the precise arrangement of the obstacles. I remember doing a slightly taller 7’ wall as well as some short hurdles. I fondly remember doing a set of monkey bars, which served as my favorite obstacle of that day! For this obstacle, there were two lanes. One was just widely spaced monkey bars – around a half dozen of them. The other, featured a horizontal bar, from which you had to transition to around three or four monkey bars. I chose the latter and had a blast on this obstacle. I had to get a good swing going to make it from one wide monkey bar to the other. After the monkey bars, was a taller eight or nine foot wall. All of the walls featured kicks and were very manageable.

Ski WardFrom there, we came upon the traverse wall. The race had two traverse walls. One was a standard short traverse wall. The second was a zig zag traverse wall. I chose the second one. The blocks on the wall were actually pretty far apart and getting around the corner was a challenge. I really liked this one!

Next up was the mud portion of Wicked Mud Run. We had to wade through a couple of muddy trenches that went up to my belly button. This was more water than mud though, and I didn’t get terribly dirty during the race, which is fine as far as I’m concerned. Then, it on to another pair of trenches of similar depth, this time with a pair of logs in each that you had to go over or under – I chose over. Following that was a sandbag carry. I usually dread carries, but this one was a short out-and-back a not very steep section of hill. Plus, the sandbag was probably 15 or 20 pounds at the most. I was happy to be able to jog the down section of the hill.

From there, it was another set of watery-mud pits (which were seriously nasty) follow by a small angled wall with a rope. This wall and rope climb was short – probably around 7’ and fine, even with wet shoes. Next, we headed a short ways back up the hill before descending to a slip-n-slide. I’ve been wary of slip-n-slides since 2013 and the Superhero Scramble’s disastrous slip-n-slide in Amesbury. However, the one at Wicked Mud Run was nothing to worry about. It was short and not that steep. A friendly volunteer with a hose, who was manning the obstacle, told me to run and dive. I apparently didn’t run and dive hard enough because I ended up like a beached whale about midway along the slide. I had to paddle my way forward, as another volunteer recommended soaping the entire obstacle. (Yes, this was entertaining.)

From there, it was a very short run to the finish line, which I crossed after around 50 to 55 minutes out on the course. I was handled a very neat medal. (Though no t-shirt – those cost extra.)

Wicked Mud Run Medal

Honestly, the biggest challenge of the day was finding some place to change out of my wet race gear and into clean clothing. With no changing tent and no rinse station, this proved a bit of a logistical problem. I ended up hiding out in some random ski boot rental location at Ski Ward to change my clothing and try to towel off. (I had a lunch date with a friend and had to look at least somewhat like a normal person! #ocrproblems)

This race, appropriately, seemed to attract a lot of first time obstacle course racers. As I traveled through the course, this made sense. The course was, for lack of a better word, friendly. There were no serious climbs, though we went up and down the hill at Ski Ward around four times. The obstacles were small and simple. Only one or two provided any real challenge in my mind. (Note: To be clear, I race at Shale Hill. A lot. My sense of what is normal may be warped by this.) Ski Ward is home to Elevated Training. I would have loved to see Wicked Mud Run partner with them and use even more of the Elevated Training obstacles in the course. Fixed obstacles, like the rope traverse that Elevated Training has, were bypassed in the Wicked Mud Run course to provide a more beginner-friendly experience. Again, I speak of this as a “criticism” only as someone who has done a fair bit of obstacle course racing. For the person doing their first race, Wicked Mud Run is a good bet – it’s not too challenging, the course is well laid out, and everyone is very friendly and encouraging. I cannot think of many courses where I have been cheered on as much as I was at Wicked Mud Run. The volunteers were simply stellar about this.

Wicked Mud Run does need to sort out some of its details. Registration was a big inconvenience. So was having nowhere to change. These sound like small criticisms, but they are key things and need need to be handled well.

Bottom line: This race was not for me. It’s for the newbie obstacle course racer trying their first race. I had an okay time. My enjoyment was enhanced by the cool people on the course. The obstacles, for me, were a bit simple and easy. Yes, I do a lot of obstacle course racing and prefer challenging course, so I am coming at it from that perspective. All that being said, I definitely think the registration snafu needs to be addressed if this race wants to attract a larger crowd. At around $30 to $40 per person, this race is a bargain and good for first-timers wanting a very beginner-friendly race. Would I travel out to Ski Ward for this race again? Probably not. But then again, it’s not for me, is it?

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Featured Review: BoldrDash on the Beach 2015

boldrdashWhile this was a bit of a drive for me, I had so much fun last year that it was worth the drive to run it again.  Who wouldn’t want to race on the beach!

The weather was scheduled to be beautiful but was chilly on the car ride in.  Scarborough Beach was easy to find with GPS.  I followed Sandy, aka Mama Hen, and Vince in to the parking area.  Parking was free but that they were accepting $5 donations for Meeting Street and in exchange you would given a BoldrDash air freshener.  I did not donate so I do not know what the air freshener is like.  It was slightly awkward to have it listed that they were accepting donations.  Personally, I would much rather have it state that the parking was free, or that parking was $5 per car with all proceeds being donated to Meeting Street.   Parking was plentiful and an easy walk to registration and to the start and finish line.groupstart

Registration was located under one of the shelters to the side.  It was not in the middle of the start/finish zone, the location seemed to work well.  What didn’t work well was the different lines for registration but people didn’t realize this and so the line was really long.  Picking up my packet was easy but instead of having all of my bibs ready to be paid for, the volunteer had to send me to another line.  So after waiting to pick up my packet, I had to wait to pay for my bibs.  While they had me on the list for the requested number, when I asked about prepaying and if I didn’t run them all did I come back to this table to get my money back, I was told I wouldn’t be able to get my money back.  This was not what we had been told but since I knew that I was only going to run a max of two extra laps, I decided to just pay for both of them and worry about the details later.  Luckily I didn’t have to worry about getting my money back as I did run both of my extra laps.  Not everyone has been so lucky.  It was time to move on to another line to wait to pick up my t-shirt.  I opted for the technical shirt, which feels great and I love the design, I likely won’t wear it as it is white.  Not the first race to have white shirts of course but lowers the likelihood I will wear it.  Unfortunately, registration was not smooth and does not earn a thumbs up from me.  That being said, I loved the concept of emailing the RD and getting on a list for multiple laps and having them available at the finish line so that I didn’t have to traipse all over to get my additional bibs.

start3Despite the struggles and frustrations with registration, the course was fantastic.  The start was a short walk from the finish line and festival area.       We started out on the grass, with a short down and back that at first felt like a waste but I was soon grateful for the chance to warm up before grabbing a bolder to carry down and back over 3 different walls.  While there appeared to be a few backups by simply walking in between the walls meant that I didn’t have to wait.  The next obstacle was deceptively challenging!  A boulder attached to a chain.  At first glance it appears that it will be easy but the boulders really don’t do anything other than give you a something to hold on to.  The chain was heavy!  Dragging it up the hill and back down was hard.  A spider crawl, which I don’t remember from last year.  At first I tried to go  in the middle option but the walls were too far apart for me to reach!  Luckily the other sets were closer together and I could complete the obstacle.  It wasn’t anything I had ever seen before which made it fun, for the first lap.  Simply energy sapping on the 2nd and 3rd.

The balance beam supported by chains was just as challenging as I remembered.  teamworkAnother new obstacle!  A wall scale to a cargo crawl and down a firemen’s pole! It is much easier going down the pole than it is going up it.  I was starting to get a bit worried we had spent so much time on the grass but that was soon to be remedied as we were sent down to the beach and a 100# Wreck Bag carry.  Sandy and I carried it together but my two additional laps I had help getting it on my shoulders and proceeded to carry it myself!  The tire horse.  I can’t get the ups I need in the sand, so this one I crawl up and over.

A sandy crawl under a platform that runners later in the course were traversing with buckets of water.  The drill Sargent they had working this was encouraging them to dump water on us and yelling at us to get our butts down under the cargo net in the middle.  It was good fun.  I stayed dry on lap bldrdsh wreckone, but laps two and three both involved water fights with other NES members.  Which admittedly felt great in the hot sun.  From there we went on to one of my favorite sections.  We just had to navigate along all the rocks.  I know it tears peoples fits up and can lead to a lot of rolled ankles if not careful but I really enjoy rock hopping and find that I can maintain a fairly decent pace!

The volunteers on course have thus far been great.  One even got a great jumping shot of me and she didn’t even realize it till after the shot was taken.

Tires, a wall that was super slick from the salt and sand and I needed to use the supports to get up and jumpover with a little help from my friends, even crawling up Michael on my last lap and then helping to haul him and his ruck up.  Sandbag carry, of course Sandy and I take the 50# option, why would we take less?  A wall with three options for getting up and over.  No help, some kickers and grabbers, and a full ladder style.  Was a great way to still do the wall even once tired.

Balance beam with slosh pipe.  Was great that the volunteers offered to bring the slosh pipes back to the start for us but on the third lap none of the slosh-pipes were at the start and so people just ran up and over the balance beam.

The buckets, woman grab one, men grab two, there were different sizes.  I grabbed two for each lap.  This was totally brutal on my hands as the handles are so thin.  Water fights did ensue!

Over under through, with a 50# buoy.  I downgraded to the 35# for the 2nd and 3rd laps.  BuoyI believe it was in this obstacle that I lost my FitBit.  I looked briefly on laps 2 and 3 but couldn’t find it.  I know other people helped look for it as well.  Very sad!

Tire hop, similar to the log hop but stacked tires with wood on the top.  They wiggle and sink and are super fun.  I get a lot of enjoyment from these, a little more than I feel is truly necessary!  On to the slant wall, again with different amounts of help.  As the day wore on and the sand and salt built up on the wood, it got slicker and slicker.  First lap I went with the harder, but not hardest, option, and by the end I was using all the help I could get.  Sliding down the backside was a bit scary as I was afraid of falling.  Silly irrational fears!

slantSomewhere between the buckets and slanted wall was a tire drag. Through the sand. With different weighted tires.  Blue rope was the lightest, the first two the heaviest.  They were heavy but I did them, all three laps!  The sand and the rope chewed up my hands though.  Between the swelling, the heat, the friction of the sand.  Ouch.

On to the monkey bars.  It was only at FIT Challenge a few weeks ago that I managed to get the monkey bars on my own.  I even did the larger spaced ones with help on the upwards bars.  At the Beast, where the bars are thicker, I did all but the highest up on my own, that one up I needed help.  But BoldrDash? I DID THE HARDEST UP AND DOWN MONKEY BARS!!! ALL THREE LAPS!!! WITHOUT HELP!!! Okay.  Sorry, not sorry.  I did it on my own and its one of the proudest moments I have ever head at a race.

topofwallParallel bars that I fell off of and so used my legs to help get through, a tire wall up and over, and then it was the dreaded potato sack.  I am actually pretty efficient at hopping in a sack but all the jumping brings out the calf cramps like nobodies business.  I had to miss this obstacle on lap two as they were taking someone away in ambulance.  I haven’t heard an update but he was alive when taken away and have been thinking of him a lot.  I don’t know the details but it was certainly scary.

The tire swing, maneuvering from tire to tire without touching the ground.  I have a great method but wish the ropes were a little thicker as they continue to sackjumptake a major toll on my hand.

Finish line! Fruit, chia bars, bottled water.  Was great to cross the finish line and be able to stuff my face with something.  Certainly made a difference in getting back out for my multiple laps.  They took my timing chip, handed me my medal, and right there was my next bib.  It took just a minute to get and I was able to be off again.

I sadly didn’t get to enjoy any of the festival area or see what was around for vendors but there were plenty of porta-potties and that was all that mattered at the time!

 

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2015 Reebok All Terrain Thunder 2.0

Reebok-athletics-branding-new-brand-mark-logo-design-Delta-symbolSince launching with the All Terrain Sprint and Super – and to a lesser extent, the Outdoor Wild in 2014, Reebok made it clear they wanted to put out a trail shoe for the OCR scene. The Sprint and Super, while having some mixed reviews on their durability and fit, were a *very* solid start.

Like they do with other shoe lines, they listen to feedback. Reebok are in touch with the scene, and not just from the elite level – several of our own community have made visits to the Canton, MA headquarters of Reebok, working with the market research team to provide feedback and insight into the direction they’re going.

And we now have some of that development in hand. The Reebok All Terrain Thunder 2.0 is more of a cushioned, less minimal trail shoe. Just the start of the 2015 shoe releases.

Mine arrived yesterday, and for your shoe porn pleasure, I did an unboxing video, compared them to some other shoes I had – specifically the Inov-8 TrailRoc 245, the Icebug Spwider OLX and the Salomon Fellraiser.

With a 7mm heel to toe drop, these are more cushioned, less minimal and not so aggressive alternatives to the existing shoes. (This was previously and incorrectly stated as 12mm)

And, some photos and close ups.

Womens colors

 

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Review: Blizzard Blast 2015

BB no words1We go for weeks with nothing but the frozen, useless remnants of the previous snow storm, and the day before Blizzard Blast, all the snow dances of the Smithfest Events crew and owners pay off, mother nature takes Fred’s backhanded bribes, and boom – snow. Lots of big, fluffy, fresh snow in time for his race.

Fred sure has friends in high places.

Blizzard Blast couldn’t have scheduled better weather.

The event was back at Four Oaks country club – a great venue for something like this, and our second visit. We’d already heard rumors that the event was being expanded, from a 5k winter fun run, into a 5 to 6 mile event, and with most GPS’s clocking in at 5.8 miles, we got an awesome run in – and Blizzard Blast was WELL worth the entry fee!

Totally appropriate clothing
Totally appropriate clothing

The essentials:

Parking was off site, $10 a car and I heard no problems with parking or delays all day.
The check in was handled in large heated tents, and while it wasn’t toasty, the lines moved swiftly, thanks to the experienced and efficient volunteers.
The whole festival / communal area was indoors – with some heated patio lamps and fire pits outside for the braver folks, so temperature was never an issue.
1658579_789707074450974_7650593021514617223_oAs biggest team, the New England Spahtens were given a whole room to ourselves, with a bar, which was nice to be away from the music, and handy to be close to the bar!
Swag, as always Smithfest events leads the way – we had custom long sleeved Blizzard Blast shirts with our own logo on the back – custom Blizzard Blast buffs with our logo – and a snack bag with yogurt and granola in it – this was VERY appreciated, considering our wave was around 12:40pm and we could grab a snack before heading out.

The Team:

10931056_789687954452886_7581540997690363826_oWe brought nearly 300 people. Thats a lot. While it brings its own headaches, Fred and his crew handled the crowd with grace, splitting us up over several waves back to back to avoid crazy delays, giving us unique custom swag and our own space to hang and socialize. Again and again I’m blown away by how much difference it makes when you run with a large team – you’re NEVER far from a friend, NEVER far from help, NEVER far from a push, and NEVER far from amazing company.

If you aren’t running with the Spahtens, you’re doing OCR wrong.

The course:

10927847_789628904458791_2088816134748061006_oNo course break down from me – I don’t have the memory for it, and it’ll all be different when you get there next year – besides, Nicole did an amazing write up here – suffice to say that the extension of the course out to nearly 6 miles was appreciated. In a market stuffed full of 5k races, it’s VERY nice to stretch the legs a little – with over a mile of dedicated trail running at one point, I really enjoyed getting my legs stretched.

The ice! Underneath all the lovely, puffy, pristine snow, was an ice rink. The worst of it was on the hills, and if you weren’t wearing Icebugs or tracks of some kind, you were on your ass. A lot. Even in my Icebug’s, I was having trouble getting grip, as the snow would fill my treads and stop the studs biting in! This was a non stop problem, and easily the biggest obstacle of the day – and, of course, the reason we sign up for a winter event.

The obstacles:

10373060_790714471016901_7694881856415104429_oWith an official count of 23 obstacles, I know I heard some people say it wasn’t quite enough for the course, but I was quite comfortable with it. A good mix of straight forward obstacles you simply rolled under or pass through, to evil obstacles you needed physical strength or agility to make it through. Those peg boards! The sledding hills are always a huge hit, and some of the new obstacles, like the mini keg pull with the rope were fun – not everything worked out as intended – the mini kegs came off their pulleys easily, and the teeter totter was just too slick for the environment, and too many people spent too long waiting for that. An obstacle as simple as the block step was made doubly hard by the snow – we got through it with some team work.

10537489_790152094406472_2899357635576663162_oLastly, that damn Christmas Tree carry. Mine was carved from rock, and despite not looking especially bad, I could barely get it up on my shoulders and had to drag it the whole way. This took me way longer than it should have!

Was the course too easy? Only if you did it wrong.

Much kudos to the entire volunteer crew who stood out in the snow for hours on end so we could have a safe race!

The afterparty:

Smithfest always puts on a fun after party – this one themed for Hawaii – the promised hot tubs never made it (apparently the vendor didn’t want to move them around in the snow – phooey), but there were coconut bra’s and grass skirts all around, and the free bowl of chili was very much appreciated – almost as much as the beers from the bar post race 🙂 (these were not free, with the money being spent on better swag – thank you, Smithfest!)

Is Blizzard Blast for you?

Yes. Blizzard Blast is a fantastic OCR and unique in it’s winter theme. Wear some half decent gear and you don’t have to worry about the cold and snow – just go get it done. It’s a fantastic course, with a unique twist and a really *really* fun time, all around. Oh, and the new bling!

Looking forward to 2016!

Thanks Sean Kuusisaari‎!
Thanks Sean Kuusisaari‎!