Monday, 31 October 2016

Event Review : Samaritans Run (10k) 2016

For the past couple of years I've run the Samaritans 10k at Wellington College in Crowthorne. I'd resigned myself to not running it in 2016 as I tend not to do the same race very often, let alone three times. However, for 2016 the route was changed to Jennetts Park with the start at the Fujitsu office  due to ongoing building works at the college. This was enough to persuade me to run it for a third year, and as part of Bracknell Forest Runners.

It's a key race for the club, being a championship race for the 5k distance that takes place alongside the 10k. I'd signed up for the event before becoming part of the club and hadn't taken part in any other championship events so didn't feel the need to suddenly switch distance but I saw a huge number of fellow club runners on the day taking part in both distances and going on to a social afterwards.

Start time was a very civilised 10:30am for both distances with a warm up before hand. There was plenty of free parking and a few stands near the start including a tombola (I didn't win anything) and a cake stall (I purchased a custard danish - all in the name of charity of course).

We started on time, setting off on a one or two 5k loop of Jennets Park respectively. It's not an area I've explored much so it was fun to run around the housing estate, odd as that may sound, and the parkland. The benefit of running around a residential area is that there's a good level of support. The marshals were also fantastic, cheering and making sure no one got lost on the more windy sections of the course.
I enjoyed the main part of the course, with the exception of one short, sharp incline on both laps did not enjoy the zig zag section through the car park to the finish. But, I understand why it was there, it was just tedious. I gratefully accepted my medal (green ribbon for 5k, purple for 10k) and goody bag which contained a snickers, bounty, two protein brownies, banana, water, pedometer and water bottle.  Not bad at all for £16 entry (for early bird/club runners). It was a beautiful day so I stuck around for the prize giving and to chit chat. All were agreed that it was a roaring success but it still won't sway me to run it for a fourth time... unless the route changes again of course!

Monday, 24 October 2016

Kit Review : Hoka One One

Way back in the spring, I took part in the Polesdon Lacy 10k. It was one of the many events this year that the brand Hoka One One were present at, offering the chance to explore their range of footwear and even try them out.

I know a few people who wear Hokas but I was always sceptical of them, wondering what the bog fuss was all about. So ignoring all advice about nothing new on race day I traded in my beaten up old Salomon trail shoes for a brand new pair of shiny and colourful Hoka Challenger ATR2's. These are one of the trail offerings from Hoka, designed to transition well from trail to road - perfect for me who has to run on road to get to most of my trail routes, and one of the reasons I loved my Salomons so much. It was updated for 2016 with a more supportive fit through the midfoot, and increased comfort across the top of the foot. I'm pretty broad across the mid foot so I was pleased to find that these shoes have a wide toe box. Despite that I had to go up a half size from my normal running shoe size. In regular shoes I'm a 7 and take an 8 in a trainer. My loan Hokas were an 8.5 and felt really great.
The route for Polesdon Lacy was a mix of path and off-road, so a good test for the shoe. In addition it was pretty muddy underfoot so the 4mm lugs were put to the test. Over the 10k I didn't get one blister, didn't slip once, and got to the end with muddy trainers but dry feet. The only criticism I had was that the laces came undone once which meant I had to stop to retie. But frankly there are so many different lacing systems you can choose from now that it doesn't take much effort to swap laces over for something that suits better.
I also got to wear one of their branded visors, especially useful given it was a drizzly sort of day. I only wear caps or visors when it's raining, to stop the rain from getting in my face. The visor has a really nice wide elastic band which was just about small enough for me, and came in two colour ways, pink and green. I obviously went for green as I actively shy away from all things pink (purple is a different matter). Again it was really comfortable and I still use it on sunny or rainy runs to this day. I couldn't find these to buy, so I think they were just a promotional item, which is a shame as I would have paid money for another, but thankfully I was able to keep it.

Unfortunately I had to give the Hokas back at the end of the race, but at least I had relatively clean and dry shoes to go home in. I've yet to purchase a pair of the Challengers but they are certainly on my list for when I need some more trail shoes. At £100 they aren't going to break the bank and are certainly comparable to other shoes out there.