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shoeporn: Hoka – Rocket X 2

Another month, another super shoe. Hoka has been on the forefront when it comes to running shoe innovation. They have been pushing the market like no other brand in the last few years. Hokas uprising is closely connected to their maximum cushion approach balancing with the weightlessness of their product. Their latest release features the utter pinnacle of their recent collection – the long anticipated Rocket X2.   
The Rocket in its second edition is the brands leading road-racing shoe. Plainly aimed for marathon racing, the X2 has everything that all carbon super shoes these days obtain – a springy oversized midsole combined with a firm carbon plate – the magic combination for speed.
Although weight typically is one of the strongholds for Hoka shoes, I was quite surprised to find out that the update to the Rocket X does also include a weight gain of 234 grams. One of the explanations could be that the stack height has been raised from 30 mm/25 mm to 36 mm/31 mm. Although running in the Rocket X2 did not feel clumsy and heavy though.
While Hoka seems to rule the running shoe market, their top racing shoes have been lacking the magic somehow. One of the explanations for this is, that Hokas compression molded EVA foam, that is widespread with their training shoes, lacks the energy return that is needed for quicker running. The Rocket x2 is the first Hoka shoe to use the PEBA foam that most of the other shoe brands take for their top range carbon race shoes.
Hoka listened and changed quite everything to the initial Rocket X model. With the arrangement of the new foam material and a remodeled carbon plate, this shoe has an amazing springboard feel. I was super thrilled to feel that amazing bounce that this shoe overs. A very powerful and race-oriented feeling of pure bounciness. Entertaining!
Quite weirdly, the Rocket X2 doesn’t feel as “high” as some of the other carbon plated high stacked super shoes. It feels more like you’re in the shoe, other than on top of it. An experience some of the other shoes give to me and something that is very noticeable with this model. Consequently, this shoe feels exceptionally stable for its style. I sneaked some dry trails in during one of my jogs with this shoe and it felt positively bizarre to do that in such ease with such a road racing shoe.
Although I used this shoe on trails, it is clearly a road racing shoe and should be used just for this. The outsole is very solid, offers a great grip on dry and wet roads and runs smooth on the track. The design is pretty much flat and that creates a smooth and comfortable ride. Its feels very stable and durable, also something that is not the norm for high end shoes nowadays.  
For some runners the missing padding on the heel section might be a problem. I’m used to it especially in the light high end racing shoes, but it is missing in this model. After some runs I figured out how to lace the shoe and it didn’t cause me any trouble at all, but It surely is a feature that can be improved in the next version.
Although there are some downsides, the latest version of the Rocket X is an amazing and fast racing shoe. It’s a proper and well-constructed update to its predecessor. The shoe has an amazing support for speed and that makes this shoe a lot of fun and easy to run fast in. While additional weight might be a problem, it gets outweigh by the pure springiness that is exceptionally special and to me one of the best on the market right now. It is no surprise that all Hoka Elite athletes instantly switched to this model as soon as it was accessible. A shoe that now moves that distinct Hoka character into a real road racing Rocket ship.

Tune of the day: Goldie @ HÖR

An Ode to the Nattvasan

This competition left a proper impression from the very first time I heard about it. Skiing the iconic 90-kilometer Vasaloppet course during the middle of the night beckoned something distinct and inimitable. Back in 2018 I did an interview with Oscar Brandt and Christofer Eriksson who won back then. It happened that we were in Sälen in 2022 to watch the start of the race. A mere of 3.000 skiers lined up with their headlamps turned on – a very remarkable image that left me with the craving to give this competition a go – in the unforeseen future.

My primary XC skiing goal for this winter, another effort at the Nordenskiöldsloppet, got vanished as the distinct 220-kilometer contest got negated early on. Together with a friend I wanted to attempt a self-organized Double-Vasan approach but that sadly did not happen either. When this quest got called off, the Nattvasan pieces swiftly aligned themselves. Knowing that my friend Nils Spetz was an admirer of the race as well, it only took one phone call, and he was hooked. Together with our friends at Peak Performance we also had the appropriate outfit to face a gloomy night out in the Dalarna wilds. Spontaneous race trips are the best and even more so if the whole thing happens as flawless and natural as this time.

So, we sat in the shuttle bus from Mora to the start in Sälen and drove along the course. It was more than apparent what the conditions would look like. Substantial winds, especially on the plateau, shaped quite a challenging set-up for the impending nightshift. We heard that quite a substantial number of leaves and wood has been blown all over the tracks during the past few hours. The challenging setting formed some extra tension, but we were super eager and positive to get going. Admiring the team racing character in Swimrun, it felt quite natural to transfer this attitude into another endurance sport. Fortunately, Nils had the same attitude which made this mission even better.

With a start spot pretty much at the front of the masses we were fairly lucky. The race got underway and notwithstanding all the typical Vasaloppet madness, this one set off quite smooth. Some minor incidents at the very start of the first climb but then we kept on rolling along nicely. The tracks were super frozen which made up for some fast splits. Every now and then the wind supported us, occasionally we struggled with the headwind and at times it was even thinkable to skate as the side winds nearly knocked me out. Half-Competently we freestyled our way across the course and adjusted the technique to whatever was the safest. An insane rollercoaster in severe wind circumstances. Sometimes exciting, most of the times creepy.

Even though the other Vasaloppet contests offer a rich aid station buffet, the Nightvasan set-up is kept to an absolute bare minimum which complements the raw adventure charisma. Some of the stations were not even maned. We managed quite well but were not prepared to the extend we would have liked to be. There is quite some knowledge to take away for a return to the scene next year. But the raw and simple approach paired with the night racing is something that was even better than I awaited. Nocturnal contesting improves a diverse perception and competing as team even widens this approach.

5:13:40 hours later and at 01:13 AM our Dalarna nightshift came to end at an uncommon, deserted Vasaloppet finish line in Mora. We got precisely what we wanted, a tough and challenging night on the tracks with a very satisfying ending. To be continued…

Tune of the day: Alcapella – 100 Mad Presents Heritage

An ode to the Öppet Spår

I left last years Vasaloppet with a creepy indescribable feeling. The race itself doesn’t need any introduction or portrayal. I have been writing about it on this complimentary cyberspace site more than a few times and I haven’t altered my view at all.

Vasaloppet Sunday is the big day. And while I was profoundly and truly captivated as a kid watching German TV and the “Sport aus aller Welt” program, seeing all these thousands of skiers racing in the direction of this first climb, it really takes time and understanding for Swedish culture to fully get it. Personally, I do not know any other one-day sporting event that influences an entire country and its society in such a way as Vasaloppet does. Everybody knows about it. Every person appreciates it and everyone, to my full surprise every year, can judge the finishing times.

I’m fully sold on Nordic skiing and living in a country that makes it easy to train this sport, makes Vasaloppet the logical yearly pilgrimage. In 2022 I did the main race. Deprived of a qualification time that can be recorded in other XC ski competitions one need to start in the very back. I was privileged to get the chance to move up to start group 7 that year.

The morning of the race, people start queuing for hours to nick a perfect start spot. Preferably in the very front of their heat. That meant that I walked down to the start, waited for hours to put the skis down walked back to the hotel and had breakfast. After some time, its back to the start and then the 2nd queuing will sooner or later start as thousands of people try to get up this first steep hill. I waited there for approximately one hour with complete halt. So, the real race feeling never came up. Image running the New York City Marathon and waiting on the Verrazzano Bridge after 500 meters of running…

Full tracks but still remarkable crowds along the scenic course were great but the definite performance on the day was hard to measure. Something that left me unsatisfied. With only two seasons of proper ski training, I could be aiming for a qualification time to get me further up the ranks. Something that theoretically is a goal in the future. Until now I might have the endurance, but I miss the raw strength that is needed to call Vasaloppet a race. Therefore, we decided to not do the main Vasaloppet this year and participating in the Öppet Spår, the open track, competition the weekend before was the top decision.

No cues, not as many competitors and no traffic jam on course made up for everything. Joint with a sunshiny day that shaped an appropriate Dalarna propaganda day was fairylike. We arrived at the start in Sälen on time. Didn’t had to wait for our starting bibs and just went to the starting corals 15 minutes before the start. After last years disturbing queuing experience this set the day off in a dazzling and happily unspectacular way.

When the gun went off, I could ski the first climb and even appreciated some parts of the course completely on my very own. A feeling of freedom that I experienced at the Nordenskiöldsloppet last season. A feeling that I love when XC skiing. Wouldn’t it have been for one of the nastiest energy bonks I ever had, this would have been an astonishing day. I totally bashed awfully early on in the race and only came back after gasping 2 Maurten caffeine gels and nearly half my hydration belt.

After 5:24 I arrived in Mora. Very happy and lastly knowing how fast I can ski the course. I was fitter last year so that still leaves room for imagination and enthusiasm. The big and “real” Sunday competition will be on the agenda sometimes. Then with an upgraded body posture, a qualification time but still with the same love for this sport and its supreme race.

Tune of the day: DROELOE x IMANU – CATALYST

Ski is the limit

XC Ski season is in full swing and I’m loving it. Living in a major city that has so many ski possibilities is unusual and I’m really appreciating it. With Vasaloppets Öppet Spår Monday (Track) and the Nattvasan (Track) coming up, I really appreciate getting stuck in the skiing mode.

Tune of the day: Jon Hassell -Psychogeography (Zones Of Feeling)

shoeporn: Saucony – Endorphin Elite

The year kicks off with the public unveiling of the long awaited and profoundly teased Saucony Supershoe. Throughout the last few weeks this shoe could be spotted on the fast feet of US Elite Runners Jared Ward and just a couple of days ago as Parker Stinson amazed with a 4th place finish at a stacked Houston Marathon, his fastest ever. Perchance the all-new Endorphin Elite helped a little. Let’s get into the specifics and see what magic Saucony is distributing with their chief model.
During the end of last year, early prototype images have been flocking the internet and the prominent hype sites. The unremitting contest for the next super shoe is real, and Saucony has lifted the high stacked top range marketplace with the vastly applauded Endorphin Pro 3 in the 2022 spell. Although Elite Athletes hackle brands to drive the development further and further in this top range hustle, Saucony devoted time and resources to surpass the needs of their elite athletes with this shoe. As stated above, Stinson and Ward have been quite crucial in the course of the making and development of this shoe. Saucony continues with its strong dedication to raw performance products.
Right on time for their 125th birthday, Saucony reveals the shoe, that at this point of time, is the lightest, fastest and most energy efficient product they ever put on the market. The companies latest and peak rebound foam, PWRRUN is the base of the Endorphin Elite. Carbon is a significant share of every so-called super shoe. An innovative fork-shaped carbon plate is constructed to push runners forward and that is obvious and well placed in the Endorphin Elite. Precisely engineered with thoughtful toe-spring for a faster turnover and a positioned forefoot for a more adaptive ride. The sensation of snappiness and the feeling of forward drive is up to a new extreme, something I have never experienced in any other model in this category.
It is a typical road racing outsole. Kept to a minimum and features a thin layer of tactically placed rubber that provides confidence inspiring-traction deprived of adding needless weight.
To me, the upper has always been one of the strong points in Saucony shoes. And there is no difference in this one. Saucony calls it “Performance Knit Mesh”. It is a next-to-skin upper that snugs around the foot super nicely and is highly breathable. The inner feels like a sock and offers great shelter for the feet during the run. Whereas high stacked shoes sometimes can feel a bit insecure, I had the feeling that the inner construction helps to evade just this. I even tested some light trails and that wasn’t a big issue but assuredly not the footing that this shoe should be used for.
Your foots POV – A shot that highlights the thin upper of this shoe. Very elastic but jet stable as the sites is protected by an added guard that keeps the foot in place. Particularly during high paced intervals a real game changer.
The Endorphin Elite essentially features a combination of the energy efficient PWRRUN HG foam together with a newly designed carbon plate. Saucony calls this the Speedroll technology. It can be found in all the Endorphin models, but the Elite Version features the most aggressive available.
The ‘Original Running Brand’, as Saucony calls itself, is making waves with this shoe. The vast sole with a 40 mm heel and a 32 mm forefoot (Heel-to-toe Offset: 8mm) is the base and combines the springy feeling with great padding. The Endorphin Elite is a first-class racing shoe and made for the marathon distance. After four years of development Saucony accomplished the aim for a top-class running shoe. Often marketing quotes sound self-assured and harsh but when Parker Stinson stated that this shoe is “a real game changer” some truth can be heard in his words.
While I struggled a bit with the sizing in the Endorphin Pros, the Elite is true to size. I tested the shoe in a US13 and they were fitting flawlessly. The toe box gives plenty of room which I used to had problems with in other super carbon plates shoes in the past. Notwithstanding the generous fit, the lockdown of the foot is super good also down to a special padding in the heel section of this shoe. Generally speaking, this is a well composed shoe in regards to fitting. I never felt any compromises.
The up-to-date performance model from Saucony comes with a fully new design approach and clearly sticks out in the Endorphin assortment. In addition this shoe the companies top line up features the Endorphin Pro, the kindly cushioned tempo trainer in the Endorphin Speed, the day to day workhorse that is the popular Endorphin Shift and the carbon-plated trail racing shoe that I have already been writing about, the Endorphin Edge.
It is pretty apparent that this shoe is made for competing in its purest form. The Endorphin Elite is a performance shoe and should shine when race day is here. The farfetched spring-back paired with the direct notion, the negligeable design and geometry are a seamless blend to run fast on race day. And with the initial flashy green colorway (there is another one launching soon) on the lightweight knitted, mesh blend upper, all is set to run fast and aggressive.

Tune of the day: Strategy – Graffiti In Space

LTB Podcast: Team Dryrobe A.K.A. The German Sparkle Party

Fabian and i had an entertaining tête-à-tête with Chipper and Chris of the notorious Löw Tide Böyz Podcast. Tune in HERE and give it a listen.

Find the episode on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, and on YouTube.

shoeporn: Saucony – Endorphin Edge

Sauconys PWRRUN PB midsole foam is the base for one of the brands most popular running shoe lines named Endorphin. With an energy return of 88% PWRRUN PB is Saucony’s lightest and most responsive cushioning ever. The foam is one of the best I have tried in the last few months and was used generally on road shoes. It is tremendously springy, and amazingly sturdy. After the foam and the respective Endorphin line gained following all across the road running market, Waltham, Massachusetts based Saucony, takes this line of the beaten track and onto the trails. But it is not only the foam. Saucony delivers a mix of carbon with their PWRRUN PB and shapes capable mixture for all off-road desires.
To my liking, Saucony continues to offer a roomy toe box once again and to my full satisfaction also adds little shielding on top of it. A feature that protected me and my size US13 feet quite some time while being out and about. A suitable toe protection is key and nicely crafted with the latest Endorphin Edge. As a lot of trail runners looking specifically into bigger toe boxes like seen in popular Topo and Altra models, it can also be found right here.
Saucony has adapted quite a lot of features from the Endorphin Road running line. Even though the general fit is now true to size, the sensation of the shoe compared to the road version feels very alike and bids the same snug feeling and comfort. A well understood change is a suitable modification to the upper. Although some other brands choose to take their road upper for their trail versions, Saucony altered that around and made the upper more robust and better suited for rougher excursions. Still the air circulation and comfort remains. The lightweight mesh dynamically pulls wetness away from your foot, keeping you cool and dry.
The word carbon joint with running shoe, draws a lot of attention. Although it is practically standard to have carbon plated road running shoes, it is still a novel feature beside the street. We can now witness an invasion of carbon equipped models which is long overdue. Since years trail shoes were equipped with rocker plates as a protection feature on rocky trails. Now companies combine the protection with performance. Saucony uses a MonoFlex carbon-fiber platter named Carbitex. It is managed as a 3-quarter plate design that delivers the bounce and spring but still keeps the suppleness on the trails. This explicit carbon plate shape is unique and not used in any other carbon model. Most of the times, one plate is used or various, compact plates. This Carbitex plate has a lobster claw split that allows flexion.
Who doesn’t like a pleasant, subtle feature? Saucony appears to pay more and more attention towards their trail line. Also, with a simple lace cover on the front upper.
I took the Endorphin Edge through more than a few proper sessions including our latest SwimRun excursion at the Ötillö competition in Cannes (more HERE). The thoughtless mixture of rocky, technical trails combined with sand and proper off-trail runs AKA bushwhacking should have been a proper challenge for the Endorphin Edge, but it wasn’t really. There is no perfect shoe for such a competition, also when you consider that there was a proper amount of basic and clean road running on the agenda. We decided not to take a road shoe and expected to suffer a bit with a sluggish performance on the road, but that wasn’t the case. The shoe works very well on the road but undoubtedly excels on the trail and offers a splendid grip. And it doesn’t soak a lot of water thanks to the upper as described above.  
The true heart and sole (by any means…) is the PWRRUN PB foam that’s used throughout the midsole. I quickly became a fan of the foam. It is very durable and keeps the springiness for a long time. Some of the other super foams seem to last only for a short while, something I haven’t experienced in the Saucony Endorphin Edge until now. With a measurement of 36 millimeters at the heel part and 30 millimeters at the forefoot, the shoe is not overly high in stack. Which can be quite comfortable and secure on the trails. It still offers proper cushion through the PWRRUN PB foam. Something that adds to the very well-rounded overall firmness and steadiness amid the rounded corners of the midsole and outsole.
Sauconys very own outsole material goes by the name of PWRTRAC. It is an adhesive, sturdy rubber providing proper traction. The 4-millimeter lugs work fine and deliver real good grip on techy trail but struggle quite a bit with real deep mud. The ground feel is amazing, and the transitions feel super smooth and quick.
A close up to highlight the outsole material and the well placed lugs of the Endorphin Edge.
As with almost all carbon plated shoes the style and kick-back changes in this shoe with the speediness you choose. It is not as bouncy and springy as its road brothers and sisters, but it still delivers a very exceptional feeling for a trail shoe. A feature that makes this allrounder a proper challenger for trail races. With the huge toe box, this shoe is even ready to take on an ultra-effort.
Maximum cushion on minimal weight – the Saucony Endorphin Edge weighs in at 268 grams in US13. That is pretty light when you consider the proper amount of cushion that this shoe offers. This was one of the first sensations that this shoe offered to me during the first runs. Today it is the sensation that I’m looking forward to when I lace up. These days I use this shoe for a wide range of runs as it is happy to take on the roads as well. A proper allrounder that doesn’t compromise in its natural habitat.
The last few seasons have been rough on the trail side of things for Saucony. Although the road shoes last to perform to the peak standards, the trail part wasn’t really looked after. At least that was the impression I had. After the modernized versions of the Peregrine 11 & 12 have been hits, I also became a big fan of the Xodus Ultra. But the up-to-date adding to the trail range takes the level to new heights. The Saucony Endorphin Edge is a proper high end trail shoe that doesn’t shy back from hard work and rough milieu. Whereas I was sceptic towards an implementation of the Endorphin series into the trail collection, this shoe has proved me wrong. Though daily sessions are a lot of fun, this shoe displays its full potential when its raced.

¨Tune of the day: Enfant Sauvage – 58500 (Daniel Avery Remix)

MAURTEN: Das Pendel schwingt – die Geschichte von Sara Svensk

More paraphrasing material for the finest nutrition brand. Check it out HERE.

ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Cannes 2022

Upper class entities, extravagant boats, heartfelt sunlight, good-looking, tanned people and that leisure extravagance sensation is what society is looking for at the world-renowned French Riviera. With dissimilar inspiration and goals, Fabian and I made our way down to the metropolitan that commonly is known for the rich and famous, its posh hotels and restaurants – Cannes.

After the Ötillö World Champs we were not looking to get a new yacht or leisure time at the local sand seashores, we wanted to book our ticket for next year’s World Champs in the Archipelago – as soon as possible. Last year’s jaunt to the Republic of Malta was a rather fruitful one but due to travel and work trials we had to settle for the subtropical Mediterranean climate in the south of France.

Cannes is the first competition to qualify after the WC and that means that a lot of lineups mean business. France took on the sport of swimrun fast and that results into a lot of fit and competitive équipes on the start line. However, we wanted to go for it and see what we can do – Now or never. Well, for 2022 anyway.

The competition went off with a lot of motivated racers on a long downhill slog from the local fort at the Île Sainte-Marguerite just outside the city. Seemingly, it took the man in the Iron Mask (Reference here) 11 years to leave the isolated woodland of St Marguerite. Not us. After approximately 4k of jagged trail bumping the first early risers were railed in and it was time to cool off from the sun with the first swim. For the premier 1,5 hours we ran and swam between this island and Île Saint-Honorat, a place that used to be the play area for some local monks, sharing their time between prayer and producing red and white wines. Nothing that we had time for on this beauty of a day.

With about 20% of swimming, this course is one of the most swim heavy on the entire tour. We left the islets and headed straight for Cap de la Croisette and the mainland Cannes. Fabian skippered the rusty GSP liner over these 1300 meters, the longest bath of the day. The Promenade de la Croisette was about to follow throughout the longest run (9+k). And it was action-packed one on a sundrenched Saturday along the popular waterfront boulevard. Merci to that cyclist that made way for us and created some frightened expressions along the way. The run led through town and out to a local park. I decided to not take the wetsuits off which might not have been the cleverest idea on this day. Plenty of dogshit on the street and some nasty climbs on and off road later we arrived at just another coastline ready to wash and cool off for yet another time.

Some swims and some run later my friend Daniel Rowland (which I haven’t seen since Chile 2011) caught us by surprise as a unexpected bystander as we headed back from the marine in the direction of the elevations of the local forestry. An abandoned and steep train track and loads of scrambling and ascending later it was beach time again. And after a disturbing visit to the local stark-naked shore, we went back into the water to enjoy more of these stunning jellyfish chews.

At the end it got pretty hectic as the lack of exercise and the unaccustomed exposure to sunlight decelerated our efforts. We paid for it with an extra inch on the suffer score during the last swim and a almost passed-out Fabian at the finish line – Raw fact: 4:57:13 for 8th place. Fortunately the uninterested local ambulance wasn’t needed, and the rehydration process got underway instantly.

Now its time for a proper season break, skiing and whatever the 2023 Swimrun term will throw at us with some pleasant unsanctioned explorations and well picked races aligned.

We salute our friends at Dryrobe & Saucony for all the love and faith with this endurance bromance and looking forward to having even more fun next season.

Tune of the day: Youssoupha – Ma Destinée

shoeporn: Nike ZoomX Zegama

Keller Sports as well as Keller X have been of great service to me in the last few years. A lot of selected attire easy and fast accessible. Particularly Keller X is a place where I hang out habitually. That has not changed much even though I moved from Germany to Sweden over 5 years ago as they offer their services with the same quality here and several other European countries. Keller Sports has been a great source to check and buy gear. Also, this time as Keller Sports gave me the chance to test and review the up-to-date and long-awaited trail hype, the Nike ZoomX Zegama. During the last 6 weeks I had the chance to put loads of miles on this shoe. Read on what I have to say.

If you’re enthusiastic about competitive and honest trail and mountain running the word “Zegama” will certainly spike your attention instantly. Located in the rugged self-governing region of the Basque Country, in the northern part of Spain, this 1.600 people town is the hallowed place for off road running. Just to simply get a slot into the Maratòn Alpina Zegama-Aizkorri is a dream for many.  Tennis has Wimbledon, motor racing the Monaco Grand Prix and golf the Open Championship – mountain running has Zegama. To simply name a shoe after this competition is aiming for the uppermost and sets expectations as high as the Aizkorri peak.
Slowly but surely Nike has teased their newest footwear release via social media. At the end of last year, I had the first glimpse to what later would become the ZoomX Zegama. In the quest for the up-to-the-minute Kipchoge vaporfly Erlkönig, even road running focused hype accounts picked up a trail running shoe that contained the celebrated ZoomX foam. But don’t get trapped in the ZoomX hype on this one. The Zegama does not come with a full ZoomX midsole as you might know it from the road models. To simply have a full ZoomX midsole would be too unstable on the trails. It’s the classic Nike carrier system SR02 that’s build around the ZoomX foam.
After the Trail Version of the Pegasus, the Terra Kiger and the Wildhorse, the Zegama is the newest adding to the Nike trail running assortment. The Zegama improves into the arrangement with supplementary cushioning. The Wildhorse used to be the most cushioned shoe and that has changed now. Like the latest Terra Kiger version, the Zegama comes with a rock plate protection. The popular ZoomX foam is used for the very first time in a trail shoe and is placed across the midsole.
The rural town of Zegama is start as well as finish to the notorious Zegama-Aizkorri Maratoia. Over the classic marathon distance of 42.195 kilometers, competitors must attack 5,472 meters height difference across rough and technical exciting topography. The competition is known for a brutal course but generally for its crazy and dedicated crowds that line up along the climbs. I had the chance to tow the line twice. Since then, I have an idea how it must feel to climb Alpe d Huez during the Tour de France. Click the Links to read my 2013 & 2014 blog posts.
Throughout the last decade I had the chance to run in more than a few Nike trail models. The Pegasus Trail version used to be a reliable partner as it was a shoe that literally lasted forever. On a tight budget this was the model I ran almost entirely in training. Frequently Nike made efforts to extend their trail running actions and for me it was quite interesting to see that they now also release a completely new model to their collection. Something that hasn’t happened for a good while. In preceding Nike shoes, I have been in awe of the ZoomX foam, and it did not disappoint in the Zegama. Some people say that the carbon plate is the big game changer in running technology. But I cannot fully agree. To me the rapid progress of the foam performance is a real game changer and something that this shoe benefits a lot from. A bouncy yet direct feeling that was new to me in a Nike trail shoe.
A pleasant and well needed feature for trail running is the integrated Ankle Gator. It sits tight but does not irritate the ankle. Main aim for this feature is to stop rocks and dirt from entering the shoe. A pleasant and well needed feature for trail running is the integrated Ankle Gator. It sits tight but does not irritate the ankle. Main aim for this feature is to stop rocks and dirt from entering the shoe. Also aids the general stability that this shoe provides.
Its easy to see a merge of some of the other Nike trail shoes in the Zegama. The forefoot and midfoot sections are very similar to the Kiger, while the back section leads towards the design of the Wildhorse. Important in a trail shoe is stability and despite the proper stack height, this shoe provides a great safe feeling on the trail while still being very comfortable and sprightly.
A new-fangled off-road shoe does also mean an innovative sole design and lug pattern. With 4 mm deep, the pattern design works well on all sorts of terrain that I undertook here. I usually have a tiny commute to hit my local trails. Then I face an exciting mixture of roots, rocks, and technical single trails. Particularly the forefoot portion of the Zegama is something that I could trust a 100% on during all my outings. But just like older Nike trail models, the quality of the grip gets worse in wet circumstances. A problem that has been communicated before and still seems to be an issue with this shoe.
A closer look at the lugs and the pattern design
If you are used to run in Nike shoes on the road, the Zegama wont surprise you much. The feeling is practically the same and the ZoomX translates nicely towards secure off-road running without loosing the nice bounciness and the great direct cushion. It’s the base that makes this shoe the best distance model in Nike assortment. The ride in the Zegama is springy and the wide platform aids to even stabilize the general approach of this shoe. It appears that the platform is a bit wider than the Kiger which I liked a lot. It is a pretty high stacked shoe at 37mm at the heel and 33mm at the forefoot so the wider approach assists the general safe performance on the trail.
Subtle details can be found all around the Zegama. Overall Nike nailed the design on this one, in my opinion. Since a few years they seemed to have figured out how to market and brand the trail models in a nice inventive and inimitable way without loosing the general design approach in the footwear line.
As this shoe can handle a lot of diverse ground, it quickly has developed into a reliable partner to me in the last few weeks. It is a lot of fun on the road but clearly performs best when used on non-paved milieu. By any means it is not a shoe that would execute to its utter best during the iconic Zegama marathon, but I would undoubtedly race it on lengthier and flatter trail distances. The Zegama is a flawless fusion between a comfortable training and race shoe with loads of opportunities on hand. Only downfall is the performance in the wet. Something that I hope will be updated in the next version.

Tune of the day: Adagio! – Gather Round

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