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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

Ötillö 2022

📸: @denniswernersson
📸: @hkindgren
📸: @hkindgren
📸: @hkindgren
📸: @denniswernersson
📸: @hkindgren
📸: @makkanmakkan

Our maiden voyage from Sandham to Utö back in 2014 took us 11:08:01. This Monday the finish line clock stopped at 8:52:08, a time that would have placed us 4th in 2014.

Throughout all the years the times have been improved massively. A winning time under 7 hours is now within reach. While it aids that the actual course altered from merciless bushwhacking fragments to proper trail through the years, the actual performances shouldn’t be underrated – this competition will always have the raw capability to decipher fitness, soul and the will to dig deep.

I’m grateful for yet another expedition to the dark side and an even sweeter exit together with Fabian.

Maurten: 100-mile state of mind

Some translation work to put a beautiful Robbie Lawless piece about the great Kilian Jornet into german. Read HERE.

shoeporn: Hoka – Speedgoat 5

What to say about Hokas Speedgoat series really? If you haven’t been hiding under a rock since mid-2015 I’m sure you have heard about this one. Its one of Hokas utter stalwarts. Deeply rooted in the rich trail culture this company has. The name comes from the fabled Speedgoat 50k in Little Cottonwood Canyon (Utah), organized by Ultra Running Legend and one of the first Hoka sponsored athletes, Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer.
The newest version marks the 5th update of this highly popular series. The first thing that is undoubtedly drawing the attention is the well-made upper, a dynamic sandwich mesh that feels astonishing but still dense for proper off-road satisfaction.
After a couple of strides, it’s pretty deceptive where another major development update comes into play – weight decrease. For the first time a Speedgoat shoe comes in under 300 grams. And that results in a lot of fun while taking this agile workhorse for a spin. Comparing it to the older versions, this is a noteworthy update. Hoka kept the comfort but cut down on overlays to slim the construction.
In case you wonder – Spring Measurement: 35×21 mm
A nice new feature is the protected toe rand in the forefoot zone. Especially during rocky outings this is a pretty nice add-on that keeps the foot secure.
I was raving about the weight drop earlier, but another new feature shouldn’t be underestimated – the new CMEVA midsole. This is a lighter and more responsive material as before (although found in the EVO Speedgoats). This material adds nicely to a shoe that now has become significant more springy in its presentation.
Why do runners choose to run in trail running shoes, of course – it’s the traction! The Speedgoat was never a shoe for super technical and rocky trails but it always was a super dependable partner for your wide-ranging door to trail runs. Whereas the preceding models had some issues, especially on wet rocky trails, this version comes with a new outsole design that certainly has improved.
A close up of the Vibram Megarip outsole.
Another year, another Speedgoat. Hoka managed to keep a great shoe great and managed to integrate some proper thought-out updates. With the 5th version of this shoe, they keep raising the bar and will please the fans of this model even more.

Tune of the day: Hudson Mohawke – Cry Sugar

GSP Utö Weekender

Hardangervidda

Song of the trip: Rupert Holmes – Escape

Långholmen SwimRun 2022

All Pictures: Henrik Kindgren for Långholmen SwimRun

Maurten Solid

Enjoyable little translation job for Swedish nutrition powerhouse Maurten for the introduction of their latest invention “Solid” to the German speaking market – Schokoladeseite zeigen!

South Africa

Together with my family I spend the good part of April in South Africa. What a trip it has been.

No gifts given – Nordenskiöldsloppet 2022

When I started this cyberspace chronicle back in 2008, my core inspiration was to update my (sport interested) friends about training and racing. I found it tremendously boring to talk about sports while exercising. The geeky conversational side of the endurance sports scene was never something I appreciated in a dialog with training buddies or friends. Nevertheless, I wanted to read about training, racing and endeavors when I desired info & inspo. The internet blog scene back then was exactly this source – Inspirational, independent, informal and fast. I wanted to contribute my slight share to it. A year later I decided to not only write about racing and training and posted running shoe and equipment reviews as there was not that much material available beside mass participation magazines & expert running shops (which were also sporadic at the time or only sold Asics to each and everyone)

Pre-Race Planning

14 years later, not much has changed in my essential motivation to release and write. Only the regularity and amount of my posts. I wrote about this earlier and I won’t do it again. Just scroll and you’ll find the info if you need it.

It happened that I had a lot of time on my hands last Saturday. As I was racing the Nordenskiöldsloppet I also thought about this blog and that I should write more again. Nordenskiöldsloppet was a beast of a competition and shattered me in a way nothing else has ever done before. Since I finished the competition, I received a wide range of messages and phone calls from friends & readers. Last weekend’s contest was a remarkable experience for me. Something that will haunt me for quite a while – emotionally and physically. Sitting down and processing this challenge lyrically will unquestionably help to comprehend what just happened up north and it hopefully will provide some source of information, help and entertainment to whoever is interested in it.

The first winner, Pavva-Lasse Nilsson Tuorda, crossed the finish line after 21 hours and 22 minutes.

The first time I heard about Nordenskiöldsloppet was a few years ago. Back then skiing was an infrequent weekend interest. I never had snow and consequently slopes close to where I was living. When I skied it was only skating technique and not that much. My motivation to pick up skiing was merely based on being able to compete in the German winter triathlon champs. That was a long while back. Nowadays the younger generation doesn’t even know that such a sport exists. When I moved to Sweden skiing was a valid training option during winter. Vasaloppet has been a competition that I had been eyeing for quite a while and in the first year living in Sweden I did the race on little training and skiing experience. Still, the Nordenskiöldsloppet had been stuck in the back of my mind. Something about this race fascinated me. It was one of those things, that I was planning to do one day. That day came quicker then I thought.

On the ferry back to Stockholm from last year’s Ötillö, Jonathan and I had a loose chat about races that we would like to do one day. Nordenskiöldsloppet came up quick for the two of us. I did not really recall our conversation for too long. But then, some day in October last year, Jonathan texted me out of the blue – a already sold out Nordenskiöldsloppet had opened some slots. He was up for it; I was up for it and what happened then was amazing. Within half of a day, we had another three friends hyped and signed up – Dreamlike.

Our hero – David. His binding broke after 60 kilometers. He ski-walked to an aid station, got a pair of skin skies for a 60kg skier, continued, and eventually received a proper pair form a spectator that saw his hustle. So much respect for him to keep on going.

So, it happened that I jumped into specific Nordic skiing training back in November last year and quickly found a good routine and a lot of inspiration to ramp up the miles. Particularly David and Marcus became reliable and cherished training allies. It was so good to share the anticipation, train and race together. Even the simple fact to have buddies that are willing to wake up at 5 a.m. to go skiing for a few hours is a true gift and something that I highly appreciate. It undoubtedly made the build-up even more enjoyable. Not to mention the whole trip up north. Thanks guys, what a few days we had.

It was time to cash in on all these countless training hours that we had ramped up in the last few months. Some days before the race, the course got alerted to 200 kilometer due to the weather situation up in Lapland (More Info). When we got ready in Jokkmokk the day before the race it started snowing. Something that is not really cherished in Nordic skiing as new snow does make the tracks slow. The snowfall did last during the night and when we made our way to the start line at 03:30 a.m. it was still snowing. As soon as the sun came out the whiteout stopped. Prestart tensions were high as we all grouped in a characteristic Sami marquee by the start line. One of the shuttle busses had been gone off road and the start moved to 05:30 a.m. Together we had lined up in the middle of the field and despite little rush and tension everything went quite smooth. At least ’til Marcus had fixed his ski boot in the binding.

Mål

It turned out to be a picture-perfect day. The clouds swiftly moved away and made space for the sun to shine. Before the competition I had gotten some treasured tips from friend Staffan Björklund who had done Nordenskiöldsloppet a few years ago. Unlike other ski races, the tracks were not really arranged or not there at all. As I roughly knew what was coming, it was not a major surprise. But having trained on well set artificial snow tracks for the last few months, it took little time to get used to normal snow and slothful spurs. I also decided to double-pole the whole race using skate skies. I never got contented with classic skies and raced this years Vasaloppet double-poling. That went OK for me. I knew that there was some climbing involved in Nordenskiöldsloppet but I was excited to compete with the equipment I knew.

As a group we had the naïve strategy to stay together as long as possible. This approach got altered pretty much 2 minutes in. The 500+ field spread out quickly and it was David and me who stayed together for the first part. After the first long uphill stretch, I had to let David go and I was by myself. It seems to be a prominent justification amongst skiers to have bad skies. I don’t want to go down that argumentation line, but I even had to push on the downhills. There was not much glide in my skies and that was mentally challenging until I simply accepted it for what it was. But it certainly is something that I need to investigate for next season. The title of this blog quickly came into my head as I got passed by plenty of fellow competitors on a long downhill section after about 2-3 hours. Slow snow, surging topography, fresh snow, slow skies – no gifts were given.

There was not such thing as easing into this one. I focused on constant movement and a good regular food intake. A mix of Maurten gel, Vegetable broth and a popular energy drink brand from Austria was the only thing I took in. To entertain me through the final hours I tried to estimate how much Red Bull I had been drinking. Close to 5 liters was the digit I came up with – Certainly not healthy. I started to eat proper food after about 11 hours when it got cooler and darker. I’m not known to have the best stomach, but I had zero issues with my intake. The aid stations were positioned between 6 and 14 kilometers from each other and I made good use of them. I always stopped and filled up properly. Looking back, that undoubtedly made a massive difference as I passed plenty of people in the last two hours.

To describe the course as challenging is an understatement. Mostly the way out to the turnaround point at 90 kilometer was something else. A long uphill that seemed to never end mixed with technical terrain. Luckily, the weather was picture perfect and it made this part at least a bit enjoyable. When I double poled up the mountain, the leaders were already on their way back. It was kind of comforting to see them struggling with the track as much as I did.

The day went on and ultimately it got darker and colder. At the 140-kilometer checkpoint I changed all my upper body wear to prepare for what I thought was the real horrible part of this race. I catched up with a small group shortly after this checkpoint and together we voyaged into the darkness. About an hour later I lost them on a long uphill and could not catch them again. I was on my own in the middle of the rugged Swedish north. My headlamp worked fine but I developed a certain fear that the batteries might lose their energy. I switched of the lamp off and got a glimpse of the dark. My head now circled around this possible scenario for the next hour. Paired with the lonesomeness of skiing on a frozen lake that was repetitively cracking, it was something else. I surely enjoy it more now, writing about it, then i did back then.

Eventually the 2nd last checkpoint came. I was happy go get some warm food in as I felt super down and empty. With additional energy and a little more rest, I felt ready to tackle the closing 20 kilometers up to Jokkmokk and the finish line. Not only did I receive new battery energy (thanks so the lovely people at the aid station) I also re-claimed enthusiasm and a certain will to life. I never looked back, enjoyed the long uphill that was coming and took the challenging downhill part with a certain portion of comedy. What a crazy race, what a crazy day.

Jokkmokk came and the finish line was clearly perceptible. But still about 5 kilometers away. The last stretch felt unreal, and the finish was as uneventful as it could get. Somebody helped me to take off the skies. I sat down by the fire, grabbed a blanket and my last can of Red Bull and appreciated the quiet and peaceful atmosphere. 17:53:59 later I was done. Done by any means.

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