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The Lidingö Double

Sweden proudest endurance sport event undoubtedly is the Vasaloppet. A world-renowned competition that surely any endurance fan has heard of. No matter if you ski or not. Karl Axel Karlberg and Sven Gärderud thought that a summer equivalent was missing and in 1965 they set up an annual cross-country running race on the isle of Lidingö, in front of Stockholm.

The course quickly gained recognition and by now is the biggest cross-country contest in the world with up to 35,000 people running. By now, the course is iconic for its variety and toughness. 30 kilometers around the island. On roads, gravel, and light trail.

Once the race calendar got almost erased, we were hungry for some inspiring challenges and found it right on the Lidingöloppet course. No one had ever done a Lidingöloppet-Double. Mountain bike one loop and then change the bike for some running shoes. My training buddy Marcus and I thought it was a decent idea and went for it.

66 Kilometers later we were pretty tired but also pretty happy. A proper day out on a sunny Saturday.

Tune of the day: Moby – Go

shoeporn: Puma – Deviate Nitro

Undoubtedly Puma is no stranger to the running game. One of their prime athltes was Ethiopian Abebe Bikila who won the marathon of the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo wearing a pair of Puma running shoes. Defending his title from Rome 1960, which he won without wearing any shoes. Having had a massive impact on the worldwide T&F scene with the likes of Linford Christie and legendary Wilson Kipketer, the company further increased their fanbase with the early signing of superstar Usain Bolt. When Puma signed Bolt in 2003, he was only 16 years old, but this deal certainly paid off.
Although being a recognized brand within the sprint scene, the company seemed to have forgotten its roots that, besides football, lies within running. In the beginning of 2021 a lot of professional runners switched sponsors and Puma appeared behind the name of a lot of recognized distance runners. With the Nitro range the company seem to hit the scene with new and promising products.
The Deviate range symbols Pumas homecoming to the serious performance side of running. The very first prototypes made a lot of noise within the scene and Puma marked their return to the market with their interpretation of a carbon-fiber plate road running shoe.
In 1924 Rudolf and his brother Adolf “Adi” Dassler formed the so called “Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory”. When they split in 1948, Adi went on to develop his own brand named Adidas and Rudolf established a new company called Ruda. Ultimately he changed the companies name into Puma and introduced the well-known symbol and the characteristic “Formstrip” in 1958. Until today both companies are situated in the small Franconian town Herzogenaurach in Bavaria, Germany.
Puma offers two high-end models. The Deviate Nitro that’s studied here and the Deviate Elite as the absolute top range model. The crucial alteration between these two shoes is the foam material. Back in the days, way before the carbon excitement, companies used EVA material as the attention was more on cushion then on rebound. Then the carbon-bouncy propaganda took over and nothing has been the same since.
The so-called Pebax material is the new reference class for springy shoes. Every company does use somewhat comparable. So does Puma for the Elite Version. The Nitro instead has a TPE sole. The presentation of this sole paired with the carbon plate is incredible. The structure and the placement of the foam generates a tremendously comfortable and lively piece of equipment. The Deviate Nitro is well-cushioned and the toe-off is speedy and energetic as you stride forward.
A very nice feature of the Deviate line is that there are specific models for women offered. These versions have slimmer heel sections, lower instep, and a carved arch for a specific fit. A feature that should be a standard by now.
A feature that made the shoe very comfortable for me, was this little feature in the back of the heel section. These pads are meant to lock the foot in the shoe and avoid slipping. Typically I tie my shoes very loose and this really made a difference to me, especially when running a bit faster.
The natural environment for this shoe is the road. And that’s what the so-called PumaGrip does best. A solid and sturdy rubber provides great traction on non-technical environment. I used this shoes also on lighter and dry trails and had no problems.
Despite the tendency of other running brands to use other expert rubber companies for the outsole material, Puma decided to create their own. The result is a good mix of rubbers that create a great and solid feeling for the ground and a material that appears to last well. I have about 400 kilometers on my pairs and it is astonishing how less wear this shoe has.
While I was training with the Deviate Nitro the last few weeks, some of my training buddies got curious and one of the most asked questions was if this shoe is a racing or training shoe. Until now, I do not really have an appropriate response to this question. The shoe is light, the shoe is speedy, direct on the ground it feels yet very comfortable. Would I race with it? I probably would. Until now I ran the Deviate Nitro during several trainings, from commute runs, long runs to track work and fartleks. I keep loving the shoe for it reliability during all these occasions. Pumas return to proper running shoes suprised me and it will be interesting to see where the brand goes from here.

Tune of the day: Brockhampton – Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine

On point with Travis Hawkins

At the present time it is just an occasional sign – Folks with a start number pinned on their vest. Joe DiNoto of infamous New York Underground running powerhouse Orchard Street Runners is a man that makes things happen. One of his most prominent races, the OSR30, an unauthorized 30 miles contest round Manhattan was one of many race annulments in the mist of the Covid-19 epidemic. Last weekend saw yet another turnout of this raw and self-navigating competition. Even with basic knowledge of the New York running scene, a look at the start list made clear that the stakes for a thrilling showdown were high.

And race day delivered. With favorites David Kilgore and Alex Burks surging away early on, it seemed clear who was battling for victory. But then again after missing a checkpoint, the lead changed, and it was Travis Hawkins who crossed the line in first place. His 3:17:44 for 51,90 kilometer (Strava) was not the fastest time of the day, but he was the fastest runner to reach all the necessary checkpoints along the course.

The father of two (Rafaela 7 & Mathilda 3) and Brooklyn resident is definitely no stranger to this competition. He won it on two occasions, but this time his stakes were unquestionably the lowest. Travis grew up in Leonia, New Jersey which is exactly 1,5 miles from the George Washington Bridge a checkpoint in the OSR30. Travis has a 08:51:10 Ironman PB (Challenge Roth 2019) to his name and owns a personal training and endurance coaching business. I caught up with him in the aftermath of last weekend’s win.

Runssel: Congrats to your three peat at this year’s OSR30. How does this victory weight in in comparison to your first two successful excursions around Manhattan?

Travis: Thanks so much. All my three OSR30 races are all pretty unique. In 2018 I was 100% confident that I was going to win. When Erik Reitinger put a gap on me 10 miles in that I couldn’t seem to close I was kind of devastated.  I was as shocked as he was when I passed him by taking the Brooklyn Bridge instead of the Manhattan, for the win. In 2019 and 2021 I had no reason to think I could beat David Kilgore, or Alex Burks. I do know that these races are about so much more than speed. I have a ton of experience navigating around the city. I am comfortable in traffic. I ride my bike through it all day. This years victory was the biggest shock of all though. After the year we’ve all had and the level of competition on the day, it was definitely the most rewarding.

Runssel: As we all know, Covid-19 knowingly slowed down the racing the last couple of months. How did you keep up the motivation and when did you fully commit to another OSR30?

Travis: In late February of 2020 I tore a calf muscle, training for the OSR30. The race was cancelled etc… I moved my entire business to Zoom in one day.  I had no confidence in coaching my clients via video chat, so I did every workout with them as they did it for the first few weeks. This meant essentially doing 8-12 hours of resistance training with bands each day.  I was back running in less than a month and was able to slowly build to more volume than I have ever even considered.

Without a race on the calendar, I was really able to be patient with strength training, yoga and Physical Therapy, slowly accumulating tons of fitness.  To answer your question though, I didn’t have a goal in mind.  I was just running because I didn’t know what else to do.  Balancing school from home with my 2 kids, my wife is studying to be a nurse and I’m on my computer coaching clients from an office all day.  I can usually carve out 60-90 minutes to go run and clear my head, so I do. Without it, I don’t know how I would have survived the year.  Joe DiNoto sent me a text in early February, asking if I would be interested in running the 30 sometime towards the end of March.  I said yes but wasn’t really sure if I was going to want to put in the speed work required. It turned out I had accumulated a lot more fitness than I thought.

Runssel: This year’s OSR30 start list was perhaps the best it’s ever been. What battle scenario did you assume and how did you plan for it?

Travis: It was definitely the strongest field!  I knew there were going to be at least 2 guys capable of running way faster than me (It turned out that I was right). I also knew that I had the fitness to put together my strongest race. My strategy was to run my strongest race and hope that they pushed each other beyond their limits or got lost trying.  I suppose it worked. I definitely ran my strongest race. 

Runssel: Do you have any key workouts leading up to a race like this? How do you approach training towards such a race?

Travis: I am a strong believer in running hard on long days for races like this.  I can usually accumulate a decent amount of weekly miles with a bunch of light runs, but there is always a hard long run and a harder short run.  I do most of my running in similar conditions around Brooklyn, so I suppose that helps too.  There’s typically a ton of concrete in these races which I think tends to do more damage than people realize.  If you’re doing all your training on blacktop, it’s not great preparation for a race that’s on a lot of walkways and paths made of concrete and slate. 

Runssel: Knowing the city is a huge advantage. How do you prepare the navigational part of the OSR30?

Travis: I know the city intimately. I ride my bike around all day from client to client.  I like to make a game of finding the fastest routes. Riding and running in traffic are fun and adds a level of adventure to training and commuting.  Finding the shortest route for OSR races and practicing them on my bike has been part of the fun since the first midnight half I did in 2016. 

Runssel: Another indefinite year of racing is ahead. Do you have any goals planned out?

Travis: I don’t have any goals this year. I’d love to get lost in the woods at some point- in a race or on a long adventure run.  I’d also like to get on my bike for a race since I haven’t done that since 2019. Who knows? 

Runssel: Will there be a OSR30 four peat next year?

Travis: The target on my back keeps getting bigger. I don’t think it would be fair to take it down prematurely.  

Del mar a la cima

While swimming in the ocean, the apparent question hit me: How tall is the highest point of this islet?

It didn’t take a long time to find out that the Pico de la Zarza is the main peak that Fuerteventura has to offer. With an altitude of 807 meters this appeared to be the plausible center of a day long sea to summit exploit. After a quick google search, a proper planning session began. Heading out from our home base, Playitas, it was a 50 Kilometer bike ride along the coastline to reach the trail head that lead up to the mountain top, just above Solana Matorral. As soon as we found a bike shop that wanted to store our bikes for the time of the run, we were set to go. And properly hyped!

The aim was to travel as light as possible. That meant for me that I planned to run in my bike outfit. The bulkiest chunk of the needed gear were the running shoes. The easiest and safest form to travel with them turned out to be a meek fix on the rear side of the saddle frame. Some old bike inner tubes out of the bike rental trash bin and the actual shoelaces turned out to be the finest and safest combination. Our little DIY packing system turned out flawless and the quest was on. 

Picture: Marcus Hallbäck

As the name suggest, winds on Fuerteventura are quite solid. A strong NE breeze (28 km/h) meant that we had the gales in our favor for the first part of the trip down south. We set of to make it before the bike shop shut down for siesta. Besides a simple puncture, the ride was uneventful, and we literally surfed down the shoreline. After we changed at the bike shop and stowed all our needless goods, the run was on. We treated us to a quick espresso at the local bar and then attempted the scramble straight by the beach. The Strava segment teached us that an average of 10% climbing was waiting for us on the 8 Kilometer uphill. 

Picture: Marcus Hallbäck

Running off the bike is never easy and it took a bit to get into the groove of running. The sharp uphill at the beginning didn’t really help but the clear views to the top made everyone excited about what was ahead of us. We spread out a bit and appreciated the incredible views of the neighboring vales and the mountains. A stony dirt path led us up the mountain and took its toll. Lucky enough the weather was on our side as the sun was not beaming in full effect. We jogged on as the track got more technical and the top closer and closer. 

Picture: Marcus Hallbäck

The diversity of the run and the final technical and precipitous part paid of as soon as we figured out that we hit the very top. What was lying in front of us was a remarkable view of the isolated and less inhabited east coast of the Island. An incredible backdrop with an enormous clip just right in front of our dizzy eyes. The scenery blew us away. I didn’t know what to expect but what we saw was just stunning. We stayed at the top for a while and then gradually made our way back down to the shore where we replenished properly at the local Burger King before altering back to the bikes. 

Picture: Marcus Hallbäck

As we left the bike store, we felt instantly what we already knew was waiting for us. Wind from the front. Strong wind from the front. As we tackled a rolling 50 kilometers back home, we knew we are in for some suffering. And hell, we hurt. But the enjoyable thing with happenings like this is that once it’s over, the simple enjoyment is very hard to beat. As soon as we hit the bike path back to Playitas the spirit was high as we perceived the sun going down behind the mountains. The last day of our little training camp was precisely the epic one we were hoping for.

Tune of the day: Moderator – Midnight Madness

shoeporn: Adidas – UltraBOOST 21

Herzogenaurach’s three stripes company just released the state-of-the-art renovation of their popular UltraBOOST series. There is possibly no shoe in the assortment that feature so much of adidas’ soft and springy Boost material then this one. In addition to the iconic three lines, the material has been a trademark for adidas running shoes since its very first release in 2013. I had the chance to test one of the first pairs, the Adizero Adios Boost, back then. Check the Post if you are interested.

With the UltraBOOST series adidas has been surfing amid the so called “lifestyle” and “performance” segment. There are no two opinions about the look, that is for sure. Nonetheless we will concentrate on the performance part of things in this post.
As mentioned earlier on, the boost material is a trademarked polymer exclusively used by adidas. Basically, it is a lot of small balls which are compressed and molded to protect the foot from the ground and it delivers a certain boost while toeing off during the running movement. The small balls contain of patented thermoplastic urethane. Adidas cooperated with the German chemical powerhouse BASF (Hello Steffen 😉) to create this material.
Adidas did not hold back with the usage of the boost material. Particularly at the back end of the shoe. At first the Boost material was only known within the running scene, but when a certain Kanye Omari West was seen wearing a pair of UltraBOOST “Triple White” in 2015, the shoes went mainstream and not only boosted running strides but also sales.
The three stripes are an iconic characteristic that defines Adidas. At first the brand added the stripes to its running shoes to make them sturdier. One of the initial T&F athletes to use the shoes with the stripes was legendary Jesse Owens in the 1936 Summer Olympics. By now, the stripes on the clover symbol represent Adidas focus on variety. Finnish brand Karhu and Adidas used to share the three stripes but Adi Dassler bought the rights in 1952.
Comfort undoubtedly is a key feature with this shoe. The upper feels super pleasant and comfortable. The pattern on the side of the shoe make sure that enough stability is provided. I like the sock-like design and the wide flexible fit around the forefoot. The Ultraboost 21 upper is made from flexible Primeknit material and is only 1.9mm thick. Compared to a traditional upper, this really feels like a sock.
The last 7 years, the Boost material was a stable when it comes to cushioning. Several models have proofed this. Notwithstanding the age, the material is still good and certainly does the trick when it comes to the padding part. The energy return was lacking in previous models and adidas successfully changed this with this model and the newly developed LEP Torsion System. The Torsion system is something that can been seen in older models but adidas changed it quite a bit and added the flexible TPU fork to increase the toe off.
A new standard is the Continental rubber that is used on the outsole of the shoe. Its durable and grips pretty well.
Two german tradional companies unite. Continental was founded in 1871 as a rubber producer and still is strong in this segment producing all kinds of tires and car equipment.
It is no top-secret that the Ultraboost 21 is not the lightest shoe. With a weight of nearly 380 grams in my US13 model it is weighty for its standard. Nevertheless, it doesn’t feel super heavy or unsmooth while running. The feeling was normal and I never felt I have to invest more energy then I essentially got out of the shoe. According to adidas, the Boost foam in this shoe is now firmer. This should result 20% more responsiveness.
A close up shot highlighting the Primeknit upper that is made of yarn from recycled plastic bottles.
It looks like the heel is one gigantic portion of Boost foam with one major drop. With 10mm, it is not that huge at the end. The heel foam is wrinkled around the cup of the heel and produces a setup that allows the foot to sit securely inside the midsole. This is a major change to the previous version, the Ultraboost ST.
To me the Ultraboost 21 is a daily milage grinder. I really treasure the fit and the padding it offers. I use this shoe on a daily basis to get the base miles in the tank. I like the fit the reliability of the boost material that certainly doesn’t disappoint. With the arrival of the Lightstrike and Lightstrike Pro material it will be exitng to see what the future holds for this modell range. Boost is the heaviest of the current three Adidas performance foams and it will be interesting to see how the brand develops or include these materials further.

Tune of the day: Fred The Godson – Garcias
YouTube of the day: Kengo Suzuki’s 2:04:56 National Record to Win Final Lake Biwa Mainichi
Pod of the day: Tommy Hughes joins the Spring Snyggt Podcast (Start at 53 Minutes)

shoeporn: The North Face – Flight Vectiv

Something that these days is part of the shoe business, is the rumor mill. Since months Alameda, California grounded outdoor powerhouse The North Face, was set to drop a carbon plated shoe. Well, it seems that all major shoe corporations are on the outlook to apprise their respective top range models with this technology. But suddenly it was a brand that is not necessarily known for its shoe building skills, that joined the hype.
Since 1968 The North Face distribute and produce outdoor equipment. It all started with climbing gear and then grew into a brought variety of accessories, clothing and footwear. Personally, I have tested more than a few of their off-road running shoes in the past. Although their jackets, vests, caps and technical gear have been a stable in my wardrobe over the last decade, none of the shoes have majorly impressed me and it seems that technical clothing was more the focus then suitable footwear. Now they released a performance oriented trail running shoe that goes by the name of Flight Vectiv, merging a 3 D carbon fiber footplate, midsole rocker geometry and SurfaceCTRL grip into the first trail specific shoe using the prominet carbon technique.
I had a chance to spot the Flight Vectiv last April as Spaniard and The North Face athlete Pau Capell wore the shoe throughout the 2020 version of the Fjällmaraton around Åre, Sweden where he came 2nd in the 100 kilometer distance. Pau was part of the development process of the Vectiv equipment range and mostly this shoe. TNFs VP of Global Footwear, Jean Marc Djian aimed high when the company took on this project. The company recognized that another try into the footwear market had to be an innovative and exciting.
The Flight Vectiv is the top model of the novel TNF shoe assortment. It is the one shoe that contains full-length carbon plate combined with a rocker geometry. This combination is intended to upsurge the energy return and I was more than keen to see how this mix turned out in a shoe that is intended to be used off the road, a setting where the carbon technology is more to be seen in up-to-date shoe releases. On the picture above some details of the carbon plate are teased on the external.
Even though the sock-like silhouette of the shoe looked like a pleasing feature, I was quite staggered how rigid it was to get into the shoe. The opening is rather small and that undoubtedly created some matters to me. As soon as you’ve entered the shoe, there is not a tense sensitivity. It just appears that the entering part of the shoe is pretty close-fitting. After a while I got used to it and know how to enter as the reinforced, breathable-knit upper is pretty strechable. Running this shoe throughout wintertime, I have the feeling that the body-hugging fitting also stops all sorts of muck to enter the inside. To me something that is very helpful particularly with the heavy use of salt and sand on the local streets. Frequently the small particles find a way to enter a shoe. Not so in this one. Generally the one piece upper that is elasticated and hugs your upper foot and ankle is super nice and fits around the foot like a glove.
With the Flight Vectiv, The North Face planned a shoe for the longer and ultra-distances. The company paid attention to durable ingredients such as kevlar, polyamide and matryx materials that they also tested and used in other equipment. This time it seems that The North Face was able to familiarize their extensive knowledge from mountain equipment into footgear. The Flight Vectiv is an overall quality shoe that is very well made. Till now I spend somewhat over 100 kilometers in this shoe and I’m constantly surprised how it tackles different grounds and weather situations. The picture shows the 3D-molded heel counter for a better fit, another nice detail in a well build shoe with a quality finish.
There were times when The North Face allowed their sponsored athletes to use different shoes and switch from their very own models to the ones that the competition offered. This has clearly changed now with the new shoe range. Several athletes have been smashing FKT’s last year. One of my favorite runs has been the record setting Grand Canyon R2R2R-alt FKT effort by TNF legends Mike Foote and Rob Krar. Check their video here. Time for these two to tackle some SwimRun competitions i guess.
Without a doubt, the climax of this shoe must be the so-called 3D Vectiv plate. It offers momentum and in combination with the stability Rocker shape, the foot placement is optimized. The shoe is not super soft as many other carbon running shoes, but this is something that aims the runner while running on technical ground. At the start it feels like the shoe is rigid as it does not provide much flexibly, especially to the sites. Although it feels stable and the feel for the ground is certainly given. Officially The North Face labels the Vectiv technology as “revolutionary soling architecture.” Fundamentally what they are describing are the layers beneath the feet. These are all the different foams and treads that work together to deliver a cushioned, safe and springy sensation.
Despite the fact there is a lot of advanced and new material that has been incorporated in this shoe, the outsole is known from previous models. Grip on wet and dry terrain has been the attention in the development procedure. If you expect a super aggressive and “deep” outsole, you will be dissatisfied. The lugs are well and smartly placed but come in with 3.5 mm which is not a standard in trail shoes. After some sketchy situations, the design and traction really grew on me. To me it is a great mix of traction and control. The lugs are places in proper distance and that means that snow, dirt, or whatever sticky stuff you encounter, will not get stuck. I try to break in shoes on the treadmill. Until now, this tradition has never been used with trail shoes. It was different with the Flight Vectiv. It certainly is a versatile sole.
A detailed look at the outsole construction that protects the 6 mm toe-to-heel offset. This shoe facilitated 14 North Face sponsored athletes to set FKTs wearing different Vectiv prototypes during a nearly race free 2020.
To me, the Flight Vectiv delivers a high level of comfort and proper cushioning that still allows to feel the ground but not the pounding. Combined with the securely sensation of the sock-fit paired with a minor, cushioned padding at the upper heel region, this shoe ensures thoroughgoing comfort and support.
Throughout the punitive dark and slushy time of the year and now, when all the lovely white stuff is about to dissolve, this shoe has really gotten to me. It’s fun to run due to the pleasant and well thought cushion, the ground feeling is excellent and joint with a well-planned outsole, it generates a certain security during the cold season. I ran the shoe a lot on icy and wintry streets but also took it around the local, technical, trail system. I get to treasure a well thought out shoe that I never saw coming from The North Face. Having run plenty of carbon-based road running shoes, I really valued this innovative tactic and the way it was shifted into a running shoe aimed to hit he paths. It can be discussed if it makes sense to issue a trail shoe that has a white upper, but at the end I felt it was enjoyable that the daily run was able to produce the color line. A very philosophical slant to this debate, I know. Its some sort of a minimalistic approach, even from the design. Typically trail shoes do look a bit unlike. The Flight Vectiv seems more like a road shoe. Yet, I have the feeling the shoe will continue in my daily rotation for a bit longer.

Tune of the day: Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – It’s Not a Game (Instrumental Version)

Read of the day: Cathal Dennehy: Welcome to the age of the super shoes

Rear View

Sometimes it gives the impression that not too much has happened this last year. Notwithstanding, the time undoubtedly passed away quickly. Though I hate the term “the new normal”, it feels strange that in comparably monotonous times, the time is essentially moving pretty fast. At least that is what it feels like to me. And so, it did since the last time I sat down to reassess the past twelve months. Despite the fact that the Corona ponderings are not getting quieter, I’m certainly over it.

That doesn’t mean that I do not respect and treat it seriously, I mean it is more important than ever to continue and focus on what’s right in front. And whereas a lot of people seem to fight with a limited lifestyle we still have to retell ourselves that the most people who read this chunk of internet, are in a fortunate position and probably haven’t had to deal with much restrictiveness in life. Essentially that is a good thing and somewhat that we need to retell ourselves and focus on positives. Although it now and then seems to hard to find, it is still there. That doesn’t mean that I do not respect and treat it seriously, I mean it is more important than ever to continue and focus on what’s right in front. And whereas a lot of people seem to fight with a limited lifestyle we still have to retell ourselves that the most people who read this chunk of internet, are in a fortunate position and probably haven’t had to deal with much restrictiveness in life. Essentially that is a good thing and somewhat that we need to retell ourselves and focus on positives. Although it now and then seems to hard to find, it is still there.

To reflect and prompt myself on what has occurred I try to reflect on my sporting happenings once a year. Like inscribed previously, I used to do that recurrently but with less time on hand one post per year need to do. And this is the one.

At all times early morning jogs will be something else. This shot was taken on Norra Djurgården. I love to feel the seasons through the year. A simple daily routine I do not want to miss.

Number 1 – ÖTILLÖ SwimRun Catalina

Earlier than ever I got sucked into the racing spell with the first ÖtillÖ competition in America on Catalina Island. What feels like luck now, was just one big coincidence. I wrote a bigger blog about the race in California which can be found HERE. My family and I were fortunate to get one of the last planes out of Los Angeles before the first big shut down set in. Robin and I couldn’t take part in the Ötillö World Champs for apparent reasons. The week after she knew that it is impossible to travel over to Sweden from the US, the competition got cancelled. First time in history.

Then the big Corona break set in. Not so much in Sweden as the country chose to take a more liberal take on the whole thing. But still most races got cancelled and that meant that there was a lot of training on the schedule. That wasn’t too bad, and it appears that I never really lost inspiration. We organized some unsanctioned 5.000 and 10.000 club champs on the local track to keep things candid and daily training went on as normal.

Number 2 – YO Super Sprint Triathlon

As a group we even managed to get some triathlon action going. On a gorgeous summer evening in Stockholm we went back to the triathlon origins and organized a fun little encounter. Great fun with a pleasant hang out afterwards. Some images by Henrik Kindgren can be found HERE.

The minute I started working from home, I used the daily morning shuttle to the Kindergarten and back to build some extra miles. The freedom of skipping car or public transport in favor for time with my son and supplementary miles was and still is great and something I really treasure. Using running as a form of transport gives me a very satisfying feeling.

Number 3 – Langholmen Swimrun

With an inventive and senseful concept, it was one of my favorite races that managed to get a permission to go ahead. Creativity harmonizing with some eagerness goes a long way and a brilliant race was set up. While the long-distance event had to be annulled the sprint distance was set. I raced two heats with Ebba and Johan, and it was remarkable to put on a bib and have fun. Some more words and pictures can be seen HERE.

Number 4 – Åre Fjällmaraton

With the summer sun serving to keep the Corona spread to a minimum and one more creative race organizer another iconic competition in the Swedish calendar was about to go ahead. What seemed to be a bit of a mystery show before the race, played out to be a wonderful day up in Åre with a bunch of great friends. My boludo Mauri made sure we all got a slot for this one and we certainly enjoyed this trail rollercoaster around Jämtland.

43 muddy kilometers later – Finish line feeling with the gang after the Fjållmaraton.

Number 5 – YO DIY Half Marathon

It all started with a hasty conversation during a training jog. Now and then you just need to set up your own reality and, in our case, that was some sort of contest. It doesn’t take much, but it takes some keen people and power to organize something like this. Hallbäck scouted a flat loop and we organized what needed to be prepared. Set up three start groups to keep it Covid safe and gave our people a clear goal in the calendar. A half marathon at the start of December. It turned out to be a heck of an happening that left some informal PBs and keenness to continue with self-made racing.

Number 6 – Stockholm Virtual Rogaining

Looking back this was a super fun day out with Fredrik Axegård. But we need to confess that both of us are no orienteers and we also do not like to read a race manual. Still some fun to try something new and get the hands on an orienteering map for a long and sluggish day on good-looking trails around South Stockholm!

Casual evening shot from a random December night somewhere in Stockholm’s old town, Gamla stan. Certain parts of the town are regularly swamped with sightseers. Throughout this year it was nice to spend more time in the overvisited parts and be a tourist at home.  

All over this ambiguous year the sport gave me so much and I’m completely grateful for that. No lack of motivation and plenty of inspiration through friends or simply checking Strava made sure that I kept grinding. Looking back, this makes me happy and just shows me how much this simple endurance sport bustle means to me.

After years of running and swimrunning, I wanted to take on the Ironman distance once more in 2020. I signed up for the inaugural Ironman in Kazakhstan in November last year but the competition as most of the other races got annulled. When the organizers finally called it a day, I didn’t feel any disappointment and happily took the slot for the 2021 race on the 15th of August. I still enjoy the process of getting fitter and heathier. Will there be a race in Nur Sultan next year? Who knows? Will there be plenty of training and adventures. That’s for sure. Its nice to keep and build fitness. Though it is nice to have a goal to train for it is also enjoyable to just advance and learn on a daily basis. That is what this year showed me straight forward.

Onto the next one.

Tune of the day:
Grimes – Idoru (Modeselektor Remix) X Anthony Rother – Metrowelt LP

shoeporn: Hoka One One – Challenger ATR 6 GTX

Just fresh from the shelves comes an update to yet another Hoka classic – the Challenger ATR in the 6th version with a lovely Gore-Tex top-up. To me, the Challenger has been a go-to shoe, particularly throughout the spring and winter period. Changeable weather conditions enquire some multipurpose capacities. This model is a characteristic “door to trail” shoe and I have been using the prior three versions in the past couple of seasons.
The most substantial difference with this model is the Gore-Tex upper. Gore-Tex is a waterproof, yet breathable material that can resist water even though it is able to let water vapor through. This will allow you to keep your feet nice and dry from the outside. Especially in the wet season this makes the difference. Different shoemakers are using Gore-Tex material but, in the past, I had some bad experience. Although you still want the water to stay external, you want a shoe to be breathable. After several tough and wetly off-road kilometers I can attest the Challenger a damn well use of the material. It is not too thick and consequently permits some sort of air circulation.
The design of the outsole remains the same. From what I could find out after about 250 kilometer in the ATR 6, the performance and robustness is the same as it was in the preceding versions. As detailed earlier on, the sole performs on a wide vary of undergrounds but is not a specialist at one. If you expect a companion for technical trails, then this shoe should not be your choice. Although the ATR performs great on trail you will feel the lack of an aggressive outsole design, the more technical and demanding the terrain gets.
The Gore-Tex version of the new Challenger ATR comes in a stylish black, yellow and red colorway. If you want to get your hands on the Gore-Text type then this is the only choice you have, at least in the male variety. There is also a really nice all black version of the ATR 6 around, but then again deprived of the distinct shield that Gore-Tex provides.
Smooth operator – commonly I break in a pair of Challengers as soon as the weather turns bad and unpredictable. This shoe is game for whatsoever is coming along thru the worser part of the year, at least when you are based somewhere in the northern hemisphere. I also like that it is not exceedingly soft and offers a nice spring paired with a proper cushion.
The development of the material that is now known as Gore-Tex was a happy accident, born partly of frustration by Bob Gore in 1969 and has since been used in several outdoor garments such a shoes, jackets and trousers.
Some raw details: Heel height comes in with 31 mm and the forefoot is 26 mm high. This creates a 5 mm Heel-Toe Offset.
The focus of this update was to provide a smoother feel and a softer, more comfortable upper. Hoka One One also modified the rocker’s design for an enhanced heel-toe transition within the 6th version of this shoe.
The Stinson is Hoka One One’s max cushioned trail shoe, I would put the Challenger one step beneath this model. Personally, I like the volume of provided underfoot padding as this shoe, to me, is a daily trainer and mileage eater. Therefore, I think this is the right amount of cushioning without taking the ground feeling, especially off road, away.
Inside look – While on the road, the midsole sends some nice return that pretty much surprised me. I strike with the middle and forefoot and this part of the shoe is well and proficiently designed to be reactive.
Having experienced the earlier models of the Challenger ATR, there is no major update when it comes to feel and ride. The biggest change in the sixth version is the more flexible upper material made from secondhand yarn. It feels more stable and comfortable then the previous version. Also, the lacing has been restructured and adds to the steady approach of this shoe. The Challenger ATR 6 endures to build its legacy as an exceptional versatile training partner.

Tune of the day: DJ Stylewarz – 2360 feat Toni L + Esa X Four Tet – Parallel

YouTube of the day: Mount Fuji Women’s Ekiden 2020

Cozy up

It is the end of a weird and uncommon year.

A lot has transformed and things possibly won’t be the same again. Well, some things undoubtedly do never change. It’s exercise in fresh air alone or with good friends. At least in the last couple of demanding months, this has been a life saver to some. Also, for me.

Crushing and chatting away on my childhood paths in southern Germany feels virtuous and at least it is some sort of consistency in these December times.

Stay healthy, stay sane!

The Hohenneuffen Castle is a huge tumbledown castle in the northern foothills of the Swabian Alb. The medieval castle is situated on a large late Jurassic rock on the edge of the Swabian Alb.
Ran a couple of amazingly pleasant trails on the way to Hohenneuffen Castle.
Trees and trails.
When I was younger, I spend innumerable hours around the Heuchelberg area. Plenty of rolling trails and some decent climbing is on hand. Some friends linked all the finest trails to form the Heuchelbergtrail race. As soon as I’m home, I take every chance to spend time on the track and learn more about new-fangled parts. There are still a lot of surprises.
The Heuchelberg runs through the western part of the county of Heilbronn between Leingarten in the northeast and Zaberfeld in the southwest.
Make sure to sign up for the Heuchelbergtrail next year. Amazing organization with a lot of passion and pride for this wonderful area.

Tune of the day: Cella – Drowning X
Thelonious Monk in Paris

YO RC – DIY Half

Special times call for special actions.

With no races in sight we made sure to create proper motivation for serious training. Some flat loops around the local park, paired with several start groups made sure that there was no lack of motivation and COVID-19 safety.

Our little DIY half marathon turned out to be an amazing happening and left some empty tanks together with tired but smiley faces all around.

All pictures by Henrik Kindgren!

Tune of the day:
Burial + Four Tet + Thom Yorke – Her Revolution / His Rope
Nostalgia Ultras Podcast – #33: Farewell, Diego

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