Weather to run Taranaki: Anna Frost blogs

UPDATE: The weekend’s NZ Team Salomon Taranaki assault and its likelihood of success swings like a yo-yo with weather predictions changing every six hours with new updates.

If you’re watching Metservice then you’re going to get wet from Friday-Sunday.

Rain? A reason not to go trail running? On Mt Taranaki, it can be…

Booooooo. Metvuw only has you getting wet on Friday so I’m running with Metvuw…

Friday, it seems, is pretty wet by all ‘expert’ accounts, so no summits, lots of coffee. Yes, that’s legitimate nutritional preparation.

Saturday/Sunday are looking good for everyone to have some fun. Winds turning to west later on Saturday, so shouldn’t be too cold and freezing level should stay up over 3000m. Freezing would be a bad thing. McAlpine, a past record holder and purveyor of the offical record keepping website on Taranaki feats, told me the 4 summit record was originally meant to be 5, but for them it iced up and they were incredibly slow getting off the mountain. Five summits…? Hmmmmm… what was the weather doing Sunday again?

- Anna Frost

NZ Team Salomon trail runner and recent winner of the TNF50 in California, Anna Frost will report in on the record

attempt here on Trail Run Mag, so stay tuned as the adventure unfolds. Follow Anna’s Facebook here. And remember to LIKE TRM’s facebook, too, here.

 

Two Bays, The Irish and a dose of BHV

 

It was only the week before the Two Bays Trail Run in a high-level Trail Run Magazine editorial meeting (held on the 25th floor of our penthouse office, complete with indoor trail running track), that the decision was made for me to run the race.

From my memory the conversation went a little something like this:

TRM’s Rosco ‘The Flash’ Taylor. IMAGE: www.fstop5.com

‘Rosco, we need someone to run the Two Bays Trail Run and report back, and since you are the fastest, the best-looking and know how to speil, we think it should be you,’ said the editor.

‘Sure,’ I said. There was no point in false modesty.

‘We also need an everyman as a counterpoint to your eliteness, so I am also sending The Irish,’ said the editor. The Irish is our Business Development Manager, or as he is more widely know, The Other Terry Wogan.

‘Okay’, I said, ‘but only as long he showers and doesn’t try to run on all fours like last time.’

‘He had a shower last month and I have confiscated his running gloves, so we should be okay.’

‘Great,’ I said, but it wasn’t. Everyone knows that sales people carry the highly contagious Black Heart Virus (BHV), a disease that can be fatal to us creative types – I would have to be careful and keep my distance from The Irish. A media pass for the race was organised – the race was sold out with 750 entrants competing in either the 28km or 56km iteration – and The Irish and I made plans to meet before the race.

And so it was that I found myself waking at the unGodly hour of 4.22am* on a Sunday, shovelling some toast down my gullet and heading south. I was a little nervous, I was only entered in the 28km version but I hadn’t run for more than an hour since February the previous year when I wrecked my ankle in the last 12kms of the Cradle Run. While the birth of the of my son had also had a deleterious effect on my training (not to mention my sleep). However, I had one advantage, I knew the track. As training for the Cradle my brother and I had the 56km course, or, rather, run and walked and lay down – we picked a hot January day to run it, arriving down at Dromana too late in the day. Coming back up Arthurs Seat under a blazing afternoon sun I had had to take a lie down in the shade to slow my racing heart.

But today was a new day and the weather forecast looked cool, and while 7am might be a cruel time to start a race, it did mean the sun would be low in the sky. The drive went smoothly and The Irish and I met at the start. We had a short conversation, which I mostly didn’t understand because, of course, The Irish can only speak Irish:

‘Top of the mourning te ya Rrrrrosscco,’ said The Irish.

It ain’t called the Two Bays for kicks… IMAGE: www.fstop5.com

‘What?’ I said.

‘TopofthemourningteyaRrrrrosscco.’

‘What?’

‘Sto actin’ the maggot, ya fool eegit.’

‘What?’

‘Fur feck’s sark, ar ye fecking dif?’

‘Sure, it’s a great day,’ I said, shaking my head and pretending to understand, as I normally do in all my conversations with The Irish.

Eventually (using a simple sign language The Irish can understand), we worked out a plan. I would run the 28km to Cape Schanck, where The Irish would have the mags on display for the finishers, then when I arrived The Irish and I would swap and I would show off the mags and The Irish would run back to Dromana, where I would meet him with his car.

Meanwhile a host of lycra-clad runners were gathering at the start line like a host of underfed greyhounds. Seven AM approached with a great shuffling of limbs and stretching of calves, then we were off! Or rather, those at the front were off, I was chatting at the back and got a flying start strolling over the line 23 seconds later (according to the timesheet).It wasn’t long before I was bounding up the slopes of Arthurs Seat like a tall, pasty Gebrselassie up a drain pipe, or at least I would have been if it weren’t for all the walkers blocking the track.

At the top a photographer somehow managed to find a shutter speed fast enough to catch me  flying past in a blaze of blue nylon.Then it was down, down, down. (It was on this section that I had the indignity of being passed by a flying midget woman, who was barely tall enough to reach my elbow.) Then there was a bit of street running and being passed by old men old enough to be my father (that’s old). Followed by lovely single trail that seemed to be mainly downhill.In the end it all went fairly well, I tucked in behind someone and stuck on their tail for most of the race.

Fortunately, I managed to re-pass some of the father figures, the midget and the bloke with grey hair and a leg brace. Towards the end I began to tire, but I finished strongly after shoving some guy who was in my way off the track as I passed him, coming 112th overall in 2.34.At the end I met The Irish, who had set up a portable trestle table with Trail Run Magazines on it, and was busy confusing people with his attempts to explain what it was all about. After a bit of blethering about whether he should run it or not, I took over the table and off he went, bounding away like Shane Warne in a cake shop.

Soon I was joined by one of our regular writers, Emma Francis, who had stopped to take soil samples not once, not twice, but three times, apparently using her face as a shovel. Given that I was behind a table, and thus clearly had some official status, people kept coming up to ask me where: they could buy t-shirts, find first aid, find the toilets or ask me if I was related to Brad Pitt (no). Leah from Sydney also asked about rides back to Dromana, so I offered her a lift with the soil scientist and I.

Two Bays Trail Run leading 26 kayers. IMAGE: http://www.fstop5.com

Many people came to gaze upon our fine, new publication, flick through its pages with their grubby hands, while more than a few tried to walk away with a gratis copy thinking we were giving them away – no! All the while, my guts were starting to feel funny, and not funny ha ha. I was starting to worry that I had gotten too close to The Irish and he had given me a bout of the cursed BHV.

Soon it was time to pack up our wares and drive back to Dromana. It was here that the Great Cosmic Power of Karma paid me back. The portable trestle table turned out to be some kind of fiendish intelligence test when it came to dismantling it – a test I failed. Finally, Leah worked out how to collapse it and we packed it in The Irish’s car. It was here that Leah proved her worth again, when I couldn’t find the hand-brake (who puts a hand-brake next to the foot brake where you can’t see it?).

When we got back to Dromana I was going to wait for The Irish**, but the BHV was causing me waves of nausea and I wanted to get back to say goodbye to my wife and child in case it was fatal. I said goodbye to Leah and Emma and made my way home, stopping only beside the freeway at Frankston when the nausea and sore stomach came to a graphic head and forced an emergency stop.

As you can tell from the fact I am writing this story fortunately it wasn’t a fatal case of BHV, I seem to have had a lucky escape. Although following a S.W.O.T analysis of the race, I have come to some important realisations: going forward I am really going to sweat the assets and upsell the brand – Ross 2.0 is going to find synergies and incentivize for streamlined performance, and I am going to leverage the shit out of next year’s race.

- Ross ‘The Flash’ Taylor

*those two extra minutes of sleep make all the difference psychologically.

**The Irish finished in 3.5 hours.

 

Mount Taranaki Speed Assault: Anna Frost blogs

With Salomon New Zealand’s Grant Guise, Matt Bixley’s inspiration, my ‘why not’ attitude and Salomon’s support we are off to Taranaki to try and set/break some speed records in the Egmont National Park.There are many record attempts, routes and fastest known times that can all be seen here  but this is what we are hoping to accomplish on our assault:

Grant Guise

Grant is going to have a go at the ‘Round the Mountain’ record which at the moment stands at 5:17:00set by Greg Barbour in 1992. It is one full circuit (approximately 50km) starting from any point on the track travelling either clockwise or anticlockwise. This track has alternative upper and lower routes in a few places and any are valid for the record.

Matt (pictured main image above) is going to attempt not only to break the ‘4 Ascents’ record that currently stands at 16:05:00 set in 1976 by Ian McAlpine but to continue for 24hours if conditions allow, to see how many ascents he can do in a calendar day. See his blog.

I am going to attempt the woman’s ‘1 Ascent’ and at the same time the ‘1 Ascent and Descent’ which currently stands at 2:45:38 by Ingrid Perols in 1993. Both of the men’s records are held by Greg Barbour with 68mins for the ‘1 Ascent’ and1:36:27for the ‘1 Ascent and Descent’. Depending on how my legs are feeling I might also give the women’s ‘Round the Mountain’ a nudge and set a record as there are none standing so far.

Paul Petch from Outdoor Photography  is going to be coming along to capture the fun and excitement of the weekend as we put our speed to the test!

Wish us luck.

Anna Frost

NZ Team Salomon trail runner and recent winner of the TNF50 in California, Anna Frost will report in on the record

attempt here on Trail Run Mag, so stay tuned as the adventure unfolds. Follow Anna’s Facebook here. And remember to LIKE TRM’s facebook, too, here.

 

 

 

Merrell Sonic Glove

Orange. The only thing that really bugged me about the Merrell Sonic Gloves is the colour. I’m not a ‘look at me’ kinda person, so when I have glowing orbs distractingly flashing in the lower reaches of my vision, I get annoyed. Not just because I feel like a clown, but because at the speed I run, it risks setting off some kind of fit, such is the strobe-effect.

(That’s sarcasm in case you missed it. I’m not that fast.)

Nevertheless, the answer: get these muddied brown as soon as possible; thereafter they relish the conditions. (They do come in a toned down blue/grey – none were available when I took delivery).

Also good for signalling when lost in the bush. Or for raves. Oh, pretty darn good on trails too!

However, the lairy colour of my pair is an orange herring if you will: fact is, in the minimalist world, these are a serious trail shoe offering providing performance that delivers far beyond that which the peacockery may suggest (in my opinion, in the shoe world, flashiness is often cover-up for poor functionality).

And boy do these function on trail.

The caveat is that we’re assessing these in the context of a runner seeking out the minimalist style. Lead-footed heel smashers need not apply, nor comment. These are for those dedicated to at least exploring the run-light philosophy that’s currently booming.

A minimalist shoe needs to tick certain boxes. It has to have minimal and preferably no drop between heel and forefoot. This gives true barefoot function and in the trail world the best trail ‘feel’ – something of the point of going minimal. It needs a wide toe box to allow toe splay, important in achieving a correct barefoot running action. The upper should be minimalist in terms of it interfering with foot action, but it also need to provide some glove-like hold to the foot. Many will also say that the inner needs to be so comfortable that no socks are required. And finally, it needs to be lightweight.

The Sonic ticks all these boxes. Easily.

Essentially new model Merrell Trail Gloves  (tested in TRM Ed#1), the Sonics are upgraded with a non-permeable, water resistant upper (rather than mesh) which primes users for running damp or sandy trails, the enclosed upper keeping both water and grit out.

On trail, the Vibram sole offers good (for minimalism) protection against rocks and sharp ground, while giving brilliant grip. One minor gripe here: when speeding around tight corners, there did seem to be some sideways slippage. But in a linear motion, grip is fantastic, the design not sucking on too much mud and the back-kicked toe grip in particular customised for the increased toe kick-off that barefoot running delivers.

Some will find the tightness around the metatarsal area off-putting at first, but this actually provides good glove-like hold between the upper and your foot, keeping excessive movement within the shoe to a minimum. This combines with a phenomenal comfort factor inside the shgoe – no rub zones, no seams to annoy. Go sockless with confidence.

The ultra roomy toe box is important, allowing toes to be able to splay, which experts tell me triggers a muscular reflex that helps coordinate muscle contractions, which leads to more efficiency when using a midfoot gait.
Reviewing the Trail Gloves (again, relevant because they are essentially the same design dynamics as the Sonic Gloves) Jason Robillard of the Barefoot University (barefootrunninguniversity.com) writes: “The trail performance of the shoe is first-rate.  It provides enough protection for the most technical trails…while still allowing enough ground feel and proprioception to prevent injury.  For trail running, I am hard-pressed to find a single negative characteristic of this shoe. [It] is the best true minimalist trail shoe I have ever tested.”

Apart from two factors – sideways slip and I found downhill grip on the fly suffered a tad – I’d agree. Although he’s done a lifetime testing than me. So you’d listen to him first.

And what about that exuberantly non-mimimalist orange bedecking?

Dear Santa (aka Mr and Mrs Merrell), this Christmas may I please have a BLACK pair of Sonic Gloves…

[SEE MORE SHOES REVIEWS IN THE FREE ONLINE EDITION OF TRAIL RUN MAG available as a pdf download at www.trailrunmag.com/zine]

TRAIL BRIEF

Great For: those after the pure sensation of the trail, go-fasts, minimalists who aren’t quite ready to go to traditional sandals, minimalists looking for performance and protection
Not So Great For: going super fast on muddy, super-twisty trails, massive downhills, cheapskates (they’re exxy for ‘minimalism’, but most are)
Test Conditions: wet trails mostly, fairly soft, with debris, some sand stretches, slippery surfaces, softer forest trails. Approx. 48km (I’m a beginner minimalist!)
Tester: Chris Ord
Tester mechanics: slight pronator, dodgy hip, undergoing treatment for ITB so can be grumpy and blame shoes for bad biomechanics…is minimalist the answer? TBC.
Web: www.merrell.com
RRP: AU$219

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