Shoe Review: BROOKS Cascadia 16










THE BROOKS CASCADIA SHOE HAS BEEN AROUND FOR SOME TIME NOW, and the newest version, the Cascadia 16, has gone through several changes and updates that make it more durable and stable than its predecessors. Known throughout its lineage for adventure versatility, Brooks have increased the stack height by 2mm in the Cascadia 16 to accommodate the new foamy midsole which features DNA Loft v2 technology for a more plush feel underfoot and added comfort.

That being said, I took these snazzy looking trail shoes out on some multi-use trails with dirt, crushed gravel and compact limestone. A completely light build at only 269g (the men’s version weighs 320g), the Cascadia 16 has a 14g variance – in the women’s – from the previous version, and that’s a big change. They were a secure yet light fit for me considering I always run in a wide shoe, and was thoroughly happy with the support provided in thanks to the upper which has been completely reconstructed – including more room in the toe box.

As I concentrated on my toes to see how they were feeling, I took in how much the mesh upper allowed my feet to breath. The flexibility of the material is high quality and incredibly supportive, and I felt that the Cascadia 16 was true to size with great width in the toe box. Any swelling would have well and truly been catered to.

Designed for long runs in mind, the technology used in the Cascadia 16 has kept the reputative durability true to form. The midsole is dense and provides longevity, and as mentioned, features the DNA Loft v2 which through research is said to be 5% softer and 20% lighter than in previous versions. DNA Loft is Brooks’ softest cushioning system that combines ethylene-vinyl acetate, rubber and air (yes, air!) for on demand cushioning and protection from the terrain, and the company says they have found ‘the right amount of soft, with DNA Loft’. Super catchy!

So whilst I gained much comfortable ground, my terrain was not so cushy. The Cascadia 16 outsoles were flawless in grip (made from trail track rubber) and big lugs, providing me with an anchored run on the trails. Brooks have removed any lugs from the midsection though, which may have been a reason behind the decrease in weight, but the elimination of them hasn’t affected their Ballistic Rock Shield plate, a toughened thermoplastic EVA sheath between the outsole and midsole. That system provides protection against sharp objects, and has been featured in the Cascadia series for quite some time now so it’s great to see they haven’t taken it away from the 16 shoe. Heading up the ascents and coming down on the descents, I felt good grip beneath me and didn’t hesitate to go a little faster when I could. With a solid heel and knowing there was a safeguard right at the bottom of my feet, the shoes were sturdy and fit well.

Overall performance for the Cascadia 16 was exceptional, and the design has moved forward with the times, becoming a more modern shoe with impressive angles and sleek construction. I even ran into some trail running friends mid-way on my favourite track, who all looked down when we stopped to chat and exclaimed, ‘Oh, those are the new Cascadias?!’ And after some talk about how they were feeling on my feet, I continued on with the thought about how runners really do love to know what’s out there on the market and get an idea for what will work best for their needs.

The Cascadia 16 shoe is absolutely impressive when it comes to traction, stability and modern design. There’s even a Velcro tab on the back of the heel, hidden of course, to secure any gaiters in place – as minor as it sounds, I love that in a running shoe.

With a mid-drop of 8mm, running in the Cascadia 16 is a combination of balance and sturdiness, where you will dominate all types of terrain. I’ve always run in 8mm shoes, so there was no need to adjust to a different drop, and lacing them up with the stretch woven laces was satisfying – no one likes a stiff lace that won’t reach all the way for a solid heel lock, and there are two options for this thanks to not one, but two extra eyelets. I can confidently say there were no issues for me in this department. I’ve always preferred a heel lock, and find it disruptive to my training when the tension loosens. Brooks are onto a good thing with their eyelets and lace material.

The Cascadia 16 is by the far the best trail shoe out of the series. Personally, I love how protected my feet are when there’s every opportunity of a sharp twig or pebble underfoot, and the cushioning is just something else. Well-designed for all terrain, they come in a range of colours – black/ebony/yucca and aqua/tourmaline/rooibos for women, and oyster/mushroom/orange and yellow/black/grenadine for men.

Brooks has done incredibly well to keep the Cascadia 16 as an honest, reliable and protective shoe.

GREAT FOR: All terrains and most weather conditions. As a high performance trail shoe, it’s suitable for even the most technical environments.
NOT SO GREAT FOR: Wet terrain. The rubber slides slightly on wet surfaces.
TEST CONDITIONS: Multi-use trails with dirt, crushed gravel and compact limestone.
TESTER: Kate Dzienis
TESTER MECHANICS: Severe overpronator with wide feet, usually running in 8mm drop shoes.


RRP: $239.95 AUD / $279.90 NZD
CONDITIONS: Shoes provided for testing by Brooks Running

Trail shoe review: Brooks Caldera

Caldera Crushers: Minimalism is dead? We’re unsure – maybe it’s still on life support waiting for its own next big breath of fresh air (although read If These Shoes Could Talk, final page of ED#22 Trail Run Mag printed edition, and you might argue otherwise). Regardless, the big boys in trail shoe land are certainly putting the max factor back on the table following the tidal wave of fat-bottoms that Hoka had gumption to float into the market with. And – especially among the ultra distance crew – they shouted down the naysayers with stratospheric shoe sales. Point well made.heroImage_caldera

And with cash registers ringing it’s no wonder that other brands are eyeing off the territory, including main players Salomon (its new Sense Pro Max about to hit the scene) and Brooks with its all-new Caldera, already on market.

Now, Brooks’ mainstay trail offering, the much-loved (including by this correspondent) Cascadia is in its eleventh iteration with #12 about to hit the shelves. So something brand-spanking, as opposed to ‘just improved’, is a revelation. And a risk.

Let’s stay with the ultra thematic here, because cushioning is all about the long run, in my opinion. It’s where the additional pillow comes into its own – the long day (and night) of pounding, the eventual flagging of form, the tending to non-technical nature of most (but not all) ultras. Take Australia’s Glasshouse as an example – lots of hard but flat fire trail. Even something like the Alpine 100, as rough underfoot as it can be, has long stretches of predictability on the trail. This is terrain that the Caldera will eat up.

A light shoe (283gm) for its visual bulk, the Caldera is silk and plush at first put on. A quick trot around makes you swoon just a little. Now, the upfront caveat is the horses for courses one: if you’re a minimalist or low ride runner, you’ll not like these off the bat. You’ll feel inches taller, but a tad unstable if you are used to your underfoot being closer to the earth. For those who run more traditional to maximalist shoes, continue swooning.110242_075_t_ZM

Perhaps where the Brooks edges out the traditional Hoka somewhat (not including the Speed Instinct reviewed in the last edition) is in it being not a super stretch away from a traditional shoe and so there’s less to get used to in terms of altered ride. If you’re a Cascadia fan but want more cushion, these could be for you.

I’m more a 4-6mm, low ride fan, but even I was enjoying rolling these through the bush on first wear test. Perhaps that’s because they ARE 4mm drop, with a nice rocker for a good transition through the strike, with excellent bound.

Inside the midsole, the Caldera is well-heeled with BioMoGo DNA, which is the Brooks technology designed to provide a noticeable energy return. It certainly helps keeps these spritelier underfoot that you’d think.TRM Web Banner

The all-new last is snug in the midfoot and wider in the fore. This is the root of the shoe’s double edged sword: great for fatter feet, as plenty of room to fill up front, and even for those less chubby planks, an ultra will have your feet swelling so it’s good to have the room. The downside is that forefoot space matched to a higher stack (25mm heel, 21mm forefoot) means there is opportunity for lateral movement if you don’t fill the hold, which is partly why on technical twisty trails, there is opportunity for some disconcerting roll over, particularly when cornering tightly.

The all-around outsole features semi-soft rubber with 3-3.5-mm multi-directional, hexagon-inspired lugs, which perform best on rocky surfaces and hard packed ground. Even with the fat underneath, the shoes are responsive although obviously the earth-feel is dulled to a degree with the maxi-cushioning. No getting away from that if this is the style shoe you want.Screenshot 2017-02-07 15.42.34

Small add-on features include a lace garage, true gussets, and a rear gaiter tab – these being a good choice for those long hard desert ultras that require protection. A double mesh upper keeps the grit out but has enough breathability to not cook your feet.

The Caldera is what I’d call a versatile, everyday maximalist shoe ideal for long running, on terrain that tends more to the predictable (read not too tight and technical). Ultra runs where the pace is down and the course is less liable to bite at you – perfect. Short, sharp speed trail races where the course twists, turns, and rips up at your feet with roacky, rooty stuff? These aren’t the ideal choice with some stability issues up front. That said, if the next iteration lowers the lace cage down the foot a little, allowing a more secure hold of the forefoot, and somehow makes the forefoot squish a little more stable, these could also eat up that technical terrain.


Great for: ultras, maximalists, heel strikers, hard deserts, multidays, (long) road to trail
Not-so-great for: minimalists, tight cornering, technical trails
Test Conditions: mix of singletrack, technical, fire roads, approx. 45km
Tester: Chris Ord, Trail Run Mag editor
Tester Mechanics: mid foot striker, tends to more technical style running
RRP: $245.95
Conditions: shoes were provided for wear test by Brooks Running

This review first appeared in Trail Run Mag Edition #22, available in print via subscription, or these awesome specialist trail run retailers

Block Brands

Bhutan 2017



Shoe review: Brooks Cascadia 11

In past reviews of the Cascadia, I have been highly complimentary of the model. After all, it was the shoe – out of the box – that got me through my very first trail marathon in the Blue Mountains.893828

Back then (Cascadia 4 I believe), the shoe was a little more minimal. It still had the bulldozer-like qualities that all Cascadias have delivered, ready to roll through any bush terrain no matter the beef, but the V4 certainly had no puppy fat, especially on the upper, which had a sleek lightweight mesh and only the bare necessities of padding.

Trot forward a fair few years and seven iterations, and the Cascadia has lost none of its prowess along technical trails, but seems to have put on a little around its middle (Men’s 329g). The upper is now quite plush with padding, with a thicker tongue (unfortunately not gusseted).

The improvements over the V10 are focused on increasing durability to minimize some upper-tearing issues found in its predecessor. A tight-weave mesh layer has been added over the medial midfoot support webbing to prevent debris from getting between the webbing and underlying mesh. This makes the shoe more robust and – great for colder conditions – a little more insulated, too.

Some of the beef is of course in the technology. Like a recipe for a finely crafted trail delicacy, Brooks lists: BioMoGo DNA midsole, which “provides adaptive cushioning”; a 4-Point Pivot System “gives you ultimate control” (I reckon there is no shoe in the world that magically gives a two-left footed klutz ‘ultimate control’ and a root popping up out of nowhere will fell the most deft footed, but let’s say this 4-pivot gives some semblance of ‘better’ control, ‘ultimate’ being marketing waffle); a full-length Segmented Crash Pad “allows smooth transitions”, something we found – especially as you get tired and form falls – does give true benefit; and forefoot Ballistic Rock Shield which “adds extra protection” – true although from bullets and projectiles as the word ‘ballistic’ implies…(waves disapproving finger at marketing types yet again)?Mt Buller

The last has been narrowed a smidge from past Cascadias – potentially an issue for big foots, but I wouldn’t say it is totally slim-line, rather it sits in a sweet spot for most. Nevertheless, the midfoot is cosier than previous, giving great foot-hold when cornering tight bends. It may be too claustrophobic for some, however.

A 10mm heel drop places these firmly in traditionalist territory, a good thing for those coming across from the road to get dirty. They will feel more like a traditional tarmac warrior on the foot, the runner sitting higher in the heel. Heel lift from a low profile heel cup is remedied with an extra lace eyelet to tighten the ship.

In terms of ride, Cascadia falls into the centre point of the bell shaped curve of cushion. As listed, there’s a decent stack underneath you, giving superb protection and good cushion for long runs, however it is not quite a springy touchdown, either. That’s neither bad or good, it just depends on how much trail feel you prefer. Less cushioning means (usually) more feedback from the ground allowing better responsiveness. The Cascadias sit somewhere in between – a good balance perhaps – the thicker sole unit armed with the aforementioned BiMoGo and ‘Ballistic’ rated rock plate. It has to be said that a strength of these shoes is no matter what the trail throws at you (or shoots at you according to the marketing nomenclature bods), these will handle with aplomb. Putting them on, I always imagine the bomb disposal veteran William James in The Hurt Locker, climbing into his protective suit before heading off to face-off against a tide of explosives. We all know trail running “ain’t no war” – far from it – but feeling you are at least numbed from those little mini-explosions going off underfoot can be comfort for some trailites.

The lacing system is a little unusual in that the first rows are traditional but the third comes across the foot slightly to the outside. This is a love it / hate it thing that does give more stability and hold across the top of the foot. For some it is too tight a hold.

Overall, for the runner who wants total confidence in running gnarly trails, the Cascadia offers top-shelf performance. The feel is firm, fairly responsive, yet protective and, despite its beef still decently agile. It’s not for short and fast racers – it’s a bit heavy and slow on the turnover, and not for plush maximalist runners either as it is not the squishiest thing on hard packed surfaces and on downhill heel strikes. But just like James was addicted to the buzz of a blow up, the ability the Cascadias have to disarm any technical trail will have you coming back for more, bigger and badder trails than ever before.


Great for: grip, technical trails, mountain trails, longer runs, runners transitioning from road
Not-so-great for: minimalists, ground feel, fat feet
Test Conditions: super technical singletrack, some fire roads, approx. 125km
Tester: Chris Ord, Trail Run Mag editor
Tester Mechanics: mid foot striker, tends to more technical style running
RRP: $239.95

THIS SHOE REVIEW WAS PUBLISHED IN EDITION#20 of TRAIL RUN MAG along with plenty more shoe, gear and trail guide reviews, all available for FREE! Download your pdf copy HERE

Screenshot 2016-04-11 21.50.21


SHOE REVIEW: Brooks Cascadia of dreams

TRM reviews the tenth iteration of Brooks‘ persistent, consistent performer, the Cascadia. This review appears along with more shoe and gear guides (and plenty more trail porn) in the current edition of Trail Run Mag (17) available for FREE DOWNLOAD, here.

 In Nigeria, a tenth birthday is considered an extremely special event. It warrants a huge party and a feast of an entire roasted cow or goat.

Well, bring out the goat! For here’s a tenth birthday worth a herd of them, that of the Brooks Cascadia 10.

Throughout its junior iterations, the Cascadia has always been a solid child of the trail, maturing well with each year. As Brooks found its feet in the trail running world, the Cacadia became stronger, lighter, faster, and grippier but retained the DNA of a consistently high end and, importantly, all-round performer.

It is perhaps also the only trail shoe that has had the confidence to remain true to itself buy hanging on through ten rounds (we know of no other trail shoe that is at iteration number ten!). As noted in past reviews, sometimes that means a shoe that has become mutton dressed up as lamb. Not in this case. Brooks has done the sensible thing and never really waded in with big scale changes, rather it has tinkered, tailored and finessed along the way, meaning the tenth edition is, I believe, the best edition of all to date.brooks-cascadia-10-110187-1d413

The changes this time around are rooted in a retooling of the outsole and the upper.

Down low, the lugs have been reduced for an ever so refined experience delivering more versatility on different terrains and a more responsive ride.

The Cascadia remains a bit of a bulldozer ride in that it floats over anything you throw at it, with a hefty undercarriage – a 10mm heel-toe drop and thick midsole means it’s no adherent to the minimalist movement. Regardless, the ride is actually quite nimble on the foot, placing this shoe very much in that sweet spot midrange of shoes suitable for most trail runners, from back of pack to the pointy end. I also place this shoe squarely in the zone for ‘adventure runners’ – those who like to run in wild places for the hell of it where the terrain is unknown and you best be prepared for anything and everything.

In general I prefer a 4-6mm drop, yet I still find this shoe an excellent option when I know the terrain is going to get knarly, the run is going to be longer, and I’m feeling like a bit more protection underfoot.

The upper now features an ever-so slightly asymmetrical design in order to lock down the foot better, continuing with the move to a more self-assured ride. The general fit on the inside if comfortable, with an average size toe box that will accommodate all but the heftiest of widths. The arch has more support for those that prefer it. I did suffer a slight hot spot on the front ball, but it quickly disappeared with repeated outings.

For me, the Cascadia is all about delivering a ride superior to most, and the 4-point pivot posts in the outer design is the equivalent of a SUV’s independent suspension system. It is based around a decoupled outsole around the four pivots, maximising impact function and adaptability as your foot strikes on uneven terrain. The result is a more stable landing and assured rebound.  heroImage_cascadia

The Cascadias have always been excellent on the protection front, a Ballistic Rock Shield protecting from sharp and nasties, while the Brooks BioMoGo DNA cushioning midsole giving some plushness without getting sloppy.

If one had to pick and niggle at the Cascadia, its only downfall is a slightly heavier and bulkier mass on the foot, which numbs the agility a smidge for the short, go-fast style of running. This is nothing beyond the pale, however, and only noted in the context of the current crop of super-lightweight, super-fast models on market these days, mostly aimed at the elite runners, not the Average Joe dirt raker.

In the long and more brutal mountain runs, the Cascadia’s beef and support will actually assist you.

The grip has been toned down some, but seems to have lost none of its bite, rather just extended the shoe’s range of suitable terrains to pretty much anything.

Essentially this is one of the most versatile trail shoes on the market, able to run smoothly over mild trails and dirt paths but also hold its own over super gnarly terrain. Even extending to landscapes a (mountain) goat would love. On that note, maybe we leave off roasting the poor goat to celebrate this tenth edition, and instead just go for a run with it in the mountains in Nigeria (yes, it has some)? Ten is after all, a special number there and traditions must be upheld in some fashion or other.

TAKEOUTS: Brooks Cascadia 10
Great for: all variety of trails, especially serious mountain and long runs, grip, comfort
Not-so-great for: minimalists, lightweight freaks and short, sharp, speedy runs
Test Conditions: Technical and non technical single track with a smattering of fire road, 94km
Tester: Chris Ord, Trail Run Mag editor
Tester Mechanics: mid foot striker, tends to more technical style running routes, mostly 15-30km range outings.
RRP: AUD $239.95


Mt Buller

REVIEW: Brooks Pure Grit 3

samuelcostin_20140728_06GRIT FOR GRIME >> Brooks Pure Grit 3

Ask and thy shall receive. Not necessarily because anyone is listening. Just because sometimes the Gods of Iteration get it right.

In previous reviews I’ve been complimentary about Brooks Cascadia and Pure Grit models, with some minor gripes.  If you combined the general gist of my opinion on past outings of both models, the thematic would be that they needed to be whacked into a blender together, and hopefully the alchemy that transpired would result in the best aspects of each shoe being combined into a super model.

Well, abracadabra, alchemy-do: the Brooks boffins have attained a level of sorcery here with the third outing of the Pure Grit. The result is an almost perfect balance of robust, dozer-like performance with biting grip (Cascadia gene-pool there) together with light, go-fast, low heel-toe drop, natural ride performance and comfort (Pure Grit parentage shining through).

The shoe is sporting the Pure Grit badge, not Cascadia, so the architecture remains true to the Pure Grit philosophy of being a transitional-minimalist shoe with low profile ride (4mm drop), and a good amount of cushion.

Pure Grit (1 of 1) medThis model has lost the toe-splay that came online more prominently in the Pure Grit 2, reverting to a traditional toe-sole design (with good protection), however the splay remains in place at the rear (to what end I am still unsure) and, interestingly, on the outer side at midfoot.

The outsole is in fact the most obvious design change to the eye: much more aggressive than its predecessor with hexagonal lugs interspersed with perpendicular gutters up front and parallel gutter up the mid to outside rear. The gutters seem to allow the outersole to flex in advantageous spots underneath your foot, allowing for a more natural movement and response. Indeed while the lugs are grippier, I found the Grit 3 more tactile on the ground with much better feedback to rough trails. And of course it delivered more confidence on the rough stuff that the 2s.

The addition of a forefoot rockplate also brings with it better protection (but again, did not seem to dull the feedback from the ground). This allows the Pure grit to get stuck into much rougher terrain than the previous model could cope with, broadening its trail-type coverage. Indeed a run through the highly technical Grampians range in Victoria, Australia, where underfoot is a chameleon journey of rock, roots, mud, moss and everything in between, had the Pure grits performing like a greyhound on heat. Only I was the one panting, like I couldn’t keep up with them. They were perfectly matched to the technical terrain.

My other beef on the previous Pure Grits (2) was an upper that seemed to allow my foot too much movement internally, which meant increased instability when hoofing it around corners. Super dangerous in territory such as the Grampians. This model goes a long way to rectifying the upper fit, with a traditional tongue in lieu of what was a critic-polarizing wrap design, giving better hold up top.  The lace opening remains off centre but not by much – essentially the tweaks made have worked to lock down my foot in comfort and security.

The upper wicks well up front with a mesh-style fabric, however does hold a little moisture up back with more materials built into the heel and ankle holds. Nothing that doesn’t dry out eventually though.

The colourways – which have absolutely nothing to do with performance so really who cares – are on the lairy side and up for taste critiques: all subjective. Get it dirty and no-one will notice the psychedelia.

The shoe won’t please those who were looking perhaps for more refinement leading towards the minimalist tendency: essentially this is a beefed-up Pure Grit designed to appeal more to the middle market experimenting with going low profile, rather than appeasing purists who may have been looking for a further stripped back version of Pure Grip 2.

But for this mid-pack punter, the middle ground has been an improvement. Now if I could just get it in black.

TAKE OUTS Brooks Pure Grit 3
Great for: gnarly, technical trails, mountain running, transitioning to minimalist
No so great for: mud, icy  spots, slick rock
Test conditions: a mix of mild and super techy trails usually in damp and wet condition; Grampians National Park, Surf Coast trails. Approx 120km.
Tester: Chris Ord
Tester mechanics: slight pronator, mid foot striker, stiff hip flexors, prone to injury!

VITALS: RRP$ 199.95


Trail Run Fest returns: entries open

IMG_7826_low2Following a highly successful inaugural event earlier this year, the acclaimed Brooks Trail Run Festival will return to the flanks of Mount Baw Baw on the 8-10 March long weekend in 2014, with entries to the three day celebration of off-road running now open.

A unique three day outing on the trail running event calendar, the Brooks Trail Run Festival is the only trail event that combines a fantastic line-up of competitive runs with plenty of off-trail activities in the form of seminars, presentations and trail running films along with a uniquely social atmosphere, with most participants staying for the duration in Baw Baw village accommodation.

IMG_0724_lower“We want to not only showcase what we believe to be some of the best single-track running there is to be had in the country,” says Event Director, Grant Seamer, “but also to celebrate the holistic aspects of the trail running lifestyle and the passion people have for it as their chosen sport. With that in mind we will be jamming the event program with a bunch of great activities from technical training sessions to nutrition seminars, inspirational talks and trail running films.”

For competitive trail runners out to make their mark, there will be a cash purse on offer of $1000 – one of the largest in Australian trail running, paid to the Brooks King and Queen of the Mountain title-winners. To be eligible, runners must participate in the Walhalla to Mount Baw Baw Marathon on the first day, and then choose from a 12km night or 12km day run the next day and then vie to be the fastest free mountain runner in the 1.5km technical downhill and uphill challenges on the final day.

IMG_0908 -lower“Of course, while we expect to see some of Australia’s best trail runners shoot for the money and glory, the event is first and foremost about enjoyment of running in mountains, so people can enter as many or as few events as they like: there is also a half marathon that is 99% singletrack, and a 3km kids and family fun run. Or people can just come up to watch some of the action – the free mountain running is spectator friendly being so short, sharp and spectacular – and maybe join in some of the break out sessions,” says Seamer.

The Brooks Trail Run Festival will again feature a line-up of Australia’s best competitive and adventure runners presenting and offering advice on mountain, with notables yet to be announced.

Says Brooks runner and event ambassador, adventure runner Samantha Gash (pictured running in the inaugural event, below right).

“The Inaugural Brooks Trail Run Fest ranks up there on one of my most enjoyable trail running weekends I have had. The energy of the whole weekend was extremely positive and uplifting, as not only did we have plenty of time to race hard but the three day format allowed everyone to get to know each other on a social level – which is part of the beauty of the trail running community in particular, it’s very welcoming and I think the Festival epitomises that.  It’s definitely one to prioritise for the 2014 running calendar.”

Affordable self-catering accommodation is available on the mountain, with runners able to enjoy the benefit of having comfortable lodgings to rest and recuperate all within a few hundred metres of the finishing line. Also on mountain is a bar, café and restaurant, along with an Adventure Hub store, all open throughout the weekend.

Families will be catered for with a jumping castle and other kids’ activities to keep them amused while Mum or Dad runs, and there’s plenty else to keep everyone happy including mountain bike hire (XC and downhill, selected times) and of course walks, including to the summit of Mount Baw Baw for spectacular views across the Gippsland valley.

Information at: (Events)

Brooks Trail Run Festival

Saturday 8 – Monday 10 March (public holiday long weekend)

Confirmed line-up (more to be announced)


  • Marathon – Walhalla to Baw Baw village, 43km
  • Half Marathon – Mt Erica Car Park – Baw Baw village, 21.5km
  • + seminars and activities


  • 12km day run
  • 12km night run
  • 3km kids and family fun run
  • + seminars and activities


  • 1.5km free mountain technical run descent
  • 1.5km free mountain technical run ascent
  • + presentations

Entries are now open at:
Information at: (Events)

Shoe review: Brooks PureGrit2

Grit and bare it? Happily says TRM Editor, Chris Ord, who finds the new PureGrit2 trail shoes from Brooks remain well within the comfort zone.

“The Brooks Pure Grit 2 is the best trail running shoe I’ve had the pleasure of running on”.

That’s not me. That’s the Running Shoes Guru speaking (

For my money, he’s not 100% on the money, but my foot is different to his. That said, and (assumed) anatomical differences aside, he’s still about 89% correct. The Pure Grit 2 runs a damn fine performance on any form of flowing dirt and is up there with some of the best on offer in the low heel-to-toe drop sphere (4mm in this case).

First impressions centre on fit and comfort. The shoe molds snugly to the foot and the asymmetrical upper and lace system better distributes pressures on the top of the foot as it motions through strike. This design factor is evident and equally impressive on the new Brooks Cascadia 8s (reviewed here), although the Grit 2s add in an elastic band, which does, well, look good if nothing else.

You’ll immediately note the cushioning as super plush, especially for a minimalist shoe, yet it’s not at the expense of trail feel, which remains precise. The concave sole (running the width of the foot) adds to this ever so, working like a flexed spring, to splay out on each impact.

Following complaints with Pure Grit mark one that grip was appalling, Brooks claims that it has imbued the Son Of with a new, more aggressive outsole featuring multi-directional lug pattern. Aggressive is a stretch – while I can’t compare and contrast to the previous model (online reports seem to indicate this version is definitely grippier) – I would say the earth-suck is middling, with traction lost on fast, winding forays on gravel and loose dirt, while mud renders them skates.

Toe protection is mid-weight but sufficient and the toe groove cut form the front sole gives a little independence to the big toe from its smaller brethren, again adding a pinkie’s worth to trail feel.

The upper is light and breathable, although this has a downside – the structure of the upper is so barely there that for me, when on super twisty trails, my foot would slide over the footbed given any sideways momentum meaning my confidence to whip through fast flat corners suffered.

Where the Pure Grit 2s really shine, however, is in general comfort. They also suit those wanting to transition across to a lower heel-toe ratio, as the heel is soft enough to take a heel strike as you tire and your form fades.

I’d rate them as a great door to trail option and perfect for a runner wanting minimalist heel-to-toe with some rebound for longer training runs on non to semi-technical terrain. When the going gets really rough, I’d prefer to run the Cascadia 8s. Perhaps Brooks can consider a flatter-heeled Cascadia as a perfect middle ground?

RRP: $199.95

Great for: door to trail, runners transitioning to minimalist heel-to-toe drops

Not so great for: hardcore technical trails

Test conditions: mostly singletrail, soft to firm, some graded track, technical, rocky, 135km+

Tester: Chris Ord

Tester mechanics: Mid-foot strike. Slight pronator. Prefers minimal shoes, but technical trail.

A dirty art: trail running*

I look at the large format canvas in front of me and ponder.

richard painting in the field

I guess I’m supposed to be pondering the way the artist has captured the light, the technique to be admired in the brushstrokes, what the scene – of a swathe of earth near Tibooburra located at the remote intersection of the Victorian, South Australian and Queensland state borders – makes me feel.

I’ll tell you what it makes me feel: like I want to go run it. I want to jump into that canvas and run through the brushstrokes, explore the terrain the artist has captured for the ‘cultural crowd’ that mills around musing, supping champers, demolishing cheese platters and generally engaging in discourse that has absolutely nothing to do with running whatsoever and is never likely to (judging by the a few of the postures and paunches pontificating around the room).

Anyway, I’m here, in amidst this arty crowd and all I can think of is trail running the lands that the three artists on show have captured. Stick with me here, there’s a parallel between the art world and ours.

One of the artists is revered Gippslander, Gary Miles. His son, Beau, just happens to be the first person to have successfully run the length of the Australian Alpine Walking Trail. He’s the reason I’m here – Beau is showing his film of that feat up at the Brooks Trail Run Fest, happening on Mount Baw Baw, and which I am curating (oh, such an artsy term).  Beau is also tapping back in to his Dad’s talent with his hands, rather than his feet, these coming days as he turns some wood medallions for some of the event winners at Baw Baw.  I happen to be staying at his rural property on the way up the mountain and so I find myself here at the art showing. Beau apologies for dragging me along, but I don’t mind in the slightest.

Screen shot 2013-03-25 at 2.23.18 PMIn the speeches, each artist talks about camping, heading off to explore the landscapes they were there to paint, to ‘experience’ them as a human beings, to discover their ‘essence’ in order to capture it in oil daubs.

All I can think of is that while they experience with a pure purpose to go and bottle that earth up and explode it onto canvas to share, with all their artful perception of it, we trail runners go one step further, to the detriment of the ‘sharing’.

We run it. We don’t bottle it, capture it, represent it or ever try to control its ever-changing light. We are artists of movement through our subject, and the art only ever lasts each split moment, in each distinct step.

We leave our art on the trail (maybe where it belongs?).

Sure, we can talk about it when we get back. I’m now blabbering to anyone who will listen about the light up on the ridges between Mount Erica and Mt St Gwinear after marking the marathon course between Walhalla and Mount Baw Baw.

But can we ever truly show it to anyone, the way an artist can? Can we drag the beauty out of the bush and do any kind of justice to it?

But in that lies magic. The magic of a moment experienced and felt never to be replicated nor, really, shared off trail.

The true art of trail running is to be in that moment. And let it seep onto your inner canvas.

(And then, perhaps, pontificate about that moment to a willing – or glazed eyed – audience. There.  There’s the parallel to the art world.)

Your artsy-fartsy editor, Chris Ord

*This is the AU Ed’s editorial from the latest edition of Trail Run Mag.



Trail Run Fest crowns King and Queen

Mount Baw Baw in Victoria crowned its first King and Queen of the Mountain this long weekend with two of Australia’s best trail runners putting in a tour de force on the singletrack over three days of competition at the inaugural Brooks Trail Run Festival.

The female all-mountain event title went to Gippsland local, Traralgon resident Kylie Murray, who won the marathon and 12km trail runs along with third and fourth placings in the 1.5km free mountain ascent and descent technical runs, which rounded off the festival Monday morning.

The inaugural King of the Mountain male title went to ultraIMG_0277 trail champion Matt Cooper, of Berowa, NSW. Cooper took a clean sweep winning the marathon, the daytime 12km and the free mountain runs.

Competitors first gathered on Saturday in the historic mining township of Walhalla to kick off the first ever Brooks Trail Run Fest with a marathon effort on a course that is now being rated as one of the toughest on the marathon trail calendar. Runners tracked along the old tramline before dropping to cross the Thompson River and then climbing two big ascents to top out on Mount Erica. Running through pristine snowgum country they weaved across the plateau before dropping back into the Baw Baw Village finish line.

Pushing Murray to the limit in the women’s marathon was Australia’s best adventure and obstacle racer, Deanna Blegg, who took second place followed by one of the nation’s best trail runners in Nikki Wynd. In the men’s, Cooper’s 4hr 14 run was pushed by notable Russian adventure racer Sergey Kurov just over six minutes in arrears followed by Geelong-based mutisporter Darren Clarke in third.

IMG_0535Murray took her marathon title in 4hrs 54min, a time impressive enough to have her across the line as fourth overall runner.

In the half marathon event spectators caught glimpse of a future star of the trail with 18 year old Warragul runner Joel Claxton taking out the win in  2hrs 5min on a technically challenging course that threatened ankles and brutalised knees for the length of the course.

Five minutes behind Claxton was Simon Forbes in second place and Gordon Meredith in third.

In the women’s, Ireland’ s Meadhbh (May-ve) Bolger took her first half marathon title, with Kathryn Hildern and Claire Issell claiming podium places.

With plenty more trail running on the roster for the weekend, competitors, friends and family settled in on Saturday night for a special film presentation by adventure runner, Jindivick resident Beau Miles. The Gippslander showed his film Trial of Miles: Running the Australia Alpine Walking Track on the two year anniversary of his feat.

Sunday saw the mountain abuzz again as runners tackled first a 12km day trail run, a six kilometer kids fun run and 12km nighttime trail run.

Hundreds of runners and spectators enjoyed three days of festivities on Mount Baw Baw in what organisers expect to grow into Australia’s biggest celebration of off road running.

IMG_0197“We hope this weekend was memorable for all runners,” says Event Director Grant Seamer. “Our aim was to create a program of running for all levels of abilities, to attract families and kids to have a go at trail running and to present plenty of inspiration in the form of films and information sessions exploring the culture of mountain and trail running.”

Competitors were also treated to a presentation by two of Australia’s most notable adventure runners in Samantha Gash and Richard Bowles, along with a masterclass in technical hill running by the eventual King of the Mountain winner Matt Cooper.

Mount Baw Baw has taken a lead in creating an all-new format event for the trail running community. Specifically, the ‘free mountain’ technical downhill and uphill runs over a 1.5km/400m descent/ascent course are the first to be offered in Australia, bringing a Euro-style competitive element to the traditionally longer form trail run event roster.

The Brooks Trail Run Festival will be a regular feature on the trail calendar, taking place on Victoria’s Labour Day long weekend every year. Entries and accommodation bookings for the 2014 festival will open in September.

Full results for festival events at:

 IMG_4163JOIN: the Brooks Trail Run Fest Facebook Group to see more images from the event, competitor feedback and ongoing news on the 2014 Brooks Trail Run Fest.



Brooks joins ambassadors to headline Baw Baw Trail Run Fest

TRAIL RUN FEST _ LOGO _ SHIELD ONLYBrooks Running has bolstered its support for the trail running community with the announcement that it has confirmed a partnership to inaugurate the Brooks Trail Run Festival taking place in Victoria on 9-11 March, 2013.

The announcement comes atop news that two of Australia’s best known adventure runners, Richard Bowles and Samantha Gash, have also been appointed as official ambassadors.The pair have both recently come off record-breaking runs, Bowles recently completing the double of being the first to run Australia’s Bicentennial National Trail and New Zealand’s Te Araroa Track, a combined total of more than 8,000km.

Samantha Gash, a Brooks-supported runner known for being the youngest and first female to complete all of the 4Deserts multiday adventure runs, most recently became the youngest Australian to run non-stop across the Simpson Desert, battling sleep deprivation and dingo packs in the name of charity.

Both runners have big expeditions planned in the near future, but will first line up for the inaugural Brooks Trail Run Festival. The pair will be among many vying to become the first inaugural King and Queen of the Mountain, a quest that will see competitors run a total of 57km over three days, beginning with a marathon from the historic gold mining township of Walhalla and finishing on Mt Baw Baw.

They will then choose from a 12km daytime run or a 12km night time run the following day, wrapping up with two short, technical 1.5km ‘free mountain’ runs on the public holiday Monday morning.

IMG_2470 med copyOther competitors may cherrypick from the half marathon, one of the 12km events or a five kilometre fun run/walk in which children, families and those new to trail running are encouraged to join the singletrack action.

“The festival line-up is a great concept,” says Bowles, who usually avoids competitive races, but considers the long weekend outing more of an adventure that happens to be organized with live music at the finishline.

“The marathon route is bound to be an instant classic and a must-do on the trail running scene, being the majority of it runs along the iconic Australian Alpine Walking Track,” says Bowles. “I’ve already run the course as a recce and it is a simply stunning course that really puts you smack in quintessential Aussie wilderness. Of course, the difference from my usual expedition runs is that at Mount Baw Baw there’s a spa, restaurant, bar and comfy bed waiting for me at the end!”

For her part, Samantha Gash is looking forward to the festival atmosphere and entertainment between events as much as the runs themselves, with a film night and trail specific information sessions planned.

“In particular it will be interesting to see who shows for the short, sharp free mountain runs, which puts people smashing down a 1.5km technical course over obstacles and a 400-metre descent. Talk about fast and furious. And then, after a short rest, they have to run back up it again – it adds a whole new dimension that we haven’t seen on the Australian trail running circuit before,” said Sam, who will back up her on course efforts with an inspirational talk and Q&A session.

IMG_2552 medGash will have some stiff competition for her tilt at Queen of the Mountain with news that Victorian gun trail runner Nikki Wynd will also be on mountain.

Mount Baw Baw’s Events Manager, Grant Seamer, says the festival is specifically designed to cater to all levels of run fitness and aptitude.

“We want to offer something for everyone and build a true celebration of the sport of trail running of the community that has grown up around it in Australia . And we also happen to think that we have some of the best terrain a trail runner could wish for up here, and plenty to do for supporters, friends and family tagging along, so it’ll make for a great weekend outing.

“We’re proud to welcome Richard and Sam to the Baw Baw family and appreciate their involvement given their massive running experience. Richard has already been up a few times to continue his scouting and training on the trails and Sam ran in our Seasons of Pain event a few weekends back, and both have offered great feedback on the pure quality of trail running on the mountain.”

Mount Baw Baw is putting on a free return bus service from Melbourne CBD, stopping at major eastern suburban centres en route to the mountain on the Friday afternoon prior to the event weekend.

“We want to make it as easy as possible to get to the event and also create a unique social vibe where people share their experiences and love of trail running.”

Entries are now open at:

The full festival line up includes:

Saturday 9 March

>> 42.2km Trail Marathon, Walhalla to Mt Baw Baw

>> 21km half marathon (a bus will take runners from Mt Baw Baw to Walhalla / Mt Erica on Saturday morning or runners can make their own way to the start lines)

>> Film Premiere: 100 Reasons – Running The North Face 100.

Sunday 10 March

>>12km trail run

>>5km fun run/walk

>>12km night trail run

>>presentations, information and technique sessions to be announced.

Monday 11 March

>>1.5km downhill mountain run

>>1.5km uphill mountain run

+ Presentations

Baw Baw Alpine Resort  will be offering a FREE bus service from Melbourne CBD on Friday afternoon stopping at the following locations on the way to Baw Baw! Seats are limited. If runners would like to take advantage of this please add the FREE BUS to your entry order online. The bus will return on Monday afternoon after presentations. Stopping at: Southern Cross Station + Caulfield Station + Dandenong Station + Warragul Station + Trafalgar Station + Traralgon Station. Timings to be confirmed.

For inquiries please call: (03) 5165 1136