Move It Or Lose It












As kids, we learn that ‘movement’ is associated with one of two things – competition or exercise, and we never really good a full understanding about how we can continue to incorporate daily incidental movement into our lives. The North Face athlete Paige Penrose, a trail runner currently studying and racing in cross country and track & field, provides a detailed contribution on the importance of keeping people included in everyday activities because as she writes…‘Unless you’re fortunate to land in a family that incorporates movement without thought into daily life, it quickly becomes dependent on participation in specialised programs that direct you into development pathways and competition structure.’


“Sport? Why would I play sport? That’s something kids do.”

Those words have played on my mind ever since my mother uttered them when reflecting on a patient’s response to her suggestion of incorporating daily movement into their lifestyles. At the time, I didn’t think I liked sport; or more to the point, I didn’t think I was good at it. I never considered myself to be one of the ‘sporty kids’. In hindsight, I also went to a very small primary school where at least one kid from each year group was competing at a national level in something. Perhaps not a fair relative baseline from which to assess my abilities.

I didn’t know what to do with those words and despite not allowing myself the label of being a ‘sporty kid’, I remember thinking ‘Well, thank goodness I’m still a kid’.

When I started high school, the incidental movement and games that occupied every morning tea and lunch break in primary school abruptly disappeared in place of small huddles of cross legged conversation. While the school didn’t have space for big fields, we had a basketball court and our back gate opened onto a sizable public reserve. Still, 1200 girls remained seated, enthralled in the often inconsequential topic of the day, or month if it was a particularly salty season of life.

We had sport once a fortnight. When you reached Year 11, things got serious. Perhaps when we needed it most, the designated sports period of our timetables was replaced by class or free periods for study. We were to fully dedicate ourselves to the HSC, which I haven’t thought about since the day I finished it. So much for the grandeurs it was depicted to carry, that my entire schooling was to lead to.

We had sports teams. You could play soccer, netball, hockey, touch football, athletics among others, but were you at a state representative level already to warrant a place on the team? No? Too bad.

Very, very quickly almost all forms of movement came to serve one of two purposes. Competition or exercise. We heard about keeping an active lifestyle and maintaining our wellbeing as school and life became more and more stressful. But how do you do that? What is wellbeing? What does my body say? What do I feed it? How do I move it?  


Shoe Review: The North Face Enduris 3












Hot off the press, this shoe is part of The North Face’s latest line-up, a star studded bunch that was tested at UTMB by top athletes and amateurs alike. I haven’t experienced their shoes until now, but given the brand is synonymous with quality outdoor gear, my expectations are high. I still remember how stoked I was about receiving a TNF jumper hand-me down as a kid…and I’m pretty sure my younger cousin now wears it.

According to their website, this third version of the Vectiv Enduris is all about versatility, balanced stability, cushioning and traction. With this in mind, I went out and pounded the pavement, ran some trails, and heck, even dragged them along to the gym a handful of times.

In terms of feel, I’m a sucker for a more minimalist shoe and the Vectiv Enduris are by no means a barefoot shoe. With that said, I gradually warmed to its generous cushioning. The 31mm/25mm stack height feels really supportive and has a springiness that I’m not used to (plus it doesn’t cook your achilles or calves). I also noticed its generous toe box, something that a lot of brands are starting to catch on to, with this model genuinely letting your feet splay and grip the trails when necessary. It took me a few jogs to get used to the Enduris’ high cushion but once acclimated I actually surprised myself, describing them to a friend as ‘damn comfy’. First box: ticked.

‘How are the Enduris performance-wise?’ the same mate asks me. The short answer? Solid. The longer answer? Solid with a caveat. Let me explain.

As the most approachable and beginner-friendly shoes of the TNF line, their purpose isn’t to be flogged or redline on a speed 25k or 50k trial race. Instead, their objective is as an all-rounder, and who doesn’t love an all-rounder? After a few weeks of becoming acquainted, I found myself nonchalantly wearing this pair all over the shop. If you really want to scream ‘I’m a runner!’ to the world, I suggest wearing the neon colourway to your local gym.

Bonus points if you wear skimpy split shorts as well.

Jokes aside, the Enduris 3 held up just fine during my sets of calf raises, Olympic lifts and plyometrics. Side note: If you’re a more experienced runner looking for a high performance shoe, I’d go for something like the Vectiv Sky or Vectiv Pro (both pairs are carbon plated).

By now, I’ve hopefully insinuated that the versatility on the Enduris 3 is epic! I tested these on slow road runs and also picked up the pace on non-technical trails. For context, the longest trot I took them on was 22k, and by the end of it I felt like I was gliding on clouds (more on this in tech specs below). The verdict though? They held up considerably better than I’d anticipated and felt easy to run in.

Here’s the low-down on the shoe’s tech specifications. First things first, they’re quite light compared to similarly cushioned shoes from competing brands (Men’s 307g, Women’s 257g). The 6mm drop remains the same as previous models of the Enduris, however notable changes include an extra 2mm of stack with a revised EVA formula and a more comfortable overall design. The rockered midsole is definitely a highlight, ‘delivering forward propulsion’ according to TNF. I was initially sceptical about this feature, but found that once I got in the groove on a run, the rocker genuinely did its job, propelling me forward and making things feel easy (also referred to as ‘gliding on clouds’, patent pending).

The outsole carries 3.5mm lugs which held up well on the trail, although I didn’t wear these through particularly muddy terrain. The upper feels roomy and yet, the foot locks in nicely.

Overall, the Enduris 3 is a great all round trainer and runner that won me over. It’s a no frills, dependable shoe that has a strong combination of cushioning, traction and versatility. It’s also the most affordable pick of the Vectiv range, and comes in two striking colourways. An excellent update from The North Face.


GREAT FOR: Everyday training, terrain variety
NOT SO GREAT FOR: High performance races
TEST CONDITIONS: Hard-packed dirt, paved road, pea gravel
TESTER: Giles Penfold


RRP: $250 AUD
CONDITIONS: Shoes provided for testing by The North Face

Shoe Review: The North Face Flight Vectiv












DID SOMEONE SAY CARBON PLATES IN A RACING TRAIL SHOE? Well, yes. Road shoes have utilised carbon-fibre plate technology for a while now, and The North Face was one of, if not the first, brand to put the same tech into a trail shoe – the Flight VECTIV.

Taking a brand new pair out of their box, the Brilliant Coral/TNF White colour came straight at me and I immediately put them on. Instantly I could feel the carbon-fibre plate doing its job, providing almost a spring in my step and ready to protect everything underfoot; I’m guessing that feeling was also due to the rocker shape of the shoe too, propelling me forward…and which took a little getting used to, I must admit.

On the technical side of things, VECTIV is the name of the midsole tech which is a combination of dual-density foam, rocker and full-length carbon plate all working together. The Flight Series™ VECTIV™ range are the lightest and most responsive of The North Face’s elite trail running shoes, specifically made for ultra distances because of their durability thanks to Kevlar®, polyamide and Matryx® fabrics. It’s these materials combined together that make the Flight VECTIV a notable model for trail shoes.

Because of the carbon-plate though, which provides stabilisation and reliability, the shoe is stiff to the touch when brand new. It does take some time to ‘break them in’ so to speak – I’d say about 20km, so in hindsight it’s not too bad. Cushioning is of the medium range and quite comfortable, and I felt very comfortable running in this particular pair. Ability to pick up pace was done easily, and I felt stable enough when hitting the downhills on pea gravel and hard-packed dirt.

Worth noting that because of the rocker, which is specifically designed to propel the body forward, I felt a bit of additional stack. For me, this wasn’t an issue though. The combination of the plate, midsole and high tech fabric in the midfoot means there is plenty of security, whilst the knit upper provides enough wriggle room for toes.

Let’s talk heel lock now, as I love to do with all reviews. There is no extra heel lock eyelet in the Flight VECTIV, so when combined with the loose knit upper in the heel I felt slippage and had to switch to a higher length ankle sock (yes, I carry extra socks with me when testing out shoes) to ensure a decrease in friction against my skin.

What’s interesting with the Flight VECTIV is that the tongue is incorporated into the shoe, meaning it’s not gusseted so there are no gaps between it and the lace cage; the laces are tight and flat, they won’t stretch or become longer. Personally, I love springy, bungee-like laces but they did their job on the Flight VECTIV and didn’t undo themselves.

The outsole features a barrage of directional 3.5mm lugs for traction, which means it’s not necessarily suitable for muddy terrain, however I was still comfortable hitting a bit of pedestrian or bicycle path while wearing them, so going from road to trail or vice versa is no issue.

Please note, this is a fast shoe, and it’s a precision shoe. It’s designed for confident trail runners who are quick and who lead front of the pack; when making comparisons to other shoes on the market, in particular the design-work, they are a vastly differently shoe. Suited for narrow feet in mid and fore foot, the Flight VECTIV is true to size but if you’re prone to foot swelling I’d suggest trying on a half size up to allow for extra space. It has a 6mm drop and a stack height of 25mm at the heel, so a large midsole for your landings.

Women’s Flight VECTIV shoes are available in Brilliant Coral/TNF White and TNF White/TNF Black, whilst for the men they come in Brilliant Coral/TNF White and Chlorophyll Green/Monterey Blue.

A neutral shoe with a specifically designed rocker plate to add stability, The North Face Flight VECTIV is an efficient ride that does best on longer runs. The brand has done well to introduce the technology into trail shoes, and those who run in the Flight VECTIV will not be disappointed.


GREAT FOR: Long distance, most all terrains
NOT SO GREAT FOR: Muddy or high technicality
TEST CONDITIONS: Hard-packed dirt, limestone, pea gravel
TESTER: Kate Dzienis
TESTER MECHANICS: Severe overpronator with wide feet


RRP: $330 AUD / $350 NZD
CONDITIONS: Shoes provided for testing by The North Face

Shoe Review: VECTIVE Enduris by The North Face









FOR ANYONE WANTING A SUPER CUSHY RIDE along the trails, the VECTIV Enduris by The North Face will be your go-to shoe in amongst your collection of runners piling up in your closet. Personally, my trail shoes were long overdue for replacement, so when I laced up this plush pair of marshmallows to my feet, I felt like I had a spring in my step before I even got out the door to test them.

When non-runners think of The North Face, they are more than likely to firstly think of fleece hoodies, thermo jackets and hiking backpacks to get through a hiking adventure, but us runners know that the brand’s footwear for trail running is incredibly superior – especially for those needing an extra supportive shoe that can carry them across longer distances and all types of terrain.

Its reach into outdoor performance products for trail runners has led to its very own VECTIV technology, full of patented 3D carbon fibre plating that works with forward motion and foot stabilisation – and its ability to encourage better running is disrupting the market like no one’s business.

So let’s talk trail shoe technology and what VECTIV is all about before getting into the feel and comfortability of their very well received supportive trail running shoe.

According to The North Face, the VECTIVE Enduris features rockered geometry in its midsole to enhance a forward propulsion, meaning that with thanks to the mechanics of science, the shoes actually help propel you forward. There is also a dual-density 3D TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) plate underfoot for multi-directional stability and to help with that forward propulsion.

The VECTIV Enduris is The North Face’s most supportive ultra-distance shoe in its VECTIV range, and it screams versatility up the wazoo with all those techy specs. It’s a responsive shoe, perfectly suited for terrain ranging from flat and fast dry pea gravel to rocky fire trails full of mud, boulders and slippery inclines. There are no-sew TPU overlays in the toe and heel for lightweight protection, an internal heel counter for precise fit and support, and an OrthoLite X55 footbed made with 5% recycled rubber content.

Onto the test run. Dealing with niggling inflammation on the exterior of my left foot, I set out hesitantly in pain along a single track limestone trail, but within 50-metres my confidence grew and I increased my pace. Why? The pain had already subsided.

My foot was given protection and plenty of cushioning to keep it happy, delivering me a soft and steady run without having to worry about turning around and hobbling back. In all honesty, I was flabbergasted but immensely pleased already at this stage.

Having a wider foot, I thoroughly loved that the shoes felt as though they were hugging my feet, with the fit conforming to my shape and giving me incredibly good support. They were true to size without any heel slippage, and given the warm weather early in the morning, breathability was excellent thanks to air mesh uppers.

I was surprised to learn that the VECTIV Enduris has a 6mm drop, as I’m used to generally wearing runners with an 8mm heel-to-toe offset, and at 278g per shoe they’re much lighter than all my usuals. Pulling them out of the box, though, they don’t look like a lightweight shoe with a lower-than-usual drop, but they are superbly designed, and looks can be deceiving.

Onto the outsoles, and the well-spaced 3mm lugs and deep treads gave me incredible grip on the trail, which was a combination of crushed limestone, sand and bike path. It can be a real battle to find a trail shoe with superior traction that can also adapt to all types of terrain, but I found that with the VECTIV Enduris I enjoyed my run because I wasn’t concerned about slipping or stumbling – I ran with confidence thanks to stability and protection, feeling that the whole shoe was working together with each aspect, especially the midsole and plate.

Definitely a technical trail shoe with its specific features for varying environments, the VECTIV Enduris provided all-around performance thanks to consistent comfort. The brand’s reputation for stability runners is upheld with this series of shoe; a top performer for those covering serious distances over fairly rough terrain.

The only downside was I found the laces were slightly thinner than I was used to, but they still went through to tie up with a strong heel/ankle lock with just enough lace to spare, so no qualms about that. Also, I’d noticed the tongue wasn’t gusseted, so there’s possibility of water and small debris being kicked back in, however the entire feel of the VECTIV Enduris, including its stability, grip, design, patented technology and specs, is well worth the price tag.

The VECTIV Enduris comes in black/white for both men and women, and there is also a grey/green alternative for men. The North Face name is becoming more popular amongst trail runners, and it’s worth noting that American ultra runner Dylan Bowman set his latest 149.669km Wonderland FKT (Washington, USA) in a pair of VECTIV Enduris, where he said the shoe “knocked it out of the park” when it came to using a carbon-fibre plated trail shoe in relentless mountain conditions.

Overall, The North Face has impressed me with the VECTIVE Enduris. It’s a top-of-the-line shoe that needs to be given more credit on Aussie and NZ trails, and I can’t wait to see where the brand will take its trail shoe technology in the near future.


GREAT FOR: All terrains and weather conditions. This is a high performance shoe made for endurance and ultra distances.
NOT SO GREAT FOR: Fast road running. The tread on this shoe is incredible and isn’t suitable for long runs on a foot or bike path.
TEST CONDITIONS: Flat, single track on dry crushed limestone and sand.
TESTER: Kate Dzienis
TESTER MECHANICS: Severe overpronator with wide feet, usually running in 8mm drop shoes.


RRP: $250.00 AUD / $270 NZD
CONDITIONS: Shoes provided for testing by The North Face

Shoe Review: The North Face Flight RKT

Did I just kick a skunk? Or eat licorice allsorts and throw up on my feet? Or did someone just inject heroin between my toes?   

Without wanting to glamourise drugs of addiction, it must be the latter because 1. I love animals (so I would never kick one, plus there are no skunks in Australia to kick); 2. I hate licorice allsorts (especially the black and white ones that would have resulted in such a vomitus display); and 3. my feet feel so damn gooooooood…plus, they look a little swirly in my ecstasy-affected state.  

Screen Shot 2019-01-19 at 11.59.29 amOkay, so this testing happened without the use of any narcotics (hold the jokes regarding what I may have been on while writing some of my past reviews). I’ve simply slipped a pair of The North Face Flight RKTs on my feet and I swear plonked straight into trail junkie footwear heaven. At least, that’s the immediate visceral reaction: an instant trail-crush on how they make my feet feel, a hit so noticeable I equate it to a podiatric hit of smack.  

For the record, I’ve never ‘done’ heroin, so the comparison is (honestly) based on projected imaginings of what it’s like. Suffice to say, when you slip these on, they are silken in their comfort, even if they do look like I have, once again, and against repeated advice, mixed my darks and lights in the washing machine. 

Screen Shot 2019-01-19 at 11.58.17 am

Story goes that the shoe’s co-designer and ultra-run legend, Rob Krar, took a photo of clouds which became the cloak of fashion seen plastered across the upper. To paraphrase another reviewer, as a stylist, Rob makes a great ultra runner.  But while I am no fan of the Pepe le Pew camouflage they are just gonna get filthy dirty, so what’s a book’s cover even matter, right?  

The Flight RKT (Rob Krar Trail) are the result of when an athlete is actually allowed to step into the design studio to tell the boffins what’s what. And while there’s some marketing fluff and bubble to it (remember the power Michael Jordan had over teenage basketballers’ footwear choice in eighties and nineties?*), I’m still a staunch advocate for experienced athletes actually being allowed to have real-world input into a product, as opposed to simply slapping a name on something for a pay cheque. Krar undoubtably copped extra coin in his pocket for his efforts here, he also undoubtedly got dirt on his hands and feet in the creation of the RKT.   

Screen Shot 2019-01-19 at 11.58.28 amGoing beyond the grey-sky duco, the big splash in the RKTs is the new FastFoam midsole, which actually gives a cloud-like suspension under foot. That’s the firm but floaty marshmellow feel you get with these, reminiscent of the Hoka approach – especially in the heel – but without the bulk. Speaking of Hoka, a similar bathtub construction on the inside helps deliver that plush, yet highly responsive underfoot feel, delivered by a core of energy-returning EVA. There’s also a perimeter of firmer, more-resilient EVA that prevents compression set and packing out. The overall ride is pretty sublime for it, with a definite super soft counter in the heel moving down to a slightly firmer – but still comfy – landing under the forefoot. Feedback benefits up front, without too much deadening of what’s lies beneath. 

While the shoes weight in under featherweight (227g), their heel to toe is back into the middle-ground with an 18mm-10mm stack height offering 8mm of drop.  

The upper mesh gives great breathability – good for warmer days, not so for colder – with a TPU-welded architecture at the midfoot. Overall the upper features excellent support and stability, keeping the foot firm in place. The downfall here is the tongue. Constructed of mesh and tender suede it feels good but performs appallingly: thin and un-attached it folds and scrunches and annoys. The simple fix would be – as all trail shoes should feature – a gusseted design. So every time you slip the shoes on it’s a battle against smoothing the tongue across the forefoot before lacing. Then it moves during running anyway and lets debris in.   

Screen Shot 2019-01-19 at 11.58.53 amThe small surprise in the RKT is the grip. It’s pretty average if you’re going into soft ground territory, but the multi-directional lug design (look closely – it’s there) provides better traction on groomed dirt and rock than you’d give credit. Although it’s far from the “superior” traction claimed and wet or muddy surfaces are Kryptonite. Upside? This is a great door-to-trail shoe that performs well on buffed single track, fire trail and road. 

These are in no way technical mountain munchers: without any form of rockplate, and with that smooshy-mushy (technical term right there) undercarriage, the sharp, rocky stuff bites. Further, with only 120km put into these on test, there was early signs of quick wearing on the pad-grips, the ‘podular’ sticky rubber. This approach to grip has been to lessen weight by only whacking lug zones where there is foot strike. Hopefully the designers accounted for all of our various strike zones, not just Rob Krar’s!  

Screen Shot 2019-01-19 at 11.58.39 amWhile the upper holds the foot in place well, adding to confidence and responsiveness, a toe bumper is not existent, so be careful when belting through bitey terrain. 

I’ll admit it, though, I’m more than a little addicted to these, to the point I find myself planning on here I can find more packed-out, slick trails, just to warrant another hit of clouds on my feet. 

*Maybe Rob Krar can influence trail running shoes as long as Jordan has in the basketball sphere – the Air Jordans are up to edition 32 and are still on sale! 

 UPDATE REVIEW NOTE: update on the shoes pro and con having worn them for approx another 150km since the review was written. Pro: they are as silky sweet as ever. Con: one of the red/orange grip pads on the rear heel has come away/unglued, which is annoying as it unbalances the shoe and makes it unwearable. A quality issue when it comes to rough and tumble trails that do tend to tear at your shoes and thus ALL trail running shoes need durability as a core focus.

The Low Down   

Great for: speedfreak racers, door to trail, buffed trails, nimble feet
Not-so-great for: mountains, super technical, protection, grip, durability
Test Conditions: mixed singletrack, door-to-trail, a few short races approx. 20km

Tester:  Chris Ord, TRM Editor,  
Tester Mechanics:  midfoot striker, prefers technical 

RRP:  $230 
Conditions:  shoes were provided for wear test by True Alliance 

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Trail Run Editorial: The Voice of Fear

‘Failure is not falling down, but refusing to get up’ – Chinese proverb.

HIGH Hut to Hut -400I’m scared. And that’s a good thing. It got me out on a blustery night to grind out hill repeats toward a midnight salvation.

So what’s your motivation? I’m not talking about the ‘Big Why’, here. For me that is easy: I simply love to run through wild places. Simple and pure. It makes my soul – whatever that manifestation is – feel charged, along with all that other quasi-hippie waffle I tend to spill in these pages. Tree hugger, guilty as charged.

But when it comes to actual motivation of the moment – the driving force that in winter keeps you tramping out the front door rain, hail and – if you’re based in the southern Australian states like me – eff-all sunshine. No matter how much you love to dry-hump a eucalypt and wax lyrical about the spiritual journey along life’s dirty highway, some days are just plain hard yakka. At that moment, when you’d rather plump on the couch and (cringe alert) guiltily enjoy reality singing schlock show The Voice while bitching about prima-donna judge Delta while morphing into a fanboy of her fellow judge, Jessie J …arrr, did I just write that out loud? I digress – what is it that makes you cut short the brave performance by that guy with Tourette’s (Adam Ladell – amazing how singing quietens his devil like running wild quietens ours), kill the tube and brave the sleet?

Fear. And commitment. The former seeded and sprouted, a flowering force borne from the latter.

You have signed up to something big. A relative-to-you big. Could be your first run or your five hundredth. But it’s a biggie. And you know that you are not quite ready. And you don’t have the time to be well-oiled ready. But you have some time to do something about your current inadequacies that are rising from the pit of your stomach like a badly thought-out Nutella sandwich at kilometre eighty-eight; you feel sick right now.

Well, that’s the fear I’m feeling and that’s my current of-the-moment motivation.Mt Buller

In a weird way, it reminds me of the fear felt when you first fall in love and she/he says an unexpected “yes” (to whatever your sappy or salacious question was). And you think, shit, what now? What do I do? What if I look like a dick? What if I throw up? What if I pass out? Have I got clean undies on?

Transpose that to what is feeding my fear now and those things are all very real possibilities, and the undies factor is suddenly a resounding ‘no’.

Ahead of me is a big mountain run, in very high, very remote places, over many days in a row. That bit doesn’t worry me. I’ve (somehow) survived that before and now have a possibly ill-advised semi-confidence in terms of the terrain and my ability to move through it. But like a semi-hard on, that bravado could be deflated in an instant when the harsh fluorescent light of reality is switched on to reveal my ill-prepared nakedness.

Like a first love, it’s the company I’ll be keeping – if I can keep up – that turns my stomach.

Timothy Olson, Chamonix, France. Photographer: Tim Kemple. The North Face Rights Expire: 09_15_15

Timothy Olson, Chamonix, France. Photographer: Tim Kemple. The North Face

Timmy Olson (above), I’ll tell anyone who will listen, is a monster in the way only a Western States 100 record holder can be. Look at him. He’s a running Buddha without the belly. A Zen ultra marathon man disrobed to reveal powerful piston legs, a core that is beefy yet lithe wrapped in a six-pack and packaged with a steely stare that makes mountains wilt before him; he’s the perfect running form of human being. That’s not hagiography, by the way, that’s just my insecurities sweating over the dude (and let’s face it, he’s a ‘dude’) I have somehow signed up to keep pace with on a Himalayan mission of likely little to no mercy. For me, that is.

High fiving Timmy will be his female mirror in Anna Frost, just as accomplished and at home in high mountains having won Hardrock 100 and knocked off the Nolans 14. I’ve already had the inglorious honour of clinging on to her heels for dear life up a steep incline or twenty in the same territory we are to return to as a crew of four, led by Everest summiteer, American Ben Clark.

Here, I look for solace to the Everest of quote machines, Winston Churchill:

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

This editorial along with a bunch more dirty goodness can be downloaded and read in the latest edition or Trail Run Mag. Click HERE.

This editorial along with a bunch more dirty goodness can be downloaded and read in the latest edition of Trail Run Mag. Click HERE to download FREE or subscribe via iTunes.

Well, there were certainly a few stumbles running with Anna (she didn’t see most of them, being too far ahead), but enthusiasm duly got me through. That and fear given the fact that there was no other way off the mountain – no roads, no crew car, not even a helicopter ride (Bhutan, the country in which we were running, may have a lauded policy of Gross Domestic Happiness revered above Gross Domestic Product, but its Gross Domestic Helicopter quota was also zero).

So as I head out into a blustery night, ignoring the high notes of The Voice calling my name, I hopelessly seek Everest-scale slopes in a seaside landscape that barely rises to dunes, feeling the urgency of my commitment to the team and the mission. Of what lies ahead, I feel like a giddy love-sick teenage cross country runner about to hit some hardcore hills with his heroes. But rather than give up and return to my couch-side critique of the latest contestant on The Voice, instead I go and run a 50 vertical metre hillock twenty five times with imaginings of how Frosty and Olson would judge me should I not; scathingly, like Delta Goodrem ripping through a sour note contestant.

Ah failure. The fuel of champions.

Chris Ord, AU Editor

We’re always interested in reader feedback. If you have any thoughts on this article, the magazine in general, other articles in the mag, or what you’d like to see in the mag, and especially if you have a story idea, let us know: or comment on

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Edition #20 launched: Download free now!

Edition #20 of Trail Run Mag (AU/NZ) has been released, and is once again packed full of dirty goodness from trails Down Under and across the globe!

Screenshot 2016-03-28 09.57.11DOWNLOAD your free pdf edition at or subscribe for iPad / Kindle Fire (access via same link).

In this edition: 

HIMALAYAN REDUX – a return to the front line as Tegyn Angel takes on the Himalayan 100 //
FRENCHMANS FORAY – the magic of Marlbek, Tasmania by Majell Backhausen //
FAMILY MATTERS – journey on the Heysen Trail, South Australia //
PLANT POWERED RUNNING – fuelling your run with green power//
INTO THIN AIR – running Shangri La’s Snowman Route, Bhutan //
NATURAL BORN HERO – Born to Run author Christopher McDougall on being a natural //
FASTEST ’TASH IN TASSIE – itinerant international Felix Weber //
RETURN TO FORM – trail technique //
SPUTNIK’S SPRAY – claims to fame //
PLUS: AU & NZ editorials ‪#‎gearreviews‬‪#‎trailguides‬‪#‎shoereviews‬ & ‪#‎trailporn‬

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Making your mountain run athletic

Once upon a time, a brand dropped its product on its retailers (once upon a time the brand was also the retailer!), whacked out a bit of advertising and sat back to count the cash register bells. Well, that’s perhaps a most brutal simplification of ye olde shopping days; point is it was a straight forward one-two-purchase-profit process.Mountain Athletics I Train For - Instagram

Today, customers want way more from those they buy their kit from, most especially in the outdoor and adventure communities, which naturally encompass trail and adventure running. We want a gentle introduction, a few daytime coffee meet-ups, maybe it will progress to dinner, if the brand is lucky a peck on the cheek, and maybe six months later, dear customer will deem the brand product worthy of staying over the night. They may even go as far to tell their friends of this new user/product relationship.

From there, it can be brief, torrid affair still, especially if said product doesn’t meet muster in the bedroom of the bush. Or it can be a long lasting beautiful partnership that then extends to familydom. In our case as trail runners, that could mean endless new arrivals of shoes, more shoes, another pair of shoes, a running top, or three, a jacket or four (wet, warm, wind proof, pub proof), shorts, socks, hydro pack.. and on… depending on the range said brand offers.

BUT, if the relationship is serious, it has to be invested in by its purveyor. The love has to be earned. No surprise, then, that today’s adventure brands (the savvy ones) don’t just fling kit at us, they fling all sorts of incentives and relationship building reach-outs in an effort to make us swoon (well, if they are smart they do… plenty of outdoor brands in Australia are still sitting back on their lazy laurels thinking if they hang a shingle, the dirty masses will come calling… buh, buh).

This correspondent particularly loves one foreign brand’s recent approach – REI in the United Kingdom has it’s #OptOutside campaign which states:

“REI believes that being outside makes our lives better. That’s why this Black Friday, we’re closing all 143 of our stores and paying our employees to head outside.”

Closing down all stores for a day at great cost so its frontline dealers can live the life fuh rheal? Now that’s walking/running/climbing/adventuring the talk.

In Australia there are a few brands that we believe strut fairly and credibly in the same space. Sure they spruik products and they are in business to do business and makadamoolah. They want to sell. But the fringe benefit of that for us, in a competitive market, is that the good ones give us more than just a decent product. Case in point: Salomon investing in The African Attachment film crew to produce the ongoing series of short films that actually (mostly) editorialise rather than simply proselytise (and yes ‘religious/faith conversion’ reference on purpose!). They give us something (story, inspiration, characters) rather than just try to sell us something.

One brand we’ll put in the community returns basket is The North Face, which recently released a new range – yes more product for us addicts/believers to buy, buy, buy (but then use, use, use) – called Mountain Athletics.

It’s a range of active wear for the outdoors that crosses the boundaries – is it for the trail? Yes. Is it for the cross fitter? Yes. Is it for trekkers on mountain approach? Yes. It’s good gear. I can vouch for it right now: I’m wearing it headed to run between 4000-5000 up metres in the Himalayas in Bhutan. And yes I’ll wear it up there. At 5000m. Okay, I’ll be adding a TNF 800 down to that (!). But I trust the kit in serious trail conditions, and trust that it will keep me comfortable.

Rob Krar, Emily Harrington, Callum Petit, Stephanie Howe, Ingrid Backstrom. S15 MountainAthletics. Richmond, California. Photographer: Joe Budd. The North Face Rights Expire: 07_25_16.

Rob Krar, Emily Harrington, Callum Petit, Stephanie Howe, Ingrid Backstrom.

But this isn’t a product review. And yes, in the interested of disclosure, TNF does advertise with us and partner with us (and thus support the existence of a trail running publication made free to you, dear reader, ahh the benefits)…and we use their kit. We could be biased. But I tell you, commercial bias goes out every hut window when you’re in the Himalayas. You use gear that works. Period. Doesn;t matter who’s paying the bills. So is this an advertorial? A little from column A (they asked us to let our readers know about MA) and a little from column B (we wanted to prattle on about what else brands bring to the table other than pithing for our coin), to be fair and transparent.

But to the introduction – talking about how brands engage with us trail runners and the lengths they must (and should!) now go to in order to create a relationship with us. And to the Mountain Athletics range: with this one, they have engaged on the level of training – leveraging some of the best mountain athletes in the world to design up some generalised programs to assist in our training. In this case, Mike Wolfe and Jez Bragg. Serious guns worth taking tips from (and who you’d expect to pay decent dollars for their expert advice were you going to them for coaching tips).

Now, no-one’s suggesting the Mountain Athletics suite of App, videos and other information and inspiration will get you from zero to ultra hero. But it will – especially if new to the trail scene – get you fired up and arm you with some basics, while giving you a little structure to begin your trail training journey. And you don’t even have to buy the kit to benefit from it.

Check out the App here. And some cool little videos here.Print

This of course backs up The North Face’s commitment to encouraging new adventurers and new exploratory journeys into nature, via the The North Face Adventure Grants. We’re still encouraging trail runners to apply, as to date the $10,000 prize pool, including cash, is yet to be won by an adventurous runner with big (mountain) dreams. Time for the paddlers and climbers and explorers to hand over the baton, we reckon…. Check out details here (FB feed) and here (blog about past winners and link to application).

We point here to a particular brand on a particular campaign of giving something to the trail community (while of course still trying to sell some kit – no one is whitewashing that imperative! At least it’s quality kit…), there are others, such as REI in the UK and Salomon worldwide as mentioned, along with the likes of La Sportiva (specifically investing in events in Australia and NZ – an important part of community support), and Saucony (with its Find Your Strong campaign concentrating on ‘real’ stories and inspiration) and Patagonia (TheNewLocalism campaign and various environmental initiatives on trail) all putting at least a little of what rings through their registers, back into the community in some form or another.

We look forward to these brands and others dreaming up new ways to talk to us dirty folk. If the conversation is good, we may even buy into the relationship…

Have a look at the Mountain Athletics info here and then get the App here.
Check the videos and sets of exercises here.



The North Face 100: event wrap

Dan Lewis wraps up The North Face 100 for 2015, an event that just keeps getting bigger and more dramatic, from the emotional finish by The North face athlete, Dylan Bowman, to the 27+ hour crossing of the 100km line by 73-year-old Alf Johnston.

There was a feel-good start and a ferocious finish to the eighth edition of trail running epic The North Face 100 in the Blue Mountains today.

The 100km race and its sister 50km event attracted more than 2000 entrants, but it was a man from Nepal and a man from California who made things really special at both ends of the 100km classic.

On a day with perfect conditions for racing, records tumbled and special memories were created.

No-one who followed the first third of this year’s TNF100 will forget the excitement of seeing Nepal’s Purna Tamang bravely running at the front of the race just weeks after his country was devastated and his own home destroyed by an earthquake.

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PHOTO: Lyndon Marceau/The North Face

Despite his disrupted training coming into TNF100, Tamang took the lead early and stayed there as the race dived into the Jamison Valley down the Furber Steps, climbed out again on the Golden Stairs and then charged down the Narrow Neck fire trail. He reached the first checkpoint on Narrow Neck (10.5km) in 54 minutes, with a 37-second lead over second-placed Longfei Yan of China, with race favourite Francois D’Haene of France in fifth place, 50 seconds behind the race leader.

The first woman to checkpoint one was Cassandra Scallon of the US in 1:05:11, 42 seconds ahead of Australia’s Shona Stephenson, with Dong Li of China the third placed woman in 1:06:34. The favourite for the women’s title, US runner Amy Sproston, was fourth, 1:21 behind Scallon.

The top 10 men charged through Dunphys checkpoint (31km) with less than a minute between them, but the steep climb to the top of Ironpot Ridge shook things up. Tamang was dropping off while four of the top runners – D’Haene, Dylan Bowman (US), Yun Yanquiao (China) and Julien Chorier (France) – took a wrong turn and missed 1.5km of the course. They were all handed a 15-minute time penalty when they got to checkpoint three (46km) on the Six Foot Track. Ironpot Ridge also saw Dong Li go past Scallon to lead the women.

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PHOTO: Lyndon Marceau/The North Face

As the men climbed out of the Megalong Valley it was New Zealander Scott Hawker in the lead, closely followed by American Dylan Bowman, Longfei Yan and D’Haene. Walker was the first runner to make checkpoint four (57km) at the Katoomba Aquatic Centre in 4:46:05.Tamang was back to 17th at the same check point and getting a lot of massage work done to aching legs by his support team.

Heading east across the clifftops to Leura, it was Bowman, Longfei Yan, D’Haene and Hawker in a pack with a four-minute lead over the rest of the field at Gordons Falls. Dong Li had also forged a lead of nearly a minute over Scallon.

At Queen Victoria Hospital (78km), just before the plunge back into the Jamison Valley via Kedumba Pass, the leading pack had been cut to two. Bowman and Longfei Yan had a 2:31 lead over Hawker.

Ahead lay a traverse of the Jamison Valley and one last agonising climb up Furber’s 900 steps to the finish at Scenic World, with Bowman prevailing in a new record time of 8:50:13 – a whopping 40 minutes better than the record on the new course set last year by Stu Gibson (9:31:11).

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PHOTO: Lyndon Marceau/The North Face

The normally laid-back Californian was emotional after the run, declaring: “It was the best race of my life.”

He was followed in by Hawker (8:51:35) and Yun Yanquiao (9:01:29), with Longfei Yan making it a great day for China by coming in fourth (9:08:50).

Being a Blue Mountains resident these days, Hawker was cheered at the finish like a local hero rather than a Kiwi raider.

Bowman’s win comes on the back of his record-breaking first place in another Ultra-Trail World Series race earlier this year, New Zealand’s Tarawera 100.

His TNF100 win was forged through an epic battle with Longfei Yan. “All of a sudden it was just Yan and I shoulder to shoulder for 26–27km and we didn’t say a word to each other the whole time,” Bowman said. “It was just a battle. Then I made my move on the last climb. I figured this is it, just give it a go, and it stuck.”

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PHOTO: Lyndon Marceau/The North Face

Before the race, Tamang said: “It was a hard decision to travel and leave my village as I lost two family homes. My wife is looking after the family, though. But as a man and an athlete, sometimes I have to make sacrifices even during hardships like this. I thought me coming [to Australia] and taking part would bring awareness to the tragedy in Nepal and hopefully it will bring support and goodwill.”

The crowd at the finish line was elated when he finished strongly in 20th place.

The best Australian was 10th-place Jono O’Loughlin (9:51:53) while popular Blue Mountains local and former TNF100 winner Brendan Davies was 17th (10:25:56). D’Haene, a previous winner of the Mount Fuji and Mont-Blanc Ultra-Trail World Series races, finished fifth (9:11:51).

The day kept getting even better for the Chinese when Dong Li became the first woman home in 11:05:22. Sproston was second in 11:27:50.

In the 50km race, New Zealand-based Lithuanian Andrius Ramonas streaked home to win in a course record time of 4:23:41, beating his nearest rival by 17:24.

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PHOTO: Lyndon Marceau/The North Face

The first female, and seventh overall, was Australian Emma Rilen in a time of 4:59:05. “That was awesome, that was great,” she declared after smashing the course record by half an hour and beating her nearest female rival by 13 minutes.

Ramonas, was delighted he made the decision to drop down in distance from the 100km race because, although he won easily, he started to suffer serious cramps as he climbed the Furber Steps near the end of the race. “Nice stairs!” was his wry comment after crossing the finish line. “There was no way I could have done 100 because I had lots of cramp in my legs.”

Trail runners can expect to see a lot more of Ramonas as he plans to stay three or four years in New Zealand while completing an intimidating Phd in exercise physiology, specialising in nutrition strategies for ultra-endurance running.

The North Face 100: Inspirations

More than 2000 runners line up tomorrow for The North Face 100 , representing 35 countries and all walks of life. Some are elites – you’ll read a lot about them across the mediascape to be sure, internationals and local go-fasts rocking the single track in unbelievable min/km pace. Worthy of accolades and attention, their feats are admirable, absolutely.

That said, I still prefer the stories that echo back from the past of the pointy enders quipping that while their 10-ish hour (as it was back then) 100km , was hard, but by geez they respected the hardy souls at the back taking 24 or so hours to knock off their tonne. Many of these super athletes admit that they couldn’t and wouldn’t stay out there that long. That’s why they rush it through…

But back there in the mid and rear end, are stories of – to steal a line from our 100 Reasons documentary of TNF100 a few years back – ‘Ordinary people achieving extraordinary things.’

So we thought we’d highlight a few heart tugger tales of people out there, people like you and me, plodding through what to them is an Olympian effort, a special effort, and given the extra challenges-of-life some face, a Herculean effort.

There are a number of driving forces that urge these runners to push themselves to their absolute limits. Here are a few short profiles of runners out there tomorrow achieving extraordinary things, and providing relatable inspiration for us all.

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Pip Candrick // Pain Relief
“I found each time I came away from the mountains I felt somewhat healed.”

In 2011, Pip was diagnosed with a brain tumour, low grade glioma. After two brain surgeries and a long recovery she joined a gym, and through the gym was introduced to a trail running group. Still suffering from seizures as a side effect from the surgery, Pip requires a companion to run with her out on the trails. In 2014, she ran The North Face 50km course with the assistance of her trainer.

Pip hopes to one day be able to run mountain trails, and The North Face 50 independently.

“These runs are challenging but compared to the little challenges I live with daily they are a release in my life and are what I call my pain relief.”

Tim Horsburgh // Celebrating 15 Years of Remission
Fifteen years ago Tim Horsburgh was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. Without treatment he was told he would have less than four weeks to live. After six months of treatment, intense chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, his official remission date was May 2000. Almost 15 years later to the day, Tim Horsburgh will take on The North Face 100 in the Blue Mountains. But it was a long road to get there.

In 2009, after noticing trouble breathing just walking around Tim realised he needed to make a change for his health. The first goal was the Sydney Running Festival Half Marathon in 2010. Since then he has lost 30kg, completed marathons, ultramarathons and triathlons. He will be competing in The North Face 100 for the second time this May, and celebrating 15 years of remission.

Leigh Jeffrey Neilson // The Ultra Running Traveller
For Leigh Neilson, trail running is about the obvious health and social benefits. He runs to clear his mind, keep his body active and to learn to adapt to different environments. But his main reason for running is to see as much of the world as possible.

“I have run along a beautiful, clear set of rapids in the Canadian Rockies, surrounded by soaring peaks, circling me in. I have dodged thousands of commuters on the streets of Osaka, this time circled in by skyscrapers. I struggled through extreme heat in the desert of Rajasthan, which taught me how important preparation is, and made me appreciate how the locals have managed to survive there for thousands of years. I have run through the cold in Iceland and along the Namibian coast, where I came within metres of Cape Fur Seals frolicking in the sand.”

Leigh admits he is not an elite runner, and says it’s unlikely that he ever will be but that is not what’s important to him.

“There are two certainties in my life- firstly, I will never feel that there is nothing left to explore on foot. Secondly, I will never be happier than when I finally finish a long, steep climb and turn around to see the beautiful scenery that awaits me.”LM_150515_TNF.Athletes_31_MEDres (logo)

Brett Sammut // A Treatment Plan for Depression
In a bout of depression, Brett ran to escape. He ran to escape the black dog, escape himself, escape reality. With severe depression and thoughts of suicide, Brett ran. He ran until he started to enjoy it. Meeting accepting runners along the trails, Brett ran more, and the more he did, the more his mood lifted. He started to rely less on medication and says running became a treatment plan for his depression. The people he met on the trails became the people he looked up to and aspired to be.

With a wife and two daughters to care for, Brett no longer runs to escape from reality, but to get fitter and be more prepared for what this life will bring him.

“Everyone out on the trails has a story to tell, a history, or a reason why they run. We have all come from such different backgrounds, have varying abilities and ambitions and all stand on the start line with vastly different goals in mind. But one thing is guaranteed, once out on the trails, we all are the same and all suffering as much as the next person.”

Ruth Johnstone // Telegraph Pole to Telegraph Pole
Four years ago, Ruth described herself as a “38 year old wife and mother who was a smoker and morbidly obese.”

To turn it around, she decided to quit smoking and go to the gym 30 minutes a day. After building on her time at the gym, she decided to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.

She started her running by running from one telegraph pole to the next, then walking. “I did my first 1 km nonstop and thought – Okay, I like this.”

Starting with a 10km race and moving to half and full marathons, Ruth is now taking on The North Face 50 this year in May. This year she has reached her goal of losing 60kg.

“I love to push myself to places I have never thought I could go. I am certainly not the fastest but that’s okay because I run the same distance as the winner and I run to complete not compete.”

Working in a highly stressful job, Ruth says running is a great therapy for her at the end of the day – and it’s free. Ruth urges everyone to give it a go – ‘You may just surprise yourself.’

Travis Saunders // Running for Autism
Travis Saunders started running four years ago when his son was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. He ran to cope with stress and depression.

“I remember going for my first run after he was diagnosed and I threw up in the street and couldn’t complete a short jog. This was the night that changed my life.”

As a father of a child on the autism spectrum he set up Run4Autism ( in 2013 as an ongoing fundraising and awareness campaign for autism not for profit organisations Australia wide. The website platform has raised more than $138,000 for 10 autism organisations around Australia.

This year Travis will continue his running journey and take on The North Face 100.

“Running in the North Face 100 has been a dream of mine for the past three years and this will be the first time that I run in a 100 km trail event. Even though I have run in several 24 hour events and a few smaller trail ultras, I felt that I could never ever call myself a true ultra runner until I completed Australia’s premier running event on the ultra-calendar, The North Face 100.”

The North Face 100 kicks off tomorrow morning (Saturday 16th May) at 6.20am.


During the race, one hundred athletes will have GPS trackers, including 40 elite athletes. These can be tracked on the live feed that will be on The North Face 100 website. There will also be a live feed of the starts and finishes.

For the ORDINARY HEROES 🙂 – check in to , punch in your runner’s bib number and you’ll see the last checkpoint hey passed through another time.

As it takes about 55 minutes for the fastest runner to get to Checkpoint 1, the live results will show no runner times until about 7:15am when runners start to arrive at Checkpoint 1. After Checkpoint 1, the timing system, LiveTrail, will show an estimate of where every runner is located at all times. It will give an estimate of the time that each runner will be due to arrive at their next timing point.

Or, check in with their support crews, or call them… they will have mobile phones on course as mandatory gear! And they may just be happy to hear from you. Depending on their state of being…

It is also a good idea to download the free app ‘The North Face 100 – Australia’ for scheduling, timing information, and other race info.