Robberies & Thieves In Running Events

25 08 2015

…And Also In Other Outdoor Sports & Activities

Whether you like it not, being robbed by somebody is a part of ones life. If you have not experienced being robbed, then you are an insignificant person. Try to remember your childhood days; your schooling years, from elementary to college/university days; at work; and your relationships with your own family, siblings, relatives and friends, and you will know what I really mean.

Robberies in Sports Events had been very rampant in the past years. And most of these robberies are done in cars/vehicles being parked in Parking Areas near the Venue of the activity. In running events in Metro Manila, there had been many reports of robberies for the past years and these incidents were not openly discussed by the Race Organizers to the Running Community. Whether you are parked in Bonifacio High Street, MOA, McKinley Complex or at the CCP Complex or Luneta Park, the cars of runners parked on designated parking lots are not safe from these thieves. There had been an instance when a trail running event outside Metro Manila with few runners was marred with reports of robbery of things left in cars of some of the runners/support staff of the event. Up to the present, I have not yet received any progress report or information as to what happened to these robbery reports in the past running events.

Lately, I just received a report from one of my runners that he and together with some of my running friends were victimized by these robbers in a running event that was held in one of the neighboring provinces from Metro Manila. Their car was parked in a designated parking lot for the runners in the said event and when they returned to the car to change their attire after finishing their race, they found out that their things were gone! I have yet to know the progress of the investigation being done by the local police in the area if they have already arrested or have identified probable suspects to this incident.

A Thief Trying To Open A Locked Car (Picture From Google)

A Thief Trying To Open A Locked Car (Picture From Google)

Why do we have such robberies in our running events? Why do thieves “disguise” themselves as legit runners and do their business of stealing one’s property left in their cars in running events? I think the answer is very simple, “It’s the economy, stupid!” The more we have running events and more runners, the more we have dumb runners who don’t think about “security” and become super excited to toe the line and be together with friends at the Starting Area! They eventually become the targets of these thieves in running events. Of course, everybody is excited to show to everybody their individual fashion statement in running——new shoes, new tights, new compression shirt, new compression socks/calf sleeves & arm sleeves, new GPS watch, iPhone 6 with BOSE earbuds, new Head Visor, and Oakley Sunglasses. Wow! That is an impeccable form of a runner ready to be posted on Facebook! Most often, this is the reason why we are very lax in terms of securing what we left behind in our respective vehicles when we run. In short, the more runners in running events, the more targets of opportunities for the thieves!

Other sporting events and outdoor activities are not spared from these thieves. In the past, I’ve received reports of stealing/robbery incidents in Duathlon, Triathlon, MTB rides and even in Camping/Backpacking/Mountaineering events.

What should we do to solve or prevent these robberies from happening in our running events? I have the following suggestions/advise and I would like to entertain your comments if you have additional advise or suggestion to what I will mention in this post:

  1. Prevention Starts With Us, The Runners!——If you are using your car/vehicle in going to the running event, make sure that there is NOTHING seen inside the car from the outside. Hide your things in the trunk/baggage compartment! Better yet to hide your things in the compartment before you leave your house or place of residence. Thieves (among your co-runners) would observe your move in transferring your things from your car’s seats to your compartment if you do it in the designated parking area for the running event. Make sure also that you have parked your car in the designated parking area for the running event. If you have the luxury of a driver, let him stay in the car if you have “diamonds and gold bars” stashed in side your car. Remember that your Finisher’s Medal and Shirt purchasing costs would be cheaper than the salary of your driver per hour!

    Nothing Should Be Seen Inside Your Car (Picture From Google)

    Nothing Should Be Seen Inside Your Car (Picture From Google)

  2. Carpool——It is nice to see public transport vehicles, like Jeepneys, SUV Express and buses being used by running teams coming from other provinces and cities/suburbs around Metro Manila area. Since these transport vehicles have drivers, instruct these drivers to secure and look for the things of his passengers instead of going to the Start/Finish Area as an spectator. If you belong to a Running Team or group, it would be wise and practical to carpool to the venue of the running event, provided there is a driver to look for your things.
  3. Multi-Event vs. Single Event——There were suspicions in the past robbery incidents that these thieves are also legit runners but they join the shorter distance events, like 3K or 5K races. After they finished their race, they go back to the designated parking areas or any parking area with their running attire, race bib, finisher’s medal and shirt and then take the opportunity to do their acts to the cars of those who are running longer distances like, half-marathon or full marathon. If you are 4-hour finisher or more of a full marathon and these runner-thieves would finish their 5K race in 30 minutes, then they have enough time to select their targets and do their acts. In selecting a running event to join, one of the factors to consider if you want to eliminate the possibility of being robbed with your properties in your car is to select a single event race. However, this is not a 100% solution or prevention technique because the runner-thieves could also “drop or DNF” on the first few miles and then go back and have access to the parking areas while the rest of the runners are still out there on the road. Actually, these runner-thieves do not train to improve their endurance capability but they would rather train better on how fast they can open your car and run faster carrying their loot towards their vehicle. In road ultras, there are no cases of robberies because the runner’s car is used as support vehicle with a driver and support crew in it. As far as I can remember, I have not yet received any reports of robberies in road ultra marathon events in the country.
  4. Get A Driver/Personal Assistant——If the Parking Area of the event is not guarded, then get a designated Driver or a Personal Assistant to guard or stay in your car. Before you register to a running event, make sure to make the necessary planning as to who would be your driver/assistant. Better safe than sorry!
    Commute or “Walk Instead”——If you reside 3K radius distance from the Event Venue, you can walk or jog and make it as your warm-up exercise to get yourself to the Starting Area before the start of the race. Take the Bus, Taxi, or Uber in going to the Event Area. Sleep early the night before the race and wake up early making sure you have a buffer time for adjustments in case of some traffic delays.
  5. Belt Bag & Other Related Running Bag Accessories——I remember my ultra running friend, the late Cesar Abarrientos with regards to using such running bag accessories. He usually comes to a race (coming from his work) in his running attire with a “drop bag” used as a mini-backpack where his things are stashed. He would run with the said backpack throughout the race. What was good about it was that the bag that he was always using was the “drop bag” that I gave to all the “pioneer” participants of the 1st Edition of the Bataan Death March 102K Ultra Marathon Race. At present, there are running shorts with multi-pockets, runner’s belts with pockets/slots, compression apparel with pockets, and even hand-held bottles with zippered pockets where one can stash his things during the run.
  6. Operational Security On Social Media——Most of the runners are in the Social Media for so many reasons. Obviously, the runner-thieves are also there to find out their probable targets. Without you knowing it, these thieves would be able to know your personal profile, your lifestyle, your race schedules, running times, and other “bits & pieces” about your daily life, to include the plate number, model and type of your personal vehicle. In a matter of time, even if it will take them years to follow your posts, there will be a time that you will regret what you had posted in your Social Media’s personal account. Believe me, they are out there lurking every move and status you post on your FB Wall. So, always think Operational Security, keep to yourself about your activities, plans and schedules!
  7. Race Organizer’s Security Responsibility——Do we still have a lot of “bouncers” with big muscles dressed in tight-fitting black T-shirts in our BIG Running Events? If so, then I suggest that Race Organizers would redeploy them to our Parking Areas and patrol in tandem or in addition to the thinly spread force of the Security Guards. They need to walk around at the Parking Areas and not just to stand at the Starting Line/Starting Arc as a “fence/wall” as if the runners are there to make a stampede before waiting for the Race to start. In big running events, additional marshals should be deployed to patrol the designated Parking Areas for the event to deter these thieves from doing their acts. They should be trained also to detect and make a quick profile to runners who just finished the race. They should know the signs and body language of a runner who just finished a race even if he/she is wearing a finisher’s medal and/or shirt. And they should be ready to ask questions to these runners as to what happened along the way or ask about the route just to test if they really joined the race.
  8. Simplify——Be simple. Do not brag. Do not announce to the world about your running achievements and plans, not unless, you are an elite and sponsored athlete of a big corporation or establishment.

    Not The Best Way To Steal A Bike (Picture From Google)

    Not The Best Way To Steal A Bike (Picture From Google)

Let this post serves as a wake-up call or warning to every runner, athlete, or outdoorsmen & women to be security-conscious and aware of their surroundings and their actions.





Los Angeles Trail #1: Griffith Park Trail #1 (“Merry-Go-Round” To Dante’s View/Peak & Back)

24 08 2015

Griffith Park is the Pride and Most Popular Outdoor Park of Los Angeles City. It is one of the world’s biggest city parks with a total area of 4,467 acres, about five times bigger than the size of the New York’s City Central Park, and considered as the biggest municipal park completely surrounded by urban areas.

There are so many access roads/streets that lead to the park depending on your purpose of visit or activity. There is Greek Theater which is a popular venue for music concerts and stage plays; an 18-hole Golf Course & Driving Range; a Museum; The Griffith Observatory; The HOLLYWOOD Sign; a Horse Back Riding Facility; Carousel/”Merry-Go-Round”; Old Train & Railroad Museum; more than 50 miles of Fire Roads & Trails; and 20+ miles of paved roads for cycling. Griffith Park is the city’s “People’s Park” where its residents would enjoy the outdoor and its trails for free. The Fire Roads and Trails are strictly for hiking; running; and horse-back riding as MTBs or mountain trail cycling is not allowed.

The “Merry-Go-Round” Parking Lot #1 to Dante’s View/Peak Trail Route is my favorite trail running route which has a “one-way” distance of 4.5 miles, making it a total of 9 miles in going back to the Parking Lot retracing the route on the first half.

In order to go to Griffith Park and to experience running or hiking this trail route, one has to take the Golden State Freeway 5 North and Exit at Crystal Spring Drive (Exit 141B), turn Right at Crystal Spring Drive and after 1/4 mile turn left on the first intersection. The ascending paved road goes to the “Merry-Go-Round” Parking Lot #1. The toilet is located near the Merry-Go-Round facility.

“Merry-Go-Round” Parking Lot #1

I usually start from the place where I park my car. Across the paved road from the Parking Lot #1 are two fire roads; one that goes south and the other that goes east. I usually take the fire road that goes to the east (it’s called the Coolidge Trail) that has an abrupt ascent until it levels up for about 15 yards. Follow this fire road as it goes up immediately after a right turn. From this trail you would see on your left shoulder the Crystal Spring Road and the Golden State Freeway 5 and this will be the sight on your first mile with the uphill and winding trail ahead of you. The 2nd mile will be a gradual uphill climb where one will be passing a Golf Driving Range on your left. Do not turn left on the fire trail that goes back to Crystal Spring Road. One should be turning RIGHT on every trail intersection along this 2nd mile section. There is only way but UP to the peak of the hill.

Trailhead. Take the Trail On The Left (Coolidge Trail)

Trailhead. Take the Trail On The Left (Coolidge Trail)

Golf Academy's Driving Range

Golf Academy’s Driving Range

5-Way Trail Intersection

5-Way Trail Intersection

Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill

At the 2.5-mile point, the route shall level off and one will encounter a 5-way trail intersection. I usually turn right from this point and go to a peak which is popularly known before as Beacon Hill. As I reached the peak, I would turn around and back to the 5-way intersection. I would continue my run by going to the fire road that goes up and there is only one fire road that leads you to a ascending direction. After about 50-60 meters of uphill climb, you will see a marker that says, “Joe Klass Water Stop”. The water fountain is located on a clearing on your right. Don’t pay attention to the bees that “guard” the said fountain, they are always there the whole year round. If you need to drink, just drink or refill your bottles and then immediately leave the place. Don’t mess up with those bees!

Signage Of The Joe Klass Water Source

Signage Of The Joe Klass Water Stop

The Water Fountain (Bees Are Not Visible In The Picture)

The Water Fountain (Bees Are Not Visible In The Picture)

Vista Del Valle Drive

Vista Del Valle Drive

Once you get out from the water fountain clearing, you will hit a paved road (it’s called Vista Del Valle Drive). After about 50 meters running on this paved road, you have covered already 3 miles! Follow this road and on your left is a paved flat area which is a popular site for photo-ops overlooking the city and sometimes, it is being used as a helipad or location for movie shootings. As you passed this flat paved area, you can see ahead of you two fire roads on your left: one that goes down and one that goes up. Go to the fire road that goes up! This fire road splits from Vista Del Valle Drive and it has a closed wooden hut beside the start of the trail.

Griffith Park Helipad Area

Griffith Park Helipad Area

Uphill Trail Beside The Hut

Uphill Trail Beside The Hut (Left Side Of The Hut)

After two or three turns, you will see a wooden bridge and a higher hill where the fire road is leading to. You are now approaching the dreaded Hogback Trail. This trail is too steep on some sections and make sure that you have a good traction on your trail running shoes. Before the last climb of this trail, you must have covered 4 miles. I always have the urge to drink a lot of water from my hydration bottle before the last climb. Once you finish the last climb on the Hogback Trail, there is a water source (a water fountain and a faucet) and you can make your water refill here.

Wooden Bridge & Hogback Trail

Wooden Bridge & Hogback Trail

From the water source, follow the fire road as it continuously go on a higher elevation (don’t turn left on the trail that goes down after the faucet/water source). In about 30 meters from the faucet, there is a three-way intersection, turn left on the fire road and in about 100 meters, you can now see some concrete tables and benches inside a corral on the Dante’s View/Peak and the Hollywood Sign can be seen on your right. The Dante’s View/Peak is usually the resting place of those who hike and jog. One could see the City, the Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Sign and the trails/fire roads that snake within the perimeter of the park. But for me, I just get inside the corral and touch the biggest rock where the Survey Marker is located and immediately turn-around. The distance covered is 4.5 miles at this point!

Dante's View/Peak

Dante’s View/Peak

From the turn-around, I retrace my route as I go back to where I started, to include going to the peak of the Beacon Hill. One has to be very careful in going down along the Hogback Trail as there is great possibility that one makes a mistake of slipping from the trail which is purely a rock.

My Fastest Time to complete this trail running route is 2 hours. It has a total ascent of 1,857 feet and total descent of 1,837 feet. Dante’s Peak/View has an elevation of 1,608 feet above sea level. Allocate at least 3 hours for an average hiking with picture/hydration stops for this route.

A Runner’s Circle (ARC) Specialty Store is only 1 Mile away from the “Merry-Go-Round” Parking Lot. From the Parking Lot, turn right to Crystal Spring Road towards the Los Feliz Avenue Entrance to Griffith Park. Turn Left on Los Feliz Avenue and immediately after crossing the bridge, the ARC Store will be on your Right.

More trail routes to come within Griffith Park and other parts in the Los Angeles Area and its Suburbs in my future posts.





2015-16 Trail Running Season: 2nd Week

20 08 2015

Total Distance: 66 miles/105.6 kilometers

Total Time: 16:53:02 hours

Total Ascent: 12,783 feet

Total Descent 12,834 feet

Average Pace: 17:00 minutes/mile

Average Speed: 4.33 miles per hour

Average Heart Rate: 135 bpm

Total Calories: 7,139 kcal

Shoes: Hoka One One Speedgoat

Cucamonga Wilderness Peak

Cucamonga Wilderness Peak





Gerald Tabios: First PINOY “Back-To-Back” Badwater 135-Mile Race Finisher

18 08 2015

Last year, I featured on this blog the story of Gerald Tabios as the First Pinoy to have finished the New (Route) Badwater 135-Mile Ultra Marathon Race to include his story as a runner/ultra runner. As a result, Gerald finished the 2014 Badwater 135-Mile Ultra Marathon Race in 44:40:40 hours ranking him as #69 overall out of 97 starters.

Team Tabios Logo Of Badwater 135-Mile Race

Team Tabios Logo Of Badwater 135-Mile Race. Shirt Was Designed By Bryan Calo of San Diego, California (Photo From Facebook)

This year, 2015, Gerald surprised us again for his feat to run and finish the actual/original route of the race. As a result of a thorough study on the safety of athletes in the conduct of sports activities in the Death Valley Park which resulted to its closure to sports events for almost two (2) years, the Superintendent of the Park allowed the conduct of the Badwater Ultra Marathon Race on its original route, from Badwater, Death Valley Park, California to Mt Whitney Portal, Lone Pine, California with a very strict start in the evening, instead of a morning start. The race was held on July 28-30, 2015, on the hottest time of the year in the Death Valley Park.

Team Tabios @ The Starting Area (With Donna, Kat & Ronald)

Team Tabios @ The Starting Area (With Wife Donna, Robert Rizon, Kat Bermudez, Luis Miguel Callao Is Not In The Picture) Photo From Facebook

This is the brief description of the race as taken from the Badwater 135 Website:

“The World’s Toughest Foot Race”

“Covering 135 miles (217km) non-stop from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA, the Nutrimatix Badwater® 135 is the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet. The start line is at Badwater, Death Valley, which marks the lowest elevation in North America at 280’ (85m) below sea level. The race finishes at Whitney Portal at 8,300’ (2530m). The Badwater 135 course covers three mountain ranges for a total of 14,600’ (4450m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 6,100’ (1859m) of cumulative descent. Whitney Portal is the trailhead to the Mt. Whitney summit, the highest point in the contiguous United States. Competitors travel through places or landmarks with names like Mushroom Rock, Furnace Creek, Salt Creek, Devil’s Cornfield, Devil’s Golf Course, Stovepipe Wells, Panamint Springs, Keeler, Alabama Hills, and Lone Pine.”

For this year, Gerald Tabios is one of the 97 starters who represented runners coming from 23 countries, including USA and Canada. With a cut-off time of 48 hours to finish the race, the runners have to endure the hottest temperature in the area, reaching to a high of 130 degrees Fahrenheit (air temperature) and another 200 degrees Fahrenheit heat coming from the pavement , gusty winds in the desert and mountains, the challenging vertical ascents of three (3) mountain ranges, and the sight of never-ending paved highway on the horizon. These are the challenges that each of the runners would experience before they reach the Finish Line. Each runner is ably supported by his team, consisting of a Support Vehicle, driver, pacer, and a medical/logistic aide, but most of the time, each member of the team are doing multi-tasks just to be able to bring their runner to the Finish Line, safe and without any injuries. Each runner would bring with him his logistical support and emergency medical/first-aid aboard his/her Support Vehicle, “leap-frogging” the runner from one point to another along the route. Gerald was supported by Team Tabios consisting of his wife, Donna Tabios, Kat Bermudez (wife of Bigfoot 200-Miler Finisher Jun Bermudez), Luis Miguel Callao (a Pinoy Ultra Runner), and Robert Rizon.

Luis Miguel “Nonong” Callao and Gerald Tabios are very close childhood friends and classmates since kindergarten!

Starting Area: Badwater Basin @ Death Valley Park

Starting Area: Badwater Basin @ Death Valley Park (Photo from Facebook)

Gerald In Action With Luis Miguel Callao As Pacer

Gerald In Action With Luis Miguel Callao As Pacer (Photo From Facebook)

Considering that the “original” course is harder and more challenging than last year’s “alternate/new” Badwater 135 route, Gerald improved on his performance. Gerald finished this year’s edition with a time of 42 hours, 52 minutes and 9 seconds, making him as the 65th overall finisher out of the 97 starters. Out of the 97 runners who started, 18 runners did not finish the race. Such DNF record for this year is higher than of last year’s edition. Despite such situation, Gerald was able to improve his performance chipping off almost 2 hours of his time last year and improving his ranking among the finishers.

To make his accomplishment more significant, he is the ONLY Filipino to have been qualified and invited by the Race Organizer to join in this year’s edition. And he is now in the history of this race as the FIRST Pinoy Ultra Runner to have finished the Badwater 135-Mile Race in two consecutive years!

Approaching Mt Whitney @ Lone Pine, California

Approaching Mt Whitney @ Lone Pine, California (Photo From Facebook)

The Overall Champion of the 2015 Badwater 135-Mile Race is Pete Kostelnick of Lincoln, Nebraska, USA with a finish time of 23:27:10 hours. The Lady Champion, Nikki Wynd of Australia, finished the race with a time of 27:23:27 hours, making her as the 4th Overall Finisher of the Race. Race results can be seen here:

http://dbase.adventurecorps.com/results.php?bw_eid=74&bwr=Go

The Race Organizer of the Badwater 135-Mile Race is very selective in accepting its participants every year. Even if you have the financial resources to register; support the logistical needs in this race; or have the physical and mental prowess to undertake and run this course, every Runner must convince the Race Organizer on his/her advocacy to help the community or to the world for a better place to live in. As in last year, Gerald ran for a Charity to help the Victims of Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. And since his successful finish in last year’s edition, Gerald had continuously channeled whatever amount of money he had raised to this advocacy/charity for the past two years.

Never-Ending Highway @ Death Valley Park

Never-Ending Highway @ Death Valley Park (Photo From Twitter/Badwater.Com)

In a brief interview with him, I asked if he is joining in the next year’s Badwater 135-Mile Race. He immediately replied, “Yes, I will be joining this race as long as I can run. This is a significant way that I can help my country, most specially, to those who are still suffering due to the effects brought about by Typhoon Yolanda.” Not only does Gerald is firm in his stand on his advocacy, he is also a good example of a fit, healthy, and hard-working father of a family.

Mabuhay ka, Gerald! You make us proud to be a Filipino! Congratulations to you and to Team Tabios!!!:

Proud To Be Pinoy!

Proud To Be Pinoy! (Kat Bermudez, Donna Tabios, Gerald Tabios & Luis Miguel Callao (Photo From Facebook)





Conrado Bermudez Jr: The FIRST Filipino Finisher Of A 200-Mile Mountain Ultra Marathon Trail Single Stage Run

17 08 2015

My friends and contemporaries would always tell me that I am CRAZY to be running ultra marathon distances in the mountains in the country as well as in Asia and the United States. I just smile because that is the best description we (as ultra runners) could get to those who have not yet experienced our sports. But now, more ultra runners have extended their body limits and endurance by introducing a 200-mile endurance mountain trail event which has doubled the famous 100-mile distance which is now being accepted as the NEW Marathon Distance in Ultra Running. The runners of this new event could be the CRAZIEST of them all and since it was introduced only last year in the first edition of the Lake Tahoe 200-Mile Endurance Run, three of these events had been scheduled for this year and called the Grand Slam of 200-Milers (it was supposed to be 4 races: Colorado 200; Arizona 200; Lake Tahoe 200; and Bigfoot 200 but the Arizona 200 was cancelled).

Let me introduce to you the CRAZIEST Ultra Runner who just recently finished the 1st edition of the Bigfoot 200-Mile Endurance Run——Conrado Bermudez Jr! Being the FIRST Pinoy to have finished this mountain ultra trail running event, it would be proper and fitting to have his story in running to be published here as one of the main highlights of this blog with the hope of inspiring others and telling to the world that we, Filipinos, are very strong and resilient in nature.

Bigfoot 200-Mile Endurance Race Picture Collage

Bigfoot 200-Mile Endurance Race Picture Collage

Conrado Bermudez Jr, or fondly called as “Jun”, finished the 200-Mile Race in 94 hours, 26 minutes, and 30 seconds, placing himself as #40 among the 59 finishers where 80 runners started in the morning of Friday, August 7, 2015 at the Mt Helens National Monument in Washington State. The race has a cut-off time of 108 hours which is equivalent to 4 1/2 days, forcing the runners to complete 45 miles per day during the race. The following is the general description of the race as taken from its Website:

“The Bigfoot 200 is a trail running event in the Washington State that seeks to give back to the trails by inspiring preservation of the wild lands and donating money to trail building in the Pacific Northwest. The race is a point to point traverse of some of the most stunning, wild, and scenic trails in the Cascade Mountain range of Washington State. The Race ends in Randle, WA after traversing the Cascade Mountains from Mt St Helens to Mt Adams and along ridge lines with views of Mt Rainier, Mt Hood, and more!

The race will bring together people from all over the world to tackle this incredible challenge. With over 50,000 feet of ascent and more than 96,000 feet of elevation change in 2015 miles, this non-stop event is one of a kind in both its enormous challenge and unparalleled scenery. The race is not a stage race nor it is a relay. Athletes will complete the route solo in 108 hours or less, some without sleeping.”

Jun finished the race with barely 6 hours of sleep during the race! He was supported by his wife, Kat, their daughter and running friends who would meet him in Aid Stations where there is vehicular access. For more details of the race, one can visit the following link:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/144kJI9kfIPp8XP3P7pauTWXKv7DqhquM0SVxEKn8558/edit

Finish Line Of The Bigfoot 200-Mile Race

Finish Line Of The Bigfoot 200-Mile Race With The Race Director (Photo From Facebook)

Jun is a native of General Santos City, graduate of the Philippine Military Academy belonging to Class 1996, a Special Forces Airborne, and Scout Ranger of the Philippine Army before his family migrated to the United States.

In my interview with him on the later part of last year after he finished the other 3 100-Milers in the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (except Western States 100); he recollected that he first personally met me when he was the Aide-De-Camp of the Commander of the Southern Command in Zamboanga City and I was then the Commander of the Task Force Zamboanga. The year was 2000 and he was barely 4 years in the military service. He went further to tell me that he got inspired by my blogs and photo running galore through my posts in our PMA Bugo-bugo Facebook Page.

Jun finished the prestigious Boston Marathon Race in 3:11:14 hours.

The following are the some of the data about Jun and the answer to the questions I’ve asked him:

1. Home Province-Gen. Santos City; Age-42 ; Height- 5’9″; Present Body Weight-146 lbs ; Schools Attended (Elementary to Graduate Schools)-Notre Dame of Mlang, Noth Cotabato (Elem), Notre Dame of Dadiangas College-High School Dept; PMA Class-1996 and Special Training in the Military-Scout Ranger, Airborne.

2. Places of Assignments and Positions held in the Military/Philippine Army:

Platoon Leader-  Alpha Coy, 25IB, PA as Ready Deployment Force (striker battalion) of 6ID in Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato Province. My platoon was also involved in capturing Camp Rajamuda in Pikit, Cotabato Province in 1997.

Company Commander- Bravo Coy, 25IB, PA , mostly deployed in Maguindanao. My company was also deployed in the front lines of Matanog and Buldon and was very instrumental in capturing Camp Abubakar.

3. Present Job & Working Hours-Security Officer in the United Nations Headquarters in NYC and works on day shift; City of Residence in the US-Jersey City, New Jersey; Wife’s Job- ER Nurse; Gender & Number of Children- one daughter

4. Brief Background of Running (during Childhood up to College and as Cadet of the PMA)

I started running when I was 7 years old. I grew-up in a farm and the only playground we had was an open field and trails where we would run and tag each other. In elementary and high school, I was so engrossed on soccer games than any other ballgames. This is why when I joined the PMA, I discovered that I was a decent runner because I was always in the lead pack when we had our 2-mile run as part of our physical fitness test. I also represented my company (PMA) in various races but most of the time I bonked because I usually go all out at the start and faint halfway through, which resulted to my ER visits. My style of running then was with a “do or die” mentality; no technique, no proper hydration and nutrition. It was just a plain “old-school” way and lots of brute force.

5. Best time in 5K- 19:22; 10K-42:08 ; Half-Marathon-1:26:52 ; and Marathon-3:11:14 All were done in 2013.

6. Brief story on your exposure to ultra distance running events—-first 50K; first 50-miler; first 100K; and first 100-miler.

I started joining races in 2012. That year I only finished 2 marathons. I was following your blogs and postings about the Bataan Death March 102 and 160 and the other races you directed and I got inspired by the spirit of the running community, and it was that I got curious about ultrarunning, especially the 100-mile distance.

To start my ultrarunning quest, I signed-up for a local flat, out-and-back, looped course. Thinking that 50km was just over a marathon, and 50 miles was just 2 marathons, I signed-up for a 100k, which was held in March 2013 in New Jersey. I’m glad that I met some new good friends there, who are now like a family. I was so proud that I finished in that muddy, swampy, and cold course third place. My wife and daughter were there for my first ultra. As a solitary person, running alone for a day was not such a big deal. The feeling of finishing a long distance further boosted my spirit… I got hooked. Then I signed-up for my first 100 miler scheduled three months after. It was in June in the inaugural Trail Animal Running Club (TARC) 100-Mile Endurance Run and the first 100-mile run in Massachusetts. The race started at 7 pm Friday with a cut-off of 30 hours. The course was in a 25-mile flat trails with some creeks spread along the way. I was very enthusiastic to train knowing that some of my friends are also running the race. As part of my preparation, I was reading some blogs and race reports, and I even asked your advice on how to deal with the distance. You discussed to me the proper nutrition and hydration and also incorporating hike into running. The course got indescribably muddy, with most sections in knee-deep mud in every mile, but with my grit and determination, I was able to finish despite a big number of DNF in the race. I felt reborn and my spirit was so high. It took me a week to recover from the pain.

In November, I did my first 50-mile race as  a finale for the year. The JFK 50 Mile is the oldest and the largest ultramarathon in the US. The course is a combination of road and trail. It passes through the Appalachian Trail and C&O Canal Towpath then ends in an 8-mile paved road in Maryland. The course was pretty easy and fast. This is where I met some new hardcore ultrarunners from the Virginia Happy Trails Club.

After running all long distances, I signed-up for my first 50k as part of my back-to-back training for my incoming six 100’s. The Febapple Fifty was held on Saturday of February 2014. Then the next day, I ran the Central Park Marathon. The Febapple race was fun. The course was filled mostly with knee-high ice and snow in a rolling hills of South Mountain Reservation in New Jersey. It was quite a tough race because the ice turned slushy and it was a bit hard to run. I still managed to finish in the top ten.

All of my first attempts of these distances were mostly to get me into groove to venture and discover ultrarunning. I realized the 100-mile distance is my favorite.

7. Training Preparation in your 100-Miler Races and Nutrition Strategy in your Races. How do you balance your training with your work and family? (*I will discuss my training in item # 9).

In short ultra races, I carry a handheld bottle or belt hydration system. They are lighter that I could run faster. I take one salt tablet every hour but if I sweat a lot, I take two every hour and nothing at night when it’s cold. In aid stations, I eat potato, banana, watermelon, and PB & J aside from the Ensure that I carry as my basic load. I make sure I take more nutrition at the early stage of the race. I also drink ginger ale and Coke/Pepsi to refresh my mind from the lows.

I come home from work around 8pm and do my chores and help my daughter do her homework. If all is done, I relax for awhile and train. It usually takes me an hour or two to finish my training. I sleep around midnight and wake-up at 6am. I am fortunate that my wife is also supportive of my passion as she herself is an ultrarunner. And our daughter is also our number one cheerer. So far, everyone is in sync in the family.

Jun Bermudez @ Leadville 100-Mile Race

Jun Bermudez @ Leadville 100-Mile Race (Photo From UltraSignUp)

8. Were you aware of the US Grand Slam of Ultrarunning? Since you missed the Western States 100 this year, do you intend to take a shot on the 2015 US Grand Slam of Ultrarunning?

I did not have my qualifier for Western States  last year. I was already aware of the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, so to get the feel of it, I tried to sign-up for six 100-mile races. I put my name in Massanutten Mountain Trail 100 and Wasatch Front 100 for lottery and fortunately, I was accepted. Since I have proven that I could finish multiple races in a gap of 3-5 weeks, I have more confidence now to challenge myself in GS in the future. There’s only a slim chance for me to get into Western States with one ticket but I will make sure I will apply every year to increase my chances. If not, I am planning to do more challenging 100-mile mountain races next year. It just sank-in that what I did was insane. Every time I finished, I cursed myself for signing-up and promised myself not to do 100’s anymore. But a couple of days after, I feel that I am ready to go again. Thus, if ever I am accepted in Western States in the future, I won’t hesitate to join the Grand Slam.

9. Knowing that you are a “lowlander”, how did you train for the 100-mile mountain races that you finished? How did you cope up with the possibility of encountering “high altitude” sickness in your latest two 100-milers?

My training was focused in strengthening my legs, ankles, and feet in battling the rigorous technical terrain. But 90% of my training was indoor because of my busy schedule, and  I have a child to watch that I could not leave at home if my wife is working or training for her ultra events. I usually do stairs workout, climbing up and down, up to 250 floors without rest every two weeks, which is a great way to improve my VO2max and giving me more mountain legs. Most of the time, I abuse my incline trainer/treadmill, which goes to 40%. I use it for incline hike/run with 10-15 lbs of rucksack together with my 2.5 pounder ankle weights. Although I hated speed workout, I still do my 5k in treadmill and this keeps my pace honest. Sometimes I do my trail long runs in the weekends with my friends but most of the time, I am stuck on my treadmill. Treadmill running is boring but it gives me more mental conditioning to tackle the distance. Aside from that, it also preserves my feet from the hard pounding of the pavement. I don’t really track my weekly mileage because I don’t have a proper training plan that I follow. I just listen to my body and do whatever I feel I need to work on. And to avoid injury, I do strength and core workout twice a week.

In an attempt to combat altitude sickness, I was taking  iron, B complex, and vitamin C supplements. But these didn’t really help much. I still got more vomitting in Leadville (12,600 ft highest altitude) after mile 60 and had some also after mile 70 in Wasatch.

10. How did you balance recovery and preparation in between those 100-milers for the 6-month duration of your ultra events?

I treat every race as my long run. After the race, I relax, stretch, and foam roll for 3-4 days to get rid of the pain. I also come back to work 2 days after the race. At work, I stand for 6 hours. I think standing at work and walking from home to train station and to work helps my fast recovery. At the end of the week, I start doing easy runs again. Then the next week, I go back to my usual training routine. My taper starts 2 weeks before the next race. I did this routine in my last four 100 milers. In fact, I was feeling fresh every time I start the next race and my spirit gets stronger. I was amazed that I was able to do sub 20 hours in 3 100 milers. Although I did not achieve my goal of finishing Leadville 100 in sub 25 and Wasatch Front 100 in sub 30, I am still ecstatic that I finished those races SOLO (no pacer, no crew) and without getting injured. When I finished Leadville 100, I focused more on recovery by just doing stretching, hiking and easy runs. It was in Leadville that I suffered much because of the altitude and my mistake of not hydrating properly. I had nausea and I threw up every time I ate and drank after mile 60, and I was also suffering from a bad stomach issue. Wasatch is harder than Leadville. But due to my proper hyrdation and nutrition, I felt better and stronger although I still had gastrointestinal issues around mile 70, but later I managed to cope with them by slowing down and taking my time at aid stations to recover.

11. What are your tips and advise to those who would venture to mountain ultra trail running events. What would be the things that you have to improve upon if ever you want to improve your performance in your previous 100-milers?

It takes a lot of discipline. Training involves time away from your family and it is important that no matter what, family comes first. It is helpful if your family is supportive, so that is paramount in your quest for ultrarunning and paramount in the list of things you have to make sure you obtain, foremost.

Never be afraid of the adventure. It is not always about the destination (aka finishing) but the journey. That is my advice to other runners.

Personally, I think I need to improve on certain strategies like hydration and nutrition. Also, not just to eliminate issues like GI problems that come with certain races, but— more importantly— how to perform well regardless of these problems because, lets face it, problems encountered during races MAY NOT ever go away. So it is a matter of pushing past these issues and finishing strong. Thats what I need to work on.

12. Aside from the 2015 US Grand Slam of Ultrarunning plan, what is in store for you in the coming ultra running years?

I want to venture into other Ultra races. The challenging ones, in particular. There are many races out there to explore with challenging course and beautiful sceneries. When they go hand in hand, they become priceless experiences, especially when you finish them. Like I said, mountain 100-milers are my favorite, but that is not to say I will not try to explore on distances beyond that. We’ll wait and see.

Jun could not stop wanting for more and he is now one of the few mountain ultra trail 200-mile single stage finishers entire the world. For the past two years, he has the following 100-miler mountain trail races with their corresponding finish time in his belt :

TARC 100-Miler in Westwood, Massachusetts (June 14, 2013) —-25:19:27 hours

New Jersey Ultra Trail Festival 100-Miler in Augusta, New Jersey (November 23, 2013)—-18:53:31 hours

Massanutten 100-Miler in Front Royal, Virginia (May 17, 2014)—-28:05:55 hours

Great New York City 100-Miler (June 21, 2014)—-19:33:14 hours

Vermont 100-Miler (July 19, 2014)—-19:10:51 hours

Leadville (Colorado) 100-Miler (August 16, 2014)—-29:19:11 hours

Wasatch Front (Utah) 100-Miler (September 5, 2014)—-32:18:26 hours

Massanutten 100-Miler (May 16, 2015)—-25:45:03 hours

San Diego (California) 100-Miler (June 6, 2015)—-22:16:27 hours

After his sub-24 hour finish at the San Diego 100-Mile Endurance Race, I told him that he has to rest and recover in between his races to let his body free from injuries brought about by over racing or over training in ultra distances. I even told him that he has to prepare for the possibility of being selected in the lottery for the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race if ever he registers to join the race. I emphasized that I am betting on him that he will be the FIRST Pinoy Ultra Runner to be awarded the “One Day-24 Hour” Silver Buckle in the said race and I am sure that it will take another generation of Pinoy Ultra Runners to surpass such accomplishment.

My prediction on his ultra running career brought not a single word from his mouth but instead responded to me with a smile. Jun is a silent type guy and does not openly brag about his ultra running finishes on the Social Media and he does not even have a blog or journal where he can relate and share his stories in his ultra races. However, my interview with him has a lot of tips and advise for those who would like to embark on mountain ultra trail running, most specially to those who are in the lowlands and for those who don’t have access to the mountains or simply lazy to be in the outdoors.

BR & Jun @ Lake Cuyamaca

BR & Jun @ Lake Cuyamaca

Before we parted ways in Lake Cuyamaca in Mt Laguna, San Diego, California, he intimated to me that his ultra running career is not complete if he will not be able to finish the Grand Slam of the Bataan Death March 102/160 Ultra Marathon Race! Hopefully, that will be the day that Jun will be able to meet the whole Pinoy Ultra Running Community in his homeland.

This is what I said to Jun, “Get your Western States 100-Mile Silver Buckle first before coming home, Cavalier!”

(Note: Jun had been using HOKA ONE ONE Shoes in all his trail running races and training)





2nd “Running Boom” In The Philippines

11 08 2015

The “1st Running Boom” was felt in the Philippines after Frank Shorter of the USA won the Gold Medal in Marathon in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games which resulted to the conduct of more Marathon Races and other Running Events in the United States. Of course, more books and publications on running had been published making the sports more accessible to the public. The “ripple effect” on the popularity of Running in the USA had reached the shores of the country and it was too easy and convenient due to the direct interest and involvement of the government and the support from the private sector as sponsors, as well as, Race Organizers. It was also the period of Golden Age In Athletics in the country due to the government’s Project “Gintong Alay”, that produced our best athletes in medium to long distance runners and ultimately, which also catapulted us among the bests in the ASIAN Games and Southeast Asian Games. (Note: If you want to read more details on the “1st Running Boom” in the country, you can browse on my previous posts in this blog. Be patient.)

In the mid-80s, specifically, after the February 1986 EDSA People Power Incident and the change in Political Leadership, the conduct of Running Events had diminished but some of the international/multi-national companies in the country continued their yearly events as Race Organizers, maybe, it’s because it is one of their “tax shelters” or tax-deductible items and not so-much as an income generating activity for the company. It could had been a part of their so-called “Corporate Social Responsibility” by giving back something to the public as their main stakeholder. As for the government, there was no initiative to conduct such running events and the elite program in sports was ignored and shelved without any attempt of resurrecting it up to this time.

In the advent of the Internet and its accessibility to the country, the Social Media, through WordPress and Blogger, anybody who owns a laptop or computer with connection with the Internet, can already write anything under the sun and have it posted so that others could read them. In the country, Bull Runner started a running blog and I followed (after 5 months) to create my own and the Bald Runner was born and the rest is history. The year was in 2007.

So, let us now go where this post is leading to. Few months back, there was a study published by RunRepeat.com showing data and observations about the rise of Marathon Running since 2009 and the study covered the period 2009 to 2014. The study compared the marathon activities and performance across all nations with a database of 2,195,588 marathon results and according to the study, their analysis is the largest in history of running. The research/study is entitled: Marathon Performance Across Nations. The details of the research could be seen here:

http://runrepeat.com/research-marathon-performance-across-nations

Out of the so many factors and topics on the research/study, this post will be dealing on the growth of Marathon Running in the country (Philippines) based from the data below:

Screenshot Taken From The Study

Screenshot Taken From The Study

It appears that we are in the Top Podium, being the Number 3 in the Top Performing Countries with regards to the Growth In The Popularity of Marathon Running during the period of the study. We have a 211.90% growth in the Philippines which is HUGE! And as such, we also contributed as the Top Continent in the World (ASIA) with a 92.43% growth which is also huge! I can only surmise that Bull Runner and I were the “catalyst” of this phenomenon in the country as other bloggers/runners followed to create their own blogs whether they are there as “real and dedicated” runners or simply as running resource for running events or fond of “reposting” articles or links in the Internet related to Running.

In the data below, China beats us for the 2nd place by mere 47+% but as compared to our population with theirs, our growth in running is REALLY HUGE!!! Other countries in Asia are also significantly growing in marathon running, Hongkong is #7 followed by India with Singapore as #10.

Screenshot Taken From The Study

Screenshot Taken From The Study

Based from the data above, I would conclude that we are in our “2nd Running Boom” era. I could see that this is a good sign of things that had been happening since 2009 and for sure, more positive to come in the future. Why? Because the data portrayed had been good to the economy of the country! (Find somebody who is graduate of AIM or any Business Degree for the explanation!) There could be some exceptions to this case but I am very positive that this growth in marathon running had and will have a direct contribution to the economy of our country in the future.

In short, I am happy that I am one of those who are contributing to a positive outlook in the economy of this country due to running.

By the way, can somebody who has the time and resources/contacts come up with an Annual Report of Marathon Running in the country? A good reference would be what the USA is doing for the past years as seen in these links:

http://www.runningusa.org/marathon-report-2015?returnTo=annual-reports

http://www.runningusa.org/2015-state-of-sport-us-trends

I wonder what would be the data and analysis if a study or research would be made for ultra marathon events, as well as, trail running events in the country would be like ever since I started with the Bataan Death March 102 Ultra Marathon Races and other PAU Races. I am sure, this will be an interesting one. But that will be another story in this blog!

Go out and run!





Shoe Review: HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat

9 08 2015

History of the Model

Speedgoat is the monicker of Karl Meltzer in the Ultra Running Community. He is an elite mountain trail ultrarunner and has the distinction of winning the most number of 100-Mile Ultra Running Events, a record of 36 Championship Awards and had been awarded the Ultrarunner of the Year. He is the Race Organizer and Director of the famous Speedgoat 50K Ultra Trail Run and other Vertical Trail Races in Snowbird, Utah. He also one of the most sought after Ultra Running Coaches. He is the first elite ultra runner in the USA who used and introduced the shoe brand HOKA ONE ONE and the rest is history. It is fitting that the shoe company honors him with a specific trail shoe model that speaks about the man. Thus, HOKA One One users around the world are excited to have a hand on the said shoes.

Attempts To Get The Shoes

As a one of his clients to his Coaching Services and having met him personally in last year’s edition of the Speedgoat 50K Trail Run (which I didn’t finish due to strict cut-off time at Mile 20), I sent him a request if I could buy directly to the shoe company of the earlier production of the shoes on the later part of May this year as I could see and read shoe reviews on the Internet about the shoes. I think my request was relayed by him to the company but I did not hear any response from them. So, I waited for the announced release to the distributors and sports stores on the first week of July but only to get the news that the release date will be sometime in August.

On the last week of July, I monitored almost everyday the availability of the shoes by visiting the Website of the HOKA ONE ONE (HOO). The availability of the shoes at Running Warehouse for my particular shoe size was scheduled on the 3rd week of August and then to September and lately to October this year. My patience bear fruit on the last few days of July when I got a “green light” with the advise that my shoe size and model is “On Stock” on the On Line Sales of Hoka One One. I immediately ordered one pair and the shoes was delivered after two days. I paid $140 + $12 (Sales Tax), with a total amount of $152.00 with Free Shipping Fee.

Finally, I was able to realize what I posted in our Facebook’s HOO Philippine Club Group Page three months ago, “I will be the first one to have this kind of shoes in this Club”.

Finally, The Box Arrived

Finally, The Box Arrived

Actual Review & Observations

Color Combination——The first thing that will attract ones attention is the combination of colors of the shoes. Yes, they are the colors of Red Bull (silver, red, and blue), one of the Sponsors of Karl’s Runs and Races and the usual colors of the Shoe Brand HOKA ONE ONE—-blue & yellow. The other Speedgoat model has the colors, red, black and blue! If you are not attracted with the name of the shoe model, then for sure, you will be attracted with the striking color-combination of the shoes. Most of the runners that I know have the impulse to buy any kind of running shoes due to the striking color combination.

Shoe Laces Holes——Obviously, these are the holes where one has to insert the shoe laces. As compared to the other HOO Shoes, this is the only model that has 5 holes, all the rest have 6 holes in one shoe. If you are not using the last uppermost hole of the Speedgoat (where it is used to lock the shoes with the foot), the shoes has only 4 holes! It means that it is easier and faster to tighten and tie the shoes and also to untie and remove the shoes from the foot. If you have the habit of changing your wet socks with dry ones in the Aid Stations in an ultra running event, the time on untying and tying your shoes would mean a lot if you are trying to catch up with those tight intermediate cut-off times in the different Checkpoints along the race route. Since I am always on the back of the pack in every race, this is a big advantage and useful for me!

First Model/Prototype To Shoe Reviewers & HOO Elites With 6 Holes & Flat Laces

First Model/Prototype To Shoe Reviewers & HOO Elites With 6 Holes & Flat Laces

From Flat to Round & Light Shoe Laces——Earlier model of this shoes have those flat shoe laces, the same shoe laces on my HOO Challenger ATR and I was surprised to see that my shoes have those rounded shoe laces which are smaller/thinner in size as compared to those rounded shoe laces of my old HOO Stinson EVO. I have observed that the rounded shoe laces have an average length as compared to the longer flat shoe laces of the Challenger ATR. Those flat shoe laces have the tendency to get longer and longer as the shoe is being used for more mileages. It appears that Speedgoat’s shoe laces will remain with their present length and size.

Observation about 1/2 size Bigger——In almost all those blogs and reviews that I’ve read from their sponsored elite athletes, they stated that the shoes is 1/2 size bigger. However, when I used them with my slightly thicker Drymax Trail Socks, I am surprised that they fit exactly with my feet with a little allowance (1/2 inch) from the tip of my big toes. This is exactly the same fit that I’ve experienced with my HOO Stinson Evo which I consider as my best road racing and training shoes so far. With the use of the regular Drymax socks, I have observed that there is more room for my forefoot and toes to splay on the toe box area of the shoes. It felt like I was using my Altra shoes! If it is too roomy for my feet if I use the ultra thin & light Drymax socks, I might try to use the additional insole of my HOO Challenger ATR (The Challenger ATR has two inserts/insole in each shoe). With my experience in using the HOO, I simply tighten the shoe laces more to prevent my feet and toes to be moving unnecessarily while I am running or hiking. After running with them for almost 100 kilometers (62 miles), I could feel that the shoes had stretched a little for more space for my toes and forefoot.

Thickness of Sole——All the shoe models of HOO have thick soles that is why they are fondly called as maximalist running shoes. However, this model is an exact copy of their Rapa-Nui 2 model which is also designed as a trail shoes. The Rapa-Nui has a stack height of 33 mm on the Heel portion and 28 mm on the Forefoot section. The 5mm difference, popularly known as “heel-to-toe drop”, gives a feeling of “rockered forefoot” which according to the HOO designers and engineers provide a more efficient gait, better running form and faster “heel-to-toe” transition of the foot during running. Whatever that statement means, I assume that it will make a runner faster by some milliseconds! The Speedgoat’s sole thickness has a stacked height of 34 mm on the heel and 29 mm, maintaining a difference of 5 mm, that looks to be deceivingly thicker than the Rapa-Nui 2 model. The bottom-line is that this shoe, just like the other HOO models, the thick soles will give you the best comfort to your feet on your runs on the road, as well as, along the trails whether they are technical or not. And to be more specific, I find more efficiency in running with all the HOO models when I land my foot deliberately with the heel first and letting it roll towards the forefoot. With the Speedgoat, I feel more cushion and comfort most specially in the downhill running as the “rocker” effect in ones gait is more pronounced and experienced. In ultra running distances, such comfort will give an edge to the runner for more sustained strength on the legs during the day and night running. And did I tell you that you have faster recovery after an ultra race if you used a Hoka One One Shoes? Well, it’s true!

Vibram's Metagrip Outsole & Figure

Vibram’s Metagrip Outsole & Figure “8”

Metagrip VIBRAM Outsole——From the HOO Bondi B, Bondi Speed, Stinson EVO, Huaka, and Challenger ATR (the shoe models that I’ve used for the past 5 years of running), the common denominator as a weakness of these models is the durability of their outsoles. After running for the first 100 kilometers of each of these models, you can already see a significant “wear and tear” on their outsoles which I never experienced from the other trail shoes in my arsenal. But the Speedgoat is some sort of a Redemption Shoe for all HOO “addicts” and loyal customers as they are fitted with the Metagrip VIBRAM Outsole. After running on single track trails, rocky trails, and fire roads for almost 100 kilometers, I could not see any signs of “wear and tear” from the Vibram outsole which is a big improvement from my old and ‘soon-to-be” retired other HOO models in my arsenal. This is the MOST significant feature and advantage of this model from the other trail shoes of HOO——the durability of the outsoles of the shoes!

Cushioned Tongue——Not only for being cushioned but they are also a little longer but does not affect ones efficiency in running and would not cause any abrasion on the front part of the ankle. One would notice that there are TWO slots on the tongue where the shoe laces coming from holes #2 and #3 would pass. I have observed that these slots would maintain the position of the tongue while on the run giving more comfort on the top part of the foot. Most of my trail shoes have only one slot on their tongues and after every run, I would observe that the tongue have the tendency to slide towards the outer side of the foot/shoes and this movement allows the tendency for the debris from the trail to get inside the shoes. I was even more surprised when I did not experience any small particles from the trail getting inside these shoes. I guess, it is time for me not to use gaiters for this shoes!

Cushioned Upper Part of Heel Counter——This is the yellow-colored portion at the heel counter of the shoes. I’ve noticed a big difference of this part of the shoes when compared to my HOO Challenger ATR as the Speedgoat has a more pronounced cushion that would be flashed closer and tight to the Achilles tendon and both sides of the ankles. I’ve observed that my Achilles tendon sits comfortably on the shoes even if I have the shoe laces tighten to the max.

Cushioned Heel Counter

Cushioned Heel Counter

Light and Porous Material On Its Uppers——Have I told you that this is one of the lightest shoes of HOO? Actually, it is the third lightest HOO model in my arsenal being the Challenger as the lightest and the Huaka as the 2nd lightest. The shoes has a weight of 9.7 ounces despite the fact that it has a Vibram outsole and more cushioned tongue. The light and porous material on its Uppers contributed to the lighter weight of the shoes. It also gives more breathability to the feet where air would enter in these porous holes during the run most especially in hot and humid conditions. However, in water/stream crossings, water would easily get inside making the the socks and lining of the shoes wet and damp but with the continuous pounding of the feet, these water would easily exit through these porous holes! Through my past experiences in running in the lahar areas and rivers in the Mt Pinatubo 50K Trail Run and Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile and Marathon Trail Races, these shoes would not prevent those abrasive lahar from entering the shoes. Did I say dust entering the shoes? Yes, the dust would enter through these porous holes and it is advisable not to use white socks in them. Surprisingly, there is also a Drymax “Speedgoat” Trail Socks available in the market that would match the goods looks and functional capability of the shoes and they come in black/gray color!

Another View Of The Lug Pattern Of The Outsole

Another View Of The Lug Pattern Of The Outsole

Thickness of the Lugs and Lug Pattern——Yes, the lugs on the outsole are thicker than any of the HOO trail shoes that I have and they are 5 mm thick! This is almost the same thickness of the outsole lugs of my Salomon Sense 3 (Soft Ground) and Inov-8 Roclites (but, they are NOT Vibram outsoles!). However, most significant improvement and advantage of the HOO Speedgoat from these other shoes is the pattern on how they are positioned on the outsole. The pattern of lugs on the sole would show a figure of number 8, as seen from the top view. The figure 8 is the space in-between the array of lugs and it looks like a loop course where the heel portion has a cave or depression on it. According to the designers and engineers at HOO, such pattern would result to a feeling of running with a “fully independent suspension system” (like a 4 X 4 truck) on the different parts of the outsole when running in a technical terrain or trail. It means that if you stepped on a root or rock, the specific part of outsole that contacts with the object will be the only one that compresses while the rest of the outsole remains without any deformation. I suspect that the “cave” or significant depression on the heel would allow better ride and cushioned feeling for those “supinator and pronator” runners.

Having been a HOO user for the past five years, I would say that this particular model will be my racing and training shoes for my ultra trail running events in the future. Everything is almost perfect with regards to its Comfort, Speed, Security of Fit, Durability, Agility and Responsiveness and Protection to the Feet. I could not see any major flaw or anything to be corrected or improved on the shoes without compromising its light weight and perfect fit on my feet.

After mentioning those significant changes and improvements on the shoes plus the fact that I have logged almost 100 kilometers (62 miles) with these shoes (to include 10+ miles on the paved road), the question is, “Will I highly recommend these shoes to everybody for them to buy as their trail running shoes?” Yes, of course! I am now in the process of ordering my 2nd pair of the Speedgoat (Red & Black Model) through the Running Warehouse website! So far, this is the best HOO trail shoes model in the market right now.

As Karl Meltzer would say, “100 Miles Is Not That Far”, and I would add to say, “100 Miles Is Not That Far With The Speedgoat Shoes On Your Feet!”

Go out and run!








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