Nike Pegasus Turbo – 50K Review

Plenty of hype went into Nike’s launch of the Pegasus Turbo last year. So strong were the marketing that I got my hands on the shoes a day before the official launch. As usual, after logging some miles in them, I sat down to write a review. Only to discard the draft and a few weeks later, sold off the shoes. Let me explain.

Sold this pair off after 260km.

Firstly, here’s what I liked about the OG Turbo – they’re light (8.45oz/239g for my US10), very smooth and cushioned, and spec-wise just a carbon plate short of Vaporfly 4% material. They reminded me of the Clayton 2 but without the bulk. And even with the controversial but eye-catching, racing strip that runs down the vamp, I’ve found wiggle-room to be sufficient.

The feet sit atop the premium Zoom X foam (greyish tint) and under that is the React foam. Other than the racing strip, the exaggerated pointed heel is a Turbo giveaway.
This version has a unique print on the sockliner, which says “Run The Night”. Other than a reflective strip on the heel counter, I’m not sure if the upper material has added reactive shine properties to it.

Now, the negatives:

  1. The Turbo were not quite stable to run in. The absence of a carbon plate meant there was a need for compensating controls, literally, with the use of React foam. The midsole comprises of Nike’s high-end Zoom X foam and under that layer, React. Despite that approach, I still found them to be less stable than the Epic React. Taking turns and corners in the Turbo wasn’t as reassuring as I’d liked.
  2. They’re a tad too soft for my liking, resulting in my arches flaring up.
  3. At RM735, they’re very expensive.
Rubber in a rail-like design encircles the outer rim of the shoes. Within the perimeter are little pentagonal waffles in all the high-wear areas. Exposed React foam commands the midfoot real estate. No signs of wear after 50K.

Despite my mixed feelings, I still logged over 260km in the Turbo before being sold off. That ordinarily would’ve ended my association with the Turbo, except that I not only found myself with another pair nearly a year on, but also the updated Turbo 2! We will leave the Turbo 2 for future review and stick with the OG here. It happened when JD Sports had their sale and the Turbo were had for a more palatable RM510. Coincidentally I was on the lookout for soft lightweight trainer for all the easy running, post-GCM19. Since the first pair, I’ve made some gains as a runner and I reckoned that with better mechanics, I’d be able to finally enjoy the shoes. And after logging 50K in them, I’m pleased to report that I do like them! I’m unable to explain my new-found liking for the Turbo except to pin it to my general fitness and running form. The other fellas from the running group have always liked the shoes, and have worn them for easy long runs right through to long tempos but with plenty of time before Base Training kicks off late September, most of my running are the easy maintenance stuff. So while there’s little use of the firm and fast shoes such as the Hyper-Tri or Rival Fly at the moment, there’s plenty of opportunities for the versatile Turbo.

I appreciate the soft and bouncy ride when rotated with the much firmer Forever Floatride Energy and Beacon, and that’s a good thing when it’s all about enjoying the miles at this stage. I expect the mini-waffle outsole to hold up well as the pair I’ve sold off were in great shape even after 260km. I’ve never had breathability issues with my first pair of OGs and it’s the same here. The fit around the collar is as good as that of the Pegasus 35 with the swept heel design. And yes, the Turbo is true-to-size. It has been a little odd, getting reacquainted with shoes that didn’t quite work out the first time, but perhaps due to me being a different runner this go-around, the experience with the Turbo have been largely positive. I’m looking forward to getting plenty of miles in them!

With the launch of the Turbo 2, you should be able to find the Turbo OGs on sale in most places. While the Turbo 2 retains the midsole and outsole material and design, the upper is now sleeker, the formerly padded tongue and collar are now race-oriented. The racing strip and Flywire are gone as well. The Turbo 2 is thus lighter, befitting a performance shoe. Is the Turbo OG (or 2) for you then? There’s no clear answer – since there are folks on both sides of the divide. I’d suggest trying the shoes in-stores (e.g. Nike KLCC has a treadmill) before purchasing due to their imposing price tag.

————-

Update: After the initial draft of this post, I ran a couple of quicker sessions in the Turbo. The first was a short 6K, rolling off very slowly and progressing down to MP and under to wrap the workout up. No stability issues this time, despite the route being the usual twisty roads in my neighbourhood but as my right shoe wasn’t laced up as snugly around the midfoot – my own doing – every footstrike was an annoying and thoroughly distracting smack. So lace up snugly! My second run was a fast finish 12K at Peremba. The route is basically a 6K loop with 2 sharp turns. Unlike firmer and lower-stacked shoes, soft ones like the Vaporfly and Zoom Fly require a wider turning radius and you’ll need strong ankles to execute a quick turnaround. The Turbo is no different – you’ll still need to use the Vaporfly’s racing lines to negotiate the turns. Other than that those observations, I’m enjoying the shoes. They will certainly feature a lot when base training commences in 2 months time.

————-

Reebok Floatride Everyday – 50K Review

Launched early 2019, the Reebok Floatride Everyday (RFE) came after the releases of the elite Floatride Run Fast Pro (an eye-watering US$250) and Floatride Run Fast (US$140). At US$100, the RFE is the cheapest option in Reebok’s line of Floatride models. These 3 are, of course, progeny of the Floatride Run, a very decent daily trainer I also had the chance of running in a couple of years ago. Now that I’m slowly building the fitness back again after a 2-week post-marathon break, I’ve had the chance to finally run in the RFE. The RFE along with the Zoom Fly 3 are my go-to’s for the upcoming 8-week Foundation Phase, now that I’ve retired the Zoom Fly Flyknit and Ultraboost Uncaged.

I’ll keep my review succinct, so let’s get going.

Specs
Stack height: 29mm/19mm (per Runningwarehouse)
Weight: 9.45oz/268g (US10, as personally weighed. They’re a full ounce heavier than the Turbo but more than half an ounce lighter than the Zoom Fly 3).
Type: Versatile daily trainer.
Fit: True to size. Not sure why Runningwarehouse and some reviewers advise sizing down. If in doubt, always try them out in-stores.

Upper

  • Accommodating forefoot provides very nice toe splay and wiggle room for the digits.
  • Very breathable engineered mesh, with tighter weave in the high-stress areas.
  • Internal stiffeners for the toe-box, none of those hard and rigid stuff.
  • No extraneous strips. Just very thin strips of overlays in the midfoot section to provide some structure.
  • Tongue padding is just nice.
  • Semi-rigid heel counter with external laminated reinforcements
  • Reflective strips in the upper and on the heel counter
Close-up of the mesh and midsole. The Floatride Energy midsole material feels like Skechers’ Hyper Burst to the touch.

Midsole

  • Single piece Floatride Energy TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer), which is similar to that of the Fuel Cell. Not the PEBAX used in the higher-end Floatride models.
  • A bit of midsole flare. Provides a wide base for the feet to sit on.
  • Firmer and less squishy to the touch compared to React, a little similar to Skechers’ Hyper Burst.
  • Lighter than Boost and EVERUN.
It’s got some toe spring. Don’t let the photo fool you – there’s more than enough toe box room for most folks.

Outsole

  • Full contact hard rubber outsole with mini waffle-like lugs.
  • Feels like sticky rubber to the touch. Assured traction across all the surfaces I’ve run on. I fully expect the same performance under wet conditions as well.
  • Average toe-spring. Interesting article on toe-spring

Outsole shows very little wear after 50K

Ride Character

  • The shoes are indeed versatile! They feel at home when taken slow and are totally at ease when the pace is pushed. They feel like shoes a full ounce lighter.
  • The RFE’s cushioning is on the firmer end of the scale but they are anything but harsh – firmer than React and Boost but softer than Revlite. I’ve no business with overly firm shoes, but these won’t trash up your legs. I ran a 10-miler on sore legs the day after a bruising 10K race and my legs didn’t feel as chewed up as I’d feared. I attribute the firmness to the hard rubber outsole, which took away some of the softness inherent in the Floatride Energy midsole. If Reebok replaces the forefoot outsole material to blown rubber, it’ll be even more awesome.
  • Smooth and responsive.
  • Stable, due to the shoes’ wider base.
  • I like the RFE more than the Beacon. FreshFoam of the Beacon feels dead after 200KM.
  • The outsole looks to be durable, with minimal wear after 50K. No issues hitting 500K in the RFE.
  • Breathability was great and I didn’t end up with soggy socks after my sessions.

Conclusion
The Reebok Floatride Everyday is a comfortable daily trainer that’s comfortable at whatever pace you run at. I would easily grab these for 10 milers and on days  when I prefer a slightly firmer ride. For longer distances, my choice would be the Pegasus Turbo, while the chunky and heavier Zoom Fly 3 would be for those slow draggy sessions. At RM415 after discount at RSH, the RFE presents a good value purchase. They’re no-frills shoes, durable and versatile as is something I’d pick over the Kinvara 10 and Beacon.

If you’re on a budget yet don’t want to compromise on performance, check these babies out. I expect the RFE to go sale come Q4 2019.

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon – 120K Review

The Beacon may be well received by the running shoe geeks (RSG), but they weren’t really in my list of to-try shoes simply because I already have more than enough for the current training cycle. But as fate would have it, while poking around Rakuten, as any RSG worth his salt is wont to do, I spotted the shoes going for just RM260 including shipping! It was quite an easy decision to make *shrugs*.

9 days later, the package arrived. I did the usual unboxing just to check the product, marvelled at their lightweight feel and excellent upper construction but resisted taking them out for a run. I fully intended to use them only post-GCM19 as recovery shoes.

As luck would have it, the shoes were called to active duty just a month later. It was clear by then that the Rival Fly (RF) that I bought (also very cheaply from Japan) needed more time breaking in and the Zoom Fly (ZF) would not be working as go-fast tempo shoes on the roads that I run. My daily route consists of 12 90-degree turns each 2K loop, and the ZF isn’t suited to quick and constant changes in direction. I’d long ago retired my tempo shoes for GCM18 which was the Zoom Elite 9 (ZE9), something I initially hoped the RF would replace once broken in. Unfortunately, I couldn’t wait for the breaking-in period and after testing the Beacon out on an easy 10K, I was knew enough to know that they would be great for tempos.

The shoes are everything that others have written about – light, superbly constructed upper that’s breathable, accommodating fit. At 7.5oz (US9), 26mm/20mm stack heights for a 6mm heel to toe drop, (per Runningwarehouse specs), there’s nothing superfluous about the Beacon. They fit true to size too. You would think that not having any overlays would render the shoes unstable and sloppy but you’d be wrong. It could take the twisty roads, return a good feel of the road for a fast push-off yet providing adequate cushioning for races up to the Half Marathon from the get-go. They’re surprisingly stable too. Efficient and lighter runners will have no problems taking them to the full distance.

As mentioned earlier, the mesh upper is light and breathable. I believe they’re even lighter than knitted options that we see so prevalent these days. The stock laces are rather long and has a bit of stretch. I found myself having to tuck the extraneous parts under to prevent them flopping around. The padding around the collar and on the tongue are just nice and I’ve absolutely no complaints there.

For midsole duties, NB uses what they call Fresh Foam Ground Contact (FFGC) and they’re essentially a more durable version of the traditional FF. Visually, the stack height of the Beacon appears thick but they don’t feel that at all mainly because they’re anything but mushy. They don’t ride anything at all like the Pegasus Turbo nor Clayton 2 but there are some similarities to the Epic React, which incidentally was one of my favorite shoes.

The lateral side of the midsole features concave hexagonal cut-outs.
The medial side, on the other hand, has convex cut-outs, hence the stability without the need for a medial post.
Another view of the convex design of the medial side. Clearly shows how NB builds stability into a neutral shoe like the Beacon.

I’ve only ever worn 2 other NBs the past 5 years – the OG Zante and the Vazee Pace. Of these 2, only the Zante is made of FF, with the Vazee built on top of Revlite midsole. While I prefered the Zante over the Vazee, running in both always beat up my legs. The Beacon’s FFGC, however, has that extra bit of cushioning and over the several 13-14K tempos I’ve ran in them, my legs didn’t protest as much compared to the Zante days. I was still able to resume my easy running the very next day. The sweet spot of the Beacon is really in the midfoot area. If you’re predominantly a midfoot striker, you’re going to be in for a treat – that’s where the shoe’s cushioning and responsiveness are best experienced.

Just like the upper, the Beacon’s outsole is also a design in simplicity. 90% all-foam with the 2 small areas of rubber plugs, to provide durability on take-off and landing. The exposed foam areas wear rather well. Even though there’s noticeable wear in the center of the push-off area, I suspect the phenomenon is akin to that of the Epic React where the rate of wear tapered off after the initial 100km. Photos below show their state of wear after 120km. There should be no problems hitting 350km and, if lucky, 400km. It’s appropriate to mention that I’ve yet to run in wet conditions in the shoes to be able to comment about their traction.

While I’ve mostly employed the Beacon as faster paced shoes, they’re versatile enough for easy days as well. That said, I prefer softer shoes for those ambling miles.

Other than online sources, and perhaps NB’s factory outlets, good luck finding the Beacon now. You might as well wait for the Beacon 2 coming out sometime Q3 or check out the Fuelcell Rebel. The New Balance Beacon gets my firm recommendation.

Nike Pegasus 35 iD Review

The neutral cushioned daily trainer category is the bread and butter of every shoe company. ASICS have their Nimbus and Cumulus, adidas have their Ultra Boost and Solar Boost, Brooks’ Glycerin, Ghost and Launch, Saucony’s Triumph ISO and Ride ISO. And Nike, of course, have the Vomero and Pegasus. I’ve worn a few versions of the Pegasus intermittently since I took up running in the ’80s. ’92 (heavy, very firm, thick, stiff) ’06 and ’07 (cushier and dialed back on the stiffness, but still heavy) but my favourite then was the 2005 which I went through 2 pairs. They got progressively firmer and stiffer, not to mention more expensive, from that point on. Check out some of the early Peg models as featured by Complex here, Sneaker Freaker here and Nike here.

The Pegasus 35, launched May 2018, sees a complete overhaul in the silhouette, with it taking after some elements of the stupendously popular Vapor Fly 4% in the way the full-length Zoom Air bag is shaped to mimic the curve of the 4%’s carbon fiber plate. The Peg 35’s upper also does away with the multiple overlays seen on the earlier versions. A swept-back heel tab was incorporated, taking the cues from Mo Farah’s preference for a non-intrusive construction – not that this part of a shoe has ever bothered me. The engineered mesh upper has a tighter weave this time around and this is complemented with an internal bootie which connects to a slimmer yet extended tongue. The laces go through Flywire cords to secure the shoe as do the internal toe and heel cups. Then there’s the pointy heel seen the 4% and Zoom Fly. The Peg 35 has a stack height of 28/18 for an overall 10mm drop, within the 8-12mm standard for shoes on this segment.

This setup accords the Peg 35 a decidedly sleeker look and naturally piqued my interest as well. However, with a shoe cabinet that was already too well-stocked, I reminded myself that I would only part with my cash should I achieve my marathon goal time on the Gold Coast. As it turned out, I did (race report here), and a little reward in the form of a customized Peg was in order. The Nike iD custom took 3.5 weeks to arrive and when they did, I thought they were too nice to run in, albeit imbued with a Chinese New Year vibe! I opted for a red upper, metallic gold swoosh, speckled midsole and gum-rubber design, complete with my PR printed on both shoes and a self-reminder inscribed on the tongue.

Despite the sleeker appearance, the Peg 35 still weighs in at 9.5oz a shoe for a US10. Now, if the midsole was React instead of Cushlon, and the upper wasn’t made of such tight weave, they would perhaps lose a few more ounces. Doesn’t really matter that much to me since my use would be strictly for training.

The fit of the shoes are snug. As mentioned, I stayed true to size and if you’re one to run in thin socks, that will not matter much but I’d advice testing the Pegs out in the stores prior to purchase. Moving the first row of the laces back also frees up the forefoot area. Now less restrictive, flexing during the toe-off phase is also a pleasant experience without anything pressing down on the toes or feet. Moving to the rear, the swept-back heel tab didn’t enhance nor mess up the fit of the shoes for me. Heel lock down is secure as it is.

Lateral view.
Medial view.
The vents on the upper are only concentrated around the vamp. Breathability suffers a little in our hot and humid climate due to the tight weave of the mesh in the other areas.

Now comes the most important question – how do the Peg 35s feel? If you are not the least interested in the specs, you’d be forgiven for thinking they ride lower, as in the midsoles are thinner, than the Epic React. In reality both the Peg 35 and Epic React share the same stack height and offset! The Pegs’ use of durable rubber outsole and Cushlon midsole combine to give the wearer a certain firmness and road feel, unlike the softer and bouncier experience of the Epic. The differences are especially palpable for me coming off the retirement of the Epic. Here’s the interesting thing – I’m more susceptible to heel striking in the Epic than the Pegasus despite the latter being a full ounce heavier.

I did mention that the Peg is firm. But that doesn’t mean an absence of cushioning. It’s there and provides just enough of it and quickly send you off to your next stride. There’s very little sinking feeling with easy stride, so there’s no Hoka-type of feel here. The Peg is a little warm to run in in Malaysia’s tropical climate but not uncomfortably so. I’ve yet to finish a run in soggy socks but I’ll have to confirm that once I resume my longer runs.

Since I’m already so far behind, I thought this post would be more relevant if I work it as a 100-mile review. So while the photos were taken when the shoes were new, the video below will show the close up of the wear of the Peg after 160km. Overall, the wear and tear, or the lack of it, have been astounding. Other than a very slight wear on the left shoe along the outer edge of the heel (the usual wear spot in all my shoes due to a weaker left leg), both the left and right shoes have seen very little degradation. Even the thin grooves on the pentagonal lugs in the forefoot landing and push-off areas are still visible.

This is one shoe that will take you through the entire marathon training cycle. While advances in technology have brought us racing flats we can train and race in, you still won’t get anywhere near the miles and durability you can put into these traditional daily trainers. Dependable and durable, there’s great ROI you can derive from them. And as I’m now approaching the big Five-O, I need to be looking after myself so that I can continue chasing my running goals. These shoes offer that. Besides, “Train heavy, race light” seems like a great idea!

The Nike Pegasus 35 remains a good buy for those seeking a durable daily trainer. The latest iteration is sleeker, simpler in construction and, by golly, still the durable shoe that we know. Cushioning remains on the firmer side but still delivers a smooth ride. What I’d like to see in a future release is React foam replacing the Cushlon (although that would certainly result in price increase) and the use of a more breathable upper. The earlier colorways are already on sale under RM400 (US$100), so go check them out!

Nike Epic React – 550K Review

I reviewed the Epic React Flyknit back in March 2018. You can read about it here.

Back then, it sold for RM589 (US$143) but now, the RRP had gone up to RM608 (US$148) not much difference if you’re in the US, but that’s making the purchase decision very much harder for us Malaysians. Thus, the casual shopper may be interested to know if the shoes do indeed stand up to some serious use.

I’m almost exclusively a road runner, so the Epic React hasn’t gone off the tarmac. But I can say that the shoes have stood up admiringly up to the test. As you can see, the upper still looks fantastic, a testament to Nike’s Flyknit construction. The translucent rubber reinforcement wears very well. The React foam looks battered but still has a bit of life left, possibly 80K. That said, at 550K, I reckon it’s time to retire them and really push the Peg 35 and Zoom Fly Flyknit into the heavy rotation. They’re both logged approximately 100K by the way, so they’re definitely seasoned for daily use.

Check out the video I shot for a better look at the condition of the shoes!

Here I’d like to point out that I’ve liberally applied Shoe Goo to the foam where the high wear. Shoe Goo, if you’re a shoe geek, is a well known (and long time go-to solution to fix and/or reinforce a shoe’s durability). Just RM38 from ACE Hardware, it’s a great buy and I’ve used it on the Epic React and the Vaporfly 4%. Now, I’m not the most efficient runner but I’d say the wear on the shoes have been excellent and defied my doubts.

The price appears prohibitive and for much less, as of this post, there are so many options out there. From New Balance Beacon (which I snagged from Rakuten Japan for RM240), Fuel Core 5000 (RM262 from RunnerInn), Brooks Launch 5 (RM370 from RunnerInn) just to name a few. Because of that, I won’t be getting myself a second pair, unless they pop up at the premium outlets for under RM350.

Did I like the Epic? I love it the more I wear it. Mostly between 6:00 to 6:45/km pace, which meant they were great for easy to recovery runs for me. The React foam feels a little dull and uninvolving at paces quicker than that but as I logged 70-95K weeks for GCM18 and recently Macao, they were what I reached out nearly all the time for the easy days.

So, that’s that!

Note: The Epic React 2 is slated to be released Q1 2019. So v1 will surely see greater discounts.

GCM18: Midway Checkpoint

After yesterday’s 24K long run, and after more than 445km logged over 9 weeks, I’ve finally crossed the midpoint of the Hansons’ 18-week training program.

It’s time to take stock of how far I’ve come, how I’m feeling and the challenges to come in the final 9 weeks. I obsess in my record keeping, a habit built ever since my first sub-4 hour some years back. In order to improve, it’s necessary to have an opportunity to review past data, analyze trends and weaknesses and address them in the current marathon training cycle.

Here are some of the analysis culled from the number crunching:

  1. Prior to starting the 18-week program, I’ve averaged 35K/week mileage from November ‘17 to February ’18. 35K/week isn’t much but they’re more miles run in those 4 months compared to previous pre-training phases.
  2. I logged 165K (averaging 33K/week) in Mar ’18. Since I had a shorter training period last year – only started training in April – that’s lower compared to the same month in 2016 when I logged 181K. The positive thing this time around was the consistency and no missed days, with an ascending weekly mileage as prescribed by the Hansons Program.
  3. The consistent trend continued for Apr ’18, with 302K logged, close to 40K more than Apr ’17. This presented an average of 70K/week mileage. The weekly mileage continued to see an upward trajectory, with no cutbacks. There will be 3 weeks of cutbacks in May in between 2 high mileage weeks, so there will be some relief there. Hopefully.
  4. Saturday’s visit to the physio addressed the right calf issue which had plagued me the last 2 weeks, due to the excruciating drive to and from the office.

I’ve largely kept to the training ethos of the Hansons Marathon Method i.e. “Challenging but not Impossible”, “Don’t make it harder than it already is“, and “Don’t peak too early“. Feeling too good when running hard this early in the training may be a onset premature peaking. With each week, my body is adapting to the higher mileage and I’ve to continue to find time for prehab routines and strength training, without which the body won’t be able to take the load. All in all, I want my workouts to feel effortless from Week 16 onwards which is still 7 weeks away.

I’ve ridden a bout of flu without losing a day’s workout. My sense of resolve carried me through those few days but I’d like to think that by staying calm and weighing my options (in adjusting my workouts) as the situation develops were key to successfully navigating the week and bouncing back quickly.

Nutrition wise, I’ve supplemented my diet with protein drinks and magnesium tablets, especially after the SOS sessions. Breakfast of overnight oats are taken twice a week as are salad dinners. While I still don’t consume as much rice, I’m also fully aware of my increased need for calories. Unlike previously, I treat myself to ice-cream as rewards. Call it a more middle-ground approach and I’ve managed to keep my weight to the low 59kgs.

As usual, I rotated through my shoe inventory in training for GCM18. Most of these shoes aren’t new and have prior miles in them. I’m quite sure a few pairs will be retired by the time I toe the line on the Gold Coast. Here are the mileage logged in them, first set of numbers reflect the total run for GCM18 training while the second set, the total mileage logged.

Clayton 2 – 48.5/237
Clifton 4 – 41/90
Epic React – 70/77
Lunar Tempo – 47.6/220
Streak 6 – 13.1/111
Tracer – 43.2/191
Vaporfly 4% – 16/50 (I bought it used)
Vazee Pace – 8.2/32
Zoom Elite 9 – 44.3/208
Zoom Fly – 12/76
Zoom Span – 96.7/307

So it’s all systems go now but where I could do better is to re-establish a rigorous strength regimen in order to support and optimize my running.


2018 will be the 40th running of the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM). I’ll be returning for my 8th GCM and training plans have been drawn up. Won’t you join me for some Good Times? Hit the image below to get to the official Gold Coast Marathon website! Do join the Team Malaysia Facebook page to get all the local happenings, updates on training sessions, tips on travel and running the race on the Gold Coast.

Nike Zoom VaporFly 4% Review

Disclaimer: I drafted this post way back in March but since I had so many work deadlines to meet on top of marathon training, blogging was of the least importance to me. Certain sections of the post have been updated following further experiences in the shoes.

By definition, racing flats are running shoes that are designed to go fast. Stripped down, lightweight, often made of premium materials and rides low to the ground. Think Ferraris, Porsches and Lambos. They would also be less supportive than conventional trainers, possessing a firmer ride due to their greater ground feel.

The lightest racing flats that I’ve worn in my years of running have been Nike’s Lunaracer series. Sub-7oz (under 198 grams) for US10 and cushioned enough for the marathon, the Lunaracer was one of my all-time favorites. Versions 1 and 2 didn’t have particularly roomy toe boxes and I had plenty of blistering issues those days, but version 3 corrected all that through minor tweaks. Version 4, however, was by far the best. I’ll save my review of the Lunaracer 4 for another post because this one is all about the Vaporfly 4% (VF).

In case you’ve been living in an alternate universe and wondering what the circus about the VF is all about, this short RunnersWorld video summed it up nicely. With that much hype and marketing power channeled into the product, the US$250 shoes are pretty much sold out the instant they hit the online stores. They were not even available in this part of the world until a full 6 months after Kipchoge and his posse of extraordinary marathoners took a tour around the Monza track. The shoes were so in demand and production so limited (and controlled) that getting a pair meant extreme patience or paying online scalpers through the nose. Now that the marathon World Record has been broken in the elite version of the VF, you can bet the demand for the shoes amongst runners pursuing their own records have just ramped up another notch, if that’s even possible. Note (Dec ’18): It is more possible than ever to snag the latest version, the Vapor Fly Flyknit, with constant stock replenishments at the U.S. retailers. Stock in Malaysia, however, remains non-existent.

Very breathable and roomy upper.

Difference in the wordings of the ice blue OG and the crimson, after the runaway success of the earlier releases.
Look closer and you’ll see the the carbon fibre line running down the length of the shoes. Look just below the grey paint scheme on the midsole.

Nevertheless, through no small amounts of patience and endless monitoring of online marketplace, I got my hands on not 1 but 2 pairs late in 2017 from the U.S. – a pair used and at a substantial discount, and another pair at full retail. Luckily for me, both the sellers were honest folks because used pairs were still fetching over the RRP on eBay! The VFs were the most expensive pieces of sporting gear I’ve ever paid for by far. And I used to laugh at the price tag of the Ultra Boost! I reckoned at that time, that if the first pair didn’t work out for me, I could always join the eBay scalpers and hawk them off online🙄.  But there’s no need for all that now. After 3 races – a 15K, GCM18 and Macao Marathon – in the OG, I won’t be parting ways with either of my VFs, and the latest Flyknit version (the cat’s out of the bag now I guess!) anytime soon! I’ve since relegated the OGs to long training runs and will finally be debuting the crimson at the Twincity Half in January. There’s plenty of life yet for the OG despite nearly 400K logged. The Zoom X midsole have compressed a bit and the shoes have lost a little bounce but the rubber outsole’s durability, with the liberal application of Shoe Goo, have been outstanding. There’s hardly any wear and tear! A point to note: The photos of the OG in this post were taken way before their retirement.

The VF with the Vapor Street

With that little bit of backstory and no small measure of digression, let’s get going with the shoes.

There’s little of the shoes that the Internet hasn’t yet covered. Even the NY Times chipped in with a fascinating article on the VFs’ seeming influence on runners’ race outcomes. If you’re a geek, you’ll totally dig the article. For tech specs and detailed review, these reviews written by runners for runners will have you covered: Sam Winebaum’s RoadTrailRun | Fellrnr (with extensive photos of the shoes’ durability at 300 miles)| Running Shoes Guru | Believe In The Run YouTube Channel | Jamison Michael’s YouTube ChannelWired

With all the hard work taken cared of by those good folks, I won’t be rehashing the same stuff but instead focus more on my wear experience. And the easiest way to do that would be to do that in point form. So here are the facts, my observations and experience running in the VFs, in no particular order:

  1. VFs are racing shoes and not your daily trainer, so they’re not something you reach out for on a daily or even weekly basis. The VFs’ exorbitant price and rarity pretty much limit their use to just A races – races you’ve put your absolute everything into. If you’ve invested so much in time, energy and waking hours into priming yourself to that race readiness, the VF is that final variable in your arsenal. The thing that completes you, leaving nothing to chance. Think of it this way – after months of training, you don’t sit in a VW at the starting grid of a car race. Every component of your very self, inside and out, should be optimized to yield the very best results for the day. Forgive the hyperbole, but I’m listening to Max Richter’s poignantly epic War Anthem as I’m typing this!
  2. At 7.65 oz for US10, they’re light; in fact very light for their built-up look and levels of cushioning they offer. While the 6.7 oz Lunaracers beat the VFs for weight, the VFs offer far greater returns in terms of ride, bounce and cushioning albeit at a price that’s unattainable for most. In comparison, the Vapor Street weighs 7.9 oz and the Epic React 8.6 oz.
  3. The VF v1 is true to size, while the latest Flyknit version is a tad small. I upsized by half for the Flyknit version.
  4. It’s been reported that the OG edition is the softest and the shoes was tuned progressively firmer from there, albeit still soft and bouncy overall.
  5. They may be soft and cushy but they’re hardly mushy. They certainly ride differently than Clayton 2. The step-in feel is soft and yet you get that springy feel as you move around. No other foam comes close to the feel of Zoom X except for adidas’ much heavier and firmer BASF Boost. The softness of Zoom X is complemented by the carbon fibre plate that runs the entire length of the midsole, lending precious stability to the shoes.
  6. The VFs also ride differently from the just-launched Pegasus Turbo. In fact, the only similarity between these 2 shoes is the use of Nike’s Zoom X foam – 100% Zoom X for the VF, approximately 50% for the Turbo. The Turbo wasn’t my favorite – too soft and wobbly – and I sold them off after 120K.
  7. Without the embedded carbon plate, the VFs would’ve been too unstable to wear like in the case of the Pegasus Turbo, just like the case of the Turbo. Even with the plate, there’s a degree of pronation of my right foot. See point #13 below.
  8. The unique shape of the plate allows the quick roll off for the wearer.
  9. The VFs fit and feel are different from that of its cousin, the Zoom Fly Flyknit (ZFF), even if both share some similarities in looks. The ZFF is heavier and firmer, possessing a narrower plate sandwiched in a React midsole.
  10. Excellent breathability. Extensive cuts in the vamp area of the mesh upper ensure the feet stay cool.
  11. I’ve not ran in wet conditions but reports noted that they get slightly bogged down when soaked.
  12. Traction so far hasn’t been an issue despite the thin threading on the outsole but I’ve been rather careful taking sharp corners and haven’t yet run in very wet conditions. Also see next point.
  13. The VFs aren’t the most stable of shoes. Due to their stack heights and the softer properties of the Zoom X foam, they only have the carbon plate as any semblance of structure. There are no external heel counters, no medial posts, no external trusstic plates. I’ve found that the mild late-stage pronation of my right foot is exaggerated in the VFs. On some of the cambered roads of GCM18, I noticeably struggled to keep my foot plants stable.
  14. The VF v1 fits true to size while the VF Flyknit (VFF) has a much snugger fit. Depending on your preference, you might want to go up 1/2 size which I did. The VFF has an improved and secure midfoot fit which is great for racing. The knit upper stretches.

In my opinion, shoes themselves or for that matter any piece of gear alone, will not make one a faster runner. However if you’ve had a great training cycle and have an aggressive goal time to chase for, toeing the start line with everything taken care of right down to gear can’t hurt. I bought the VFs to run my best and they delivered. My legs felt fresh right after the marathon, with just minor soreness setting in 2 days after. Even after race-retired, the OGs still have plenty to offer in training runs. They’re worth every cent I’ve put into justifying their purchase.

The VFs are truly incomparable to any racers out there. Admittedly, the price tag is prohibitive and unless Reebok, adidas, Saucony, or Skechers (with the promising Razor 3) come out with their version of lightweight TPU that offers superb cushioning, responsiveness and durability, Nike pretty much has this niche cornered. If your races are important for you, I’d say just get these and get on with training to run your best!

Nike Epic React Flyknit Review

There’s probably not a more innovative shoe company out there right now than Nike. As a shoe geek who has been following the trends since the ‘80s and wearing many of the brands out there, I can say for a fact that there’s never been a been a more exciting time to be a runner-shoe geek. I’ve had a mixed relationship with Nike shoes in the past. Other than the Free series, I’ve found that they tend to be narrow and pointy around the toebox section. We Asians who spend our time unshod at home, typically have wider feet than our Western counterparts. It was almost a certainty that I finish a marathon with a medal and bruised toenails!

Sometime in the past 3 years, things changed. Perhaps it was due to the introduction of Flyknit and the engineered mesh upper that gave the shoe uppers more give and “stretch-ability”. Perhaps there was really an update to the shoe lasts. Shoes like the Flyknit Lunar series, Lunar Tempo, Zoom Span and even the later versions of the Lunaracers were fantastic shoes to run in. They had forgiving uppers, light and cushioned. So were the performance oriented models like the Streak 6, Zoom Elite 9 and Speed Rival 6, which became favorites not only of the super-efficient elites but also weekend warriors. They were still based on various forms of traditional foam like Cushlon, Lunarlon and old fashioned EVA.

Then hot on the heels of the Breaking2 Project (watch the videos here – link 1link 2NatGeo feature,  came the release of the Zoom Fly and Vapor Fly 4% into the wild. The runners-shoe geek population and sneakerheads everywhere went wild literally. Since this review is not on the Flys, let’s move on.

The Epic React Flyknit (ERF) was released in the States end January 2018 and a month later, they landed in Malaysia. To the uninitiated, React refers to Nike’s new midsole material, much like how Adidas affixed the Boost name to nearly all their running line of shoes. I won’t be regurgitating what React is but Nike has it covered here. Now, if you’re familiar with Boost (or for that matter any of the BASF’s Boost derivative such as Saucony’s EVERUN or Reebok’s Floatride) shoes, you’ll know that that they can range between soft and bouncy (such as the Ultra Boost) to firm (such as Freedom ISO) depending on how they’re “tuned”. They’re undoubtedly durable and pretty temperature resistant, meaning they’ll retain their wear properties in cold and warm temperatures. However, the TPU material is heavy, resulting in heavy shoes. The Ultra Boost weighs in around 10oz, the Reebok Floatride Run comes in at 9.7oz and even Adidas very own racing and performance oriented Boston Boost and Adios weigh between 7.8 to 8.6oz. TPU usage often meant shoe companies will need to be creative in the design of the upper and outsole so that they don’t add on to the already heavy (relatively speaking, of course) shoes.

So Nike decided to go their own way. Instead of putting out another BASF-based TPU, they developed React and slapped it on the Epic. Now, in case you’re wondering, the Epic name isn’t used for the first time by Nike. In fact, the very shoe that the ERF replaces – Flyknit Lunar Epic Low 2 – is still being sold at a premium price of RM629 in Nike stores around here. Going further back, the Epic Low was a replacement for the Flyknit Lunar 3.  That’s history for you.

If you’ve clicked on the link to the React page, you’d see the many numbers put forth by Nike in terms of durability, softness, bounce and weight. So how do they measure up on the feet of a marathoner deep-in-training? Pretty good. In fact, I’m downright impressed! The hype may be from the collectors and sneakerheads but I’m here to state that the ERF is a totally legit running shoe. So let’s get on with the review.

Compared to the Boston Boost 5, the ERF has a more forgiving forefoot due to the absence of hard Continental rubber. I also find it softer than the Freedom ISO but firmer than the FloatRide Run. The ERF offers a different ride experience at different speeds. Firm when things heat up, smooth and cushy without any of the mushiness of the Hoka Clayton 2 when taken at a slower pace. It’s over long and easy runs (between 5:50 to 6:30/km pace) that I like them the most. They’re surprisingly stable and responsive, a sentiment concurred by my fellow running mates. There’s some ground feel but minus the harshness of the Boston or the NB Zante.

I’ve logged 77km in total in the ER and have very little to complain. The longest single run in them was a fast-finish 24km in clammy conditions, and there were no blisters, no chafing, no heat build-up. The superbly engineered one piece Flyknit upper provided a snug midfoot fit that’s just nice without the overly constricting feel of the Vapor Street’s. You can see for yourself the quality of the weave in the photo.

The toe box is accommodating enough, no complains there. Flat laces are used but there were no pressure on top of the feet. They never got undone either, unlike those used for the Zoom Elite 9. Even with the external piece of plastic to help stabilize the shoe and a thin heel counter to further lock in the foot, the shoe only weighs in at 8.6oz for my US10. And yes, the Epic React Flyknit fits true to size.

The uniquely designed React midsole has the appearance of ant farm tunneling. Flip the shoe over and you’ll see that most of the outsole is exposed React foam. Only the heel and toe sections have translucent-like rubber placements. I thought the placements were a little too minimal and durability will take a hit. That’s true to a certain extent. There were already visible wear signs from the very first get go (they’re exposed foam anyway, so that’s a given) but the wear seem to ease off and became less noticeable after I heaped more miles on them. The ERF’s outsole won’t return you 600km – you’ll probably see around 350 to 400km tops. Nike has since released a lower priced light stability React model which has more rubber on its outsole – the Odyssey React (OR). So if you’re looking to get more miles for your hard-earned cash, the OR may be the option for you.

Nike’s recent releases are certainly bringing plenty of new tech to the roads and that’s exciting for us runners. The Epic React Flyknit remains the most readily available model right now and it retails at RM589. If you’d like a bit more durability, and mild stability at a lower price point (engineered mesh instead of Flyknit), consider the Odyssey React. The Odyssey (also a carried over name from a discontinued stability model) feels slightly different from the Epic, so give both a try first. The Nike Epic React has my recommendation.

Other reviews of the Epic React Flyknit:

Running Shoes GuruBelieve In The Run | Road Trail Run | T3

What’s Next After Macao?

I’ve moved on after the recent Macao DNF. I’ve been back to running with greater frequency and consistency is slowly but surely getting re-established. Going through the Garmin and Buckeyeoutdoor logs, I discovered that despite this period of reduced running, I’ve been averaging more miles than the same period last year. Perhaps I’ve been a little harsh on myself.

With things slowly restored to business-as-usual, I’m just letting the consistency takes it shape over the next couple of weeks. Between now and the new year, 40K weeks shouldn’t be that hard to move up to. That will segue nicely into the 50K weeks accorded by the 8-week McMillan Base Plan. The Base Plan will have plenty of easy running, building on consistency and time-on-feet. I’ll be following the plan honestly.

Once the 8 weeks are done, it’ll be time for the actual training to begin and for that, I’ve subscribed to the 16-week Hansons Program. I’ve opted for the Beginner Plan which will peak at 91K with the longest runs at 26K. Due to the unique concept of the Hansons, the plan will only work if the runner follows the prescribed workouts to the tee. The first 2 weeks consist of low mileage work and will double up as cutback weeks following Base Phase.

Hansons Coach Luke Humphrey repeatedly says, “Don’t make it harder than it already is.“ He’s not kidding. The workouts will tax the body and mind to take on the stress of consistent weekly mileage, stressing the legs to simulate cumulative fatigue. Easy days must be kept easy. Long runs must be run at prescribed pace. Midweek SOS workouts must include warm up and downs. And I’ll have to get enough sleep as recovery.

Gear-wise, everything is good to go. Most of my running thus far has been in heavier, bulkier and protective shoes. That’s the Zoom Span, Glide Boost (mothballed 2 years ago in new condition but now recalled to active duty), and the 2 Hokas – the Clayton 2 and Clifton 4. With the exception of the Span and Clayton, the rest are over 10 ounces in heft. The odd one in the collection is the NB Vazee Pace 2 Protect. The weather resistant upper will ensure that rainy days aren’t excuses to skip workouts. They’re all shoes that I don’t typically run in but I’ve to protect my legs and feet. The firmer Ride 10 will have to wait in the wings.

For faster running, the ones you see below are my trusted ones, each capable of covering distances between 5K to the marathon. Even my GCM18 race shoes (not shown here) are good to go.

On the injury front, the PF is finally, FINALLY (!), brought under control. It has taken a lot of effort on my part, from 4 times a day trigger point massages, stretching and mobility exercises. More than anything, I’m hoping that the issue will be fully resolved by end February, and I stay healthy all the way through July.

So as 2017 comes to a close, here’s wishing you the best in next year’s training and racing!


2018 will be the 40th running of the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM). I’ll be returning for my 8th GCM and training plans have been drawn up. Won’t you join me for some Good Times? Hit the image below to get to the official Gold Coast Marathon website! Do join the Team Malaysia Facebook page to get all the local happenings, updates on training sessions, tips on travel and running the race on the Gold Coast.

Hoka Clayton 2 Review

Astonishingly, this is another Hoka review. I blame CY for this. And I blame eBay too because just like how I snagged the Tracer (reviewed here), there was a store-returned, like new, Clayton 2 there as well. At RM420.

Now, you’ll be able to find plenty of mixed reviews online about the Clayton 1, with wearers raving about the ride, cushioned responsiveness and stability all in a sub-9 oz lightweight package. Then the same wearers would often vent about the shoe’s various design issues which caused bad chafing around the arch area. So when had the chance to try out CY’s Clayton 1, I almost immediately took a liking for the shoe. They’re like the Skechers GoRun Ultra, minus a couple of ounces! Prior to this experience, my impressions of Hoka weren’t that positive, to be honest. I appreciated their concept of building super comfy yet relatively lightweight shoes but did they have to make them so puffy and pricey?

 

Unlike the Tracer, I stuck with US10 for the Clayton 2 (C2). While not supremely light, 8.4oz is in the vicinity of proven racing and performance trainers such as the Boston 6, Kinvara 8 and Zoom Elite 9. The C2 has a 28/24mm stack height. But let’s cover the upper first. It’s largely a one-piece mesh upper with zig-zagging latticed overlays, from the forefoot up to the midfoot area, while a more structured but soft construct secures the heel.  At one glance, one might opine that the entire concept lacks breathability and the lattice constrictive, but the opposite is true. The C2 has the most forgiving upper of Hokas. I wouldn’t call the C2’s upper the best ever simply because even the Zoom Elite 9’s is more generous in the toebox height department.

The overlays are reflective, making the C2 one of the highest visibility shoes I’ve ever worn, just behind Skechers’ Nite Owl versions of the GoRun Ride and GoRun Ultra.

Laces are stretchy and very long, necessitating a double-knot approach to securing them. Or simply tuck them under. Where it gets a little tricky is achieving a secure lockdown which, for some reason for me, is a frustrating affair. I’ve resorted to using the heel-lock lacing method to get a good hold but that resulted in a tiresome lacing experience.

The step in feel is expectedly pillowy soft. Your foot comes in contact with a thin layer of removable Ortholite insole which sits on top of a layer of perforated foam forming the footbed. Like Hoka’s other go-fast model, the Tracer (reviewed here), the C2 also features the Pro2Lite dual density midsole. That’s Protection (in the heel) + Propulsion (forefoot). And in a shoe with the C2’s stack heights, the difference in sensation of the softer/firmer midsole sections are more palpable here than in the Tracer.

The foot actually sits cupped inside the midsole, where the tip of my thumb is, in the photos below. The first photo is of the medial side, and the second, the lateral side. As you can see, the sidewalls are high, typical of Hokas, which centers the foot, creating a stable footplant.

Hoka’s customary early stage meta-rocker geometry works to get the wearer through the gait cycle quicker. Other than the lightweight cushioning the shoes offer, what attracts me to the Clayton is the way they make me run tall (well, they’re higher stacked shoes anyway) and upright, and with a certain sense of efficiency in the strides.

The Clayton’s full contact outsole is all RMAT foam. They feel spongy to the touch, so durability will not be comparable to rubber. The RMAT coverage is very generous though. At 73km, there are already visible signs of wear and 350 – 400km would be my estimate before they look worse for wear.

I’ve not covered distances long enough (10 miles being the longest) in the C2 to be able to confirm the non-recurrence of the chafing issues reported for version 1. I did, however, pre-emptively swap out the stock Ortholite insole with Skechers’ 😬. So far so good.

The Hoka One One Clayton 2 is already in selected stores in the country but with a eye watering price tag of nearly RM700. It’s for that reason that I can only recommend an online purchase from overseas sites. Furthermore, Hoka will be releasing the all-new Cavu and Mach early 2018, with the Mach a direct replacement of the Clayton 2. So I’d say hold off your purchase of the Clayton 2 and wait for a few more months. If you’re interested, Sam Winebaum had a nice post up on both the new shoes over at www.roadtrailrun.com.