Friday, July 18, 2014

BOH Highlands Run 2014

"I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date!" You'd probably be muttering the very same words of the white rabbit if you wait too long to sign up for the BOH Highlands Run.

The first ever BOH Highlands run, slated for the 28th of September is a non-competitive 5km charity fun run that takes you through the lush greenery of the Sungei Palas BOH plantation trail in Cameron Highlands. I've run trails before but not in a tea plantation so this is kinda exciting for me. It also gives you the opportunity to appreciate the beauty and cool (with the average lows hovering around 12C or so) setting of the highlands.

Running amidst the lush greenery of a tea plantation ...
To make the event even more exciting, the run has a theme called 'Mad Hatter Tea Party' where participants are encouraged to don the wackiest hats they can find for the run and then proceed to a tea party (but of course) after the run hosted by BOH. I'm not really sure where I'm going to find a whacky looking hat that will top the Mad Hatters but heck, I aim to find one!

The BOH Highlands run is officially endorsed by the Pahang State Tourism Board and all proceeds from the the run will will be channeled to the Malaysia Nature Society (MNS) to help with an environmental conservation project in Cameron Highlands. The event is also supported by Fitness First Malaysia with Copthorne Hotel and Hotel Titiwangsa being the official hotels.

The route map
Registration fees are priced at RM55 for adults (aged 13 and above) and RM35 for the children (aged 8-12 years). Pretty reasonable for a charity event in a cool (pun intended) and green setting if you ask me. Registration is limited to 500 entries though and will be open for sign up on Monday, 21st July 2014 on MYraceonline so don't wait too long to sign up.

An event tee is included and light refreshments will await you after the run. You can also pre-register your interest in the event with before the 21st July 2014 though it's limited to only 50 early birds. Visit Tea for more information on this.

The lovely trail but be aware of the steep edges
As beautiful as the trail will be, parts of the route will have rocky and uneven terrain with steep edges. This is after all a trail run. So families participating in the event with children are advised to keep an eye on their precious little ones safety. While we're all out to have a great time, safety is of paramount importance.

So start looking for your hat now and see you all at the BOH Highlands Run bright and early on the 28th September 2014!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Next Up!

Now that the euphoria of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon is slowly ebbing away, it's time to focus on my next challenge. I wouldn't really call it a challenge, stupidity would be a more apt description. In a little more than a month, I'll be attempting to run around the not-so-little island of Penang trying to see if I can survive 84 kilometers of pounding the streets of the pearl of the orient.

To this very day, I have no idea why I really signed up for the Starlight Ultra. To say I was possessed by some evil ultra spirit would be an easy explanation but I'll just put it down to blaming a few people and their poisoning ways. No names will be mentioned cos the guilty know who they are :D

Originally scheduled for the 24th-25th of May, the Starlight Ultra was postponed to a later date due to the by-elections that was needed to fill Karpal Singh's seat after his untimely passing. It was bitter-sweet cos on one hand, with the postponement, that meant I could fully concentrate of my GC training without having to modify my training plan. GC was a priority back then. The thoughts of DNSing Starlight was very high. On the other hand, with the new dates slated for the 23rd-24th August, I now have no excuse to skip the event. Sigh!

A route that practically circumvents the entire island.
Pic courtesy of Starlight Ultra
That said, I'm not really sure I'm up for the challenge. My training has been geared towards a marathon plan and having just one month or so, throw some tapering time into the equation, that hardly leave any time for switching to ultra training mode. I really don't see how I can do anything about it except to wing it all the way and make sure I'm seen running every time I pass a camera ... hahaha! But that doesn't mean I'm not going to try. I'll definitely dig deep and give it my all. If I fail, so be it. The experience will be a good thing though I would prefer it came without too much pain.

The only consolation I have is that I've had a small sample of what to expect on the streets of Penang during my road trip there with Jamie, CY and Foo back in May. Since we had already booked our lodging and air tickets, we decided to turn the postponement into a run holiday to run an LSD and go on a food binge instead. It turned out to be quite fun and it also gave me an indication of what to expect during the daylight hours of the run, where I'll be the most fatigued and begging to be put out of my misery.

In hindsight, I don't think I'm really cut out to run ultras. I'm just a pretender trying to delve into the world of ultra running. I don't have the time to put in the humongous amount of commitment it requires. Finding the time to train for a marathon is hard enough let alone an ultra. Work, family commitments and the threat of being thrown out the house are enough to dissuade me from wanting to explore ultra running too much. Maybe in a different life.

Right now, I'm just counting the days for it to arrive so I can get it over and done with and move on to other things, namely get back to proper marathon training again. That's at least something I can realistically achieve a little success with. Besides, call me a sadist or whatever, I actually enjoy training for a marathon. That said, I still have another ultra in November to prepare for. Why do I keep doing these things?

Sadly, Foo the group's entertainer is nursing an injury 
and won't be with us to provide much needed entertainment ...
My regular training buddies have been hard at work training for the Starlight Ultra and I can only dream of trying to keep up with them. In fact, I expect them to ace through the route with ease and am hoping they'll have a nice plate of Pasembur or Mee Rebus Sotong waiting for me when I finally crawl through the finish line.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2014: Race Review

Surreal. One word that I would best use to describe my experience at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2014. Remember that word cos you'll hear it more than once throughout this post. A word of warning for those one or two readers that I still have, make yourself a strong mug of coffee or a bowl of instant noodles cos this might be a long one.

The Gold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM) marks my first ever marathon away from home, a long way from home at that. I really didn't know what to expect once I signed up for it many months ago. From the planning stages, down to the flight, the culture and finally running the event was really foreign to me. Most of my marathon (well, what little of them anyway) were all done at home. This would be the first time I stepped on foreign soil to run and I must say I came away with an experience that will last a lifetime.

After months of training, the day finally came for both the wife and me to board the plane for that long flight to the Gold Coast of Australia. The flight bit was my least favourite part of the entire journey. I've never flown as far away as Australia and sitting on my butt for close to 8 hours or so really left a bitter taste in my mouth, literally since I didn't manage to brush my teeth almost the entire day after we landed ... hahaha!

The wife and me met up with Jamie at the new KLIA2 airport, checked in, grabbed some dinner and started our long journey to the Gold Coast around 8.40pm. We touched down in Gold Coast around 7 plus in the morning, local time and upon checking our baggage out, we were picked up by the tour company people to head to the race expo to pick up our bibs.

The drive to the race expo had me looking in awe like some backwater neanderthal at the lovely houses along the streets to the expo. The race expo itself was on an entirely different level for me. It had to be the biggest one I've ever been to and was told by Jamie that I ain't seen nothing yet cos there are even bigger ones. Since we were not due to check in yet, we took our time strolling around the expo checking out the various products on offer.

I had earlier on decided not to bring any fueling such as gels from KL and would just buy it here, which was in hindsight not such a brilliant idea. I'll come to that at a later stage of this post. Spotted a booth selling GU, and though I'm used to GU and have taken them before, my gel of choice is Horleys but unfortunately none was to be found so GU it would have to be.

We scoured the place and the Comrades marathon booth caught my eye since the Malaysian Ambassador for Comrades has been actively trying to poison me to sign up. Chatted for a bit with the people at the booth, bought a few stuff from another exhibitor and we all headed back to the tour bus to head to the Wyndham Apartments to store our luggage since we had a long way to go before we could check in.

Jamie harbouring thoughts of Comrades ...
There were six of us on the same flight group, Jamie, Max, Tan, Aya, the wife and me. After meeting up with CY and wife, we all headed out to experience the atmosphere and hospitality of Gold Coast, besides we were hungry as hell! The place was chilling even at that hour of the day, which was close to lunch time. I totally loved it. Makes a vast change to the heat and haze we're experiencing back home. Lunch consisted of Japanese food with entertainment.

Then a stroll to the Surfers Paradise beach it was and once again it dawned on me how surreal all this was. Here I was, thousands of miles away from home just to run a marathon, something I never thought I'd ever do. The scene of the beach flanked by the architecture of the place was simply breathtaking. I wanted to just stay here forever. We spent some time camwhoring and then headed to get some prepacked food for dinner later tonight before heading back to check in to our respective apartments but not before Jamie and me made plans for a short evening shakedown run after a quick nap.

With Jamie and Max.
The short shakedown run gave me a small taste of what to expect on race morning. The temps were really low and even a 6k run saw hardly any sweat on me. Jamie said it would be even colder in the morning before race start, which was not a very comforting thought. But the short run was welcomed and the view was spectacular. Headed back to the apartment after the run and both of us went our separate ways. Dinner was a microwaved prepacked pasta and bacon, something easy on the stomach to cater for race day.

Harbouring secret thoughts of being a pole dancer ...
All the race gear had been laid out way in advance and both the wife and me called it an early night since our pick up was due to arrive at 4.30am the next morning. I had a feeling it was going to be cold but just how cold was something I didn't expect. When the alarm went to signalling the start of race day, I just wanted to curl into a ball under the covers. It was so bloody cold, I was actually shivering. A quick run to the bathroom, which had ice cold tiles and a toilet bowl seat cover that was like sitting on ice block wasn't a good way to start the day. How I wished for the hot, humid air of Malaysia at that time.

They don't call me King Arthur for nothing, you know.
Nevertheless, both of us got ready, bundled ourselves in warm clothes and jackets, camwhored a little and headed down to the pick up bus to be driven to the race start location. During the drive to the race location I was quivering inside and it wasn't cos of the cold. I was feeling a little nervous about the race. It was made even more so when we arrived at our destination. The place was packed with runners.

I've been to run events before but this was nothing like what I was used to. The atmosphere was sizzling with a different kind of excitement. Here I was, a foreigner for a change, in an event where I hardly knew anyone apart for the people I came with, bundled up and shivering in the cold waiting to run my first ever overseas marathon event. It was so damn surreal (hey, I did warn you about that word). I could hardly believe it.

The breathtaking view that has me wanting to stay here forever.
The wife's event, the half marathon was due to start an hour and 20 minutes before mine. I accompanied her to her start zone, kissed and wished her good luck and headed back to meet up with Jamie and CY. The wife was also a little nervous as well. She's been training really hard for this event and I had every bit of confidence that she'll do well in the half.

Our abode for the weekend.
Soon enough, time for my race was just around the corner. Dropped off everything and was left with minimal gear to keep warm since I opted to run as light as possible for the race. I was shivering as I headed to my start zone. I found the most sunniest part of the zone and rooted myself firmly to enjoy what little warmth the sun provided. I said a little prayer just before the gun off and then it was showtime. Time to make the hard work pay.

I was in start zone C, with the 4:30 group and it was a slow 3 plus minutes before I passed the start. I took off at a conservative pace. The legs and body were still tight from the cold. The start was electrifying, loads of cheers urging everyone on. My nervousness was gone once I crossed the start and I started settling into race mode. Of all the tips I got from Jamie, the one I remembered the most was to start slow and watch the pace cos the cold could easily have you running too fast and screw your entire race. That kept playing in my mind the first 2km.

All bundled up against the cold, chilly morning ...
By the time I got past the 2km mark, I was beginning to get into groove, the legs were loosening out, the mindset was changing and I was feeling good. None of the pain that was plaguing my left quad prior to arriving here was evident. Cruising along while enjoying the sights saw me catching up with the 4:15 pacers slightly after the 2km mark. I had already set 4:15 as my target goal and catching up with them had me smiling. I was smiling even more when I realized one of the pacers for the 4:15 group was Digger (Bruce Hargreaves) himself, the Ambassador for Comrades. It had me immediately thinking of Frank and his poisoning back home :D

With Digger at the 30km mark
I decided that I'd stick with him like glue since he was going at pace I could sustain easily. Now let me tell you something. Being a pacer is not that simple. Not just any Tom, Dick and Harry can be a pacer, if you ask me. You need to motivate and keep your charges going, take their minds off the pain, at the same time trying to maintain your pace to bring your chargers to their 4:15 finish.

Now Digger was simply astounding as a pacer. He kept talking, telling stories and kept motivating everyone all the way that had me wondering just how he does it considering he's 60 plus in age. I was in awe. He was so inspirational that I hardly felt the miles slip away. Things were easy. I slowed down when he said so and sped up when he did. In fact I was actually surprised that I wasn't facing any issues at all and was running like as it if was a training run with the guys. Things were looking up.

Just so you know, I bought all my pictures legally ...
One thing about the Gold Coast Airport Marathon that stood out from the races back home is the fantastic crowd along the route cheering you on. There was really never a lonely stretch without supporters on hand to urge you forward. From kids in their jammies standing and high fiving you to teenage girls singing by the roads really had me smiling as I returned the high fives and waves as much as I could. Oh, another thing that was really evident was the total lack of anyone honking away or trying to run down runners for spoiling their Sunday mornings, unlike the pesky,  impatient and utterly moronic drivers back home.

Back to the race. Hydration and water stations were spaced out every 2k or so. I stopped at most of them under Diggers advice that the later part of the stages would be hot and we'd need all the hydration we can get. I was feeling fine. Legs were good, breathing was easy, heart rate was in the 150's, the scenery was breathtaking and with Digger keeping a running commentary on his past exploits, things couldn't be better. My pace was consistently in the 5:50 - 6:00 throughout, just where I wanted it.

The finish in sight ...
As we headed up the bridge on the Gold Coast Highway where Digger gave a friendly warning that incline on the bridge wasn't as easy it it looked, I was still running strongly. We hit the 30k mark right on the bridge and it took us past the start finish in the opposite direction. It was kinda hard having to pass the start/finish and hearing the music and cheering crowd but knowing you still had at least 12k to negotiate.

This was basically one of the best stretches of the entire route. This was where almost the entire 12k was littered with enthusiastic and vocal supporters cheering you on. This was where you just didn't want to be walking but unfortunately, this was where my race took a dip. Just as I hit the 38k mark, cramps hit me in both my calves. I had to slow down my pace to practically a trot to ease the pain. I also couldn't keep up with Digger anymore and lost my pacer. 'F@@K' I uttered. Why now? Just 4km to go. I was cursing. This wasn't the wall, this was bloody bad fueling plans. I opted for less gels thinking the cool weather would help. That was a really lousy call and was my biggest blunder.

Finally, the finish!
Did some quick calculations in my head. Knowing with a run/walk routine I wouldn't hit 4:15 even though I had some extra minutes in the pocket and instead opted to cross the finish before 4:25 which was doable. So, I trudged along in pain running and walking as fast as I could. This stretch was simply fantastic though. The sheer support from the folks by the side of the road could bring you to tears. They kept shouting 'Go Nick Arthur, Go Nick Arthur' (I had my name printed on my bib), that it had me digging deep inside to keep moving. Screw the pain. I was going to do this.

The last 1.5k to the finish was the most I've ever heard my name called out by supporters urging me on. It was all so surreal (okay, I promise, that's the last). The last 500m was within sight. There was this runner behind me who kept nudging me to keep going every time I felt like stopping. He kept saying, 'keep going mate, just a few metres to go'. I was clearly in awe of him. He was clearly in as much pain as I was and he was nudging me to keep going. We ran together and the final 250m signage came to view.

With a last turn into the final finish stretch I picked up the pace, put on a more confident face (obviously for the cameras) and ran across the finish like a champion. I looked at my watch and it show 4:23. I had made it to my secondary target. I was a little disappointed not to hit my 4:15 target but I was ecstatic nonetheless at having achieved a new personal best shaving off 13 minutes from my previous best. I wasn't going to take anything away from me. I deserve this moment.

The officials were urging me off to the medal collection area but I stood my ground and waited for that kindly soul who nudged me along. It was the least I could do to thank him. He came in about 30-40 seconds later and I shook his hand and thanked him for his gesture. And only then did I head to pick up my first ever gold label road race finisher medal and tee.

I headed to the post race wait area and was greeted by news from the wife about her half marathon personal best. I never doubted she would do it. I was damn happy for her. More good news followed with Jamie hitting his sub 4 and CY grabbing his sub 5 on his first marathon attempt. A commendable job by the wife and a fantastic effort by the two of them. We all came and got our personal best here so it was worth the trip.

After some photo sessions, we took the shuttle and headed back to wash up and have a late lunch. I don't know about the rest but I was hungry as hell. A quick change and a quick celebratory lunch, we all headed our own way to do our own things. Now that the hard work has been done, it was time to chill a little.

In a nutshell, the experience is something I can never forget. The atmosphere of race day is nothing like I've ever experienced before and having the wife and the company of good friends to share it with makes it all the more exciting. I have no regrets about not achieving my actual time goal. I had a blast and will strive to do better next time. Yes, there will be a next time, that's for sure. After all, I have to set a higher goal, right?

One of the lovely views at the finish area.
But what I achieved wouldn't have been possible without the support of my lovely wife, who had to endure countless weekends of me out of the house running somewhere. Our usual conversation every weekend was like 'what's plans for the weekend?'...  my answer would be 'Errr, I'm doing a 20/30k with Jamie and CY'. The things she had to put up to accommodate my passion for running. Thank god she's a runner too so at least she does understand my need to constantly run. Thanks also to Jamie and CY for all the times you guys ran along with me urging me on during training.

It would be totally unfair if I didn't mention a few others personally who helped me with what I have achieved at GCAM14. A big thanks goes out to the GCAM Training Alumni gang, Kew, Foo, Julia, Zane, Yan Leng, Piew, YeeHoo, Calvin and Yvonne (for her quiet support). You guys helped a great deal with the training.

Thank you Gold Coast for the great time and be rest assured, in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, I'll be back!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Countdown To GCAM14

When I first joined the GCAM Training group set up by Jamie last year, it wasn't with the intention to actually run the Gold Coast Airport Marathon. It was more for using it as a training tool for my SCKLM marathon. Training alone for long distances isn't all that fun, doing it with a group makes the pain a lot more bearable. So I grabbed the opportunity to join the GC training sessions since it was after all geared towards marathon training.

Inaugural Gold Coast Airport Marathon Group Training January 26, 2013
Pic courtesy of Jamie Pang 
Little did I dream that in slightly more than a week from today, I'll actually be running in the Gold Coast Airport Marathon. Weird things happen when you join a group of crazy people, some of whom are perpetually on 'poison' mode (LOL) to do your training with. But all said and done, joining the group was a blessing seeing as how my running has improved a little with the numerous long run sessions we've been through, not forgetting the good friendships that were formed during those long runs together.

Anyways, all that sentimental talk aside, I'm feeling rather jittery as the days to GCAM draws near. I've always had some form of butterflies before every race but this one feels like I have butterflies, grasshoppers and dragonflies all running havoc in my tummy together. It's probably cos it's my first race away from home, a very long way from home at that. I'm not sure what to expect, culture wise, environment wise, weather wise and it's all putting my mind in a state of slight unease. It's a good thing the wife is going with me.

Training and preparation wise, I've done all I can to prep myself for the race. I don't think I could do anything more to be any more prepared, not at this point anyway. All the hard work of almost daily runs in the morning and waking up at ungodly hours on weekends for training have all been put in. Now all I have to do is trust in my training and mostly myself to see if I have what it takes to translate all this into some sort of personal success for myself.

Yes, I race for PB's, no shame in admitting that. I'm very competitive with myself and I always want to get better with each race I run in. After all, why do something and not have a goal or a target? Yes, I have a goal for GCAM, not a sub-4 goal as some of you might be thinking (you know who you are). I'm not in the sub-4 class just yet. I'll get there, mind you, but not yet. My personal goal is a bit more realistic, something based on my abilities.

After all, this is only my 5th marathon, so you can't really expect much, right? It took me close to 15 tries to get my half marathon done right before even attempting a marathon last year. We all run for different reasons be it for health, a bucket list, personal goals, bragging rights or just to plain show off, hey whatever floats your boat. For me, training for something in earnest matter a great deal. Then if I fail, I have only myself to blame.

All that aside, I'm actually looking forward to my first ever Gold Label road race event. The chance to line up on the same starting line with the likes of Yuki Kawauchi and Nicholas Manza, to name a few makes me feel like a child on Christmas day. Of course, I'll be holed up in the slower start pen way behind and wouldn't even be able to catch a shadow of them but it still does feel damn exciting. I'll have two other 'elites' in the starting pen with me in the form of Jamie and Choon Yuen, so I won't be alone, at least until we all start chasing our own personal goals once the gun goes off.

Kawauchi & Manza
All this is kinda surreal for me though. Like I said earlier, little did I dream I'd ever be travelling to Australia to run a marathon. Loads of stuff needed to be looked into. Travelling and accommodation needed to be sorted out. By doing some of your own research you could get a good deal on flights and accommodation but the wife and me opted to take up the GCAM travel package offered by Holiday Tours and let them do all the work for us. A little more pricey but a lot more peace of mind, especially for someone like me who's not familiar with the country.

Sadly though, we don't have too much time to really bask in the place since our itinerary is pretty tight and not much time for sightseeing save for one full day to ourselves after the race which we've already filled up with some activities. But that doesn't mean I don't intend to take advantage of every single waking moment we have over there.

The wife will be lining up an hour and twenty minutes earlier than me to start her half marathon. The trick will be to find a way to keep warm until race start cos according to what I've heard, it gets pretty cold in the early morning but warms up as the race progresses. I'm rooting for the wife, who initially wasn't supposed to run, to do well. She's been training pretty hard the past few months even though she was coming off from injury when she first started her training. She's not putting pressure on herself and is just out for a good time and ogling tall surfer hunks with six packs :D

My race gear have all been tried and tested, save for one or two things which I might change on race day. At least that's one less thing to worry about. Race strategy or what amounts to something remotely called a strategy has already been planned which is basically to avoid the sweeper bus! I can't wait to cross the finish line next week and bawl my eyes out ... hahaha!

Now to start the tedious process of packing.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Skechers GObionic 2 Initial Review

The original Skechers GObionic and me has gone through a love affair of more than a thousand kilometers seeing me through two marathons, achieving a personal best in one of them and countless hours of caressing my feet as we hit the asphalt together. My love for it grew steadily with every step I took in them.

So it was no surprise that I would be looking to carry on that love affair with the Skechers GObionic 2 (GB2). And it was a long time in coming seeing as how the original iteration of the GB was released here way back in September or October of 2012. Since then though, the Bionic series has seen the likes of the GObionic Ride and the GObionic Trail being released, both exceptional shoes in their own right.

Knowing that the GB2 was being developed and seeing pictures of the shoe online only whetted my appetite waiting for it. Finally, after a long wait, I got my hands on the latest iteration of shoe and my love for the shoe was rekindled. Visually, the shoe took my breath away. The blue/yellow colorway that I had for review was simply right up my alley.

The GB2 has seen some pretty positive changes since its inception. The original was a great shoe. This one is even better. The biggest change the GB2 has seen is in the form of a fresh new upper. The GB2 still carries over the same incredibly flexible zero drop outsole as its predecessor though a thin layer of cushion just below the insole has been added to the footbed.

The thin insole found in the original GB has been upgraded with a thicker 4mm drop insole giving it a slightly cushy feel compared to the thinner insole of the original GB. The thicker insole gives the shoe a two in one combo where you can run it in zero drop mode or in a 4mm setup, which is just dandy for those longer runs that need a little more cushioning.

Carrying over the same specs from the original, the outsole is engineered around 18 bio-responsive zones that are fully articulated to move with your foot for that more natural feel. The proprietary Resalyte outsole offers a firm ride yet is cushioned enough to absorb impact.

The stiffer plugs found under the shoe remains in the same position though I would have like to see a little more around the forefoot section of the outsole where I find the most wear and tear. The Resalyte compound seems to not have changed much and is easily worn, even after a few runs in them. Maybe it's just the way I run. Oh and the flex grooves still has the annoying trait of picking up pebbles or small debris in them.

The upper of the GObionic 2 has seen the biggest change. The flexible and breathable power-prene ultra lightweight and synthetic upper that is found on the Skechers GOrun 3 is now also found in the GB2 as well. You get the same stretchable mesh in the front that gives your toes enough room to flex and spread out though the midfoot area seems to have a little less overlays and a much lighter mesh than the GR3. The upper offers a much more plushier feel than the original and fits your foot snugly, a little too snugly in my case that I had to size up from my usual 8's to a size 9.

One of the more profound changes I noticed in the GB2 is that the forefoot area seems much more roomier than its predecessor. I put that down to the stretchy new upper fabric. The same lacing system and tongue from the original has been maintained and I had to be a little careful with lacing them as lacing them too tight added some pressure around the top of my foot. Loosening them slightly alleviated the problem.

The midfoot area seems to be nice and snug and a layer of brushed fabric adorned to the top of the footbed making running sockless a breeze. That was what the specs said anyway, cos I don't run sockless and can't really verify this. You don't have to worry about smelly feet when running sockless cos the Agion scent protection is there mask your smelly feet.

Weighing in at a tad heavier than the original, the Skechers GObionic 2 weighs a mere 6.5 oz. based on the men's size 9. How they managed to keep the weight the same is beyond me seeing as how the upper looks to add a little more weight to the shoe. In line with all the GOseries, the GB2 is engineered to promote a midfoot strike and with its Custom-Fit insoles enabling you to run in either zero drop or 4mm mode, you kinda get two shoes for the price of one, well kinda anyway :D

So how does it fare performance wise? It was everything it claimed to be. I've done quite a bit of mileage in them already since I've got the shoe. Morning sessions, wet sessions, evening sessions and even hot blazing noon day sessions and they all came through just fine. Can't say the same about my feet though. I've run the GB2 in both setups, the zero drop as well as 4mm and both came out just peachy. The flexibility is simply phenomenal.

The GB2 was extremely breathable and no hotspots were apparent. The longest I've run in the shoe was a 28km session in the blazing afternoon heat of Putrajaya and the GB2 performed just fine. No heating issues were apparent even with the temps blazing. While my feet are accustomed to running in zero drop mode, I prefer running them in the 4mm setup. They're much more forgiving for the longer runs. The option to size up was also a good call.

The only two peeves I have about the shoe is the fact that the color seems to run and I've had all my socks stained a blue/yellow hue after every run. I've checked with Jamie, a fellow Skechers shoe reviewer and he didn't encounter such issues so I guess it just boils down to my pair. It's probably cos I sweat a lot and my shoes are normally soaked after a run which contributes to the staining. No big deal but it doesn't do my sock any good.

The other peeve is having to pick out small debris and pebbles from between the flex grooves after every run or when you get a huge stone lodge between them and you have to stop to dig it out, ruining your rhythm. It could be a problem during races which has me a little worried cos they just might be the shoe I take along to the Gold Coast Airport Marathon next month. Aside from that, they're simply an excellent shoe and I'm thoroughly enjoying running in them.

The pair of Skechers GObionic 2 above was kindly provided by Skechers Malaysia for wear testing. This review is of my own personal experience with the shoe and is in no way influenced by Skechers Malaysia whatsoever.

Update: I ran the Gold Coast Airport Marathon in them and I must say they totally outdid my expectations in them.