Monday, December 17, 2012

The Skechers GOtrail Threesome

I've never been a trail running kinda person, simply because places like these are reeking with creepy crawlies, bugs, leeches and snakes! Yeah, I'm a little coward in that way. Then there was the preconception of trail shoes being thick, bulky and plain heavy, which was really a turn off to me since I'm more inclined to run in more minimalistic shoes.

But getting my hands or rather feet on the Skechers GOtrail a few weeks back forced me to abandon all my cowardly yellow streak and misplaced preconceptions and take the shoe out for a test run with two other fellow Skechers wear testers in the wilderness of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, that's FRIM to the locals.

Taking a break along the Pinus Peak path ...
(Pic courtesy of Jamie)
This is actually my third time running in the shoe, with the first being Broga Hill and the second, a road test of the shoe, both times with the wife (also in a GOtrail). This time around, it was running the FRIM trails with both Jamie and Yvonne. Both of them have run FRIM before, I just tagged along like a good little boy and followed their lead, mind you, it wasn't easy with the pace there were doing!

A totally unflattering photo of me clinging to the roots like a sissy with Jamie in a macho stance ... LOL!
(Pic courtesy of Yvonne)
To say I didn't have fun traversing the many uneven, rocky, wet, muddy and 90% of the time uphill trails (at least it felt that way to me) of FRIM would be a lie. I did have fun even though I was practically huffing and puffing most of the time. Being my first time there, Yvonne was patiently explaining to me all the numerous trail paths I could explore when I bring the wife here for a run the next time.

With Jamie along the Pinus Peak Trail ...
(Pic courtesy of Yvonne)
It was mostly an experience for me to be running (and crawling) amongst the many scenic trail paths with names the like of the Dream Trail, Salem High Country (Pinus Peak Trail), Steroid Hill (Tongkat Ali Trail) and the Pacat (leech) Trail, just to name a few. Okay, I'll admit, the Pacat trail was a little worrisome and I think I ran that section the fastest making sure no leeches clung on to me ... hahaha! Though in the end, I found two of the little blood suckers trying to sneak into my shoe!

Jamie has the muddiest shoe followed by mine with Yvonne's being the cleanest looking one.
(Pic courtesy of Yvonne)
My favourite spot of the entire run was basically the Salem High Country trail which had scenery akin to a Star Wars movie. Jamie and Yvonne were expecting Ewoks to appear at any moment and so did I. Unfortunately no Ewoks though :D A lot of photo ops were taken here. The Pinus Peak Trail was basically the highlight for me before we started trekking back down to the car park which saw us doing around 17km in total.

Trudging along a steep incline with Yvonne, at least we're ahead of the mountain bikers ... LOL!
(Pic courtesy of Jamie)
As tired and exhausted as I was, I'm eager to do this again. At least now I know what to expect the next time I do a run in the FRIM trails. There is nothing like spending a Sunday morning outdoors among friends doing what you love best. The wife pointed out this quote to me which I found to be pretty apt to describe this morning's outing - 'While you were sleeping, I was producing lactic acid!'

Jamie, Yvonne and me at the end of the run ...
(Pic courtesy of Jamie)
Both Jamie and Yvonne also decided to make this outing a little more fun with a mini review of the Skechers GOtrail by pretending that we were being interviewed by Meb Keflezighi for a magazine story, not that that will ever happen but dreamers can dream, can't they? Besides, maybe, just maybe, one of our posts might fall into Meb's attention and he really might give us a buzz ... hahaha ... wake up, Nick, the trails must be doing something to your brain!

Some of the vegetation along the Salem High Country route ...
Anyways here were the questions 'Meb' asked us:

The Interview/Review 

Possibly Meb: Hi guys, understand you took the GOtrail out today on the not-too-technical FRIM trail. What do you think of the shoe in terms of fit? 

Yvonne Teo: Nice and comfy. Then I realised it was due to the upper which is stretched to fit your feet as snugly yet securely as possible. I know the GOtrail has a supportive brace for the heel but I think the heel collar should be a bit higher, maybe an additional 1cm or so, to properly lock the heel in place.

Nick Philips: Seeing as how most of the GO series range of shoes fit me pretty well, I have no complains with the GOtrail too though it did feel a little narrow and the heel counter could have been a little higher up and maybe slightly firmer but otherwise, it fit like a sock, at least it felt that way to me. 

Jamie: As with all GO series, mostly good! The GO series has one of the best made uppers and the trail version is no different. While it fits snug, my toes never felt compressed and was able to spread for a more secure footing on the trails due to the stretchable upper. I think having good ground contact is essential in trail shoes and the GOtrail gives you that courtesy of a low ride. One thing which Skechers can improve is the heel section where the collar of the shoe should to be raised such that the soft PU heel stabilizer or brace is located further up the archilles. The present location of the stabilizer is too low negating the intention of what it's put there to do. The shoe has non-removable sockliner so there's nothing to remove when cleaning the shoe. The fabric used to line the footbed appears to be fragile but only time will tell if they're durable. 


PM: What were your other trail shoes? How do they compare to the GOtrail in terms of weight, breathability, cushioning and support?

YT: I have three other pairs of trail shoes; the New Balance WT625GO and WT909GB, and the recently acquired Brooks' Pure Grit. The GOtrail is the lightest of them all. I honestly thought they would be heavy as its lugs seemed to be quite chunky. Despite being light, the GOtrail proved to be stable on uneven ground as the lug traction is quite secure. They are comfortable, too. For cushioning and support, I would say that I'd go with my NB WT909GB for long trail runs as it has proved to be very stable. The hydrophobic mesh upper on the GOtrail is not as breathable as the Brooks Pure Grit. My feet got pretty warm after a while but you'll forget about it once you're into your run. Nevertheless, the mesh upper proved to be an effective leech shield as I spotted a leech trying to penetrate through my shoe and thank goodness it didn't succeed!

NP: Since I've never run trails before I have no benchmark for comparison but as a trail layperson, I would say it offered just the right amount of cushioning and support though breathability was an issue a little. In terms of weight, I thought it was pretty light weight for a trail shoe seeing as how I hardly felt the shoe on my feet, well except when I was squelching around through the mud. The grip though was phenomenal with hardly any slippage even on the rocks.

J: My rarely used Cascadia is a block of brick compared to the GOtrail. Although well built and provide good protection, the Brooks' stack height is rather high resulting in not-so-nimble kind of ride. The GOtrail is way lighter, lower to the ground retaining the 4mm drop while still having enough comfort for FRIM and I believe Kiara type of trails. Built this light and low, I managed to stay agile, hopping over the roots in the local trails. The shoe retains the flexibility of the series and on the breathability it wasn't too bad even though I was a little apprehensive of the GOdri upper which kept out the mud and water. It's still too early to tell how the outsole holds up. From a once over, the shoe should be more than enough for dirt and leafy paths with the ruggedized outsole feeling more durable that the pure foam of the other GO series. The traction is pretty impressive on pebbles and smooth rocks. I think it should be fine short of taking them to the sharp and vicious rocks like those we see in Mandai, Singapore.


PM: Do you think the GOtrail will be suitable for a race like TMBT (The Most Beautiful Thing)? 

YT: Er, it really depends on the distance, 25km, 50km or 100km? I'm confident that the GOtrail has really good traction with deep lugs to grip the trail and avoid slipping. In fact, I was surprised to find myself running downhill quite fast just now. But I might have to test them further during a longer run and in wet conditions to see just how water resistant they are.

NP: Don't look at me, this is my first ever trail session.

J: For that you'll have to ask The Woman *points at Yvonne* as I've not run TMBT.


PM: The GOtrail has a protection plate built into the midsole. Could you feel that? As you can imagine, my customized GOruns are kept as simple as possible allowing me to run as fast as possible *winks*.

YT: Nope, I didn't feel a thing! Maybe because the shoe is comfortably flexible and light.

NP: I poked, I prodded, I pulled, I twisted, short of dissecting the shoe, for the life me I couldn't feel it which is an advantage for a trail shoe, not making it stiff.

J: Lucky you for having customized shoes, Possibly Meb! In the case of the GOtrail, I didn't particularly feel the plate. If I hadn't read the sticker on the box lid, I wouldn't have realize the presence of anything else in the midsole. But since it's there, power to the runner! 


PM: Is the shoe suitable for road running?

YT: During a short run on the road before entering and exiting the trails, the GOtrail felt pretty OK. Usually with a stiffer outer sole, you'd find your feet pretty sore running on the road in your trail shoes. Be that as it may, I don't think you should be road running in your trail shoes. Got to keep the tread patterns intact as much as possible. 

NP: I would have to say yes (within limits) since I took it for a short 5k run prior to this. The lightness and flexibility of the shoe makes it feels somewhat like a more toughened GOrun. Though you can run roads with it, I wouldn't really recommend it. Oh and it gets really hot when road running with it.  

J: On the short stretch of road before entering the trail, the shoe felt OK. But since I've plenty of road shoes, I won't be wearing the GOtrail on the road. However, you shouldn't have any problems in taking it to a mixed i.e. trail-road course. With the low volume of trail running I typically do, and having found a less bulky ride in the GOtrail, I can now donate my little used Cascadia! 


PM: Did Skechers Malaysia tell you when the GOtrail will be on the store shelves there? 

J: The GOtrail are already in-stores and retails for RM399 and RM369 for the men and women’s models respectively. And by the way, could you also ask Skechers when we "normal" runners can get a version of your racing shoes *raised eyebrow*?


PM: That information is classified!


With that, a big thank you to Jamie and Yvonne for introducing me to the word of trail running. Do take a peek at their blogs for their version of this run.


2 comments:

  1. Threesome?? Hahahaha

    Glad you had fun! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll probably be flagged by Google soon for a title like that ... hahaha!

      Thanks for showing me around your backyard.

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