Thursday, November 23, 2017

Saucony Zealot ISO3 Review

I've had the Saucony Zealot ISO 3 (Reflex Edition) for a little over a month and have come to love the shoe so much that at the moment it's my go to shoe for my easy runs. This is actually a little surprising seeing as how I couldn't really get its older sibling, the Zealot ISO 2 to work for me. I was a little skeptical about the Zealot ISO 3 but having read some rave reviews about the Zealot ISO 3, I was keen to give it another try and I was glad I did.

Now, if you've run in Saucony's Kinvara series of running shoes, then the Zealot ISO 3 can be described as sort of a Kinvara with a lot more cushioning to it and easily a lot wider in the upper as well. The Zealot ISO 3 is not a replacement for the Kinvara, mind you but more of an add on, for want of a better word, to the Kinvara.

The Saucony Zealot ISO 3 is a completely major upgrade of the Zealot ISO 2. The Zealot ISO 3 sheds almost all of it outer material this time around which in return frees up a lot of the forefoot room making this a much roomier and less restrictive shoe as compared to its older sibling. The lockdown in the midfoot is a lot better with the previous versions ISOFIT panel evolving into a neater twin strap configuration. 

For a shoe that looks this bulky, it's even more surprising that Saucony has managed to reduce the weight of the Zealot ISO 3 down even more to 8.5oz (based on the men's size 9) as opposed to the Zealot ISO 2's 9.5oz. Even my wife was pretty impressed with the weight after she took the shoe out for a run cos she thought the shoe looked pretty bulky. 

As I mentioned earlier, the Saucony Zealot ISO 3 is a completely new shoe. The upper consists of a brand new engineered mesh free from all the layering of the previous version and is now a whole lot less stiffer and breathable than its older sibling. Two independent straps replaces the ISOFIT of the Zealot ISO 2 and is similar to the Prolock found on the Kinvara models. These 2 straps stretches over the inner sleeve and the outer mesh of the shoe and has reduced the number of lacing rows to 5 against the 6 of the Zealot ISO 2. 

Without the added overlays of its predecessor, the Zealot ISO 3 looks a whole lot sleeker now. A short strip of Flexfilm over the toebox, a fused logo and with some reinforcements over the lacing area, there's really not much Flexfilm on the rest of the upper. The rear of the Zealot ISO 3 also gets a facelift with molded mesh being used instead of synthetic with the hard internal counter staying put. A soft 'Rundry' lining is used for the heel collar with a little more padding than before and provides a nice lockdown heel fit.

The tongue doesn't feel as padded as its older sibling and consists of a mesh top and a softer lining below. The tongue is part of the full inner sleeve and has absolutely no slide whatsoever. I prefer this version's tongue compared to the older version.

The midsole of the Zealot ISO 3 is made of a single density injection molded foam and is similar to the Kinvara 8. The Zealot ISO 3 has done away with the SRC crash pad that was found on the Zealot ISO 2's midsole and comes with an EVERUN topsole just underneath the removeable insole and is basically one of the reasons why the Zealot ISO 3 is a full ounce lighter than the Zealot ISO 2.

The outsole is made of soft blown rubber molded into Chevron shaped strips, a design similar to the Ride and Triump. The flex grooves are a little deeper than its predecessor and loses some outsole coverage under the inner heel which now has a smaller rubber piece and the rest just being exposed foam. 

The Zealot ISO 3 is a 4mm drop shoe with a heel stack height of 26mm and a forefoot of 22mm which makes its midsole run a little thick and provides the cushioning while the softer blown outsole runner makes the forefoot landings more muffled and provides great grip throughout your run.

I've put in close to over a 100 kilometers in the Saucony Zealot ISO 3 and have really come to love the shoe. Like I mentioned much earlier, it's like a cushioned Kinvara and I love the Kinvara as well. For me, the Zealot ISO 3 is great for those longer runs when you want a little more cushion under your feet than what the Kinvara can offer yet still want to be able to up the pace whenever you like and the Zealot ISO 3 will let you do just that. Be it a slow, long easy run or a faster paced run, the shoe delivers!

I've taken it out on various surfaces, road, track and even on grass, covering various distances and in all kinds of weather, well we only have three types of weather here anyway which is hot, really really hot and rain and they came true it with flying colours. The upper was so breathable that I hardly felt any hotspots and when it got wet in the rain, it didn't become water logged and drained out real fast. 

I run very early in the morning when it's still pretty dark and my model, which was the Reflex edition, was designed with fully reflective midsoles and 360 degrees of reflectivity all round kept me pretty visible from all sides. And the reflectivity really works cos from afar, it looks like I have lights on my shoe which gives a whole new meaning to being light on your feet!

Would I recommend the Saucony Zealot ISO 3? Yes, I most definitely would. If you're looking for a nice daily cushioned trainer that is light but still offers a decent amount of cushioning, then you can't go wrong with the Zealot ISO 3. Even my wife, who hates bulky looking shoes really likes the Zealot ISO 3!

The Saucony Zealot ISO 3 Reflex edition is available at Running Lab 1Utama, TopMan World, Studio Sunway Carnival, Key Power, Stadium KLCC, Stadium Pavilion, Stadium Mid-Valley and RSH 1Utama and retails at RM499.00. The Saucony Zealot ISO 3 Reflex is currently only available in the men's version.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

ATM Half Marathon 2017 Race Review

I signed up for the ATM Half Marathon 2017 on a whim and simply because being a military enthusiast, this would be the closest I could get to running an equivalent of the Marine Corp Half Marathon. Besides, the race was to be held in the seaside town of Port Dickson, a town I used to live in for about 4 years when I was still a toddler of 2, and both my wife and me thought it would serve as a nice short weekend getaway for the two of us.

The marketing for this race was kinda impressive, a military exhibition on race pack day, a nice 'short' 21km along the beach (think Gold Coast) and though I don't run for medals, this one was pretty cool and a keeper. So, with that impressive sales pitch, I clicked the sign up button and plans were put into motion. 

I went online, searched for a hotel nearby the start location that would be facing the beach. The location of the hotel was picked cos it gave me the chance to take a slow 1km or so jog to the race start as a warm up. This race was really beginning to excite me. I was even having delusional thoughts of trying to achieve a half marathon time that's currently out of my league, that's how excited I was. And the fact that it would be a nice mini holiday (I even took an extra day off work) for us was also upping the excitement scale. 

But sadly, things didn't actually go the way the organizers, Muse Group Asia, promised. I signed up for the race roughly 3 months or so prior to race day and didn't really bother about it except checking on FB occasionally for updates on the race and everything seemed to be going fine, right up to the last 10 days or so before the race.

Time to get that pesky fly!

That was when the organizers for whatever reasons of their own decided to change the start location, the location of the race kit collection, the event tee suppliers and most importantly, the race route itself. The original out and back route along the beach was now 2 loops of basically horrible scenery with only about a kilometer of ocean view! I for one hate loops and had I known it was going to be a loop, I would not have signed up.

Adding to that, when I questioned the organizers about the extremely last minute change to everything on Facebook, they had the tenacity to tell me not to be 'overly upset' about things. So if I paid for a One Plus 5 and they gave me a One Plus 3T, I shouldn't be 'overly upset' with that? I was fuming and gave them a few pieces of my mind. Mind you, all the changes happened just 10 days or so before race day. I'll be very wary of any Muse Group Asia events from now on.

I wish I could get me one of this on the top of my car!

Since the hotel was booked and my dog's pet boarding fees had been paid, both of us decided that we'd carry on with the trip, get the race over and done with and just enjoy the holiday. And with the prior two weeks the both of us had, we really needed the holiday badly.

We started our journey to Port Dickson around 11.30am after dropping off our dog at the boarders and took a leisurely drive down arriving a little over an hour or so later. The day was to be a hot one with the blazing sun out in full force and being a coastal town, it felt twice as hot as it was in KL. The race kit collection was packed with runners collecting their kits as well as tourists who were passing by. Most were drawn in by the military exhibition which I give credit to the organizers and the Armed Forces was simply super! 

Getting my Uber qualifications.
The moment I saw all the military equipment and vehicles, I totally forgot about the race kit and was running around from one exhibit to the other like a little child on steroids! I did say I was fascinated by all things military didn't I :D? After numerous photos, my wife had to literally drag me to go collect my kit. The race kit collection was a horrendously slow process. I wasn't the only one fuming about the slow process, those behind me shared the same thoughts. Finally after a nice long wait in the sweltering heat, I got my kit and headed back to the expo for more fun and pics with the military.

Once I was finally done, we headed to check into the hotel which was now about 5km away from the race start location. There was no way I could run to the start as a warm up and would now have to drive to the start location. So much for booking a hotel close by. Oh well, you just make the best out of things. Once we checked in and after a short rest, we headed out for some photo opportunities along the beach and to get some food.

It was an early night for me since I had an early wake up with the race flagging off at 5am. Now, I've not been in any training plan but have been maintaining my fitness with almost daily runs and the occasional track workouts so while I was going to give it a go, I wasn't hoping for a spectacular result, especially with the route now being a loop. Did I mention how much I hate loops?

I got to the race start much earlier since I had to make sure I got a parking spot. I managed to find one, about 800 metres away from the start line and decided to jog over as a warm up. Since race start was a ways off, I managed to actually get in 2km worth of warm up mileage before my stomach decided that I needed to use the Porta Potty. Luckily there was no queue and the moment I stepped in the skies opened which caused me to stay inside a little longer. The rains that came just before race start, while welcomed, didn't last long and would only make the place more humid.

Some of the exhibits on display.

There was quite a number of participants, both military personnel and us non military. The thought of running with military personnel was quite exciting. One piece of good news was that I knew way in advance that Twenty First Century Sports would be handling the route and water stations and I heaved a sigh of relief for that bit of good news cos having an up close and personal working relationship with them, I knew how reliable and efficient they were with that aspect of things.

Even though I spotted one or two familiar faces, things were a little lonely for me cos my wife opted to sleep in and the usual gang weren't around. The race started right on time and off we went. I opted to start conservatively, not that I had a choice cos the road was narrow and there were just too many runners in front of me to swerve in and out. Slowly but steadily I made my way ahead catching up with the pacers, yes there were pacers. Thankfully the weather wasn't as humid as I expected it to be. 

There was nothing much I could say about the route, since there really wasn't much to see, except that it was generally flat which I was thankful for. I wasn't about to want to take on any hills. I kept the pace as steady as I could hovering in and out between 5:15 and 5:30 for much the entire race. I was pleasantly surprised to be overtaking lots of military personnel and secretly felt good about it, boosted my ego a little bit ... hahaha! My breathing and heart rate were steady with the legs holding on nicely.

Since I checked out the route before hand and knew it was going to be a boring one, what with no ocean view as promised, I opted to run with my Aftershokz headset. I don't normally run races with music but this time I needed something to take the monotony of the route away. I think it was a good call cos the music helped a lot. 

Everything was going fine until I reached somewhere around the 8km mark and we were diverted into a dirt path full of rocks and mud! I was not thrilled at all by this. This dirt path was close to 800 metres long and really messed with the pace as I had to slow down for fear of twisting my ankles. It was also dark and the one miserable spotlight they had was facing the wrong way! I cussed knowing that I would have to run this again. I found out later this was a race day decision to move the runners to the dirt path cos the Police refused permission to run on the road at that stretch. Again, another last minute change with no notice at all.

Image courtesy of Pic2Go

The rest of the race went without any incidents and since I knew what to expect, I decided that I'd up my pace as much as my legs would allow. I soon caught up with the 2 hour pacers who were going way too fast as I knew from my pace, I was way under sub 2 hour timing. Strangely enough, no one was following the pacers, most were running their own race. I left the pacers behind and made my way to finish the race. 

I crossed the finish in under 2 hours for an over distanced race and was generally happy with the effort and timing. While I'm sure I could have done better if I was in actual training, this was really a good result for me personally. I wasn't tired or beat up like I normally am after a race and that was a good sign. The maintenance work and base building seems to have helped a lot. The race also gave me an inkling as to what I need to do when the time for actual training starts but for now, things are going positively :D.

Image courtesy of Pic2Go

I made my way to collect my much sought after medal and after chatting with a few of the familiar faces there, I made my way back to the hotel. It was still pretty early in the morning and my wife and me had plans ahead of us. We were going to take a day trip to the nearby historical city of Malacca since we still had another night's stay in Port Dickson. I was looking forward to that. 

Overall, the race itself was nicely organized. I'll give credit where credit is due but I'll still blacklist this organizer. I feel like I was taken for ride and not getting what I was promised for when I signed up. And to be told not to be 'overly upset' when I voiced my concerns was totally uncalled for. To all you drivers out there, I raise my hat (if I had one on) to you guys. Not one and I mean not one of you honked at the runners even though you had to wait quite a while on the closed roads. You have my utmost respect for that. Port Dickson drivers are more awesome than the impatient morons in KL.

Here's a little tip from me, if you really wanted a good race by the ocean, awesome crowd support, a superb race experience and fantastic weather, then sign up for the Gold Coast Marathon 2018!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Queen's Baton Relay

When Jamie buzzed me about my interest in taking part in the Malaysian leg of the Gold Coast XXI Commonwealth Games 2018 Queen's Baton Relay, I instantly jumped on board. The Gold Coast has always held a special place in my heart. 

So, there I was on a bright, clear and sunny morning with the gang, all ready to be a part of a historic once in a lifetime experience. Being the slightly crazy people that we are, Jamie, Choon Yuen, Piew and me decided that we'd head there early and get in a pre-run. 

We'll grab any opportunity for added mileage cos that's the way we are. Besides, we were hoping to catch the morning sun and take some vain shots at the same time with the National Stadium as our backdrop.

Once that was out of the way, we made our way to get ready for the start of the event and go down the annals of history. The place was already buzzing with invited participants, former and current national athletes and officials. 

With the GCM crew.

As always, Jamie, Choon Yuen and me are always on the lookout for any photo opportunities that we can get, we're vain that way ... haha! There was lots of opportunities, that's for sure and we even had the opportunity to handle the baton way before the start of the event. And boy, the amount of pictures and poses we got with the baton was just too many to count.

With Farah Ann, our national gymnast and Choon Yuen, the Ironman!

The baton, that personifies the connection between the ocean and the land with its selection of contrasting materials and finishes. The warm, natural, earthy macadamia wood contrasts the bright, structured reclaimed plastic leading edge. Separated by a stainless steel stringer, you can see the linear reflection of the coastline and hinterland in the Baton’s form. 

The fooling around never ends!

The Macadamia wood, which is native to the Gold Coast region, used on the back of the Baton represents Gold Coast's past and serves as an important symbol and example of traditional indigenous sustainable cultural practice.

The mirror finish of the stainless steel stringer will create a literal reflection of the Baton’s present surrounds everywhere it travels. Laser-engraved in sequential order are the three- digit alpha codes of all nations and territories of the Commonwealth, providing a visual depiction of the epic journey the Queen’s Baton will take.

An unbelievable feeling.
Pic courtesy of Li Leen.

The Queen's message, that will be placed inside is printed on a special paper made from Spinifex; a grass-like plant that has extensive traditional indigenous uses will see its way across the world within 388 days before arriving in the beach side city of the Gold Coast of Australia. 

A selfie with Borobi was a given!

While waiting for the start Borobi, the blue surfing Koala, the official mascot that flew in (yes, Koala's know how to take airplane rides) all the way from the Gold Coast for the games made his appearance and was an instant hit and most sought after figure for pictures. Of cos, who could resist a photo op with Borobi so I joined in the queue for pictures!

The team behind Borobi!

Soon enough, the event proper started with the first group leading the way around a 1.3k loop of the majestic National Stadium. We were in the fourth group and were one of the most vocal and slightly crazy of groups much to the amusement of the master of ceremonies. We were finally flagged off and was now part of a historic event for the games. With the baton in hand, we made our way around the stadium handing off the baton to each and everyone for the experience of  a lifetime.

The start of our group's turn.
Pic Courtesy of Max Lim.

I was filled with pride when it came to my turn to hold on to the monumental Baton and I could hardly contain my joy. Here I was, with the very Baton that will eventually land in the Gold Coast was clutched in my own hands. It was a little surreal and hard to believe. Of course, thoughts of running off for home with the Baton and gaining international recognition and fame wasn't far off from my mind ... hahaha! 

An unbelievable moment to be holding the Baton!
Pic Courtesy of ET Tey.

I was humbled and honoured at the end of the day to be a part of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018 Queen's Baton Relay and will cherish the experience for a lifetime. We all finally headed for some food nearby at the New Chapter by Owls Cafe for some coffee and food and to share our experience of the relay.

With Edan, Choon Yuen and Mui Khim, who made this historic moment possible

The XXI Commonwealth Games 2018 will be held in the beach side city of the Gold Coast from the 4th-15th April 2018. This will mark the 5th time that Australia has hosted the games. For more detailed information about the games and Queensland, please do head on these site at and

The smile sums it up.
Pic courtesy of Jamie.

Before I end the post, I'd like to thank Tourism and Events Queensland for the invite to take part in this historic event and the hospitality they showed me during the entire event! 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Media Release - GC2018 Queen’s Baton Relay

Monday, October 16, 2017

GC2018 Queen’s Baton Relay

Baton visit will put Malaysia in world spotlight

  • Longest relay in Commonwealth Games history ends at Australia’s Gold Coast
  • Welcome mat out for thousands of tourists to visit host city for 2018 Games
  • Malaysian residents in Australia expected to turn out in force to cheer for Team Malaysia athletes
  • Borobi, the blue surfing koala and official mascot for the 2018 Games, will fly in specially from the Gold Coast to join the Baton Relay in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia will welcome the 2018 Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay this October as part of the longest and most accessible relay in Commonwealth history on the way to the host city, Australia’s Gold Coast. The XXI Commonwealth Games, to be held in Australia’s premier beachside city of the Gold Coast from 4-15 April 2018, are set to be one of the most memorable and picturesque Games ever staged.

The Games will involve more than 6600 athletes and officials with thousands of international visitors expected to flock to the popular holiday city known for its golden beaches, world-class attractions and easy-going lifestyle. The Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR) began at Buckingham Palace on Commonwealth Day, Monday, March 13, 2017, when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will place her message to the Commonwealth inside the GC2018 Baton.

The Baton will travel 230,000km over 388 days through 70 Commonwealth nations on its journey to, and across, Australia and eventually to the Gold Coast for the Games’ Opening Ceremony where the Queen’s message will be read. The Baton will arrive in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, October 16, 2017 before departing on Saturday, October 21 for Brunei. The Malaysian stop will see Borobi, the blue surfing koala and official mascot for the 2018 Games, flying in specially from the Gold Coast to join the Queen’s Baton Relay in Malaysia.

The distinctive loop design of the Baton was unveiled at a ceremony on the Gold Coast on Sunday, 20 November 2016 in conjunction with celebrations of the 500 Days to Go milestone until the Games.

Made of macadamia wood and reclaimed plastic collected from Gold Coast waterways and beaches, the Baton’s design was inspired by the region’s vibrant spirit, indigenous heritage and with sustainability in mind.

The Baton, similar to an enlarged eye of a needle, has constantly changing neon lighting pulsing around the inside of the loop design and a see-through compartment on the side which will contain the Queen’s message, written on paper made from the Australian desert plant, spinifex grass.

The names of all 70 Commonwealth countries are engraved, in the order of hosting the QBR, on a metal spine through the middle of the Baton. It also contains a GPS device which will allow 24/7 internet tracking of the Baton on its worldwide journey.

Designers said they were inspired by the “boundless energy” of the Gold Coast and believe the “bold and beautiful” Baton reflects the “people, place and spirit of the Gold Coast”

“Our immersion into the Gold Coast revealed a city rich in contrasts and full of optimism – if you can do it anywhere, you can do it here,” said Designworks principal Alexander Wall.

The Baton is certain to get a warm welcome in Malaysia, a nation with strong ties to the Commonwealth Games. It has contested 12 of the previous Games (including the preceding British Empire Games) and hosted the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian athletes have won 181 Commonwealth Games medals including 52 gold. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Malaysia finished 12th overall with 19 medals, including six gold.

Malaysian athletes will again be highly competitive at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and are expected to feature prominently in sports including Badminton, Track Cycling, Weightlifting, Gymnastics, Diving, Shooting and Lawn Bowls.

When visiting the Gold Coast to support Team Malaysia at the Games next April, Malaysians are encouraged to take some time to meet the friendly locals and discover everything the Gold Coast has to offer, including:

  • the cosmopolitan beach lifestyle
  • vibrant, trendy cafĂ© and dining scene
  • colourful weekend markets
  • the chance to cuddle a koala
  • traverse the top of Q1, Australia’s tallest residential building on the SkyPoint Climb
  • Hot Air Ballooning
  • thrilling theme parks
  • Skydive, landing on one of the Gold Coast’s iconic beaches
  • Learn to Surf
  • and so much more!

The QBR has been the traditional curtain raiser to every Commonwealth Games since the Cardiff 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games.

Commonwealth Games Federation President, Louise Martin CBE, said a message from the Monarch had been read at every Games since 1930.

“The Queen’s Baton Relay extends an invitation to the athletes and communities of the Commonwealth to celebrate together,” she said.

“It reinforces our shared love of sport and recognises the power of sport to transcend barriers and bring us together.

“Above all, however, it is a message from Her Majesty of hope, ambition and peace for the citizens and athletes of the Commonwealth.

“It is a truly exciting moment to share the international route of the 2018 Queen’s Baton Relay, so that communities and citizens across the Commonwealth can join the build up to the XXI Commonwealth Games.”

Peter Beattie AC, the Chairman of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC), said “The Baton will return to the Gold Coast in April 2018, having been touched, admired, photographed, filmed and loved by so many people from all over the Commonwealth,” he said.

For more information on Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games™ visit & for destination information visit

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Saucony Peregrine 7: Initial Review

While I do run the occasional trail, I'm really not a trail person. My running is mostly rooted firmly to the roads but there are rare occasions, and I mean VERY rare, that I do hit the trails or even race in one. Which is why it's been kinda difficult for me to write a review on the Saucony Peregrine 7. I haven't really put much miles in them to write a decent review and after the PSP King of Forest trail two weeks back, I don't think I'll be putting much more miles in them anytime soon.

But I do have some personal views on Peregrine 7 (P7) based on the very few times I've used them and thought I might as well get the review out. My experience with the Peregrine series started with the Peregrine 6 (P6). Even then, the mileage I put on that pair is pretty embarrassing. Worse yet, I carelessly left that pair in Seoul during the Seoul International Marathon back in March.

With the wife wanting to run some trails and with me signed up for the recently concluded trail race, I requested a pair from Saucony Malaysia and put it to the test and I must say I came away impressed and might even make me take the Peregrine 7 out for more trail excursions!

The Peregrine 7 is the shoes seventh iteration and weighs in at 9.4 oz for the men's size 9, which is the size I use. The past few models didn't really stray much in terms of design from one another but Saucony have refined the past two models with a lot more updated material. The Peregrine 7 could be considered a completely different model if not for the same 4mm drop (21.5mm heel/17.5mm forefoot) and identical outsole of the Peregrine 6.

The most discerning and noticeable change to the Peregrine 7 is in the upper of the shoe. The upper of the P6 had FlexFilm overlays somewhat similar to its road cousins but the P7 now sports a TPU Exo-Skeleton that frames the foot even more for optimal support and enhanced protection. I found the fit of the P7 to be a lot more roomier and less stiffer than the P6 which I didn't really like all that much. The toe bumper which now wraps around the entire forefoot offers some toe stubbing protection and is flexible and light.

The other not so noticeable update is found in the midsole of the shoe. While the EVA midsole is essentially the same, the P7 now comes with a full length Everun topsole unlike the Everun heel insert of the previous version. Saucony refers to Everun as continuous cushioning and claims that this provides an 83% return of energy which is all just facts to me cos I really can't tell if it does with the measly mileage I put in trail running. Though the P7 is firm there is still some ground feel but you have just enough cushioning underneath that it doesn't feel jarring. 

The outsole remains the same with the same PWRTRAC outsole material coupled with the EBO rockplate to protect the foot from rocks, stones and other debris, that actually worked really well. The directional lugs are aggressive and able to handle just about anything the terrain throws at you. I had first hand experience of how phenomenal the grip was in the recent trail race I took part in. The trail was wet, muddy and terribly slippery from the rains the night before but the P7 kept its grip so well that I had so much confidence running down those slippery trail with reckless abandon and not once did I lose my footing! I can't attest to the durability of the outsole since I don't have the miles in them to compare but from what I've read from shoe reviewers like Sam Winebaum, durability is excellent!

The rear of the shoe features a sturdier heel counter that has some good support. The height of the heel cup seems to have been lowered somewhat with additional padding giving it a little more flexibility than the previous version. The padded gusseted tongue was pretty comfortable and Saucony has removed the metal gaiter ring from this iteration of the shoe which doesn't really make any difference to me. 

Is the Saucony Peregrine 7 as good as it's made out to be? Well, for a trail noob like me, I'd say it definitely is! The P7 is a fast, light and extremely nimble trail shoe that can take on a variety of terrains. The grip quality of the P7's aggressive outsole is superb and really shines in the trails as I found out during my race two weeks ago. The response is excellent and you'll be filled with confidence as you zoom down those slippery and muddy trails. Whether you're planning for a speedy trail session or just a simple hike up the mountains, the Saucony Peregrine 7 will satisfy a wide variety of runners. 

Overall, I feel the P7 is a great upgrade to the P6 which I found to be a little stiff on the upper. The Peregrine 7's new exo-skeleton is a much more secure fit and feels a lot more breathable too with a lot more room in the toebox. The Saucony Peregrine 7 is available in stores nationwide and is retailing for RM429.00 for both the men's and women's models.

Disclaimer - The Saucony Peregrine 7 review above is from my own personal experience and time spent running in them. This review is in no way whatsoever influenced by Saucony Malaysia.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Saucony Ride 10: Initial Review

I've had the Saucony Ride 10 for quite sometime now and this review is long overdue. A lot has been happening and this review was put on the back burner for way too long. It's going to be a busy week for me and before it does, I'd better get this review out right now. The model I'm reviewing is the Heathered Chroma Pack edition.

The Ride series is now into its tenth iteration and prior to this I've only run in the Saucony Ride 9. Just like its older sibling, the Ride 10 falls into the neutral daily trainer category as an all round shoe for everyday running. While that might be true for some, it wasn't entirely true for me. I felt the Ride 9 was a little on the narrower side of things but the Saucony Ride 10 does feel a lot wider this time around and doesn't feel as plush.

But that said, the Ride 10 remains a relatively comfortable and lightweight neutral running shoe bringing with it some new innovations like a brand new upper and external design changes which gives the Ride 10 a totally different fit quality over its elder sibling.

The upper on the Ride 10 features a new and fully engineered mesh that sports large venting holes, using a combination of vented and closed sections over a single component, from the front of the shoe towards the midfoot area which is a departure from the regular spacer mesh that was part of the upper for the Ride 9 which makes the Ride 10 extremely breathable and very accommodating providing support when needed. I liked this upgrade a lot as it made the Ride 10's upper feel a lot 'softer' than the previous iteration.

The FlexFilm overlays are this time more concentrated around the midfoot rather than the forefoot sections with emphasis on the medial side. the toebox is now a lot roomier than before and would fit a wide variety of different feet. While there's quite a few sizeable updates, you'll still see lots of familiar features from the Ride 9, for instance the molded toe bumper while a little shorter is a carry over from the previous model.

The heel counter comes with a collar lining made out of two pieces of Saucony's RunDry material and is a little firm but provides just enough support for the heel. The other bits that you'll find familiar from the Ride 9 are the tongue lining which is as padded as before (too much padding for me) and the flat, semi-elastic laces.

The midsole of the Ride 10 now uses a single piece, single density EVA material which Saucony calls Power Foam and is said to retain 50% cushioning over the prior SSL EVA with a consistent cushioning over the lifespan of the shoe. On the insides you'll find a removeable EVA foam insole and an Everun topsole over the primary midsole. The topsole of the Ride 10 is thin layer of the Saucony Everun material serving as an additional layer of protection and is very different than how the Everun material is used on the Freedom ISO in which the entire midsole is made of Everun. The bottom line though is this gives the Ride 10 a much softer and more cushioned ride than the previous model.

The outsole of the Ride 10 is based on Saucony's newer Triflex geometry with the much firmer long wearing XT900 rubber offering some very good transitional support. With the SRC Crash pad removed, the rear of the outsole is glued straight to the foam midsole with an exposed area in the midsole just under the heel which is found in most Saucony running shoes. Overall, the Ride 10 has a solid build with a strong upper and plenty of outsole rubber for a longer lasting wear.

My previous experience with the Ride 9 gave the shoe a pretty narrow and shallow fit but the Ride 10 eases things up a lot. There's a lot more room in the forefoot and a lot better ventilation than the Ride 9 which is mostly because of the mesh forefoot material. With the FlexFilm now concentrated around the midfoot, the fit is nice and snug! The Ride 10 runs true to size for my feet which are US9's.

The Ride 10 has an 8mm offset and weighs in at 9.5oz for my US9. It's not exactly a lightweight shoe in my opinion since I'm used to much lighter shoes but Ride 10 does provide a very cushioned and consistent ride for those days when you need to go long. I've put some miles in them though not as much as I'd love to but from what I've gathered so far, the Ride 10 feels a little less snappy and a tad less responsive than the Ride 9. If I had to make a comparison, I'd have to say the cushioning characteristic are closer to the Kinvara 8 than the Ride 9 which isn't all that surprising since both the R10 and K8 uses an injection molded foam midsole with the Everun Topsole. 

But as mentioned earlier, the bottom line is the Ride 10 provides a much more cushier and balanced ride which in turn makes this shoe a decent daily trainer that works well for a wide range of workouts. I've used the shoe in various sessions taking it out from slower sessions to speed and tempo work and while I did have to initially break in the shoe a little (which is rare for me), I eventually got used to it. For me a shoe that works well is one that you totally forget that it's on your feet the moment you put them on but the Ride 10 took some getting used to to eventually not 'feel' it on my feet.

But I think Saucony has done a great job with the update this time round with the appeal of their middle range neutral trainers. If you're looking for a mid range neutral and moderately cushioned shoe, then the Saucony Ride 10 should be right up your alley.

The Saucony Ride 10 is currently not available in Malaysia just yet but I will update this review when it's launched here in the very near future.

Disclaimer - The Saucony Ride 10 review above is from my own personal experience and time spent running in them. This review is in no way whatsoever influenced by Saucony Malaysia.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2017: Race Review

This year marked the fourth time I ran the Gold Coast Airport Marathon. I remember the first time I stepped foot in the Gold Coast and fell in love with the place that it's become sort of a second home to me.

The past three years saw me running the full marathon event with mixed results but this year saw me taking on the half marathon instead. Choosing to run the half marathon was not an easy decision but one that I'm glad to have made and which turned out to be the right one.

Hot on the heels of the disastrous Seoul Marathon and being as prepared and confident as I was, things just went horribly south for me. It's something I can't explain even until now. I was disappointed and depressed with the results and GCAM 17 was also not a confirmed thing at that time.

I went into a state of depression, something that if I didn't put a stop to quickly would have had dire consequences. I got back into training, albeit one with a simplified plan just in case I decided to run GCAM17. But then I got a text from a friend, a Bostoner who offered to draw up a plan for me to take on the Gold Coast Airport Marathon. I was honoured that he had that much faith that I could do this, even though I was doubting myself.

I agreed to give it a shot and a plan was drawn up. It wasn't a tough plan. In fact, it was something that was absolutely doable, granted it was a different approach to what I would normally do if I followed the Hansons plan, but still something I could work on.

My hopes were up again, someone actually believed in me. I was on fire and dove straight into the plan. My wife was skeptical. Now, she might not be a certified coach but she knows what I am capable of. The initial weeks of the plan went well, I was able to follow the plan to a tee. But as the weeks went by, I was feeling very tired, not just physically but mentally and spiritually as well.

Doubts begin to creep back into me. I went through the motions of the training, still able to keep doing what it dished out but my mood was beginning to affect the people around me and the one to bear the brunt of it was my wife. There were many heated words between us as I struggled with myself to keep with the plan. Whatever that plan was I had no idea.

After week 6 or 7 I decided that I just couldn't do this. I was tired physically, mentally and spiritually from one disappointment after another. I sat down and thought about things and realized that I was struggling simply because I had been training for the past two years since GCAM15 where I ran it with a stress fracture and had to start all over again and then getting struck with a meniscus tear just before Kyoto which effectively ruined that race as well.

All these start, stop and coming back took a huge toll on my body and mind. I'm not young, mind you. It takes a lot longer for me to get back to shape and I realized I was pushing things too much and too soon. I needed a break, a reboot of the system before I could really embark on my actual marathon goals but with all my training buddies improving by leaps and bounds, I just didn't want to be left behind and kept pushing myself only to get one injury after another.

I decided there and then that my wife was right and I was just too tired from over training. I switched my plans for GCAM17 to run the half marathon instead for a complete overhaul of my system. The huge relief I felt by this decision couldn't be described. It felt like a huge weight just lifted off my shoulders. I text my friend who drew up the plan, hoping he would understand my decision. And he did understand, in fact he told me he was going through something along the same lines as what I was going through, OTS (OverTraining Syndrome). I was glad that he understood but told me to keep the plan and give it another shot when I'm ready and I definitely intend to give the training another shot soon.

With that out of the way, it was time to really look forward to GCAM17. With all the travel and accomodations all sorted out Jamie and me landed in the Gold Coast on Thursday morning. We really didn't have much time to do much things. The day was packed with a lunch stop the moment we landed, then to the expo followed by a late check in at the Mantra Legends Hotel, a quick Team Malaysia photo session before sundown and followed by dinner before calling it a night as we had a 5.7km race to run the next morning.

After the experience of running the 10km race two years ago, we both decided that running a 10km before a marathon (or half marathon) would be too counter productive and ran the 5.7km this year instead. Suffice to say it was a good decision by us. We were joined by Jeanie, Li Leen and a few other GCAM MY members. The Star Gold Coast 5.7km Challenge was just as much fun, if not more, than the 10km of two years ago. It was easily my personal worst for a 5km distance and I was proud of it. Loads of pictures and fun came out of it and I would highly recommend this before the main event on Sunday. It's a great way to just let your hair down before putting all your focus on the task ahead on Sunday!

We didn't stay long after the run as both Jamie and me had to rush back for a quick shower before heading back for the Garmin Legends Lunch. The lunch was as entertaining and fun as it was two years ago when I attended it. No matter how long you've been in the running scene, there was always lots to take away from the lunch. Before coming here, I told Jamie that by hook or by crook we'd get pictures with Desiree Linden and Sara Hall and I'm happy to say that we pulled it off though we missed (barely) of getting some shots with the like of Mungara and Kawauchi.

After the lunch we headed back to get some rest before grabbing an early dinner not too far from the hotel. We wanted to keep things easy on the stomach so we opted for some Japanese food. Even though I was running the half marathon, I had to get up way earlier than Jamie as the shuttle was leaving the hotel at 4:30am and I opted to get on it instead of the free tram service. So we called it a very early night after dinner and made our way to our respective rooms.

My gear was already laid out much earlier and after a quick final check it was lights out for me. Sleep didn't come by easily and it took me a while to doze off. Before I knew it, my cell alarm was buzzing me awake. Did my usual pre-race routine before heading down to take the shuttle to the race precinct for race start. There was a familiar face in the form of Jeanie and quite a few Malaysians on the bus along with me.

It was a cold and windy morning when we arrived and we all tried to keep ourselves as warm as possible while waiting for race start. Both Jeanie and me, with some prior experience of race mornings over here told everyone to shelter themselves on the stage or in front of the giant screen display to avoid the wind which was really the main culprit for the cold.

Soon it was time to head to the start pen. I had no goals or aims as I made my way into the start pen. I was going to go by feel and yes, the only minor goal I had was to come in under 2 hours which I thought was entirely possible. To be honest, I was feeling a tad depressed. I was running the half and I felt that with most of my other friends running the full marathon, I was running a lesser event. How wrong I was. The Asics Half Marathon is no less stellar than the full marathon as the 9000 plus participants can attest to. I personally think that the Half Marathon just isn't given enough coverage for the spectacular race that it is.

I was in pen B and made my way to the back of pen A just as the race was flagged off. I looked ahead and was shocked at the number of runners ahead of me in pen A. Damn, how was I going to make my way through that bunch! But I kept my composure and just went with the flow. The weather was still chilly but a lot more bearable now that I was on the move. I decided to keep the pace easy and increase the pace once I negotiated my way through the crowd

Strangely enough, as packed a field as it was, I didn't really have any issues having to avoid anyone cos everyone was basically on the same pace setting. The first kilometer was run in a pace of 5:50. By the second kilometer, my pace was down to 5:30 which was kinda surprising. I was feeling good and with no stress or pressure of aiming for a goal, I could really run by feel.

Now here is where I say that the half is no less stellar than the full marathon. I've run 3 full marathon's here and they were nothing but awesome. I've heard tales from some who've run the half here a few years back that the half was practically devoid of supporters and stuff like that. From what I saw, I can only say that is totally untrue. The route was littered with spectators along the entire way screaming and shouting that I thought I was on the marathon route itself. It was simply awesome. This is one reason why I love running the Gold Coast Airport Marathon!

Race wise, I was having a good time. I was feeling really good and was enjoying myself looking at the sights which was absolutely scenic by the way. The water stations were well spaced out and plentiful, maybe a little too plentiful. This time round I didn't stop at the water stations to drink but simply grabbed a cup on the run. The route was unfamiliar to me since it was my first time but I did look at the wife's Garmin data of her time running this twice before and had an inkling of what to expect.

I was still running in fine form and was actually surprised by that. My training, while it's been decent wasn't exactly up to par and falling sick 5 days before flying off didn't help matters much which was why running at 5:15 to 5:30 pace without any noticeable signs of difficulties was really surprising. I wasn't complaining but wasn't going to be over-confident too. I kept at it, keeping check of my effort making sure I don't push too hard since things were going good for me. 

Just after I made the 11km U-turn, I spotted Jeanie on the opposite side running an incredibly strong race. I called out some encouragement to her and went on my way. I was feeling so good I forgot to even take my gels until I saw one of the runners in front of me with a gel which had me frantically grabbing a gel from my pouch. In the end, it didn't really matter cos I think my body is used to running a half distance without gels since I train this distance back home without gels anyway. I didn't bother with the remaining two gels in my pouch and carried on.

The rest of the race went by without any incidences and by the time I spotted McDonalds just down the road, I knew it was going to be a sub 2 finish. Now this is the stretch that I adore the most, one is simply because the support along this stretch is second to none and two is for the fact that you know you're in the home stretch. I really didn't have to pretend to look good over along this stretch cos I was really feeling good. I manage to urge a few struggling runners along the way with shouts of encouragement and got smiles and a few thumbs up in return.

I made my way into the final 250m stretch with a huge smile on my face. I knew it was good day at the office for me and while it was way off my personal half marathon best, I crossed the line with a decent net time of 1:55! This was it. With this finish I now officially own all 4 medals (5.7, 10, 21, 42km) of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon!

I was still feeling so good that I could have run another 10k right after this only reinforced my belief that I did the right thing in choosing the half instead of the full. I had successfully done a total reboot of my flagging system! Now, with some hard work, I can look forward to better things.

I still had a lot of time to spare since I was waiting for Jamie to finish his full marathon. I promised him that I would be at the finish waiting to see him achieve his personal best which I truly believed he would. Since I had official access to the media area, I made my way to the side of the finishing stretch to wait for him. The only regret I have is my silly phone camera hanging on me as he made his way down the finish but at least I was witness to his superb finish!

Once he was done with his stuff, we made our way back to the hotel for some much needed rest and food. What I bring back from this is that sometimes we need to take a step back to get back on track. Don't be afraid to admit to yourself that you're not good enough at times and just work on getting yourself back up to speed. Hard work and perseverance always pays off. I've come out of this much stronger both physically and mentally and from this point on things can and will get better, of that I'm positive.

That aside, the Asics Half Marathon is one hell of a race. A super flat and scenic route, a much earlier race start, avoiding the much later searing sun of the marathon and is just the right distance for someone wanting to experience the hospitality and superb organization of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon but is not ready for a full marathon distance. This coupled with the 5.7km or 10km on Saturday is just the right tonic for a taste of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon!

That said, if you're looking for a scenic and incredibly well organized race to run overseas, then the Gold Coast Airport marathon is one you simply must try out. A flat, scenic route littered with awesome supporters and a nice sunny winter weather to achieve your personal best or simply just to have a good time! I've run this four times and have enjoyed every single edition. With next year being the 40th year, plans are afoot to make it even more exciting!

Before I end my post, I'd like to thank Tourism and Events Queensland and Holiday Travel and Tours for the hospitality and support provided and Air Asia X for the smooth flight into the Gold Coast and back. Without your support, this wouldn't have been possible. A big thanks also goes out to the GCAM17 Team My in training for the training support through the years and months and most importantly, my wife for tolerating the amount of times I'm out of the house training, coming back tired, being difficult, not holding up my end of the deal but yet never wavering in your support and belief in me!

And to the Gold Coast, I will be back to make my mark there again sometime soon!