Click the image to join in for some Good Times at the 40th Edition of the Gold Coast Marathon 2018

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Skechers GOrun Ride 7 Review

The Skechers Performance brand of running shoes has always held a special place in my heart since the day I first put on the original GOrun way back in 2012. Back then, many were (some still are) pretty skeptical of the Skechers brand. I know I was too.

But after wearing the brand for years with lots of positives coming from them, it seemed like the shoe was built to fit my feet. I've practically run in almost every model of the Skechers Performance series and I've yet to dislike any, well with the exception of the Skechers GOmeb KRS, now that shoe was in my honest opinion a train wreck of a shoe (sorry Meb).

Skechers Malaysia has been going through a transition in this part of the world and looks to be heading more towards the lifestyle side of shoe selling. I was really not expecting to see any of the newer Skechers Performance series shoes coming here at all which was heart breaking seeing as how I've been reading great things about their newer generation shoes. The Skechers GOrun 6 and the Skechers GOrun Ride 7 (GRR7) in particular caught my fancy.

The GRR7 has been described as a poor man's version of the Nike Vapor Fly 4% in the running shoe geeks page that I'm a member of. I can't attest to that being true or not as I don't and can't afford a Nike VF4 but there's been some rave reviews about what a great update the GRR7 was. A check with Skechers Malaysia on availability elicited no reply so I looked around online and managed to snag one from Japan (of all places). But after placing the order, my desired size was unavailable. I grudgingly accepted the fact that I wouldn't be getting my feet in them.

So you can imagine my surprise and extreme delight when the wife and me stumbled upon them in a local Skechers outlet here while out shopping. To cut a long winded story short, there was nothing anyone could do from stopping me to get it. So there I was, like a kid in candy store, happily walking out 15 minutes later with a pair of the Skechers GOrun Ride 7. Oh, the joy!

The Skechers GOrun Ride 7 is the latest in the range of a cushioned daily trainer for the Skechers 2018 lineup. I've run in all the GRR series with the exception of the GRR6 and the GRR7 has come a long way from its predecessors. The Skechers GOrun ride 7 is a cushioned yet lightweight daily trainer featuring the new FLIGHT GEN™ cushioned midsole. A stretchy breathable knit fabric upper with a nearly seamless design and 3D printed overlays makes up the rest of the shoe.

I took them on a 16k training run right out of the box. No breaking in whatsoever was needed. I've never really had to break in any previous Skechers models and this one was no different. The fit was true to size. I'm a size US9 for most of my other brands of running shoes but for Skechers it's always been a US8, I have no idea why. They fit snugly, maybe a tad too snug. Removing the provided sockliner made the fit just right for me. The cushioning of the new FLIGHT GEN™ midsole was already apparent. A nice cushioned feel to them without that overly sinking feeling.

What I liked about the upper of the GRR7 is the extremely breathable two-toned knit upper. The knitted upper has just the right hold over your foot yet is stretchable enough to accommodate a slightly wider foot or for feet expansion in the later stages of your run without being uncomfortable. The only small dislike I have is the single sewn overlay running across the midfoot up to the eyelets. The overlay is also apparent at the heel. No big deal but it kinda cheapens the look. The overly does have a purpose though as it gives the lacing system some structure and also keeps the foot a little more secure. I don't see why they just couldn't use something like Flex Film to do that though.

The tongue is of a gusseted construction and is lightly padded but very secure and comfortable. I've always disliked padded tongues but this one I had no issues with. A pull tab at the back of the shoe makes putting on the shoe a little easier and I like this much better than the older Quick Fit pull tabs on the previous editions. Overall I'd say the upper is simply fantastic otherwise.

The highlight of the GRR7 comes from its FLIGHT GEN™ midsole foam. It's a complete upgrade to the previous 5Gen™ material, which was also great in my opinion and produced some solid running for me. But the new FLIGHT GEN™ as far as I'm concerned is simply fantastic. The new FLIGHT GEN™ is 30% lighter than the previous stuff they used and because of the lighter material, Skechers Performance was able to add more stack height to the GRR7's midsole which in turn translates to a lot more softer landings with less pounding. The GRR7 has a rocker shaped midsole and mixed with the proprietary M Strike technology rolls you through stride after stride with smooth efficiency. And yes, I'd say the new FLIGHT GEN™ midsole is truly legit and all that it's advertised to be.

The outsole combines the exposed FLIGHT GEN™ material with strategically placed rubber to provide durability and traction. The previous Skechers outsoles have always suffered from durability issues with the more exposed outsoles and sensor pods always wearing down pretty fast which was a bummer really cos the uppers still looked fresh. The GRR7 with the added rubber seems to hold up a lot better this time around and also provides excellent road traction. I can attest to that as I've been running with them on some wet and slippery roads recently. 

The Skechers GOrun Ride 7 isn't really the lightest of shoes and weighs in at 9.2oz for the men's US9 and drops under 9oz without the sockliner. I run mine without the sockliner as I've found them to be too snug for my feet. The GRR7 has a stack height of 18mm in the forefoot and 24mm in the heel giving it a drop of 6mm as opposed the the previous GRR6 which was a 4mm drop shoe. I didn't really find any issues with the weight and in fact found it to be light enough to go at even faster paces when needed.

I've been using the GRR7 in my training mostly for my easy run days and also one weekend 10 miler and found them to be an excellent daily trainer. The GRR7 can be 'programmed' to run in two different configurations. If you run them with the sockliner, they can give you a soft and forgiving ride, especially when you take them long. Even with the sockliner, the responsiveness and road feel are still pretty apparent and the cushioning is second to none. This configuration of the GRR7 works best for those long steady weekends runs or on your recovery days. 

Taking off the sockliner though turns the GRR7 into another beast altogether. You get a snappier, albeit less cushioned but speedier ride. This configuration works best for tempo, road intervals or maybe even a short race. They feel a lot faster, more efficient yet still providing some decent amount of cushioning for the feet. I run mine in this configuration and it gives me the best of both worlds.

Personally, the Skechers GRR7 is an extremely affordable and solid daily trainer with ample cushioning that is a joy to run in. It's an amazing shoe that totally disappears on your feet as the miles set in and is just simply fun to run in! I'd highly recommend this shoe as a cheaper alternative to some of the other more expensive brands of the same category.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Hoka One One Tracer 2 Review

The first time I ever saw a Hoka was on this woman during a race all those years ago and this was my exact words, "Why the heck is she using a brick to run?", cos that's exactly the impression a Hoka gave me back then. I shook my head in bewilderment and moved on.

Fast forward to the present. I finally found myself getting interested in putting on a pair of Hoka's. Over the years, they've improved their tech so much and the fact that a few of my running buddies have been raving about it set my curiosity abuzz.

The model that caught my eye was the Hoka One One Tracer 2. The fact that it was touted as the lightest of road shoes in the Hoka line made my eyes open even wider. And also the fact that it falls into the racing flats category was what sealed the deal. Almost all my friends know that I absolutely love the more lighter and faster shoe categories.

Next came the quest to get one. With the model not being available here at the time I was looking for it and even if it was, the local Hoka One One pricing can put a huge dent into your wallet. With a recommendation from a friend, I looked it up online and managed to snag one from Spain, yes Spain no less and instantly purchased it. The price I got it for, at RM458.00 was so much easier on the wallet, included shipping it all the way from Spain.

My pair arrived within 10 days time which included the local customs clearance that took a little longer than I anticipated. The Tracer 2 that I purchased came in the True Red/Black colorway, not the color I was looking for but heck I was so desperate to try the shoe that I'd have even taken one in Pink if  they had it. Having no experience with a Hoka before, I wasn't really sure if they were true to size. After checking with Jamie, our local shoe expert (one capati for the plug please!), I decided on a half size bigger than my usual US9.

Upon slipping it after picking it up from the post office, the half size up was a little big for me but nothing a thicker pair of socks won't solve. On hindsight a US9 would have been a perfect fit but at least now I have a size benchmark for my future Hoka orders.

The Hoka One One Tracer 2 is the brand's version of a lightweight performance racer cum trainer. When I say lightweight, I really mean that it's lightweight. With Hoka being more known for its "maximalist" designs that translates into thick and pillowy shoes, the Tracer 2 weighs in at just 7.06oz for a US9. The Tracer 2 features a 4mm drop sole unit with a stack height of 24mm toe and 20mm toe, somewhat similar to the Saucony Freedom's 23mm heel and 19mm toe. 

The Tracer 2 sports a light engineered upper mesh that has a nice snug fit throughout the midfoot, toe and heel giving it a sock like fit. My foot feels entirely secure in the engineered mesh and the lightly padded tongue and heel counter gives the shoe an absolutely perfect fit. The engineered upper mesh also allows adequate ventilation for your foot to breathe. I hardly felt any heat while on the run and we know how humid and hot this country can get at times.

A 3D puff print, not really sure what that is, creates some structure that produces a lightweight yet supportive foot wrap which in turn keeps your feet locked in places regardless of how fast you run. I've taken the Tracer 2 out for both slower and faster runs on various types of surfaces such as asphalt, concrete and even on track and even with a half size too big, my feet were held snugly in place throughout. 

The midsole of the Hoka Tracer 2 hasn't changed from its older sibling and is still the same PRO2Lite dual density midsole giving the heel a softer feet with a more responsive and firmer forefoot. The shape of the the midsole tends to give the Tracer 2 a rocker like feel. The PRO2lite midsole boils down to a unique balance of PROpulsion and PROtection providing confidence and support as you propel forward, either speeding along a road, track or ascending hills. 

The outsole comprises of hard rubber that's distributed around the high wear areas for durability that's layered over an RMAT foam which encompasses a high energy return yet providing just the right amount of additional cushioning. The traction provided is simply solid for most surfaces I've taken them on, even on some very basic dirt paths.

An Ortholite sockliner, with anti-bacterial materials sit atop a thin foam footbed with an interior that is well constructed and looks soft enough to run sockless in though I'm not sure if they would give any issues or not cos I'm definitely not a sockless type of runner.

I've put a little over 90 plus kilometers in them since they first arrived and I have to say that they've worked like a charm for me. Being a Hoka newbie, I'm absolutely impressed with the tech that combines a lightweight racer with plenty of cushioning! The only complaint I would have is that the laces are a way too long.

I've put the Tracer 2 through various sessions such as speed workouts, tempos, trackwork and a maximum distance of 15k and I'm very impressed at its versatility. With my extreme fondness for racing flats, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to take on a marathon with them. My first experience with a Hoka has only elevated my curiosity about the other options that Hoka has to offer. The Hoka One One Tracer 2 is not only fast but its firm and responsive and if you're looking for a shoe that is both light yet cushioned, the Tracer 2 would be right up your alley.

As of this post I'm not sure if the local distributors of the Hoka brand over here has released the shoe yet though. I really don't bother checking the Hoka's on offer here simply because it's priced so exorbitantly over here that it drives me to look elsewhere online that pretty much offers a lot cheaper pricing that I'm willing to part my money with and it was worth every single Ringgit!

Monday, January 15, 2018

SHiNE Resolution Run 2017

Sun Life Malaysia recently concluded their SHiNE Resolution Run over the weekend which attracted over 3000 runners this year. The run was conceptualised to help promote and jumpstart the New Year's resolution. 

Runners begin their Run after the official flag-off

Additionally, 10% of the proceeds will go to Sun Life Malaysia's charity partners, HOPE Worldwide Malaysia and Diabetes Malaysia. The event was held at Perdana Botanical Garden, Kuala Lumpur and was official flagged off at 6.45am by the Her Excellency, Julia Bentley, High Commissioner of Canada to Malaysia.

(From L-R) Raymond Lew, CEO & President / Country Head 
of Sun Life Malaysia, Her Excellency Julia Bentley, 
High Commissioner of Canada to Malaysia, Claude Accum, 
President of Sun Life Financial Asia, Datuk Joseph Dominic Silva, 
Member of the Board, Avicennia Capital Sdn Bhd, 
Serena Tan, Executive Director, Investments of 
Khazanah Nasional Berhad and Karim Gilani, 
Chief Financial Officer of Sun Life Financial Asia

The run in Kuala Lumpur featured 2 categories to cater for both leisure and seasoned runners - 5km Fun Run and 12km Run. The 5km Fun Run was flagged off at 7.15am and the 12km Run was flagged off earlier at 6.45am.

(Far Left) Claude Accum, President of Sun Life Financial Asia and 
(Second from right) Raymond Lew, 
CEO & President / Country Head of Sun Life Malaysia 
awarding the prizes to the winners.