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Alton Sports Ambassadors – Endure 24 Preview & Mizuno Kit Testing!

The Alton Sports Ambassadors are probably the busiest ambassadors about! Last week saw them go along to Wasing Park, the scene of the southern version of Endure 24. A meeting with Mizuno was on the cards to test out their latest kit and best trail shoes… all on the Endure 24 course (of course!). Here’s what the gang had to say about the day….

Al 

I ran at Endure24 in 2018 and it was an awesome experience, so I was itching to get back to Wasing Park near Reading to get psyched up for the 2019 event! At first It was a bit odd getting back onto the course again, not quite recognising it at first (without all the runners, event village etc…) but subconsciously my legs seemed to know where they were going, having run a total od 6 laps the previous year. Wasing Park was a tad damp, but stunningly beautiful with spring in full bloom, there were bluebells everywhere! Thankfully the sun did come out a bit and brought back memories of the hot, dry weather of last year’s event, fingers crossed we get more of the same in a little over a month’s time.

The course is a great mix of forest tracks, single track weaving through the woods and only a little tarmac. Overall this is a great test of the Mizuno trail shoes we were using for the run. I had be given a pair of the Mizuno Hayate 5 to try out. This is an updated version of the shoe I ran all of my laps in at Endure24 2018. It is designed as a light wieght racing trail shoe, I was really impressed with the v4 shoe and was very keen to see how the new edition measured up. In short although the new shoes retain the same sole with supreme grip, due to Mizuno’s partnership with Michelin, they felt better than ever thanks to a redesigned upper. The upper now has less seams and the fit around the front of my feet felt much nicer. I’m really looking forward to really testing them out properly in racing conditions. I also found the Mizuno trail running top (with 2xgel and zipped back pockets) and shorts super comfortable. The wind/rain jacket did a good job of keeping the elements out when the rain did come down!


As I alluded to earlier I’m going to be back to run at Endure24 2019 this June. The event is fantastic, 4000+ runners, a cool 5 mile off road course and atmospheric start/finish race village. It is billed as ‘Glastonbury for Runners’ which is not far off the mark! After runing in a mixed gender 8 person team last year, in 2019 I’m excited to be upping the challenge by joining a fast 5 man team organised by headtorch makers SILVA. This is going to mean more laps and less rest, but we will be going for it, Bring-it-on!

Sasha
“I am a Mizuno fan!  I have been wearing Mizuno’s road shoes for years.  I find them cushioned and comfortable and they are my go to shoe for longer distances on road.  Nowadays though I am doing less and less road running and more and more trail so imagine my delight when I was invited to the site of this year’s Endure 24 event to trial the Mizuno Wave Daichi 4, the latest incarnation of their hugely popular trail shoe.

This couldn’t be better, I am running Endure 24 this year, as part of a RunFitMum team so I couldn’t wait to have a recce of the course and try out a brand new trail shoe, my perfect day out!

The first thing that grabbed my attention on opening the box was not their gorgeous coral and black colour but the Michelin logo on their sole. These babies mean business! Mizuno it transpires has gone to the experts when it comes to their soles and worked with tyre specialist Michelin benefiting from their years of experience at making mountain bike tyres to create soles with excellent grip, traction and mud clearing abilities. Once I got them out on the Endure 24 course that grip became apparent, they were great on forest trails, rocks, grass and tarmac alike, a real all-rounder.  

Mizuno prides itself on its wave technology, which is an integral part of the shoe structure.  The wave offers wearers both cushioning and support and spreads the impact forces of each step over a broader area, to give a smooth and stable ride.  Certainly I have always found Mizuno’s wave to offer plenty of cushioning and make for very comfortable running. The Wave Daichi 4 is no exception, comfortable from the outset they immediately felt great on the foot and made running the course feel like light work.

I am certainly looking forward to getting them back on that course in June for the Event itself, one lap felt like a breeze in these shoes, although not sure how I will be feeling after 24 hours!!”

Adam 

“Wasing park was the venue for the Alton Sports Ambassador day ahead of the Mizuno Endure 24 taking place in June. As Alton Sports Ambassadors, we were testing out the latest Mizuno kit, which for me included some striking yellow Wave Daichi 4 trainers. There was rain in the air that offered a great opportunity to put the kit to the test on a multi-terrain, undulating recce lap of the 10km Endure 24 course. The Wave Daichi 4 trainers were comfortable, and with their large area of Michelin grade grip on the sole, offered great purchase on the full range of damp surfaces this route encapsulated. Mizuno have done well with their designs and partner Michelin to develop technologies that releases that mud that usually gets caught up in the tread on each stride and therefore maintaining a light shoe during trail running. Good job Mizuno and I look forward to my couple of laps at your Endure 24 event in June.”

Caroline

“Another brilliant Alton Sports Ambassadors Day, this time with Mizuno specifically to try their new Wave Daichi 4 trail shoe. The location for the day, where else but the where Endure24 kicks off in a little over 5 weeks time! To get us in the mood for the big event itself and really put the shoes through their paces, we took to the trail and ran the race route.

The route was varied, we covered tarmac, gravel trails, muddy paths & soft wooded almost bouncy trails but the shoe stood up to it all, transitioning well so there was no massive difference in feel. I felt well supported and cushioned, and confident with my foot placement. To be fair, the collaboration with Michelin might have something to do with that… if they can keep cars on the road then they can keep me on the trails!!! 

For me and where I normally run, this shoe is ideal. As more of us venture off road and to the paths & trails surrounding us, I would say a versatile, durable, all terrain trail shoe such as this is seriously worth considering – oh and I love the seasons coral & blue colour way too!!!”

Debs

“I attended the Alton sports ambassadors & Mizuno promo day ahead of endure24 in June, testing out the Wave Diachi 4 road to trail shoe & new kit.

The Mizuno rain jacket came into it’s own during the many downpours & I have worn this on many occasions since. It’s a great fit, very warm though. I think this will be a great addition in the colder months. I have never completed Endure 24 but the loop we tested out today was stunning & it promises to be so much fun.


The shoe itself, bearing in mind I’m struggling with plantar fasciitis, was really light & very comfortable, something that I usually prefer when mucking about on the trails. The transition from road to trail was barely noticeable compared to some trail shoes that feel heavy & clunky on the road. These surprised me maybe it’s that Michelin connection that’s responsible for the traction of the sole? They held well when the ground became more rugged, not enough mud to really test them yet though. Once my foot is fully recovered, I’m keen to see how well they hold over steeper more rugged terrain.”

Check out all the amazing Mizuno gear on our website and drop us a tweet if you’re running at Endure 24! We will be there and we’re very much looking forward to it – running and retailing all the way.

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An adventure in the Lake District with inov-8!

It’s a sunny morning down south as I begin a five hour journey across London to the Lake District. Oxenholme Station to be exact with the final destination being Staveley. The home of inov-8! What do you think of when you think about inov-8? I think my first perceptions were lightweight, minimalist trail shoes that you can smash about the trails and mountains in. A brand with Northern heritage that are for elite hill runners, perhaps? How wrong can one man be!

After my epic journey and far too many coffees, I arrive at inov-8 HQ just in time for lunch. It’s not a massive building, they are buried in some offices in the corner of a very cool yard. The kind of yard that has a hip coffee shop, brewery and bakery. My kind of  yard! As they proclaim later, they are not a big team and they’re proud of where they are in the world. The offices are surrounded by fells and trails and the team use their lunch breaks to test out new kit and to go running. Why wouldn’t you?

We sit down for a few hours of product training, so we can immerse ourselves in the brand and learn all about who they are, what they stand for and all their awesome products. The first thing that hits me is that they make shoes for all terrains – whether it’s ice, mud, rock, trails and even road. Their shoes are all different widths (there’s 5 different sizes). they’re precision fit, there’s 3 different kind of grips and the number on the shoe is the weight. Another cool thing is that if you look on the heel on the shoe, the arrows indicate the amount of drop on the shoe. One arrow is 4mm and 2 is 8 and so on… (there’s a couple of exceptions where they are a 3 and a 6).

inov-8 have only been around for 15 years, they are relatively new in the shoe world. They don’t have sponsored athletes, they have ambassadors (like us really) and I loved how passionately the team spoke about the brand, and how knowledgable they were about the plethora of shoes, jackets and all accessories. They even brought out the people who design the products, so we could give them feedback. Cool huh?! We’d sat for a few hours and listened attentively, now it was time to get out and do some running and shoe testing.

inov-8 gave us some X-Talon 230 and Roclite 290 to test out… first stop was running up the Loughrigg Fell and then back down it with some of their ambassadors – awesome ultra runners, Paul Tierney and Sarah McCormack. I can honestly say I have never ran on terrain like that in my life… we just don’t have it down south. The run was 5.7 miles and there was nearly 2000 ft of climb, which was great! The X-Talon 230 were more than capable of handling whatever nature threw at our feet (inov-8 are big on exteroception in their shoes – which means “relating to stimuli that are external to an organism” – as in being able to feel the ground around you with your feet and responding naturally to it with the shoes). What do you do after running up a fell? Drink some IPAs and talk about running of course.

An early 6 a.m start and a different kind of run – a run to the picturesque Easedale Tarn with many a stop for a photo. We set off in the dark but when the light came it was all misty and close. We ran in the Roclite 290, a true all rounder, capable of running across most terrains and inov-8’s most flexible shoe. I’d ran in them before, and liked it, so was good to try them out on something totally different. I was trepidatious as we cascaded down slippy rocky paths, with the advice being “lean forward & go for it, or you’ll land on your heel and slip over.” Solid advice but easier said than done for a man who is used to tarmac / hard packed trails / the odd XC route. A solid 4.5 mile run and back to the Youth Hostel for more running chats and sausages.

What did I learn from my 36 hours with inov-8? I learnt that I like running on fells and that it’s a totally different kind of running. It was so cool to be able to immerse myself in the brand, their heritage and everything they stand for. I learnt all about their shoes and equipment and that their shoes are for all terrains. At Alton Sports we always advise to come in-store and try a pair on your feet, it’s the only way to see if those shoes are for you. On a personal level I am looking forward to trying more of the range on… I did get to try some Trail Talons on since and they’re totally different to anything I have ran in from the brand – a lot more cushioning and therefore proving they have something for everyone…!

Last but not least, it was cool to learn that they will be adding graphene (you might have seen their recent G-series launch) into a lot more of their shoes. Graphene will help provide the world’s toughest grip and is 200 times stronger than steel with the aim being that 80% of their shoes in 5 years will have graphene in. A whirlwind 36 hours and then one last 5 hour journey home south. A trip that educated me about the brand but also added a whole new world of running into my life. Amazing. Can’t wait to go back there and do some more running, and I’ll be popping into to inov-8 to say hello and see if I can try on some more shoes.

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