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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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Alton Sports Ambassadors – Dave’s Amazing April!

April landed with an injury filled bump, however after a test run on my own I declared myself fit to continue training for the greatest race on earth – the London Marathon! My first long run of April was with Coach Lambert (Alton Sports’ boss – Toby Lambert) and he took me for a half marathon around the location of the Four Marks store. It’s out in the farmland of Hampshire, this means it’s very hilly and rural – we completed this run in 2 hours and 2 minutes and I was very tired, however Coach Lambert looked fresh and ready to start running.

The weekend brought a text message asking me to do some speed work, this meant a 7 mile run with a fast 5K in the middle. The weekend also included my final distance run of the training cycle, I did a 20 mile run on the Sunday, this was not about speed but time on my feet and seeing how I coped with that kind of distance, I completed the distance in 3 hours 43 minutes, this was slower than my marathon pace but I needed to do the distance to remind my body of what was coming soon. So that’s a midweek half marathon and over a marathon run in a weekend – I am an athlete after all.

The following weekend bought my final race before the marathon, the Salisbury 10 mile race. Amazingly after following instructions from Coach Lambert not to look at my watch and just run on feeling alone. I managed to complete this race in 83 minutes, this is another personal best for me and I knocked 3 minutes off my best time. My average pace was 8 minutes and 20 seconds per mile, when I think about it I can’t help wondering if that was me! The week following was a simple recovery run of five miles and then a 6 mile run two days later, both were way quicker than I could imagine I could have done a year ago.

With Easter upon us I was tasked with a further parkrun Sandwich. The run to and from Parkrun was steady and I was to run hard for parkrun, I did this without question and got another parkrun PB of 24:28! This coaching stuff was really starting to pay off. My training was starting to wind down and the big day was getting closer, I had two training runs left that week, this was a simple 5 mile run and a fast and hard 4 mile run two days later. My training was over but I was not a Jedi yet.

I still had the Expo to contend with and the marathon itself. The Expo or Running show as they called it was amazing, not only was I going there to pick up my number but I was also working for Alton Sports on the stand for a day. After collecting my number & taking some souvenir photos I reported to the Alton Sports stand in my Alton Sports Uniform (a really cool ON t-shirt) ready to help the general public with their purchases.

I was put on the Nutrition stand, my job was to help my fellow runners with gels. I was working on the SIS & High 5 stand, I did this for the whole day, my goal was to help as many people as I could get the right gel strategy for the race, I know if you get that wrong it can have an impact on your whole race, I was quite passionate with dishing out advice and I hope I educated as many people as possible I also got interviewed by LBC Radio that was really exciting. I was almost sad when Coach Lambert came up to me and said I needed to go home and rest, talking about running is nearly as good as running itself. As I left London that evening I realised that the next time I would be doing this was Marathon day, I could not believe how quick the time had gone.

Fun fact for my first marathon in 2016 (the BMO Vancouver Marathon) I did 398 miles in that training cycle, this training cycle I also clocked up 398 miles !! How did that happen? I do believe the planets are starting to align and something good was going to happen. Marathon day is here! How can you rest the night before a marathon? I still don’t know the answer. My day started at 5:00 AM I dragged myself into the spare bedroom where I had laid out my gear. I got dressed as quietly as I could and made my breakfast, 2 slices of jam on toast, I am not a big eater on race day and this is the most I could possible manage. I needed to be on the 06:30 AM train so I left the house in good time and amazingly the carpark at the train station was empty! 

We waited patiently for the clock to tick over to 10:48, I was actually shivering I was really getting quite cold, then we heard the air horn and the race had started, 4 months of hard training and now was the time to prove my metal to not only Coach Lambert and Alton Sports but myself. The support for this event was off the charts, from mile 1 – 26 the support and cheering was incredible and very loud, I had my inspiring music on but I did not hear one beat due to the noise of the crowd. As per my training I did not look at my watch and just ran on feeling and what I was comfortable with, I did my first 5K in 26:21 and the 10K in 54:19, I was not lighting up the tarmac but I was consistent. I did the halfway (13.1 miles) in 2:00.16 I still felt good and although I was taking in the sites I was very focused on getting the job done, I have to give credit to the crowd because they really helped during the low points of the race.

I have to confess it was not all plain sailing, I stuck to my gel strategy, I found one Maurten every other 5 miles and then a caffeine SIS Gel every other 5 miles worked for me to give me both energy and a boost when I started to lag, the plan worked up until mile 15 when I accidentally picked up a Lucozade Sport instead of water, I didn’t realise until I started drinking it, this did not sit too well in my stomach, however I slowed down and just let my body settle down. I was getting very pleased with myself because I had got to the 30K mark at 3:00:20 I was totally in control, so I thought, I then hit a bit of a wall I cannot explain it I just started to hurt and the more I pushed the more my hips, shoulders and legs hurt.

I did start to run-walk a bit…. A lot in fact, I let myself recover and then I tried again to get back up to speed, at this point the version of  Coach Lambert that lives in my head had turned into a drill sergeant & I was totally shouting at myself, my final 5K took me 38 minutes, this was not my most proudest moment but that was all forgotten once I crossed the line. I don’t really remember much about getting my medal and retrieving my bag . You will note I look a bit pale, I just needed a sit down and something to eat, I did feel better about 20 minutes later. By the time I had found the train home I was back to normal and was looking like a normal person, however I had acquired a London Marathon medal.

I have many people to thank for this journey, I did not do this alone, all the people who have helped me along the way were with me for the whole 26 miles & will not be forgotten

My thanks go to :

My Long suffering wife Claire who has watched me suffer and push myself.

My children for not making too much fun of the old man!

My Parents and the rest of my family for supporting me.

Nurse May for her medical advice 

The Management team at Urbis-Schreder for letting me take so many extended lunch breaks to do the lunchtime runs.

The Alton Sports team of Ambassadors for their ongoing support

The Alton Sports management team for help with equipment and general advice.

And finally to Coach Lambert for getting me through this and showing me what a 45 year old Hobbit can actually achieve & it is to him I dedicate this blog

Marathon times:

1st May 2016 BMO Vancouver Marathon 4:45.43

23rd April 2017 ABP Southampton Marathon 4:37.31

7th May 2017 Mississauga Marathon 4:31.05

7th January 2018 Walt Disney world Marathon 4:49.00

28th April Virgin Money London Marathon 4:28.03