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Alton Sports Ambassadors at the London Marathon!

We love London Marathon Weekend at Alton Sports. It starts for us on the Tuesday when we head up the Expo and then finishes on the Saturday night when we have to pack down after a few of the busiest days of our lives. Oh, not forgetting the actual marathon on the Sunday which is the best part. Four of our team were involved in running this year… check out what they had to say about the event!

Dave Warman:

“I may not be elite but I did it!! The Marathon is a challenge at best but with Coach Lambert (Alton Sports founder and 2;18 marathon runner) in my corner I can confirm “Mission accomplished.”

The atmosphere was incredible, there was support on the course from mile 1 to 26. I was using my new New Balance 1080 shoes and with my enhanced gel strategy with the Maurten Gels I felt good and crossed the line with a PB of 4:28, I knocked 21 minutes of my last go at the marathon (Jan 2018) and I beat my all-time best marathon (May 2017) time by 3 minutes & I am two years older!!

So there is still life in my old legs yet.”

Adam Marcinowicz:

“Sunday April 28th saw the 39th edition of the London Marathon take place with a record 40,000+ finishers.  I love London Marathon day, it is the best day, and an event I have attended 10 times since my first running of it in 2003, this was my 7th Run.

To my surprise this year, I was fortunate to receive a ballot place. I had to enter the ballot after the punishing heat of last year’s event caused the wheels to fall off effort to beat my Personal Best time of 3h00m02s.  So, this year, I thought I would take the pressure off and enjoy the run through London at a more leisurely pace and capture the atmosphere of the event on a 360 camera that I chose to carry. No-one had previously captured 360 footage of the event and I saw the great potential this could offer.

As one of the Alton Sports Run Ambassadors, I was asked to help out on one of the stands at the 4 day London Marathon Expo prior to race day. After an enjoyable yet long four days on my feet, the pressure really was off to run fast. The conditions were cool and perfect for all participants to enjoy. I chose to wear my New Balance 1080s on my feet for this run, a good choice as they were so comfortable in my training. To ensure I didn’t run out of energy I chose to fuel with Maurten drinks and gels.

My 7th London Marathon and for the first time I found myself on the Blue Start with some fellow Clapham Chasers. What I soon came to realise was that I would be running amongst and past a lot of the Guinness World Marathon Record Attempts since they start at the front of the green field.  There were all kinds of costumes and since I had my camera, I took the opportunity to chat to most of them on film, from a guy dressed as a unicorn to another as a tent! The day was full of cheer as the spectators turned out in their masses to spur us on.

I comfortable ran through half way in 1h35m whilst going with the flow of the runners.  It was in the second half where I knew so many people on the route including the Clapham Chaser Cheer points. There were high 5s and hugs which kept the spirits up.  This year for the first year I chose not to put my name on my front, I previously found I miss people in the crowd who knew me from the 100s of times I would hear my name being shouted. Everyone got a high 5 this time! The temperature remained constant throughout the day which was a bonus and I cruised up the Mall to finish in a time of 3h30m39s. So happy as for this run the time was irrelevant.

This is the best day that London has to offer, and I would like to say a huge thanks for all the support from the people who lined the route. Going through my footage now, there are some cracking bits to help relive the memories of a fantastic day. Boy, I want to make sure that I get more chances to run in this amazing race in the future.”

Al Pickburn:

“After the hot weather of last year’s race it was a great relief that the temperatures were close to half the 2018 levels. My plan was to aim for halfway in 74 minutes and see how things felt before deciding how to apporach the second half. As it turns out I felt really good running at 2hr 28min pace so kept it going as we entered the Isle of Dogs section around Canary Wharf. The support on course was electric as always (including from my family!) and although the effort gradually got harder I could still maintain the early pace.

I was using a Maurten 100 gels, which were super easy to take, requiring little or no water at the same time. As they form a hydro-gel in your stomach and control the release of carbohydrate into you digestive system I felt completely comfortable even taking 4 in an hour across the middle of the race. I was also wearing the Nike Vaporfly 4% race shoes, which are simply a joy to run in! The combined energy return of the embedded carbon fibre plate and Zoom X foam meant, I didn’t feel any real leg discomfort untill a few miles to go to the finish, when I started to feel the strain in my leg quad muscles. Thankfully everything held together to just squeeze 5 seconds under the 2:28 mark for a 1min 35sec personal best. A fantastic day to remember for long time!”

Jhon Cosgrove:

“My first London Marathon Experience and one I will never forget! I headed up to London on Friday to check out the Expo and see all my Alton Sports buddies who were far too busy to talk to me about how excited I was about running the marathon for the first time. Probably best for them.

After an easy parkrun at Victoria Docks on Saturday and all the carb loading, flat lay pics and generally trying to contain the Zebedee-esque excitement that was burning inside of me, it was time for the London Mara! I was starting in Blue and could see the elites warming up, whilst everyone in my zone were warming up by peeing on the fence. Big Andy started us off and it was go… my plan was to run 6:45/6:50 pace for the first 20 miles and then see if I could kick on for the last 10k and nail a sub 3 time for the first time. 

I loved running through the sites of London – the constant cheering and landmarks made me feel like I was in a computer game. I had a massive smile on my face all the way round as people were hollering ‘go vegan’ at me as they couldn’t read the badly printed DIY attempt at ironing my name on my shirt. I got to 20 miles, ran a couple of faster miles and then even managed a cheeky sprint finish to come home in 2:58:19 and to complete this computer game for the first time. I’d never been so happy and was even happier to run a negative split. I celebrated by eating an apple and stretching on the grass before hiding a few pints inside of me in the evening. Can’t wait for next year! 

I ran in my Hoka One One Tracer 2 and used Maurten Gels and used the Maurten 320 Drinks Mix before.

Are you ready for your next marathon? Check out altonsports.co.uk for everything you need!

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Alton Sports Ambassadors – Testing the Salomon Speedcross 5!

We like to keep our ambassadors busy. Very busy in fact! It doesn’t seem two mins since our last Ambassadors’ Day but another one has rolled along, and this time the mighty Salomon have found ‘Time To Play’ with us, and for us to test out the awesome new Salomon Speedcross 5! The Speedcross series have been one of our most popular selling trail shoes for years and the team were very excited to trial / trail their latest incarnation! It’s one of our go to shoes when people come in store looking for something aggressive with great grip!

Where better to host a day of trail running than QE Park in Hampshire… which leads on to the South Downs Way and has some of the best (and muddiest!) trails that Hampshire has to offer!

Here’s what the team had to say about the shoes…

Dave:

“My first thoughts of the day were “I don’t do Mud” – however after being given the a shoe that looks like the shoe the Black Panther uses, things changed very quickly. I really have discovered a love for trail running that I was just flirting with, there was no crowd, no music, no tarmac, just me and the trail, the grip was very good, I stuck to the mud paths and even the sticky mud and puddles were not a problem, I actually felt quite nimble, more importantly the shoes were bouncy and gave me some good feedback and absorbed all the loose ground to give a smooth feel, thus no fatigue in the balls of my feet, I can see where the development has gone, they felt like a road shoe that has been in the gym all winter and is now Beech body fit. So in conclusion, I now do Mud!”

Debbie:

“The new Salomon Speedcross 5. I have owned the Speedcross 3 & 4 previously, so I was eager to test the 5 out.  I always go a size up.

I had a couple of short trail runs and a few walks prior to a 20 mile trail run along the North downs way to test them to their fullest.  It was multi terrain, very muddy, steep ascents and descents too.
Upon first look you can see there a quite a few changes and all for the better.  The material on the upper, around the toe box & the laces blend together more seamlessley for a sleeker look.  
The toe box is reinforced and my narrow feet fitted quite snuggly inside with still enough room for movement on the trails ahead.  I loved the 3 previously but the 4 felt overly generous in the toe box, almost like the upper had stretched over time.  
My midsole and arch felt like they had more support than the 4.  The Achilles support was much improved, higher than the 4 and soft to prevent any rubbing.
The best bit, the lugs!!  Much wider apart than the 4 so that the mud falls off easier rather than being held on the sole and it did.  They point in the direction of the gradient to either help as a brake on the descent or aid the forefoot drive uphill.  They held their own through the thick mud, puddles, sand and even on partly chalky areas.  The sole feels different, lighter and more responsive especially on the steep descents when negotiating tree roots, stones and fallen branches from Storm Freya.

My only reservation was whether they would be provide enough support over long distances. I think I would still prefer a little more cushioning but for fast, shorter trail runs or events through the harshest of conditions these are amazing!”

Caroline:

“Ever since getting the Salomon Speedcross 5, I’ve been determined to get another run in them before the spring/summer really arrives… yesterday’s club run was the time! Admittedly not the best day to go mud hunting when the recent has dried up most of it. So it was a case of enjoying them for their comfort & grip on such varied sandy/muddy terrain.

Really like the moulded ortholite liner inside, gives a very comfy secure fit. And let’s talk grip, well its as good as a toddlers on a biscuit!! I felt as confident on the loose soil/mud as I did on the sand, with barely any need to adjust pace. Great shoe for those that love the trails, and this offers versatility in being sound on both rough and soft terrain! Looking forward to more off-road adventures in these shoes especially if they are all as sunny as yesterday!”

Adam:

“The Salomon day to test their newly released Speedcross 5s was insane. The wind was howling and luckily for us the rain just about held off.  This did however provide ideal conditions to put the Speed Cross 5s to the test. The colour scheme is simple, either all red or all black.  The undersole sports 30% larger lugs to increase traction in the softest of surfaces while at the same time designed to allow mud and debris to fall away between strides. This minimises the weight you find yourself pulling through between each step. Salomon have wisely kept their Quicklace system allowing for a speedy put on and go. I personally like the fact that the large grippy lugs continue up the front toe of the shoe for maintaining strong traction during toe off. These front facing lugs also allow the shoe point and grip and aid climbing on steep rocky boulder fields. I find the Speedcross 5 a comfortable snug fitting shoe, and make me feel very secure and in control on all types of mountainous terrain. I am very impressed with what Salomon have created with their version 5 of the Speedcross model.”

Sasha:

“I have never run in Salomon shoes but their reputation precedes them and I was really looking forward to giving the Salomon Speedcross 5 a try. This shoe didn’t disappoint, when I first pulled it on I was a little unsure of the heel cradle, which I worried would feel uncomfortable once I was on the move, In fact once we hit the trails it gave a real sense of security, particularly as the terrain became more challenging. That combined with the deep lugs meant I have never felt more secure and confident in my footwear. Whatever mud I threw at this shoe, it responded with great grip and reliable traction. An absolute winner in the mud. Looking forward to lots more miles in these beauties.”

Thanks very much to Salomon for coming to see us and to our ambassadors for trying the shoes out! You can come and try them in-store or check them out online right here.