Archive for Reviews

Great North Run 2010 – Event Review

Ratings
Overall

Event Date: 19 September 2010
Distance: 13.1 miles
Capacity: Approx. 54,000
Conditions on the day: Overcast, 16 degrees
Website: http://www.greatrun.org/events/Event.aspx?id=1

Organisation Rating: Usual service from Bupa events management, aside from the crazy double decker bus luggage transport which seems inefficient. That and Powerade Zero is, in my view, quite horrible tasting and not a good drink to have mid run when you’ve never experienced it before! Pricey entrance fee as usual too, we could probably expect better for £50, though I guess it’s a big event.

The course: I’m told it’s a hilly route. Maybe it is, depends on your training I suppose. Didn’t seem too bad to me. Crossing the Tyne Bridge as part of the mass is a true running gem, it’s one of those must have running experiences. Great atmosphere. Annoying walkers start at the front by some miracle and generally get in the way. Finish down to the seafront is very nice. Watch out for the steep downhill just before it though!

Downsides: Sheer mass of runners slows start as with all big events. Need to enter early, it’s a ballot I’m afraid. (Though check out the priority entry system, it is possible to ‘buy’ yourself into the event. Ssssh, I didn’t tell you that!)

Upsides: Be a part of the biggest Half Marathon in the world!

Garmin profile for this event:

Manchester Greatrun 10k 2010 – Event Review

Ratings
Overall

Event Date: 15 May 2010
Distance: 10k/6.25 miles
Capacity: Approx. 40,000
Conditions on the day: Overcast, 16 degrees
Website: http://www.greatrun.org/events/event.aspx?id=4

Organisation Rating: Usual good service from Bupa events management. Pricey entrance fee as usual though too!

The course: Fairly flat, fairly fast route. Bits in town are good, but you’re out of town before you know it and padding along the Mancunian way for a couple of miles outbound, and a couple of miles back after circumnavigating old trafford.

Downsides: Sheer mass of runners slows start as with all big events. Need to enter early or have to bag a charity place as I did (the Seashell Trust provided me with mine in exchange for £140 guaranteed sponsorship).

Upsides: Ability to get a charity place with a realistic target. If you’re on the ball, you can get a place directly, before the ballot for the last few places. Sign up for email notifications from greatrun to be in with the best chance of being around at the right time.

Garmin profile for this event:

Nike Pro Vent Long Sleeve Tight Compression Crew Neck

Ratings
Overall
Ease of use
Value for money

I’ve had this baselayer top for a good while and have used it as a baselayer for cycling. It’s an interesting fabric. It’s supposed to aid air flow and ventilation and it’s absolutely amazing at doing so. Somehow Nike have made it feel like the fabric directs air flow onto your skin, an odd feeling the first time the wind hits it, trust me!

The fit is amazingly tight, like a compression top that’s shrunk in the wash. So much so, I actually thought I’d have to cut it off the first time I put it on. I’d advise you to go up a size from your normal purchase sizing, they really are tight as can be.

As a baselayer for cycling, this is a truly superb bit of kit. As a baselayer for running, it has one fundamental flaw. It rides up as you run. As I’m sure you can imagine, this baselayer is good on a cold day, along with another couple of layers above. Once it starts riding up though, it leaves you a little exposed around the midriff and consequently does more harm than good.

Verdict: Buy once for cycling, they’re fab. Expect it to ride up if you run in it though!


Hilly Arm Wallet/MP3 Player Case

Ratings
Overall
Ease of use
Value for money

For about £16 this little bag allows you to carry a large MP3 player, or in my case a Blackberry, some cards, house keys and some rattly change, all in the safety of a zipped up case. It is both comfortable to wear and light and has a port on the back to feed your headphone cable through. The case also has some of the usual reflective piping to the front and is adjustable to fit anything from my skinny arms to a much larger one! My only gripe would be that it can be difficult to zip up if it’s not packed out with stuff. (It doesn’t hold it’s shape too well when empty and the main zip tends to get stuck.)

Verdict: All in all, a very functional bit of kit which has served me well. Priced quite reasonably for something so useful and holding up well to the regular washing machine battering.


Ronhill thermostretch light running glove

Ratings
Overall
Ease of use
Value for money

Sporting a reflective logo on the right hand glove and costing around £8 from a range of online retailers, it’s no wonder you see the elites wear them for a few miles and drop them when they’ve finished with them! These gloves are a true bargain in the ever increasingly pricey world of running gear. Having used them for several months now, they have been good for temperatures down to around zero and are small and light enough to shove in your pockets (on the off chance it’s colder than you thought) and forget about. Available in a range of colours including a particularly fetching garish pink, favoured by Paula Radcliffe, you’re bound to find a colour to suit you.

Verdict: If you’re after a budget pair of gloves that you won’t cry about losing, get them. They work, they’re a good fit and best of all, they’re pretty cheap!


Brighton Marathon 2010 – Event Review

Ratings
Overall

Event Date: 18 April 2010
Distance: 26.2 miles
Capacity: 12,000
Conditions on the day: Hot as a hot thing, about nineteen degrees on a Sunday in April!
Website: www.brightonmarathon.co.uk

Organisation Rating: Superb. Especially for a first run of the event. Clearly the brighton marathon group got their heads together and thought this one out well. From the baggage lorries to the volunteers, the refreshment stops to the entertainment, everything worked, and worked very well. Well done Brighton, I’ll be back!

The course: Hilly sections from miles 4-12. Mid-point cunningly lined up with finish line so crowds greet you as you pass through a half marathon *and* at the finish. Miles 17-22 pretty dull and grey down to the dock area, just when you don’t need it to be. Frankly they’d have to pay the spectators to hang around there though! Finishes on Madeira Drive (the finish line for just about every Brighton event) and saw estimated crowds of 80k on the day.

Downsides: Seafront wasn’t cordoned off leading to ‘little old lady with tiny dog’ type obstacles for the last three miles. Dock area is dull at prime ‘hitting the wall’ distance.

Upsides: Ability to get a place, no ballot. Unlike some other over-hyped marathons, those who intend to run a marathon and have decided this well in advance can register for a place nearly a year in advance. No waiting for 6 months for an answer on whether you’re luckier than a lottery winner. No waiting for that chance in a million email to say you’re in, finally, after a decade of trying. No. You just pay your money, do the training and run a marathon!

Garmin profile for this event:

Gore Running Wear Air Long Sleeve Running Top

Ratings
Overall
Ease of use
Value for money

I’ve picked up a couple of these over the last few months. One yellow, one orange. They’re a mix of fairly standard running wear type microfibre, a quick drying fabric, which is coupled with bands of lightweight mesh in the side panels. All of the seams are in the right places and it’s a really lightweight top. I wear them in combination with one or two baselayers or t-shirts on colder days, they’re just enough to keep your arms nicely warm, without being too hot.

The yellow one has been worn on nearly every cold run I’ve done for weeks now so it’s been through the wash several times a week. It dries really quick and doesn’t look to be worn or faded at all so far. Looks like it’ll last and last. This is what I’ve come to expect from Gore Running Wear though and I’d be disappointed. By anything less.

It’s a loose fit garment. That’s the only way I can describe it. It’s not a fabulous shapely fit like many of the Gore Running ‘performance’ range, but for something to throw on for a cold run, this isn’t at all a problem. In fact, if anything, it’s just a bit more versatile as a layering garment to my mind.

Verdict: If you can grab them for less than £20, you’ve got a good quality and very versatile top for cheap money. Well worth a look. Wiggle stock lots of Gore Running Gear, have a look here.


Skins A400 Running Tights

Ratings
Overall
Ease of use
Value for money

Skins compression wear has always intrigued me. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, premium price running gear. It also claims to be very scientifically designed to get the best of an athlete. Being neither at my best, nor an athlete 😉 I’ll find it hard to refute these claims, but I’ve tested them anyway. Here’s my notes…

Firstly, they’re tight! I know they’re compression wear and so they should be, but they really can be a challenge to squeeze into! I’m not a fatty, but according to their comprehensive size chart (based on BMI rather than standard girth type measures) I’m in a standard small. They fit. They do indeed cover everything. They’re tights, so they reveal much in the way of bulges. They’re also, in my view and probably that of anyone running behind me, a bit low at the back, and gradually get lower as I’m running. I suspect I should have accepted I’m on the border between a small and medium and should have plumped for the medium instead.

Quality is well up to the price tag. They do compress everything and have a reassuring fit profile. I’m no athlete as I mentioned, but they feel good as a compression tight. I rather like the yellow band and branding on them and would say they’re worth a go for winter runs and keeping warm. I generally wear them underneath a light pair of tracksuit bottoms when it’s really cold. I’d recommend you try them on for size though as they are a tight fit and let’s face it, at £70 you’re unlikely to want to get it wrong. There are plenty of other cheaper options out there, but they are very good quality. That’s the choice you need to make on this one!

Verdict: good quality but premium price. Go for them if you can afford them or grab them in a sale for bargain prices.

Bridgedale X-Hale Speed Demon Running Socks

Ratings
Overall
Ease of use
Value for money

I’m not one to lay down £12 on a pair of socks without thinking ‘have I finally lost it?’. The speed demon sock seemed to make sense though. It’s a lightweight sock material with added fuzzy padding around the forefoot and heel areas. Have a look at the picture, it logical and makes sense. And you know what else? It works! Damian can wax lyrical about how his three for a fiver sports socks work, but these are fabulous. I ran a marathon and had *one single blister* the size of a 5p piece. They are light enough to breathe well, yet padded where they need to be. I have 3 pairs and they’ve probably all done 300-400 miles so far in all weathers and all temperatures, from -7 degrees to 28.

Verdict: Aside from looking more grey than white nowadays, they seem to have plenty of life left in them and I wholeheartedly recommend them!


Gore Running Wear Air Windstopper Gilet

Ratings
Overall
Ease of use
Value for money

This is a truly expensive item when you look at how much material you actually get for £60! It’s as light as a feather, and probably competes well with Saffron, gram for gram 😉

The Gilet has a single zip up pocket to the rear and some reflective piping to the front chest and a reflective Windstopper logo to the rear.

As is usual and expected from Gore, it’s very well made and the zippers and seams are all strong.

Performance wise, if mileage is an indicator of how much I rate an item, this one scores very high. It’s absolutely ideal for keeping the wind off your body on a windy day. It also keeps the rain off when it’s light. And, best of all, keeps you quite warm when it’s cold outside. As gear goes, it very versatile and I’ve probably worn this more often than anything else in the 1095miles wardrobe!

Now I’m sure many of you will look at the price of this item and think, no way, it cannot be worth it. Trust me, it is. I wear it so often it’s become the first thing I grab before I run. It’s also one of only two items I would shed a tear over if I lost it (the other being my Gore Running Wear Running Cap II).

Verdict: Go and buy one. Now. In fact, trawl eBay and find a s/h one for cheap. It’ll be the best investment you make.