August 7, 2014

Review : Skechers GoMeb Speed 2

  • Type : Neutral shoe
  • Use : Road running
  • Price : $115

The GoMeb Speed 2 is the next generation in the GoMeb series. The shoe is designed with competition in mind and feels like a more cushioned version of a traditional racing flat. Like its predecessors in the “Go” series, the outsole features the pod system, which is intended to offer some slight motion control without the use of complex mechanisms. The presence of the signature “stability plate” inside the sole almost questions if this shoe can be deemed neutral, but the overall lightweight and flexibility leave little to ponder about the GoMeb’s minimalist design philosophy.

Road test
When I tested the first model, I’d taken the guess that the GoMeb would be suitable for long runs on roads, which sadly I couldn’t try for myself since my feet inexplicably changed sizes last year. So this time around, I took the GoMeb Speed 2’s exclusively on longer runs, namely a 30K daily commute to and back from work.

The speed sensation and lightness are definitely the key elements of the shoe. I also very much liked the new construction of the upper, which feels like they applied a flexible varnish on the pressure points to make them stronger. Add very minimal stitching and you get a shoe that is ultra light, ultra flexible and very comfortable.

There are really good things about Skechers that apply to almost all their products. The Resalyte material is the most obvious; a feather-light sole material that has just the right bounce without taking anything away from total flexibility. In this perspective, the GoMeb delivers fully.

The pod system, called GoImpulse sensors, however, had a strange effect on my feet. It seemed some of the pods would push up through the sole against my arches and cause some aches over longer distances (60K and beyond). This was confirmed when I wore the GoMeb’s daily on a recent trip to Europe, which involved long hours of walking and standing.

Although I think the pod system is clever and well-placed in more supportive models like the GoRun, I’m not sure what it delivers in a shoe that has speed in its DNA. By definition, if you buy and use racing flats, you don’t require the shoe to have any form of motion control. Stability should not be a component of a racer; flex and freedom should be put forward.

With that said, I think the GoMeb Speed 2 is an excellent shoe for shorter road runs, in the 5K to half-marathon range. It has more material under your foot than a typical racing flat, which adds a welcome addition of comfort without feeling any more bulky. I will definitely keep and use it for fast road races and shorter daily commutes.

High points
  • Resalyte, as always
  • Simply built, yet very comfortable
  • Comfier than a pure racing flat
  • Can’t argue with the price tag

Low points
  • The use of the pod system is questionable

The equipment for this personal review was supplied by Skechers, free of charge, without any conditions.

August 1, 2014

Pandora 24 - Friends, Space And Beauty running life is funny. I live and train in Montreal and its surroundings, with a lot of different friends from all over. I’m happy that I get to know such a wide range of people and share bits of their running lives. Yet, when it’s time to sign up for trail ultras, I never run in my home country. It’s like flicking the switch to another life, with a whole other group of people I equally love and share stories with. I take off to some part of the world, meet my hobo traveler friends and have an adventure.

After spending a full year of doing just that, I had to come back home, settle back down and go back to work. Funny. Back to back to back. But I digress.

To make sure I stay happy and not experience a crash landing from my wanderer’s life of the past year, I decided to look around and find some trails to run and, who knows, maybe an event or two. I was delighted to discover that a lot of stuff had started happening in Quebec, and previous trail events had started offering some pretty interesting ultra distances.

Awesome race directors Dominic, Martin and Jeff
However, one event immediately stood out. Maybe because it was a premiere. Maybe because a lot of my friends were already excited about it. Maybe because it was so close to home. The race was called Pandora 24, and not only would it be the first-ever 24-hour trail ultra in Quebec; it would also be an important fund raiser to save the beautiful, old-growth forest of Prevost, less than an hour drive from my front door.

I registered and made friends with Martin and Dominic, two of the RD’s. Then they got excited. And I got excited. We talked about the Copper Canyons, the Mas Loco family and my running friends from all over the world. They made a crazy cool offer; if La Mariposa Maria Walton, the heart and soul of Mas Locos, wanted to travel up, she would be made an honored guest.

Claire, Norbert, Flint, La Mariposa, Josie and Donald.
El Kodiak? Gone for breakfast :)
What felt like five minutes later, all was set. My crazy Apache cousin was on her way, and more Mas Locos had answered the call, too. Locals like El Kodiak Marc Séguin and Donald Audet, of course, but also the only Mas Loca massage therapist, Josie Hémond, and the travelling lovebirds Claire Denise Johnson and Norbert Blobel would join us on the trails!

We got to Prevost on the Friday night and set up camp at the start / finish. Since the Pandora is a loop course, El Capitan would double as our personal aid station. Maria and I gave a conference that night to talk about the Raramuri and the Copper Canyons experience, then we met up with several runners and chatted the evening away until bed time.

The guys had planned the event the Quebec way; no crazy-early start before daybreak. We would hit the trails at 10:00AM, plenty of time to wake up, get some breakfast  and soak in the morning sun. Everyone was in high spirits and we decided we would all run the first 10K loop together as a little Mas Loco family. Claire, Norbert, Donald, Marc, Maria and I took off for the woods and spent some wonderful time dancing, laughing and sharing stories.

The day was young, the sun was out and the forest was, as always, stunning.

When the second loop came around, we split up in smaller groups and some of us left to come back later. I decided to keep running with El Kodiak, who’s always about the same speed as I and a good friend I like to share adventures with. We were swift and efficient, and both felt that this would be a great day. The mood was good and the second 10K felt breezy.

"Lime and pepper chips. Excellent."
We didn’t make much of a stop at the start / finish and headed directly back on our third loop, both making a decision that would prove problematic a little while later when we started feeling the ground a little too much in our minimalist shoes and suffered a bit of bruising. It wasn’t too much of a biggie, but we both looked forward to changing into our Altra Lone Peaks to get some extra comfort and cushioning.

After a little break and some re-supplying, we took off on our 4th, accompanied by a charming team runner, Audrey, who was running her first-ever trail event, and her first-ever distance over 5k. We shared most of the loop until the long downhill to the aid station, where I started noticing an annoying feeling I know too well. Just like at Crown King Scramble, my knee was hurting, with that nagging, specific little pain I know won’t go away. I was really disappointed.

Marc told me he was starting to feel the distance and elevation, too, and said he would stick with me. We slowed down a little bit, but managed to finish the loop with a smile on our face. Back again at El Capitan, I took a little longer to get started again and did something I’d never tried in an ultra; I picked up my hiking poles.

Audrey, myself and El Kodiak Marc Séguin
With 1,400 feet of vertical per loop, the course isn’t easy. There are steady climbs over pretty technical terrain, some rolling single track and pretty much all types of obstacles a forest can throw at you. Between roots, rocks, creeks, logs, boulders and mud, your feet have plenty of dancing around to do and your mind has to stay alert.

Marc had a friend waiting to run with him for that 5th loop, so I did this one on my own. With a lot of thinking to do, I was happy to have a long, solitary moment in the forest to answer some tough personal questions and think about what lays ahead for me in my life. It felt very calming and peaceful to be out on my own.

I came back down with a knee that was getting more and more painful. I still could hike pretty quickly, but there was no more running. At 50K out of at least 100 that I’d set out to do, this was a major disappointment. I considered calling it a day, but decided to keep going when a good running friend, Martin St-Pierre, suggested we do that loop together.

Nothing like running among friends. Family.
Night had settled and the forest was transformed, and it was awesome to be out. I’d been looking forward to a deep-night loop since the morning, and now was the perfect time. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hadn’t seen Martin in a long time, so we spent plenty of time chatting the loop away. But the closer I was getting to the start / finish, the more I was thinking I needed at least a long break. After a pretty tough last descent, I stopped and pulled a chair.

I sat down with La Mariposa, who’d made a bad fall and hit her head. It was pretty clear she had a mild concussion, so she decided to play safe and end her run. We hung out, ate and laughed for a while and, just when I was re-considering my decision to stop and pondering if I should head back out, it started raining. Hard.

That was it. The bulk of my motivation flew away instantaneously, and I hit the sack. A 100K – or more – in the forest of Prevost would have to wait another year.

My friends at Pandora 24 pulled together a world-class event, which I’m really proud to have been able to experience. My ultra running friends from all over the world should consider a running of that beautiful, challenging race with the emerging Quebec ultra community. This event has everything it needs to find a spot in the international ultra running circuit. Come see it for yourselves!

La Pandora, ce n'est pas seulement le premier événement d'ultra trail de 24 heures au Québec. C'est une forêt magnifique et des gens extraordinaires, tous réunis autour de la cause de la préservation de la nature et tous unis par des valeurs de santé, de partage et de respect. La Pandora 24, c'est un événement de course de classe mondiale.

June 26, 2014

Run Free - The Movie

 It was early, one of the first mornings after my arrival in Urique. My trip was already turning into a great adventure; not 5 minutes upon arriving to Bahuichivo’s train station, three days prior, I’d stumbled on Caballo Blanco and arranged to meet him again down canyon for some running. He’d showed up in his pick-up truck with a new friend he met in Creel, Olaf Sorensen, and us three had been running, cooking and hanging out ever since.

That special morning would turn out to be the starting point of an incredible adventure, filled with excitement, discovery, friendship, loss and elation. But I didn’t know any of that when, while cooking pinole for breakfast, Micah casually mentioned he would be meeting a film crew the next day to shoot a documentary. And that he wanted Olaf and I to join them.

I really, really didn’t want to do it. What was I to do in any of this anyway? This had nothing to do with me, and the mere thought of being in the back scenes made me feel like a wannabe. So I told Olaf I wouldn’t be going. I said I would just stay at Entre Amigos and do some running on my own, and hang out when they would come back from the shoots.
“Don’t you want to be part of this?”, Olaf asked. “Don’t you want to explore the Canyons, meet the People, spread the message? Would you rather have someone else do this, someone who doesn’t get it? Who’s there just for show?”

With Micah and Sterling Noren, filming
That left me thinking. For about five minutes. Micah showed up at that point and just added “I’d like to have you guys around, you know, for the running and all.” So we agreed we would be his crew, make sure he’d get stuff to eat and a couple extra helping hands for anything he’d need to get done. And off we went.

That was the beginning of an epic adventure, a chain of events that changed my life forever. Because of this, I got to spend five wonderful weeks with Micah, travel all over the Barrancas and develop a meaningful friendship I was convinced would last a lifetime. I got to experience the wild roller coaster of movie making, with its hilarious, infuriating and boring moments. I got to listen in while Micah was telling the real story of Caballo Blanco and Born to Run. I got to be profoundly touched and influenced by a man’s humble dream, message and vision.

This has been my personal journey ever since. Now, more than three years later, everyone is about to share a part of that privileged time. Everyone will get to meet a wonderful, soft spoken, but also hard-headed man who never made any compromise to ensure his actions would make a true difference. Everyone will share intimate, personal conversations with a genuine person who only half-willingly became famous through a strange twist of fate, and decided to, as he said himself, “use the voice he was given”.

Olaf Sorensen, Micah True and myself
Micah True died less than 3 weeks after we finished shooting the scenes of Run Free. The images of this movie turned out to be his last message, his legacy to those others who would listen and care.

You, my friend, are one of these people. If you hang out in FlintLand, you share some values, interests and dreams with me. Today, you get to share much more. Today, you get to make Run Free a reality. You get to help making sure Micah True’s message remains forever.

Please purchase your advance copy of the movie, and help spread the message.

Thank you, and Kuira Ba.

For the whole duration of the campaign, I will proudly display this reminder on the top left of FlintLand. Whenever you can, please share this and spread the message as much as you want. And if you care about this, please consider supporting our campaign financially.

Run Free, c'est plus qu'un film, plus que le récit intime d'une aventure extraordinaire et trop courte que j'ai vécue avec Caballo Blanco. C'est un message important, positif et vital, que vous pouvez aider à propager. Aidez-nous dans notre campagne Kickstarter en achetant d'avance votre copie du film ou en contribuant financièrement. Aidez-nous à garder le message de Micah True bien vivant.