North Face Ultra TR II

I am a very lazy guy. And I like to buy things that is convenient to use. Like my preferred lens for photography is a zoom. So that I don’t have to keep changing lens. Never mind that the quality is compromised in the process. And it is the same with my running shoes. I like to travel and when I travel, I like to pack in run, hiking and of course the Mrs will want to do a lot of walking in the malls. It is not convenient to pack different shoes for all different purposes so I always make sure I have a pair of what I call a combo shoes with me when I travel.

My latest pair to replace the previous North Face Hyper Track. And yes it is another North Face shoes nevermind that most of my trail running friends swear by Salomon and Hoka shoes. This time I got the North Face Ultra TR II. Why did I buy it? 1) Because it was on offer and 2) it meets all my requirement.

This is an all terrain shoes. Good for road and light trails. And it is light. Very light at just 230 gm which won’t take up much weight in a luggage. 

This is a 2015 release so there is no point going through all the nitty gritty specs saved to say it is lightweight, very responsive, comes with a 8mm drop and very or no cushioning. Suitable only for light trails which is fine by me. The other thing good is that it comes with Vibram soles. 

So far despite wearing it for a number of runs, I have not encountered really muddy conditions so not too sure how the soles will hold up although feedback from friends is that Vibram soles are good.

Date of Purchase: 21 Feb 2017

From: RL Singapore

Price: $93.00

Races:

Total Mileage:

Retired:

 

Saucony Kinvara 5

The Saucony Kinvara 5 has been released so long ago in 2014 and now the latest edition is the Kinvara 8 and believe it or not, I just started wearing my Kinvara 5 this year in April! And it was actually purchased way back in June 2015 at an outlet sale. That made it like 3 years late.

I only took this out to replace my well worn Kinvara 4 and now barely 1 month later, it has clocked almost 100 km. But since it is such an old shoe, there is no point in doing a review suffice to say that I really like it. But there is only 1 problem with this particular edition though.  And that is the topline of the shoe where the shoe meets the ankle bone is rubbing against the foot but only on the left foot. So its either the shoe is not properly aligned or my left ankle bone is lower. And despite that, I raced it in once without any problem so I gonna keep on wearing it. Review online has it that it is not lasting. Let see whether it will break the Kinvara 4 record of 1000 km!

And of course when will I be getting the Kinvara 6

Date of Purchase: 13 June 2015

From: Royal Sporting House Outlet

Price: $84.50

Races:

Run350 30 April 2017

Total Mileage:

Retired:

Skechers GoRun 5

In 2015, I bought my first pair of Skechers running shoe, the Skechers Go Run 2. And over the course of 2 years, I like it so much despite it being half a size too small so much so that I worn it to its death. Just look at the condition of the sole after 500 over km. I don’t think the people at Skechers designed their shoes to last that long. But all good things must come to an end and late last year I reluctantly retired the Go Run and replace it with the Skechers Go Run 5 which I got from a kiosk at a mall for slightly over a SG$100.But after slightly over 30 km of baptism I am very disappointed with what I am getting out of it..

But first the run down from Skechers:

Skechers GOrun 5™ is the 5th generation in the Skechers GOrun® series of running shoes. Designed for speed, it’s responsive, supportive and lightning fast.

Details

  • Skechers GOknit™ upper provides security while maintaining breathability and comfort
  • Secure gore construction for a seamless fit that hugs your foot
  • Lightweight, responsive 5GEN® cushioning
  • Integrated inner support strap in the midfoot ensures a stable and secure fit
  • Mid-foot strike zone promotes efficiency in each stride
  • Lightweight and durable parametric web outsole provides multi-surface traction
  • Air mesh tongue with elastic tongue-position keeper straps for stable and secure fit
  • Quick Fit feature for easy accessible on and off
  • Reflective detail
  • Offset: 4mm
  • Forefoot 14mm, heel 18mm midsole thickness
  • Weight: 7.5 oz. per shoe in a men’s size 9

Construction

  • Circular knit one piece upper provides a perfect fit
  • Knit-in design for distinctive look
  • Side S logo
  • Reinforced lacing area with top eyelet for custom lacing options

Look. Skechers must have some very young funky designers. All their shoes are multi-colored with all sort of patterns. Nice to some and yucky to others. The place I went to had only 2 color unfortunately and only this one in my size though. Anyway, since I like my shoes colorful I had no problems with the options available. Apart from the look, there is this Quick Fit feature which is basically a hole in the heel counter. Meant to make it easier to wear and take off the shoe. I don’t find it really necessary but it does separate the GoRun from the other shoes.

Fit. Although I have not tried it on without an insole, this fits like a glove. Unlike other brand with wide version, this one fits very snugly on my foot after adjusting the laces. No movement and no blisters so far.

Cushioning. The initial feel when I put it on was “wow”. It was so soft. Real cushioning. And I feel that I could run and walk on it the whole day. It was that comfortable. Or at least that was the initial feel.

Traction: First run was after a heavy downfall. And grip was good.. There was no slippage even on the smooth concrete surfaces. I suppose this is the result of what Skechers call “Lightweight and durable parametric web outsole provides multi-surface traction”

Water Proofing. I ran a few times after heavy downpour and maybe because I didn’t deliberately run into puddles of water, my foot didn’t get wet.

Flexibility. This is where the shoe fails me. I find the shoe too rigid and too firm. In fact, invariably after just a short run, I can feel the impact on my sole.and my foot hurts. But strangely it is only on the left foot. At first I thought it was the lacing. Next run I adjusted it tighter. Still the same. Then I changed insole. Still same. Change socks. Sighed. So now I am resigned to wearing this for short run. Or hopefully until the shoes is broken in, if it ever happens.

Overall, I like that it is so light. And cushy. And comfortable to walk around. But until I figured out the problem with the sole and how to overcome it, I will have to stick to my Sauconey Kinvara for longer runs.

Date of Purchase: 15 October 2016

From: Skechers Kiosk Eastpoint

Price: $109.00

Races:

Total Mileage:

Retired:

 

Review – Puma Ignite Dual Bolt

So I finally got some mileage into the shoe. To be precise, slightly over 40 km in 1 week of running and in 4 different circumstances putting the shoes through its pace comprehensively.
dsc_1788
But before going into that, the mumbo jumbo or the technical specs from Puma:
  • ENERGY RETURN: IGNITE Foam midsole has exceptionally responsive, energy-returning qualities to help make you faster
  • FLEXIBILITY: Mesh upper and deep flex grooves at the forefoot provide flexibility
  • CUSHIONING: IGNITE Foam provides step-in comfort and an extremely comfortable feel
  • Breathable and flexible mesh upper
  • Gold upper with Usain Bolt signature
  • Reflective detailing for visibility
  • Lace closure for a snug fit
  • Articulated chevron grooves at midsole sides compress and rebound for extra power
  • Carbon rubber outsole at toe and heel for extra durability
 Of course one always learn to take all these specs with a pinch of salt. As they say, the taste is in the pudding. Ok I not going to eat the shoe but put it through the grinder.
Design & Fit: The shoe is very stylish although the gold top is too outlandish for me especially with the size 12 which makes it very loud and visible. And not having the speed to match the name on it, I feel a bit paiseh when wearing it. But it is really a very stylish shoe and looks more like those limited edition sneakers than a proper pair of trainer.dsc_1785
Like the 2 previous Puma shoes that I had and still have one of them, the heel counter was also just the right size. Not too long to snag on anything and not too low to cause abrasion even with sock liner on only. dsc_1786 The only issue I have so far is that somehow my right ankle bone rubs against the edge of the shoe and cause a hot spot. But is fine on the left foot which probably means either my foot are of unequal height or the outer edge of the shoes are not of equal height.
Other than this, the shoe fits really well. Snug. There was good toe width even for me with my Morton’s toe.
Weight: Coming in at about 500 gm for my size 12, I must say this is probably the heaviest shoes I have in a long long while. And the weight did affect my running although it wasn’t as bad as I initially thought it could.
Cushioning: As this is a traditional shoe meant for heel striker, it has real good cushioning. In fact I will go so far as to say I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed so much cushioning in a pair of shoes. Of course to be fair, I ran mostly in semi-minimalist shoes nowadays so the difference was very apparent.
Traction: So far I did about 40 km in this shoe covering a fairly wide range of surfaces covering asphalt, tarmac, pavement and light sandy road.  Grip is good all round. dsc_1787
Flexibility: Unfortunately the thick cushion sole means the shoe is not as flexible as I like. Understandably as this is a heel strike shoe, it is rather stiff in the middle but there is some sort of groving system between the toes and mid foot which provides for good toe off.
Water Proofing: The upper is covered by the painted gold upper which means that water will probably run off it and not go into the shoe. There are breathable mesh at the side below the gold upper though so that could be entry point for water if running through puddles. Unfortunately for the 4 runs that I did, although it did rained once, it was only for less than 5 minutes, hardly enough to even make the shoe or me wet. So no chance to test this out.

It has been a long long time since I worn a pair of 12 mm drop traditional shoe. For all the runs, I worn it in its original condition – no lock laces and with the original Puma insole. My first run in it was a 15 km easy run in the morning paired with a pair of double layer Karimmor socks. Other than the discomfort on the right ankle bone, the shoe felt fine except that I was always conscious of its heavier weight.

The second run was a relatively short 5 km interval of 8 x 400 metres. This time I pared it with a pair of Adidas sock liner.  The test was to see how responsive it was for higher impact run. I actually quite like the rebound that I get from the shoe. I think this is something that Puma has actively built into the shoe with the Ignite foam and the mid foot grove which gives it the push when toe off. However, me being used to flats or bare minimum for faster training runs, the weight of the shoes dragged me down and overall I clocked almost 3 – 5 seconds slower per interval set.

The 3rd run was again in the evening. This time I have on a pair of Reebok Zig Zag socks. But barely 2 km into the 8 km tempo run, the sole started to burn up. Was it the shoes or the socks?

I switched back to the Karimmor socks for the next 15km hill run and I had absolutely no problem with the foot. So it has to be the socks then. Anyway, the shoes felt really good with the extra bit of cushioning while going down the hill.

One thing I noticed about the Puma Ignite is that it does not have a final eyelets which allow one to do a butterfly lacing to prevent heel slipage,  I suppose the Puma people think that with its snug fit, there is no need for such a feature but it actually can help for those who tend to run with the foot almost vertical when striding.

Overall, due to the 12 mm heel to toe drop and weight, I wouldn’t wear it for long runs or marathons but like my 2 previous pair of Puma, this will be a good reliable training shoes which will probably last me a long long time. By the way, my Puma Fass has clocked more than 800 km and it is still as good as new. The Puma Mobium lasted 734 km so by that logic, I expect this pair of Puma Ignite Gold to last at least 900 km if not more!

Pro: Responsive. Well Cushioned. Snug Fit.

Con: Heavy. 12 mm heel to toe drop. Lack of last eyelet

This shoe review is made possible by the people from Puma Singapore

Date of Purchase: 9 September 2016

From: Puma Singapore

Price: Review Shoes

Races:

Total Mileage:

Retired:

 

Skechers GoRun 2

This comes about 3 years late. But hey, better late than never. I first read about the Skechers Gorun back in 2012. Back then, Skechers had just embarked on the development of a running shoes and the review wasn’t that great. Nevertheless, my curiosity was piqued and I was determined to get hold of one to try out. But being the kiam kanah, I wanted to get one at a more down to earth price since it was just for the purpose of trying. I waited and waited and Gorun 2 came and went and 3 came along. And finally I decided to buy. But not the Gorun 3 but the by now on offer Gorun 2. Beggars can’t be chooser so I ended up with a blue shoe. My 2nd pair of all blue shoe after so many years. But the store didn’t have any other color available. Worst of all, it was half size too small. I knew it the minute I put it on but so strong was my desire to try it, that I just went ahead. To be frank though, I quite like the color. That was back in the middle of last year and after that, it was left in the box for another 6 months before I finally took it out this year!

The Gorun 2 comes with a 4mm heel to toe drop and is considered a minimalist shoe. The upper is very breathable. And  it is light coming in at about 200 gm.

The heel counter is on the low side just like the tongue is pretty short too for my long feet at least.

The sole is what set the Gorun 2 apart from other running shoes. It comes with round studs which they called Pods. Not too sure what the various colors and design does but whatever it does though it must be doing something great for I am going to say it now, this is probably why I now consider this the best pair of running shoes I ever have!

So far I worn it for over more than 30 km and I am loving every km of it. Notwithstanding the fact that it is still half size too small. In my first run, I knew it was too small and because I have Morton’s toe, it was a tight fit at the front although the width was just right. Not willing to give up on the shoe, in my next run, I decided to go sockless and bingo! Without the sock, the fit was just right and there was no blisters on my foot. Not at the heel where I expected or the side of the toe. Nothing. I was really delighted!
Cushioning. This is supposed to be a minimalist shoes and rightfully I do not expect much cushioning but it was there all right. Not a lot but enough to make the landing soft. And best of all, extremely comfortable. 
Traction: I ran mostly on road and in one instance, after a heavy downfall. There was no slippage even on the smooth concrete surfaces. Ground feel was good too. Obviously because this is not a trail shoe, I have not attempted to run in the trails with it. I think the upper appears to be a bit thin to take the toils of the trail. 
Flexibility. The shoe is rather flexible despite the presence of the many pods. The design of the pods forces the wearer to land on the midfoot and toe off properly. No way to land on the heel which is as it should be. I took it for a few hard runs with the longest distance at 10km and it works well especially the pushing off part.
Water Proofing. I ran once after a heavy downpour and maybe because I didn’t deliberately run into puddles of water, my foot didn’t get wet.
Overall, I would say this is by far the most comfortable running shoes I ever have. However, to date the longest distance I did in them was 10km and I am a bit apprehensive about going longer distance although I am aware many runners have already worn it for marathons. Maybe now that Gorun 4 is already out, I will go and see whether I can get a pair of Gorun 3 at a price below $100.00 with the correct sizing  and perhaps try to run a marathon in them.

Date of Purchase: 12 January 2015

From: Skechers Singapore

Price: $89.00

Races: Nil

Total Mileage: 546 Km

Retired: 12 Jan 2016

 

Puma Faas 300 V3

My very first pair of Puma running shoes was the Mobium. I didn’t really like it initially but it kinda grew on me and I am still wearing it for daily runs and it has clocked more than 600 km and still look none the worst for wear. So when Puma wanted to pass me a pair to try on, I was hoping to get the Mobium Elite V2 but instead I was given the Faas 300 V3. I had a shock when I realised that the shoe comes with an 8 mm heel to toe drop. The past few shoes I had was either 0 or at most 4mm drop so this was going to be something new to try on.


Anyway, since I don’t know anything about the shoe, I had to quickly find out more about it from the Puma website. So here are the usual mumbo jumbo.

 
The first impression I had when I got it was wow. It looks rather nice. And it was in red to add to my collection of red shoes.
Design: I like the speckles of grey that is scattered all over the shoes. Apparently, they are luminous and reflect light making it a good shoe to wear for night running.
I also like that the length of the tongue was not too long and not too short. Some shoes come with super long  tongue which brushes against the ankle or too short that the top shoe laces lies on top of the foot instead of the tongue. This one is just about right. And it has some nice codes on it. I am sure those words there mean something but what I am not exactly sure:)
 
The heel counter was also just right and this is one of the few rare pair of shoes when I did not get any hot spot at the heel even though I wear mainly low ankle socks. The heel  counter grip well and give fairly adequate support.

Weight: Coming in at about 230 gm for my size 12, I must say this is super light considering that it has a very thick looking sole.

 
 
Cushioning: Cushioning is more than adequate with Puma FaasFoam+ midsole and EverRide+ forefoot blown rubber. However, not being used to too much cushioning nowadays, I feel that it hinders more than enhance my run.
Traction: So far I did about 35 km in this shoe covering a fairly wide range of surfaces except for trails. I even worn it for the Puma Night Run 2014 where the route surfaces included tarmac, pavement and some uneven slate ground. I also ran in it during a heavy downpour over extremely wet ground with a lot of puddles and the grip was terrific. Probably because Puma uses what it calls EverTrack high abrasion resistant rubber. On top of that, I believe the design of the sole helps as well.
 
 
Flexibility: The shoe is pretty flexible. Again the design of the sole helps a lot allowing for smooth toe off and transition. I didn’t get any arch pain or discomfort unlike what I first felt when I worn the Puma Mobium Elite.
Water Proofing: The upper is made up of a air mesh which means that water can get in easily. As it was, I was caught in a heavy downpour during one of the run and water got in almost immediately. But it also drained out pretty fast.

Overall, I quite like the shoe despite the 8mm drop. It didn’t really affects the running as much as I feared maybe because I am still wearing the Mobium which also has an 8mm drop. The only thing I didn’t like was the rather narrow toe box which could potential give problem over longer distance. So far the longest distance I ran in them was 15 km but it has yet to give me problem so I could be wrong about it. Nevertheless, I feel that this will be a good everyday shoe for training, short fast run rather than long runs or marathons. And at S$130.00 I think it is a good buy compared to the much more expensive more well established shoes available.

Date of Purchase: 29 October 2014

From: Puma Singapore

Price: Review Shoes

Races: Puma Night Race 2014

Total Mileage: 903 km

Retired: 1 April 2017