Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Skechers GoRunUltra Review Part 2

Trail setup. 4mm.
My Part 1 review of the Skechers GoRunUltra was about the shoe going from Door-To-Trail and the question remained how well this shoe "keep to trail" aka 100% trail work? I intended to run the GRU minus the insole that will convert the shoe from 8mm to 4mm. For the record, I've no issue with the GRU at 8mm. Infact, I would be lying if I say it made so much different to my running or landing. Without the insole and at 4mm drop, I get the closer feel to the ground, which is something I've gotten used and accustomed to ever since shifting 95% (the last 5% is because I have an underused conventional shoe I use for additional weight when running).

Fittings minus the insole

The shoe without the insole fits slightly looser on the top of my feet and it takes just another tug at the laces to secure it down. The side stitches as exposed in the photo above does not interfere or should I say I did not feel it against my feet. 
Oh yea! SOckless too! Love the reflective materials. So swanky!

The cushioning is there and the dual-density material on the sole and mid-sole were felt. Support were good as the only worry I have is the fast turn and changes in direction running in trails may twist your ankle if land wrongly. So, in this instance, I am comparing it against the GBT when it comes to stability in trail. So, lets get going!

Into The Trail
Plan was a quick 1hour (max) run that will cover about 8km in the trail. The idea was to go as fast as I could (due to time) and to run it as normal as I always do (meaning at same pace I would usually run my trails) to check for slipping of grip on multiple different surface, climbing/scrambling ability, technical downhill. This all sounded very complicated - and I am about to make it easy for you in this review. 
For this run, i had Charles Frew (Charles) running with me. My time slot fell in nicely with his timing and with great honor, it was good to run with a fast trail blazer.
"Too slow Stupe", Charles telling it without saying it
I ran the GRU in the trail before and taken note of the good grip and stability over the shorter 1.2km (Office and Overtime). The initial feel from the first use (the Review 1) as still very much there. The trail condition was dry and covered with leaves so I would not be able to test it in wet and silty surface. It was a good day to go all out - and we did.
GRU coming alive in trail
UpHill At Speed
Running uphill (Carnival and Twin Peak) was good on GRU. The multi-directional lugs provide good grip and power transfer while running up. The thicker sole buffer a lot of sharp edges and roots when I step on them. This translate to lesser "feel" compared to GBT as the GRU just soak up whatever you throw (your feet) onto. Do not be mistaken that this lesser "feel" meant you won't feel anything under you. You will still feel them, just not as obvious and you will be left wondering what you actually stepped on as the shoe bounce you off for the next stride and landing.
Running up Twin Peak
The biggest challenge running in trail is the sudden change in direction and the shoe need to keep up with where the toes (aka the leading-most-further point) goes. The GRU did not disappoint. I was actually impressed that it kept up with my direction changes. It seems, based on those that run trails with me, it is not unusual to see my legs crossing each other while running but I won't trip on my own feet, or see me bouncing off a surface/stone/edge on the side to compensate for landing or switching corners fast. The fact that the GRU allowed me to still do the same without losing any momentum, that itself speaks for the confidence I have running the trails with GoRunUltra GRU.
Charging Downhill
One of the key highlight after a 230m elevation climb in Bukit Kiara is the very fast descent via T'n'T. Like it's name sake, it's "the bomb". A short 300m run at minimum of 40% grade, single trail, with at least 3-sudden drop, 1-S corner, 3-switchbacks (of which 2 is with 3-feet drops) adds to the fun. Check the video in my Youtube channel here specific for this run and you will see how technical it can be.
Into The Wet
The trail run I had with Charles then lead us into Sungai trail, which runs/flank the pristine (previously) river. And yes, I took a wrong step and into the water half way. Hated to get the new shoe wet. But I then realised it was a good opportunity to test how the shoe is running wet.
Lucky for me, the water level was low due to the hot/drought season. However, certain sections has ankle deep water section sufficient to soak the whole feet into the water, and that is where I landed (and verified the depth).
After the soak...Chasing Charles in front
Grip of the GRU over uneven surface and the rocks on the stream was good. It was sure and no slippage. This was consistent with the feel of the shoe over loose gravel and sandy surface during the first run and subsequent (this) run.
Secure on the logs as well
Running with the shoe soaked, there wasn't much squishy feeling after 10minutes. The worry that the wet inner may cause blisters did not happen as I run the last final 2km back to my car. The shoe went from wet to damp. It did drain out pretty well apart from the inner part that is damp. 
Impressed outing
1. Responsive shoe that offer great cushioning and yet forgiving on the fast twist and turn typical of a technical trail. Sure grip on the sprint up hill and confidence on the downhill at speed. 
Giving this shoe a proper wash (or rinse)
2. Wear and tear of the shoe is being monitored at the moment with every trail run done to check for excessive wear. Still too early to tell and from my experience with GoBionic (where the sole seems to wear out faster than usual during my use, were not really true as the shoe clocked close to 500km and still being used for walking in park)
Take note of the middle lug directly under my forefoot (darker shade of white, if there is such thing)
3. Highly breathable, which contributed to the shoe drying out fast under the sun. From 100% wet to 10% damp, it took me less than an hour thanks to the hot sun over the past few weeks. Yes, i know, fish also will become dry in this heat. I should not had compared to a 100% canvas shoe that is my kids' school shoe being dried out at about the same time.
Those yellow hue is the insole of the shoe, visible through the outer shell material
At point of writing, the shoe has seen additional mileage as it is still under active review. Over the past 2 weeks, it has clocked in about 50km and counting. I am starting to appreciate the softer ride during recovery run and tempo runs. This shoe will be used for my Sabah Adventure Challenge in April. No doubt and that is when it will be put to it's full potential going through trails in jungle of Sabah. If it survive the outing, it will potentially survive many other trails in urban setting. I will post more reviews or notes in my Facebook Page and Twitter. So look out for it if you are user of these two social media sites.

For the record, my fellow teammate Deo has used this shoe for his 2XU Singapore 42km run and posted a PB on it. So, that speak for itself that the perceived size of the shoe (to look heavy due to how it looked) were unfounded as this pair is at 220grams (based on my own weighing). It is easily 100grams lighter than the next cushioned trainer.

Note: This pair of Skechers GoRunUltra is sponsored by Skechers Malaysia via collaboration with 2ndSkin Asia Athletes program. Thank you Skechers Malaysia and 2ndSkin! This pair is retails for RM419 (men) and RM399 (women) in Peninsular Malaysia and has been made available in all stores since February 16, 2014. Opinion in this write up is my own and not influenced by Skechers Malaysia or 2ndSkin program.