Energy-saving Rocks!

It’s not often I liken a running shoe to a rocking chair, but that’s such a great way to explain the new Asics MetaRide, which is designed to help you run longer by helping you save energy. – BY SEAN FALCONER

I’ve said this before, and I will likely say it many times yet in my career as a running journo, but when a shoe brand sends me a new model to review accompanied by a media release that starts with something along the lines of “Brand X is redefining running,” I tend to be a bit sceptical. That’s because I’ve been receiving releases like that for nearly 20 years now… and no doubt will continue to receive them until I retire.

That said, I was rather intrigued by the latest arrival from Asics, which read, “Asics today turned the world of running on its head as it revealed a completely new concept in run efficiency, Metaride. One of Asics’ most important innovations in seven decades, and as part of Asics’ ambition to help all runners to win the long run, the shoe was designed with one purpose in mind, to make running longer distances easier.”

My first thought was, I hope this new shoe lives up to the claims of the media release, because I’ve heard this kind of thing before… but when I looked inside the shoe box, I could immediately see what the people at Asics mean. The new Metaride model is certainly eye-catching – and I’m not just talking about the black, red and gold colourway, although I would like to mention here that these shoes hit the spot with me in terms of looks! No, it was the clearly rounded, built up outer sole that immediately caught my eye, and I knew I was indeed looking at something different here.

Saving Energy
Asics says this new technology has been two years in the making at its Institute of Sport Science in Japan, and they believe they have found a way to minimise ankle movement and thus save you 19% of energy expenditure when running. For those not so good with the maths, that’s one-fifth of your energy expenditure, which would really make a difference when running longer distances, as we are rather fond of doing here in South Africa.

It boils down to the science behind shifting your body weight forward, from landing to toe-off, and that’s where the curved GuideSole comes into play. Basically, it’s designed to rock you up onto your forefoot easier and quicker, using less energy to do so. Think of a rocking chair, with its curved rockers. This shoe mimics that… although the Japanese designers say it was actually inspired by a rolling wheel, but i prefer my rocking chair analogy.

The shoe’s midsole is built out of three layers to create this ‘rocker’ sole. The one level of midsole rubber is FlyteFoam Lyte, for cushioning and structure, while the other layer is made from FlyteFoam Propel, which gives you extra rebound in the toe-off phase. This combination has already featured in other recent Asics models, such as the Kayano and Cumulus. Thirdly, there is a visible Rearfoot Gel insert to add extra cushioning when your foot strikes the ground. That gives the shoe the traditional squishy landing that so many runners love about Asics models.

Stacked Midsole
The midsole has a 30mm stack height, and a zero drop from heel to toe. Whereas most running shoes have a higher stack in the heel and drop a few millimetres down to the forefoot, this shoe does not drop. Instead, it has a prominent upward curve in the forefoot that simulates a drop as you pivot forwards, but without putting you in an unnatural toes-down position in the first place.

The midsole feels most substantial behind the ball of your foot – you notice it when you first put them on, but you soon get used to it. The whole point here is to place your centre of gravity towards the back of the shoe, thus helping your foot swing through each stride quickly and easily. This is because instead of pushing you on to the forefoot instantly, as most running shoes try to do, this design makes you sit on your haunches a split second longer, then slingshots you forwards instead of dropping you forwards. That’s about the best way to describe the concept.

The shoe is thus rather firm – much more so than normal running shoes – and you will not be able to bend it with your hands, as you often see runners doing when looking at a new shoe. This goes against many of the design trends of recent years, with most shoes featuring more or deeper flex grooves in the forefoot to increase flexibility and allow a more natural toe-off, with the foot given freedom to flex more. In contrast, this shoe provides a more rigid rocker motion to help rock you forwards, instead of making your muscles do all of that work alone.

Putting it to the Test
I took the MetaRide for a few runs at different paces, both slow and fast, and I definitely noticed the rocker kicking in as I transitioned forwards on to my toes. I rather enjoyed the ‘helping hand’ I was getting, but I did find that the rigidity of the shoes took some getting used to, given that most of the other models I have run in for the past few years have tended to have super-flexing forefeet. As a result, when I tried to go faster in the shoes, in a time trial type of run, then I really noticed – and appreciated – the rocker motion, and to be honest, I preferred them at speed versus the long, slow stuff, purely because I am used to super-flexing lightweight models. That’s a personal preference, not an indication of the merits of this shoe.

I am therefore of the opinion that you need to put some serious mileage in with these shoes to really feel the effect of the energy-saving rocker motion, when your feet and leg muscles are tired. As I am not running those kinds of distances at the moment, I cannot tell you if the shoe delivers on that promise, but the good folks at Asics report that their wear-testers have indeed reported this to be the case.

These shoes are admittedly pricey at R3500 a pair, but if they can save you 20% of your energy expenditure over the long run, I’d say they’re worth the investment. I mean, just imagine getting to the last third of Comrades or Two Oceans, and having 20% more energy than usual. Now that would be something!

GET IT HERE: The new Asics MetaRide sells at a recommended retail price of R3500, and is available in limited quantities from ASICS retail and online stores and specialist run outlets from 28th February. Stockists: ASICS Canal Walk & Mall of Africa, Sportsmans Warehouse, The Athletes Foot, RUN, Run-Away-Sport, The Sweat Shop, TotalSports and Brian Bands Sports.

Modern Athlete Club Coach Ray Orchison and the first lucky draw winner.

Running while Riding

It may look strange at first, but the ElliptiGO combines the best of running, cycling and the elliptical trainer to deliver a low-impact, high-performance workout, and added to that, it’s a lot of fun to ‘ride.’ – BY SEAN FALCONER

The first time I saw the ElliptiGO, I thought what the heck is that thing? It looked like the ‘rider’ was running at the same time as riding a bike, with a swinging leg action similar to the elliptical trainer at the gym… It did look a bit odd. At first. Then I tried riding the ElliptiGO myself and within minutes I was sold on the concept.

To begin with, you need to learn a few tricks, like how to mount the bike – you do it much like a bicycle, putting one foot in a foot platform and pushing off with the other foot before swinging your leg over. You also need to get used to the elliptical pedalling motion, but I found that my balance came easily – it really felt like riding a bike! Steering is easy with the conventional bicycle/scooter-style handlebars, as is changing gears (up and down triggers) and braking (normal front and back brake handles on either hand-rest), but one snag I personally picked up at first was when cornering. I kept trying to lift my inner pedal by ‘back-pedalling,’ as you would do on a normal bike, which almost made me fall a few times. Other than that, I found it easy to ride and soon cranked it up to the highest gear, and before long my quads were talking to me. More like pleading for mercy, actually, because I was getting a damned good workout!

The bikes come in three models with three, eight or 11 gears. I found the eight-speed quite adequate for my training needs, whereas the three-speed offered too few gear options for my liking and was better suited to flatter surfaces with only minor climbs. Other bonuses are that standard bicycle accessories are usable on the ElliptiGO, such as water bottle holders or a bike computer, and you can purchase stationary attachments for training indoors. Also, it folds down to a more compact size, so can be transported inside a SUV or larger car, and fits on some conventional bike racks.

Cross-trainer
The ElliptiGO is the ideal cross-training device for healthy runners, and an excellent replacement for running for injured runners. Various people can use the same bike, too, with minimal adjustment (start with height and rotation of the handlebars), plus adjust the toe-straps on the foot platforms, which are big enough to handle any size foot. Best of all is you can wear your running shoes – no need for expensive cycling cleats. Then the crank arms can also be adjusted to give you a shorter or longer stride length, and I found the longer option better, as it was then closer to my running stride length and thus felt more natural and powerful.

But the ‘million dollar question’ I wanted to answer when I set out was how well does it climb hills? Well, let me tell you, I flew up the hills! After all, just as you would stand on the pedals of a conventional bicycle on a steep climb, with the ElliptiGO you’re already standing, so you just gear down and keep going. It is actually smoother than on a bicycle, and I found it easy to put a bit of sway into my arms to ease my legs through the extra workload.

It only took a few test rides on my borrowed ElliptiGO to convince me that I want one for myself. Yes, they’re expensive, but they’re awesome – and they give you a great workout!

Get it: The ElliptiGO 3C retails at R26,000, the 8C at R33,000 and the 11R at R47,000. The first two models are available in a choice of three colours (red, lime or black), but the 11-speed only comes in black.


More info: Go to www.elliptigo.co.za to find your nearest dealer in SA and place an order, or contact Uday Raniga on 084 477 2343 or uday@ellitigo.co.za.

Better Late Than Never

Vibrant Health PureGreen Protein

Plant proteins have historically been poorly suited for human use, because most lack one or more essential amino acids needed by the human body to build muscle tissue. However, by combining a variety of plant proteins and adding a few select free amino acids, it is possible to create a purely vegetable protein with an amino acid ration that surpasses egg albumin and whey proteins, which is what Vibrant Health has done in PureGreen Protein. Protein from peas, rice, spirulina and alfalfa are joined with four select free amino acids to create the first all-vegetable protein ideally balanced for human consumption.
Available from various health stores, 447g tub (R299 to R345) or box of 10 x 28g sachets (R199 to R240), with natural, vanilla and chocolate flavours. More info: 021 852 3021, info@naturalvibrance.co.za, or www.naturalvibrance.co.za.


Comrades Marathon: The Ultimate Human Race
The Comrades Marathon is not just the world’s largest ultra-marathon, it is also one of the oldest and has an incredibly rich history, filled with inspirational and interesting characters, and stories of incredible courage, sportsmanship, camaraderie, glory, heartbreak and humour, all interwoven with the history of South Africa over the past 90 years. This new hardcover book chronologically describes every race in detail, from the first Comrades in 1921 to the 85th in 2010, telling not only the compelling stories of the legends like Newton, Ballington, Hayward, Mekler, Robb and Fordyce, but also the stories of the backmarkers, those ‘ordinary runners’ behind the front-runners. Written by John Cameron-Dow, a Comrades permanent number holder and author of several books, notably The Two Oceans Marathon Story and Bruce Fordyce: Comrades King, it is a must-have for anybody who loves the Comrades Marathon
Available from Exclusive Books and other leading book stores at R280.


Yunnan Baiyao “The Chinese Spray”
Yunnan Baiyao is a totally natural pain relief product, imported from China, where it has been used for over 100 years for the relief of painful joints, arthritis, muscular pains, sprains, strains and bruising, and can also be used to stem bleeding and for the healing of cuts and grazes. It is produced from various wild herbs renowned for their healing powers, which are found only in the Yunnan Province, famed as China’s kingdom of medical herbs. It is the widest used medicine in China, including being used by the Chinese Olympic team and issued in all Chinese armed forces medical kits. It has a strong smell at first, but this soon dissipates and becomes unnoticeable.
Available from Dis-Chem Pharmacies and Clicks Stores nationwide, select Pick n Pay stores in the Western Cape, and several local pharmacies, at R89 to R99 per box. More info: 021 555 4549, yunnan@spinealign.co.za or www.yunnanbaiyao.co.za.


Hi-Tec Brown Soft Shell Jacket
At home, in the street or on any mountain, the Brown Soft Shell Jacket from Hi-Tec is a great addition to any outdoor girl’s cupboard. The stylish jacket has chest and waist pockets, is fleece-lined, has an adjustable elastic hem draw lining as well as adjustable sleeve cuffs. The jacket is functional but also stylish, and you can wear it to a night out at the movies or when doing what you love most whilst outdoors.
Available from Due South and Hi-Tec factory outlets at R599. For more info, visit www.hi-tec.com/za.

The Incredible Schalk

adidas CC Ride

These shoes have been developed specifically to keep your feet cool on the run. The minimalist upper lets air flow from all angles, utilising ClimaCool? material and offering 360-degree ventilation to open the air channels with every step you take and giving you all-embracing breathability. The technology in this shoe should reduce the moisture in your shoes by 20% and your foot temperature by 12%. Furthermore, the unique sole construction ensures the ultimate in full-foot flexibility and freedom of motion through unique soft technology and full-length cushioning system. The CC Ride also features a perforated sockliner for increased breathability and a non-woven fabric lining for additional comfort. But it doesn’t only feel cool, it looks cool too! They are available in fresh pink, intense green, sun yellow, radiant gold and red, and they are miCoach compatible.
Available from adidas retail stores and Total Sports.


Falke Active Men’s Boxers and Briefs


The Falke Active Men’s Boxers utilise the unique Drynamix Moisture Mangement System to provide the ultimate in coolness, all-day dryness and freshness. The front panel mesh lining optimises ventilation to help keep you cool and dry while the wide, soft brushed elastic bands will minimise friction for a more comfortable fit. The flat seams and longer legs mean no chafing or riding up, and the rear offset seam will help you step out in comfort every time.
Available at Sportsmans Warehouse and selected Cape Union Marts.


Footdisc Performance Insoles


FOOTDISC insoles use several technologies to not only absorb harmful shock, but also create a more efficient force transfer, meaning less fatigue. The sensor gel beneath the heel absorbs shock but also releases this energy again to optimise the propulsive phase of your gait. The 3-D Behavioural System provides arch support to the common foot types, highlighting the differences in arch profile, cushioning and stability needed. It has been designed to redistribute pressure evenly and stabilise excessive movements that can lead to injury, such as overpronation. The DryTek top sheet is hard-wearing and designed to wick moisture away from the skin, and the Freeflex mid-layer is a memory foam enriched with bamboo charcoal, which adapts to the contours of your foot, improving comfort and preventing blisters, while the bamboo charcoal reduces odours.
Available at specialist running stores in Gauteng and Eastern Cape.

Marathon Man

SPORTSKIN Sunkit

South African runners are well aware of the dangers that the African sun holds and the importance of protecting our skin against its onslaught. We all need to make sure we slap on sun protection when training! SPORTSKIN has a range of sun protection products that are designed specifically for athletes that train outdoors, with packaging specifically designed to suit athletes on the go. The SPORTSKIN SPF 40 Sun Pro Stick is smaller than a cell phone and ideal for spot application on areas such as your nose, neck and forehead. It is sweat- and water-resistant, and non-oily. Approved by CANSA, it contains anti-ageing and anti-burn ingredients. Other products in the range include the SPORTSKIN SPF 15 Lip Gear Lip Balm and the SPORTSKIN SPF 40 Pro Clear Spray.
Available at Sportsmans Warehouse or order them online at www.sportskin.co.za. R150 for the complete SunKit containing all three products, but can also be bought separately.


RECOUP MUSCLE REPAIR
Recoup tablets provide a balanced combination of essential and non-essential amino acids to assist in muscle recuperation after strenuous exercise, thus enhancing training intensity. During exercise, muscle tissue is broken down and the rate of recuperation is influenced directly by the availability and ratio of amino acids in your diet, because they serve as the building blocks of muscle protein and are essential for complete recovery. The sustained release amino acid profile of Recoup is designed to supplement dietary protein for maximum bio-availability. Recoup is also effective in maintaining muscle size and strength for optimal sports performance. The tablets are yeast-free, salt-free and contain no steroids, nor banned, dangerous or habit-forming substances. Suitable for diabetics when used as part of a balanced eating plan.
Available at Dischem, Medirite Pharmacies and other leading pharmacies.


SLIPSTOP YOGA TOWEL
If you’re finding your yoga sessions a bit slippery, then get your hands on the Slipstop Yoga Towel with silicone nubs. These towels are longer than most yoga mats (53cm x 180cm), and the silicone nubs on the underside of the towel ensure maximum stickiness to the yoga mat and minimal slipping. Once you distribute your weight in a yoga posture, the nubs start gripping the mat, keeping your hands or feet from slipping in mid-stretch. The towel is made from ultra-fine microfibre fabric (80% polyester / 20% polymide) to help absorb sweat – particularly useful for heated yoga! It is machine-washable, dryer-safe and available in purple and blue.
Available at Sportsman’s Warehouse for R299.95. For more info, contact info@terrabrands.co.za


PUMA FAAS TRAINERS
The Puma Faas Collection is a fun, innovative and technologically advanced range of running shoes. The name Faas is taken from the Jamaican word for fast, and the name fits. The shoes features a biomechanical design technology called BioRide™ that provides a naturally responsive ride, helping runners get into their own rhythm for increased speed and performance. PUMA took a look at some of the fastest athletes affiliated with the brand and studied their movement, foot placement and overall running skills. There were three proven and consistent skills that were identified as critical to top performance, and PUMA translated these elements into three categories – Rocker, Flex and Groove – that have become the cornerstones of the BioRide™ technology and the Faas shoes.


To help runners find the best Faas style to suit their needs, PUMA has assigned each style a number, ranging from 100 to 1000. The lower number models, such as the Faas 300, have less cushioning and less structure, providing a lightweight, fast-paced trainer. As the number gets higher, additional cushioning and structure is added to the shoe. The higher number shoes, like the Faas 500, are perfect everyday neutral trainers.
For more info, visit www.puma.com/running

Healthy Eating on a Budget

Well Worth Having

COMPLETE NIGHTFOX TR
PUMA



The new Nightfox trail running shoe provides good all-round traction, protection, cushioning and comfort. Key features include a full-length Rock Shield Plate, to protect your feet from bruising by stones or small rocks, and a water-repellent but still breathable upper, which keeps your feet dry and comfortable. The cushioning of the EVA rubber midsole is complemented by extra inserts of Puma’s ld-CELL rubber compound for extra shock absorption in the heel and forefoot areas of the midsole, as well as under the heel in the footbed (under the sock liner). And it’s all rounded off by some pretty funky colours – guaranteed to make you visible on the trails! Available from Sportsmans Warehouse and other Puma stockists at R1 199.


FRESH FOGGER
SOF SOLE


Running shoes should be felt, not smelled! Their function is to give you the cushioning and support that you need when running, to make your run comfortable and help you avoid injury. But they do unfortunately get dirty, sweaty and smelly, so keep them fresh with a regular application of this great-smelling shoe freshener. The technically-advanced formula of Fresh Fogger destroys odours caused by bacteria, making it the ultimate deodoriser for your running shoes. Available at Sportsmans Warehouse, R55.95 for a large 3oz/85g spray can.


ANTI-CHAFE CREAM
BLUE STEEL SPORTS


If you want to avoid that horrible moment when you get into the shower after a long ride or run and the water hits that sensitive, chafed spot and you nearly go through the roof, then get yourself a tube of Blue Steel Sports Anti-Chafe Cream. It’s a long-lasting, non-sticky, non-greasy lube with a pleasant smell, and won’t irritate sensitive skin or stain your clothing. You can use it on your feet, inner thigh, groin and buttocks, upper body and even your face, to protect from chafe, blisters, cracked heels, saddle sores and windburn. You can also use it after your activity to assist in recovery of irritated skin. Available at Sportsmans Warehouse, R54.95 for a 100ml tube.


 

Running: My Saving Grace

Well Worth Having

MCNAB
ENERGY FOODBAR


This is the ideal snack for anyone on the run! These bars are 100% natural and come in three new delicious flavours: African Cocoa with Limpopo Ginger, Cape Orchard with Baobab Fruit, and Red Apple with Zanzibar Spice. They contain a mixture of different fruits, oats and peanut butter and are perfect for providing athletes and energetic people with an instant on-the-go snack. Some of the fruits have a GI rating that will deliver energy quickly to athletes who are on the move and running out of steam. However, the other fruits, oats and peanut butter in the bar all have a low Gl rating and will therefore continue to steadily supply energy several hours after being consumed. Interestingly, these energy food bars were created at the Energy Works, which is the first eco-friendly office building in Johannesburg! It runs off sustainable solar-powered energy and fresh rainwater. Available countrywide at Dis-Chem, petrol stations, Clicks, Pick n Pay, independent pharmacies and Spar at R8.


INOV-8 MUDCLAW™
TRAIL RUNNING SHOE


Inov-8 is a brand new trail running shoe hitting our shores. It’s the perfect shoe for off-road junkies and has a proven track record in countries such as the UK and America where it has been available for the past eight years. All Inov-8 products have been extensively tested by off-road enthusiasts and elite international athletes to guarantee their performance. One of the most popular shoes in the range is the Mudclaw™ racer. It weighs in at 272g and has a superb level of grip when racing in the toughest conditions. The aggressively studded Mudclaw™ sole is designed specifically to cope with steep mixed terrain when ascending, descending and contouring. It is especially good on wet grass and in deep mud. The off-centre ‘ray wrap™’ lacing provides a more secure hold on the foot while contouring. If you are planning any off-road running soon, this is one of your best bets! Available from specialised outdoor and sport shops as well as agents countrywide, at R1 195. For more info, log onto www.inov-8.com or contact Mike Morehen at mike@rebel-inc.co.za.


HELLY HANSEN
STRIPE CREW


Widely regarded as the original technical base layer and an active wear icon, Stripe Crew tops have been around since 1970 with their distinctive white chevron stripe on the sleeves, and they’ve just gotten better as the years have gone by. These tops, available in men’s and women’s long- or short-sleeved versions, provide lightweight comfort and effective moisture-management thanks to the triple-layered Lifa? Stay Dry Technology™ that moves moisture away from the skin. And these tops just look super-cool, too! Available from The Runner Group, The Sweat Shop, Running Inn, as well as paddling, outdoor and hiking stores, at R325 (long sleeves) and R300 (short sleeves).


THE GREAT RUN
BY BRAAM MALHERBE


This is the compelling story of Braam Malherbe’s epic 4 218km run with running partner David Grier along
the Great Wall of China in 2006. Enduring both blood-boiling heat and mind-numbing cold, mummifying sandstorms, deadly quicksand, incidents with bandits and draconian officials, pig’s-head soup and other Chinese cuisine delights, Braam takes the reader on an incredible journey through the heartland of China as he tells how he and David became the first people in recorded history to run the whole Wall non-stop, and how he had to call on reserves far deeper – physically and emotionally – than even he realised he had. Available from Exclusive Books, Wordsworth Books, CNA, PnA, Bargain Books and Kalahari.net at R175.


 

A Great All-Rounder

Well Worth Having

TRANS SPORT


HEART RATE MONITOR GEL


 


Those of us who use heart rate monitors know that we need to wet the electrodes of the chest strap a little in order to establish better contact and ensure a more accurate reading. In essence, the water acts as a conductor for the electric signals passing between your heart and the strap. Now sometimes we’re about to set out on a run and there is no water nearby, so it makes sense to keep a tube of heart rate monitor gel in your kitbag or in your car. Just a small dab on the electrode and you’re ready to run. Available from Sportsmans Warehouse, R24.95 for a 50ml tube.


 


CALZANETTO


INSTANT SNEAKER CLEANER


We love running, but probably don’t enjoy cleaning our shoes nearly as much when they get smelly or dirty. No problem, because this spray-on shoe cleaner is ideal for runners who want their running shoes to be clean and smell good. Simply spray on this foaming agent to release dirt and mud, use the handy scrubber cap to dislodge any stubborn mud (if necessary), and then wipe the shoes off with a towel. The cleaner leaves a fresh citrus fragrance, thanks to its natural d-limonene ingredient, a powerful citrus cleaner. It can be used on canvas, nylon, smooth leather and vinyl. Available from Sportsmans Warehouse, R64.95 for a 170g spray can.


 


FALKE


Medium Control


Racerback Sports Bra


When we run we want to be comfortable, especially when it comes to crop tops and sports bras. This sports bra from FALKE is ergonomically designed and features Drynamix, a revolutionary moisture management fabric while mesh inlays optimize ventilation. Some of its best features include flat seams for a chafe-free run. The bra also has double-lined front panels for added support. Available in pink, blue, white and black (sizes S-XL). Available from selected Cape Union Mart stores, Sportsmans Warehouse and independent running shops at R125.


 


BODY SCULPTURE BALANCE BOARD


If you’ve strained or torn your ankle ligaments once, chances are you’ll do it again – unless you strengthen them by exercising them regularly. And there are few better ways of doing this than with a balance board. It has a flat top surface and a protruding rounded bottom, so you stand on it and try to balance, forcing your ankle ligaments to work harder to stabilise you. Better yet, get a friend to lightly push you from different sides and angles and try to maintain your balance. Also improves balance, coordination, core stability and posture. This plastic board can handle up to 100kg. Available from Sportsmans Warehouse at R149.95.

You Win Some You Lose Some

Well Worth Having

EMERGENCY BRACELET AND DOGTAGS
If you are alone when running, cycling, hiking or even driving, anything can happen to you. Many times your family members don’t know exactly where you are or how long you will be gone for. Impilo Siza Emergency Information Services has designed a bracelet and dogtags that contain info with your name, allergies, any medical conditions and medical aid status. So when you are unconscious or traumatized, you will immediately be identified so you can be assisted in the correct way by emergency services and the police. This also means you will be taken to the right hospital first time. Registering for this service will cost you R10 per month. For more info visit www.impilosiza.co.za.


BLACK DIAMOND TRAIL COMPACT TREKKING POLE
The tough terrain of trail running and adventure racing is much easier to cover with trekking poles in each hand, as they really help maintain your balance and momentum. And this pole is a real pleasure to use. Folded, it measures 59cm and can extend to 125cm, with the two telescoping sections locked down by the FlickLock clamping system, which is easy to use and quick to adjust, but extremely strong. Another great feature is the well-contoured, comfortable foam rubber handle, which extends down the upper shaft to allow you to quickly move your hands down the pole when faced with really steep terrain – without having to adjust the length or gripping the metal shaft. Available at Cape Storm, R450 per pole.


NATHAN REFLEX REFLECTIVE SNAP BANDS
We often look for products that enhance our performance but forget about our safety, and on our roads in winter, it is often dark when we head out for our training runs. Visibility is essential. These snap bands make the ideal training partner. Simply wrap them around your wrists or your ankles, or the strap of a backpack, or even your bike, and you’ll be instantly visible from several hundred metres in low-light conditions, as soon as headlights or street lamps reflect off the bands. Easy to apply, the metallic bands are also comfortable thanks to a material backing. Available in packs of two from Sportsmans Warehouse, R79.95.


BORN TO RUN PROFILE BOOKS
This epic adventure begins with a simple question: why does my foot hurt? That sends Christopher McDougall in search of a mysterious Mexican tribe of probably the world’s greatest distance runners. The Tarahumara don’t have a written language and use running as a form of social bonding, but what makes them so amazing is that they run up to hundreds of kilometres non-stop in just light sandals and yet remain largely injury-free. This fascinating book features a cast of wacky characters, including a name that will be familiar to South African readers, former Comrades Marathon winner Ann Trason. The Tarahumara call her the Bruja (Witch) because they suspect her of putting a curse – a knee injury – on one of their top runners! This is a fascinating read. Available from leading bookshops at R165 (Front cover may differ from picture). – Reviewed by reader Andy McKissock