Salomon Running XR Mission Shoe Review

Salomon XR Mission GG reviewMy phone rang on a snowy spring day in Castle Hill Village with the offer of a trip to Brazil, to race in the Rocky Man adventure team race- an offer almost too good to be true. My next adventure was less than 2 weeks away and I was about to go from cold, snowy Castle Hill in New Zealand’s high country to the relatively hot and humid Rio de Janeiro in early November.
From the little time I had to prepare and research the running leg of Rocky Man which I would be racing, I was able to find out that the run was mostly on the road, with some fun, rough looking single track trails in the steep hill side around the city that will host the 2016 Olympic Games. Being the gear geek I am, combined with some seriously damaged toes from racing the 125km Canadian Death race earlier in the year I knew I needed to make sure my footwear was perfect for this mixed terrain race. The loss of toe nails I suffered at the Canadian Death Race was from a combination of hot temps (resulting in my feet swelling up) and very steep downhill sections during the race.
My mind flashed back to a trip to the Hong Kong 100km in February were I was lucky enough to run a short distance in the Salomon XR Missions, during a Salomon HK demo event. Salomon’s XR Mission shoes are dubbed as a “Door to Trail” shoe- meaning they are as at home on the road as they are on the trails. I had spent some quality time in Salomon’s other Door to Trail offering, the CrossMax and knew that the Missions would be perfect for Rocky Man.
The wider toe box of the Missions (compared to my normal ‘go to’ racing shoe, Salomon’s XT Wing SLAB) would allow for any toe or foot swelling that I might encounter during the gruelling 32km, 1500 vertical meter run, especially during the steep downhill sections that the race profile revealed. Other than fit, having a shoe that preformed equally as well on road and trail surfaces would be key and the Door to Trail Mission did just that.
The Rocky Man run was very demanding, with fast, flat road running (not my strength), steep, technical single track trail up and down and then finishing with a quad smashing 5km downhill finish on the road. While I was far from in the best shape for such a race, I couldn’t blame my gear at all. The Missions provided a smooth ride on rolling streets, handled the rough, technical (fun!) trails that were thrown their way and the LT Muscle (a lightweight EVA cushioning) saved my legs on the steep pounding and impact they received during the final steep downhill on the pavement.
If you live in a spot (like most do) where you are running on the streets and roads from home to access your local trails, or even a mixed terrain race, where trails and roads are encountered, the XR Mission from Salomon is well worth a look!

Weight: 326gr per shoe (size US9), stack height: heel 25mm, forefoot (15mm)

Mission reviewed by Grant Guise, a Salomon Running sponsored athlete and winner of the 2012 125km Canadian Death Race and Yurribbilla 56km Ultra (Australia) record holder.


Kepler- 2012- round 3….

I am getting slower, at least that is how it looks on the surface if you look at the results from the 2011 and the 2012 Kepler Challenge….

But, despite being a good 8mins slower over the 60 most celebrated and significant kilometres in New Zealand mountain/ultra running, I am happy. Happier than I was post 2010 and 2011 Kepler. Strange I know and a little worrying.

I  knew as soon as I jumped at the chance to go to Brazil to race the Rocky Man Adventure Team race my Kepler would be affected. But as I told anyone that asked- “kepler- I don’t give a F@#$, I am going to Brazil!!!” And I really stuck to my guns on that, I would not have changed a thing. The 32km around Rio de Janeiro was really not that bad and a very good hit out 1 month out from Kepler, but the travel totally killed me. I lost a good 2 weeks of training in a key period. But still I was not fazed and feeling really good. I got some good training in with Martin Cox and Gary Melhuish and was feeling good. Then I felt bad, very, very bad. About a week out I got massive stomach pains, started feeling really, really fatigued and lost my appetite. I was taking naps and had to force food down- blaaa- I was all but out on Tuesday. Jane and I loaded up our van with the BCR Shop, a smelly dog, a small pink squeally thing, and a skinny (and oddly tanned) Brit that runs up hill fast and headed south.

We had organised a little group run on Thursday afternoon and I felt surprisingly good, having had my appetite return the day before somewhere around Tarris. Friday was mad- I don’t know if I could dream up a crapper pre race prep- BUT I also could have never dreamed of the response our little BCR Trail Shop received at the Kepler pre race registration expo. It was crazy- for 6hrs we got slammed and it was great! So a big thank you for all the amazing support folks! By the end of the day I was trashed and went back to a feast cooked up by the one and only Andrew Town. Still on the fence as to whether to race or not I hit the hay, alarm clock set for 4am.

up around Luxmore

up around Luxmore

The plan was simple- run easy- really easy. With no expectations (OK, I did think around 6hrs would be nice) I trotted off, watching the leads disrepair…. I somehow found myself leading a small group of 4, with 2 more close behind along the tops. I think we where in 9th-14th place and I arrived about 12th place, a good 15 or so mins down on last year in 2hr51. I was still feeling good, real good having been so sick and just run 30km, so I just went with it and tried to keep up a good pace out the Iris Burn. Not long after Moturau I started to fade a little, but lucky Big Phil was there with a Go Pro- I had to run fast, well at least try.

Just before Rainbow reach I had a few lads on my tail- Julian who I hadn’t seen since Hanging Valley and SRC club mate Simon. I got some coke at Rainbow reach and was then quickly past by Julian and then Simon… the next glimpse I saw was a flying Ruby Muir!! She was leading the women’s race and I quickly did some maths and was beside myself. Ruby was on pace for a very very fast time. Not course record fast, but 5hr30 something fast! It gave me a boost of energy knowing what she was about to achieve  I even stopped at one point- yelling at her to say she was on pace for a very fast time- knowing she didn’t have a watch. I then saw her ear phones….

I crossed in 5hr37- feeling really happy and knowing had things been a little different the week before I could have gone a bit faster- at least that’s what I will tell myself!

Ruby crossed about 20 sec later! 2nd fastest woman ever at Kepler and fastest first timer! Can’t wait to see how the rest of her summer plays out.

Our “house” did pretty good- Martin Cox won “king of the mountain” and was 7th, Marty Lukes 3rd, GaryM 6th, me 11th, Andrew just over 6hrs, Matt way slow- but he had a rougher day than I did! Nicely done. My little princes Jane did great. She was cranking along for 30km, 3hr30 to Iris Burn, but then the wheels fell off- or at least her ITB tightened up and knee pain forced her to walk it in! 8hr30 and I was very proud of her. Just over 11months after she gave birth to Isabella, Jane tackled her longest race ever!

Resting up now before I hook into the build up for my biggest challenge yet.