Archive for : February, 2016

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Brutal 10 and the Icebug Zeal OLX- Perfect partners

I’m a huge fan of Brutal 10 – Who wouldn’t be? Whilst not strictly an OCR, the “Tough Running” events put on by Colin, Dave and the team are simply superb and can rival many obstacle course races on the toughness of their hills, mud, sand and water alone. Set on and around military training grounds above and below the M3, competitors are tasked with completing some of the England’s most challenging gradients. Catering for Canicross runners and properly recognising male and female adults and veterans, you can always rely on a Brutal 10 event for a great atmosphere, first-class course marking and administration and seriously aching legs for at least 48 hours after!

I’ve run quite a few of the Brutal 10 events over the last 18 months, and last weekend gave me a chance to revisit my favourite course, Bagshot. Also known as the Army’s Alpine Training Course, the hills are simply staggering. You go up, and up, and up and just when you think you’ve hit the summit you turn 90 degrees to see a further 20m of elevation. The ground varies greatly too, from mud and sometimes chest-high water, to grass and compact sand/pebble trails.

The variation in terrain would normally send me straight to my trusty Icebug Zeal RBX9, but the advantage of Brutal 10 not having any man-made obstacles is that metal studs are allowed. This therefore allows me to break out the Icebug Zeal OLX boasting the same tread pattern as the RBX9, but with the added advantage of 16 carbide steel studs.

Brutal 10, Bagshot, February 2016 by 12:05:22 #racephoto

Thanks to Sussex Sport Photography for the awesome pic!

So what’s the big deal with metal studs? That’s quite a simple one: Wood. Not just wet wood, but all wood. As any obstacle course racer will tell you, even the latest grip pattern from any manufacturer using the softest or rock-climbing grade rubber will not produce much grip on wood. For the off-trail, cross country terrain of Brutal 10, you often find yourself hurtling down fast descents through heavy woodland, and the ability to jump on tree stumps, branches and bows with total confidence that you foot will not move from it’s planted position is a real game-changer. In the same way, knowing that your precious leg power will not be lost struggling to stabilise your foot on a sharp ascent when your foot hits a tree root is a serious advantage.

The Zeal OLX carbide steel studs...

The Zeal OLX carbide steel studs…

With Bagshot having a good section of mud and water, it’s also  nice to know that you can rely on the Zeal’s tread pattern and non-absorbing material. The pattern on the Zeal OLX, just like on the Zeal RBX9, actively pushes mud out sideways where the foot hits the ground. Unlike some competitors whose heavy stud patterns trap dirt and clog, the result is a clear surface of grip, every time your foot hits the ground.

Zeal RBX9 at the end of a muddy training run with near clear-grip

Zeal RBX9 at the end of a muddy training run with near clear-grip

The non-absorbing material means that when properly sized for your foot, water is quickly “pumped” out around the ankle within a few steps of leaving water. No waiting for the water to exit through mesh uppers, just all of it out. Quickly.

They’ve now formed a solid part of my arsenal for off-trail racing and training. With rumours flying of metal studs being allowed state-side soon by Spartan Race, we may get chance to see them in use over here on OCR soon too (Though be careful if you take someone up on the offer of a bunk-up over a high wall ;-)). If you can’t wait for that, Brutal 10 have 5km+ races every month, with entry starting from  just £12 for adults and £7 for children and regular FREE training sessions. Even if you consider yourself an OCR-only person, you need to get yourself to a Brutal 10 race for the leg-beasting alone! Check out their Facebook page or website for more detail.

Zeal OLX as a perfect muddy hill-sprint partner

Zeal OLX as a perfect muddy hill-sprint partner



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Snow, Ice and Icebugs!

We are really spoiling you with this blog as Team Brocket Gear’s legendary Jayne Raby combines two race and a shoe review into one!

The fan dance inaugural high moon & the Icebug / Craft Winterrun in Gothenburg by a total Icebug convert….,

Highmoon Fan Dance

On the night of January 16th , I took part with my friend Kramar, in the inaugural Highmoon Fan Dance hosted by avalanche endurance .


Looking cold?

My main concern was the weather ; with the recent snowfall and the forecast of a very cold and foggy night. ( windchill of -14*). My Brocket Gear teammate Ross had run during the day, and had reported snow knee deep in places. I was so concerned about trainers in the deep snow that I even considered wearing my walking boots which have terrible grip. I chatted with John Ovenden , who advised me that the Icebug zeals would be the best choice of footwear, then Ross confirmed to me he had worn his Icebug accelerators on the day race , passing everybody and coming in first. So my decision was made , but I was still very nervous.


Great view of Pen y Fan in the snow

As we waited by the red telephone box in the dark , the temperature really dropped and the conditions on Pen y Fan with snow and ice looked very menacing. I admit thinking that what we were about to do was a little bit silly, but , sensibly we decided to treat it as a march and vowed stay together. Most of the competitors , especially those carrying full loads, seemed to have opted for walking boots , and others in various trail shoes/boots.

We had entered the clean fatigue race , but still carried quite heavy bags , with strict instructions that we needed to carry enough spare warm clothes , to survive for at least one hour alone in the -14 wind chill on the mountains. Last minute I also packed an un-matching pair of trekking sticks . he ascent up Pen y Fan started quite slowly, with little chance of overtaking on the path.

As we got higher , and the path became steeper, those with heavy loads started to really struggle with lack of grip , which was slowing everyone down. It was at this point I started to feel a bit guilty as I was one of the very few who seemed to be not slipping at all! My racing companion started to get a groin strain from all the slipping, so I gave him one of my sticks and lent the other to a man who seem to be falling further down than he was going up. The conditions just got worse – the infamous Jacob’s ladder was like one big sheet of ice, but we soon found ourselves on the Roman Road moving faster. Amazingly my feet were still totally dry , even though I’d been knee deep in snow a few times. My favourite part was the big ascent after the pumphouse, many found this the hardest part . We were literally climbing up very steep stream , losing our feet in calf deep mud and water.

phone box

Snow in the dark, Zeals needed!


I felt absolutely great on this climb , again I wasn’t slipping like others were , so I wasn’t wasting energy.I passed quite a few and then waited at the top and was surprised how far ahead I had got!The next section seemed to go on for ever, the visibility on the ridge was really low, with high freezing winds battering us. It was very hard to make out the path , and we helped out a fellow racer who called out after falling over the edge of the ridge! My feet despite getting so wet on the last climb still felt great. We had a very slippery last descent , but I had enough confidence in my grip to jog this, then there we were – back at the Storey Arms for hot pasta and red wine (plus some cans of Guinness ). We camped the night in the snow ,something I definitely recommend!

I was really hoping for a very hard night with severe weather and survival style conditions , and that’s exactly what we got. A fantastic night – I can’t wait for the summer edition now. Amazingly I didn’t suffer with any DOMS at all .

The Icebug zeals were the absolutely perfect choice for this race – why I was ever surprised that they’d stick to snow and ice so well , is a bit dumb , as the clue is in the name!!!

Winter run – Gothenburg

So , the following weekend I was given the opportunity to join the John Ovenden and Icebug UK team , for the Winterrun around the theme park and streets of Gothenburg, again a evening race. We were thrilled to arrive and see such deep snow everywhere. The paths we were running on were hardpacked snow and ice, but the temperature rose to zero as we started the 10K race , and on the second lap much of this had melted.


It was an Icebug race , so everyone had their chosen version of Icebugs on. Again I went for my favourites, the Zeals , and loved that everyone was running with confidence in such snowy and slippery conditions. It was a great race in a beautiful city, followed by goulash and beer. I’m now hoping we get a load of snow dumped on us in the UK in my area, so I can carry on running on the paths that nobody dare even walk on!