Saturday, May 11, 2013

Merrell Adventure Run 2013 @ Mt. Sinai, Pintong Bucaue, San Mateo Rizal. Featuring Brooks PureDrift

Approximately 1,400 plus trail runners swarmed the trails of Barangay Pintong Bucaue, San Mateo Rizal last April 27, 2013. As early as 4:00 am, cars and buses piled up the road almost a kilometer long leading to the starting line. Since this was a new trail route for Merrell Adventure Run 2013, many trail runners  were quite anxious and at the same time excited on how the adventure run would go. 

Just a couple of weeks before the main event I had the opportunity of joining the group of bloggers who made a test-run along with the technical crew of Merrell and of course, the race director of the run, Mr. Thumbie Remigio himself. 

Each of us have described in our blog post of how the trails would look like and described also the difficulty level of the course. The blog posts and pictures somehow made a lot of trail runners to be intrigued by the new challenges they will go up against. Not to mention some surprise obstacles that were not disclosed in our blogs. Those were part of the thrill of excitement that some are left to be discovered as you trail blazed the rouged course of the race.   

The race was traditionally divided into three categories. The 5k are for those who are novice in trail running, 10k are for those are experienced and the 21 kilometers are for the seasoned and highly competitive ones. As expected, the most number of delegations were the 21ks. Many were quite challenged by the new course since it was a one loop course, unlike the one we had in Timberland heights where we had to do two loops of the 10k route. So, all of us were on the same playing field because all of us are new in the trails.  

BROOKS – PURE DRIFT: Testing the trails

Also another new in the Pintong Bucaue trails was the shoes I used, which is the new Brooks Pure Drift. So, basically, the BROOKS PureDrift is designed for road running, more particularly for those who are used to run barefoot or running with minimalist shoes. The shoes is customizable to 4mm heel support if you place the inner sole and it will give a zero-drop heel differential if you take out the inner sole. 

Weight: 5.6oz (with inner sole ) 5.4oz (without inner sole)
Color: two-tone yellow nylon mesh construction with black Swede lining support.
Midsole: Blown foam (DNA + BioMoGo)
Outersole: Black tough rubber (Not Vibram)
Feature: NAV Band support

Maximum toe flex

The pure drift is among the lightest minimalist shoes I have ever tried, approximately 4.6oz with inner sole inserted and 4.4oz if you take them out. Personally, since I normally run barefoot on flat pavement, when I run the trails, I prefer shoes which are more closer to the earth as much as possible. 

NAV Band for arch stability

When you run trails, the basic criterion for footwear is the durability, and a lot of trail running shoes in the market today are constructed in such a way that it will endure extreme trail punishment. However, with these tough construction designs, more often than not, compromises weight and comfort. And when running a 21k trails with some additional baggage of water and mud, every ounce of weight in your shoes are felt by your body.

Only 4.6oz for Size 8 (mens)

BROOKS Puredrift, even not designed for the trails, I was able immersed its limitations on the trails last Merrell Adventure Run. At the first kilometer, the trails started on a very steep downhill. For other shoes, these are toe-nail killers. However, the Puredrift with its very wide toe-box, the toes have more space to move around and the front-end of the shoe were hardly felt.

A very steep descent...

The 21k route has several river traversing. With some of the light-weight trail shoes, in order to have a good drainage system, the outer-mesh constructions are much wider so that it will release water much quicker. But the trade-off with this design, the wider mesh will allow sand and small pebbles inside the shoes as well that would make running very uncomfortable over time. So, right after river crossing at Wawa River, many runners would sit down on the river banks and clean the debris in their shoes. 

Wawa River

The Puredrift has tight net-like mesh construction screen that prevented sand and small stones to get in. Amazingly, it didn’t hold much water either after several river traversing. It’s  a good thing also that the road was very dry that day and made my shoes hold on the dirt quite well. Another highlight of this shoes is the outer sole. It is not Vibram, which are more common in trail running shoes. It was a combination of tough rubber and blown foam slugs. The Black rubber slugs are placed in the mid or the blade part of the shoes all the way to the fore-foot area including the big toe. It’s a good thing that Brooks have thought of this design well, because for barefoot runners, those are the areas where shock load and pressure normally land. While the blown foam are on the heel and arch area. 

Yellow Slugs are made of Blown Foam and black Slugs are made of tough rubber

When I use trail shoes with Vibram soles, my difficulty is when I cross rivers. Vibram, noted for its toughness and durability on rugged trails, can’t seem to have a good hold on wet molded rocks. For me, I think that’s the only weakness of Vibram. Brooks PureDrift on the other hand hugs the wet rocks well because of the softer blown foam slugs that contours on the texture of the rocks. The down side is, blown foam may not withstand trail punishment much longer than Vibram.  

After the long river traversing experience, the rest of the course are all up hill, 10 kilometers long. On the 17th kilometer mark, a surprise obstacle welcomed all the runners. All of us were to cross a field of muddy rice field with knee-deep high. Some stopped and removed their shoes, but many just jumped in and battled with the thick sticky mud. As expected, after taking several steps, most of these runners left their shoes in the bottom of the mud. Their shoes simply couldn't carry the load of mud that was stuck to it. For some, who pulled them off the mud, the soles practically extracted from the shoes. That was the worst thing that can happen to shoes, most especially if you still have four more kilometers of rough uphill trails conquer. After the crossing the rice filed, I’m glad that my shoes stayed with my feet all throughout the crossing. I was kind of worried at that I might tear them apart, but luckily it didn't. 

The last kilometer was practically mountain hiking to the top. The 21k runner entered a narrow trail on the side of the giant tablet of the Ten Commandments. I finished the 21k at 4 hours flat, much longer than my previous MAR last year. This year’s was a tough one but I conquered it in one piece and so does my Brooks PureDrift. Not designed for the trails, but made it through with very minor damages. 

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