I think I may have suggested a little while back, in a pub somewhere no doubt, that I would put happiness to one side and actually start running again in March. The arrival of the month also coincided quite nicely with the delivery of a damn fine pair of running shoes, so the pressure was building.
These are the Salomon XA Pro GTXs and are a very desirable pair of trail running/adventure madness style shoes. They require rather beefy terrain so yesterday I bundled the non-runner and the mountain bike into the car and headed off to my favourite off road haunt – Swinley Forest in Bracknell.
The non-runner vowed to stick with me on the bike as I led the way on foot through the undergrowth. With an evil glint in my eye I hit an immediate right turn out of the car park and headed up and across the bracken to the forest proper. It was steep, strewn with stump hazards and ruts and altogether pretty tough going. My lungs were burning and I wanted to quit but the expletives exiting my loved one’s mouth made it all the worthwhile and I kept heading up until I thought she was going to quit on me and head back to the cafe.
Respite from laughter was required so we took a short flat section for a breather before heading off in search of shoe testing swamps and hills.
The shoes are very impressive. They’re extraordinarily light, in fact I suspected the box may have been empty when I picked it off my doorstep, but I still felt very supported by them. They have a good cushioned sole a very simple and effective lace system. I really like them a lot actually and as I’ve they’ve got a gore tex lining, my feet stayed dry even after a bit of light puddle action.
They are fortunately very grippy as well.
I took the lead on one particularly exciting stretch of singletrack before realising that I didn’t really stand much chance of staying ahead of a carreering lunatic on a bike. I upped the pace and started squealing like an out of control rhino on a snowboard. Legs were ticking over at a rare ole pace but my body was still in the lead. I expected my chin to reach the forest floor just moments before the chasing bike nipped at my heels and left me with broad tread marks along my flattened body.
At the first sign of an escape route, I threw myself off to the side, to roll gently in a bank of soft mud, only to spot the non-runner, half way back up the slope, hands clenched tightly over both brakes, bouncing ever so tentatively and non-threateningly downwards on locked wheels.
I muddied my shoes for nothing…..
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