Killian Byrne is running away with himself in this issue, as he reviews two sets of runners from Brooks, with Hoka and New Balance also making the cut. He also test-runs the Blackroll Running Box, and the HUUB Transition2 Backpack
The Ghost 13, described as the ultimate ‘middle-of-the-road’ shoe, wants to please everyone by providing everything it can, and it doesn’t really disappoint. Neutral, cushioned, responsive, and stable are some of the buzz words I would use to describe the Ghost 13. Although I found the overall cushioning to be less than you’d find in the Glycerin 18 or Brooks Adrenaline, after an initial ‘clumpy’ feel, I got very used to the firmness these shoes bring. A well-made upper provides plenty of ventilation and, with variants for narrow and wide feet, the Ghost 13 will appeal to many more people than similar shoes. The sole of these shoes is made from the ubiquitous DNA Loft foam and the Ghost 13 has a well-defined ‘tread’ in its outsole rubber giving a very solid run both on and off road. The Ghost 13 is a good shoe, less exciting than I’d hoped but very dependable. Male and female shoes available.
I looked through my Glycerin 17 review before putting pen to paper here and it was like meeting a long-lost friend – the one you haven’t seen for years but can always depend on. Unlike the Ghost 13 (also reviewed in this issue), the Glycerin 18 seems softer, springy, more flexible, lighter and fast. In saying all that, I don’t think it’s any better a shoe, but it offers the wearer a different experience.
There’s a lot of comfort in the Glycerin 18 – it is plush with more midsole foam than its predecessor and a stiff heel cup offering a lot of protection when out on the road. The softer sole allows a good amount of flexibility and, as a result, some more spring that you might not find in other ranges or brands. They feel fast, light and comfortable, meaning you get a shoe to run a strong 5km but the same shoe will bring you out for a half marathon and more with little effort. I was never conscious of my shoe when out on the road but on grass, I certainly felt a lack of grip. I also felt the Glycerin 18 wasn’t as breathable as other shoes but the tight-knit seamless upper meant I always felt secure. It’s more of the same in the basic areas but what small changes were made have improved what was already a good trainer. Male and female shoes available.
Blackroll is an Irish company with a range of recovery, regeneration and self-massage aids to help with running performance. Just shy of €50, the Blackroll Running Box contains two different rollers (one for intensive self-massage and one to promote blood circulation), a high-quality loop band, a handy carry bag and a comprehensive booklet of training plans for runners.
The Running Box rollers share qualities of other foam rollers on the market – they are good quality, firm, and provide an intensive self-massage. But where the Running Box really comes into its own is with its training band – a high-quality, elasticated textile band which means no more pinching and rolling like the cheaper, disposable rubber therabands. These loop bands, along with the more practical ‘multi-band’ can also be bought as separate items from Blackroll’s website. Injury prevention isn’t always about how you run, most of the time it’s the work you do off-road that makes the difference and the Blackroll Running Box would make a good addition to every runner’s kit bag.
HOKA has always produced shoes that just don’t quite look ‘right’ but work very well, with comfort that is off the scale. Now, HOKA is known for making shoes for all types of runners regardless of whether you want to run long or short, fast or slow. The first thing you’ll see out of the box is the design of the heel on the new Clifton Edge. Traditional running-shoe design sees the heel shaved and tapered up, but here we see that HOKA has gone the other way and elongated the heel to ensure the part of the shoe that makes ground contact on every foot strike is cushioned and controlled. Basically, 90 per cent of runners pronate (our foot rolls in on landing) and this big heel now cushions the landing and manages the roll. Now, with the Edge, as your foot makes contact with the ground earlier it takes a little time to get used to, but once you’re there you’ll find the traditional HOKA soft landing becomes even softer. Now we’ve the science bit out of the way, let’s get back to basics. A light shoe, firm but very comfortable, and lots of ventilation all over the upper mesh makes for a very cool run. The heel has a very defined finish and some high Achilles padding but while it looks like it gets in the way, it doesn’t. I just used it to pull on the shoe to be honest. If you’re in a position to have different shoes in rotation, then the Clifton Edge would be a good addition to your wardrobe.
The initial thing that jumps out when you see these shoes first is that they’re all about structure. New Balance, despite what many people might call an ‘under-the-radar’ existence is a performance brand making very good trainers. The Fresh Foam Tempo are running shoes for people that like to run fast, but don’t let that put you off because these are shoes anyone can wear, not just the speedsters. The Tempo has an extra synthetic support around the toe box adding considerable support to what many might feel is a loose upper mesh material. The second obvious addition is the plastic moulding cupping the high heel. This provides structure and support but, if you’re sensitive to weight, it makes the heel feel heavier than the front end of your shoe. When it comes to the mid-sole of the Tempo there’s some cushioning, but you won’t be bouncing along. The Foam provides quite a firm ride making the wearer aware of each step and creating a very nice drive every time you push off.These aren’t luxurious shoes, they’re a very good mix of racing flats with elements designed for distance – they’re light, they’re comfortable, they’re efficient but possibly not your everyday running shoe. If you’re interested in swapping luxury for something that may be a little faster, then the New Balance Tempo could be a decent bet.
Covid-19 lockdown has eased (generally speaking), and some workplaces have reopened, so in this issue, we wanted to feature something that would help our readers who are considering running or cycling back to work. Cue the Huub Transition II Backpack.
HUUB is a brand that is associated more with triathlon than running and their wetsuits are some of the most popular on the market. But it’s the backpack we feature here because it allows anyone either commuting to work on foot or by bike to have cavernous amounts of space available without feeling as if they’re wearing a four-wheeled suitcase on their back.
A huge 40-litre internal capacity will carry suits, shoes, files and laptops comfortably without having to fold, roll or stuff your belongings into a smaller bag. Plenty of external zip and mesh pockets with reflective trim allow for secure storage for any valuables. A separate, lined waterproof compartment at the bottom of the bag will store any damp towels or rain gear, keeping the rest of the bag dry. Two cushioned shoulder straps with an adjustable chest support will ensure your kit stays snug with no rubbing or friction while you run. This is a well-built bag suitable for either sports or day-to-day commuting. It is well worth the price.