COOSH

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Disclaimer: *The views and opinions expressed in this post are purely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Sport Singapore, Team Nila or any other orgnisation. 

Earlier this year, I was deciding if I wanted to take the plunge into doing LASIK. I consulted friends and I got mixed reviews. At first glance, LASIK provides instant freedom of movement, and spectacle free days. But after talking to some people, the chances of relapsing were quite high and some of my friends were back to spectacles even after doing LASIK a couple of years ago. In the end, I decided against it, & decided to stick to the tried and tested spectacles and contact lenses combination.

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Racing at Singapore Int’l Triathlon ’17 | Photo Credits: Ming Ham / wow2wow (Frame model : Charlie)

Coincidentally, I was given the opportunity by Nanyang Optical and SportOn Eyewear to test out some revolutionary eyewear: COOSH by Urband, which was recently released in Singapore. I took them out to play last weekend at the Singapore International Triathlon 2017 (read my race report here).

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Racing at Singapore Int’l Triathlon ’17 | Photo Credits: Alden Low (Frame model : Charlie)

Personally, I have had my struggles with spectacles ever since I was a kid in K2 (yes, bad habits started young, LOL), when I was diagnosed as myopic, as somehow my ears are uneven in height (don’t ask me why, it just is!) hence, frames would get out of shape after awhile. And not forgetting the nerdy ear hooks I had to use to secure them after they got loose!

You can watch the stress test demo here:

I wear prescription spectacles majority of the time throughout the week (hard to believe aye!), at work and even in training, and I mostly wear contact lenses for races (so I can wear shades), or whenever go in front of the camera.

What I was most impressed with was, COOSH by Urband’s durable frame’s fit and flexibility. It sits well on the nose, without slippage even after a long run, and what is better is the earsocks can bend till its fully straight, something that I have never seen in any other product on the market. (check out my Instagram post here: @rndzy).

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COOSH presciptive glasses in its trademark all black frames (Frame model: Alpha).

To be honest, because my prescription is relatively high (600+), once paired with the frames, it is not the lightest on the market, but I guess you can’t have the best of both worlds, and where COOSH loses in weight, it wins in robustness and durability.

The frames come in four different designs, Frame Alpha to Delta: which provides you with different looks and also sizes that fit different face shapes. It is also available in both prescriptive glasses and a more sporty alternative – polarized sports shades, which I sport in more of my social media posts.

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Off the track, COOSH is also a pretty decent lifestyle alternative when you head out. (Frame model : Charlie)

With the recent emphasis on reducing average screen time to improve our health, more people are taking up the option of wearing BlueProtect lenses to protect their eyes against blue light that is emitted from screens. And as a heavy social media user, who needs to catch up with the latest on socials, I definitely cannot run away from staring at screens for long hours, hence, this is a real necessity for me too.

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Zeiss Vision BlueProtect lenses actively helping me while I catch up on social media (Frame model : Alpha)

The good news is from now till 31 October 2017, you can save SGD$280 on Zeiss Vision BlueProtect lenses when you pair it with a set of COOSH by Urband frames, simply by quoting my Instagram handle <RNDZY> or flashing my Instagram Post here at any of the 15 Nanyang Optical outlets around Singapore.

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COOSH paired with ZEISS Vision BlueProtect lenses (Frame model : Alpha)

To see the full list of outlets, you can visit this link.

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COOSH stands out from the crowd (Frame model : Alpha)

Its been awhile since I’ve reviewed a product, and I definitely see myself using COOSH for quite a foreseeable future. Remember, you only have a pair of eyes, do take care of them, whichever option you decide to go with in the end!

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Versatility has met its match (Frame model : Charlie)

Hasty out! have a sporty week ahead =)

Read more about COOSH here:

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Race Report: Singapore International Triathlon 2017

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Team HAWKER finished First in the recently concluded Singapore International Triathlon 2017 on 10 September 2017.

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Coincidentally, this was our triathlon relay debut. We raced in the Mini Category – 200m Swim + 12km Bike + 2km Run. It all started out as a casual conversation between Wei Liang & myself, when I challenged him to do the Singapore Aquathlon in October. In the end, somehow it became a team effort, and we thought it was a good idea to do the Triathlon the month before as well. The first biker that came to mind, was Alden, who was a triathlete with biking as his strength. Before we knew it, we were all signed up for the race.

The race start was delayed due to the adjustment of the buoys in the water (from 750m course to 200m course). Little did I know, an unfortunate incident had happened prior to that, and we lost one of our fellow triathletes that morning. A moment of silence for him.

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Back to the race, the gun went, and Wei Liang flew into the water. Rushing back to the transition to catch the action, I alerted Alden and before I knew it, it the first swimmer was out of the water & onto the lawn headed for the transition. Lo and behold, it was not Wei Liang. I was a tad worried. But within 20 seconds, I saw a ripped, tanned swimmer, emerging from the beach. It was Wei Liang. I cheered at the top of my lungs for him to “SPRINT!” to the transition.

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Sprint he did, and he had a lightning quick transition. & onto Alden. We were a tad worried as the team infront had potentially extended the lead as we did not see the biker exit the “Bike Out”. I knew from experience at Tri-Factor Bike 2016 that a great bike leg could easily crush the competition.

While Alden was biking out, I quickly changed my shoes as I had wrong sized shoes on. Apparently my feet enlarged from size 9.5 to 10.5 from 2010 to 2017. I did some striding and last minute warm-up at the transition area. The tension built up as the clock wound-down. “Around 20 minutes”, Alden, when asked how long he would take to complete the 12km bike leg. On the clock was way past 20 minutes, and out of no where, a guy shouting, “Sorry! Bike!” charging down the “Bike In” Tunnel. We cheered him on, “Alden! Rack your bike! Helmet off!” as he quickly racked up his bike and took off his helmet.

At this point we knew we were in first place, and it was crucial we extend the lead in the run leg. 2km was a short distance, it was make or break, a faster than 2.4km pace was required for this. On the U-turn, I didn’t see anyone headed my way, so I eased up a little to save for any potential last minute dashes. Coming down the home straight, I knew we were first, and it was a victory lap, well deserved one.

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Till the next one, Hasty out.

 

I was wearing COOSH Sunglasses by Urband, provided by SportOn Eyewear by Nanyang Optical for this run. Stay tuned for my full review on them!

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Photo Credits: Ming Ham / wow2wow

Also a big shoutout to Ming Ham for capturing some amazing photos, check out his portfolio here:

Ming Ham | wow2wow
https://web.facebook.com/lifestyle1881
https://www.facebook.com/wow2wowpics/
http://www.wow2wow.com/services

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2017/18 Boston Bid – Quick Overview

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Background
I am turning the big 3-0 next year & I recently I have become quite reflective and introspective about life. The initial lofty goal I set out to do – of qualifying for Boston Marathon – has taken a backseat so many times over the course of the last four years. The closest I’ve been to had to be two years ago in 2015 when I did 1:23’54” at SCHKM only to DNF at Tokyo Marathon. But this goal has a deadline, and its to qualify by the time I hit 30.

Broad Plan
2017 has whizzed by and its already almost April! Where has the time gone? I wonder about this very much as well. What’s the will to succeed without the will to prepare?

The broad plan will be largely based in Singapore and I intend to finish off what I started in Hong Kong early 2018. Training locally brings consistency to the table. No travelling overseas to run, and utter dedication to training, possibly forgoing any form of social life on the weekdays. This also means I will have to break every of my local PBs, including overall PBs in the 15km, 32km, and 42.195km.

Build-up:
30 Jul – Singtel – Singapore Cancer Society Race Against Cancer 15km (Target: 60mins – Avg 4:00/km Pace)
20 Aug – Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon 21.1km (Target: 1’25” – Avg 4:00/km Pace)
XX Oct – Newton Challenge – 32km (Target: 2’08” to 2’16” – Avg 4:00/km to 4:15/km Pace)
03 Dec – Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2017 – 42.195km (3’05” – 3’10” – Avg 4:23/km to 4:30/km Pace)

D-Day:
XX Jan –  Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2018 (Target: BQ 2’59” – 3’02” – 4:15/km to 4:19/km)

Summary
Is it possible to do it? I strongly believe it is possible given the right training, patience, dedication, and a little luck. My name is Randall Wu, and with that I am checking in.

Tell me what you think about my racing plan!

Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2017 – Half Marathon Challenge

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I ran a shitty race, or did I?

I ran the half marathon 11 times (yes I love HM), and this performance was the 3rd all-time worst result (1:54) with only my HM debut in 2010 (2:21’52”) and Sundown 2014 (1:58) being slower.

Favourite Race

I always highly regarded the SCHKM as my favourite race as I have clocked 2 HM PBs in the last 3 years, and 3 of my all-time best HM times, prior to the start of this race. What’s more incredible about this is that this course is the most hilly amongst the 8 other HM races I have ran (yes, I love the rolling hills).

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Finishing a great race at SCHKM15

In 2015, I also made a major breakthrough with my BQ attempt after clocking a 8min PB to clock 1:23’55”, way under the 1:25 mark I was secretly aiming for. Also this race cemented its place in my fixture calendar as the Organisers made it so runners could have a guaranteed priority entry as long as you’ve run under their mark the year before in the same race. The popularity of this race is not to be underestimated – the race got so popular, it often sold out within an hour of registration opening, that the Organisers had to introduce a ballot system instead. So having that guaranteed priority entry made me feel special, like I was part of an exclusive club of sorts, where timings were the currency. Also somehow my training blocks in November and December almost always coincided with my low-key work schedule during that time, which bode well for training. I also had lined-up a marathon in April ’17, so this was meant as a build-up towards that race. So everything was seemingly setup for a perfect showpiece. Boy was I soooo wrong.

Cold February

I had a chat with my uni friend, Kate, over lunch post-race, she explained that the cold spell came in the beginning of the week.

This was also deemed as peculiar weather as this year’s race was held in Feb after CNY, instead of Jan like the last couple of years. In Feb , the coldest part of winter should already have been over and it should already been warming up. The weather a week earlier or a week later would have been superb race conditions (Low: 16 / High : 21). But low and behold, it was the same temperature as in January the previous year when we were racing in the rain. So although it was colder than expected, it was something that I had went through before.

Training; or the lack of it

Having went through the routine of the last 3 years, I have always fell back to the nostalgic memory of me crossing the finish line in epic fashion at 1:23’55” in 2015. Familiarity breeds complacency. I was not allowing my body sufficient rest, cumulating in multiple sick days in the tail end of 2016 and the start of 2017. This resulted to a start-stop training and fell into the vicious cycle of starting to train, then falling sick, then taking a break from training, and back to it again. Hence, I couldn’t put together a proper training block. Even up to race week, I was still falling ill, so I knew I had to taper my expectations towards the race.

Managing Expectations

Since I had already paid for the plane tickets and accommodation,  it was going to be a weekend getaway of sorts and I was going there just to enjoy myself, no pressure whatsoever.This time round, I decided to live it up a little bit with an upgrade to a boutique hotel. I picked Xi Hotel, 7 Minden Ave, Tsim Sha Tsui, as it was very close to the START line on Nathan Road, and it wasn’t too far off from where I used to stay at for the last 3 years I was here. 

Loving the race top from new apparel sponsor, Nike

Carbo Loading Dinner – Beef Brisket and Wonton Noodles

Pre-race Gear Flat Lay

Race

This year, I missed the front of the tape by a single row as I was warming up along Nathan Road while the speedsters moved forward to stage. But I wasn’t too bothered by it. Gun goes and I take the first km in 3:53, and continued to take it in a relatively controlled pace. img_2204I saw my secondary school junior, Kah Meng and we ran together chatted for abit, and he was gunning for 1:27, which was going to be an improvement from last year where he clocked his maiden Sub 1:30 at the same race. I was content to dial back the pace as I wasn’t in the same shape as last year.

From 6km onwards I could feel myself slowing down due my legs stiffening up. My ITBs were tightening up from the cold and my right forefoot was pins and needles that I needed to adopt a walk-a-jog in order to finish.

5k Race Splits
5km – 20’25”
10km – 44’44” (24’19”)
15km –  1:12’37” (27:53)
20km – 1:43’48” (31:11)
Finish – 1:54’56”

Full Garmin Stats: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1572411283

Post-race thoughts

Would I say I was disappointed with my race result? No, as I had already lowered my expectations coming into the race. However, I have not lost sight of my ultimate goal, and that is to qualify for Boston Marathon and do a SUB3hr marathon.

It was definitely heartening to see many of our local runners (Rachel, Poon, JJ, Daniel) who did the Full Marathon and go under the 3hr mark. I am inspired by them and it motivates me that I can go on to finish it as long as I am disciplined enough to dedicate to training and resting, with a little bit of luck to stay injury and illness free. I might have well lost my guaranteed priority entry, but I am hopeful to comeback again next year for my 5th attempt. In the meantime, I am a man on a mission to find back that “gun” I lost.

One Night in Mongkok – Man on Mission : Finding my missing “Gun”

 

 

 

Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2016 – Half Marathon Challenge Race Report 

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Pre-race

170116 – Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2016 was awarded the IAAF Gold Label in its 20th Anniversary & also introduced a new course to accommodate approx. 74,000 runners. 

I tried to keep everything as identical to the previous year as possible. Same flight – (Scoot – Sat 0155h SG – HK 0535h), same accommodation (HomyInn, near the Nathan Road START line), same schedule (breakfast, race pack collection, shopping, carboloading lunch, maybe dinner), & no drama.

However, the race had other plans for me. The weather had been forecasted to be rainy during the week I was going to be there & my mates in Hong Kong had given me an earlier headsup about this too. All I could do was to pray & hope it wouldn’t pour on race day. I heard about the course change but didn’t know how it affected the race, looking at the map, my untrained eye, it looked the same as before, even the elevation gain wasn’t very much different from yesteryears. 

The plane touched down 10mins ahead of schedule, & I cleared customs really quickly, could have been quicker had I filled up the immigration form and used the loo on the plane instead to freshen up. 

I had two breakfasts, first, Yum Cha at Luk Yut Tea House, then I went to Honolulu Cafe for Bolo Pau, Egg Tarts and Milk Tea. Yes, the carboloading had began.

I headed the race pack collection thereafter at Victoria Park to collect the race pack, the grounds had turned muddy and soft akin to SCMS Padang grounds. I had to take go through extra lengths to ensure my racing shoes weren’t too badly affected. Shower caps could have done the trick. 

Next stop was Mongkok, where it was time to shop. I went looking for gels, but I couldn’t find GuGels to the death of me. I stumbled onto a outdoor adventure store, & bought a heavily discounted Salomon X-SCREAM shoe. & almost bought a Goretex version of the X-SCREAM3D. This discount store on the ground floor, apparently had a bigger flagship tucked away on the 12th floor of the building opposite Broadway Cinemas. 

Outlander had a wide range of outdoor adventure products and had the GuGels I was looking for. Thereafter, I had a quick walk around the store & Inspected every single shoe there. & to my surprise, they sold the supposedly yet to be released Salomon Sense Pro, which wasn’t due to be released till Spring Summer 2016. It was calling me out. They had two colourways, Orange/Black and Neon Green. The neon green-everything aesthetic was perfect for the roadrunner in me. I tried it on, and lo & behold, it was the exact same feeling as the S-Lab X Series, which was heavily featured in my previous marathon campaign to Bali and Berlin. 

  
I didn’t hesitate, I got a pair & decided on the spot & thought that it would be a good idea to wear the Salomon Sense Pro fresh out of the box. I took the shoe and decided to wear it for the rest of the day to season it. 

After I was done with shopping, I met my Hong Kong friend, Kate, for a carboloading dinner at Satay House & thereafter, went to check-in for the night. 

 
The decision to wear a pair of shoes that had 0km mileage of seasoning could easily make or break the race for some. But I was undeterred. 

Race Day

I woke up at 3:30am & had a breakfast which consisted of a slice of Japanese Bakuen Swiss Roll , and a packet of honey roasted almonds washed down by Pocari Sweat.

  
I geared up and headed out to the START line. I quickly deposited the baggage and went to do a quick warm-up. I realized that the runners were forming up nearer to the START line this year compared to the previous two years and by the time I came back from my second round down the road, it was at least 7 rows deep, but somehow I still managed to get to the front of the tape. 

All this while, as it started to drizzle, Elite athletes were doing they’re strides as the commoners watched on. I was trying to figure out what was so special on their bibs but I could not figure out what was so different about them. I could have easily went up to warm up as well just had to seem like I belonged. 

10mins to the START the Hong Kong Police formed a line with hands held, and they walked the participants forward to meet the elites at the tape.

6am, the race was flagged off promptly on time, runners go at breakneck speeds, while I played it cool and decided to stick with my own pace. I took the first km in 3:45 & felt good as I kept a high cadence down the long stretch of Mongkok on the modified course (usually we turn left almost immediately after the flag-off). The 2nd to 5th km was a roller coaster as I went from 3:26/km – 3:58/km pace. 

Somewhere 5km into the race it started to rain as we exited the first tunnel. Every km up till the 10th km was done in under 4mins except for the 7th km at 4:07. But everything was going according to plan – take the first 10k in 40mins & continue from there. 10km came & 39:52 flashed on my Garmin Forerunner 920xt.

At the 10km I felt my ITB starting to tighten up. A very familiar but unwelcome feeling. I continued to push the pace and found myself in a nice running pack consisting of girls and guys. Great, they were all keen on going fast & keeping a high cadence. I have not done much pack running & felt it was quite disruptive to my running, so I decided to put a few surges to remain infront so I don’t get distracted by the multiple footsteps and the fear of tripping leading to putting the brakes on. I surged downhill and uphill, crazy, yes, but I had done a bulk of training in trails and the hills of NTU, so I was accustomed to it. After a particular surge downhill at 13-14km, I felt a loss of power to my left leg, so much so that I had to stop to stretch it twice. Whatever pocket of time i has build-up was now gone & I was 8 secs behind 4:00/km pace just before I entered the Tsim Tsa Tsui to Central tunnel. 

  
By the time I was done with it, 16km in & I was 1 min off 4:00/km pace. At this juncture, when the rain greeted me at the end of the tunnel, there was only two choices. Kill or be killed; Go hard or Go home; Fight or die. Coming into this race, I knew my body wasn’t in the same kind of conditioning as last year, during that one week I was clocking 90km, I felt my right matatersaral tinge, after that I eased off the mileage in hope that it could recover in time, so any hopes of bettering the time was just a bonus. However, I did know that SUB1:30 was still within my grasps. But I didn’t have much time left, 20mins for the last 5km, which equates to me having to do faster than a 4min pace for the remaining distance. But I knew the last 5km was going to be easy with the crowd support and the remaining water points; if past experience at this race counted for. In the instant, I psyched myself out and did some positive self talk & drill sergeant majored my self to do so. “C’mon Randall, you’ve done this before, you f*cking got this!” Boom! I bit the bullet & went into a invincible state of mind driving the elbows, lifting the knees and digging deep. It was go time & nothing will stand in my way. I powered through the remainder of the race and finished in 1:27’51”. 

  
Post-race thoughts

No new PB or significant improvement in terms of race results, however, I’m glad I dug in & showed myself an indomitable spirit during crunch time. I could have easily flip the switch and gone into a relaxed run finishing the run regretfully. I had come off a small block of training where I had come back into shape. I believe this year’s strategy will work as I’m make use of races as tempo runs, yoga as enforced stretching and climbing as mental conditioning and core building exercises. As long as I remain mentally focused and physically injury free, a BQ time is within grasps at Gold Coast in July.

SCHKM is done, now time to refocus on SAFSA Track & Field 2016 (24-25 Feb) where I will be doubling up in the 10,000m & 5,000m. 

[First Impressions] Salomon S-Lab Sense 4 Ultra vs Sense (2012)

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Most recently I got my hands on a pair of Salomon Sense 4 Ultra from Salomon. It reminded me of its very first predecessor the S-Lab Sense (2012). I got my very first pair of S-Lab Sense in 2013 when I started to dabble into trail running, I was inspired by videos of Kilian Jornet storming up & downhills in the classic red & whites, that when it was time to get a pair, it wasn’t a hard choice which shoe I wanted.

Trail running takes up 1-2 timeslots of my training week, hence my shoes don’t get as much mileage as I would like them to get. But I believe over the last 2 years, I have done justice to the Salomon S-Lab Sense that would warrant its retirement. Earlier this year, I finished 1st in the ADOC 8th Anniversary Cross-Country Challenge with these speedos.

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At the finish line of ADOC 8th Anniversary Cross-Country Challenge with Race Director, LTC Chris Tang (Centre) and my junior, Hong Yu (right)

But the toll it endured over two years explains my straight jump from S-Lab Sense to S-Lab Sense 4 Ultra.

Visual
The predominantly red and white colours of the shoe are kept, with minor tweaks on the amount of reds on the upper to give the shoe a more understated, simple look. Those also familiar with the Sense 3 Ultra will notice that the laces have been reverted to a racing red, rather than the white that was previously used in the Sense 3 Ultra. The Salomon Logo has also been updated to fit Salomon’s rebranding effort in 2012-13.
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Weight
Salomon S-Lab Sense 4 Ultra (234grams; Sz 9) vs Salomon S-Lab Sense (180grams; Sz 9). Although not noticeable when I first put them on, Salomon started to increase the durability of the S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra. With the extra “Ultra” label, it also came along with tougher ContaGripTM sole with lugs at the forefoot and additional lugs at the sole of the heel to as added traction. However, the 4mm heel-to-toe drop has been retained, and this has translated to the shoe being able to cater to Kilian’s forefoot running style and potentially to those who are more comfortable running fore-mid foot.
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Feel
The moment I slipped my feet into the shoe, it was a familiar feeling. It felt fast, and the additional 50grams weren’t apparent at first go. On uphills the Sense 4 Ultra felt like they had more grip, as compared to my ageing Sense, which was just slipping off surfaces towards the end.
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It handled well in the semi-wet muddy conditions along MacRitchie Reservoir, and was able to grip well going uphill and like the Sense, it had adequate protection against the pebbles or rocks in certain sections of the course.
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Final First Impression
The trade-off between 50grams of additional weight vis-a-vis the added durability is a debate for speedsters and ultra-marathoners to fight out. Retailing at S$289 at all Salomon Singapore stores, the Salomon Sense 4 Ultra is indeed a worthy investment. If you are looking for a shoe that is light and will go the distance, look no further.

It's a really easy choice, try it!

It’s a really easy choice, try it!

Watch this space for more indepth reviews once I’ve done enough damage on these guys, in the meantime, if you really want something that is tougher, and goes into softer terrain, try the Salomon Sense 3 Ultra Soft Ground!

Tougher than nails, Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra Soft Ground

Tougher than nails, Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra Soft Ground