Category Archives: Kit

The Ultimate cake and coffee

When I saw the Facebook post inviting applications for brand ambassadors I knew I had to apply. I see quite a few of these posts on social media, and the majority do not appeal to me. The idea of free kit or sponsorship is attractive but representing a brand that I have no great affinity with or passion for seems dishonest.

Ashmei is a relatively young company, but I’ve been buying their running clothing since 2012. Their aim is to create the best performance kit in the market, and the quality and attention to detail is outstanding. As a distance runner who likes to run 100 mile races, I want great kit that will feel comfortable all day, and Ashmei fits the bill.

I applied to become an Ashmei brand ambassador last year, but was not selected, but reapplied this year and was invited to the attend the selection day. This proved slightly tricky. The selection day was Saturday 5th March, and would mean I’d be out all morning. I had already entered the Steyning Stinger marathon which was on the Sunday, and failed to note this was Mother’s Day. However my wife is very supportive of my running, so I accepted the invitation.

The day started with a brief presentation by Stuart the company founder, and then we got to hear from some of the current ambassadors: Owain, Louise and Simon. They had some great stories about their sporting year as ambassadors. In fact all the people I spoke to during the day had great tales about their running and cycling and some amazing plans for 2016 and beyond.

We were given a pair of Ashmei socks to try out. I already have several pairs, so asked for a pair in my wife’s size – the children could wrap it as an extra mother’s day present.

I love the attention to detail on these – the size is stitched in, so no arguments about whether you’ve stolen your partners socks!

We had been invited to go out for a run on local trails, so after the presentation we were soon outside and running. This was another opportunity to chat with the Ashmei team although the first hills made conversation strained. There was a biting wind as we ran along the ridge but once in the woods it was fantastic. I think if my office was at the Ashmei HQ I’d have plenty of inspiration for new sports kit, but too little time to put ideas into action- I’d be running the trails all day!

After a 6 mile run we were back at the office, where coffee and cake were served, before we all headed off. Inspired, but also eagerly hoping to be selected for the role.

The script beneath the Ashmei logo translates to ” the ultimate”, and a lot of effort had been put into make some amazing cakes.

The ultimate

The ultimate

 

 

Skechers GoRun Ultra review

My local running shop (The Running Hub) suggested trying Skechers early in 2014.

GoRun Ultra

GoRun Ultra

I first bought a pair of the Go Run shoes. These are a road shoe, but I found them very comfortable and they soon became my go-to road shoe. I’m now on my second set, and have two pairs: one at home and one in the gym at work.

Based on how much I liked these, it was an obvious decision to try a pair of the Go Ultra shoes.

First impressions – supremely comfortable. If you’ve not run in Skechers, they feel a little different. The foam in the mid sole feels very soft and spongy.

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Ashmei kit review

At the Ashmei Ambassador Day (14th March), I was given a pair of trail socks to try and asked to review them. However all the other Ashmei kit that I have was purchased by me (or bought for me by my wife). I have a fair bit if it, because although it is not cheap, it performs really well.

This Saturday I ran the Endurace Life CTS Sussex race. I had entered the Ultra event, and would have to do the marathon route, and then a lap of the 10k route, all on trails over the South Downs, starting and finishing at Birling Gap.

The weather forecast was for overcast, but dry conditions, with temperatures peaking at 8C. However with an 8:30 start it would be much cooler for the first couple of hours.

As a result I chose the following kit, as pictured below.

IMG_0995

Clockwise from top left:

  • Ashmei gloves
  • Ashmei beanie hat
  • Ronhill trail shorts
  • Ronhill arm warmers
  • Ashmei merino + carbon trail socks
  • Montane chief (not a buff!)
  • Compresssport calf guards
  • Ashmei merino short sleeve jersey

 

The Ashmei gloves and hat come out on just about every run if the weather is cool. They are thin and light, but keep me warm. However if it gets hot, they don’t feel sweaty and clammy. They are also small enough that I can stuff them in a pocket if I need to take them off.

The Ronhill shorts have plenty of pockets for gels, and more importantly don’t cause me any chaffing issues. The arm warmers are a relatively new addition of my running wardrobe but I find it much more comfortable to roll them down when I am warm, than wear a long sleeve top and roll the sleeves up.

The socks are made from from Ashmei’s merino + carbon fabric. They claim this performs 10x better then pure merino at displacing water. Another claimed benefit of merino is that unlike polyester ( the normal fabric used in technical running gear), it has natural anti-microbial properties. In short this means it doesn’t stink! I’ve tested this before, and it’s true. When I go on week long business trips I’ve been able to take a single merino top and run in it every day without gagging when I put on. The same can’t be said for my polyester shorts. I thought I’d really put this claim to the test though, so after getting the socks on the 14th, I wore them on every run. 9 runs and 44 miles without washing before the race. While they didn’t smell ‘shop fresh’, they didn’t smell. I managed to convince my 9yr old daughter that they were clean.

The buff Montane chief is always useful for a cool day, and after suffering terrible calf cramp the 1st time I ran the Beachy Head marathon, I always wear compresssport calf guards on hilly runs.

The Ashmei jersey is now a vintage bit of kit (2011). It’s the original pure merino, rather than the newer merino + carbon but for a cold dry day it is perfect. I wore this one on my first 100 mile race and ran in it from 6am until 10pm when cold weather and slowing progress forced me into a warmer long sleeved top.

So how did it all perform?

Perfectly. I like kit to be invisible. I don’t mean literally like the Emperor’s New Clothes, but I don’t want to notice it. It I can feel clothing rubbing and chaffing, or start getting hot spots and blisters on my feet then something is not working. On Saturday everything worked well. It was cold and windy at some points, but I was warm enough, and I never felt too hot and sweaty, even though the hat and gloves stayed on throughout the race.

The socks caused no problems  – no rubbing or blisters. They are very short, and did let a little grit get into the shoe, but one stop to shake this out and I was fine. I’ll happily wear them again, but would probably buy the mid length sock.

SockCollageOne last point. The socks are now heading for the washing machine. They still look good despite over 75 miles of hard use in the week, as shown by the before and after photo, but great kit should be treated well. The picture at the top is ‘fresh from the packet’, while the below image is after the race.