Arctic off trail – why I love to run (438K to go):

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Why I love to run

It really is that simple, the picture above really spells out why I love to run and why off trail running in Greenland is an experience everybody trail (or road) runner should allow themselves at least once.

But I am getting a head of myself here, first run after my vacation in the Netherlands was actually a gorgeous 12K single trail on the gypsy trails just outside Copenhagen, arranged by a local runner and a great introduction to a very nice trail area hidden in plain sight 🙂

It was also the first test run of the Merrell trail glove 2, but I will get back to the shoe towards the end of this post.

Trail? what trail?

Trail? what trail?

The 18K off trail:

Pretty much the minute  I arrived back home in Nuuk snow started poring down and that in the city it self. Why on this Saturday in mid September we woke up to a landscape covered in bright white snow, and with more falling from the thick dark clouds.

I checked the weather and it promised better conditions around noon, a quick text exchange with another local off trail runner sealed a deal about a run to the lowest of the local peaks at 12.

Going up - serpentine  style

Going up – serpentine style

We set out on the first relatively flat and not too technical 5K to where the mountain really start to rise. conditions are normally easy off trail, but when everything is covered in anywhere from 10-20 cm of snow it is a whole different ballgame. you only see snow and have no clue whether it is pebbles, bigger rocks, a hole or a rock face that can be plain contoured or sloping below, Even better it is often a combination of it all.

From here we started uphill and the off trail grew from not too technical to 5K rather technical and quite strenuous uphill off trail.

Running straight lines were out of the question thus we laid a serpentine route creating a grade where we could keep a running like pace.

Mr J and dog leading the way

Mr J and dog leading the way

 

As we continued up the snow got deeper, but also more varied in depth as we ran into regular snow covered boulder fields. Requiring our full attention not to twist an ankle or a knee.

As we continued up, snow continued to get deeper in general, but also more varied in depth from one step to the next. one step might be knee deep, but the next only 10 cm or force you in to the hip. challenging and interest and we were both very grateful to reach the top and an energy gel break.

From here followed a VERY interesting 3K downhill run. plenty of slides and a great deal of care to be taken as we made our way down steep sections with loose rock covered in snow of unknown depth.

we were not moving our fastest here,  but it was quite taxing on both breath and thighs.

From here followed the 5K of relatively easy technical off trail home and it was great to be able to remove the trail gaiters and untie the shoes.

Overall it had been around 2,5 hours (breaks included) of the kind of running that is precisely why I love Greenland, rough, desolate, remote and challenging like hell, but above all fun 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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Merrell Trail Glove 2 – a mixed experience:

12K in

12K in

 

Now what make me write my first impressions after only 30K, well I had to do it sometime and I have a few things that I feel needs to be said about them.

The fit first of all is gorgeous for a closed shoe and so much better than the original trail glove,  I am now able to comfortably wear these shoes, where the originals nearly killed my forefoot. I did a locklace mod as the first thing and that really is an improvement too I think, as it introduce a little give in the lacing and a more dynamic fit.

The shoe is zero drop and with a 9,5 mm stack hight , at least for me quite a tall shoe, the inclusion of a rockplate in the forefoot makes it a rather dull ride from a ground feel point of view, compared to say a pair of seeyas, but they are made for rougher terrain and out there the rock plate is welcome, I really think Merrell have found a good mix between protection and ground feel in this one, the rock plate is flexible enough to offer a decent amount of ground feel and protective enough to take the brunt of the worst impacts.

That said if you are used to traditional trail shoes, these will be tough on your feet.

The sole is one of my gripes with this shoe, when running in wet, muddy or snowy conditions it loose all traction way too quick, I have come to consider it a dry terrain shoe and this is one area where Merrell still have some work to do, the minimalist  Inov8 and the vibram spyridon are way ahead here.

Mesh along the arch after 30K

Mesh along the arch after 30K

As already mentioned it has a very flexible upper and a very comfortable fit, I am mostly a barefoot or toeshoe guy and the fit on these seems to be good enough for me to wear them without too much discomfort, which is quite a compliment to the fit.

I have been running in them wet for 3 hours straight and they drain fast and the upper does not trap a lot of water, thus they remain relatively light when running. the toe guard adds plenty of abrasion resistance to the front of the shoe, but he upper has a serious durability issue on the mesh portion of the shoe.

To the left is a picture of the arch portion of the mesh after just 30K, granted 30K of the roughest terrain you can put any shoe through, but I would expect a trail shoe to handle just that.

The mesh have not been torn completely yet, but it is so thin now that I my finger would go straight through it if I pushed from the inside.

To my mind that is performance way below acceptable from any shoe.

I will now go through the tedious process of forwarding my findings to Merrell and ask them if they think this is an acceptable performance from their line of shoes and I promise to update this post as soon as I receive a response, but for now, I can hardly recommend this shoe and would recommend people to steer well clear of it.  Which is a real shame, because it has he potential to become an amazing shoe and Merrell got so many things right with it.