The Work Horse and The Race Horse

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In this time of isolation and weekend’s suddenly very free without races I’ve had a lot more time to think and create blogs which means I’m finally able to create some more review posts. In the next few weeks I’m planning to do a series of posts reviewing some of the gear I’ve used in the last year sandwiched between some of the races I took part in before the shutters where closed on the world. Of course I thought I would start these posts with shoes because it’s I tend to get asked the most about on social media. Well that and the fact I should DM to a collab with a clearly fake account.

Obviously from the outset I should say that I am part of Brooks’ Run Happy Team, a collection of utterly inspiring and utterly brilliant runners from around the world which I seem to have sneaked into unnoticed! While I am a part of their team my opinions are, as always, still very much my own.

The first ever pair of running shoes I ever brought were Brooks, way back in 2015. I had run my first half marathon wearing a brand who I shall not name and I tore through them like the Incredible Hulk rips through trousers. By the end of the horrendous race, my big toe and little toe had burrowed their way to freedom through the shoe’s shoddy upper and they swiftly went in the bin. So, I wandered into the running shop; Up and Running, filled with imposters syndrome and self-consciousness aiming to come out with a pair of shoes that might help me train for a marathon. As soon as I walked in the door the employee knew I would be wearing Brooks for that marathon and after half an hour of running on the treadmill and getting my gait checked out he was right and I left with a pair of Glycerin 12s and a blossoming love affair with Brooks.

I have run every single marathon and all bar one of my ultramarathons wearing Brooks (it was my first ultra and I wore a pair of Salomon that fell apart before the start so I had to tape them together!). From the streets of London to the sand of the Sahara.

So, what are my go-to shoes from Brooks right now? Strangely from a man who enjoys comfort in the traditional I am currently running both the trails and the tarmac in completely new shoe models from Brooks, that I have ‘wittily’ nicknamed the Work Horse and the Race Horse.

 

The Race Horse – Hyperion Tempo 1

Spoiler alert; these are the most exciting, exhilarating running shoes I have ever worn.

As the name hints, these shoes are made for going fast, really bloody fast. They were the somewhat overlooked Brooks new innovative shoe that was launched this year overshadowed by the Hyperion Elite; their carbon plated competitor to the Nike Vaporfly. However, between the two it is firmly the favourite from reviewers around the world and while I have only tried the Tempo I am utterly obsessed with this shoe.

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The shoe is beautiful minimalistic in its looks which results in an impossibly light shoe weighing in at just 207g. You’d expect that simplistic design to be at the detriment of cushion and support and yet it feels fantastic. The nitrogen infused DNA FLASH foam midsole is the reason why it is so incredibly light and surprisingly cushioned. Thanks to the chemical reaction from infusing the foam you also get this bright and beautiful neon blue mid sole. The upper is a stretchy, woven material which would feel snug and secure if it weren’t for the only thing I dislike about this shoe; it’s laces. They are thin and lightweight to save an extra few grams but they are far too stretchy. After about an hour of running I could feel them loosening, so will swap them out when it comes to running longer distances again. Honesty though it is hard to pick faults in a shoe I credit with my upsurge in speed.

Perhaps it is in part a placebo product, you swallow all the marketing and in doing so believe that these shoes will make you faster only to find out, like any kids movie, that it was within you all along. But I truly feel like a different runner in these shoes. A man possessed.

When we were given these shoes by Brooks at our meet up in March and at the event the reason for wearing these shoes was perfectly described better than I could: it is for your races, your tempo runs or if you’ve just had a bad day and want to run like a bat out of hell (is it too soon to mention bats?).

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My first run after the launch event I ran my third fastest 5km but that wasn’t beginners’ luck from the Tempos. About three weeks later I ran a 10km on my usual route at home wearing these shoes and ended up beating my personal best done in race conditions by a minute, a whole bloody minute. When I recorded my personal best before I was in the fitness of my life and yet I knocked out a 48-minute 10K on a Thursday afternoon after work, having just inhaled a chocolate chip hot cross bun smothered in butter.

So far, I have only run a maximum distance of 9 miles in these shoes and it was a slow plod of a run that I just wasn’t in the mood to do and to be honest, the shoe didn’t feel at its best. I feel as if they need the energy input to really get the most out of it.

Will I be using it come the end of the apocolpyse to run my autumn marathons and maybe go under four hours? I hope to, I need to trial them at longer, at pace runs to see how they stand up to 16+ miles of pounding the pavement. But as of right now, the future’s bright, the future’s neon blue.

 

The Work Horse  – Divide 1

On the flip side of the sleek and lightweight Tempo the Divide is a tank. A do-it-all, go anywhere well-cushioned shoe that I have firmly fallen in love with. I purchased mine just as the lockdown commenced as my previous pair of trail shoes from Brooks reached the end of their useable life while I was crossing Luxembourg but I wasn’t convinced I would like them. However, as soon as I slipped them on, I realised that they were going to become my go to trail shoe for one very simple reason; they are a road and trail hybrid. Brooks bill it as an entry level trail running shoe but honestly, they should call it the jack of all trades shoe.

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Weighing the same as one and a half of the Tempo’s it is definitely not on a lightweight but the weight comes from high levels of soft plush cushioning and trail protection in the toe box and grippy outsole.

The Divide is really the type of shoe you want for any sort of training run or race where you have trail and road, or a lot of dirt or gravel surface to contend with. For example, these shoes would be perfect for a race such as Race to the Stones here in the UK. It offers the comfort and cushioning of a road shoe with its BioMoGo DNA midsole and yet has the grip and toe protection of a trail shoe which means it will be my go-to trail shoe when I can eventually run ultras races again.

The lugs (the grippy bits that jut out on the sole of trail shoes) are a lot less aggressive than other trail shoes I’ve worn because it has to cater to road running too but I found that it more than coped with the light mud and gravel tracks that I’ve been running down. I wouldn’t want to run in any terrain that was too technical and would lean towards their Cascadia shoe if it was but if you’re looking for a really comfortable, workhorse of a trail shoe that can handle most trails, and almost any other surface you want to run on, I don’t think you can go wrong with the Divide.

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I cannot wait to test both of these shoes out in race conditions but until then I can run on my home routes and just imagine the finish lines and finishing times.

 

If you want to read more about these or any of Brook’s other shoes head over to their website. If you have any questions just drop me a line, happy to help! 

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