The Running Shop Blog — Trail Running


The SKrunces are coming!

Hard to believe, but the SKrunce races up at Tyrebagger will be back soon. They happen on the 1st Tuesday of the month, with the first one happening on 3rd April.

With 2 loops, four miles and 740ft of elevation it's a perfect introduction to hill/trail racing if you're thinking of taking the plunge and going off road.


KRUNCE, son of Trunce

(by Ewen Rennie)

5th June 2007 will see the 100th running of the Krunce. Krunce like Trunce will be familiar titles to the more assiduous readers of the FRA magazine but what are they all about? 

The Trunce series in South Yorkshire goes back to at least the late 1970’s. Every third Monday night over the summer there is a Trunce starting from the pub in the village of Oxspring near Penistone. In its heyday over two hundred runners would tackle a course of about four miles aiming to beat their personal best. 

The Trunce course starts along a farm track before a river crossing (stepping stones available for the faint hearted - through the ford, splashing the timid for the rest), then a bit of tarmac before back across the river on a bridge! and up through a quarry. Then it's back down to the river for another set of stepping stones and back along the road to the original stepping stones and farm track to the finish. The scoring system for the series is based around your race position with bonus points for beating your previous best. 

In 1989 when I returned to my home town of Aberdeen I looked to introduce to some of the best bits of Yorkshire running. Large in this figured a plan for a Trunce type series. It took a while to scout out possible venues but finally in Kingshill Wood I found a viable route. No river but some hills and lots of off-road running. So was born Krunce, son of Trunce. 

I liked the idea of scoring points over a series but wanted to open it up to all so went for a system based on personal improvement rather than at least partly on position. The original scoring system was based on seconds improvement (or deficit) on season’s best. Realising that’s it’s easier to improve by ten seconds when you’re running 35 minutes rather than 25 minutes the use of an Excel spreadsheet allowed the introduction of the idea of percentage improvement. 

The initial format awarded most points to the person with the best percentage improvement on their previous best for the season. This meant that there were five possible scoring races. But there were time bandits who deliberately went slowly on the first race. Their lack of pace judgement meant that they had a ridiculous improvement on the second race but they scooped the maximum points. Another problem was fluctuations in the number of runners so the poorest performer might get 50 points or only 30 depending on the number of runners. 

The beauty of this format in offering incentives to all is that nine of the previous fifteen series have been won by a runner who generally finishes in the bottom half of the field. Mind you a certain maths teacher has won on five occasions. Alastair Leiper has won the series five times, the first three while finishing in the top half of the field, the last two as a back marker. Baring injury Alastair will complete his 100th Krunce at the 100th Krunce – an incredible record of consistency and avoiding serious injury. 

The latest format uses the percentage improvement idea but allocates points to percentage ranges with 9 points for 104% plus, 8 points for 103-4%, 7 points for 102-3% etc. There is also the possibility of adjusting the scoring ranges if most people run faster or slower than usual. 

Trail Shoes

What we would recommend though is a good quality pair of trail shoes. There are loads of different types and we can help point you in the direction of what would suit you the best.  There are a lot of different factors to take in to consideration. Type of terrain you'd be running on, distances, cushioning levels, what level of grip you'd need.  For example, you might be looking for something ultra aggressive in terms of grip, so the La Sportive Mutant might be a good option. If comfort is your main thing, then possibly the high end cushioning of Hoka might be for you. If it's an out and out hill/skyline racing shoe, then perhaps the Scott Supertrac RC would be suitable. 


Altra Loan Peak 3.0 Review

Altra Loan Peak 3.0 Review

In the words of Monty Python, now for something completely different.  Altra Running, the Running company from the Wasatch Mountains in Utah, have been developing shoes which are distinctly different from the traditional running shoe we've all become accustomed to. Based on years of experience, they have developed the only cucushioned, zero drop shoe, with foot-shaped toe box. You can read the full story Altra story here

I've taken them out for a few runs now, and have done about 30 miles in them. The first thing I noticed about them is the room in the toe-box. Based on the shape of the foot, you really do notice your toes splaying out a fair bit. Initially I wasn't quite sure about it, as it was quite a different feeling. After a few miles though, I did start to warm to it and did enjoy the feeling of not having your toes constricted in anyway. Basically, if you have a wider foot, suffer bunions possibly, then this would be a great option to consider.

Having a zero drop (heel to toe differential) is obviously quite unusual with most traditional running shoes being a 10-12mm drop, although there is a quite a range now of options.  The Altra thinking is that having the zero drop, it encourages a more efficient running form, giving a more natural alignment which will result in lower impact, whilst strengthening the achilles and lower calf muscles. For me, I did find that it certainly promoted more of a forefoot strike than what I usually do and it certainly did seem to be an automatic and natural thing and I didn't need to think too hard about. Haven't had any issues with my achilles but then that's maybe just me as I tend to go between various different drops without any impact. Maybe not the same for everyone though so would probably encourage a gradual transition to this.

Grip wise, did seem to get plenty of traction from the lugs which are well positioned and fairly aggressive. Was fairly dry conditions though, so not tested on wet or muddy terrain. There's also a pretty cool gater grip at the back of the shoe which would come in very handy if you have the need to wear gators.

Overall, really impressed with this shoe.  Certainly offers something a little different with the toe room being a massive plus point. Although zero drop, it's not a minimalist shoe by any manner of means with plenty of cushioning for a really comfortable ride with plenty of protection on both the medial and outside of the shoe.