Monday, December 9, 2013

I don’t do race reports, but if I did, then it would include a Rude Zombie Santa.

Trying not to laugh. I won't tell you where we had
our hands.
You know you get those races where the only object of the run is to be as silly as possible? No? Wow, there are some boring runners out there.

If you said ‘Yes’, then welcome to my club – yes, you can be afraid of the honour if it helps.

Last Sunday, my friend Nikki and I ran a race -a 4.4 mile Santa Run- and to be brutally honest, we weren’t at our best.  We wish we were suffering from a humongous (I like the word ‘humongous’, I may use it more in conversation) hangover, but frankly we were both a little broken. Nikki has been on the road to recovery from tendonitis, and I was on the tail-end of a lingering chest cold. It was a case of the lame leading the infectious.

The beauty of Santa races is the fact that you can be as stupid and as slow as you like, and unless someone clocks your bib-number, you are completely incognito. Why? Everyone is wearing the same Santa suit. You are just one of seven-hundred Santa’s all running the same route.

This had a possible side-effect that Nikki and I had realised early-on. From the start of the race we made it our mission to be as rude as possible. For us it isn’t as hard as it may seem. We had spent the pre-ceding Friday having loud conversations about ‘Tart Plungers’ and big balls that were a mouthful at our Christmas Girls Night out.

"Come here little girl and stroke my beard"

Firstly, we rejoiced in the beauty of arriving at the start thirty minutes early. Why? Because we wanted to play with each others’ beards; our false Santa beards! What were you people thinking of?! snicker. With comments of: “Come here little girl and stroke my beard”, to “Come here little girl and look in my pocket [on the coat] and you’ll find a present [of Jelly Babies]”, we then progressed to stroking our bellies in a suggestive way. Okay, that bit was just me; however, it was quite apparent before we had even started that we were the creepiest Santa’s on the course.
As taken by a Mayor or someone...

The short walk to the start was uneventful – well as uneventful as walking to a dis-used Castle with five hundred Santa’s (and a couple of elves) could be.

At the start, we eyed up the most senior and most important person we could find to take our photo’s and then dared each other to ask him. It was some type of mayor or something or other. Luckily for us, I managed to keep my comments to myself and he didn’t realize he was one step away from taking a mug-shot of the ‘Arctic’s Most Wanted’ –next to ‘Barry the Elf’ and ‘Jeff the Reindeer’ who were ‘lewd, and crude and rude’.

The start was more a mass ‘escape of Elf-catraz’ (get it?) with a plethora of false bearded, felt suited and very over-heated Santa’s all running as fast as their little legs could carry them.

Nikki and I took this opportunity to engage with our fellow Claus-ian friends. Actually, it was more of a case of Nikki and I shouting very loudly and seeing who would respond. Our biggest catch were two Santa’s who were very interested in my ‘Chest pulling’, (I discovered coughing and running were not a good combination) and why my hat stood up after playing with the ball.
Our Mascot Christmas tree who we didn't
know the name of, but I will call him 'Norm'

As we left the half-way point of the first lap, we encountered our own little mascot. I wish we knew his name, so from this point I will call him ‘Norm’, mainly because I like the name and I think it suited him. Norm, was dressed as a Christmas Tree and we couldn’t help but sing, “Christmas Tree, O’ Christmas Tree” as we jogged past. I did realize as I went into the third line of the song, I actually don’t know the third line to the song and it was pointed out that “your balls are small and your lights only blink” was probably a little derogatory and insulting. I am sure they were the right lines. Huh.

The urge to cough was very apparent and I now became the dodgy Santa who liked to breathe heavily with a certain amount of wheezing. As we turned for the next lap it was only ‘Limping along Santa’ A.K.A Nikki, who kept me going. For an injured person, she run’s bloody quickly.

The crowd had thinned out as the majority of the Santa’s participating had realized that 2.2 miles was a good distance to justify chocolate marsh-mellow pancakes and cider. Clever bunch. Nikki was enthusiastic and I made the mistake of following her slip-stream. It was a mistake because she’s smaller than me and was no use what-so-ever in removing some of the wind.

We plodded along -well Nikki plodded and I huffed- until we got to our friendly Christmas Tree called ‘Norm’. I didn’t help on the lookout for him as I wasn’t wearing my glasses, so my only contribution to the conversation was, “That’s him… wait, or is it a tree? No, it’s just some bushes”. Nikki was barely holding herself from crumpling with laughter.

We managed to locate him –he was a six-foot man dressed as a Christmas tree, how hard could he be to find? We sang our ditty again (this time I omitted my made up and personally attacking lines), and it was enough to make him blush. He was just being kind so we –okay more I—would stop singing. There is a good reason I am banned from singing in the car.

The last mile was spent passing all of the walkers (most of them with children). We found that the shout of “Santa behind you” wasn’t really a good indication that you were passing, when there were a load of Santa’s running. Nikki and I also asked some of the adults if they had been “naughty or nice”, making note of all the ‘Nice’ ones – I am sure they were hiding something wink

As we got towards the end, my wish to curl up and collapse was only held off by Nikki tempting me with alcoholic cupcakes at the end. Damn, she knows how to motivate me.
Santa's with a medal -- taken in some
'hobbity' type hole. It's artistic people!

Finish done in 38:15 and we immediately headed off after collecting our frankly awesome medals to get some cash from the car; oh and to strip. Before you get any idea’s on Santa-on-Santa action here, may I just point out that sweat-dripping felt Santa suits is not a good look.
It wasn't just the Grinch who stole Christmas.
Zombie's do it too!

In the end we managed to spend £20 on alcoholic cupcakes and coffee. We picked up a few items before we realized that if we carried on, I may be over the legal limit to drive back. We stopped briefly for photo’s; mainly my version of Zombie Santa (I felt it was necessary to wear my InkNBurn Halloween outfit underneath for added fun) and as many silly poses as we could get away with, without mental health professionals being called in to assess us.

We also managed to find Norm, who graciously posed for photo’s with us.

"Christmas Tree, O' Christmas Tree,How we love you Christmas Tree"

A Christmas race isn’t complete without singing stupid Australian Christmas Songs whilst still wearing Santa hats on the drive home. I also ensured that I wore my Zombie Santa outfit (complete with hat and beard) around the local food store, because really provincial England has not been shocked enough with my running get-up.

All in all, I am reminded that, being injured and full of cold, creates some of the most fantastic runs. The whole idea that you need to run to be fast sometimes just ruins all the fun. I mean what’s the point of getting a PB, if you are miserable doing it. You will find sometimes that running for a laugh will get you that PB you wanted AND you also have a story to tell at the end.

Of course it also helps in obtaining your PB, if you have never run a ‘4.4 mile, dressed as a creepy Santa’ race before. A PB is pretty much guaranteed regardless of how slow –or in fact how rude- you are!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

FlintLand | Running with the Navajo

«Welcome, my People, my friends, ma family.»

Race director Shaun Martin
«Ya'at' eeh. As is Navajo tradition, please allow me to introduce myself.»

Shaun Martin doesn't speak like everyone. Tall, calm with vivid, fiery eyes, you couldn't miss him in a crowd of hundreds. He stood proudly in front of the runners, and went on to recite his name and his family background, in Navajo language.

«What I just did is state my name, my clan and my origins. I started by saying Ya'at' eeh. Translated to English, it is a salutation which basically means that you and I, we're good».

I felt immediately at ease. I'd traveled to Navajo Country with my friend La Mariposa and we'd arrived in Chinle, Arizona, just as the sun set over the distant horizon. The sky is large, here, the land is vast and the air is crisp. Sitting in an outside amphitheater, surrounded by runners and listening to Shaun, I was right at home.

A sacred place of magnificent beauty
Canyon de Chelly (promounced «De Shay») is a place of legends. This space is sacred for the Navajo, and its access is strictly prohibited to anyone unless their clan lives inside the tall red rock walls. Visitors and tourists may glance at it from top lookouts, in the distance. As a world first, on October 12, we runners would have the immense honor of being allowed inside the Canyon and the great privilege of running its entire lenght.

After an evening of connecting with participants and organizers, where my imagination took flight with canyon legends and my heart filled with a deep sense of kinship, we went to sleep for a couple hours among the distant howls of the coyotes and the neighing of the wild horses. The next day, before first light, we made our way into the dark to a warm bonfire where a traditional breakfast of blue corn mash was awaiting us.

There, in the biting cold late-night breeze, gathered in a circle around the fire, we participated in a prayer to the new day and received an intimate blessing of cedar smoke, from a shaman who spoke to all in a mix of Navajo and English.

Blessing ceremony
«You are about to perform a sacred act in the Navajo culture, called Dàghààh. Your footsteps will touch the earth while the sky awakens and sends its first sunlight. As you enter the mouth of the Canyon, the walls will slowly rise; this represents Mother Earth's arms opening to invite you, then rising up to take you to Father Sky.»

We left the warmth of the fire and took a couple steps to the starting line. Shaun stood at the front. «While you travel inside the Canyon, you are welcome to follow Navajo tradition and holler out to your heart's content. The more, the better. Your howls will echo along the rock walls and be heard from a great distance. Canyon residents and visitors to the rim are going to witness a very rare, awesome display of running today.»

Without any need to say more, both Shaun and the crowd united in a huge, wild, primal howl and the runners burst out in the early light. The moment was unique, magical, electric. A long line of awe-struck runners formed as we slowly left the low sand wash and entered the Canyon. Every step took us further in, swallowing us whole in unspeakable beauty.

> Read more on FlintLand

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Limits? Where we're from, we don't have limits!

I know -before you pick yourselves off and stare at the screen in horror- two posts in two days, on a blog that was barely breathing. Well, I have my mojo back and yes, I also know that is a scary, scary thought.  You may -if you wish- run away now, screaming and waving your hands in the air.

Today, I ran a 10K race with little -okay, closer to no- training; testing my limits and giving the proverbial finger to life and everything she wants to dish out at me.

I wrote yesterday, that prepping for the race, felt like a marker in life; a hint that today, I would learn something about myself, my running and about the community I live in.  I did.

I had no expectations on this race. I just wanted to finish. I am so glad that this was my only goal. I think if I was concentrating on getting a PB and not enjoying the ride, I would have missed out on so much.

The race started -as they usually do- with the hares at the front and the tortoises at the back.  I placed myself in the mid-pack, knowing that really thats not where I should be. This was the start of my life re-education:

Lesson #1 - life is fast. Control and determination is not about pushing every limit, but learning which boundaries to test.
As I started in the mid-pack, I became more contented as I let the hares pass me by and to run the race at a pace I knew would allow me to finish. Just because I wasn't running a 8:30 mile, didn't mean I wasn't determined, but that I had the courage to back off and run and live life at the pace that meant I got the job done.

Lesson #2 - Your life is an on-going series of personal connections. Embrace them all, but accept that not all of them will develop.  As I started the run, I used a few people as involuntary and unknowing pacers. I needed to keep myself grounded, and I needed to keep myself slow. I always feel guilty about using the person in front of me as an unknowing pacer; I know how irritating it can be to hear footsteps on your heel whilst you silently wish, "just overtake me already". So, I would always say 'Hi' to the person and apologise to them about what I was inadvertently doing. Today, these burgeoning interactions didn't create any connections. Meh, maybe next time.

Lesson #3 - As you flail, life throws you a line. Roger, what can I say about you? Thank you is not enough.  As I was doubting why I was running this race, Roger comes along and makes a comment about my awesome INB (InkNBurn to all you -soon to be hip- uneducated kids out there) calf sleeves. A simple comment,  changed a race I wanted to forget, to a race I really enjoyed and learnt from. It is safe to say, without Roger, I am not sure if and how I would ended my race today.

Lesson #4 - The most interesting people are those pushing their limits. Yep, Roger, it's back to you Mate.  I commented to Roger, that the reason I run races are to share them, not with the hares who run forty-minute 10K's once a week, but to share them who were pushing their own boundaries. I stand by that comment. Roger -I found out- usually runs a 5K once a week, but on Tuesday was offered a bib from a friend who was injured. He has only run three 10K's and his longest run is a seven-miler. He was taking on a challenge he hadn't planned and he was pushing his boundaries.  The most inspiring people are those who take on life -and instead of winning or running better than X,Y,Z- are there just to see what they can do.

Lesson #5 - An goal shared is a goal achieved. It is believed that -in the end- running a solitary sport. Wrong. Running is about taking your goals, your limits and your personal achievements and sharing them. Today, my goal was to run a 10K, my limit was to battle a broken body and my personal achievements were all the races I had run before. I shared all of these with the people I met today on the course and together we fought all our demons and we revelled  in every small success; together we shared and in the end we all achieved.

Lesson #6 - Slowing down to help each other is not a sign of failure. There are many runners out there who's aim is to get to the end in a certain time; to be better, quicker, faster, stronger. Wrong. so, so wrong. As I ran today, there were a few times I slowed right down. Sometimes I had to do it so I could keep going, but sometimes I did it because I knew someone else needed to take a breather, so they could keep going. It could have been someone who was using me as one of those involuntary pacers. It could be a new-found friend who was having an issue with a section of the course. My goal was to run all of the race, but then as I walked with someone -thereby failing in one of my aims- I realised that this was not a failure.  This is what racing should be, and now as I had failed in a goal, I came to remember, that this was the real reason I run.

Lesson #7 - Laugher is always the best medicine. At the end, my friends' partner mentioned I was too enthusiastic in my non-running exploits. High-fiving the kids as I passed, or making a comment to a volunteer.  I did probably spend more energy than I should being a goof than I should have done, but then I would not of finished if I had toned it down.  All of those over-the-top-goofball-theatrics were the reason I kept going.  Just to make someone smile, made me smile and I would not have reached that finish without it.

Lesson #8 - The only i in team is the hole in the 'A'. Okay, that made no sense unless you have seen the meme on the internet.  Write the word 'TEAM' in that old-fashioned 'Tetris' block type writing you used to do as a kid, and then you will find the letter 'i' in the middle of the letter 'A'. Anyway, I am digressing a little. The point is, you may be running the race, but you would not be there if it wasn't for everyone else out there. You may get your PB and pat yourself on the back, but think: Did you thank ALL of those volunteers who got up before you and then stood there in the cold, wind and rain and directed you onto the path of personal victory? Did you thank those people who unwittingly got you to that PB as you used them as pacers then raced past them? When you were low, did you thank the stranger who spurred you on? Did you thank all of your running buddies who trained with you two-three-four-more times a week and told you could do it?  If you didn't then you are the 'i' in the 'A'-hole. Get on FaceBook, Twitter, whatever and do it now. Without them, you couldn't brag about the shiny new medal and that glow of your new PB. (So, just to make sure I have covered everyone, here goes: Thank you to: All of the organisers and volunteers out there today; Everyone who helped me and didn't know it -I wish I had some of your names; To Roger, who got me to the end; To my friends, who sent me luck; To Nikki, who got me to the start; To Nikki's family who brightened my day; and to my Family. Thank you for being there at the end. So Am I covered now? Is that medal all mine now? *grin*)

Lesson #9 - Everyone is pushing their limits. Today a Canadian Facebook friend of mine, reminded my in his post that this weekend is 'Terry Fox Run' weekend.  I am not sure if there is anyone outside of Canucksville who will know who Terry Fox is.  He is a Canadian legend. At the age of 22, after having his leg amputated due to cancer, he embarked on a run across Canada to enlighten others to the struggle of those battling Cancer and raise funds at the time.  His goal was to run a marathon a day and to show that disability was not a hinderance.  He died before he could reach his target, but that does not mean he didn't push his -and everyone who watched him-boundaries. Every year around the third week of September, people run in his name and raise funds for Cancer research. His legacy and reminder is still poignant thirty-plus years later.  Everyone is pushing their limits. You may not know it, or even understand it, but everyone you meet has their battles to fight. Respect that.

So, did I learn something today in my race? You betcha! Was this race a 'life-marker'? Hell, yeah. Was I reminded why I race? Definitely. Would I do it again? Probably, but ask me when I have sobered up - that medicinal alcohol is bound to wear off soon.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

FlintLand Review : Camelbak Ultra LR Hydration Vest

  • Type : Hydration
  • Use : Long-distance running
  • Price : $130

Camelbak and I go way back. When I started to run-commute, I opted for a SnoBlast bag to carry my stuff around and hydrate at the same time. Since it’s a downhill skiing / snowboarding bag, it seemed like an odd choice and many runners commented on it. When I wore it for my first ultra, people started telling me I needed a vest. I thought my SnoBlast did an awesome job, and although I still wear this bag every day for other purposes, I have to admit my world changed when I tried a hydration vest.

My model of reference for hydration vests is the Nathan Endurance, which I have worn so much it’s half-torn apart. I have tried a couple other alternatives, but never found anything I liked. When Camelbak sent me a Marathoner and an Ultra LR, my eyes got set on the latter in an instant.

Trail test
I took the Ultra LR out for a first unforgiving test on a cold winter afternoon. Frankly, I didn’t think it would last more than 10 minutes in the sub-zero weather. I was very pleased to discover it didn’t freeze, as long as I blew back some air in the drinking tube. The vest itself felt comfortable and barely-there. The weight distribution at the very bottom of the vest makes it feel very light.

Road test
I took the Ultra LR on several long winter runs, but was curious to see how it would perform when warm weather would settle in and I’d ditch the extra layers of clothing. So when spring came, I made sure to bring it to all my longer races. I ran two half-marathons, a couple long runs on my own, a full marathon and a 50K ultra wearing it.

Quick Link Tube Assembly System
Definitely, the best part about Camelbak vests is the tube assembly. It starts with a coupling at the bladder that you only need to push the tube in to connect. When the tube is disassembled, the bladder will not spill or leak. This means you don’t have to undo the whole vest to get the bladder out and rince / dry it after your runs. It also means you can carry more than one bladder (say, in a drop bag) and swap them with a simple click of the drinking tube. Pretty awesome. But it doesn’t stop there. The bite valve is also very well-conceived, with a simple slit that opens up when you bite it. If you’re worried it might drip or get squeezed-open when transporting the vest, there is also a cut-off valve to ensure liquid flows only when you want it.

The Ultra LR is the roomiest vest I’ve ran in, with multiple front pockets and accessible mesh stashes over the straps where you can easily slip half a dozen gels, a Clif bar or two, your keys, a pair of arm warmers and a couple other small items. The belt portion also features two large waist pockets for even more storage that’s accessible while you run. The back of the vest offers a large mesh stash that will easily contain a light windbreaker or other pieces of gear you might need. It has a built-in whistle, which is an obvious safety feature, but moreover will allow you to tick a mandatory item off the equipment list of many mountain ultras.

Bite valve with cut-off mechnism
The shoulder harness and waist straps are fully adjustable and will fit runners of almost any size. Although there are neat “compression straps” for the bladder, I’ve never used them and question their purpose. The belt goes all the way from your right to buckle on your left side, which felt a bit awkward. Why not use double adjustments like everyone else?

Space also comes at the price of weight. The Ultra LR is also the bulkiest vest I’ve ran in, and that difference is way more noticeable when running in warm weather, where it almost feels like a backpack with a lot of fabric touching your skin. It weighs in at over a pound, too.

The Ultra LR brings a lot of innovation to hydration vests with the unique lumbar bladder, the awesome valve and tubing system and the creative use of space for storage. I think it offers very interesting features, but would benefit to undergo a drastic weight and bulk reduction effort, which would bring lighter and more breathable fabrics, and reduce the contact points with the runner’s body. Overall, this is definitely a piece of gear I will use in my running.

High points
  • Possibly the industry’s best valve and tubing system
  • Clever lumbar bladder puts the weight on your waist, not your shoulders
  • Extra roomy
  • Fully adjustable

Low points
  • Feels bulky, more so in warm weather
  • Heavy at 1.15 lbs

The equipment for this FlintLand review was supplied by Camelbak free of charge, without any conditions.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Last couple of years I had trouble understanding the summer-training-people. The ones that huddle on the buses and in their cars during winter only to get panicked when spring is upon them and they throw themselves out of the door in order to hit "beach 2013". I never really understood. What's the matter, can't you just dress warmer? If it's icy outside, just get some spiked tires for you bike, right? You'll get warm when you run.

This year though, I do understand. It started in late October when I got called away on a business trip to Armenia. (And yes, I had to look it up on Wikipedia as well, but if you do, pay attention, it's a really nice little country). I was there 10 days but didn't really feel comfortable out running for various reasons. And when I came home I was hit with the longest, toughest cold of my life. 2 months in the drain popping pain killers and generally just trying to stay upright. And after that? Swedish winter. Go figure. Cold, dark and snowy.

Getting home from work I just couldn't get myself out of the door. I'd be cold and hungry and grumpy and feeling fat and lonely. So yes, I do understand: sometimes it damn hard just to get started.

What to do?

Well first of all, remember the fun. Remember to smile. Also, remember that the only real failure is to not try. If you try and fail that's alright because you might learn something from it. But if you don't try at all? Nope, can't do. So I decided to start moving my ass, but do it little by little. Start walking back from work. Spend 20 minute in the gym now and again. Bring out the bike and start using it. With the goal of trying a little every day.

And the damnedest thing is that it seems to work. Yesterday I popped 8 km after work in a leisurely 5.30 min/km and I found myself enjoying it immensely. And every time I met someone I'd start smiling again. Which is, let me tell you, a strange thing to do for a Swedish runner: you'd be amazed how good people you meet on the trail here are at no-quite meeting your eyes, and looking grim with the headphones firmly attached and beach 2013 fixed in their minds.

But if it's a reboot, let's do it properly! So yesterday I ordered a new pair of Merrel Trail Gloves for better bootin', and also signed up for Lidingöloppet in September. Tagged as "the largest cross-country race in the world" it's not quite what you'd think of as "trail" but neither is it "street". And it's a huge classic in Sweden: last year 44,000 people toed the starting line for 30 km of no-quite-trail fun. It'll be my longest race by far and I'm giddy with excitement already.

Oh, and what team did I sign up under? Why, team Run Smiley Collective of course!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Caballo Blanco Story

This is a beautiful short story about the life and vision of Micah True, better known as Caballo Blanco, as rendered by New York artist Sam Carbaugh.

As we are nearing March 27, I want to remind the world about my friend and inspiration, Micah True, who went out on his last run one year ago in the beautiful Gila Forest of New Mexico.

Although there is still not a day where I miss him beyond words, I was elated to witness the vitality of his dream and spirit in the Copper Canyons in March, where more than 500 runners, both foreign and Raramuri, gathered for the celebration of peace, friendship and sharing that Micah created from his good will and his actions. 

Like many people in the world, Sam Carbaugh was touched by Micah's passion and devotion to the Raramuri and the simple, humble joy of running. Sam invested his time and talent into creating a small biography that stays true to both who Micah was as person and as the creator of the legendary Copper Canyons Ultra Marathon (now known as Ultra Marathon Caballo Blanco). This is as much a story about Micah True as it is the one of his legacy as Caballo Blanco, Runner of the Sierra Madre.

After making the story of the Raramuri and UMCB their "Monday Inspiration" feature on the week of the race, our friends at Tribesports have decided to pay homage to Caballo Blanco by featuring his story on their ultrarunning blog. For posterity, I will also feature the story right here, on FlintLand, forever.

Run free!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

FlintLand Review : EC3D B-Hot Compression Gear

  • Type : Compression / performance
  • Use : Cold weather / winter running
  • Price : Pants - $150, Socks $65

Ever since I became aware of compression gear, I had a hit-and-miss experience. Convinced at first that I had found a little edge that would allow me to push my running just a bit farther, I soon realized that the promise was greater than the results I was getting. I tried compression calf sleeves that did little more than give me a high-tech road runner look. I squeezed my sorry butt in running pants so tight that I was afraid they would rip open if I sat down. I felt dumb to have spent my money on expensive stuff that was not much else than snake oil.

Still, I knew there was some good to compression, and that some of the gear I got, I really loved. My Adidas Tech Fit t-shirt, that completely eliminates chaffing issues. My Sugeoi recovery socks. But aside from those, I thought I was pretty much done with compression. Then I met an EC3D Sports rep at a running show.

She told me how the company had started in the medical field, creating compression fabrics for people suffering from various ailments, with tangible results. She explained the science and research involved in genuine compression gear, and demonstrated why most of the running stuff I had tried before failed to provide any benefit. She actually taught me so much that I decided to create a separate article (coming soon) on the science of compression. But this is a review, so let's get back to it.

First impression
She suggested I give EC3D compression gear a serious try. She measured my feet, my calves, my thighs and my waist and selected correct sizes for a pair of running pants, a pair of recovery pants, two pairs of full-lenght compression socks, and a kit of compression crew socks, performance calf sleeves and recovery calf sleeves. Since these are way too much for a single review, I split them into categories. This article is about the B-Hot line of compression gear, made from merino wool mixed with elastane. I tested the running tight and the full-lenght socks.

Trail test
I started wearing the B-Hot tight right about when things got close to the freezing point, late last fall. I had suspected the merino wool would keep me warm, but would provide little protection against the wind. I was very surprised to not only keep warm in cold, damp, windy conditions, but also very pleased about the moisture-wicking properties of the fabric. The seemless construction and the obvious quality of the weaving make the B-Hot very sturdy and comfortable, even for running long distances. Even when winter settled in, I managed to go out for long runs wearing only my tights in weather as cold as -10C (XF) and always felt warm. When things got seriously cold, I wore the B-Hot compression socks that cover my lower leg up to the knee under my full-lenght Windstopper winter pants.

Surprisingly, even though the tights and socks provide a high level of compression, I didn't feel my movements were impaired at all. Compression stitches along the whole inside lenght create specific pressure that limits muscle oscillation and improves blood flow, two things I started to notice some benefits from after several kilometers of running. In short, this gear really shines on runs from 15-20k to ultra distances by reducing fatigue and helping with posture. The tight I reviewed was a prototype and it became rapidly quite obvious that the stitching in the crotch area could use some improvement for a better fit. The final version now features a new pattern that corrects the issue by weaving the compression pattern in an outward curve, all the way up to the waist.

The EC3D B-Hot line has quickly become among my favorite cold weather running gear. It provides serious compression for tangible results on long distances, without limiting my range of movement. It also keeps me toasty in cold weather, even in strong winds, thanks to its mix of merino wool, elastane and thermal polypropylene. It wicks moisture away from my legs, keeping dry and warm even after several hours out. And after hundreds of kilometers of running, they still look and feel as new as the first time I wore them.

High points
  • Certainly among my best winter running gear
  • Excellent mix of synthetic fibers and merino wool
  • Medical-grade compression that doesn't hinder range of movement
  • Keeps you warm and dry even over long distances
  • Sweatshop-proof - 100% made in Canada
  • Competitive pricing

Low points
  • A bit tricky to pull on and take off
  • Limited US retail distribution

The equipment for this personal review was supplied by EC3D Sports free of charge, without any conditions.