Tough Mudder Review - Henley on Thames - May 2017

A long time ago, I was asked to be part of a team that did Tough Mudder. I am pretty sure I said no... This was obviously ignored, and in early May we trooped up to Henley on Thames to participate. Here is the story!

TOUGH and MUDDY. That's basically it, but read on...

One of my best mates, Dan, knows Linvoy Primus pretty well, and through Dan, I have met him a few times. Linvoy's a top bloke, and something of a legend in these parts having been a regular in the Portsmouth FC team throughout the noughties! Linvoy is heavily involved with a local charity - Faith and Football - which engages with less privileged kids through football and Christianity. You don't need to be religious to appreciate the work they do, and they have made a massive difference to the lives of many people. Linvoy was often known as the nicest man in football - it's easy to see why! Anyway, the long and short of it was that the Tough Mudder was to be done for the charity, and like it or not, I was in!!

At this point, I was pretty relaxed, I had recently done the Great South Run, a couple of Half Marathons and a few 10k's. I'd been skiing and I was pretty fit. Oh well, why not, I thought... Trouble was, for a variety of reasons my fitness dropped off leading up to the event, and I was concerned!!

Tough Mudder is nearly 12 miles of hills, mud, and 20+ obstacles. It's a lot of fun, but it's really tough (as the name suggests!). It's a team event really, and it was a team I was joining!

The "Tuff Brudderz" was our group, and along with a couple of Tuff Sisterz, we headed off to Henley on Thames for our day. Conditions were great - cool and dry.

Nath, Linvoy, Sam, Floyd, Steve, Ali, Dan, Paul, Becky, Me, Gary, Steve and Duke!

Nath, Linvoy, Sam, Floyd, Steve, Ali, Dan, Paul, Becky, Me, Gary, Steve and Duke!

We'd all chipped in for a tshirt, and of course, I donated eGloves! It was XTREME's and Sport's for a small donation to Faith and Football. They are actually an important part of the kit as it turns out!

We got to the event went through the check in paraphernalia, and lined up in our start pen. You are released in waves to try and spread everyone out over the course so you aren't hanging around too much - which works up to a point, but there are delays in certain places!!

Some of the obstacles are easy, some are fairly easy but unpleasant, but most of them are somewhere between tough and close to impossible (for me anyway!!). Noteworthy are; Arctic Enema - this involves sliding into a massive skip of ice and water! It is unbelievably disorientating, you feel numb and as you have to submerge yourself fully it messes with your thinking! Shock Therapy is the electrocution bit, and the best known obstacle - and it hurts!! (Unsurprisingly!! Haha!!). There are loads of 'em - The Block Ness Monster, Mud Mile, Hero Carry, Pyramid Scheme and Everest, to name a few...

All in all, the more time that passes, the more I recall the event fondly! I'm not sure I would do another, although I am under a bit of pressure to do so! It's a definite tick in the box though... :-)

If you get talked into doing one, here is my list of tips!

Good Luck!!

Notes and tips:

  • Traffic - leave plenty of time to get to the venue - we were in Henley and traffic was terrible!
  • VIP parking is REALLY convenient!
  • Trail Shoes are better than normal running shoes - you'll need the grip.
  • Quick drying clothing is essential...
  • Base layer with long sleeves and run tights are best - I wore shorts and ripped my knees up a bit - wish I'd worn some Absolute 360 run tights!
  • Wear your eGlove XTREME's - these are ideal as they dry quickly and give you protection...
  • Change or clothes - you WILL be filthy!

Snowsport, Wintersport

Keeping Warm when Skiing or Snowboarding

With my own trip to Val Thorens coming soon (leave on Friday night - ridiculously excited!), I started getting a few bits together, and have been thinking about what to wear. Val Thorens is high - 3200m at the top - and temperatures have been as low as -17C in the last few weeks, so keeping warm is vital if you want to enjoy the slopes...

In this blog, I'll share some of the techniques through which you can keep your body warm. For those with a short attention span, here's the key thing;
Layer Up
The most common approach to this is 3-layer rule of layering. Layering gives you the adaptability to include or remove layers, based upon the climate conditions (which can change quickly) and your movement level. These are the layers that you will need to wear: 

1. Wicking / Base Layer
This is the layer worn alongside your skin, most often a long sleeve top and pair of "long-johns" which come with an abundance of high tech names . Search for warm clothing made of a manufactured - more often than not polyester - fibre that has "wicking" control. This implies the strands will wick (move) dampness far from your skin and go it through the texture so it will dissipate. This keeps you warm, dry and comfortable. The one "don't" is cotton really - as comfortable as it is, it absorbs moisture, becomes damp and that dampness can get cold... and despite the fact that it's icy, you will sweat! So look for a technical fabric with wicking - most of the high street stores do this type of base layer, my preferred options:  

Personal favourites are my Big Crocodile top - very comfy, warm and technical fabric - and Absolute 360 Infrared leggings - these are genius, AND warm! Both of these brands are also small UK businesses, like us - so that's even better!! Links are at the end of this post - why not go check them out??

2. Protecting Layer
This centre layer (or layers!!) is where fleece tops and/or down are found. The thinking here is that more layers are better than 1 thick layer in order to keep warm in and icy out, which they do by catching air between the fibres. I tend to go with fleece as a start point and add a down or fleece gilet if it's really cold. Again, these are in plentiful supply - I personally have a few different models - Jack Wolfskin being my preferred brand. I also have a couple of Uniqlo Ultra Light Down gilets (oh and coats - great for warmer blue sky ski days!!). There is always one in my backpack!

3. Security Layer
The outside layer, for the most part a shell jacket and trouser combination and jeans, are crucial. They need to be waterproof to resist snow, slush or (please no) rain and have some form of windstopper membrane, at the same time there needs to be breathability giving moisture a chance to vanish. I've got some great O'Neill kit that I have had the eGlove logo added to (of course). For me they represent the perfect mix of look, quality, performance and price! I've always had a soft spot for O'Neill - I used to have some ski gear of thiers in the 90's... In fact, it's probably in the loft and fashionable again now... ;-)

At this point we get onto peripherals!! Head, neck, hands and feet...

For the neck, I wear a buff/snood style neckwarmer. For me, it's more about keeping the wind off, and I've always scarves too warm (although, you guessed it, the Uniqlo HEATTECH scarf is AMAZING!) so I have a specially made Giraffe eGlove branded version - It's great for running, walking, cycling, and of course snowsports!! Soon to be available on the website! :-)

For Your Head
We all wear helmets these days don't we? 'Nuff said. Seriously though, don't risk not wearing a lid - an earlier blog talks about the dangers of hear injury. For apres, eGlove have always LOVED a Zaini, and the Melrose is packed and ready to go for next week!!

Hands
Least surprising part of this blog! Gloves!! Keeping your hands warm is one of the most important thing while doing skiing or snowboarding. With eGlove, all of our Ski gloves and Snowboard gloves are touchscreen compatible without removing the gloves - this extra dexterity means that you are able to use devices and do zips with warm gloved hand cosiness! Our ski glove range has been tested down to -20C and below - and keep your hands warm and dry in the toughest conditions... Some people though have their own preferred glove or mitt option - so we also do a  touchscreen glove that can be used as a liner glove. These are a great option and liner gloves have always been a great idea for people who suffer with cold hands. UNTIL 9TH FEBRUARY 2017 THERE IS 20% OFF WITH CODE SNOW20 !! 

SNOWSPORT - HERE

Feet
Clearly you'll need either ski boots or snowboard boots. What goes under them is similarly as vital, and when selecting socks, comfort and warmth is key! My faves are some Salomon socks I picked up at TKMaxx of all places - warm and comfortable = happy! Sometimes, it's worth remembering that poorly fitting boots may actually be the issue rather than the socks - always make sure you have a pair of boots that don't restrict bloodflow and give your toes a little wriggle room!!

Hope this helps you have the best winter sport holiday possible!! Got any secrets to share? We'd welcome your comments!!

Selected websites for the gear highlighted:

Mountain Bike, Guest Blogger

Mountain Biking in Bike Park Wales - The Hills, The Falls, The Fun!!

Bike Park Wales - The Hills, The Falls, The Fun

Bike Park Wales had been on the agenda for a few years with various things getting in the way of 2 pals and me actually getting there. Then back in October 2016 we all said enough is enough we are going and we are going next month..... as long as everyone's wife says it's ok ;-) 

They did and we booked for November 29th!

We got together the week before for a full bike inspection and kit check. After ticking everything off one of my pals commented I still hadn't bought any decent gloves and it was going to be cold. I knew eGlove did thermal mountain bike gloves, and as I have been a wearer of the Black XTREME's for a couple of years, thought I would give them a go! The key elements I needed were:

1. Have good grip material on the fingers and palm

2. Be warm but not too thick so that I couldn't get a good feel and grip of the handle bars

3. Not be too in your face, my clothes and bike cover that area ;-)

4. I wanted to be able to use my phone without taking them off

Number 4 was a important for me as I like to take a few snaps whilst we are out on the bikes and always get annoyed with having to take my gloves off to operate my iPhone each time.  

I was told that this was a blog post about Bike Park Wales - not a glove review, but suffice to say I loved them - and now my mates have them too! 

The 29th came around quickly and off we went of the long drive to Bike Park Wales. On arrival the outside temperature gauge on my car was reading -3 so I was glad we had packed accordingly. 

We kitted up, eGloves on and got riding.  Bike Park Wales was far greater than I could imagined and had been worth the wait, after the first run the adrenaline was running high my ears and nose were cold but amazingly my fingers were still toasty. No blisters and warm fingers is always an extra bonus during a winter down hill blast, you don't need extra hassle as the few falls (which did happen) are enough!!

The whole set up at BPW is excellent, the fact that you get driven to the top of the vast amount of runs each time is epic and believe me you will want to pay for this option as the descents are long and zap the energy from you. Being out first visit we took the advice of the team there and started on a blue run to help warm us up and get a feel for the runs. 

What better way to start than with the Beast of Burden which is 4.6k on its own. Instantly we knew this was going to be a good day, the standard of the trails is first class. The terrain is perfect giving you ample grip and the the though and design that has gone into the angles and berms is second to none. 

Now warmed up and buzzing we went straight back to the top and decided the red runs needed exploring starting with Wibbly Wobbly then Vicious Valley. You could definitely feel the step up in technicality needed as the pace increased and the odd tree stump coming up quickly and the jumps being that much bigger and longer. 

Confidence grew and the morning went on so I said to my pals let's go for a black run, I was met with resistance and for good reason I learnt very quickly. Whilst discussing if we should I decided just to jump on the bike and pedal on down entering Deep Navigation...within 30 seconds I regretted it and toppled sideways into a rock - that made me feel a bit silly and rather bruised! This experience gave me a reality check that at Bike Park Wales more than any other Bike Park I have been to in the U.K. You really have to respect the levels each track is rated at. 

The team at BPW should be chuffed with what they have achieved as they really have created a great place that lives up to expectations.

I can't wait to return in February 2017 and I can assure you my eGloves will be coming with me along with a full face helmet!!!

Contributed by Tom Cheverton @tomchev on Twitter. Tom is a friend of eGlove, and wrote this for our blog after I twisted his arm! Bike Park Wales looks Awesome!!

Website - www.bikeparkwales.com

Running

Festive parkrun

Festive parkrun

Regular readers will know that I am fairly new to parkrun - although my wife Nikki has been a regular park runner for years. It all started for me in the summer - I had talked myself into the Great South Run and knew I needed to make sure I got out more - parkrun was the sort of commitment I was looking for.

My first parkrun was in Naas (near Dublin, Ireland) in August - Nikki and I were there for the weekend and it seemed like as good a place as any to get started! We turned up there early - Irish parkrun starts later - and the atmosphere was great! We were treated like royalty!! Naas parkrun is a lovely parkrun - it’s smallish (there were 54 runners when Nikki and I did it) but we would recommend… Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I was hooked…

Since then, I have run another 18 and volunteered once. My home parkrun is Fareham, which is a lovely course - out and back along the bank of the creek, but as Nikki is something of a parkrun uber tourist we tend to travel a bit… I’ve done Eastleigh, Southsea, Portsmouth Lakeside, Brockwell Park Herne Hill, Netley Abbey and most recently Queen Elizabeth Country Park.

Which brings me on to the festive element. This year was a bumper year for park runners - the ONLY time that parkrun is allowed on any other day than a Saturday is Christmas Day and New Years Day - AND the only time you can run at anything other than 9am is New Years Day… So, New Years Day is the ONLY day it is possible to “double up!” 

We kicked off the festive period with Christmas Eve at Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun (nice and flat - mainly pathed) - it was cold that morning, but a great turnout. Then we went for Christmas Day - I decided that I would take a load of gloves and hand them out to all the Volunteers (who are always magnificent and ANY parkrun) plus any youngsters who turned up (there were quite a few which surprised me!!) Nikki and I met a friend, Ros, and ran in duly festive hats!! 2 parkruns / 2 days!!

Next up, after a fantastic Christmas and a few runs in between, we got to another bumper parkrun weekend! We started off in Southsea on New Years Eve. Southsea is one of my favourite parkruns - it's always busy, and it's flat - New Years Eve was even busier than usual, but the atmosphere was great! Afterward it was onto the festivities of New Years Eve and an alarm call for New Years Day (much to the amusement of non runners!!). Our plan was to do Fareham at 9am as it is the closest and then onto Queen Elizabeth Country Park. We met with some friends who did both with us (Dean and Debbie) and Ros also made the QECP parkrun. All I have to say about this is that if there is a WORSE course as the second in a day I'd be surprised! QE is HILLY and MUDDY (very muddy!!) so it was a real challenge - but a lot of fun!!

So there you have it - 5 parkruns done in 8 days! 

I really can't recommend parkrun enough to anyone who's yet to experience it - there is no pressure, all standards are catered for, and it is free forever! Find your local one here www.parkrun.com

NEWS, Reviews

Christmas with eGlove - Touchscreen Sports Gloves

Here's all you need to know about eGlove at Christmas.

Firstly, everybody NEEDS eGloves (even Santa!) ;-)

We'll do what we can to ensure anything you buy arrives in tip top fashion before the big day!!

Details of last postage dates are here

Of course, sometimes you get it wrong! Whether it be due to size, sport, colour or simply because they don't want eGloves (quelle horreur!!) we've extended returns until the end of January! Although in truth, we need to be loved, so even after this date we pretty much always do what we can to sort things out!

"Socks? Please don't let them be socks!! I NEED eGloves - surely EVERYBODY knows THAT?!?!?"

"Socks? Please don't let them be socks!! I NEED eGloves - surely EVERYBODY knows THAT?!?!?"

So, whether you need running gloves, cycling gloves, ski gloves, snowboard gloves, riding gloves or touchscreen gloves for many other different sports - BUY WITH CONFIDENCE here at eGlove!

Kerching - winning sales statement right there!

Have a good one people - see you on the other side!