This past weekend, iRunFar had dozens of appointments with trail running companies and scoured the entire 2009 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market show floor. In between consuming our fair share of coffee and beer, we learned as much as about trail running gear in those three days as we normally would in three months. While over the next few month we’ll be providing in depth reviews of many of the products we saw and reporting about many developments we learned about at ORWM ’09, we wanted to give you a sneak preview of some our favorite products and biggest trends from the show. Below we cover food and shoe highlights, we cover our favorite lights, apparel, and other gear from the show in another post.
OR saw two significant introductions from companies familiar to trail runners: Gu and Clif Bar.
This was the first OR where Clif featured its Shot Roks and we ate a couple of these malt ball-like, protein-filled treats every time we walked by the Clif booth. The cookie dough flavor is top notch, the chocolate flavor is solid, and the peanut butter flavor remains MIA… this time out of deference to the peanut butter scare. (Clif products were likely not contaminated despite being recalled.) iRunFar hopes to be getting some Shot Roks to share with readers in the not too distant future. (See iRF’s Shot Roks preview)
Gu showed up at OR with its entry into the energy chew category – Gu Chomps. The Chomps are not overly sweet and slightly bitter (in a good way). The taste reminded us more of Blueberry Pomegranate Roctane (See iRF’s Roctane review) than any other Gu energy gel flavor. The Chomps are the softest energy chew we’ve tried and as each Chomp is slightly smaller than a Clif Shot Blok, the Chomps should be easy to eat on the trail. While there are already many energy chews on the market, these will be worth trying. [Editor’s Note: I now feel somewhat foolish in comparing the Chomp flavor I tried to Blueberry Pomegranate Roctane. “Why?” you ask. Well, we stumbled across this hidden page on Gu’s website only to learn… we tried the Blueberry Pomegranate flavor Chomp! Chomps will also be available in Cranberry Apple, Strawberry, and Orange.]
Our favorite new food of OR was unquestionably the White Chocolate Macadamia Clif Bar. Oh. My. Goodness! These brought us back to late-night cookie runs to Hope’s Cookies in Bryn Mawr, PA for their White Russian cookies, which a college friend/current roommate of iRunFar’s Bryon Powell independently confirmed in a highly unscientific taste test. Clif, please send a case of WCM Clif Bars to iRF world headquarters stat. ;-) Actually, hold off until after the Marathon des Sables… otherwise we’ll eat ourselves out of shape. We just can help ourselves when these tasty treats are around! For those seeking a lighter option, Clif also introduced a White Chocolate Macadamia Luna Bar that’s quite yummy.
Get Your Kicks
Traditionally, there are significantly fewer new trail shoe releases at winter OR than summer OR and this year was no different. However, there were some interesting shoes like Saucony’s Razor with eVent’s breathable membrane and built-in gaiter and GoLite Footwear’s major revision of their innovative suspension technology from a “pod” design to a “paw-like” design. Showing that slight revisions can make the difference from unwearable to highly-test worthy, oBoz tweaked the bootie construction for the Ignition II so that it’s now much easier to put on and something we look forward to testing.
Much to our surprise, the two trail shoe highlights at OR came from companies with their roots in road running. Inexcusably, we’ve never tested any member of Brooks’ highly acclaimed Cascadia series. Let it be known that the Brooks Cascadia IV now glows with halogen brightness on our radar screen. It’s worth noting that Brooks brought product consultant Scott Jurek to the show, in part because New Balance is also obviously listening to its stud ultrarunners, Tony Krupicka and Kyle Skaggs. Anyone who has followed Tony’s progress over the past few years likely knows the lengths he’ll go to for lighter shoes. With New Balance’s new featherweight trail racer, the NB 100 (Fall ’09 $75), Tony won’t have to do much more than dial up his primary sponsor to find shoes he likes for the upcoming race season.
Remember to check back in later this week for more info on lighting systems, apparel, and other highlights of ORWM ’09.