The North Face Athletes – Performance Racing Kit
For many new, and (fairly) young runners like us, your eyes may not have been opened to the world of running brands outside of the box dominated by the likes of Nike and Adidas (and Asics, for all the other runners who turn their nose up at wearing Nike and Adidas). These are the brands which are more typically associated with running in our circles - brands which not only make great performance wear, but performance wear which also look good. During the run up to our first Food and Lycra 10km race, we got the opportunity to try out The North Face's latest Spring Summer Collection for 2013. The North Face is a brand we typically associate with extreme sports and outdoor gear. It's the brand behind some of the greatest extreme adventures, creating products exactly for that purpose - to last in all conditions, and to help you perform at your very best. One of the extreme sports events sponsored by The North Face is the Ultra- Trail du Mont-Blanc; the biggest and most challenging race in Europe.
Taking place in August, this is the ultimate test for all ultra-marathon runners, “the race of all the superlatives”. A test of your mind and body (and bloody soul by the sounds of things) as you take on a complete tour of the Mont Blanc Massif passing through France, Switzerland and Italy in all weather conditions and at high altitudes.
The distance is 166km.
That's 4 full marathons back-to-back.
Up and around a mountain.
Come night, rain, wind or snow.
Seriously, this is absolutely mind boggling for me: The first runners take 20 hours to complete the race. What's even more crazy is the fact that one single person, renowned endurance runner Lizzy Hawker, has won this race 5 times. FIVE TIMES!
And here we are crying about Tough Mudder (still going to cry though, allow us) PAH.
It's not often we hear about Ultra Marathon female athletes but Hawker is definitely someone you should read up about. Her story, achievements and journey is inspiring and interesting - a woman full of guts and courage who truly lives to run and to test her limits by running extreme distances in the wilderness.
We are absolutly humbled to be given the chance to try out North Face's latest performance racing kit and trail gear, especially as we are runners who have only ever taken on the distance of a half marathon.
We took to the forests of Rotterdam donned in North Face’s latest trail running gear. We know their products are world renowned for its ability to perform for the most hardcore sporting activities, but how do they work for your everyday girl on a city run?
Durable, lightweight and waterproof? We took it to the test.
Kimmayco's take on The North Face 's 'Better Than Naked' Range:
I know The North Face for their sick but durable winter jackets (I remember badly wanting one when I was younger after seeing Young Gunz wearing them in the No Better Love video) so when I heard they did running gear for women I was curious. When Rach received the North Face goodies she got me gassed off of the colour way that the vest top and shorts came in. I wasn't disappointed when I saw them - I LOVE the salmon-pink on the blue and black! I tried them on instantly and I was impressed. Aesthetically pleasing, but how does it perform?
W Better than Naked Split Short
I generally have a problem with shorts fitting me well but these had a perfect little split down the side ideal for general mobility. I didn't feel restricted in these, which some sports shorts have the tendency to do. And, there is no need to be worried about the split being too revealing as there is a stretch mesh panel underneath that hides your lady bits without restricting you. I'm a size 10 and the size small fits me perfectly. They've been generous with the pockets too! There's not one, but three pockets. It has the standard zipped pocket at the back in the middle which fits an iPhone and there are two mini elasticated pockets either side which are ideal for energy gels. The guys/ladies at North Face have really thought this through! I felt free in these, they are breathable, sun-blocking and water resistant with a built in flashdry inner. As their name states, these were Better than Naked forreal!
Downside is they are slightly skimpy for a casual run - you need to forget about your insecurities (but obvs Food & Lycra badgyal/badman readers bawse through any insecurities) and just run in these because the shorts defo look good! The price is steep but I'd definitely pay for these if I had a long distance run up ahead - it's the attention to detail that counts and the extra pockets make all the difference!
Better than Naked Singlet
North Face... I'm feeling this Better than Naked theme you have going on you know! I felt like I was running around in just my sports bra whilst wearing this. The vest is really lightweight, and it looks great on. It has a racer back which I love on sports tops! Whilst running, the top didn't rub against my skin at all and I didn't have any funky sweat smells you sometimes get from sports clothes (I wore this to run in 37 degree centigrade heat in Mexico!). Moisture-wicking indeed it was. It has a slightly looser fit to it which helped me stay ventilated whilst running in the heat. I'm a size 10 on top too and the size small was perfect. I was really happy to run in this, again good shout The North Face!
Shop the Better than Naked range here - there's great bits for men too, so man dem make sure you check it out!
Seraphizm's thoughts on The North Face Trail-Specific Jacket:
AK Stormy Trail Jacket
By far the best running jacket I have ever ran in. I tested many running jackets and this one is a winner. It's waterproof and so breathable at the same time. As a urban runner this is what I need the most. I wore the jacket on a rainy day and I was amazed to see the water literally falling off of the jacket. I was wearing a short sleeve t-shirt underneath and normally when I run and sweat I find that sports jackets - made out of man made fabrics - stick to my skin. This AK stormy train Jacket didn't thanks to its extreme breathability. So comfortable!
The hood is adjustable at the back which gave it the perfect fit for my head and hair.
If you're serious about your trail running and looking for one of the best lightweight, waterproof jackets on the market, I would definitely recommend you check this one out. It's a little pricey at £160 but the quality and the technology behind it justifies it - it's a great long term investment.
"RUN SIMPLY FOR THE LOVE OF IT - THEN MORE BECOMES POSSIBLE
THAN YOU MIGHT EVER HAVE DREAMED"
- The North Face