I discovered VJ Irocks at the beginning of 2015. With these shoes on my feet I went on to win one of the biggest races of my life, Tromso Skyrace, defend my title by winning the OCR World Championships and remain undefeated in Toughest races – eventually winning the tour final. I am in no doubt that I owe these victories, in part, to the trainers I was wearing and here’s why:
Grip on soft ground: The cleats are big enough to supply the best imaginable grip in mud and marsh but are spaced apart enough to allow mud and rocks to be shed easily – so they don’t become clogged and heavy. Smaller cleats on the arch give grip for when stepping on for example a branch, tree or low wall – a feature missing in many purist fell running trainers.
The grip of these shoes has never let me down. From the thick soft clay of southern England to the soft marshes of Norwegian mountain running, I have always had the grip to enable me to push harder.
Grip on wet rock: This is where these trainers come into their own. The butyl rubber gives unheard of grip on wet rock. It’s hard to describe the difference in grip, and therefore confidence, these trainers provide on rocky surfaces. All other trainers I have tried don’t compare, even the classic inov8 x-talon 212. You would think this added grip is a product of a softer rubber which wears down faster but I have found this to be the opposite – the butyl rubber lugs outlast many of the other brands of trainers I have tried.
Whilst competing in Tromso Skyrace there was an incredible amount of running on wet boulders and rocky mountainside. The grip of the VJs gave me the ability me to outrun my competition, including the Ultra Skyracing World Champion, to take the win over the 44km course with 4400m of elevation gain.
Durability: VJ are interested in one thing and one thing only – making quality trainers and they haven’t followed the path of many other companies that sacrifice quality for profits. VJ only use the best materials and construction methods to make their trainers last the longest and perform the best. This is shown best in the upper material used, Schoeller®-Keprotec®, that actually has Kevlar fibres woven in, a costly material used in motor biking safety clothes which ensures this mesh will never tear.
During the entire 2015 season whilst running over 3500km I have only used 4 pairs of Irocks!
Comfort & Support: The Irock, although narrow (making it responsive), is completely ergonomically shaped which makes it comfortable from the first use. This trainer also boasts the Fitlock system, a thickened rubber section that protects the inside of your foot and wraps up when the shoe is laced providing extra support and protection.
I recently took part in World’s Toughest Mudder, a 24 hour obstacle race held in the dessert surrounding Las Vegas. The Irocks, which I used throughout, were more than comfortable enough to take me over 135km and on to win the team category.
Drainage: The Irocks have adequate drainage and use materials that don’t soak up water – this means they mostly remain the same weight (around 240g each) even used in the wettest conditions like wading or swimming.
Looks: Many have remarked that the Irocks are less aesthetically pleasing than some of the other brands and I would agree…but this is one of the reasons I like them the most. These trainers are a piece of equipment, designed and made for a purpose, of which they are undisputedly the best. They are like a wild animal, they look the way they do for many reasons, all related to function.
You can keep your sparkles and glitter because these trainers make you go further, be faster and run safer – I would take these qualities over 17 colorways any day!
The grip and design of these trainers have made them perfect for obstacle racing and SkyRacing, two extreme sports that sit on either end of the running spectrum. Many running disciplines lie in between these two extremes, be it trail running, uphill only racing, adventure racing or what they were initially designed for, orienteering, these trainers are perfect. The Irocks consistently outperform rival shoe brands – I should know as I have tried the majority of them!