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REVIEW: Zoot Ultra TT Running Shoe
Jan. 29, 2008

Speaking of running, we here at Triple Sports got word yesterday that Zoot Sports' 2008 Spring collection is on a ship crossing the world's mighty oceans at this very moment. New wetsuits, clothes and the highly anticipated Zoot shoes could be in stock within the next 2 weeks or so. These delivery dates are always guesstimates and can vary wildly. So, stay tuned for updates. Nevertheless, here's what you can expect on the shoe side.

I've been test driving the new Zoot Ultra TT running shoes for a couple of months now. They are lightweight, fast and loaded with features. Take, for example, the built-in elastic lace system. Reflective laces with an adjustable clip come already threaded through the eyelets for quick tightening on the go. Small silicone holding points on the tongue and heel (Zoot calls them INTAC Grabbers) allow for easy shoe opening and entry. The oversized heel makes for an easy grab in T2 before your blistering run. It is there where you'll find out what this shoes is really about.

I found the inside of the Ultra TT to have what they call in the textiles industry a nice "hand." The entire inside of these shoes is lined with a moisture management material with anti-microbial elements. It also is coated with a proprietary friction-free property to make it easy to wear without socks. In the performance category, the "Z-Bound" foam offers shock control while the CarbonSpan shank offers mid-foot support. One of the coolest features - and, perhaps, driest, are the holes in the sock liner and sole. Working in conjunction with the shoe's closed-cell foam in the collar and tongue, you're hard pressed to keep any water inside. With all that said, there are some downsides.

While Zoot's product description calls the Ultra TT a lightweight trainer or cushioned race day shoe, I found that a cushioning shoe they are not. Understanding that I've been training longer in preparation for the Zane Grey 50 in April, I used these shoes only on short distance runs. There is very little cushioning, making for a fairly tough ride on sidewalks. They do feel great without socks, though. I also found them to have a fairly narrow fit and European styling in terms of shoe architecture. I felt like an athletic fashionista on the streets of Milan, which, of course, I clearly am not. One other gripe is with one of the things that make these shoes interesting: the sole holes. I stepped in a puddle and a rush of water flooded the shoe. Most of it drained out, but a wet foot I still had. That probably wouldn't matter a lot on race day, but in training it was kind of irritating.

In the end, Zoot really did an excellent job with their shoe line. The Ultra TT is stylish and functional. It is a great fit for shorter distance races and light training days. At $130, they come in on the pricey side. But with all the features and technology, you will get every last penny out of them.

Arizona's Running Routes
Jan. 28, 2008

So many of us get stuck running the same routes. In a way, they're as comfortable and familiar as those old shoes we wear around. Besides, finding new routes takes time and that is in short supply for most of us. Here to help, though, is USA Track and Field.

They've put together a terrific interactive site on which runners, walkers and even some cyclists have logged their routes. Here's one I do sometimes. Google maps provides the lay of the land and includes the familiar option of birdseye coverage. Check it out to find some new routes and put some in yourself.

Triathlon: One World. Three Sports.
Jan. 25, 2008

There is a big sporting event on the horizon. Some of the best athletes around will attend and compete. Yep, you guessed it: It's the Australian Triathlon Championships.

While we shiver away January, triathlon season is in full swing in the Land Down Under with one of the biggest events taking place Feb. 3 in Perth. The Olympic-distance event will be a primer, of sorts, for this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing. All of it is a nice reminder that while triathlon got its start in the United States, the sport truly is an international craze. one world. three sports.

Crowded Market
Jan. 24, 2008

If you've ever been in an Ironman swim start, you know the field can be crowded. it appears now that the sponsorship field for Ironman Arizona is getting crowded, too, with with the addition of Casino Arizona to the title.

Apparently, the casino of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community is getting in on the naming action of the event. It will now be called the Ford-Casino Arizona Ironman Arizona or some variation of that. This all brings up an interesting discussion on the future of the event.

Since its 2005 inception, Ironman Arizona has been a bit of an experiment. There are not many Ironman events situated in urban areas, like Ironman Arizona. After all, city folk don't seem to like their roads being closed for a whole day. So, basically, everyone has been talking since the beginning about the day that Ironman Arizona becomes, say, Ironman Albuquerque or Ironman Arizona: Yuma. Further behind the issue of road closures are Salt River officials.

Plainly put, there is no Ironman Arizona without the cooperation of the Salt River Community. (That's also the reasoning behind the dizzying bike course loops of the popular Soma Triathlon.) The event needs Highway 87 and access to it in order to continue. And unlike Tempe or Scottsdale or even Phoenix, the Salt River folks don't see a huge economic impact in the event. Therefore, what's the point for the community? The answer just may be found in Albuquerque.

It's Off The Course
Jan. 23, 2008

Gatorade, the longtime energy drink sponsor of many Ironman events around the world will not be on the course at Ironman Arizona and other events this year. First Endurance, makers most notably of Ultragen and Optygen, have bought the nutritional drink sponsorship rights. The announcement was made back in December, but North America Sports, the current producer of Ironman Arizona, said today that the deal would be expanded.

For years, Gatorade has brought in Ironman athletes and those of the everyday variety with its sweet mix of electrolytes and carbohydrates. Most of us can recall the commercial with Chris Leigh and the voice the great former college football broadcaster Keith Jackson talking about Leigh's 1997 Ironman World Championship meltdown. Gatorade even started the "It's On the Course" campaing, bolstering its inclusion at some of the world's most popular events. The brand, ownded by Pepsico, also upped the ante in the ultra-endurance market with the creation of Gatorade Endurance, a sodium-boosted version to be used by actual atheltes. But perhaps that market is, well, running out of gas.

Gatorade seems to now be focusing on the everyday market with its G2, a slimmed down formula that offers fewer calories and the stuff that makes Gatorade, ah, Gatorade. Who knew sitting at a desk or walking the halls of school required electrolyte replacement and a boost of carbohydrates? Apparently with G2, Gatorade is heading the call that you don't need as much nutrition to take part in those activites as you need in, say, a 17-hour endurance event. But we digress. Perhaps it is the reality that triathlon, running, cycling and other endurance sports remain such a niche market that these mega-sports drink makers are finding better sales results (and advertising ROI) in the everyman versus Ironman.

2008 Triathlon Season
Jan. 17, 2008

Tri season is still a ways off (even in Arizona), but most local race production companies have released their 2008 calendars. Tri-Family Racing offers up the first triathlon of the year on February 17 in Chandler. It's a pool swim sprint and duathlon for the folks that think it'll still be too cold for swimming. The following week, Jeremy Graham's Four Peaks Racing offers up the Generations Triathlon in Sun City. Despite the name and location, this one is open to all ages.

Two relatively popular events have been cancelled. A sprint in Scottsdale in March and the tri out at Bartlett Lake have been called off due to various repairs happening in the vicinity of those events.

2008 also offers up two opportunities from local race producers to head south of the border to race. On March 29, Tri-Family hosts the 2nd Annual Rocky Point Sandy Beach Olympic & Sprint Triathlon/Duathlon & Youth triathlon while Red Rock puts on the Las Palomas Triathlon on May 3.

There also are two, count 'em, two women's specific triathlons. The Tri For The Cure moved from Tempe Town Lake to Chandler on April 20. The pool swim brings a mass sigh of relief to lots of folks out there. But if the lake is where you want to be, Red Rock puts on a women's only sprint and relay on May 10.

Not to be forgotten are the Nathan Triathlon, PBR Off Road Triathlon and Soma 1/4 + 1/2 Ironman distance events. The quarterman will hold special import this year as it is the Best of the U.S. National Championship, a title won by local super triathlete Katie Ellis in 2007.

Get all the local event listings at getsetaz.com.

Four Peaks Racing Debuts
Jan. 15, 2008

Jeremy Graham and David Benjes of the race production company DCB Adventures are going their separate ways. They'll be splitting their extensive list of events. Jeremy, who has created the company Four peaks Racing will stage the popular Splash & Dash series, among other events. David will hang on to the pre-Ironman 2.4-mile swim, adding one in early November in advance of the new Ironman.

It looks like another exciting season of events is shaping up.

Sodium, Magnesium, Dehydration, Oh My!
Jan. 14, 2008

With the running of the 2008 Rock 'N' Roll Marathon in the history books, we were thinking about all the talk about hyponatremia. The potentially deadly condition in which sodium concentration levels in blood become dangerously low due to massive fluid intake got a lot of attention a few years back. Rightfully so. Death is forever and artificial events that lead to it should be treated as incredibly serious. (And here it is, the big but) However, people - endurance athletes in particular - tend to obsess about these things, creating hysteria and misinformation.

While its seriousness is not to be dismissed, hyponatremia is one of multiple things that can go wrong with the human body during an endurance event. And it's not particularly common. Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston noted in a 2005 study that there were just 21 hyponatremic patients of nearly 20,000 participants in the 1998 Rock 'N' Roll Marathon in San Diego. In 2003, with new fluid replacement guidelines in effect, doctors at the Boston Marathon treated only nine hyponatremic patients in a similar size field. What's more, intensified sodium concentrations could be nearly as prevalent.

In that same study, doctors sampled some of the 140 runners who collapsed during the 2003 Boston Marathon. Thirty-five runners were hypernatremic, still a small number of the overall field, but nearly four-fold more than hyponatremic participants. What this all means is that common sense should prevail while training and racing endurance events.

The International Marathon Medical Directors Association (IMMDA), which represents medical experts in the field, and USA Track and Field, the national governing body for long-distance running, released the following guidelines in 2003. Athletes should not drink "as much as possible," as was previously advised. Instead, drink 13.5 ounces to 27 ounces of fluid per hour of exercise, the guidelines suggest. Of course, within this there are variations.

Rock 'N' Roll Hoochie Coo
Jan. 12, 2008

Some 30,000-plus runners will turn out for the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and Half Marathon tomorrow. Hordes are at the expo, picking up last minute items or impulse buys from vendors they don't see in their hometowns. Shunning the $2,300 fee to get a booth at the expo, we here at Triple Sports are holding our own in Scottsdale. Runners, both regulars and newcomers from around the world have been stocking up on nutrition, gloves, hats and just about everything else in between.

IM Arizona + Baby
Jan. 11, 2008

It's January and Ironman training is in full swing. Five, six and seven-hour rides are still to come, but now is when the realization begins to hit:"I'm going to do this thing." Unfortunately, I (Brian) am sitting this one out. Kara, too. We're having a baby in June. While that's a good excuse for Kara to avoid long training days, some have said otherwise about yours truly. So, I've taken on the Zane Grey 50K.

I was a runner before taking part in triathlon. Don't be misled, though. I was never up with the superfast folks. I've got a marathon PR of 3:39. So what better path than a longer distance, slower pace run? I decided on the 50K (31.25 miles) rather than the grueling 50 miler. With the elevation of Payson above 5,000 feet, uneven trail surfaces and the ups and downs of mountain running, the shorter distance is much more to my liking.

Ironman Relay Teams
Jan. 6, 2008

We learned yesterday that relay teams will be allowed for the first time at Ironman. Thanks to Michelle + Eric Long of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, five relay teams will trek the 140.6 miles of swimming, cycling and running/walking/shuffling.

This is really a terrific story and represents the true spirit of triathlon. As avid triathletes, Eric + Michelle have worked to get their friends and neighbors involved in this great sport. They've had plenty of success - organizing a club, putting on events, encouraging fellow athletes and working closely with Paul Huddle + Paula Newby Fraser of North America Sports. Eric said that the relay teams would be open to everyone, not just members of the SRPMIC.

We all can thank Eric and Michelle for keeping Ironman at the top of the list in the Salt River Communty. Without these guys, there is no Ironman.

Swim Training
Jan. 4, 2008

We've all heard of YouTube, the online video sharing website. Most of it is clogged with pretty worthless garbage. But there are some gems. One that I simply love is a commercial Clif Bar made a few years back. Anyone up for a swim?

New Year, New Stuff
Jan. 2, 2008

With the new year comes the promise of new products. We're still a little early for delivery of most new specimens. Triple Sports is among the first to receive new products in a new year. And we've got some good ones coming in from Zipp, Blue Seventy and Zoot, among others.

Thanks to customer input, we've finally begun carrying Zipp wheels. We're also offering a pair of Zipp 404 wheels for rent. For $150, you can rent these wheels or a set of Mavic's Cosmic Carbone for five days. You can then apply the rental fee to the purchase price of any new wheelset. It's that easy.

On the wetsuit front, both Blue Seventy and Zoot Sports are making changes to their wetsuit lines. Changes to the Blue Seventy line will be relatively small, but includes plans for the addition of a very entry-level suit named the Sprint. Pricing for this full wetsuit will be in the neighborhood of $200. Zoot Sports also will introduce new wetsuits to its line as well as shoes. (Brian has been testing a pair of the Ultra TTs and will give a review soon.) But more on all that is to come. Stay tuned.

Zoot Ultra TT

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