Forster Adventure RaceBy Kalipyjamas Golly what an experience that was!!! Not really a race report as it was a team event, nor a product review as I'm not that special but here's my rundown on things. I was never actually supposed to be competing in this event. My next run was going to be the glow worm in June. However..... three weeks out from event the team swimmer gets injured....after a week of faffing around I announced that I would swim to which my husband promptly replied, "Don't be ridiculous." He swapped from the run leg to the swimming leg......and had a week to train before our local pool shut for the season!!! And muggins here got nominated for the run leg. Longest run to date was about 14kms , mainly getting lost around the trails here with a lot of walking and scrambling. I blew out my xero huaraches that I had worn on the last few runs over fire trails and had been speaking a lot to HappySongbird about winter running.........we had been discussing Sockwas, and on her recommendation I took the plunge and bought a pair. I had originally wanted the new x8's.....but they didn't appear in my size. Some frantic emailing with the VERY helpful Ashley on the other side of the world and I bought a pair of clearance G ( somethings can't remember what number but they were basically the ONLY ones on the site that might fit me) After placing the order I asked Ashley to keep me posted re X8, as I was wanting the ventilation, and she had just found more stock, so I ended up with two pairs on order, a slightly larger clearance pair, and some x8 in my recommended size. IN the meantime I did a few pavement runs in bare feet and grudgingly put on some fives to do another long trail run before the event. The Sockwas arrived 4 days before we were due to leave so I put them on and wandered around the house, and jogged around the garden etc but that was about it. I had NO IDEA what the terrain was going to be like for this run....I knew I wanted to be barefoot on the beach......was seriously contemplating taking the fives as I knew I couldn't risk going totally bare in case there were fire trails. Anyway, decided to take a MASSIVE punt and stuffed the x8's in the pocket of my vest. Stared with a few kms on beach which was easy peasy..... a bit of road in between the two beaches and then........THE HILL. Like nothing else on earth.....started in long grass full of cow pats ( which do feel quite delectable squishing through your toes ) IT WAS SOOOOO STEEP!!!!!!!!! I have no idea what the incline was, its here.... in the pdf. The first half was in the grass, and then it turned into forest. Lots of leaf mulch and branches everywhere. It was the quietest climb I have ever done.......no one made a squeak there was no laughing grimacing and jollity , I think we were all just concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other without rolling back down the hill. It was like being in the war or something. Sometimes I actually put my hands out and climbed I was that shattered!!!! Anyway, the climb continued and barefoot was fine, it was fairly easy to pick your way through the undergrowth and get strong footholds. Finally after a lifetime we saw the trees begin to think out and it looked like we were nearing the top. The "path" then switched to down hill and ZOOM we were off!! I use the term "path" as in ......someone went ahead a pushed their way through the undergrowth and flattened it enough for other runners to be able to make out where the next piece of marker tape was . The guys in front of me took off and I found myself alone ....which was pretty cool, even though I have no sense of direction and the attention span of a Labrador puppy meant I was in danger of missing the markers and heading off in completely the wrong direction. It was very damp, very cold and wet and muddy underfoot, and lots of rocks embedded into the track. To make matters worse the reedy undergrowth obscured your foot placement, it was slippy and littered with debris. I began to get really cranky as I realised that I should be FLYING down these hills, I love running down hill......Eventually it dawned on me to bloody well stop and put the Sockwas on...I had nothing to lose ( except the pride of being S2G) PLUS I had three team mates relying on me to finish within the time. So......so.........SOCKWAS ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW WOW WOW. Slipped them on and I was away. Still had incredible ground feel and had to be really soft through knees and ankles to mold around the rocks but there was just enough protection to let me really fly. After and eternity of pelting flat out down hill, I started to get an ache RHS of diaphragm ( its like a cramp in the RA attachment I have had it since having the children) ANYWAY luckily we hit a dirt road and I could back off a bit and let it ease. Contemplated slipping the socks off again, but then thought what the heck, keep them on and keep moving woman!!!! Next change of scenery was Wallis Lake.......sandy shores which very very quickly turned in to very jagged rock, and made sure that EVERYONE got wet. Up to their knees. Feeling smug right now? You betcha!!!! The vistas across the lake were absolutely stunning, I'm sure if someone had pulled up with a boat and a ski I would have jumped ship . There was a section across the lake about 8oom which we had to paddle sit atop kayaks. Last time I tried to paddle anything I went in a circle . I arrived about the same time as another lady and we jumped in a boat together......luckily she was a solo competitor and knew how to paddle so I just tried valiantly to keep up with her strokes and we powered across the water in no time. A few kms of gnarly grassy tracks with lots of big puddles came next, that was scary and I made sure I walked through all of them as I couldn't see the bottom ......some were ankle deep some were almost knee deep. Then I think we came across a section of access road. I can't honestly remember I was too busy trying to convince myself that he finish would be just around the corner and soon I could stop and have a chocolate muffin and a sit down. Still had the sockwas on and still going great. AND THEN THE FINAL INSULT ANOTHER FLIPPING FOREST CLIMB to get to the MTB transition. Just as hard as the first but done on tired legs and lungs that were seriously in danger of hanging up the towel and leaping out of my throat onto the path next to me. Amazing views from the top though, I did begin to wonder just how high we were ( and if it was too late to ask for oxygen). Thankfully the last km was down hillish so there was time to regain composure and trot into transition faking a look of complete surprise "Oh my goodness is that it ? Golly I'm as fresh as a daisy!" Overall I took about 2.30 and we ended up finishing 38 out of 68 so WOO HOO HOO. But WOW - SOCKWAS!!! What other idiot would try and do a highly technical 18 km trail run on unknown terrain in footwear they have had absolutely no experience of running in.....there were no aid stations on the entire run course, no marshals except for 2 road crossings......and three other people relying on me to at least finish. No blisters no discomfort minimal bruising ( no more than I would have gotten s2g) - the arch is nicely protected no chafing no whinging at all actually! Well, ok, if there was one teensy gripe it was that they felt a little floppy and twice I got my toe caught on something and they dragged down a little bit. But hey, had that been my xero's I would probably have fallen flat on my face The ground-feel was incredible they really are the closest thing to something I would try and invent myself with cotton socks and dodgy plastic. Obviously any foot covering is going to rob you of some degree of feel and therefore proprioception, but realistically I think these little socks are a fantastic compromise. They don't allow my form to slip as much as any other coverings, nor do they give me over confidence to run faster but poorly. I think they will be really valuable in allowing a beginner like me to keep running and developing correct form and strength when its not reasonable to be S2G. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!!!