This last couple of weeks, including while I was on holiday in Cornwall, I have mostly been wearing these shoes – these Brasher Kuga GTX shoes.
Brasher, who are a well renowned maker of walking boots, sent me these new “multi-activity” shoes to test. They are light trainer-looking lace up shoes with Goretex designed for “outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy a mix of activities from low level walking to cycling”. Of course I was delighted to accept the shoes and got them on my feet as soon as they arrived.
The features of the shoes are:
- A breathable 3D air mesh upper with 1.4-1.6mm Nubuck panels
- Memory Foam in the collar for enhanced comfort
- Waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX® lining
- All Terrain sole unit for superb grip, durability and traction control
- Ortholite dual density footbed
- Shock absorbing EVA midsole and TPU plate for arch support and torsion rigidity
I had the women’s version of the shoes (obviously) which are grey and green – the men’s are similar but with orangy laces (and also a slightly different fit of course).
The first thing I noticed when I took these out of the box and started putting them on was how light they were – so much lighter than my walking boots and even my skate trainers I wear around most of the time. I wonder if they are even lighter than my running trainers? Maybe not quite. Anyway, definitely light, which is a benefit on a hot day and also on long walks, as a discovered walking around in Cornwall.
I will happily write here that these shoes were comfy from the moment I tied up the laces. They fit really nicely (they’re available in half sizes, which when you’re a half size is a real bonus!) – the footbed is a great shape for my feet, spreading out my weight across my foot giving me stability and comfort. They didn’t need much breaking in, although they did get more comfortable after a couple of days, especially around the back of the ankle which softened up slightly, and I would always recommend breaking in a new pair of shoes/boots before using them for anything substantial.
They don’t flex as much as trainers do – but these are not trainers, and have been designed to keep you sturdy and sure whilst walking. The technology between the footbed and the sole keeps the shoe a bit rigid, meaning these can go where trainers might fail (have you ever burst the air pockets in trainers whilst walking? – it makes them very uncomfortable and hard on the knees!). But they do have slightly more flexibility than walking/hiking boots because they are lighter and give you the freedom around the ankle area.
The sole is rugged and has loads of grip. As you can see above it is designed with a deep tread so not only will these help keep you upright but they will also last for ages.
I took the them (or did they take me?) on normal pavement as well as sand, grass, gravel and even parts of the South West Coastal Path at Tintagel, Crackington Haven and Widemouth Bay, and I was never less than confident over my footing. I also wore these for a brisk six mile walk around the town wear I live – in the rain – and my feet were very happy (and dry). I did change to my hiking boots (an old pair of boots I’ve had for donkeys years that really could do with replacing) to climb Roughtor on Bodmin Moor because these are shoes and therefore give no tight ankle support, but they coped with everything I did in them perfectly. I haven’t yet walked further than six miles in one go but I am “training” for the Spires and Steeples later in the year so there will be many more walks to come, and unless I’m going on really rugged terrain which requires ankle support, I’ll be putting the Kugas on my feet.
Oh and I should say I’ve also been on my bike in these too – they work well on pedals because of the grip on the sole and also the breathable upper keeps your feet cool when you’re working hard.
Sounds all very positive. And it is. Just one very small thing. I admit for some reason I do look at styling even when it comes to practical shoes like these. I find the colours very muted – perhaps a brighter coloured mesh or strip along the side or something? They kind of blend in don’t they? Perhaps that is the idea. Maybe this way they don’t look too bad when caked in mud or when slightly worn (talking of worn, mine still look like brand new). But I certainly don’t dislike the look and am more than happy to wear these with jeans for casual days or cargo trousers for walking days (or maybe even shorts if the weather is good enough!).
I am impressed with these. My feet stayed dry in the wet and cool in the heat and at no point did I find my toes sore, blisters forming or my ankles rubbing. And that’s when wearing various kinds of socks with them. I would absolutely say walking shoes like these make a great alternative to boots for leisurely walking on most terrain. At £95 they compete with a wide range of walking shoe styles and brands, but I would definitely recommend you trying on a pair of these.
Take a look at the Brasher website for the full range.
I have also tested the Brasher Dual Trial Socks – the most comfortable socks I’ve ever worn!
Remember last year when I signed up to the Spires and Steeples marathon walk from Lincoln to Sleaford just a month before the event?
And remember that it took every ounce of fitness I had to complete it?
Well the applications are open for the 2011 challenge, and I’m thinking it’s just got to be done.
My husband has already said an absolute no to doing it again – I think he is still mentally (and physically) scarred by the 2011 challenge!
So who’s up for it?! It’s on Sunday 16th October 2011 – so plenty of time to get training. Details are on the Spires and Steeples website. Comment below if you’re signing up too!
(I reckon a new pair of hiking boots might be in order!)
Application forms are now available (I’ve just filled mine in!). It costs £12 to enter and you can get your form by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow the challange on Twitter and Facebook.
My Year in Photos image for Sunday had to be from the Spires and Steeples Challenge. It’s a day I won’t forget for a long time… another one of those things I can say “I did that”.
17/10/10: Gorgeous Lincolnshire villages on the Spires and Steeples route
Yesterday I, along with my husband and two friends, took part in the Spires and Steeples Challenge 2010.
See this post about it: https://splodzblogz.wordpress.com/2010/09/18/spires-and-steeples/
Wow what a day. And ouch how I hurt!
It was a very early start – we got the bus from Sleaford to Lincoln (put on by the organisers) at 7.30am. Once in Lincoln we walked to the Castle grounds where we picked up our numbers and wrist bands before waiting for the event to start. We got on our way at 8.40am, firstly walking down Steep Hill in Lincoln before making our way across the city and out on the tow path (which if you keep following takes you to Boston). It was a really foggy start, as can be quite normal in Lincolnshire, which meant we couldn’t see very far ahead. It was also very cold. The forecast was for a chilly but clear, still and dry day and within a couple of hours the fog had burnt off and we had glorious blue skies – the perfect weather for a stroll in the countryside.
Turning off the tow path we made our way across fields, through villages, over railways, over meadows and all sorts of other terrain. By 10.30am we were being overtaken by the trail runners who were really giving it some pace (they started at 9.30am) – wow how fit?!
The first checkpoint was at 6.5 miles and in Branston – it took us two hours to do the first quarter and we all felt pretty good. We had wristbands with our number on to hand in at each checkpoint so the marshalls knew when everyone was through each point. The whole point of the Spires and Steeples route, which is a way marked route open to the public and all year round, is that you pass many of the village churches between Lincoln and Sleaford. The scenery was gorgeous. But of course despite the popular myth that Lincolnshire is flat the route was definitely not, but it wasn’t too bad.
We were at the second checkpoint, which was also the half way point, by 12.30pm. This was pretty good as about an hour before I started to panic about the timing – but thankfully it turned out I’d mistaken one paragraph in the instructions all about fields for another paragraph also all about fields and we were further on than I realised. When we stopped this time we sat down to have some lunch, which was nice in the sunshine. Allister knew he had a blister or two so took his boots off to have a look… it turned out one was the biggest blister in the universe (even the St John’s person who saw it went “wow”!!). He had it covered and put his boots back on vowing to continue despite the soreness.
The checkpoints were now getting gradually closer together, and the walk was getting harder and harder. We reached Digby (at the 18.75 mile distance) and Allister was struggling so much with the pain that he had to pull out. He was really disappointed as it wasn’t his legs or mind that stopped him, but the fact that he had a blister the size of a pumpkin on his foot. The three of us continued, although things were getting very difficult. Ruskington came and went – we were just under 6 miles from the finish.
The deadline we had all day was that we had to be at the last checkpoint by 5.15pm because that is when it closed. We eventually got there at about 4.45pm and were quite near the back of the pack by then. We were all really struggling to keep going. But we did. That last 2/3 miles along the bank into Sleaford were excrutiating… the ground was uneven and the sun was starting to set meaning the temperature dropped. But we plodded on.
Finally at 6pm we crossed the finish. I was about 5 minutes ahead but only because I couldn’t face stopping for rests/stretches because I was really worried about my knees seizing up and packing up before the end. Mark and Bec finished right after me… and we were all quite emotional!
26.75 miles done in 9.5hours. What a challenge. I’m so pleased I did it.
This morning my legs and back ache, there is no doubt about that. My knees and ankles ache a lot and I definitely know I have muscles! Thankfully though it’s no more painful than I was expecting. I have the day off today which means my feet don’t have to be forced into shoes (they’re not swolen just achy!) and I can do things at my own pace. I’m jealous of the fitness of those trail runners as I’m sure they’re fine today!
Oh, and I must say how well I thought the event was organised. The marshalls were excellent, the staff on the checkpoints friendly, there were plenty of St John’s Ambulance around the route, and everyone was very helpful. The wrist band idea was great (I can imagine how the runners found this very useful as they wouldn’t have to stop at each checkpoint) and the water provided at each station was appreciated.
So the question is… do we do it again next year? Ask me next week when the aches and pains have gone!
I think I’m all set for one fitness challenge when another comes along and completely takes over! I got my City of Lincoln 10k Road Race 2011 number yesterday… and today I’ve signed up for the Spires and Steeples Challenge 2010!
I am nuts!
And it’s all thanks to a friend who posted this link – http://www.spiresandsteeples.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=35&Itemid=83 – on my facebook page yesterday afternoon. I haven’t even heard back from her to say if she’s doing it or not yet but I’m already decided.
Spires and Steeples:
The Spires and Steeples trail, from Lincoln Cathedral to St Denys’ Church, Sleaford, brings together the rich history, heritage and local stories of the area. It has many beautiful artworks, churches, interesting landscapes and picturesque skies. The name refers to the Spires of the churches being the landmarks to which visitors make their way and to the rural sport of Steeple chasing. It is also recognition of the important part they have played in the lives of these communities as well as how they are a reflection of the times, families and cultures that created, altered and rebuilt them.
The challenge is a 26 mile run or walk from Lincoln to Sleaford in Lincolnshire (there is also a 13 mile run or walk from Metheringham to Sleaford). The route is there all the time, but this challenge takes place on Sunday 17th October – just one month away. I’ll be walking the full 26 miles with my sister, maybe my husband, and also hopefully some friends too who are checking stuff before they sign up… oh and hopefully also Lucy who’s fault this all is!
Although Lincolnshire has a stereotype for being flat this is not a flat route – the flatness you all know about starts in Sleaford and goes towards Boston and The Wash… Lincoln is definitely not flat! But hey, that’s part of the fun! The challenge itself is billed as in aid of the Wheel Appeal, although the website doesn’t give more information about how to go about supporting them apart from with the registration fee. But for me, this is a personal challenge which should take me through some nice scenery too.
The last time I walked 26 miles was when I did the Seabank Marathon in 2006 with my sister. That was a walking marathon from Boston to Skegness – we completed it in 6 hours 51 minutes… see (in the little stamped time on the smaller card):
Of course because I’ve done this before and because I’m a sucker for a challenge, I am gonna want to beat that 6 hours 51 minutes, but that’s not really the idea this time. Steady and sensible, plus some sightseeing (and photography) will be the name of the game.
So bring on the challenge! (I won’t need to worry about my 10 Mile Challenge that week!)
If you want more details this is the place to go: http://www.spiresandsteeples.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=35&Itemid=83