Reebok Trifecta Racer Review

Introducing the Reebok Trifecta Racer

Finally, it looks like Reebok is stepping up to the plate with some real, practical gear. Even better, it’s specifically designed for OCR! Well, sort of. While this shoe is great for extreme conditions, it would also make a great trail racer or performance trainer. The new “Trifecta Racer” won’t hit shelves for at least a few more months, but I had the opportunity to get my hands on a pair last weekend at the PacNW Spartan Race Sprint, and have already put some decent mileage on them. Here’s the scoop.

First ever "race sighting" of these the Reebok Trifecta

First ever “race sighting” of the Reebok Trifecta Racer.

For a shoe to be a good fit for OCR, it needs to meet a couple of basic criteria. Is it lightweight? Does it have good traction? Does it hold excess water weight? Is it comfortable? Let’s take a look at each of these criteria one by one.

Weight (dry) – there’s no official specs out on these, but I weighed them myself and got 6.3 ounces for a size 9.5 (*) or 12.6 ounces for the pair. While slightly heavier than some xc flats like the Brooks Mach 15 (5.4 ounces), 6.3 ounces is on par with Nike Waffle models and the inov8 x-talons. So, is it lightweight? I wouldn’t call it featherweight, but all things considered, it’s still pretty light.

Weight (wet) – what’s really great about this shoe compared to others isn’t its dry weight, but its wet weight. Water drains from the shoe really quickly and it doesn’t hold onto excess mud or water since the entire upper is made from very thin but durable fabric. After racing in these on Saturday, all it took was 60 seconds with the hotel hair dryer to get them ready for another day of competition. That, I like.

But… I don’t like the tongue or laces. The cheap, flat laces come untied easily and the tongue tends to shift across the top of your foot instead of remaining in place. Both minor issues, but a Nike-style one sided tongue would really make these cool. I also don’t like that water stays underneath the insole; not enough to add weight, but after use this area stays damp and will make the shoe smell bad unless you remove the insole. I always prefer shoes without an insole at all.

Reebok Trifecta Racer Side View
Traction – To have good traction in thick mud, a shoe needs big lugs. Big lugs add weight. What you have with the Trifecta Racer is small lugs similar to the inov8 trail-roc series – big enough for good grip in most situations. Scaling a 60 degree incline wall is *always* going to be a challenge, so don’t blame your shoes when you struggle with that one. The grip on these is perfect for racing in both mud and in dry conditions, since the lugs are big enough be “grippy” but small enough not to be annoying. Another plus side to small lugs is that they won’t hold onto dried mud or clumps of grass like really big lugs can.

Reebok Trifecta Racer lugs

Trifecta Racer (front) compared to Saucony XC flats (back). The Reeboks have slightly thicker lugs.

The one thing I don’t like about the design of the bottom of the shoe are the small crevices in which little pebbles in dirt get stuck. They don’t hold enough dirt/rocks to add significant weight, but it’s just tacky. If you happen to take these on a training run, don’t bring them inside afterwards or you’ll scratch your floor and track dirt in.

Reebok Trifecta Racer bottom

Great traction, but the grooves hold onto pebbles.

Flexibility vs. Protection – as a very minimalist runner myself, I’ve never liked how stiff and rigid most cross country flats are. That’s why I’ve always raced in light weight trails shoes rather than “racing shoes”. The Trifecta Racer offers a compromise. It’s thick enough to provide adequate protection from rocks, rigid enough to provide some stability, but has the flexibility to appease minimalists like me. I’m guessing the heel-toe differential on these is about 3-4mm; I am a big 0mm drop fan, but these felt good anyway.

Reebok Trifecta Racer bend

Passes the bend test!

Comfort and sizing – these shoes are only slightly wider than most racing flats, but just that little bit of room was enough to make me a lot happier. All of my training shoes have wide toe boxes and I absolutely hate it when my feet are constricted by narrow shoes. I’d still prefer a E width version, these had enough “give” to be comfortable, even on me.

The shoes run small. Normally, I’m a size 8.5 and occasionally a 9. In the Trifecta Racer, I’m a 9.5 (well, actually I’d be a 9.0 E, but whatever). So when these do come out in stores, try them on first or order a 1/2 size up! And maybe order two pair while you’re at it. I’m sure you’ll love them.

February 2014 Update:

After running more races in these, I’d like to update my review:

They ended up being pretty fragile shoes, and only lasted about 50 miles of racing. I’m definitely not happy with that. However, my understanding is that these were a prototype and that the final version will be more well put together. Hopefully that is the case! Meanwhile, I’ve been racing in the Brooks Mach 15, another shoe originally recommended to me by Hobie, and love them. They are my go to racing shoes now! The Nike Zooms are too narrow for me, but the Brooks are pretty comfortable (for a racing shoe). I’m still a die hard Altra Running fan when it comes to training shoes. I’d love for them to make a racing shoe, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Savage Race in Georgia, Part 2

We believe there are two very distinct types of runners in the obstacle racing and mud running world. The every day OCracer and the very competitive OCRelite, we like to give perspectives from both sides whenever possible.

Earlier today, we gave you a recap of the Georgia Savage Race from an OCRacer. Here is a recap from the same race from one of our OCRelite contributors, Alec Blenis.

_________________________________________________

This weekend I had the opportunity to run an obstacle race that was new to me: Savage Race. While new to Savage, I’ve run plenty of obstacle courses and knew what to expect. Except this time, I wouldn’t be running in the competitive wave*; something quite unusual for me. As some might say, I ran as part of the “90%”, getting to experience Savage Race the way most racers do, in an open heat.

First Impression: getting to the race was pretty easy. Surprisingly, the venue wasn’t in the “middle of nowhere” as so many are, and its location was very convenient for those driving from nearby Atlanta. Parking cost was a standard $10 and close by to the festival entrance. I arrived near the end of the day, but the check-in process seemed to be running smoothly. Much of the course was visible from the start/finish area, so the race was more spectator friendly than many others. One problem I could see already was a huge line at one of their obstacles; I’m not sure what they call it, but Tough Mudder’s version is Everest. I was bummed that I registered too late to receive a timing chip, but there’s no point in having one when you spend half the race in a line.

Running: my GPS measured the course around 4.6 miles, while my calibrated foot-pod** measured 4.8. I thought it was a great entry-level course, but I expected more since the website implied 6 miles. “The course designed to kick your ass” is a bit dramatic. The terrain was far from easy though, with 915 feet of elevation gain according to my watch’s altimeter – an average grade of 3.6%. Compare this to 4.5% for Superhero Scramble Dalton, and 2.8% for the Conyers Spartan Sprint, Georgia’s other short distance obstacle races. Elevation gain doesn’t tell the full story though… Savage Race had more mud than the hillier Superhero Scramble, but the Spartan obstacles were by far the most challenging and time consuming. The Savage Race terrain was not technical at all, but mud did add to the challenge; Superhero Scramble was very hilly and moderately technical; Spartan Race was the least hilly but most technical.

Obstacles: the obstacles at Savage Race were all very well built and some quite theatrical. Names like “I’m so thorny” and “kiss my walls” are hard to take seriously, and most were not too difficult. Their version of a traverse wall was probably the most difficult I’ve done, but most others were simple. The monkey bars were my favorite – even with the incline, they felt easy (I think it was a narrower bar than I’m used to). Savage Race did a great job at having very wide obstacles to avoid lines, with the exception of two obstacles, the balance beam and quarter-pipe. One of my favorite sections was a series of 5’ walls with barbed wire – not an uncommon obstacle, but here there were at least eight in succession instead of the usual two or three; they actually started to get tiring! Near the end of the race, we faced a series of two electroshock obstacles, something I despise. I’m sure I’m in the minority here, but I like physical challenges that test my athleticism, not stuff like that. It’d be like having an “obstacle” where you just get slapped in the face. No thanks.

Finishing: after the electric shocks and final barbed wire crawl, it was over. Their wash station was broken, but there was a lake to rinse off in and changing tents were available if needed. The shirts and medals are pretty cool, so overall I’d say Savage Race did a great job. Had I run in the competitive wave, I’m sure I would complain about the lack of obstacle penalties, but it didn’t affect me in the open heat. If they want to have prizes and real results, they absolutely must enforce obstacle rules and assign penalties for those unable to complete them. They should also make the balance beam and quarter pipe obstacles even wider to prevent long lines.

Thoughts: Will I race it again? For sure. Overall, as an open heat runner, I give Savage Race Georgia an 8 out of 10. I didn’t run competitive so I can’t say for sure, but as a competitive runner I would probably give Savage Race a 6 out of 10. I’m a tough critic, so a combined total of a 7 is pretty good. There’s always room for improvement though.

(*earlier in the day, I had put on a weight vest, ran to a local 5k, won the race, then ran home to prepare for Savage Race)

 

Superhero Scramble in Georgia

Please see Part I of this blog to read ORM’s definitions of OCRelites and OCRacers and to read the recap by OCRacer J.D. Allen.

by Alec Blenis, Elite obstacle Racing Athlete

The 4.5 mile course was set up to be rough. A 150’ climb greeted racers right off the bat, and the trend of ups and downs continued throughout the course. My GPS data indicates an average elevation gain of 250 feet per mile. Compared to races on ski slopes (think VT Spartan), it’s not all that much, but it’s a ton for an entry level race. Not many obstacles came early on; most were packed in the middle and end of the course. The middle of the race had a rings, balance beam, rock wall, and sandbag carry combo; the end of the race had a O-U-T, rope climb, steep terrain climb, log carry, rolling mud, cliff jump, incline wall, slide, barbed wire all packed into under a mile. To do well on this course, you would need strong climbing legs but lots of brute speed for the flat sections.

The main competition travelling to the race included team Spartan Race, team Extreme Nation, and team Superhero Scramble, who took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the men’s races, respectively. Hobie Call was unsurprisingly the top scorer for the EN team and Hunter McIntyre led team Spartan Race finishing impressively close behind Hobie for 2nd place as an individual. Miguel Medina also made it to the podium with a 3rd place finish.

Overall, 4/5: 
Prior to the GA Scramble, I had only run one Superhero Scramble event before. I was unimpressed by their Waldo race course and expected Georgia to be more of the same. Well, I was wrong! Superhero Scramble did a great job at listening to their racers (copying another race too, maybe) and fixing what needed fixed. There’s still plenty of room for improvement, but I was happily surprised by the quality of the Georgia course.

Organization, 3/5:

Team Spartan corrects RD  Sean "Ace" O'Connor

Team Spartan corrects RD Sean “Ace” O’Connor

They delayed the start from 8:45 to 9:30, then from 9:30 to 10:00…finally, the first wave started around 10:15. Apparently there were some legitimate excuses for the delay, but I think better organization in the first place could have prevented a lot of problems. Secondly, they nearly gave the wrong team the winning check since they neglected to confirm any team info with us before the awards ceremony. Our checks aren’t even labeled correctly. Finally, while not exactly an organizational issue, there was no attempt at obstacle standardization. For example, there was a “log carry”, where logs ranged in size from 5 to 50+ pounds; in a race with $5000+ on the line, participants were allowed to choose any log to gain an advantage. This type of issue presented itself multiple times throughout the course. Yes, this isn’t a problem for open wave racers, but it is very frustrating when running for money.

Terrain, 5/5:
Simply put, the venue was awesome. It was super hilly (250 feet of elevation gain per mile) and very muddy. Yet, it was just easy enough to still be a “run” rather than a hike. There were some fun creek-running sections I wasn’t expecting from Superhero. Personally, I would have liked more “rolling hills” instead of alternating between totally flat and crazy steep.

Obstacles, 3.5/5:
Our first obstacle was some tires to run over which I literally cleared in two steps (lame). I love their rock wall obstacle, but standardization was an issue here as well (while climbing the 12ft wall, I was passed by someone who chose the 7ft wall). Rings were cool, I liked the twist on the “rolling mud” obstacle, and there version of O-U-T was a nice surprise. Overall, I don’t think there were as many obstacles per mile as a typical SR Sprint, but there were enough. I’ll talk about a few in detail:

Sandbag carry: too easy. Felt like 25 pounds and the carry was probably 50 yards

Balance obstacle: good obstacle, but the water beneath it was shallow and without warning. It was very possible to jump/fall into the water and get hurt, not realizing how shallow it was.

Log carry: another good obstacle, but logs varied in weight so much that racers could unfairly use this to their advantage (not cool with prize money on the line)

Rock wall: one of my favorite obstacles, but it is critical that scramble gamble runners be required to take the “elite athlete” path.

Superhero Scramble Beast Wall

Superhero Scramble Beast Wall

The Beast: the incline wall probably my favorite superhero obstacle. The steep grade and slick material makes it a true challenge. Slide was great, but they almost didn’t have it working in time. Obstacles should be ready hours before racers go through, not minutes.

Atmosphere, 3.5/5:
Unlike Spartan Race, there’s absolutely nothing interesting going on in the festival area during the race. The only thing to do is run, drink beer, and go home. No festival challenges, entertainment, etc… Well, there was entertainment towards the end, but it wasn’t any good. Parking was very good and convenient, and registration was a breeze.

Editor’s Note: Alec Blenis and Team Spartan placed first in this event. Alec himself placed 6th.

Go here for complete results for both the  Scramble Gamble and The Open Wave.

More photos taken by ORM at Superhero Scramble Georgia here.