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January 28, 2012

Granola Bar Giveaway Winners; SKORA Pre-Ordering Now Available; Random Shots of Beauty

Before we get rolling this weekend, thanks very much to everyone who sent well-wishes for my 2012 Leadville adventure. I’m really looking forward to sharing the journey with anyone who wants to follow along, and there will probably be more than a few times along the way where I’ll rely on the support of others to get me there. So thanks for getting things off to a promising start. Now all I have to do is get ready to run 100 miles across the sky.

Getting to the orders of business: first, apologies to anyone who tried to shop at the Patagonia fall clothing sale recently; shortly after that post went live, I was notified that the online shopping cart wasn’t working properly – which makes it hard to, you know, buy stuff online. Apparently the problem is resolved now, and when I checked this evening the cart seemed to be working fine. So you’ve still got through January 30 to take advantage of the deals, and the supply is still pretty good for most items left, since nobody else could buy stuff there last week either. Click here or use the banner link below to go to the sale:

I’ve been fortunate to exchange several e-mails with David Sypniewski, CEO and founder of SKORA shoes, who has provided me a couple of pairs for testing and review. These shoes have been discussed, described, and anticipated for nearly three years, and they’re finally ready to debut on the market – but if you can’t wait long enough for some reviews to be published, they are now available for pre-ordering from the SKORA website.

SKORA BASE, available February 2012

The estimated release date is mid to late February, and they’re available in men’s sizes 8-12. Shipping is free to the lower 48 states, which is a good thing when the price tag of one of your models approaches 200 bucks (the one pictured above retails for $125).  Will SKORA justify the cost and the anticipation?   My verdict is still out, but if you want to decide for yourself, go check out the website to pre-order your own.

Now for the winners of this week’s granola bar bonanza, who need to e-mail me their shipping addresses so I can pass them along to the company reps. The winner of the CLIF CRUNCH bars is Becca, and the winners of the NOW bars are Benjammin’ and Jim Hansen. Congrats to you, and thanks again to CLIF Bar and NOW Bar for sponsoring the giveaway. Let’s all meet back here on National Granola Bar Day 2013 and do it again, shall we?

Finally, this weekend’s Random Shot of Beauty comes from a long overdue morning with my 13-year-old, whose regularly scheduled father/son bike ride has been bumped by poor weather and his dad’s crazy work schedule for the past few weeks. All the pieces fell into place today, so we took advantage of the occasion to test ourselves on one of the toughest climbs in Monterey County – and eventually we made it:

A boy and his bike, as seen from the top of Ollason Peak in Toro Park, with the Monterey Peninsula stretching into the bay far off in the distance (click photo to enlarge). Happy father not pictured … but he certainly doesn’t need to be.

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fibaldwin 1/29/12, 6:36 AM  

At the risk of sounding snarky about SKORA--about which I know nothing beyond what I just saw on their web site--it appears they have a disconnect between shoes and "natural" running form.

In the first picture the runner appearsto be significantly over striding, and in the second it looks like he is heel striking and over striding.

Perspective in photos is important, and I conceded that I may be over-critical. However, I'm a marketing guy and the small stuff matters in how you position your brand.

The runner's apparent form in the photos creates doubt in my mind as to SKORAS credibility.

Your thoughts?

I Pull 400 Watts 1/29/12, 12:22 PM  

@ Fibaldwin,

Here are the photos I see on the SKORA page.


None of those is there a heel strike. In the photo with the grey shirt, he may be over striding. Maybe he's running down hill?

Here is my review of the FORM and BASE I have put over 700 miles in.

Donald 1/29/12, 4:16 PM  

@fibaldwin: I think your point is valid; look at how much ridicule Skechers brought upon themselves last year when marketing a "natural" shoe with a photo of a heavy heel-striking runner. SKORA's aren't nearly that bad, but there are a couple that do look questionable. Having said that, I'm pretty confident SKORA isn't just cashing in on a fad - as I indicated, David's been hanging around barefoot forums and groups for at least three years and has always (to my knowledge, anyway) been an advocate of natural running form. SKORA's shoes are definitely made to promote forefoot/midfoot landing, so the product is certainly credible, even if the marketing isn't.

@400 Watts: fantastic reviews - thanks for sharing! I'm glad they're working so well for you.

barefootrunner 1/29/12, 8:46 PM  

Our photo shoot was real. Unstaged and shot 'from the hip' in one day. The runner we worked with is a natural midfoot/forefoot runner - and he was fast. Despite having 600+ photos, it was difficult to find a shot where everything was just right: facial expression, shoe visibility, arm/hand position.

Although I'll agree one shot may appear not as barefoot-style as we would have liked, rest assured SKORA is all about good running form.

As a barefoot runner myself for over 10 years, I was vigilant in ensuring our shoes are designed with form and function in mind. It's been a 4 year journey bringing SKORA to life. I hope even the most obsurvant good form runner will find our shoes are everything a runner requires and nothing more.

Run Real,

David Sypniewski

fibaldwin 1/30/12, 5:57 AM  

Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts.

My limited experience—one full year--with this style of running does not qualify me as an expert in any way. That said, at this stage my focus is still on good form and technique and I pay close attention to exemplars, especially those found with subject matter experts. This photo in particular http://skorarunning.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Skora_FW12__07.jpg serves as an example. The runner appears to be over striding and the position of his leading foot suggests a heel strike.
@David - I intend no criticism of your expertise or the merits of your shoes. After all, I have no experience with your company by which to judge. You do get high marks from me in your willingness to engage in this conversation, and I appreciate your candor.

Largely, your photos are good, and I fully understand your challenge in finding just what you need from a shoot. Been there, done that.

I hope SKORA’s success exceeds your grandest expectation, and given the review you earned from @I Pull 400 Watts, it appears you are well on your way. If there is anything I can help you with from a marketing perspective I’d be honored to do so.

@Donald – Thanks for your comment. In truth, I’ve never seen Sketchers as a valid athletic shoe manufacturer so the abuse they get from avid natural runners won’t matter much. Their target market—the wanna look cool runners—will never understand the criticism.

@I Pull 400 Watts – Thanks for your perspective. Your review as impressive as is your expertise.

I Pull 400 Watts 1/30/12, 6:59 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
I Pull 400 Watts 1/30/12, 7:02 AM  

Thanks for the reply Fibaldwin. One thing to remember is milliseconds before contact with the ground is when the entire leg prepares for contact. It tenses to prepare for the coming impact. The legs of elite runners do this more so, for greater possible elastic recoil.

The thing to remember is you can say "he looks like he is about to heel strike", but unless he is touching the ground first with that heel, who knows what is going to happen.

That photo you referenced could just as easily be an impending midfoot strike. But I agree, it is borderline. But so is the difference between a heel and midfoot strike.

But this can bring up another huge can of worms :p Is heel striking really that bad? Or is where you land in relation to your center of mass what is important?

That is a discussion for elsewhere however.

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