Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Guest Blogger: Chris Lloyd's experience of the Naunton 19 in new tights

As you'll be aware, some of the Cotswold Running ambassadors are trail testing some kit from Thoosa Running Wear.  Chris Lloyd tried something that all good advisors will tell you not to do - she raced for over 3 hours in a pair of tights straight out of the box (well, bag, really).  Chris, in my experience of running with her for a few years now, can be a bit picky about her gear.  So, what did she think?  Read her report below!

Report from a Thoosa Mover!

Hi everyone, this is my first gear review for Cotswold Running and Thoosa Running Wear.  Let me tell you a little bit about myself.  I started running far too late in years in my opinion at the ripe old age of 36, which was 18 years ago, and sport has been a way of life ever since.  I am well and truly hooked and still as keen at the ripe old age of 54, and so far I’m very lucky to have been relatively injury free in all this time.    Apart from a venture into triathlon, I left road running behind 3 years ago when a friend tempted me over to fell running and off-road racing.  The so-called ‘darkside’ of running provided a new lease of life into what I now refer to as injury-prone road running.

Chris enjoying a rare dry patch and the warmth of her Thoosa Chill tights

I am so fortunate to have one of the most beautiful areas in the Country on my doorstep so every weekend is spent in running with my partner and hound, a cocker spaniel called Idris, out on this wonderful land of ours.  Come December every year, my partner and I plan our races in the following year.  The eagerly awaited Fell Running Calendar and the Cotswold Running website influence our new year’s planning to a large extent.  As a Cotswold Running ambassador, I’ve been given a chance to test some Thoosa apparel on the trails.  The Naunton 19 was my first time in this great gear.  Normally, it is very ill-advised to race in kit that you’ve never worn before.  However, you might have guessed by now that I have the attitude that rules are only there to be broken.  The week prior to Naunton 19 had been typically wet along with the rest of 2012 and into 2013.   I had decided prior to the race that I was going to wear Swift Capris, compression calf-skins, woolly socks for padding, a thermal long sleeve and a Cotswold Running technical T-Shirt.  However, the night before the race the temperatures plummeted to -4 and on race day, temperatures of -2.5 °C were recorded.  A change of plan in attire was needed.  I changed out of the capris and wore the Thoosa Chill tights over compression calf-skins - an ideal combination on a day with 3 cold, wet fords.  The long tights were perfect; they have a silky feel on the outside but have a brushed lining making them very comfortable.  They came straight out of the box and into a 3+ hour trail race without any discomfort.  We’ll see how they stand up to some more abuse, so watch this space as you will see the Thoosa on an old bird out on the Donnington Way.

Happy legs, happy runner

Monday, 14 January 2013

Gear Review: Thoosa Swift Zip Tee & 3/4 Longs

A few months ago, we met Thoosa Running Wear’s founder, Caroline McNally, at our inaugural race, The Broadway Tower Marathon and Half Marathon.  She was enthusiastically cheering on Thoosa ambassador Charlotte Jeffries, who was running (very quickly!) the Half Marathon.  As a result of that serendipitous meeting, Thoosa are kindly providing prizes to our female race winners this year, and we are returning the favour by putting their gear to the test on the trails.  Cotswold Running ambassadors Nicola Dusterhoff and Christine Lloyd are planning various fell and trail races, the occasional ultra, triathlon, and possibly a mountain marathon or two.  Thoosa kit will be with them along the way, and we’ll periodically report on how they get on.
Let’s face it, most of a first-time purchase for a brand is heavily influenced by first impressions and recommendations from trusted sources.  First time use, though, is all about first impressions.  Once, in the dim and distant past, Nicola received a very good quality top for Christmas. It wasn’t in the most attractive colour of pale mustard (easy to see, but would you want to be seen in it?).  Two years later, it went missing, after one or two “you gave it to me, so I’ll wear it” outings.  When the ladies opened their Thoosa packages, the first impression was “fits well, looks great, feels well made” – no concern about the kit being hidden away!

Nicola on the trails in Thoosa Swift Zip Tee and Swift 3/4 Longs

So, what are Nic and Chris trialling this Winter, and what was behind that great first impression?  Given free rein over their selection, they both chose the Chill Half Zip and Swift Zip Tee on top.  On bottom, Nic will be wearing the City Skort or Swift ¾ tights, and Chris will be trying out the City Capri and the Chill Tights.  As with any new gear, the “out-of-the-box” inspection reveals a lot about what you can expect during use.  All of the fabric feels like it will last well and like it is soft enough not to be a chafing concern. 
The Chill tops have some great features, including 2 hip pockets that are roomy enough for most smartphones and snug enough not to bounce around on the run.  The colours are vibrant, with a fair amount of reflective detailing.  The Swift tee in “berry” was very easy to see from a distance on one of the typically grey, drizzly runs that seemed to dominate December.  One obvious difference in the tops compared to many other brands is a slightly longer body and slightly flared shaping that means they hang nicely over the bit of “tummy” that may just have sent one out for a run in the first place.  The hand-warming slots in the cuff are also great for those runs when it’s not really cold enough for gloves, but when you want something over your hands until you get fully warmed up.  As Nic went through a spate of losing one glove on those days, we might even call this a cost-saving feature!
The first thing we noticed about the bottoms is the wide, high waist.  This eliminates the need for a draw string – they stay up nicely without one.  As a bonus, the waistline seam is out of the way of a waist-pack, reducing the opportunity for chafing on a long run.  After a few runs of over 2 hours, even with the Swift tee untucked throughout, Nic hasn’t experienced any of the chaffing along the waist that regularly happened with lower-waisted longs and shorts.   The addition of a nice big, zipped pocket along the lower back is especially welcome in combination with the Swift tee, which doesn’t have any pockets.

Mud (and the rest) up to the knee and a fall helped testing.  All looks & smells fine after a good wash.

Result so far – our ambassadors are happy with the Thoosa Running Wear, and have yet to find anything to complain about.  The clothes wash up fine, retain their shape, and are ready to go again.  This weekend, Chris took her kit for a race test at the Naunton 19 Trail Race.  We’ll let you know how she got on.