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Episode 4 – Eric Matta of Ultimate Obstacles

UltimateObstacleslogoUltimate Obstacles is a soon-to-open facility in West Boylston – owned by Eric Matta, long time New England Spahten. We get to sit down and chat during construction of the facility (and we’ll go back when they’re up and running!).

You want to watch the video of this interview – lots to show!

Audio only:

Please leave us feedback! How are we doing? Comment, rate or just give us a thumbs up on iTunes or Youtube!

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NESpahtens.TV: Fred Smith of Smithfest Events in the studio

Fred Smith, of Smithfest Events, Panic in the Dark and the beloved Blizzard Blast visits and talks about his past, his races and where Smithfest is going …

Also available in the iTunes store as a podcast!

Audio Only:

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Reebok All Terrain Thrill – first look

All Terrain ThrillI wasn’t expecting to be putting two shoe posts up in two days – but here we go. Reebok VERY kindly shipped me the *other* 2016 All Terrain series shoe to look at and write up my first thoughts – and today we got a couple of pairs of the All Terrain Thrill – a new, wider, more plush trail shoe for their very popular All Terrain series.

If you haven’t – go take a read of the All Terrain Super OR first look I put up yesterday. I’ll get into a more direct comparison of the various shoes in due course, but it’s worth knowing what your options are if you’re looking at new shoes for the 2016 OCR season.

The Thrill is a very different shoe to the Super OR. From the bottom up – the tread isn’t as aggressive, the mid-sole is thicker, they use real laces, and a slightly padded tongue – the toe box is wider too. It’s much more shoe.

Weight: 11.5oz for mens, 9.3oz for women’s
Drop: 10mm (10mm at the front, 20mm at the rear)

All Terrain Thrill

The market for this shoe is for people who need more support – not everyone in OCR is elite. Not everyone needs minimal and fast in their shoe. Some of us need some comfort. Maybe you run longer distance events, and need more support? Maybe you’re simply looking for more protection from the rocks.

The Thrill does retain Reeboks signature H2O drain, which is easily my favorite feature of the All Terrain – at the cost of possibly letting stuff *into* the shoe, they also let stuff get out quickly too.

In fact, if you compare it to the early 2015 All Terrain Thunder 2.0 shoe – it’s more comparable. It’s comfortable, but now has the signature All Terrain tread.

So – which Reebok is best for you?

If you’re looking for a comfortable ride – plush midsole and wide toebox, with great grip and drainage – the All Terrain Thrill is for you.

If you’re looking for a light weight, tight fitting race shoe – with grip, drainage and the most durable upper yet, you want the All Terrain Super OR.


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Reebok All Terrain Super OR – first look

Reebok All Terrain OR 2015

This morning, the mailman dropped off a couple of boxes, direct from Canton, MA – headquarters of Reebok HQ – and in those boxes were some new shoes to check out – the Reebok All Terrain Super OR.

This is, effectively, the third generation of All Terrain Super – and just like they do with their other shoe lines, Reebok has gradually and incrementally improved the shoe with each revision.

Check my comparison of the first generation here, and the Thunder 2.0, a more casual/training version of the All Terrain that was released in the second generation.

So – what do we have here.

Weight: 7.8oz for mens, 6.4oz for women’s
Drop: 5mm (7mm at the front, 12mm at the rear)

This is a racing shoe. Unlike the Thunder 2.0, this is not a training / casual shoe. There will be a Thrive model coming soon for that. This is for hitting the courses, completing obstacles, and getting you through quickly – not for long miles on mountains.

According to Reebok, the shoe weighs 8oz – and if you’ve worn either previous model, it’s about the same weight. It has an 8mm drop, but frankly, with the minimal mid sole, it feels much lower. The shoe is definitely a light weight, minimal feel shoe.

Reebok All Terrain OR 2015They’ve kept the things that worked – this is key, because in many area’s, the shoe DID work well. The tread pattern and depth don’t appear to have changed. The lugs are aggressive and if anything like previous generations, they work well. The H2O draining is effective and easily the most unique, most appreciated feature of the shoe.

They’ve changed things that didn’t work – the material of the upper – at least in the first generation – failed all the time. I wore mine out quickly, with my wide toe box. The second generation was more resilient, but in my Thunder 2.0’s, it did feel plasticy at times. Having said that, I wear my Thunder 2.0’s all the damn time – just not for racing. The new CorDura material they use here is considerably improved over last year.

Reebok All Terrain OR 2015

I have no idea why they included speed lacing. In OCR, thats a recipe for getting gummed up and difficult to use.

The fit – this is polarizing. This is a race day shoe, so the fit is designed to be snug. I get that. However, I have a fairly wide toe box, and these feel tight to me. This is what ripped the sides out of my old All Terrain Super’s. However, the material feels much sturdier, and the actual FEEL is comfortable. I could wear these all day, and doubt I’d blister – but if you’re looking for a wide, roomy and more comfortable fit, these won’t be the shoes for you. I’ll have to wear these for a while to see if they’re the shoes for me.

Watch my video review, below – lots more detail in there. Also scores are being given BEFORE a test wear – and I’ll update once I’ve got miles behind me – I feel I can make educated scoring now, due to the similarity with previous generation shoes.

Also check out our first look at the more plush Reebok All Terrain Thrill’s for 2016!

For your own opinion on these shoes? Login and leave your ratings!

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It’s the holidays, and lets face it, with no Christmas Day races to speak of – you can eat pie with your odd Uncle Bob, or you can listen to some obstacle course race specific podcasts.

Is it really a hard choice to make?

Wait – you don’t know what a podcast is? A podcast is an audio recording, freely available for download to your computer or phone. Typically, they are released frequently, and in todays examples, they are covering the world of obstacle course racing. If you use iTunes, you can subscribe to them, meaning new episodes just show up, magically. If you don’t, both of todays shows are also on stitcher radio too, which lets you listen to them in anyway you can imagine.

Today – I’ll introduce you to two podcasts. They have both been running for some months, and cater to two very different markets in the obstacle course world. Truly, there is something for everyone.

Matt B Davis Runs Podcast logo


Matt B Davis – friend of the New England Spahtens and editor of the US arm of the Obstacle Racing Magazine has been putting out a live podcast every Monday night for a while now. You can sit in a chat room on his website, and listen as he brings guests on the show, plays recorded interviews, attends and reviews races – all kinds of stuff. Matt clearly knows his stuff, knows his athletes and knows his races. He hasn’t been afraid to get quite up front and direct with race directors who haven’t put on the kinds of races they’ve promised, and he even stayed up and interviewed folks racing for a full 24 hours at the Worlds Toughest Mudder.

Personally, I listen to these in the car on my drive to work – I sometimes find the “phone line” quality a little hard to make out, over car speakers and engine noise – but that shouldn’t be a problem for those of you who listen on headphones or computers – for anyone who is a little more advanced in the OCR world – perhaps looking to travel for your tri-fecta, or filling out your race calendar with training races while preparing for your serious races – this is a must listen.

Getting Dirty with Daniel and Laurie

Daniel and Laurie are west coast based podcasters, and they do an excellent job of covering the “entry level” racer. The production values of the show are top notch (Daniel mentions he does podcasting for other outlets – and clearly, it’s not their first rodeo), and they do a great job of making obstacle course racing accessible and easy to understand. They put out a show every couple to few weeks, and these are pre-recorded. Between them, they cover a really good range of “I’ve only run/walked a few events” through to having completed a couple of Tough Mudders … they aren’t as involved in the OCR world as Matt, and some of the names and lingo that we take for granted don’t really impress or mean anything on this show.

Different audience than Matt’s show, but no less important for it. 9 shows in and they are talking to Warrior Dash – so clearly, they are doing good things!

So – this holiday season, when you’re driving the kids between family visits, or hiding out from that crazy aunty in her ugly sweater – make sure you’ve loaded up your smart phone with an episode or two of each show, give them a listen and get caught up.