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Expedition Plans — Non-Stop Round the Isle of Wight Kayak

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Last November I rekindled a past passion of mine—sea kayaking. I purchased a 17.5 foot expedition level sea kayak and began paddling; reacquainting myself with the freedom of skimming along the surface of the water, using just your own willpower and strength for propulsion.

There was one objective, one thought, which lay in the back of my mind from the moment the first paddle stroke cut through the water… how far can I go? Much as my bike expeditions have previously taken me over many new horizons, I wanted to see where this new horizon would lead.

I set myself an objective… to kayak non-stop around the Isle of Wight during the summer of 2019. I have cycled and sailed round the Island more times than I can count, but the 95 kilometre route by kayak would be a whole new challenge, and the first of many new all-day horizon explorations.

I began training in the depths of winter; layered up like an onion, using a rag-tag bunch of cycling kit and sailing kit to try and provide protection …

Kit Focus — Nathan Sports VaporKrar 4 Litre Hydration Running Race Vest

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I ran my first trail marathon last month, and that necessitated an investment into a hydration solution; even in mid-July, at night, it was warm enough to need constant re-hydration. The Nathan VaporKrar 4 litre Men's Race Vest was my chosen ultra-running hydration vest, and it performed faultlessly.

The Nathan Sport range has been my turn-to option for previous hydration needs; in 2016 I tested, and now frequently use their TrailMix Insulated Running Belt. However, with the increased distance of the marathon event, and plans to do more future ultra-running events, I wanted something with more storage capacity.

The Nathan VaporKrar 4 litre is a lightweight race-ready ultra-running hydration vest. It has a close-fitting apparel like fit, a large amount of adjustment, a rear pocket that will hold a 1.5 litre hydration bladder, as well as two soft flasks on the front of the vest, and multiple stash pockets.

An empty VaporKrar 4 weighs a miniscule 181 grams (size small, with no fla…

Kit Focus — Rab Kinetic Alpine Waterproof Shell Jacket

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The Rab Kinetic Alpine Jacket is an industry-leading fully waterproof shell jacket; providing the comfort and stretchy feel of a softshell jacket, but with the protective performance of a 100 percent waterproof hiking / trail running jacket.

The exceptional characteristic of the Rab Kinetic Alpine Jacket, which sets it apart from other waterproof jackets on the market, is the fabric — the patented Proflex™ material. This unique technical fabric is breathable, waterproof, durable, and crucially stretchy; enabling an adaptable and close-fitting protective outer layer.

The Kinetic Alpine Jacket is designed for the mountains; where lightweight packable properties are essential and second only to the necessity for the jacket to be fully weatherproof.

In the pursuit of featherweight lightness (390 grams for the Medium size jacket), Rab have introduced some clever innovations. Ceramic print overlays are used on high wear areas to remove the need for bulky reinforcement patches and to retai…

Kit Focus — 361 Degrees Yushan Trail Running Shoes

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There are very few pairs of running shoes that I would run an off-road marathon in, having only worn them for 15 kilometres previously. I did just that with the 361° Yushan Trail Running Shoes. These are quite simply the most comfortable off-road trail running shoes I have worn to date.

My fond association with the 361° brand came after trying their Strata 3 Road Running Shoes at the end of last year; they proved to be incredibly comfortable, stable, and supportive, straight out of the box. I have subsequently run over 400 kilometres in them.

When I signed up for the 'Challenge the Wight' night marathon earlier this year, I was well aware that my shoe choice would not only play a part in comfort, but also whether I would even finish the event. Due to relatively collapsed arches and a wide toe spread, I have suffered from repeat problems with cramped or blistered toes, and vulnerable ankle joints — I was the kid who had to wear boots to school (before that was cool).

From the …

Kit Focus — Ledlenser Neo10R Headtorch

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In the build-up to running the Challenge The Wight night time marathon, I went in search of the best head torch for night running. With great past experiences of the Ledlenser range, the Ledlenser NEO10NR Headtorch rose to the top of the selection list. This is my review.

The NEO10R is the range topping model in Ledlenser's NEO series; with a focusable beam providing an output of up to 600 lumens; a minimum run time of 10 hours, and a maximum burn time of 120 hours.

The headtorch is a two-part design with a separate battery pack that sits at the rear of the head. The straps then run around the head; to provide a balanced and secure design for running and hiking. The unit is also IPX4 waterproof, so it is resistant to significant splashing and downpours.

The highlight of the NEO10R headtorch is the focusable beam, which allows you to refine the breadth and reach distance of the unit's output. On a close-quarters wide angle beam the beam distance is only 20 metres on low power;…

Challenge the Wight 2019 — A Marathon Run from The Sun

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"I have never run more than 23 kilometres before…" is my response, when stood in the fading light at The Needles a fellow 'Challenge the Wight' participant asks if I can "run like you bike". On hearing my reply, he looks at me with a slight wince "Ah, right… well. Good luck."…

As the sunset casts an orange haze on the English Channel, and a warm westerly wind blows in over the cliffs of Alum Bay, I slightly nervously await the start of my first marathon… off-road, through the fast approaching darkness.

21:00 — The gun sounds, and amidst a cheer of support from friends and family, we are off. Up the lane to the coastguard cottages and the old rocket launch site; from where we will then turn eastwards, and traverse the downlands backbone of the Isle of Wight all the way to the finish at Culver Down — 26 miles (42 km) and 2900 feet (890 m) of climbing. This could be a long night.

Up over Tennyson Down; down to Freshwater Bay; then up again on the lo…