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Beer-Flavored Gu! And Other Big Reveals from The Running Event Expo

We traveled to Austin, Texas, to get sneak peeks at some of the hottest run- and tri-related gear.

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Gu’s Crazy New Beer-Flavored Gel

Yes, that’s right, beer-flavored gel. No, this wasn’t some ill-timed April Fool’s Day joke, but it is a seeming inevitability given today’s wide-ranging nutritional flavors. Gu’s Hoppy Trails gel is a lightly hoppy, citrus-y taste that Gu says is meant to mix up the constant flow of standard sweet flavors with something more bitter to reduce “palate fatigue.” The good news? It wasn’t as weird as you’d think. You probably wouldn’t want to stack your top tube with nothing but Hoppy Trails for an iron-distance event, but it would do a good job of providing a little jolt to your taste-tired tongue. The even better news? Ten percent of the flavor’s sales will go toward a fund that individuals can apply to in order to raise money for local causes. The bad news? No alcohol.

Available March 1, 2019; $36 for a box of 24

Hoka One One’s New Shoe and Notable Updates

From the brand basically birthed by triathletes’ love for cushy foam, we have a new model in Hoka’s extensive line, the Rincon. This is a shoe that Hoka claims is an effective fast trainer or racer at distances from 5K to marathon. It boasts very minimal outsole reinforcement (to shave weight), medium flexibility, and a made-for-tri heel pull tab alongside a shockingly svelte impact on the shoe scale—particularly for the usually beefy brand (7.6 ounces for men’s size 9; 6.3 ounces for women’s size 7).

In other footwear dieting news, Hoka’s popular Clifton model shaves some ounces in its sixth version by using fewer overlays and lightweight embroidery on the upper for structure. Also, Hoka’s latest offroad dynasty shoe, the Speedgoat, gets upgraded in its third iteration with a redesigned toebox to prevent bunching on extreme downhills and more upper overlays for the notoriously flexible upper—while keeping the uncharacteristically (for Hoka) nimble midsole and grippy outsole the same.

From top to bottom: Speedgoat 3 – Available spring 2019, $140, 4mm drop, 10.3 ounces (men’s 9), 9.1 ounces (women’s 7); Clifton 6 – Available fall 2019, 5mm drop, 9 ounces (men’s 9), 7.4 ounces (women’s 7); Rincon – Available fall 2019, $115, 5mm drop, 7.6 ounces (men’s 9), 6.3 ounces (women’s 7)

Craft’s Wild New Reflective Line

The Swedish brand known for their dedication to warmth in icy conditions is releasing a new line of reflective clothing that is both incredibly stylish and practical. We loved the details like diamond quilting, ninja sleeves, draping, and alternating textures, but more importantly the “Lumos” perforated reflective material truly stood out in both night and day. The fall 2019 line includes clothing from a light windbreaker (Wind, $100), to a quilted outerlayer (Sub-Zero, $150), to a do-all outerlayer (Hydro, $200)—all with excellent protection from the elements. For those tired of donning a neon yellow vest when they go out running (or riding), Craft’s new take on fashionable reflectivity is an excellent choice.

Available fall 2019: Sub-Zero ($150)

Under Armour’s New Expanded Hovr Line

In 2018, the perennial clothing-turned-running-shoe brand offered two models with their innovative cushioning foam, Hovr. In 2019, due to their success, UA has expanded its Hovr line to five shoes.

As a result of a partnership with Dow Chemical, UA’s Hovr foam is intended to hit the sweet spot between response and cushioning. All of the models in this line also boast UA’s connected pod embedded into the sole. Tethering to your smartphone via Bluetooth LE, it automatically uploads data like cadence and stride length—which is now combined with information like height, weight, age, gender, and pace to give runners “coaching advice” related to cadence and stride length. The app will generate suggestions for your next run, based on data collected from the previous run (note: no real-time data collection or alerts based on coaching advice are available yet, but representatives said it’s in the works).

From left to right (women’s colors pictured), all available February 2019: Infinite – $120, Neutral, 8mm drop, 10.7 ounces (men’s 9), 8.75 ounces (women’s 7); Guardian – $120, Stability, 7mm drop, 12 ounces (men’s 9), 9.8 ounces (women’s 7); Velociti II – $120, Lightweight trainer,  8mm drop, 9 ounces (men’s 9), 7.5 ounces (women’s 7)

Skechers Lightens Its Load

This October, despite pre-race expectations, Canada’s Lionel Sanders didn’t have a great finish at Hawaii Ironman—he faded on the run to a disappointing 28th place. Because of the lackluster performance, many missed that he was wearing Skechers’ newly released lightweight racer/trainer, the Razor 3 Hyper.

Using a new type of material that looks surprisingly similar to the bubbly white stuff on most foam rollers called “Hyperburst,” Skechers’ will be releasing limited-edition colorways around major marathons like New York this year and L.A., and Boston next year. This technology will now bleed its way into other models in the Skechers running line like the new GoRun 7 Hyper. Made for more all around training and racing, the GoRun 7 Hyper has a removable insole to accommodate orthotics, a compression knit upper, and a lace-locking system for stability.

From top to bottom: Razor 3 Hyper – Available now, $130, 4mm drop, 6.4 ounces (men’s 9), 4.9 ounces (women’s 7); GoRun 7 Hyper – Available spring 2019, $125, 4mm drop, 7.8 ounces (men’s 9), 6.1 ounces (women’s 7) 

Merrell’s Commitment To Trail Running Dominance

From a brand that began as a favorite boot of hikers everywhere, Merrell is making the move in 2019 to becoming the go-to trail running shoe. While road running has typically had a shoe for every type of runner and condition, trail running has traditionally been relegated to a model or two within a larger line. Beginning next year, Merrell has decided to go all in and do the same for off-road runners. By greatly expanding their line by a magnitude of models, Merrell now has a shoe for everyone everywhere.

We saw a “vertical runner” model, the MTL Cirrus—based off of feedback from popular mountain runner Joseph Gray, the shoe has a super locked heel cup, a overbuilt forefoot for climbing, and a underbuilt heel; in contrast, we saw a minimal shoe, the Trail Glove 5 that was engineered from studying the foot in motion, as opposed to at rest.

But our favorite shoe in the monstrous collection was the Antora—a cushioned shoe with adapted lugs on the outsole and a different, softer tongue on the women’s-specific model that Merrell’s product manager told us was supported by R&D she found concluding that women prefer a softer shoe in certain areas. We also loved the unique colorway designed in collaboration with a local artist while on a trip to Peru’s strikingly beautiful Rainbow Mountains.

Counterclockwise from bottom: Antora – Available spring 2019, $110, 8mm drop, 8 ounces (women’s 7); MTL Cirrus – Available spring 2019, $160, 5mm drop, 11.4 ounces (men’s 9), 8 ounces (women’s 7); Trail Glove 5 – Available spring 2019, $100, 0mm drop, (7 ounces men’s 9), 6 ounces (women’s 7) 

Merino Masters Make Major Moves

One of our favorite brands in the quickly growing merino wool clothing market has finally expanded their line of running pieces. Icebreaker’s 2019 season will mark a major growth of their “training” products as they build upon their traditionally hiking-centered collection. Introducing pieces like the Amplify—a half-zip with a blend of cool-lite merino/tencel mix and better moisture management. For even colder days, Icebreaker has the Vultaic half-zip midlayer with 96-percent merino fabric and reflective accents. Even colder yet? Pair the Delta full-zip top with 98-percent 260g merino wool and the Techtrainer pant (available now, $180) that uses nylon overlays to repel wind and rain, while remaining breathable.

From left to right: Amplify half-zip – Available fall 2019 ($85); Vultaic half-zip – Available fall 2019 ($150); Delta full-zip – Available fall 2019 ($190)

Crazy Light Flats From Reebok

While the traditional running brand hasn’t been making too many waves recently in the triathlon space, their latest racing flat, the Floatride Run Fast Pro, certainly turns some tri-heads with some seriously upsetting numbers. (Barely) tipping the scales at just 3.52 ounces (and costing $250), this paperlike lightweight runner uses ultra thin “floatride” foam, a basically disposable amount of outsole, and an effectively supportless midsole to create something that’s simply made to go fast. Though Reebok insists that there’s no specific mileage shelf life to these specialized kicks, they also suggest keeping their use to race day and training days when you really need to feel your fastest.

Available now, $250, 6mm drop, 3.52 ounces (unisex men’s 9)

A New Way To Tighten Up Those Kicks

Though there was little tri-specific gear at TRE this year, we did notice a lacing system that would be ideal for T2. Hickies’ proprietary plastic blend coupled with independent horizontal lacing creates a very unconventional, but tri-useful, way to dial in your shoe’s fit and still have a speedy transition. Because the “laces” aren’t interconnected, you’re free to tighten and loosen different spots on your foot—based on pressure spots or feet with unusual volume. And because they stretch slightly, you’re able to slip your foot in without needing to untie or cinch down laces. In fact, during long races where your foot can change throughout the run, Hickies allow you to make quick adjustments on the fly without unlacing or even untying your shoe.

Available now, $18 for 14 pieces (enough for one pair of shoes)

Something New From 361

Though relatively new to the U.S. market, 361 Degrees has wasted no time getting involved in running and specifically triathlon. The large Chinese brand is currently sponsoring U.S. Olympian and 2018 ITU World Championship runner-up Katie Zaferes and releasing a slew of models. Their latest, the Strada 3, boasts an updated fit and upper with a very unique lacing system that actually attaches directly to the footbed and runs up the side of the upper, where it then fixes to the laces. The effect is a very secure fit that pulls down toward the insole and looks and feels like a corset wrapping around the foot.

Available in spring 2019, $155, 8mm drop, 11 ounces (men’s 9), 9.3 ounces (women’s 7)