I’m very lucky with the opportunities that come my way through this blog. I never dreamed when I started Paddle Pedal Pace that I’d be flown out to a European city as a guest of an international running brand. However last weekend that is exactly what happened…
Kalenji invited 23 running bloggers from 8 different European countries to join them in Nice, France for Blog Camp 2016. The weekend was centred around the Prom Classic 10k which was being run for the 17th time on the Promenade de Anglais.
I was one of the first bloggers to arrive on Saturday morning, so I took the chance to explore the city. I walked up Castle Hill which offered breathtaking views over the beach, port and and old town. Despite being overcast, the weather was still very mild for January. I browsed some of the vintage clothing shops and relaxed in a cafe in the Place Massena.
Later that afternoon, the bloggers met in the lobby of the hotel. Several were from France, others from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium and Germany. The group quickly bonded over a mutual love of running (and blogging). We all wore our Kiprun SD shoes which we had been sent in advance of the weekend, so it was easy to spot the bloggers in our neon pink and orange shoes! It was great to meet some of the faces I’ve been following on Instagram and Twitter over the past few months.
We visited the Kalenji booth at the race expo and browsed the current range. I’m always impressed with the level of detail which goes into their designs. The clothing includes pockets, zips, thumb-holes, ventilation panels and adjustable cords. I came away with the Play Jacket in my favourite coral colour, with fleecy lining and smartphone pocket.
Le Hussard restaurant was booked for a presentation from the managers and footwear developers at Kalenji. They talked us through the research and development which has gone into the Kiprun shoe range.
The shoe is actually designed to suit all gait types: pronation, neutral and supination, owing to the innovative insert in the midsole, known as K-Only. Kalenji undertook a bio-mechnical study tracking 372 runners over a 6 month period, each of whom were randomly allocated one of two running shoe models- a neutral shoe and the other fitted with the K-Only concept. The aim of the study was to see which shoe was was best suited to all types of gait. The result was that runners wearing the K-Only shoes had a 30% lower injury risk compared to those wearing the neutral shoe!
The race comprises of the Kiprun SD which is suitable for shorter distance races, the Kiprun LD which are designed for long runs. The Kiprace is suited to runners keen to improve their performance in competitions or interval training.
Over a three course meal, we discussed our opinions of the Kiprun SD shoe and our racing plans for the coming season. It was inspiring to chat to bloggers from other countries and learn about the running scene in their cities. We shared our goal races and Personal Bests, as well as discussing our favourite running brands. As the only British blogger, it was interesting to hear how prominent Kalenji is as a brand in Europe. I feel that in the UK, with only 20 stores, Decathlon brands are not widely available or particularly well-known.
Kalenji were keen to get our honest opinion on the Kiprun SD shoe. I get the impression that they work closely with the consumer to receive feedback which drives the development of future products. Personally I had not worn the Kiprun for a great deal of training due to my injury, but I’m keen to put them through their paces now that I’m running again.
The following morning we assembled on the Promenade de Anglaise for the race. The clouds had cleared and it was a beautiful morning. Unfortunately, I knew already that I wouldn’t be running. My stress fracture is almost completely healed but it is still too soon for me to run 10km- I’m currently only able to run 3-4km at a time. Still I was happy to be spectating and supporting at the race, taking in the buzzing atmosphere on the beachfront. I tried to spot the bloggers amongst the crowds, but with 10,000 runners it was impossible to recognise their faces
I noticed how many of the runners were wearing the Kalenji brand, even those who were not part of the Blog Squad. It seemed far more prominent than the Nike, Adidas, Brooks, New Balance that you would see at a British race.
I caught up with some of the bloggers after the race to admire their medals and congratulate them on new Personal Bests. After the race had finished, I headed out for a short run by myself to experience part of the course and test out the Kiprun SD. It was gorgeous to be running in the sunshine and cool breeze- I managed 2.5 miles before heading back to the hotel to check out. The water was incredibly blue- I was tempted to go for a swim!
I absolutely loved Nice as a race destination, it was a shame to leave after such an amazing weekend. I’d love to go back and take part in another race along the promenade- it seems like a perfect PB course!
A huge thank you to the team at Kalenji for hosting the weekend and inviting me to experience Nice.
Have you ever raced abroad? Have you ever been to Nice? Do you wear any Kalenji running kit?