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Adventure : Running

The Best Kicks of Summer 2014

You can practically swim through the humidity and there are tsunami heat waves rising off sticky tar roads. But that’s not going to stop you from pounding the pavement this summer. Rather than suffer, equip yourself with hot weather running essentials and get your feet into one of these quality pairs of shoes. You’ll leave those heat waves in the dust.

New Balance Fresh Foam 980 ($110)

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We’ve got one word for this neutral trainer: fast. The Fresh Foam is the quickest shoe here—a soft, bouncy platform with a slim fit and a bare minimum of structural pieces. We love the stretchy upper and four millimeters of drop, which gives you enough forward lean to keep you effective on your toes but also lets you sink back into the heel on mellower cruises. Efficient runners will fault the soft forefoot, but for the rest of us the Fresh Foam is a slipper with booster rockets. 
8.8 oz; 4 mm drop.

Hoka One One Clifton ($130)

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The Clifton is a minor miracle of design. It comes with Hoka’s signature double-thick foam suspension, yet it boasts a floats-on-your-foot weight of less than eight ounces. That’s lighter than many minimalist shoes. The feel? Quick, lively, and smooth rolling, thanks to the rockered midsole and a supple, form-fitting upper (the best we’ve seen from Hoka). Given the trend toward maximalist shoes among high-mileage and heavier runners, the Clifton will be one of the summer’s hottest. 7.9 oz; 5 mm drop.

Saucony Ride 7 ($120)

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For slow and steady fitness runs, the Ride 7 is a godsend. Dropping half an ounce from last year’s version, it has the marshmallowy plushness of a cushioning shoe but weighs just 9.4 ounces—light enough for smooth turnover, despite the pampering upper. Midfooters and light heel strikers will be happy with the moderate drop, though heel pounders will probably want thicker suspension in the rear, and efficient runners might find the squishy foam a tad sluggish. 9.4 oz; 8 mm drop.

Under Armour Speedform Apollo ($100)

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Think of it as a running shoe in a compression shirt. Under Armour fashioned the Speedform Apollo’s upper from one unstitched piece of stretchy fabric—an impressive feat that delivers a slim, snug, supportive fit. The thin midsole is fast, but eight millimeters of drop help ease the strain on your Achilles. Close to the ground and weighing a mere 6.5 ounces, this shoe absolutely motors. Cheesy laces and a few cosmetic blemishes belie how well this shoe performs—especially in its featherweight class. 6.5 oz; 8 mm drop.

Adidas Supernova Sequence 7 Boost ($130)

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The Sequence is a real-deal stability shoe, but one that doesn’t feel like it comes with a prescription. Adidas’s popular Boost midsole material—a bouncy alternative to foam that doesn’t firm up in cold weather—gives it zip. The Sequence is built low to the ground, and a full-length brace of denser foam (Adidas calls it Stable Frame) helps it feel sturdy underfoot. The moderately lean upper will seem constricting to wider feet, but we loved the snug, seamless fit. 10.9 oz; 10 mm drop.

Brooks Glycerin 12 ($150)

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Like the Saucony, Brooks’s Glycerin 12 is a staunchly traditional cushioning shoe for mainstream fitness runners, but it offers a firmer and more energetic ride. At nearly 11 ounces it never felt fast, but it was snappy and responsive—we lost very little forward energy with each foot plant, making it a good choice for runners who want a stable, efficient platform. In short, it’s plush but doesn’t overdo it. Wide-footed runners will relish the roomy midfoot and toe box. 10.9 oz; 10 mm drop.

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OCR's Energizer Bunny: Brad Kloha

Brad Kloha refused to quit. His body told him to. His mind did too. And more than a few loved ones face-palmed when they’d see him hobbling around after races, knees wrapped in ice.

But he kept going. Through ice, fire, electricity and barbed wire; through wear, tear, sprains and strains; Kloha kept going and going and going. And on June 14, at the Run to Remember 5K Run/Walk in his hometown of Mount Pleasant, Michigan, the 28-year-old successfully completed 100 races in 52 weeks. Some on the streets, but mostly in mud.

Kloha isn’t a professional runner. He works full time at his alma mater, Central Michigan University. But after all the helplessness he and his family felt during his grandmother’s 13-year battle with Alzheimer’s, he was inspired to do something. Something big, spectacular, symbolic. And so began “Run to Remember,” a wildly ambitious mission to raise awareness and money for the Alzheimer’s Association.

“He’s the best example of someone who races for all the right reasons,” says Spartan World Champion Amelia Boone. “He never complains; he just keeps going.”

OUTSIDE: What did your family think about your plan?
KLOHA: They were all pretty moved right from the start. My mom, my sister, and my aunt all cried. My dad smiled his approving smile. I’ve been extremely lucky that way; even this past year when things got tough, my entire family has been there all along. It’s not been just about me, it’s been a labor of love for all of us.

Did they express any concerns about how demanding your mission was?
Clearly, I had never attempted anything even close to this before, so there were a lot of unknowns about how my body was going to hold up. I wasn’t exactly 100% going into it either; previous injuries and surgeries from some of those surgeries had left me weaker in some areas and with some chronic pain that I was used to dealing with, but no one knew how it would work without the chance for any rest. I didn’t really have a good answer because I didn’t know either, all I knew is I didn’t plan to let anything stop me from reaching the finish line of 100th race.

Have they suggested you hang up your laces at some point?
The suggestion was made quite a few times, but they knew I wasn’t going to listen. And even though they suggested it, they still supported me in continuing as long as they knew I wasn’t doing any life-threatening damage. 

What’s the most challenging part of this experience?
I think the hardest part of the experience was logistically making every race. Unfortunately there were some race cancellations

What was the toughest race?
There are probably a few that can fall into that category. The Vermont Spartan Beast took me completely off-guard. I had done Beasts before, but the mountains completely did me in. An injury between miles three and four made it that much more difficult. I also put the permanent course of Mud, Guts, and Glory in Oregonia, Ohio, in that category as well. I’ve run their race three times this past year, and they’ve done things with obstacles that I haven’t seen and make just awesome use of their entire terrain.

Physically, what’s been the worst part of it?
The worst part was not having time to recover from injuries. When I tore, strained, or sprained something, I didn’t have the ability to take the necessary time off to allow the injury to heal. Once the first major injury occurred, it sort of became a vicious cycle as other parts of my body tried to compensate, which sometimes compounded some issues.

What’s been the best part of it?
I think the best part has been being at races and having people come up to me and share their personal experiences with Alzheimer’s disease. While my grandma and great-grandma battled their disease, I remember that they became much more introverted and avoided public situations, and that I didn’t feel like anyone else was experiencing what my family was experiencing.

It wasn’t until I started this journey this past year that I learned just how many close friends I have that also have had similar experiences with Alzheimer’s in their family. The opportunity to get to share experiences and to hopefully create a louder voice about the prevalence and impact of the disease has been incredible.

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Rocky Top Road Trip

Bomb down epic singletrack, play in Class IV whitewater, and take in Colorado’s famous 14,000-foot vistas on this 500-mile multisport tour of a lifetime.

Packing List: Your entire gear closet, a big roof box, a GoPro

Highlights: Start this odyssey by playing in the four brand-new features in downtown Durango’s Animas River Whitewater Park. Then head east to soak away shoulder burn in Pagosa Springs’ 22 pools (from $25) and cool off with a Skallywag pale ale at Riff Raff Brewing Company.

Near 10,857-foot Wolf Creek Pass, take a mile-long hike to the Pass Creek Yurt, which sleeps six, comes stocked with firewood, and is the ideal base camp for hiking and mountain-biking the Continental Divide 
Trail ($139 per night). At Great Sand Dunes National Park ($3 entry), rent a sandboard to descend 750-foot Star Dune ($18), then go north to Salida to raft 20 miles of Class III-plus through Browns Canyon ($86; noahsark.com). Crash at the three-bedroom cabin at Creekside Hot Springs in nearby Nathrop, which has a private pool next to Chalk Creek (from $295).

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In bike-crazy Gunnison, try some of the 44 miles of singletrack trails in the Hartman Rocks Recreation Area, then stay at Three Rivers Resort, where you can rent a cabin or lodge room and step outside the door to cast a fly in the world-class Taylor River for trophy brown, rainbow, or cutthroat trout (from $65).

Wrap up the trip by heading south from Montrose 
on Highway 550 for a jolt of Rocky Mountain highs at 11,099-foot Red Mountain Pass before coasting back through the San Juans to hit all five craft breweries 
in Durango. Bed down at the Strater Hotel, a four-story Victorian built in 1887 (from $192).

{%{"image":"http://media.outsideonline.com/images/rocky-top-map.jpg","size":"large","caption":"The route."}%}

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