If like many of us you’re dreaming of a return to some mountains at some point this summer (fingers crossed) you might be starting to think about some uphill races (and your uphill fitness!). Perhaps the purest of all the uphill-only races is the vertical kilometre. La Sportiva has designed a shoe with these races in mind – the VK Boa.
The Vertical Kilometre
In Europe there are some incredible VK races. Famously there’s the Mont Blanc VK, which is part of the Mont Blanc Marathon weekend, there’s Piz Tri Vertical in Malonno, Italy, where you see the runners literally having to use their hands, and there the daddy of them all – Chiavenna Lagunc. Taking place in the very north of Italy, this was the world’s first certified vertical kilometre and the course where both the men’s and women’s world records were set!
But you don’t have to venture to Europe to find a good uphill-only race (which is good at the moment because we can’t!). In the UK there was a test event for a Wansfell uphill race in October last year. At 2.5k with 400m of ascent it isn’t a VK and it might be a good place to start your uphill-only racing career – but it won’t be easy! It’s hopefully taking place again this July (amblesidemountaincup.com). There’s also a Snowdon vertical kilometre and the Mamores VK as part of the Skyline Scotland events.
A Superlight Shoe
If you’ve decided that mountain races with a lot of ascent are for you then La Sportiva has just the shoe – the VK Boa. What makes it so suitable for this sort of event? Firstly, it’s just a superlight shoe. All extra weight when running uphill will slow you down, so La Sportiva stripped it back, even using tread just where it’s needed, and they’ve used the most lightweight materials. It weighs in at 180g.
Secondly, and the biggest innovation, they’ve incorporated the Boa Fit closure system, rather than using lacing, so you can get the best possible fit to prevent your foot moving around. The Boa Fit system means that the shoe wraps round your foot perfectly, with a sock-like fit, and you just turn the dial to get the right tension. The upper is made of a bi-elastic mesh so your foot can still enjoy plenty of flexibility and the 3D heel enhances the snug fit and gives support. Worried that the lightweight nature means that there isn’t enough protection from all that rock? Don’t be. The TPU toe cap will save you from the knocks.
So will this summer be the time to get vertical? Better start working on your hill fitness.
Find out more at their website.