In iron-red mountains over Sedona today, on a long trail through a dry wilderness, I joined a group to run for a few hours in search of vortexes and a good workout before the noon sun would shrivel the desert sand. We departed at 8:45 a.m., the air dry and the sky already bright. It was going to be a hot day in Arizona.
Our goal was a 17-mile loop, a long path that would climb mesas, wind up a desert wash, and traverse near a famous sinkhole at the end. At least one of the region’s famous vortexes was foretold to be along the route.
My group was a stout crew that included ultra-runner phenom Dakota Jones and the president of Mountain Hardwear (and accomplished ultra-runner) Topher Gaylord. Journalists Adam Chase and Bryon Powell of iRunFar joined in on the fun as well.
Beyond vortexes and desert scenery, we were out there to test a new type of running apparel including Mountain Hardwear’s to-be-released Cool.Q ZERO shirts and arm sleeves as well as items from Columbia’s Omni-Freeze ZERO line. (See the post “Magic Material? Clothing said to ‘Cool Wearer with Sweat’” for a primer on these “cooling” apparel lines, both which will debut in 2013.)
The route climbed in and out of washes, followed sections of slickrock, and scrambled on steep trails to mesa tops. We each started with a bladder of water (I took 80 ounces), and by the end all of us were dry.
For the clothing test, I wore a Mountain Hardwear Cool.Q ZERO shirt and arm sleeves. My first impression? The tech is a slick formula — the cooling effect is noticeable, especially in the wind. The shirts are top-notch for running-wear in general, comfy and highly-wicking.
In addition, unlike last year’s launch of a similar line by Columbia, the Cool.Q ZERO products and Columbia’s Omni-Freeze ZERO fabric can get wet, wick, dry, and then produce the “cooling effect” again and again all in the span of a single outing.
It was sunny, dry, and in the 80s on our desert run today. I look forward to testing the shirts in more humid climates, but for a first try I was impressed. Sedona’s vortexes along the path — essentially rock perches or knobs of stone with good views and Zen settings — were not a let-down either. Not sure if I gained anything toward enlightenment, but I did have a good time along the way.
—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.