Underarmour Horizon BPF Trail Running Shoe Review

Underarmour Horizon BPF Trail Running Shoe Review

Recently, I tried the Underamour Horizon Trail shoe.  Between the Underamour Sonic and the Trail Horizon BPF, it has been my first time logging significant mileage in an Underamour shoe.

I’ve wanted to try both the street shoes: the Bandit as well as the Sonic.  Anyway, at the Copper Mountain Trail race, I tried them on and thought they felt very comfortable.  As poor of an idea as it was, after my initial try on, I thought they were extremely comfortable, and I raced in them.  They felt great, and as most people know, I had a good race.  So yes, my first time running in the shoe was the Copper Mountain 25k.  They did well and I would 100% wear them again for the race.  It is definitely not something I recommend with any shoe, but they felt great and I couldn’t be more pleased.  I also recently raced the Killington 25k and they were just as good.

underarmour Horizon BPF shoe review

Underarmour Horizon BPF Fit:

I typically wear between a women’s size 10-11 wide.  I found the women’s 11 to be the most comfortable on my foot.  It’s relatively true to size.

The upper of the Under Armour Horizon is durable and is very breathable.  Since the primary function is a trail running shoe, it also provides a lot of protection from rocks and trail debris.  The great part is it’s waterproof which came in handy when I was plowing through mud puddles in Killington.

underarmour Horizon BPF shoe review

Ride:

The outsole has a high-traction rubber which is actually designed by Michelob tires.  So yes, the same rubber your tires have, your shoes have.  Most people know I’m incredibly clumsy and I found the shoe to grip every part of the trail.  I never felt as though there was a surface I couldn’t handle.  I found the rubber extremely helpful for Killington and I’m not sure how well I would have done with something less aggressive.

But the shoe is not all rubber! The Underamour Horizon also has plenty of cushioning and is both soft and lightweight. It is not as rigid as many trail running shoes and provides plenty of cushion during your run.  I like the shoe a lot for running because it’s soft and relatively light for a trail shoe, with plenty of traction.

underarmour Horizon BPF shoe review

Conclusion:

Right now, this is my favorite trail running shoe.  I also own the Brooks Cascadia which I find better for hiking but the Underamour Horizon better for running on trails.  If you are looking for a good, sturdy trail shoe, I would definitely look into this shoe.  It will probably stay my primary trail racing shoe (when I do trails).

Questions for you:
Do you run trails?  What is your favorite trail shoe?
What is your favorite running shoe?

Copper Mountain 25k (2:58)

Copper Mountain 25k (2:58)

This is going to be one of my lengthiest race recaps, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!  Before running the UnderArmour Running Series at Copper Mountain, I had no idea what to expect.

While I have run one trail race in NJ, it didn’t have the same climb and elevation changes that races out west do.  I had not run a trail race out west, and I had never raced at anything above 7000 feet of elevation.  I went into the race with zero expectations but finishing.  I could have finished in 2 hours or 4:29 minutes and felt good about it.  In short, I exceeded all expectations for the race including my time and experience.

Due to the length of the recap, I’ve broken it up a little bit.

Before the Race:

Before the race, I fueled as if I was running a marathon.  I knew I would be running for several hours with extreme climbs, so I knew I needed to get as much fuel as possible.  There were several food places available at Copper Mountain, my favorite being the Ten Mile Tavern.

The 25k started at 7:30 am.  Around 7 am, I realized I couldn’t get my Nathan Hydration Pack open.  I had opened it back home to make myself familiar with it.  After basically attacking Sarah to help me, I went over the Fleetfeet Rochester guys, and they were able to open.  Since the pack had gone from 0 elevation to 9000 quickly, the vacuum seal was shut entirely.  After that situation was thankfully fixed (in writing it sounds like I’m calmer than I was), I was ready to go.

Even though there were 5 aid stations, I opted to bring my own water.  I was 100% happy that I did, and if I raced again, I would choose the exact same one.

The Race:

After chatting with Jill at the start, we were off.  I started towards the back, and in hindsight, I could have probably started a few rows up.  The first mile was my slowest because we were so boxed in. I felt like I could move faster than I was but the number of people made it difficult. I logged a 15:10 first mile and I was happy with it.  I was winded, but also I knew it was faster than the pace I needed to make the cutoff.

under armour copper mountain race me running

The next mile was a long incline.  It wasn’t steep, but it was narrow and singletrack.  I kept plugging along with nothing of note except the crowds had begun to spread out.  I was still with a relatively large group of people which kept me motivated.  I wasn’t in it alone.

Around mile 2, began one of the hardest inclines I’ve run.  Not the hardest, because that comes later on.  The switchbacks were steep, and I could see rows and rows of people higher than me climbing.  It made me mentally question, what am I doing?  I have all of that to go.  What kept me together was the people around me.  I was neither the first nor the last.  I was a solid midpack person.  Seeing others going through the same thing made me feel more motivated.  I didn’t feel like I was climbing a mountain alone.

We climbed, and every time I felt I needed water, I sipped some from my pack.  I was thankful for the hydration pack, and if I run the race again, I’ll use the same one.  I ended up drinking all of my water in the pack.  My calves were tired, and for a few brief moments, I thought about walking.  I didn’t, but it crossed my mind.

under armour copper mountain race me running

Around mile 4, I took my first gel.  It was just under an hour, and I planned to take a gel every hour.  I don’t have a flavor preference, and honestly, my stomach can handle any flavor/brand the tasteless being my least favorite…but it will go down).

The switchbacks were done, and we began climbing a fire road.  People spread out, and I had my own space.  It flattened for a brief moment, and people flew by me like I was standing still. With my running college nickname, Mac truck Hollie, I went the same speed.  (Mac truck because I go one speed uphill, downhill, and on flat surfaces).  I knew the climb was not over.

We climbed for a while and then I saw a sign that said: “stay to the left”.  Suddenly, I saw racers coming down the opposite side.  Many had the 50k bib, but a few had 25k too.  They were a few miles in front and had already reached the peak.

Mile 6 and 7 were rough.  You were climbing and watching racers ease down the downhill faster and with less effort. I knew they had already put in the work to get there. I just kept plugging along and staring out over the mountains.  It was beautiful, and I could see for miles.

Finally, after a couple of 12-minute miles, I reached the top.  The energy at the top was unreal.  People cheering, Taylor Swift playing, and a table of cookies, gels, Gus, Powerade, and Red Bull.  I grabbed another GU and Red Bull.  I took in the view for a second and just stared out while drinking my red bull.

under armour copper mountain race me running

I had never had Red Bull while running but I decided since half of everything I was doing was new anyway to just go with it (new shoes, new hydration pack, new elevation, new race terrain…).

Downhill Until it’s Uphill:

Then I began the long stretch downhill.  I’m not a great downhill runner.  In fact, downhill is a very weak point on mine.  I am clumsy and injury prone while running downhill, so I take my time. Many people passed me downhill which was fine.  I didn’t care.

The next few miles were all downhill.  In my mind I thought, is this it?  Are we done climbing?  The hardest is done.  I was logging around 10 min miles and cruising. For the next few miles, I ran alone and enjoyed it.  Just me, running downhill, on an open fire road. I found some secluded woods and quickly used the restroom.

For the next few miles, we kept going down and mentally I had checked out of climbing anything else.  Which is unfortunate because around 10 miles we crossed paths with racers who were climbing.  It was a mix of bibs and I asked someone climbing if we were going that way.  He said yes, and it wasn’t the only climb.

All of a sudden, a racer going another way said: Whoa, are you Tim’s wife?  I said yes, and it turns out one of his college skiing teammates was running the race too.  We caught up after the race which was neat…you never know who you’ll see on the mountain.  Seeing someone, I knew gave me a second wind.

under armour copper mountain race me running

Once we reached the bottom, ready to go up, I knew I was about get served a piece of humble pie.  We dipped to a point and with a water stop.  I grabbed Powerade and began on the first incline.  The include lasted about half a mile, but it was grueling.  My calves were screaming at me, but I was passing people.  I thought to myself, I must really be stronger in the uphills.  I climbed, and my run became more of a cross between a short stride and hike.  I was still moving about the same pace, but I think I could contend for race walking.

We reached the top, circled around and went right back down.  The same racers I passed, passed me.  Someone called out, yeah Jersey.  I asked where he was from and he said Denver…so I said yeah, Denver (clever I know).

After the downhill, we went right back to the uphill which honestly didn’t seem as bad as the earlier uphill.  Maybe I was more mentally prepared, but I powered up and passed the same people who passed me going downhill.  I knew we had to go downhill for a few more miles so I knew they would all drop me later (which to no surprise, they did).

Technical Downhill is Hard:

Around mile 12, we started the technical downhill.  Out of everything, it was my absolute least favorite part. Not because I thought it was a bad course design, but because both downhill and technical trails are my weakness.  Together, at the end of the race was grueling.

I had to pay attention to every place my feet landed for the next 2 miles and it made me slower, less efficient, and worried.  I didn’t want to roll an ankle or fall.  I didn’t care though, my goal was to finish not to run fast and hurt myself because I wasn’t paying attention.

I was extremely fortunate there was no one really around me for almost a mile. I was able to take my time without getting into other racers way.

Around mile 14, a man came barreling through and almost ran into me.  We ended up climbing up a short incline to the fire road and going down.  He quickly ran by me on the wide open road.  From there, I knew I had about a mile and a half.  Just 1.5 miles to go.  I told myself, half of a 5k and a downhill 5k at that.  My quads had started cramping, and my IT band was singing me a sweet hate song.  I wasn’t injured, but 7+ miles of downhill made it tighten up.

The final mile headed into more single track downhill, and we popped out.  I looked down, and I could see the village.  I could see the finish line. OMG, I’m doing it.  I kept staring at this surreal finish line.  Then I crossed, and it was done.

under armour copper mountain race me running

Post Race:

I grabbed a couple of bananas, chatted with people, and then went up to my hotel room for a while.  I felt proud and accomplished.  I enjoyed my first big trail race and it could not have gone better.  Under Armour did a great job and I liked the course a lot. Looking forward, I’m not married to trail running, I just like to run.  I am thinking I’ll do the Under Amour Killington Race as well.  I’ve heard while the elevation is lower, it’s much more technical.  Like anything in my life, I can’t plan too much until closer but I would like to do it if my schedule allows!

Questions for you:

What is the hardest race you’ve ever done?

Have you ever done a trail race?

Exploring the Maurice River Bluffs

Recently, I was down in the Vineland area.  I’ve always wanted to check out the Maurice River Bluffs, and it seemed like a good day to do so.  There are a couple of trails down there! Unfortunately, with the weather we’ve had the last couple of months, part of the trails were closed due to flooding.

That is okay, and I still had a relaxing time just exploring.  I stayed on trails and followed the detour route that is currently in place, but it’s not the same route you’ll find online.

I believe I explored about 3 miles worth of the park.  I was able to make it to the actual Maurice River Bluffs, so I felt accomplished.  Tick season is among us, and along with just everyday safety, I like to stay on trails and not make my own.  Most of the path is pine needles and then along the bluffs is a beautiful sandy marsh.

The parking lot is small, and I don’t know how crowded the park can get.  There was plenty of parking when I went, but as mentioned I’m unsure how busy it can be.  When I arrived, I heard loud music playing.  To be honest, for about 5 minutes I thought there was a festival going on inside the park.  I’m not exaggerating at all!  When I walked up to the front, I realized it was coming from someone’s car.

maurice river bluffs nj

Most of the trail is pines.

maurice river bluffs nj

An abandoned building along the trail.  It was pretty cool as most of the building is gone and you can see nearly to the foundation.

maurice river bluffs nj

maurice river bluffs nj

Looking to the bluffs!

maurice river bluffs nj

Gorgeous view along the bluffs that I had no idea existed around there.maurice river bluffs nj

In all, it was a fun little walk in the Vineland. I enjoy exploring new parts of NJ, and this spring and summer have been great for that!

I have been enjoying the peace of hiking and walking through the Spring and now summer.  I’m hopefully looking forward to continuing through the rest of the season.

Other Spring hikes I’ve Done:
Hiking Turkey Swamp in Freehold
Exploring Cattus Island in Toms River
Hartshorne Park in the Highlands
Hiking Cape May Lighthouse

You can see all hikes here.

Questions for you:

Have you ever been to bluffs?

Do you live in an area with a lot of ticks?

Exploring Hartshorne Park in the Highlands

Exploring Hartshorne Park in the Highlands

As part of my “spring and summer” NJ bucket list, I want to go to more local parks.  Last year we went to a lot of northeast parks, but we’ve been feeling the shore this year!  I’ve already been to Turkey Swamp in Freehold as well as Cattus Island in Toms River.

Anyway, one park I’ve wanted to go to was Hartshorne Park in the Atlantic Highlands.  It’s a little bit of a treck (about 80 minutes), but one random weekday last week, we decided to drive up there.

Hartshorne Park is a lot hillier than anticipated.  I thought, oh it’s along the shore it will probably be flat.  That was not the case and my Garmin said I climbed about 80 flights of stairs.  Not that it matters, but don’t go in expecting a flat shore park.  Hartshorne is 794-acre site and overlooks the Navesink River.  After some research, I came to find out it’s one of the highest elevations along the Atlantic Coast.   If you are looking for a great park for walking, hiking, and even mountain biking (we saw many bikers), this park is for you!  No, the park is not paying me to tell you that, parks are free fun.

One thing drew my husband, and I here was the history of the park:

During World War II, batteries for artillery were built in Hartshorne Park to modernize coastal defense.  You can view several of the bunkers in the park.

With the rise of Airpower (go Air Force).  Military bunkers were not needed as much. During the Cold, War Hartshorne served as a missile defense site and command center.  It was equipped with radar, computers and electronic plotting devices.  All of these structures have been removed, but the bunkers are still in place.

The Hartshorne Park site is now listed officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Anyway-

As I mentioned, I hadn’t done a lot of research about the hiking in the park.  If I had, I would have known all of the historic sites are in the parking lot, and the park is much hillier than anticipated.  We got there around noon, and it took us just about 4 hours to hike 8 miles.  We stopped, we took photos, we looked at the history.  It was a beautiful park with many different views from the woods and deer, to the shore, as well as the military site.

We ended up hiking about 8 miles around the trails and then finished up by viewing the military site.

I didn’t expect so much green, but we did about 6 miles of hiking through that.  Before we came, I expected it almost to be on the water since that is what people took photos of!

Hartshorne park

A very large treeHartshorne park

Another large treeHartshorne park

Most of my photos are from the military site which is within 200 yards of the parking lot.

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

A Map of the site

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

The Bunker

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Now onto the hiking portion.  With the hiking, it goes deep into the pines as well as near the water.  There are so many different views!

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

In all, it was a beautiful hike in the forest as well as along the water.  I’m glad we finally made it up there!

Other Spring hikes I’ve Done:

Hiking Turkey Swamp in Freehold

Exploring Cattus Island in Toms River

You can see all hikes here.

Questions for you:

What was the last historical place you went?

Do you plan to go to the beach this summer?

What I Pack in my Hiking Bag

What I Pack in my Hiking Bag

Over the past two years, my husband and I have gotten more into hiking.  While it’s not “running,” hiking is a tough workout.  When we first started, I used to try and squeeze runs in before and get my “running miles.”  I quickly realized I became more fatigued on hikes and it’s just unsustainable.  Now, hiking provides a great workout without running down the road (or whatever).  We choose to do day hikes because those are more of our style.

If you want to read about any of the hikes we’ve done around the country you can click here.

When going out for a day hike, it’s much different than packing a Nalgene and coming back.  I’ve gotten a few questions about what we pack.  First and foremost, it depends on the season and location.  The climate is very different in NJ versus Arizona.

Here are a Few Things I Pack Each Hike:

Good Shoes:

I used to hike in old running shoes but now hike in a pair of Brooks Cascadia trail shoes.  The trail shoes have more support to climb up or down terrain.  If you are going any distance, then shoes with support are essential.

7 bridges hike colorado springs

Number 1

Extra Water, Food, and Snacks:

After getting lost on Bear Mountain a few years ago (and yes we really took an Uber back to our car around the mountain), I realized the importance of having enough food and water.  Don’t expect the worst, but always prepare for the worst.  You never know where your hike might lead you and I cannot stress how important it is to be more prepared.  While not the only food I eat, I do like eating diner cookies on the bike.  Other things I’ve packed include trail mix, nuts, snack bars, and fruit.  I always anticipate getting lost and being out much longer.

Bear Mountain Hiking

Map, Compass, and GPS:

A map and compass is an important piece of any hiking.  Not only that, but it’s important to know how to use them!  I took backpacking in college, but before then I had no idea.  Cell phones have GPS built in, but like a Garmin GPS, not always helpful.

Extra Battery for Cell Phone:

If it’s cold, you get lost, or for whatever reason, your phone dies, having that extra battery is extremely helpful.  We have used the extra battery life about half of the time we are out!

Emergency Kit:

This includes everything for first aid, as well as a way to make fire.  Not only do they keep you warm but fires are also a great way to signal for help.  Another essential item for your kit is a flashlight or headlamp.  If you’re out past dark, you’ll need something.

Knife:

A knife is one of the most essential tools you’ll bring.  You never know what situation you’ll need to cut bandages, trees,

Full Set of Clothing:

It goes without saying, but remember to pack an extra set of clothing including extra underwear and socks. On most 5+ mile hikes, I’ve changed socks at least once!

Kleenex Wipes:

You never know what sort of issues you might encounter, and I like Kleenex Wet Wipes from Walgreens for both my hands and face. Personally, I like how the wipes dry quickly and don’t leave any residue.  There are no harsh chemicals, so they are safe enough for your hands and face.  As someone with sensitive skin, this is important for me.

kleenix wet wipes

Pack to Keep Everything in:

My favorite is from Northface.  It’s comfortable, fits everything, and doesn’t put unwanted pressure on your back.  Having a comfortable pack is important to carry everything.  This one has worked well for both my husband and I.  It’s lightweight, durable, and versatile.

Ramapo State Forest hike

So there you have it!  That is what I keep in my day hiking pack.  Thank you for Kleenex Wet Wipes for sponsoring this post.

Questions for you:
Do you like hiking?  What do you keep in your hiking pack?

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