Due North by Sure Foot corporation is one of our winter triathlon sponsors this year and in the lead-up to the race they sent me some of their stuff to try out and asked for some feedback.  I told them i'd oblige but wouldn't pull any punches.  Here's my take on the three products they provided a 'foot rubz' massage ball and two pair of their traction aids (Everyday and All Purpose).

Foot Rubz:  my kids liked these immediately - golfball sized green hard rubber balls with hundreds of little knobs on them.  They wanted to throw them around and did so immediately.  Luckily they didn't seem to mark the floors, though i'm not guaranteeing this.  Keegan was disappointed when they didn't bounce off of AJ and AJ was disappointed that they were so hard when they hit him before dropping straight to the floor.  I quickly classified the Rubz as 'hard things' and reminded the boys of our 'no throwing hard things in the house rule' and then confiscated the balls to see how they performed the function for which they were intended.  I'll have to admit i was skeptical - i've never had much success with the whole self massage industry - but ended up being pleasantly surprised.  Although later experimentation on tammy revealed that they aren't any better than a regular golf ball when it comes to massaging other parts of your body - they worked awesome on my feet.  I've taken to using them first thing in the morning - rolling them up and down my sole and under my toes - they feel great and seem to immediately increase the circulation to my feet - something that i've also notice to be effective when my feet are a bit chilly.  Have no idea on the retail price, so i won't comment on the value - but overall i liked the Rubz - simple, indestructible, and pretty effective at doing what they claim to.

Due North's everyday traction aid

Traction aids: Keegan liked these too and when he found out Due North had sent some in his size begged to go try them out.  Out he went into minus 10 degree weather to run up and down the sidewalk.  He came in to report that they were 'super' and that i should go try mine.  Although it was just after lunch time i was still in my pajamas and had no intention to go outside, so resorted to trying them on over my running shoes on our welcome mat.  They went on easily and seemed as though they'd stay put while jogging or running.  I didn't notice any pinching or pushing on my toes like i do in my yak trax, so that was cool - but not enough to inspire me to go out and test them. 

19 and a half seconds into my more 'surefooted' shuttle run

This weekend though i finally got the chance.  I was at my in-laws cabin in minnesota and the drive going to thier place was still covered with hard-packed glazed snow.  I decided to do a shuttle run time trial without and then with the spikes to see if there was a noticable difference.  To help ensure the results i decided to run without the aids first when i was freshest - reasoning that if my second time was faster i could chalk it up to the added traction. I grabbed my hiking boots and with my father in law timing, sprinted about 50 yards out and then back, clocking in at just over 25 seconds. then i put on the Everyday model (the only bummer was having to sit down in the snow to put them on - this was easy to do but not while standing up), and did it again - feeling out of breath but still coming across the line in just under 22 seconds.  Now this is hardly science, so i'm not making any claims, but there you go.  I was pushing hard and digging in, screeching to a halt at the far end of the run and the traction aids stayed put right where they should.  i didn't really notice them at all .  I'd be interested to try this same thing out on a variety of different surfaces but that will be left to another day - it's clear to me that they'd work as promised under the conditions that i'd be most likely to use them - on ice or super hard snow.

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