Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Zoot Team Ultra Camp, the Ultra Raffle and Where's Waldo, solved!

Last week following 70.3 Oceanside I had a chance to attend the Zoot Team Ultra camp. For the new season, Zoot title sponsors a collection of top age-group talent. The summit gathered the collection of athletes that made it to SoCal together to talk about the team, the sponsors, and what the team can do to help spread the gospel of triathlon to the masses. After an intro by Zoot president Brian Enge (my lane partner at Encinitas YMCA masters, shown at left), Zoot, FuelBelt, Gu and Scott Bicycles explained their product and its use to the team. They even brought in Bob Babbitt (below right), who explained to the athletes the great things that they can do to help grow the sport to local media. As a former writer in newspapers that only understand ball sports, it's a challenge. Bob helped foster the growth of "fringe" sports like triathlon, running, swimming and biking to the local San Diego paper, the Union Tribune increase coverage, and wants to see that same kind of recognition in papers across the country.

Regarding the presentations, you could see the team was taking it all in like a sponge, and it was enlightening for me as well. Zoot product manager Brandt Furgeson took the team through the Zoot shoe line. I wish I'd had a chance to check out the exploded, piece-by-piece version of the Ultra shoe Brandt passed around long ago, in order to really best appreciate what's going on in the shoe, and why. Like the carbon fiber under the arch. While I thought it was merely cosmetic, the carbon extends down the big toe, helping stiffen it through toe-off. While the porous sole and super-fast entry system get the attention, it was great seeing the little stuff inside.

Speaking of the Ultra shoe....

The press is out now about the limited edition Ultra Ali'i edition. In commemoration of their 25th anniversary, Zoot is releasing 1,800 pairs (symbolic in the amount of estimated Kona starters) of the shoe, which has a totally different, absolutely colorful look apart from the stock shoe. Each shoe has the stitched serial number on back.

If that's not enough, Serial No. 1 is up for grabs. Zoot teamed with to raffle off the numero uno shoe, with proceeds going to the Challenged Athletes Foundation. A great idea. But I wonder if that shoe will see the pave or end up in a case? Either way, I love what the industry is doing with limited run stuff, recently with Guru's new run of 25 PK Edition Cronos and now this from Zoot. I dig.

The auction starts April 27 and closes April 30.

Check out my interview with Brian Enge at right as well as one with Zoot product manager Ben Harper (yes, that Ben Harper! No, I kid...), who will give you a video tour of the new Zoot Ultra Ali'i shoe.

And for my Where's Waldo? My friend Kurt nailed it... I've been in Subic Bay, Philippines for the last week, hanging with my wife, Canadian pro Donna Phelan, as well as all the TeamTBB members (save for Ironman World Champ Chrissie Wellington, who was off in Port Macquarie winning Ironman Australia this past weekend.

It's been a wonderful week, not only hanging with the team, but also catching up with my wife, eating fried bananas and checking out monkey on their long ride course in the mountains. Now I get to head back stateside tomorrow to cover Ironman Arizona this weekend, but I will update the blog in a bit about my time in Subic. There's a lot of cool stuff going on, a lot of great people, a stealth training base, a wonderful social program and a masterful, dedicated coach in Brett Sutton that I had massive respect for now, and have even more now. Lots of cool stuff to talk about in the coming days.

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