If you’re into trail running, particularly longer distances, you might have come across runners using poles on the sharper ascents and descents. The aim of a running pole is to give you better traction and grip, as well as to support your joints over the distance. So if you’re in the market now for a set of running poles, then it’s certainly worth a look at these from Black Diamond.
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The Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ trekking/running poles combine a light weight with a simple folding system. This makes them suitable for stashing away in your pack when you’re not using them. They are then easy to take out and flip into action when you need them.
Now, running poles have a bit of a love ‘em or hate ‘em reputation. For those who are converted, they’re essential bits of running kit to master more technical courses. For others, they’re just an extra thing to carry and a bit of a crutch for the hills. However, venture from the world of trail running into the world of fell running, and they suddenly become far more ubiquitous.
The team at Black Diamond were keen to introduce their poles to runners at the Giants Head Marathon by White Star Running (which is sold out and sold out again every year!). Experienced runner Ben Pitfield had a chance to test the Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ trekking/running poles during the event. And here are his thoughts…
Black Diamond running poles on test
Words by Ben Pitfield
At the 2019 Giants Head Marathon, I got the chance to use some running poles for the first time. Being a hilly marathon, it seemed the perfect opportunity to try them out.
Matt Hill, and the lovely people at Black Diamond, very kindly sent me out a few sets of Carbon FLZ poles in three different sizes. These poles are adjustable, so it’s easy to find what best suits the user. I received FLZ 140, FLZ 125 and FLZ 105 poles.
These are excellent for all ascents, including harsh, mountain terrain. You can adjust them initially to your height, then just flick the little button in and out to collapse them. You have the option to keep adjusting for ascents and descents as you’re going.
My first job was to set about finding the best way to carry them in my own race vest. I learned very quickly that as important as running poles may be for a hill race, the correct vest to carry them is just as important! This is all very new to me and, unfortunately ,the vest I was using didn’t have specific pole storage/holders.
Vest storage solutions
Luckily, I was running with a friend who was also trying a set and having the same trouble. We found that storing them in each other’s net cargo on the back of the vest was great. It meant that no vests needed to be removed while running. However, it was a bit of a task, as we found it took a bit of time at both the bottom and the top of the hills to remove and repack the poles. All the time we gained going up the hill was lost.
That said, the time we made going up was very noticeable; we were passing so many people! The help the poles gave by being able to take much of the effort into the arms was amazing. Remember, I’ve never used poles before and, as I learned later on, I wasn’t even using them in the most effective way! The three big hills I used the poles on were made so much easier by them. Plus, the adjustability of the Carbon FLZ makes them so adaptable. They weigh hardly anything, so once stored you wouldn’t even know they were there.
Later on in the race I happened upon another friend and he is a very established hill runner and, please excuse the term, ‘pole user’! He gave me a lesson up another hill. Even though I’m sure plenty of people will say, ‘It’s obvious how to use poles!’ until I got my lesson it really wasn’t. Now I knew how to get the best out of them, it was amazing how much easier the hill seemed. Being over 20 miles in, it was a godsend.
I finished the race and can honestly say that it was my favourite marathon so far. I highly recommend the Black Diamond FLZ poles. If you’re thinking of getting poles though, you do need to find the right vest with the best storage for them that suits you.
Find out more about Black Diamond
- Perfect for your mountain adventure: The lightest Carbon poles weighing only 280g per pair are foldable and...
- Functional: This latest 2018 version has improved joint support and stiffness / increased durability with...
Last update on 2020-02-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API