LtW x The North Face brand feature
Runners tend to be people who are rarely satisfied. A good race in a new personal best time is often followed by booking the next race, full of optimism that the fresh PB can be broken again. A first ultra-distance race is often followed by a longer challenge. And then a longer one. And then – often – a longer one. Runners seem to always be asking: ‘What’s possible? What is next? How far can I go with this?’
And so it is for the team at The North Face. There is a runner’s restlessness. A striving to improve. So when the first VECTIV™ footwear range was released, to worldwide acclaim, the response internally was to start thinking about how to improve and take what lessons had been learned and apply them to the next range.
That is why the new VECTIV™ footwear range is so exciting – it builds in what was achieved before and looks to the future with experience and optimism.
Fernanda Maciel and Kaytlyn Gerbin epitomise the drive to improve that runners possess. That is why they decided to set themselves a sizable challenge, running the 50 mile La Vuelta al Hielo traverse in Patagonia. The two women decided together to take on a challenge that would require significant glacier traverses. Because of the scale and specific risks of the route in South America, Fernanda and Kaytlyn met in Chamonix, France, to do some training. But ultimately the size of the icefield they would be crossing – the largest icefield in the world, fed by 35 glaciers – was incredibly difficult to prepare for. The two women would have to rely on their years of experience and natural talents to get them through the epic miles.
Fernanda is clear that for her and Kaytlyn, the challenge was much more than physical: “The biggest hurdle was the emotional part,” says Fernanda “We had both been injured before this trip. I had suffered a serious brain injury and Kaytlyn had a significant stress fracture to overcome. Both of us had pretty much had a year away from running.” This added even more danger to a route that was already incredibly technical and a location from where rescue would be difficult if not impossible.
Despite all this, Fernanda and Kaytlyn were both hugely motivated for the traverse: “First of all, we wanted to do something particularly for us,” explains Fernanda “We wanted something that was not a race. There was a mutual excitement about doing something really cool.” Fernanda says that she and Kaytlyn were sick of doing rehabilitation for their respective injuries and holding back from throwing themselves into running, which they both love. So when the idea for a traverse of the huge icefield came up, it was the perfect fit for the two women to return to running.
Alongside training and years of experience, one other benefit Maciel and Kaytlyn had to help them with the FKT was the right equipment. And the VECTIV™ footwear range made up an important part of that.
Among the VECTIV range – which is packed with ground-breaking technology – are three key running styles, each designed to support diffierent athletes’ needs on the trail:
- FLIGHT VECTIV™
- VECTIV™ INFINITE
- VECTIV™ ENDURIS II
The FLIGHT VECTIV™ is the most responsive shoe from The North Face. It features an ultra-lightweight and flexible, open knit upper that helps breathability, whilst MATRYX quarter panels provide durability and help hug the foot when in motion. 3.5mm SURFACECTRL grip adds superior traction and the dual density rockered midsole works alongside a 3D carbon fibre plate to ensure this shoe is designed for speed.
The VECTIV™ INFINITE also returns, striking the perfect balance between cushioning and responsiveness to take on the most rugged routes. The PEBAX™ 3D plate propels you forward while the full MATRYX durable upper and moulded heel counter, stands up to the rigours of the trail, making this the brand’s most protective shoe for the trail.
Finally, the new VECTIV™ ENDURIS II, is the most cushioned shoe in the range. With a TPU plate, dual density rockered midsole, higher stack and engineered air mesh upper, the ENDURIS II is the perfect high mileage, high comfort shoe for the trail.
Fernanda says that the VECTIV range played a big part in the challenge: “One thing about this challenge, was that there were quite a few unknown aspects to it.” says Fernanda “So we needed shoes that could cope with whatever we would encounter. The outsole of the VECTIV shoes are amazing – so grippy and durable. And in the course of the crossing we jumped somewhere in the region of 2,000 crevasses – so it was really important that we had confidence in what we were wearing.” Fernanda goes on to say that in addition to the superb grip, she loves the shoes because they are so lightweight. With all the gear Fernanda and Kaytlyn had to carry, every gramme counted and the VECTIV range managed to be low weight without compromise.
Ultimately Fernanda and Kaytlyn set a hugely impressive fastest known time for the South Patagonian Continental route, completing it in 13h15m. Normally people take 6 to 8 days to cover the distance, which puts the two women’s abilities in context. They overcame the challenges of high winds, challenging terrain, being roped together for safety and carrying all the equipment they might need in a remote environment where rescue was not going to be possible. There is not likely to be a single reason this team of two were successful. It is the entire package – experience, trust in one another, training and the right equipment. It all came together into something really special. The question now is … what’s next?
All styles arrive across men’s and women’s specific fit, offering athletes a tailored design on the trail to support those long training days and faster runs.
The new VECTIV™ range is available to buy from www.thenorthface.com and in some The North Face stores. To keep up to date on future launches follow @thenorthfaceuk on Instagram, and @thenorthface on Facebook.