A random phone call in work which led to a chat about ultra running led me to Hoka One One. The guy I was chatting to was an accomplished ultra marathon runner and declared the Hoka range to be the perfect light weight running shoe for long distances. Good enough for a man that runs 50 miles in one go, then surely they are good enough for me running a marathon.
I decided to try them out earlier this year with a view to running the Belfast marathon with them. There are a quite a few in the range including the Clifton, Constant, Bondi and Huaka which is the pair I picked up. They are a road/trail hybrid so a great combo to have in your running arsenal. Here’s a run down of the running shoe itself and how I got on, the good, the bad and the lost toenail.
First off, if you are not familiar with the brand then they can look a little strange at first glance. The soles are quite thick on them for starters but this range weigh in at only 256grams, making them an incredibly light run. The actual fabric around the shoe seems to be where they have reduced the weight most. Its light and breathable and dry’s quickly. There have however been quite a few reports of quicker than usual wear towards the toes. This I’m sure will vary from one runner to the next, but its holding up totally fine for me.
They come as standard with the race lace system already fitted for an easy on and off. The more common regular shoelaces are also included if you prefer them. The race lace system is particularly easy to use with a simple plastic slider to tighten and hold them in place and it works excellently. The shoes feels secure and fitted throughout the run. Hoka have loaded the Huaka midsole with their RMAT technology which provides an increased spring, sense of durability and an instinctive forward propulsion motion which keeps you moving. It would be be cliche to say they resemble running on air but there is a distinct light road to foot feel to them.
The no seam upper material and tongue of the shoe makes it feel extremely comfortable around your foot and despite being so light feels very secure. I took the Huaka out on a number of shorter build up runs to a final marathon outing to really put them through their pace. I found them tremendously comfortable to run in but despite the toe/front appearing to be quite wide I found it felt very narrow on my foot. This was not a problem on the shorter runs but when I took them to Belfast to run the marathon I found the little toe on my right foot was rubbing off the inside way too much. I can’t say for certain that this was down to the shoe, especially considering that the left toe was totally fine. The course covered a lot of hills and this I suspect added to my toes complaint. Alas, I lost a toe nail after the race and was a little worried about wearing them for the next marathon.
I have since worn them for shorter runs and they continue to be a great running shoe. As mentioned they are a road/trail shoe and to date I haven’t yet tested their trail ability as my running focus has been on the road. I’ll be interested to see how they perform however. Without doubt Hoka One One have produced an excellent running shoe in the Huaka and despite my marathon length run misgivings, I’d have no hesitation in recommending them. They are retailing at between €120-€150. A little tip, if you are ordering them on line, which can be cheaper and easier, as stock in Irish stores is hard to come by, do your best to try on a pair of these or similar in store if you can find them so you get your sizing correct.