Ultra distance runner, Jonathan Mackintosh, gives his verdict on the eye-catching Hoka Stinson Evo B shoes.
People can generally be classified into three groupings where Hokas are concerned – the lovers, the haters, and the curious.
Learning to Fly
I can almost guarantee that you will be surprised the first time you pick up a Hoka shoe. They are ridiculously light (320 grams), far lighter than they look!
I have found that I needed to alter my running style fractionally, especially when running on rocky, rooty terrain. I found this out the hard way on my first outing in my Hoka Mafates when I really did take on the Hoka motto and ‘learn to fly’. That one incident aside, I have had positive experiences in my Hokas.
It’s true that you do lose an element of feeling for the terrain and this is no more evident than when returning to minimalist running shoes. However, this trade off comes with a promising plus side – those same roots and rocks that would otherwise be felt at each and every mile of your run are simply brushed aside. For those who like ultra distance running, it is those same roots and rocks that can make every single step feel like walking on glass by the time you reach the later stages of a race.
With this in mind, you can see why Hokas are steadily increasing in popularity amongst ultra runners, including ultra legends like Karl Meltzer and Dave Mackey.
I received a pair of this years Hoka Stinson Evo on the wednesday, took them out for a very quick 5 mile ‘spin’ on the Thursday and, on the strength of that, decided to ‘break them in’ at a 33 mile race on the Saturday. That probably is as daft as it sounds!
However, 33 miles later I was less sore than normal, had no blistering whatsoever and had taken 23 minutes off of my course PB from the previous year.
On the strength of that performance, the Hoka Stinson Evo is going to play a big part in my running this season and will likely be my shoe of choice for my remaining 6 ultras in 2012, including my first attempt at the 95 mile West Highland Way Race.
I usually run in minimalist shoes and will likely continue to do so on shorter runs. However, when it comes to those long slow runs for training and on race day itself, it will be ‘time to fly’.
The only thing to do is to put your preconceptions aside and to try them out for yourself. A quick Google search on Hoka unearths a huge debate (again, the lovers, the haters, and the curious) but you have to wonder just how many of the haters have actually tried out the shoes.
Hoka shoes can be tricky to find, even in specialist running shops, but they are available to Buy online at Amazon UK.