Peregrines, Yes. Hoka, No.

This weekend, I ran a local event (trail race) in Georgia. Having previously run 3 hours the day before (Saturday) doing multiple trips up and over the mountain, my intent for the Sunday event was to run for half the race (4 hours) at significant pace, focusing on running well with tired legs.

A secondary goal was to try different shoes to possibly consider for UTMB since everyone says I’m nuts to stick with MT100s on Alps terrain.

I tried two pairs of shoes – the trail Hokas (Mafate) and the Saucony Peregrines.

Flat-out loved the Peregrines. Period. I run in Saucony racing flats anyway, so I appreciate the flexible non-restrictive upper style of the Saucony line. The Peregrines have a bit more beef than I like, but they felt light and sturdy on the trails. I like this shoe a lot. Good grip. Good flex. No BS support stuff.

But the Hoka’s?

Dude, just like the poles seemed to be such a glaringly obvious advantage in my hill training, it seemed to be glaringly obvious that the Hokas are NOT FOR ME.

I felt like they made me shuffle. I hate that “rolling” concept they promote where the shoe feels as though it automatically rolls you forward. I don’t run like that. I pick my feet up snappy with the hamstrings, and land mid-foot, and then snap up again quickly. I specifically concentrate on less foot-on-the-ground time, not more.

Whether right or wrong, it’s how I run and the Hokas are not suited to that style.

And “oversized” is truly an understatement. I felt like I was running in my Dad’s old Polo corrective shoes.

Also, they promote “control” on the web site, but I found anything but control. I felt like I was wearing platform shoes and while I didn’t have any issues with ankle rolling, I kept feeling like I was on the verge. Felt too high up. Felt a “lack of control” instead.

Anything good? well, yea – they are light, but I run minimalist anyway, so this wasn’t anything special. It feels weird to be so heavy looking, but so light feeling. Reminds me of the first time I experienced carbon fiber.

Also, the shoes do make rocks and roots just about nonexistent; but I’m not sure I liked that. Interestingly, I prefer to feel the earth, and all its nooks and crannies, below me. I feel I have more control and I appreciate the instant feedback minimalist shoes offer me. True, one could walk up and all-out kick the crap out of a tree, root, rock, whatever and probably barely feel a vibration, which would be nice ‘cuz doing the same thing in flats makes me scream things that could nominate me for an afterlife in Hell.

But I didn’t give up totally.

Big ups to Big Peach for an exchange to the Bondi Bs and I will try those next.

So far, it looks like one of my beat up, but o-so-loved, pairs of MT100s are crossing the pond with me.

Critics be damned.

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Comments

There is a subtle aspect of all this that folks seem to be missing.

There is a huge gulf between what one does in TRAINING versus what what does RACING.

By this I mean that there are different approaches, goals etc when one is training vs racing. In training I go very minimal; Inov-8 X-Talon 212 on the trails, Lunaracers, VFFs or Huaraches on the road (most of the time). I like the ground feel, the minimal drop, etc… as I believe training in minimal footwear will make my feet/legs stronger.

However, when I race my goal is to cover ground as fast as possible. To do that I know for races over 50km that I need more foot/leg protection if I want to go fast and keep my legs/feet as fresh as possible; especially in the “end game.” I simply can not accomplish this wearing the same minimalist footwear I train in. Period. If you think you can you’re deluding yourself or your giving up potential faster performances for the sake of purity… Thus my experiments with foot wear that is still minimal in terms of low heel-to-toe drop (the MOST important aspect of minimalist running IMHO) but has more foot/leg protection (from impacts and easing pounding).

So along comes Hoka with their new concept of providing minimal heel-to-toe drop (only 4mm) but having a lot of underfoot cushioning. IMHO, it’s too much cushioning but it’s a step in the right direction. So far I’ve had very positive results with the Bondi B on the roads (which is why I got them, for the Badwater Ultramarathon).

Just because you didn’t like the Mafate doesn’t mean you won’t like the Bondi B (I didn’t like the Mafate either) The Bondi B. is significantly less thick and perhaps a bit more cushy (just a pain to figure out the sizing).

Bottom line: I like to train minimal but race a bit more protected. I think there is definitely a niche for low profile but protective shoes. Believe me you’ll notice a difference at mile 70 of a 100 (or mile 100 of a 135!) when you’ve been wearing the Hokas…

But to each their own…

Heya Christian,

This thread has sorta been beaten to death on the ultralist but I’ll toss in my $0.02 to you directly. Hope you don’t mind. :]

I’ve been running in Hokas for almost a year now and I’m finally ready to say that they’re the perfect shoe…sometimes.

In a nutshell, I rarely (if ever) train in them. Like you, I’m a MT101 guy. They’re light and crazy-fast in all but the roughest conditions. I absolutely love that shoe.

I used to race just about everything in Hokas but I’ve since backed off on that. There are very fast guys that wear them (hello Karl!) and I’m not saying that they slow you down, but it’s hard for me to feel fast with them on. You’re right-on in that assessment.

Totally the wrong shoe if you’re going to go out and run most 50Ks, for example. The caveat, though, is serious descents. There’s a reason just about everybody here in the Wasatch wears them. It’s because we’ve all been passed by some guy with a pair doing 5:15 miles down a steep slope while it’s all we can do to hang on. They’re absolute bombers on steep mountain descents and I’ve never met anybody who can deny that.

The one thing that they do well — above all else — is reduce fatigue and joint pain over very long distances. For me, that’s 50M+. Thus, I’ll wear Hokas for everything at distances greater than around fifty miles but for shorter runs they’re just too much shoe.

To get why they’re great, you have to spend ten or twelve hours in them, or at the very least switch to them after that amount of time. Running a couple of hours in them or just trying them on at the store isn’t going to show you where they shine.

For me, I’ve lost most of my pep after twelve or so hours anyway, at which point Hokas become your new best friend in a hurry. I don’t mind if they make me shuffle because at mile 70, I’m already there. :]

Throw ‘em in the bag and try ‘em out the next time you’re at mile 70 of a hundo. You’ll see. :]

YMMV and above all else of course, run in whatever gets you there,

-mp

If you didn’t like the Hokas, you will not like the Bondi B’s! Looks like the same concept to me. Stick with the MT100′s. If you want something with a little more cushioning, try the NB minimus road. Thanks for all the great insight to trail running and ultra’s in general.

Man, thanks for the real-world opinion. Seems like everyone is crazy about the Hokas, but they are not for me. I totally relate to what you said about picking up your feet vs. the roll. I’m liking the Peregrine. They will be my LT100 shoe. Ya, I might get bruised/sore feet sometimes, but I prefer the ground feel as well. Good luck!

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