Monday, December 06, 2010

How to Run 2000 Miles in 40 Days-the Secret Sauce Along with One Tough Runner

Karl Meltzer, a NH native and one of the truly amazing ultra endurance athletes out there recently ran the Pony Express Trail- 2000 plus miles in 40 days. His gear, food, and stats list is here . Over 143 cans of Red Bull consumed among other fascinating tidbits. He raves about the Hoka One One trail runners.

I think Hokas are fantastic too. The "Clown Shoe" look will get some stares and snickers but once one runs in these very light ( as light as a performance road shoe at 11 oz. size 9 ) marvels you will secretly be smiling. We hiked the 100 mile Tour du Mont Blanc this summer, on often rough trails, without a single blister or ever any sore legs while carrying a decent size 15 lb plus pack. I have run both roads and trails and found that this most unusual and almost counter intuitive high off the ground design, in a age of "minimalist and barefoot" shoes such as the Vibram Five Fingers, really works and can in fact be considered quite similar in its natural foot barefoot strike to the intent of minimalist shoes.

I have been also using them for my longer road runs and I agree that legs stay fresher. This is a mighty fine road shoe and in my recent St. George Marathon I saw several wearing them. I wish I had too with 13 miles and 2500 vertical feet of downhill. Most interestingly, despite the almost 2 inches of cushion and sole stiffness, the rocker design and low ramp angle appears to really encourage a mid foot strike and short efficient stride. Feels like running on grass... on the road....In strange way I consider this a minimalist shoe as the foot, as it strikes, settles into the foam midsole into a natural position.

On the trail the grip is excellent due to the wide sole, even on leaves, as I found out this week on very steep trails in Hanover NH. The low profile of the lugs prevents mud build up, always an issue with deeply lugged trail runners. They are stable on all terrain except steep side angles where the width of the sole prevents the foot from angling towards the slope. And, as other reviewers have said non technical downhills are a blast. You can run right on top and through smaller rocks and never even feel they were there, a big plus for this timid downhill runner. I was concerned that the stiff sole would impede climbing but this is not the case as the rocker sole allows a very adequate climbing stride particularly when the going gets steep and pace slows.

Rumor has it from Karl Meltzer that a lighter, lower model called the Bondi, more suitable for roads and trail racing, is coming. 

What got me to buy a pair initially? When I heard Karl Metzler was running in Mafates and loving them.

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