Hoka set the running shoe market talking when they brought their ‘oversized’ shoes to market in 2009.
Depending where one searches Hoka is said to have similar but differing meanings: in native American listings the meanings range from ‘a good place to die’ to “let’s Roll” – in Maori language they say “to fly over the earth’. It is quite appropriate for there to be a range and controversy over the meaning as it has been a controversial shoe since it’s inception.
In an era when the world was moving ‘back to the future’ with minimalism the Hoka was apparently taking a totally opposing stance by going maximal.
Large wide footprint, thick midsole, which looked even larger due to external cosmetics….
Hoka was written off by many and attracted comments such as ‘clown shoes’ but the ultramarathon market was first to embrace the highly cushioned, lightweight shoe style.
As more runners enjoyed the comfort of the cushioning, the shoes grew into the road and trail market and today there are models for all running disciplines including track spikes.
it is unfortunate that some models are currently not being brought into the South African market as shoes such as the lower stack Hupana would do much to give local runners a means of transitioning into the Hoka Range, many of which are named after the major beaches of the world: – including Clifton in our Western Cape
This review focuses on the Clayton 2 which is a racing model in the maximal range.
In many ways this – as will be seen in the video – has been one of the most difficult reviews i have written: – simply because it forced me to think out of the box, gain new experience, and accept then test the views of others.
In other words it forced a rethink and growth on what is possible, and how it affects others running style.
For this reason the review is also quite long (12 minutes) and contains slow motion running styles as well as the comments and 5 year experience of the brand from a 25 time Comrades runner.
What did i find?
I have been blown away by the deceptive lightness of the shoe: What you see is NOT what you get.. it looks heavy and bulky – its anything but. (I’m sure the laces are just about as heavy as the shoe 🙂 )
With time the apparent ‘rigidity’ of the Clayton 2 midsole melts into a full length flexibility, (but that takes time), and the ride is highly cushioned.
The ‘rocker’ system is something that encourages runners into a forward motion and also tends to compensate for the thicker midsole.
The main thing is that there is indeed a place for the Hoka shoe in the running market. The transition for some will be easy and natural, others will take longer, if for no other reason than their adopted running mechanics… but its well worth the effort to see if this is a shoe and style for you.
If you are going to die with your shoes on – perhaps the native Americans were correct “Hoka” – its a good place to die.
HOKA CLAYTON 2