Links Roundup, 9th September 2014 & Hoka Clifton

It’s been a while since I last did a links roundup, something I am going to try and do more regularly, as much for my own reference as anyone else’s, as there’s just so much interesting stuff out there and keeping on top of it all is a nightmare!

Final Call For Loch Ness Marathon

Best be quick if you want to run one of the most scenic marathons in the UK. Entry for the Loch Ness Marathon has been extended as a result of a technical hitch with the web site and now closes at midnight on Tuesday 9th September 2014.

I’ve got fond memories of running this one, including the surreal sight of a long line of double decker buses travelling along the narrowest of country roads to get everyone to the start line (and also the sight of said buses emptying after some brave soul requests a toilet stop en route and everyone descends on the countryside to empty their bladders!). A fantastic route with possibly the world’s most famous loch and some hills thrown in at intervals for good measure!

Ultrarunners Living the Dream?

My wife and I have often discussed our desire to relocate to the Cairngorms (or the Canadian Rockies!) but, most likely, it’s something that, if it happens at all, will happen later in life. The prospect of leaving careers behind to focus on running, or indeed, other outdoor pursuits, is no doubt something that appeals to many of us but, as the following article highlights, sometimes it doesn’t always go to plan.

‘Ultrarunners Living the Dream?’ follows Matt Flaherty, Adam Campbell and Mike Wolfe as they leave their law careers behind to focus on training and racing, and makes for an enlightening read, especially in the case of Adam Campbell, who actually finds that having all the time in the world isn’t necessarily the best option. Unfortunately, injury also features and highlights just how easily this can impact on goals and aspirations.

Dos & Dont’s From Top Ultramarathoners

“The thought of how to approach your first (or fiftieth) ultramarathon can be daunting. Although you’ve trained hard, it’s easy to waste precious pre-race energy worrying that a few small mistakes with your nutrition or pacing can result in a DNF or, worse, an injury. What follows are a series of race-day ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ from some of the top athletes in the sport. Take these tips to heart as you prepare to go the distance!”

This is an excellent article and, with the benefit of hindsight, I can totally relate to these words of wisdom from Anton Krupicka, Pam Smith, Geoff Roes and Michele Yates.

Reading through the list brought back memories of some of the worst (and best) experiences I have had running ultramarathons, from injuring my Achilles 6 miles into the 55 mile Cateran Trail Ultra and hobbling on to complete the race and the 95 mile West Highland Way Race just a month later, from my one and only (to date) D.N.F. at my first ever Highland Fling, to my completion of the West Highland Way Race, despite explosive diarrhoea and projectile vomiting! Well worth a read.

“When things get tough (they will, probably way tougher than you can currently imagine even), believe in your training, believe in yourself, grit your teeth and do it. Doing hard things is extremely satisfying once you’ve made it through. Don’t forget that in the moment.” (Anton Krupicka)

“DO expect something to go wrong. No matter how perfect your training has gone, this is ultrarunning and a lot of crazy things can happen when you are running for hours on end. If you accept that something may go wrong ahead of time, you’ll be in the right frame of mind to tackle problems when they arise and to look for solutions, rather than wanting to throw in the towel.” (Pam Smith)

A common thread throughout the tips is to start eating and taking on calories early, even as early as 15 mins into a race.

6-Year-Old Runs 22:26 5K

Six-year-old Jaden Merrick ran 22:26 at Saturday’s Park to Park 5K in Waterloo, Iowa, more than 90 seconds faster than the single-age world record of 24:07 he set on August 2. I can only dream of a 22:26 5K. Well jealous lol! (and hugely impressed!)

Hoka Clifton

For all the Hoka fans out there, the road running Hoka Clifton is now available at www.ultramarathonrunningstore.com (£89.99)

“Quite possibly the smoothest runnng shoe on the market, the Men’s Hoka Clifton offers an incredibly cushioned ride at an almost impossibly low weight. Early stage Meta-Rocker sculpting geometry provides a fluid, efficient ride and the stripped down SpeedFrame upper leaves no extra weight for you to lug around. If you want to take the feeling of running on grass with you to the concrete jungle, look no further than the Hoka One One Clifton.”

New Hokas & Hydrapaks At www.ultramarathonrunningstore.com/

There have been some nice new additions to the www.ultramarathonrunningstore.com recently, with the addition of new Hokas, the Hoka Stinson ATR trail shoe and the Hoka Stinson Lite road shoe, and new soft flasks from Hydrapak.

The Hokas have seamless uppers and improved ventilation, thanks to a single layer mesh approach in the road shoe, and a dual layer mesh approach in the trail version, with the additional layer preventing trail debris from entering the shoe.

Hoka Stinson Lite

“The Men’s Hoka STINSON LITE features an oversized HOKA ONE ONE proprietary (HIP) CMEVA midsole providing unmatched combination of high performance cushioning with inherently stable ride. A late stage Meta-Rocker is designed to create a more nimble and accurate foot roll through the gait cycle. The hi-abrasion rubber outsole has a flexible and multi-directional traction design. A highly breathable seamless upper construction provides a secure fit. An ideal shoe for runners looking for a lightweight, stable, and performance cushioned road running shoe.”

Hoka Stinson ATR

The Men’s Hoka STINSON ATR features an oversized HOKA ONE ONE proprietary (HIP) CMEVA midsole providing unmatched combination of high performance cushioning with inherently stable ride. A late stage Meta-Rocker is designed to create a more nimble and accurate foot roll through the gait cycle. The hi-abrasion rubber outsole has a flexible and multi-directional traction design. A highly breathable seamless upper construction provides a secure fit. An ideal shoe for runners looking for a lightweight, stable, and performance cushion running shoe for the trails. 

More new Hokas to follow.

Update: 19th August 2014: The Hoka Mafate Speed is now available:

“The Men’s Hoka MAFATE SPEED provides a super-cushioned but very aggressive and responsive ride in wet or dry conditions, the Hoka One One Mafate Speed is an all-terrain beast that simultaneously protects and propels. Fitted, breathable, and deceptively agile, the Mafate Speed will take you on a wild ride that lasts for as long as you can hang on.”

Hydrapak Soft Flasks

Fans of soft flasks should be interested in the new range of Hydrapak Softflasks™, offering the quality and functionality of a soft flask without the premium price associated with some of the branded flasks.

“The new molded bottom Hydrapak SoftFlasks™ are modular hydration systems that are highly versatile; allowing for placement within packs, jackets, handhelds, and other gear. The collapsible lightweight Hydrapak SF750 SoftFlask™ is easy to use and packs tightly for efficient storage and transport.”

Features

  • Collapsible for easy storage
  • Modular design for multi-purpose “on-the-go” applications
  • High-flow silicone bite valve with twit shut-off
  • Soft, durable TPU body for strength and flexibility
  • Molded top and bottom provides 3 dimensional shape and lashing options
  • RF welded to create superior bonds at a molecular level
  • Textile carrying loop
  • Optional dust cover included
  • Dishwasher safe (top rack)/Freezer safe
  • Exceeds FDA & EU Regulations
  • BPA Free

Salomon & Hoka Updates At The Ultramarathon Running Store

The Ultramarathon Running Store has recently added the latest Salomon Advanced Skin Packs and has also added Hoka to the range stocked.

Salomon Advanced Skin Packs

The latest Salomon packs include the Advanced Skin Lab Hydro 12 Set and the Advanced Skin Lab Hydro 5 Set, available for £134.99 and £107.99 respectively. Both packs have adopted Salomon’s new approach of relying on soft flasks for fluids and, as such, no bladder is included. However, it is possible to carry a bladder in the pack if required. The packs come with the 500ml soft flasks which are like gold dust at the moment, with little or no stock available anywhere. The flasks are held in the front pockets for easy access.

New Autumn/Winter 2013 Model Additions

  • New 2x Hydro Pockets with 2x 500ml/17oz. Soft Flasks included
  • New 2x Energy pockets ( above each Hydro Pocket )
  • New 2x Stretch mesh pockets ( under each Hydro Pocket )
  • New 2x Secure mesh side pockets ( vertical with open top )
  • New 2x Vertical zipped lateral pockets
  • New Central Low Compartment ( with 2 side access pockets )
  • New Weight: 340g ( previous model: 530g )

Hoka

The Hoka range on The Ultramarathon Running Store includes variants of the Hoka Stinson Evo Trail, Hoka Bondi B and Hoka Stinson Tarmac shoes.

“With the goal of designing running shoes for optimal performance, comfort, efficiency and fun, Hoka One One shoes ( aka Hokas ) pioneer a new philosophy in running by merging aspects of minimalism and maximalism. Engineered for maximum cushioning and comfort, while still offering lightweight, nimble performance and uninhibited movement.

Hoka One One shoes’ maximally cushioned midsoles offer superior protection, comfort and propulsion. The distinctive rockered geometry creates a platform for optimally efficient natural running mechanics. The oversized outsoles allow for maximum stability, traction and connection to the ground. Not only do Hoka shoes provide a sense of weightlessness, superior comfort and efficiency but Hoka’s athlete results prove optimal performance. They have recorded over 30 podium finishes on five continents in the past 18 months. Additionally, Hoka running shoes are 15 percent lighter than most others, they make running uphill as much fun as they make running downhill and with less body fatigue.”

Update 2nd September 2013: 
The Hoka Mafate 3 mens/womens models have also now arrived at The Ultramarathon Running Store and are described by Keith as being “the model most suited to those running the WHW Race, Lakeland and so on…”

Hoka One One Stinson Evo B Review

Adapted review at Fitness Rocks:

People can generally be classified into three groupings where Hokas are concerned – the lovers, the haters, and the curious.

Hoka One One is the brainchild of two gravity sports enthusiasts Jean-Luc Diard and Nicolas Mermoud. They identified fatigue, impact and muscle strain as the main challenges facing runners on a daily basis and designed a shoe that would help to alleviate these problems.

The result was the Hoka One One brand.

“The word Hoka is derived from the ancient Maori language and roughly translates to ‘now it is time to fly’. That’s just how it feels to run in a pair of Hoka One One shoes; with each and every step your foot takes flight.”

http://www.hokaoneone.com/en/insiders/about-us.html

At first glance they do appear to be the antithesis to the growing minimalist movement. However, with only a 4mm drop from heel to toe, they have more in common than you might think with a lot of the minimalist shoes currently on the market.

  • They are, most definitely, a conversation starter
  • They attract subtle glances and not so subtle stares
  • They are quite unique

Aesthetically the colour scheme, although generally bold, is not the stand out point. That honour is reserved for the sole, and what a sole it is. A relative asked when platforms came back in to fashion and, in all fairness to them, there is a similarity!

The sole makes use of a 50% rockering profile to encourage an efficient foot strike through to push off. With up to 2.5x the volume of EVA in the midsole in comparison to standard running shoes, all of the Hokas offer outstanding impact absorption. The shoes have a bucket seat design, with the foot sitting recessed into the midsole by 20mm to 30mm. This provides for optimum foot stabilisation. Finally, the sole is some 35% wider, resulting in enhanced foot stability.

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 ‘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’.

Up until a certain book about the Tarahumara, the idea of barefoot running seemed ridiculous to most people and the concept of minimalist running has now been taken on board by all of the major companies. As such, who can tell what ‘the norm’ will be in future years.

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.

Pros

  • Reduction in muscle fatigue and DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)
  • Comfortable fit (appears to have been refined further in 2012 models)

Cons

  • Price – Hokas will set you back over £100. However, they should not need to replaced as much as normal trainers and, as such, this should be factored in to any evaluation of the cost
  • Aesthetics – The ‘platform’ sole and colourschemes are not to everyone’s tastes, but then that’s like, for example, buying a particular car because “it’s a nice blue colour!”

Sport Pursuit

You may already be familiar with the www.sportpursuit.com discount website.

“SportPursuit is the UK’s first members-only sport private sales website, offering our members insider access to winning sports brands every day, always at unbeatable prices.”

Current sales include both Hoka and Inov8, well worth checking out if you are a fan of either brand:

  • Hoka (up to 47% off)“The word Hoka is derived from the ancient Maori language and roughly translates to ‘now it is time to fly’. That’s just how it feels to run in a pair of Hoka One One shoes; with each and every step your foot takes flight.”
  • Inov8 (up to 69% off)“Inov-8 believe in natural running. Their products are designed to be lightweight, minimal and functional, giving runners the confidence and freedom to run hard through any environment and over any obstacle. Step up your running game by slipping on a pair and break free from the mould!”

New Gear

One of the benefits of Leanne’s month working in Houston is that I now have a good supply of Succeed S Caps and also a couple of pairs of super warm North Face sleeves.

On the Hoka One One front, the new 2012 range of shoes were released last week and my pair of Stinson Evo B Hokas arrived yesterday, just in time for this weekends forthcoming D33 race, the 1st race in the Scottish Ultra Marathon Series.

A race report will follow shortly.

Best of luck to all those running in the D33.