I finally (years and years after everyone else...) got some Hokas. I researched and searched and Googled and Googled some more. Ended up with a headache from all the research. I had a few concerns. As someone who overpronates, I wondered if this even mattered in Hokas, as the platform is so significantly big/ stable in comparison to other running shoes on the market. For road running, I had previously been running in Asics' Kayano and GT-2000 series. I was used to supportive shoes, but I needed even greater comfort for ultra-running.
In May, I utterly destroyed my feet during the Grand Union Canal 145 miles race. I wore inov-8 Race Ultra 290s and I was really disappointed :(. Initially, I thought they were great quality and looked good; I went up half a size from my normal everyday shoe size. I'm normally a Size 8 everywhere. And I've worn inov-8s many, many times over the years. They are the only brand of off-road shoes I had ever worn, so I trusted them. Most recently, I have run in the inov-8 Roclite 275 Gore-Tex trail shoe and I had no problems with that at all. I even ran GUCR 2014 in that shoe and I've worn other versions of inov-8 shoes for various ultras over the years.
Anyway, I have long feet, but I don't have wide feet - they're pretty narrow and not very padded. The Race Ultra 290 was too wide around my forefoot. It was like a big clown shoe/ balloon around my foot. I know, the irony, considering that most Hokas look like clown shoes... Yep, I always want some room in the front of the toe-box, but there was too much room to either side in the inov-8s. Ultimately, I ended up with mega tenderised feet and HUGE blisters on the side of my heel and both big toes and between my big toe and second toe of both feet. There are lots of pictures on this blog somewhere. My feet have never been that bad during a race. It was incredibly painful. And I thought more than ever that I must try Hokas. Those little sharp stones along canal towpaths are the worst. I just don’t want to feel them
The Search for Hoka...
Well, it was all well and good deciding that I wanted to try these shoes and see what the hype was like, but getting hold of my size and figuring out which ones to get was a different matter. Almost every UK website I went on only had small ladies sizes.
After advice from fellow ultra-runners, it eventually transpired that a Conquest 2 would probably be best for me and my moderate over pronation but it was also the most expensive at around 170 Euros or £125. I was also more interested in getting a trail shoe, rather than a road shoe, because I wanted the sole to be a bit more rugged and durable. I decided to get a Challenger ATR.
Now I just need to work out my foot measurements. I initially thought I'd need at least a UK 8.5 / 42 2/3 / 27cm. Looking at my current Asics road running shoes, I normally go up a whole size to a UK 9, because I like the extra length in the toe box. This equates to 27.5 cm. I'll admit that there is a bit more extra room than I strictly need, but it never causes me problems. I'd always get at least a UK 8.5 in Asics (27cm). But I'd never gotten Hokas before and I wasn’t sure what the deal was with how they fitted. So, I followed their instructions and put my foot on a piece of A4 paper, foot up against a wall and drew where the end of my foot was = 26cm. This equalled a UK 7.5, but I didn't feel comfortable getting that Size. I want a little room in the toe. So, I settled on a UK 8 (26.5cm) And....they fit! I have room, but the shoe is actually quite a narrow fit and not really wide like my inov-8s, but I have that length.
So, at the weekend, I took them out for an 11 mile test run on gravel trails and a bit of road. I could not feel any of those pesky sharp stones. Hurrah. I just hope that they serve me well during my next ultra-adventure at the weekend, Liverpool to Leeds 130 miler. Fingers crossed!