Hoka One One Quote of the Week: Geoff Roes, Montrail athlete.

“One could argue that Hoka has started the trend of making shoes that make sense specifically as ultrarunning shoes. I think the popularity of Hokas in the ultrarunning scene is a great indicator that what many people are wanting on their feet when running 100 miles might just be a lot different than what they want on their feet when running a 10k.”

Geoff Roes, ‘It’s Not About The Shoes, or is it?’ November 29, 2011 at his blog Fumbling Toward Endurance

To be fair – Geoff then went on to say that it’s a shame that the Hoka One One are too stiff for his taste, and I can only think that he was referring to the Mafate – which do have a stiff feel and a harder foam than the more flexible Bondi (which I think you should secretly try on some night runs Geoff).

There is no ‘Gotcha Moment’ here of an athlete for another brand saying something positive about Hoka, and a Hoka supporter jumping on it gleefully. What it is is an athlete risking scorn and harrassment by speaking his mind about a fad that has taken on the tone of a religious movement in a really nicely spoken opinion piece that essentially says there is absolutely a time and place for barefoot and super minimalist running, and it is not the way to go when chasing your best possible time in an ultra.

Montrail Mountain Masochists were my chosen shoe last year crewing Coast to Kosciuszko for exactly the reasons Roes gives in describing them – they’re tough, well-built, good across a mix of surfaces, and protect your feet the way you need your feet protected so you can get on with running rather than thinking about where you have to place your next step. I’ve recommended them to people for particular situations or running styles and still do.

I hope that we see:

1. More runners voicing a different opinion about minimal and barefoot running as being practically limiting, rather than a closer-to-God explosion of primal wonder.

2. More sponsored athletes comfortable with praising or discussing elements of other brands’ equipment that they feel positive about. I think everyone wishes they had Salomon’s trail packs, and most everyone would wish they had the North Face Better Than Naked jacket if they ran some cool terrain in one.

An explosion of interaction between the two polarised camps would be great, and hopefully given his credibility and ability, Roes’ opinion piece sparks aome element of that through discussion. Similarly, we are only going to see more branded teams and sponsored athletes, not fewer, and it would be nice if they were not just ‘allowed’ but appreciated for showing the kind of balls that Roes has in speaking his mind on a near-religious topic and with positive reflections on another brand this week.

Working with Hoka OneOne and seeing new styles come through and looking at what’s in store throughout 2012 as well, I do also think it would be great if other designers of running gear injected more courage and creative flare into their new lines. But it’s fine with us if they don’t  : )


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