On May 9, 2015, I provided some initial thoughts on the Hoka One One Women’s Challenger ATR trail shoe. I have been running the streets for the last two months in them, and am ready to provide my ‘unedited’ and ‘unscripted’ feelings on the Hoka.
The Challenger ATR is a competent shoe, a shoe that is worthy of taking you from a 5k road or trail event all the way to a half marathon road or trail event. These truly proved themselves as a ‘hybrid’ running shoe; one that can be worn exclusively on the roads, exclusively on the trails, or a mixture of both. I did not test the Challenger ATR on distances further than the half marathon. I will be running in The San Francisco Marathon (the full, 26.2 miles) on July 26; I am considering wearing the Challenger ATR but have not made my final decision as of the time of this post.
The body of the shoe is impressive. One thing I always noticed about Hoka’s (all of them) was their ‘stance’ – they are a big shoe. That said, when wearing the Challenger ATR, it did not feel as though I was wearing a ‘big shoe’. Instead, the feeling was one of security and safety from the road or trail surface I was running on.
With this extra feeling of security, due to the incredible amount of cushioning on the Challenger ATR, it did take me about 25 miles (over the span of about 2-3 weeks) to get used to them. Hoka’s technology includes 50% more cushioning, with “engineered midsole volume which is up to 2.5X the volume than standard running shoes, made with performance-specific cushioning material.” The benefits are “excellent shock absorption and an inherently stable ride.” This is completely accurate; I found all of this to translate into the ride of the shoe perfectly. The Challenge ATR did not cause chafe points, blisters, or any other negative effects on my feet. What I had to get used to was the ‘extreme’ amount of cushion and support, as well as the offsets:
- Offset: 5mm
- Heel: 28mm
- Forefoot: 23mm
Hoka is known for their rocker design (Meta-Rocker), which provides a very fluid heel to toe movement during your run. Being a huge fan of Dansko shoes, which have a rocker design as well, this did not take me much time to get used to. But, if you are not familiar with the rocker design, I would encourage you to try it out on a treadmill at any of the full service running stores, such as Foot Traffic.
“Meta-Rocker midsole geometry, specifically engineered with a low heel-toe differential and a sculpted outsole radius in the heel and toe, creates a unique fulcrum effect and encourages a guided foot gait cycle. Supports a runners form, and encourages a continuous Positive Gait Speed roll from heel-strike to toe-off.”
One question a lot of my runner peers always asked me about Hoka’s, was if they were heavy! “They look so heavy and clunky,” runners would say. Prior to trying the Challenger ATR, I have to admit, I sort of agreed with their statements. The shoe is big, how can it not be heavy (or at least heavier than a ‘regular’ running shoe). I can assure you, the Challenger ATR‘s are not heavy. The size 7 women’s shoe weights in at an impressive 7.4 ounces.
I am an underpronator (not over … but under). This causes me great difficulty in finding a pair of running shoes that are responsive to the tendency of running on the outside portion of my feet.
“Underpronation (or supination) is the insufficient inward roll of the foot after landing. Again, the outside of the heel makes initial contact with the ground. But the inward movement of the foot occurs at less than fifteen percent (i.e., there is less rolling in than for those with normal or flat feet). Consequently, forces of impact are concentrated on a smaller area of the foot (the outside part), and are not distributed as efficiently. In the push-off phase, most of the work is done by the smaller toes on the outside of the foot. “
Well, I have to say, Hoka One One to the rescue for underpronators! Another awesome technology in the Hoka One One line of shoes is called Active Foot Frame. The Active Foot Frame technology is a “uniquely engineered Active Foot Frame midsole geometry allows the foot to sink deeply into the shoe’s midsole.” This allows the product to “provide integrated stability which is adaptable to a wide range of feet and running styles.” What this really allows is the foot to fit like a glove in the shoe, and allow your gait to flow the way it is intended, without a pull-tug-pull-tug fight with the shoes on your feet.
After writing this, I am nearly positive I will wear the Hoka One One Challenger ATR for The San Francisco Marathon on July 26. These really are a unique, excellent, responsive shoe. Hoka One One did an excellent job. Five stars from this mid-pack, multi-distance, multi-surface runner! I’m certainly impressed.
Note: Jessica runs distances from the 5k to the marathon, both on the road and trail. She will tackle her first 50k in September, 2015. She is a ‘mid-pack’ runner, with an average pace ranging from 8:45 – 9:45 minutes per mile depending on distance. She is an underpronator who typically wears “neutral” shoes, and prefers minimalist style shoes for the majority of her running.