Hoka One One Challenger ATR Review

Posted June 29th, 2015 in Long Reviews by Kay

received_10153480285427722First of all can I just say I don’t see myself as a runner. I am an ex rugby player that started jogging to lose a bit of weight and to get a bit fitter. It all started about 3 years ago when I was getting pretty close to 18 stone and was not feeling the best health wise. I made the decision that something needed to be done so I started in a gym but the light summer evenings were drawing me outside so I started to shuffle up and down Hayle beach a couple evenings a week. I’m not sure how it happened but for some reason I started to enjoy it and since then I regularly run 3-4 times a week. It’s become a big part of my life.

Since then I have managed to pull my carcass around a few half marathons and I have also done 3 marathons, not in record time but I have done them. I don’t see myself as a natural runner but running is my little thing that I enjoy and I really don’t give a monkeys what I look like when others see me running. In my head I look like Mo Farrah running but about 10 stone heavier!

One of the things I love about running is getting out on the coast paths, running, enjoying the views, the sea air and not worrying about traffic. I don’t mind running up hills or down them but the one thing that I seem to suffer from is sore feet. If I run a lot on the trails, (I am not the most light footed things that have ever put a pair of running shoes and I am still 15.5 stone), so after a few miles my feet start to suffer from all the small pointy stones that make up the coast path.

On the trails I run in a pair of Salomon speed cross 3 that are a great shoe but I seem to feel every little stone that I run over, especially around the forefoot area. This problem was stopping me getting out on the coast path more often than I wanted to. Around a month ago, just before I did the Edinburgh marathon, I needed a new pair of road shoes so I popped over to At Your Pace. I saw Loyd, who has always looked after me. He got me in Brooks gts shoes around 2 year ago and I have been running in them ever since.

Hoka Mens Challenger ATR Orange smallI knew what I needed so I jumped on the treadmill in a new pair of Brooks and all was great but then Loyd brought out a pair of what I can only describe as platform running shoes called Hokas. I slapped them on my feet jumped on the treadmill and they felt great, really springy with plenty of cushioning in them and I felt like I could run a lot faster in them, a bit like running in your slippers when you were a kid. I jumped of the treadmill and was a bit disappointed to see my foot just rolling a bit in them compared to the brooks gts that I run in, so a new pair of brooks it was. Loyd then introduced me to the Hoka one challenger GTR trail shoe as something to think about in the future as I had mentioned that I would need a new pair of trail shoes in the next few weeks for the Classic Quarter that I was running as part of a 2 man relay team.

So off I went and did Edinburgh and got that out the way and then my attention turned to hitting the coast paths and getting ready for the Classic Quarter. I went out on my normal little coast run up and around the north cliffs avoiding all the little stones I could see trying to save my poor feet. For the next couple of days after the run my feet were a little bit sore, so I decided to give these platform running shoes a go. So I went out to At Your Pace where Kay sorted me out in a pair of the Challenger gtr trail shoes. That evening I was out in them, only out along St Erth river bank, as I was itching to give them a go. My first impression was wow these are great!

received_10153480287787722I only did a couple of miles in them but I was delighted how they felt on my feet. For my next run I went up and around the North Cliffs where I did a 10 mile run in them to see how they got on with the place that always ended up hurting my feet with the horrible sharp stones. After a few miles I was thinking so far so good but just up ahead was the bit of path that I knew was pretty gnarly and would be a good test for them. This bit of path is only about 500yrds long but full of the little evil stones that my feet hate so I decided the only to really test these pumps was to go for it! Boom, off I went flat out and it felt great! I was just gliding over the stones that before I would of been plotting my way through. I could still feel them under my feet but the cushioning had taken all the ouchy away; I was delighted. I felt a lot more comfortable running down the hills as well, as a lot of the shock was being absorbed by the shoe. I did a couple smaller runs in them before the classic quarter and was really happy in them.

Up next was the classic quarter, 22 miles of Cornish coast path starting from the Lizard. It was not one of my best runs that I have ever done as I started suffering from stomach cramps a couple of miles in. The terrain was still a pretty good test for these shoes. Not once over the run did my feet slip or slide away from me, I felt in control all the time and secure whilst running up and especially down hill on the loose stuff. I was surprised as to how much grip these shoes have for the kind of terrain that can be found on the Cornish coast path. I was also surprised that they even felt smooth on the tarmac sections of the run. After the run my feet felt good not sore at all.

I did this run 5 weeks previously in my Salomon’s and my feet were a bit tender for a few days after but in the Hokas it was a different story. My overall verdict on these shoes is a big thumbs up. They look like a bulky shoe but they are very responsive, a lot more than I expected, my feet now feel fresh after running not battered like before. The only thing I would like to have on them is a quick lace system like on the Salomon’s but it’s not the end of the world. For my next pair I would choose a half a size smaller than I would normally run in, something to bear in mind next time. I do think they are a perfect shoe for me running around the coast paths. I have yet to run in a mud bath in them so I can’t say how they would cope, but they have opened up more coast path running than I have been able to do in the past, a great shoe and well worth a look at in my opinion.

Keith Kemp

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