Hoka Bondi and the Bush Capital 16k
I've only run in them twice: on my relatively flat, lakeside bikepath course in Wagga and in yesterday's hilly off-road Bush Capital 16k. The first run in Wagga was a revelation. I couldn't believe how soft the Hokas made running on concrete feel. It's the first time I've not sought out the softer dirt verge while running on a bike-path. I'd run the same course two days prior in my Nike Frees at a heart-beats per km cost of 697 (very good for me on that course). In the Hokas that number was a slightly inferior 717, however I had run a hilly 15k the previous day and on the day I wore the Hokas I was pushing into a headwind for the second 5k (it had been calm when I ran in the Frees).
My Hoka Bondi Bs weigh 392 grams (size US13), while my Free 5.0s are 310 grams. The extra weight of the Hokas isn't that noticeable (apparently the Hoka Bondi Speed is lighter). My Saucony Kinvaras are 246 grams and are a great racing shoe. The Hokas have a 4.5mm heel-toe drop, so similar to the 4mm of the Kinvaras. While I was running in them I didn't feel like my form or movement was different to when using any of my other shoes. I was happy to 'land hard', both on the flats and downhills due to the ample cushioning, so perhaps muscular elastic recoil was cancelling out the softness of what you'd think would be an energy absorbing shoe.
I enjoyed the Bush Capital 16k yesterday. I ran the first uphill easily (as can be seen by the splits), with Leonie way off in the distance. Once on the flatter parts of the trail I worked on slowly bridging that gap. I was about to catch her just after 5k when she stepped off the trail for an unscheduled pit-stop. After that I ran with various runners, to-and-fro depending on the trail's gradient (I was slow on the ups). Legendary local veteran Trevor Jacobs jogged past on the climb to near the grave of Trent North as I walked. On the smooth part of the downhill I got back 'in the lead' with a 4:38 km split. I was running next to a girl in a purple singlet at this stage — our pace/energy levels being very similar. We ran the next 4 kilometres together until the final (downhill) one. I sprinted off, with the target of Lucia (pigtail flying) up ahead. Passed her just before the gate, only to have Trevor surge past me just afterwards (bastard!). To add salt to the wounds, the girl in purple had the audacity to out-kick me! The Hokas worked well (and I'm not stiff walking around this morning, a good sign they may help recovery). My time was slightly slower than last year — 1:28:13 vrs 1:26:14, however we had headwinds to contend with this year and the ground was softer after recent rains. My average heart-rate was 140 this year and 139 last year. I think the Hokas will help my pavement sensitive legs do the long runs needed for half-marathon training (while helping recovery). I'll let you know.