Sunday, May 22, 2016

Hoka One One Challenger ATR - Sizing & Product Review

I know this model is pretty much 2015 and Challenger ATR 2 is already out, but I read somewhere the versions are pretty much the same between the two so I'm hoping to contribute my quick insights & a bit of guidance re sizing & fitting :)

I took a chance with the fitting as I couldn't find this model anywhere in the local stores.. and as it turned out, it does fit well with my wide-ish forefoot! Hoorah!

So if you have feet like mine - see HERE - then this fits well - choose size US 10.

I think if you're researching to buy this shoe, you pretty much know all the pros of this shoe & Hoka shoes in general.. personally for me, I like the fact that it is giving me maximal cushioning protection (my joints are getting old!) with minimal clunkiness & weight. And of coz the fact that it fits!

And on the point of old joints - that is the only reason why I have chosen Hokas over Salomon.. it's the long-term I need to think about as well, so one should really start protecting one's joints before it is already damaged.. having said that I have swapped the Hoka standard insoles with Salomon's Ortholite insoles as it was more comfy. The Hoka ones were way too thin for my liking..

This shoe fits really differently to my previous Hoka Rapa Nuis.. where the toe box was just much tighter.. see here how the shape is different:

Additionally I've circled the area where it has made a great difference for my type of wide-ish fat feet.. the upper material is softer & more flexible allowing a better fit in that particular area. You can imagine with the big toe & bunion bone having more room - the overall feet has more toe space to splay.. here's a closer pic.. showing how I can tuck my finger underneath the bunion & how the upper allows that stretch:

The traditional laces are also a welcome design.. easier to lace & adjust like.. any other shoe? :)

I like the thin upper & tongue.. how it has been kept to a simple design & very breathable. Here's some 'inside' shots showing how airy they are:

The toe guard isn't much of a toe guard which is fine - having said that it is hardier material & pretty flexible as well.. so your toes won't be jamming into something overly stiff. Your toes are sitting couple of centimetres above ground most of the time anyway..

Perhaps one particular area lacking in sewing finesse is just this part of the shoe.. not sure what you call this part of the shoe, nonetheless pretty sure it could've been a bit more professionally finished up..

I should mention I have had symptoms of sesamoiditis (big toe joint pain) during some runs which I thought were caused by this shoe.. but as it turned out it was due to placing too much pressure on my big toes (usually happens during steep climbs).. so in fact the cause was running technique, not shoes.. (you can read more here about this symptom & how to fix it: )

Welp.. hope you found this quick review helpful, I certainly think this will be my go-to shoes from now onwards (I know I've been saying that for most of my shoes, but this time it's for real!)

Take care & happy running.

Some other reviews can be found here:


21 Jan 2018

RIP my good friend ... with my limited running it has taken me nearly 1.5 years to take this shoe to close to 500 miles / 800km.. whilst there is seemingly plenty of outsole left (it is HOKA afterall), the bounce is no longer there, I took it out for a final 10k lap of honour last night - I could feel the weariness of the shoe after so much pavement pounding..

the upper is finally disintegrating too, I have adamantly hung on to them to a technical trail run few weeks back I rolled my ankle as the upper support was no longer there... but it is REMARKABLE the upper has lasted this long (compared to what I read about later models..)

why you ask..

coz they were THAT awesome, that's why..

RIP my good friend - you have served me well.. my only regret is I've never taken you on an ultra journey that you truly deserve.. I hate to say goodbye ~ but wow, what good times eh? :)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Maroondah Dam Trail Run 30k

Beautiful medal eh??

What can I say... I'm glad I signed up for just 30k because I would've perished if it was any further! While Maroondah Dam is a beautiful location, this event is absolutely brutal of a course with all the uphill & downhill cramped into one big ascent & descent. If you're searching for hurt, this is the one!

Anyway I've been taking it easier with events for the past months as I come full-circle in a way in terms of realising that my body can't keep getting hammered without sufficient time to recover!.. and I feel fortunate to have realise this now before any irreversible injury might have occurred, a few twisted ankles & niggling knee pains are enough reminders..

I will actually be taking a looong vacation soon from running (and that's for another higher reason altogether).. I nominated Maroondah to be the 'last' event and I feel it has been a good choice not just because I've always wanted to do this course, but I felt it would be challenging enough to allow me to push & leave it all out there on the trails.. as such it would be nice to pick up from there again once its time to do so.... :)

This year's course is in fact a brand new one, and having run the old course before as part of my preparation my preference is actually this new course.. straight up & down with all the best bits!

Check out beard-guy's huaraches! Courtesy of Piffles Inc

It's all about hill-training if you're thinking of doing this event, for me what I lacked in preparation was knowing how well my legs would hold up after more than 5k of steep downhill.. and how fast/slow I should be going to enable a more consistent 15k finishing. The race-mentality I brought with me was 'the first 15k is the one you need to worry about, after that it should be easier!'

I was clearly wrong about the last part.

I definitely had insufficient sustained downhill training & whilst I had a great time going fast on the steep downhill from Mt St Leonards, it left my legs with very little once I was back on the flatter sections.. sips of gel + heed kept me going but my legs felt absolutely wrecked. I know better now! Needless to say the last 3 hills near the finishing, small as they are, felt like 3 mountains..

Here are some fun insight notes I have put together regarding the course!

The small creek crossing in the last 5k was god-sent. The battered legs needed some refreshing & it couldn't have come at a better time. It did give me blisters but that was mainly because I got lazy with taping my toes properly. It would've been nice to have a few more creek-crossings along the way! 

Here's how my last 5k went:

Last 5k.. in a world of hurt! Courtesy of Trailsplus
I did do a more inspiring jumping shot across the finish! Courtesy of Trailsplus

All in all, I would highly recommend this event to anyone searching for a challenging course.. we were fortunate to have beautiful weather this year, the course would be a different beast if there was rain! Should think about poles if it ever does rain..

Hey its a brief entry but thanks for reading folks, its been a blast! happy running! See you on the trails soon.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Running Shoe Lacing Techniques

Hmm.. maybe I can cut the laces off my narrow Salomons & try some of these..