Jo’s top trail shoe: Hoka One One Mafate Speed 2
I have been running with my #trailfest pal Jo Cowper and noticed that she wears Hoka One One shoes for every outing, whatever the terrain. I asked her to do me a review of her favourite trainers. Here is what she has written.
In the interests of full disclosure: I’m a Hoka One One believer. I’m also lucky enough to be part of the Hokaflyer ambassador team, although that came later.
I’ve been a Hoka convert since 2012, when I abandoned a disastrous foray into minimalism and mail-ordered my first pair of Hokas, sight-unseen. I’ll never forget the lighter-than-air-delight of my very first run in them, bounding out on to the trails with a grin from ear to ear and feeling as though I’d sprouted wings.
I haven’t looked back since. My Hoka One One collection has grown – Arahis, Bondis, Claytons, Cliftons, Challengers, Stinsons, Speedgoats – but when the going gets tough (or technical, or long) I always go back to my trusty favourites: The Mafate Speed 2.
Hoka say: “The Mafate Speed 2 was built to offer support and cushioning in technical terrain over any distance. [The latest] update features a deep Active Foot frame for support and a tuned Meta-Rocker to facilitate smooth transitions through the gait cycle.
“The outsole utilises deep flex grooves to adapt to a variety of terrain and the 5mm Vibram Mega-Grip tread grips even the trickiest surfaces.
“The Mafate Speed 2 is ready to perform mile after mile, however far your trail adventure takes you.”
In plain English, for me this means that I can rely on them to do what I need them to, pretty much anywhere I want to run.
Jo’s Hoka One One insights
Since Fiona offered me the opportunity to write this review, I’ve been wracking my brains to think what useful insights I can share about how it feels to run in my favourite Hoka shoes – I’ve covered plenty of miles in them, after all – but what it comes down to is this: From the moment of lacing them up to the time of hosing them down, I rarely need to give them a second thought.
Is that not the best accolade there is for a running shoe?
They just “work”, leaving me free to run with complete confidence regardless of the terrain.
Why Hokas work so well
- On technical and stony ground, they’re admirably sticky. For the Mont Blanc Marathon or, more recently, Scafell Sky Race, I could move with confidence over scree slopes and slippery rocks – that’s the “5mm Vibram Mega-Grip” at work.
- In wet mud – a staple of my regular TrailFest outings around Mugdock Country Park – their grip is just as firm, thanks to the “deep flex grooves” of the outsole.
- Over longer distances, the “deep Active Foot frame” and “Meta-Rocker” come into play. These are the shoes I wore for the Kintyre Way Ultra and for the 70k that I managed to cover at Maxi Race around Lake Annecy, where I relied on them to ease me through each step even after fatigue had set in.
Secret gems of Hoka Mafate Speed 2s
The above notes are what I’d call “standard” benefits of running in Mafate Speed 2s. I’ve also stumbled upon a couple of hidden advantages that you won’t find anywhere in the marketing spiel, but which have made an immense difference to me and my running over the past few years.
In the time that I’ve been running in Hokas, I’ve had two children and lost a shed-load of fitness (not to mention a lot of sleep and training time!). Yet in the face of all of this, my compulsion to enter and attempt some of the biggest running challenges that I can find has remained unchanged. This is where the famous Hoka “cushion” comes in to play.
Hoka characterise the Mafate Speed 2 as providing a “plush ride”. For me, this translates into the added “bounce” that lets me tackle the tough trails I want to run – even when my own bounce has deserted me.
Hidden advantage examples of Hokas. They:
- Enable me to continue running through pregnancy with minimal discomfort – and preserving my sanity by keeping me out on the trails;
- Enable me to return to running long distances and short ultras, without injury or pain, faster than I might otherwise have managed to;
- Compensate for my miserably reduced fitness and time-restricted training programme, by absorbing impact and easing me through each stride.
In conclusion: Hard wearing and mud-proof, the Mafate Speed 2 have a lot to commend them. But for me, it is these hidden advantages that truly set them apart and elevate them from great shoes to ‘true allies’ on the trails.
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