A couple of months ago I received an invitation to join the HOKA ONE ONE media house in Chamonix, France to experience the weekend at the UTMB (Ultra Trail Mount Blanc) and write about my experience.
HOKA ONE ONE is pronounced HOKA (ONAY-ONAY) which loosely means to “fly over the earth” in the Maori language. Who doesn’t want to fly over the earth? I do, so I was intrigued about the whole experience.
Although, I have been into running for years, I hadn’t heard of the UTMB race before so I was even more excited to hear that it’s an international race where the runners from all over the world scale over the Alps for 170km into the night and next day. Not only was this a great opportunity to learn more about HOKA but to also witness some of the world’s leading runners in the beautiful setting of Chamonix, France.
Before this invitation, I had always looked at HOKA’s but had never tried them on. I had steered away from them because they weren’t the a-typical running shoe and I didn’t know much about them or the company.
When HOKA first came on the scene they seemed to be a running shoe anomaly, something very unique and far from the trend of the minimalist shoes that had been overtaking the running shoe scene.
After happily agreeing to join the team in France, a shipment of shoes was sent and I got down to running in them. Within the first couple of runs I noticed a difference in my body. For a couple of years, I’ve been contending with some Achilles tendonitis on my right side but I found even after some good distance running in the Hoka Challenger ATR 4 it wasn’t aggravated as much, the cushion and stability is what I needed.
- All terrain.
- Stability, neutral shoe
- Lightness: Size 7 USA / Weight 7.40oz
I was really surprised at the level of cushion but yet, the lightness of the shoe. In fact, so light, I was sharing how light they are with a client who asked to try them on and ordered a pair immediately after our session. The lightness is noticeable and I started to see how HOKA truly does live up to its difference and vibe of flying over the earth.
I always look for running shoes that have a wide toe box due to having bunions on both my feet. I like to have lots of room in the toes to avoid constriction and pain. The Challenger totally fits the bill on that front too.
As a plus-size runner, extra cushioning and stability is a must. When minimalist shoes were all the rage I couldn’t wear them because I found there wasn’t enough support. Even though at the time the minimalist shoe looked cool, they weren’t for me.
The HOKA Challenger ATR 4’s is a good-looking shoe. From a style perspective, I am not into super flashy footwear and so many running shoes seem over the top to me. I love the neutral grey with subtle, stylish accents to really compliment the shoe. The mesh overlay is sturdy and good quality and I can see getting a lot of rugged wear out of these shoes.
Underneath, the tread is grippy and hugs the trail and although I am not doing huge descents they work great coming down loose, dry trail. After looking at the product overview the Challenger technology explains the trail grip.
The Challenger takes the path less traveled is in its multi-lugged outsole. Arranged closer together towards the heel for a smoother, more consistent ride, its lugs have a wider spread in the forefoot to help with grip on the trail and in wet conditions.
In short, if you are looking for great grip, stability, comfort and light weight, I highly recommend the HOKA Challenger ATR 4. I will be in these shoes for generations and have already recommended them to many of my clients.
It’s time to fly, at every size.