Saturday, February 21, 2015

Poor Man's Hoka = Skechers Ultra

Hokas are the latest craze in running--especially for ultrarunners. Every ultra I run seems to have about 50% Hoka users. I've worn the Hoka Stinson Evos and they helped me finish the Umstead 100 miler, but I still found them big and clunky--plus they have a narrow toebox. The Hoka line has expanded to include many more options, including the lightweight Hoka Clifton. I tried the Cliftons, but had to return them due to a narrow toebox. Once Hoka develops a shoe with a more natural and wide forefoot, I may give them another try.  Reduced prices would help too. Hokas are expensive ($130-$170.)

So, what's a runner to do if you want the extra cushioning, but not the high price? Go with the "poor man's Hoka"--the Skechers GoRun Ultra. They are the premier cushioned shoe in the Skechers Performance running line. I regularly find them for about $55-$60 on sale (regular retail price is $80 for v1 and $90 for the new v2). The Skechers Ultra have tons of soft cushioning, are lightweight, and remain flexible. Plus, my toes have room in the forefoot. Traction is good, but they are not the best for "real" trails. The higher heel-to-toe drop (8mm) makes them feel a bit unstable on technical terrain (if you remove the insole, they become 4mm drop shoes). They are awesome on groomed trails and streets. Probably my favorite shoe for 50-100 mile ultras. Fine for 50Ks too. For shorter races, I typically use either the Skechers GoRun or GoRun Ride.

If you are intrigued by the "maximalist" cushioning trend in shoes, but don't want to commit to an expensive Hoka, try the Skechers GoRun Ultra. Skechers really are producing high quality running shoes.


wyldrunner@Through a Running Lens said...

Thanks for the post. I am preparing to run a 50 later this spring and my first 100 in June. I am trying to decide whether to try the GoRunUltra. I like flexible shoes with forefoot cushioning, and the Ultra promises those two attributes. I tried them on at an expo, and they did feel fantastic (although I could not run in them). My concern is that I am running in the very minimal Saucony Virrata now, and they have been great on my feet for several 50ks. I am worried, though, that they are just not enough shoe for the longer effort. I also have tried Hokas, and they just did not work for me.

My concern with the Ultra is that it just seems so big and high compared to what I am in. Did you have any trouble adjusting to that aspect? Also, later in a race when it is harder to lift the legs over small obstacles, do you find that the extra shoe causes you to trip? Do you think it would work to change into them for the latter half of the race? Any insight you can give me would be appreciated.

Chris Ⓥ said...

The GoRun Ultras are good for non-technical ulras. I think they are too far off the ground for really nasty trails. I don't like Hokas much either, but the Skechers are much better in terms of flexibility, wide toebox, and ground feel (although still not great ground feel). I think they might serve you well in a 100 miler (or second half of a 100). You could try the Skechers GoRun Ride too--they are still well cushioned, but slightly less than the Ultras.

Skechers Shoes said...