Breaking the Appalachian Trail Record

The “Speedgoat” himself will be taking on the Appalachian Trail this August.  HOKA Athlete Karl Meltzer, now 48, is the Winningest 100 mile runner on Earth, having won 38 100 mile races. Karl will be aiming to break Scott Jurek’s record of completing the 2,160 mile trail in less than 46 days, 8 hours, and 7 minutes. That’s almost 50 miles a day on some of America’s toughest terrain. This will be Karl’s third trip on the Trail. Meltzer was inspired to break the record when he crewed Jurek’s record breaking trip last summer. He completed the trail in 2008, but was slowed down by injury and finished in 54 days. His second attempt ended early, when he decided to stop because he was behind pace. This time Karl is really going for it, calling the potential accomplishment of breaking the record a “major stamp on his career.”

You can follow Karl’s journey through the Red Bull Tracker found here.

We chatted with Karl to find out how he prepared for this incredible journey through the Trail.

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HOKA: What was the most important thing you did to train for this trip?

Meltzer: I’ve been hiking primarily for the past 3 months trying to simulate Appalachian Trail hiking conditions.  Although Utah is not ideal for the AT, I’ve done lots of vertical and tough tech trails. I’ve also done recon a few different times and know the crew locations, the trail, and all the logistical stuff  hands down.

HOKA: Will you be tapering before you start?

Meltzer: Tapering is just hiking on the trail this next week. We are finalizing the van, and then heading to Maine and northern NH, then relaxing and hiking an hour or two daily.  I’ll rest the final few days waiting for a weather window, then I’ll start when it’s right.

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HOKA: We heard you will be bringing 18 pairs of shoes for this trip. Which HOKA models will you be wearing?

Meltzer: The Speedgoat is the only shoe I’ll wear. The Appalachian Trail is a very humid place, so every rock and root is slippery. The Speedgoat is great for this because of the Vibram rubber and the tread pattern we designed.  I do have one pair of Challenger ATR‘s, but more than likely, it’s all Speedgoat. It is my shoe after all.

HOKA: How will you keep your mind busy covering all of those miles?

Meltzer: Every heard of Seinfeld?  The “show about nothing.” That’s what I think about.  I listen to music pretty much 24/7. According to my Red Bull tracker, I will be listening to 690 hours of the Grateful Dead. I do listen to other music, but any type of jam bands is what I like. Our brains do the thinking off the cuff, so I’ll think just about everything from nothing to something.

HOKA: What do you anticipate being the hardest part about this journey?

Meltzer: Waking up every morning for 46 straight days, knowing I have a full day around 50+ miles. It’s tough to get going daily, but once I’m on the trail,  there is nothing like it….ever, no race, nothing is better than the Appalachian Trail. The Green Tunnel is the beauty of it, not the views like out West.

HOKA: What unexpected things might you encounter and have to deal with?

Meltzer: Bears, large rattlesnakes, bee stings, random idiots on the trail (rare). Weather conditions can be funky. I expect all of this, nothing is really unexpected. Having done this a few times and doing recon, I know what it’s about and how to get it done. I just need the starts to line up and everything to go right. The crew is also vital to success.

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HOKA: Which food will be your biggest staple on this trip? 

Meltzer: I will eat anything. I don’t like mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar based flavor, and I don’t like nuts in my ice cream. Other than that, we try to eat real food, but on the trail, I have multiple different brands of gels, chomps, waffles, and a quality recovery drink is key.

HOKA: What do you think it is that separates you from other people to make you choose to go on an adventure like this?

Meltzer: What separates me from others is just nothing really. I love what I do. I constantly ask myself, “Who gets to do this shit?” The answer? I do. It would also be a major stamp on my career if I am successful. I only live once, one time. I could care less about how much money I make. I do things because I love it. And…I have the time.

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A HOKA Runners Guide to Coeur d’Alene, ID

When you explore a place on foot, you see the things others do not. You discover the place locals go to grab a cup of coffee, the best place for a pint, and the best places to stop, stretch and breathe in some fresh air. At HOKA, we have runners all over the world who know their towns best. So we’ll be sharing HOKA runner’s favorite destinations in their hometown for visitors to get the local experience. We’ll begin with the towns many people travel to compete and watch IRONMAN races around the country. Our next stop is Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Home of Garth Merrill, from Fleet Feet Coeur d’Alene.

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HOKA: How long have you lived in Coeur d’Alene? What’s special about the area?

Merrill: My wife Nancy and I have lived in Coeur d’Alene 14 years. Nancy is from North Idaho. We opened Fleet Feet Sports Coeur d’Alene in 2004. Coeur d’Alene is on the edge of 23 mile long Lake Coeur d’Alene at the northwestern edge of the Rocky Mountains and has a fun beach-town/mountain-town vibe.  

HOKA: What’s a good scenic or interesting place for a short run in your area? What’s your favorite run route?

Merrill: The best bang for your buck for a short run/walk/hike downtown is Tubbs Hill, a forested 165-acre natural area surrounded by Lake Coeur d’Alene on three sides and crisscrossed with several miles of sometimes steep and rocky single track trails. The perimeter trail is about 2.1 miles. The paved, 23-mile-long North Idaho Centennial Trail runs right through town and offers great lakeside or riverside running and biking along most of its stretch in Coeur d’Alene, and connects to a wider network of paved trails that extend even into Spokane, Washington.


HOKA: What’s the best coffee or breakfast spot?

Merrill: CDA is loaded with great breakfast options. Breakfast is all they do at Michael D’s, at the top of Sherman Ave. on CDA Lake Drive. Great classic breakfasts cooked well, super service. Down the street Java on Sherman is a coffee house that does good food, too. Avocado toast and a steaming Bowl of Soul chocolaty coffee will set you up for your day.

HOKA: Where should someone go to eat a post-race meal (or brew)?

Merrill: Two great meal/brew options right next to each other on Sherman Avenue are Fire Pizza, with seriously good gourmet fire-roasted pies and a cool brew menu, and Crafted Tap House, a gastropub with raised patio seating by the street. A longtime local favorite is Moontime, a pub-and-grub place with microbrews, burgers, sandwiches and specialties like Cajun Ravioli and spicy beef tacos.

HOKA: Where should someone go to get any last-minute running/racing gear?

Merrill: If you’re staying in the Coeur d’Alene area, Fleet Feet Sports Coeur d’Alene is your go-to source for running and racing needs, offering friendly service and a wide selection of shoes, nutritional products, run and swim accessories, wetsuit rentals, and info on local running happenings. If you’re here for the weekend, you’re always welcome to drop into our Saturday Morning Run at 7:30, open to all every Saturday throughout the year.

HOKA: Anything else to see/do/experience in this town in a short weekend trip?

Merrill: If you have time to play, North Idaho is an outdoor playground. It’s mountains, lakes and rivers! Downtown there are shops and galleries, and down by the water are beach-goers, cruise boats, watercraft rentals, parasailing and sea plane excursions. There are outstanding bikeways in the area like the 70-mile Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes along the Coeur d’Alene River, and the Hiawatha Trail on the Idaho-Montana border with its many tunnels and trestle crossings. A beautiful drive around the lake is via Highway 97/Lake Coeur d’Alene Scenic Byway.

A HOKA Runner’s Guide to Wisconsin

When you explore a place on foot, you see the things others do not. You discover the place locals go to grab a cup of coffee, the best place for a pint, and the best places to stop, stretch and breathe in some fresh air. At HOKA, we have runners all over the world who know their towns best. So we’ll be sharing HOKA runner’s favorite destinations in their hometown for visitors to get the local experience. We’ll begin with the towns many people travel to compete and watch IRONMAN races around the country. Our next stop is Madison, Wisconsin. Home of Gretchen Stipe, from Fleet Feet Madison.

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HOKA: How long have you lived in Wisconsin? What’s special about the Madison area?

Stipe: We moved here 5 years ago from Richmond, Virginia. We love how active Madison is compared to Richmond and we also love all the options for outdoor activities year round. We ended up buying a house on the IRONMAN bike course. The energy that IRONMAN brings to Madison is great. Every weekend there is an athletic event to get pumped up for.

HOKA: What’s a good scenic or interesting place for a short run in your area? What’s your favorite run route?

Stipe: Since we live outside of the city, we tend to run on trails more than we run on roads. I love Indian Lake County Park recreation area. It has a wonderful 5km course that is challenging and beautiful. We also run on the Military Ridge Trail. It is completely flat and a soft surface. In town we run along Lake Monona or the Lakeshore Path. The Lakeshore Path is part of the Ironman course so it gives visitors a quick view of Observatory Hill, but also takes them out to Picnic Point which is beautiful. 

HOKA: What’s the best coffee or breakfast spot?

Stipe: For coffee, we really have become fans of Colectivo. They open early on Ironman morning and keep spectators caffeinated throughout the day. There is one on South Pinckney and a new one on State Street. Colectivo has great food and seating outside for great viewing of the Ironman run course.  

HOKA: Where should someone go to eat a post-race meal (or brew)?

Stipe: For food after a race, we love Coopers for their food selection and beer choices. Brasserie V on Monroe Street also has great food and beer. Many people like The Old Fashion but it can be very crowded. We also like New Glarus Brewing for a good beer.

HOKA: Where should someone go to get any last-minute running/racing gear?

Stipe: For last minute running and racing gear, go to Fleet Feet of course! We have many people on staff that have done IRONMAN many times. We know what we are talking about!

HOKA: Anything else to see/do/experience in this town in a short weekend trip?

Stipe: If you are in Madison for a few days, head out to Spring Green and do a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s TaliesinEveryone also has to hit the Union at the University of Wisconsin Madison campus while they are here. It’s very Wisconsin and lots of fun.  

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Horse or Cheetah? Sage Canaday’s favorite trail shoes

HOKA ONE ONE athlete Sage Canaday, 30, is a master of the trails. He recently completed his first 100 miler at Western States this year, and has won Tarawera in New Zealand, The North Face Endurance Challenge, and other prestigious trail races.

We caught up with the vegetarian athlete to learn about his favorite HOKA trail shoes and how he uses each of them to train for big events. Oh and we asked him to describe them, as animals …

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The Speedgoat: The Mountain Goat

Canaday: If The Speedgoat were an animal, it would be a mountain goat because it is great on the rocks, grips well on mountain trails and it is tough in extreme conditions. I love the Speedgoat because it has great traction on a wide variety of trails. From mud to wet rocks and dirt, the Speedgoat is a trail shoe that I pull out for super gnarly trails. It is still relatively light for the amount of cushion, support and traction that it offers, so it is great to run fast in for ultra and mountain races.

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The Speed Instinct (coming soon): The Cheetah

Canaday: The Speed Instinct would be a Cheetah because it is powerful, super fast and responsive. It handles well on the dirt and it is aggressive and sneaky enough to really let loose and fly when it is “on the hunt!” It allows me to really feel the trail and dial into the terrain. It is light and fast and has a great combination of responsiveness, flexibility and support. I’d use it the most for dirt trails for fast climbing and speed training.

The Clayton: The Gazelle

Canaday: The Clayton is a Gazelle because it is springy, fast and responsive. It lets you bound up and down hills with reckless abandon but still has the support and cushion to withstand such high speed running. I’ve worn my Claytons for speed workouts on the road and track as well as for faster paced long runs. 

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Sage even wore The Clayton for the second half of Western States 100.

The Clifton 3: The Horse

Canaday: I literally think of The Clifton 3 as a “work horse.” It is consistent and it can put in the big miles. It doesn’t back down and it’s a reliable, trusty old friend. I love the really dialed fit and shape of the Clifton 3. It is a great all around shoe with a nice blend of plush cushion and support. I put in a lot of Long Run miles on the road and smooth dirt/gravel trails while wearing the Clifton 3. 

HOKA also recommends Challenger ATR 2 and Stinson 3 ATR for the trail.

 

Meet the newest HOKA athlete through a game of Would You Rather

From University of Oregon, Colby Alexander, 25, now joins his fellow HOKA NJNY Track Club teammates Kyle Merber, Ford Palmer, Nicole Tully and Stephanie Schappert as the newest addition to the HOKA ONE ONE team. Most recently, Colby raced the Finals in the 1500m at Trials. His PR is 3:36.26. But it’s his other hobbies we were curious to learn more about – including eating Dairy Queen and cheering on the Cavs.

Sit down with Colby, and stay a while, because this kid is full of jokes. We got to know him through a friendly game of Would You Rather.

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Would you rather …

HOKA: Own a pet cat or a pet dog? 

Colby:Love dogs but I have to go with cat. Cats are laid back and they’re always down to cuddle, like me!”

HOKA: Only be allowed to run at sunrise or sunset for the rest of your life? 

Colby: “I was thinking of every reason to choose sunset, I love running at night but sunrise has to be the way to go. You get the run out of the way insanely early then go back to sleep until 1, have the whole day to do whatever.”

HOKA: Spend the rest of your life listening to only Taylor Swift or Katie Perry? 

Colby:Katy Perry. She only comes out with hits. Literally every song she’s made has been a hit. And she’s beautiful. I’m a big Kanye fan and if you’ve payed attention to what has been going on in the news lately, ya just can’t trust Taylor.” 

HOKA: Never be able to listen to music when you run or only ever listen to one song on repeat when you run? 

Colby:Never be able to listen to music. I rarely run with music. The headphones always fall out of my ears. It’s not pretty.”

HOKA: Have a house on the beach or in the mountains? 

Colby:Mountains. Mountains are cool. Maybe I’ll benefit from running at altitude.”

HOKA: Have a third leg or a third arm? 

Colby:Third arm. I barely have any use for two legs as it is, a third one would be too much.”

HOKA: Marry Kyle Merber or Ford Palmer

Colby:This is a tough question. Because like Ford would say, both of them are ‘MY BOYS’. But I’m going with Ford. Literally all we do is play video games together all day then he cooks me dinner. It’s the life. He gets on my nerves a lot though so we would definitely need to get some sort of therapist to keep our relationship healthy.”

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HOKA: Never eat a vegetable again or never eat meat again?

Colby:I can live without vegetables but with my husband, Ford (vegan) being the chief, that’s going to make things extremely difficult.”

HOKA: Have a head the size of an orange or the size of a watermelon? 

Colby:Watermelon. Weird question.”

HOKA: Never eat a Blizzard again or let LeBron retire after this season?

Colby:LeBron can retire right now. Cleveland won a championship. The curse has been lifted and I’m addicted to Blizzards and have no plan on hitting rehab any time soon.”

HOKA: Be able to speak every language or have the ability to fly? 

Colby:Do you know anyone in the world who can fly? The answer is no. Do you know anyone in the world who can speak every language? …probably. Let’s just say it’s TIME TO FLY.”

HOKA: Never be funny again or never be fast again? 

Colby:At some point I’m going to slow down, it may be around age 50 or 60, like the great Lagat, but you can always be funny. I know plenty of hilarious old people. My grandma is constantly spitting gold every time I see her.”

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Check out the Rocket Spikes Colby wore at Trials here.

HOKA: Have to do every run backwards or do every run with your eyes closed? 

Colby:This one time last summer, my eyes were all messed up and my pupils weren’t dilating to the sun. When I looked in the mirror my eyes were just black. I basically ran the whole run with my eyes closed and did fine.

HOKA: Have to take a cold shower every day or not own a cell phone? 

Colby:Our hot water heater broke for a long period of time last year, I got used to the cold showers.”

HOKA: Go into space or be a pirate? 

Colby:This one time at summer camp, we played this elaborate version of capture the flag with multiple teams and glow in the dark stuff and called it Intergalactic Space Pirates. It was the most fun I’ve ever outdoors. So, I love space.”

Follow Colby Instagram or Twitter