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.


The Skinny on Spikes—and How Ours Are Different

HOKA Speed Evo

Shop the HOKA Speed Evo R here.

With the upcoming races in Reeyo, you may have seen runners wearing track spikes—racing shoes designed to maximize performance on the track. And if you’ve been putting in your mileage and want to take your speed up a notch (or several notches) on the track or during cross-country, these shoes might be for you.

Track spikes are generally designed to help athletes run faster in three ways:

They’re lightweight. Racing shoes are built from the least possible amount of materials; they often fit like a slipper and provide the bare minimum protection between your feet and the ground in order to cut ounces and make you, the athlete, carry less weight around the track. But don’t take it from us, HOKA athlete Leo Manzano says it best, “When you put them on, it almost feels like you don’t even have shoes on.”

They’re stiff. A stiffer shoe ensures less energy is lost between your foot and the ground, which helps you maximize your stride. Spikes for different distances come in varying degrees of stiffness, with sprinters desiring the stiffest types of shoes. Put simply, HOKA Founder Jean-Luc Diard says, “As you become tired through the run, your ground contact time will increase.” Stiffness will minimize this problem, shortening time spent at the toe off.

They maximize traction. The metal spikes minimize slip with every foot strike, helping you gain more power, no matter the distance you’re racing.

HOKA Speed Evo track spikes
HOKA Speed Evo’s unique asymmetrical design.

Who needs ’em?

The simplest answer is that every athlete can benefit from having lighter shoes with features for more efficiency and traction. In fact, slower runners might actually see the biggest time improvements by switching, since they have the most room for improvement. Generally, though, spikes are a “next step” for athletes wanting to race faster.

Where does HOKA ONE ONE come in?

Even though we’re known for our cushioned models, we want to make shoes that can benefit runners of all stripes, no matter what you’re training for, or what kind of races you run.

That’s why, in the last year, we’ve started producing track & field spikes for middle-distance and long-distance runners. Two models came out this spring, and now, just in time for the U.S. Track & Field Trials, we are excited to unveil the Speed Evo R, which feature asymmetric spike patterns. Most spikes feature set-ups that mirror each other, whereas our shoes feature spikes arranged identically on the left and right shoes.

Our designers call it Scaevus Symmetry: an innovation borne of the simple observation that half an athlete’s race on the track is spent turning left around the oval. Typical track spikes with symmetrical traction patterns help runners move quickly in a straight line, but this can leave them fighting centrifugal forces around the turn as they struggle to stay to the inside of the lane. The extra traction can mean savings of even fractions of a second—but that’s something that adds up over a 25-lap—or even a 10K race.

Perhaps HOKA designer Chris Hillyer puts it best, “There’s a vast difference between invention and innovation. With innovation you take what you have learned and you build something even more amazing. At HOKA we approach innovation from a different angle. We are fresh and new so we have a different approach to running shoes and solving problems.”
Yet another example in our evolution of performance racing footwear; the brand’s founders, working with the product team and our athletes, identified a problem and solved it with a simple but disruptive design change. The Speed Evo R will be coming your way early 2017.

Shop the HOKA Speed Evo R here.

Infographic: What it is like to run 100 miles

Our trail athletes know what it is like to be on their feet for 100 miles. A few of them will even be competing in the world’s oldest 100-mile trail race this weekend at Western States in Squaw Valley, CA. But for those of us who might not experience a race of this distance in our lifetime, we’ve compiled the following facts to give you a taste of what it’s like to run an ultra marathon.


Amazing Made Better: Introducing the Clifton 3

Clifton 3

Our Clifton 2 running shoe has been a fan favorite, but we recently improved the design, to make it even better. (Yep, just as you might go for a new PR, we did the same.) We caught up with HOKA ONE ONE Senior Innovation Manager Chris Hillyer, to fill you in on the upcoming launch of the much-awaited Clifton 3: (P.S.: It’s somehow now even more comfortable.)

HOKA: What were some key changes you made to the Clifton 2?

CH: Some consumers felt the forefoot was too narrow, so we widened it, and remade the entire upper with softer, more compliant materials. The outsole is exactly the same design except for the additional width.

HOKA: How did you determine these items could be improved?

CH: Feedback is so important to us, and we had a lot of it, especially about the forefoot. We wanted to respond as quickly as possible.

HOKA: Why do you think runners will love it?

CH: Runners fell in love with the Clifton for its immediate comfort, light weight, and more attractive aesthetics. It’s essentially the HOKA promise in one package. The Clifton 3 has an expanded range for women, too, to appeal to an even greater audience.

HOKA: How did you go about ensuring the shoe fits? So to speak…

CH: We have a large group of shoe testers who have different foot shapes, running gaits, and footwear needs. We always put each shoe through rigorous fit and wear testing, as well as external consumer testing to perfect the designs.

Look for the new Clifton 3 to hit shelves in July!