“No one likes work unless it’s something we do as a passion, like myself being a pro runner. It pays the bills, but it does not feel like work.” -HOKA Athlete Karl Meltzer on his ultrarunning career.
Karl is wearing the Speedgoat 2.
There is more to Hayden Hawks than just a cool name. This former Southern Utah University track athlete is quickly making a name for himself in the ultra running community. Hawks, 25, has recently signed with HOKA ONE ONE after winning his first attempt at Speedgoat 50k. When we asked Hayden about his win at Speedgoat, we were shocked to learn that signing up for Speedgoat was a last minute decision.
“I had no expectations going into Speedgoat.” says Hawks. “I signed up the night before and was not planning on doing the 50k at all. It had never even crossed my mind until the day before. I am a soul runner and the thought of running 50k on one of the hardest courses got me excited because I had an opportunity to run and challenge myself. Winning was a very sweet feeling.“
Hawks has since qualified for the World Mountain Running Championships in Bulgaria. He says, “I am excited to travel to Europe for the first time and represent my country for the first time.” He has big goals for the event, aiming to place in the top 5.
Meet the new kid on the trails, Hayden Hawks. We got to know him through some Would You Rather.
Would you rather:
HOKA: Run Speedgoat 50k backward or blindfolded?
Hawks: I would rather run Speedgoat backwards. I am too young to die! You run close to so many cliffs and ledges that if you were blindfolded you would be a goner. Although it might be nice to not see your pain!
HOKA: Shave off your hair or your mustache?
Hawks: Definitely shave off my hair. My mustache is a “powerstache” and therefore gives me power. How many guys have you seen with a bald head and bushy mustache? Not many, I would be one of the few!
HOKA: Only eat meat or only eat vegetables?
Hawks: I love vegetables and eat meat pretty sparingly anyways. Nothing better than some fresh veggies, I can’t wait to start my own garden! I also had a buddy in college that ate so much meat and had horrible gas!
HOKA: Only run on a treadmill or only run barefoot?
Hawks: Only run on a treadmill. I have done a 20+ mile run on the treadmill and it didn’t bother me. It gets hot in St. George and the treadmill feels good on days over 120F. Just need a little Cutthroat Kitchen on the tube or a good ball game! Plus I have tender feet, hence why I love HOKA ONE ONE shoes!
HOKA: Never have internet access again or never be able to take an airplane again?
Hawks: I love to travel and have to many places to explore in Europe, Asia, Africa, you name it! I could always take a boat, but a plane is more convenient and allows you to explore more faster! I could do without internet! Although I do like to gram, I have spent many nights in the mountains without internet in surreal peace, isolated from the world! So definitely wouldn’t want to do without planes.
HOKA: Only ever run uphill or downhill?
Hawks: I am a mountain runner and love running uphill. Nothing better than getting to the top of a peak and seeing the vast array of beauty! I definitely would rather run uphill.
Shop the HOKA Speedgoat here.
HOKA: Own a pet dog or cat?
Hawks: Have you ever seen a person running with their pet cat? I haven’t, but definitely would love too, especially if it was a lion or tiger! Definitely a dog!
HOKA: Only listen to music from the 80s or the 90s?
Hawks: I wasn’t even born in the 80s! 1991 baby! I am a 90s music kind of guy with those grunge garage bands, 2PAC, and Biggie, and of course NYSYNC, Backstreet, Britney, and Christina!
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.
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.
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.
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.