For our 6th grade yearbook, they asked each of us students what we wanted to be when we grew up. And amongst the many friends and classmates saying that they wanted to be lawyers, doctors, baseball players and astronauts there was me, but no one else shared my dream job; to be a professional runner.
Now, thanks to the support of Hoka One One, those wishes have come true and I can proudly represent a company that I truly believe in. Since the inception of the brand just a few years ago, it has revolutionized the industry and challenged the status quo of what a running shoe can provide in terms of cushion, comfort and a great ride.
When Hoka One One first debuted their shoes, this ‘maximalist’ concept created a lot of doubters and at first, most runners were skeptical. I know I could be included in that category of people who find change scary. But I finally tried them, and I was shocked, ‘How could a shoe with so much cushioning be so light?’ And as more and more people have taken the small risk of slipping them onto their feet, the scale has tipped and now those who were previously questioning the shoes are now the biggest advocates.
This season I gambled on myself because I thought I was ready to run fast. I purchased myself a ticket to head to Europe to try and come away with a couple new personal bests. When I returned from the trip, which included a couple new PR’s in the mile and some other strong races and wins, I began talking with Hoka One One about the possibility of beginning a relationship together. What intrigued me most about Hoka One One was the opportunity to work with a young and quickly growing company that was very much by runners and for runners.
There was a passion and excitement in our conversations about what Hoka One One was going to do next, and how they were going to continue to build and raise the entire sport of track and field. It began with a sponsorship of my NJ*NY teammate Mike Rutt, and led to the addition of other great athletes who were also now racing on the track in a Hoka uniform. Hoka was also the one company that stood up and was willing to lend their support to the USA’s Olympic 1500 silver medalist, Leo Manzano. And they were eager to do the same for me.
If you are a fan of track and field that hopes to see the sport grow, then there are a lot of reasons to be encouraged by a shoe company that sees the value of investing in sponsorships of athletes and in meets. Competition is good for the consumer. The more shoe companies vying for your affection as a runner, the better. And if you can appreciate a company like Hoka for making a splash into the track world, then the best way to show your support is to try the product. Because if Hoka’s investment in guys like Mike, Leo, myself and others proves to be a good one, then there will be a lot more to come for the sport as a whole.
Before I was willing to take our conversations any further, I communicated to Hoka that I needed to try the shoes because I wasn’t willing to promote a shoe that I didn’t love. So I was handed a pair of the new Clifton. I took a few quick steps in them and immediately said, ‘I’m sold!’ They only weigh 7.7oz and have a 4mm drop, and there were just recently announced as the winner of the Runner’s World Editors Choice Award. The other shoe that I would have to recommend for first time Hoka wearers is the Huaka, which weigh in at 8.9 oz and has a 2mm drop. I’ve loved this shoe for its smooth and efficient ride that is perfect for the days when I want to get rolling at a steady pace.
The current trend of shoe companies and training groups pairing up is good in many ways. It creates a brand identity for the companies, and gives good support to the athletes. However, that situation is not perfect for every individual and can make it very difficult to gain sponsorship for those who seek out other options. I am lucky enough to be a part of a very special group at the New Jersey*New York TC, where we have an incredible leader in Coach Gagliano who is very welcoming to athletes regardless of their sponsorship affiliation. To have Hoka’s support in my decision to remain in an environment that I am most comfortable and happiest is something I am extremely thankful for.
I am very proud to be representing Hoka One One and to have such an amazing shoe company to support me in my athletic endeavors as I continue to pursue my goals. And if you are at all excited, or curious by these incredibly comfortable and efficient shoes, then I hope you’ll give them a try for your next run.