Hoka One One Kailua Tarmac review.

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Let me preface this by saying that I am a relatively new runner but in that time I have established quite a collection of shoes! Haven’t we all? I’m not loyal to one brand or style nor would I say I had a favourite…. Until now.

In my first year of running I completed 4 half marathons, 1 full marathon and 4 other races between 10-15km including trail events so even though I am a new runner I’ve given a few pairs of shoes a go.

Being new to running I didn’t know how to listen to my body and let’s just say I pushed it a little too far and landed myself in the naughty (injured) corner.

BUT all was not lost!

It was 10 weeks since I had to stop training altogether when I was able to get back out on the road and start training for my second marathon which would hopefully be the lead in to my first ultra. A nasty shin bone irritation put me in the sidelines and I had been slowly building up from 5 minutes (YES! 5 minutes!) of walk/run to ease back into it.

Since my injury I had been researching different styles of shoes and all sorts of methods and remedies to assist with recovery, prevention of further injury and time and time again the name ‘Hoka One One’ was popping up.

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From the Hoka One One Australia website:

‘Because fatigue, impact and muscle strain were challenges that all runners deal with every day, a shoe was designed to help to alleviate these problems — so that freedom and enjoyment could be guaranteed every time you go running!’

Sounds like something I could do with that’s for sure!

The description from the Hoka One One website states:

‘The KAILUA TARMAC features an oversized HOKA ONE ONE proprietary (HIR) IMEVA midsole providing lightweight cushioning, lower heel drop offset, and a responsive ride. A balanced stage Meta-Rocker is designed to help increase economy of running performance and an accurate foot roll through the gait cycle. A highly breathable upper construction provides a secure fit. The ideal shoe for runners looking for a lightweight, responsive, and performance cushion running shoe with a faster ride.’

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In a nutshell……

PROS

  • Soft upper that relaxed nicely after the first couple of wears.
  • Wide toe box (even for my gnarly wide bunionised feet!)
  • A soft ride without compromising responsiveness
  • Durability – usually you can see wear on the soles of my shoes after the first run. Still hardly any visible wear on the soles after 100+klm
  • Low drop

 

CONS

  • Can be a little slippery when wet
  • High end price point

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The nitty gritty……

SIZING

In mostshoes I take a women’s US 7.5 but in these (and the Bondi 3) I took a half size down making it a 7. With an unusually wide forefoot due to hereditary bunions I don’t fit all shoe types and occasionally have to take the wide sizing and/or go up a half size to accommodate.

Therefore my selection of a 7 suggests that there are both a generous fit in width and length. If you are purchasing without trying them on first I would select half a size smaller than usual. That said I would recommend trying before you buy or being professionally fitted where possible to avoid any problems.

Interestingly the Hoka One One website suggests this for the Bondi 3 but not for the Kailua Tarmac and yet I found them to fit exactly the same.

Don’t let the narrow look fool you, this is a roomy shoe and even after it fitting quite firm right out of the box, they softened up after the first two runs and with personalizing the lacing (something I’ve just newly discovered) I can get the exact fit I am after.

 

SPECS

From the Hoka One One Wbsite

 

  • Neutral Performance Cushion
  • Offset: 5mm
  • Heel: 26mm
  • Forefoot: 21mm
  • Super Thin No Sew construction
  • Lightweight External Heel Counter
  • HOKA Race-Lace System  (mine didn’t come with these but to be honest I prefer traditional laces)
  • Gusset Tongue
  • Advance Comfort Collar
  • Perforated EVA Strobal Board
  • Early Stage Meta-Rocker Geometry
  • Full Length Rmat® suspension Midsole
  • Lightweight HOKA CMEVA Top Midsole
  • Water Drainage System (WDS)
  • Fluid Ground Contact Design
  • Strategic Hi-Abrasion Lightweight Rubber Traction Zones.

 

 

The size 7 weighed in a touch over 240g or 8.5oz which in my opinion is surprisingly light weight for a shoe with this much cushioning.

My shoes were pink/white/black – my favorite color combo – but they also come in aqua/green/white.

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PRICE POINT

US $130 AUD $209

 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Out of the box I was immediately drawn to the HOT PINK color which conveniently goes with everything in my running wardrobe. I’ll be honest; color choice is a big deal to me when selecting a running shoe. It won’t necessarily make or break a deal but it can definitely influence my purchase. Needless to say, I was happy with the fierce hot pink/white/black/silver mix.

Upon removing them from the box and checking them out further, I noticed how light they were for such a full shoe and I inspected the upper, sole and tongue. They presented very well made and with good attention to detail. I immediately noticed the large loop to at the heel and the tongue to help you comfortably get them on and off. The laces mine came with were standard laces (which I prefer) and they are nice and grippy so they don’t come undone during your run. They had plenty of length on them and an additional eyelet which I sometimes like if I get a bit of heel slipping (which I don’t in these for the record).

The upper is a soft breathable mesh with reinforced heel and toe. I like the support the shoe feels as though it gives without sacrificing the neutral design.

I took the innersoles out and noticed they were very thin, I don’t think I could fit orthotics in them with the size I chose unless I wore a very thin sock too, so make sure you think of that if you need orthotics and like a thicker sock.

The sole is noticeably larger not only in height (compared to your traditionally cushioned shoe) but also in width. The foot print on these babies is LARGE. I liked it.

The tread is an interesting arrowed honeycomb pattern with not much grip to speak of but they are a tarmac (road) specific shoe so I wasn’t expecting any.

Overall, a high quality shoe with attention to detail and all the trimmings I would expect for the price.

 

RUNS

I mostly wore the Kailua for what they were made for – tarmac (road) running. They had a brief excursion on some local groomed trails as well as some dirt road action.

They by far performed best on the road. More specifically, down hills on the road! I found myself repeating the ‘time to fly’ slogan in my head every time I cruised down one of my local hills (of which I have many). I’m not great at running down hills and I often take it very conservatively but in these, I felt the freedom to maintain if not pick up the pace a little on the way down.

As I am returning from injury, I also did a lot of walking in the shoes at the start. Initially (the first 50km or so) I found them to be quite stiff and being used to a very flexible sole, it took some time for me to get used to the different movement. However, they did soften up and increase flex somewhat. I was complaining to myself about sore feet when I first started wearing them and I put it down to the firm sole (which I was not used to) however gave them a good working out and now at over 100km I just love them.

It’s also possible that I have changed my gait a little to accommodate the shoe, which is not such a bad thing seeing as I was having problems with shin injury beforehand.

I ran mostly faster paced tempo runs (I won’t call it speed work as I vowed off speed work after my last injury) and even after spraining my ankle quite badly on a trail run, I felt that the cushioning in the shoe really protected my vulnerable shins (and ankle) from the impact of the road.

In addition to the lessened impact/protection during the run I also feel like I recovered from those runs a little faster than normal.

I am happy to report that despite increasing my distance and speed rather quickly, I have had no signs of the old injuries returning – YAY!

 

CONCLUSION

The Hoka One One Kailua Tarmac for me, I would say is at the upper end of the price spectrum, albeit a handful less than their big sister Bondi. I’m a bargain hunter, (tight arse maybe) and so forking out over $200 for a pair of shoes has the tendency to lead to sleepless nights and other such worrying. BUT! Even after over 100km, I can’t see a SPOT of wear on the soles. NOT-A-SCRATCH. The durability as far as I can tell is outstanding. I’m sure I’ll get at least 50% more wear out of these than other shoes I have tried to date.

Generally I put 5km in a pair of new shoes and you can tell how I land….I chew up the outer edge of the soles like nobody’s business but these babies look as solid as when they came out of the box. With the addition of a little dirt, grit and sand of course.

Aside from the Kailua Tarmac I also have a pair of Bondi 3 and I find it hard to choose between the two. So, I have used the Kailua mostly for runs under 15km and I have to say I feel they are just perfect for that distance. Whether it was a shorter relaxed pace recovery run or a tempo or even a PR – once getting to know the shoes I have really taken to them.

Right before finishing this review I scored a 10km PB in the Kailua, so suffice to say, I am happy about that! I also plan to wear them for my next half marathon and happily completed a half distance training run in them with a super speedy recovery.

I enjoyed the shoe very much and can definitely see a place for it in my weekly rotation. Alongside the Bondi 3, which I’ll be using for my marathon training runs, the inclusion of a slightly firmer, less cushioned (yet still more than the traditional shoe) Kailua will not go astray and I could go as far as saying that they are my favourite shoe right at this very minute.  Who would have thought!?

 

I would like to thank Hoka One One Australia for sending me the Kailua Tarmac for me to test. This did not influence the outcome of my review which I wrote after more than 100klm of running in the shoe.

 

Monique Tudman

@Maramon2013

You can follow Monique’s running journeys and tips on www.facebook.com/maramon2013

 

 

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