And now, for something completely different…kind of. Yes, they’re a shoe pitched at the distance runner and when we talk distance, is a 50-mile world-record running shoe far enough? Thought so. But, compare the Hoka Carbon X to either of the other two brands under test this month and you’re talking chalk and cheese.
The Carbon X is a shoe born from technology and then given the familiar Hoka makeover. For all intents and purposes, these look like a set of spikes with a cushioned sole, but the good stuff is inside, and the clue is in the name. With a carbon plate embedded within the very familiar Hoka ‘Meta-Rocker’ sole, this shoe seems to fall very squarely between stools. Is it a shoe for a fast 5km or to save you that five per cent of energy on the longest of long runs? Only you can decide.
With a comfortable, cushioned and unmistakably springy sole, the Carbon X pushes you along, step by step, with the Y-shaped carbon plate doing its job. I just couldn’t get away from the unfamiliar upper though. A tight-knitted mesh with a solid, reinforced heel makes things tight but I never felt 100 per cent comfortable. There was always a little give and trying to get used to the noticeable spring left me just a small bit unsettled.
If you regularly wear Hoka shoes, then you’ll be very familiar with the balance of these, they roll you from step to step in a cloud-like spring but for me, the Carbon X will be what I wear for speedwork, for my 5km PB or for short-paced training runs.