Posts Tagged ‘Fellsman 2015’

Review – Hoka OneOne Rapanui 2S Fell running / Trail Shoe

Hoka OneOne Rapanui 2S trail shoe - light nimble and plush with great grip

I gave the Rapanui 2S a good testing when I headed out with Brian Wills, from Capel back to Llanberis over the Glyders, a real broad mix of terrain from bogs to tussocks then good rocky terrain across the tops of the glyders, onto rolling singletrack across Y Garn and Elidir, with a grass descent running onto hard packed slate chippings track descent through the Dinorwic quarries

First of all I must thank the Hoka Rep for providing me with these shoes to test out and also thanks to V12 for getting him over to the shop to check out the range of shoes. V12 are planning to have  a number of the shoes in stock, both mens and womens, technical trail fell running shoes and some more all rounder trail running shoes , and so I was keen to be able to test a pair of Rapanui 2S shoes out and give some feedback.

The shoes are something I would not ordinarily have considered as I prefer generally more minimalist shoes, but the fact that these were pure cushioning and still low heel to toe differential meant I was ken to try them out as theoretically they would be great for long distance stuff…

The actual super technical fell shoe that will be stocked by V12 will be the Karl Meltzer signature Speedgoat Shoe which is an amped up version with more stability on technical terain than the shoe I tested. It will be a lower profile upper and really dialed into the UK Technical fell running market… There is a Youtube video here to check them out….

So back to the review of the Rapanui 2S:-

Technical details first – the Rapanui has a 6mm heel to toe drop, which is comparable to the technical fell running / trail running shoes of Salomon ( Sense SG and Sense etc) and the Adidas Adizero Trail XT4. The low heel drop means that they are good on technical terrain and encourage a natural rolling running style. The overall shoe is of a neutral design but the amount of cushioning / padding in the shoe would compensate for a small amount of over pronation it seems.

Hoka One One Rapanui 2S - Big stack height but the heel to toe drop for these beauties is only 5mm meaning the shoes still feel natural to run in and are great in rough terrain. They feel dialled in and nimble whilst being super plush and are wicked for straight line descending on steep terrain - the heel to toe drop is similar to the Salomon Sense SG at 6mm. The uppers are lightweight and don't stretch in the wet, draining quickly on the run and maintaining support.

Hoka One One Rapanui 2S – Big stack height but the heel to toe drop for these beauties is only 5mm meaning the shoes still feel natural to run in and are great in rough terrain. They feel dialled in and nimble whilst being super plush and are wicked for straight line descending on steep terrain – the heel to toe drop is similar to the Salomon Sense SG at 6mm. The uppers are lightweight and don’t stretch in the wet, draining quickly on the run and maintaining support.

The front of the shoe has 29mmm of cushioning and the heel area has 35mm so the shoe is well cushioned up. These are what seem to be termed as maximalist shoes rather than minimalist, but are still designed with technical trail, fast movement and long distance in mind.


The weight of the shoes is still low and surprising (given that they look kind of big and heavy) – a pair of  size 8 – 43 European size comes in at 292g per shoe  – they feel very nimble/ agile and precise in use too and any weight issue is offset by the premium amounts of cushioning and the way ones feet feel great even after hours on the go….

The lacing system is god and the speed lacing system works very well, being secure and clog free during hours of bogs and mud on the recent Fellsman I completed ( 101km, 16hrs 48 minutes ) – the shoes remained securely fastened . There is an elastic strap halfway down the tongue where one can tuck the extra laces when they are cinched up, and this works well, especially if you fed the end all the way through this and back up to the top elastic right by the speed lace system.

Hoka One One Rapanui 2S - V12 will be stocking the Karl Meltzer Speedgoat Shoe which is an amped up lower profile upper version of this shoe which is even more tuned for the UK fell running market..

Close up of the speed lacing system on the Hoka One One Rapanui 2S. This seems to work well, and doesn’t slip during long runs, once tightened they stay put and seem to keep free of clogging mud on boggier ground. Simple but effective. On the new Karl Meltzer Signature shoes that will be ariving to V12, there are more eyelets for the laces and I would expect an even more dialed in fit with a slightly lower profile upper to really dial the shoe in to a UK style of fell running terrain. There are another pair of eyelets above where the laces go, that could be utilised. This would entail cutting the laces and re threading them through the eyelets but to be honest I found that this was not necessary.

If ou really want to lock yr heels into the shoe then there are an extra pair of eyelets that you could further thread the laces through after cutting then rethreading the speed system, but I felt this was unnecessary. Again a surprise as I usually like my feet truly locked in at the heel. The shoes fit well enough not to require any fiddling like this…

The soles feature a set of 6mm lugs well spaced out over the generally flat and wide profile sole with some indentations, the rationale being that this will shed mud and debris easily, avoid clogging on poor terrain and maintain grip. The spacing of the lugs also seems to allow the shoe to grip brilliantly on uneven rock surfaces too . The lugs seem to be hardwearing so far, on other shoes with similar lugs, I have seen more wear than that which I see on the shoes so far for equivalent amounts of use.

Being that these are a continental / US style shoe I was concerned that the grip on them may be substandard even with the lugs on, but I was definitely wrong about that. So far I can’t fault the grip in a wide range of terrain and technical situations – super steep wet grass descents and traverses, they definitely compare with the Salomon SG Sense series and the Adidas Adizero XT4 shoes which I rate highly for grip and have spent many a mile in on all sorts of terrain….

Hoka One One Rapanui 2S Review - Tread Pattern

Open Tread with great lugs on the Rapanui 2S, the lugs are brilliant on all the different terrain I have tested them on so far. I was very surprised at the good grip and seemingly hard wearing tread so far after probably 230km use in a few weeks.

The Speedgoat shoe that V12 will actually stocking has a more shaped sole with some cut outs along the front foot area and in the back heel, to give the shoe more adaptability on steep side traverses and really uneven ground, and I suspect this will be a really good – I did find on a couple of occasions, especially early on in a run, that on a steep side traverse the she felt a little unforgiving and slid around the foot, pushing into the ankle. However with use and further running this seemed to lessen and I didn’t notice it at all on the Fellsman, where my feet remained feeling great through bogs, tussocks, rocky and grassy trails and non trails….

My legs seem to have recovered better than I would have thought too and I have no where near the amount of Muscle soreness I would usually associate with a long run like the Fellsman.


So to summarise:-

I was originally skeptical but fascinated by the concept and after having doubts about the shoes I am pleased and surprised to report that I really like these Rapanui’s and am really looking forward to getting my hands on a pair of the Speedgoat 2015 shoes when V12 get them in – This years version of the Rapanui will be an amazing dialled in version of the shoe, ideal for UK fels and trails.

The ground feel is still good, the stability on technical terrain is great and the nimbleness and lightness is really a surprise to me. I really am liking these shoes, contrary to all my original ideas and I am looking forward to getting more miles out of them on a wide variety of terrain. The way they feel when descending is great and they climb well too.

I have some more races lined up for the summer – The Cadair Idris Race, the Courmayeur Gran Trail 90km ( 5400m ascent), Royal Ultra on Gran Paradiso Northern Italy ( 54km 400m ascent) and hey who knows, even the Paddy Buckley is still under consideration as I am beginning to feel stronger and confident currently… Non of these will be done in anywhere near winning times etc but hey its about having fun out there, and as such the Hoka OneOne’s are going to be a large part of those fun times I reckon. I would recommend giving them a go – it may well be a hugely positive surprise….

Oh and by the way V12 are also going to be stocking a more trail oriented version than a techincal fell shoe, more suitable for mixing it up on roads and trails, and also 2 womens versions of the shoes, which all look amazing….

Tryfan, Glyder Fach and Y Garn in the distance - Hoka One One Rapanui Tread view

Done about 250 plus km in these shoes now and although at first I was skeptical due to the thought of the thick cushioning, I’m well pleased with how they feel. I was concerned also that they may rub on my outer ankle on a long run but having completed the Fellsman last weekend in them (101km and 16hrs 48 minutes later) I can attest to my feet feeling great at the end and also the Delayed onset muscle fatigue pain that I expected has failed really to materialise again a positive result of the cushioning in the shoe. Living the Dream as ever………..




Fellsman Scouting and other fun adventures to 3rd April

The Fellsman Race is on 25th April and as part of the preparation and for training I arranged a trip with Duncan to scout a couple of sections – The reason being that a) its less intimidating if you know some of the route and b0 saves time with navigation in the bad weather or dark at  a late stage in the race ( day out on the hill I should say as we don’t really plan to race it as such, merely survive the experience in a fairly reasonable time – hoping for around 14 hours).

Here is a link to Jez Braggs blog about his preparations – this guy is a heck of a dude with some serious ultra wins under his belt and also a North to South New Zealand mission accomplished including a kayak between the 2 islands.

I have started to feel a lot stronger and more confident recently after a couple of higher mileage weeks in the mountains/fells back in the UK and I think that running in the heat and humidity in Cambodia/Malaysia has definitely helped my stamina some how, along with physical work on the Elephant Valley Project too. I and Duncan have been trying to get a big couple of weeks in and  I seem to have now managed 1 week over 90km fell running plus a 90km bike then the last week a 124km fell running week with an 84 km bike in the middle to stretch the legs out. I feel better about chances of success now on the Fellsman ( ie getting round it in good shape and a reasonable pace) and also feel better weather acclimatized to UK stuff – lets see what the event day will throw at us – rain/snow/fog/wind/scorching..Who knows…

We were both in Adidas XT4 trail shoes

High on Buckden Pike on some great paved slabs that avoids sinking into boggy stuff. Freezing cold and windswept. Day one scouting was 21 miles, day 2 was 17..

So the scouting trip consisted of day one being a trip out of Ingleton, over Ingleborough, to Whernside on ground that I know well from my childhood, then dropping off the back of Whernside into Kingsdale then up onto Gragareth, which is basically the first part of the Fellsman before it heads over towards Dentdale. We cut back to the South and skirted round to Ingleton for a 21 mile day out.

It must be said though that most of this day was properly shocking weather, with lashing gales, hail storms and at one point on Whernside perhaps the worst weather I have momentarily encountered on a hill – 80mph storm wind with blasting snow and hail and zero viz for a moment or two, sufficient to give us the momentary fear that if it didn’t stop we would freeze in short shrift… Actually the whole day out was a brilliant adventure style day and the terrain and tracks were brilliant fun and the weather just added to the whole great sense of adventure.

Heading up from Bucked , for Cray then on up towards Buckden Pike for our second days scouting the Fellsman . Temperature just above freezing and sleet and snow showers all day with low cloud meant we had plenty of Nav training

Heading up from Bucked , for Cray then on up towards Buckden Pike for our second days scouting the Fellsman . Temperature just above freezing and sleet and snow showers all day with low cloud meant we had plenty of Nav training

Day 2 of our scout started in Buckden after a fine evening camping and having a couple of fine pints in the Buck Inn ( the drive over from Ingleton helps to get a perspective for the bleakness of the Fellsman route and the remote nature of this part of the Dales, again somewhere I remember from when I was  youth and later when I lived in Grassington for a year or so…

Snow through the night and into the morning, with plenty of low cloud and wind made for another mad day up high , well wrapped and running in a balaclava all day with waterproofs etc, very chilly indeed and up in the clouds. Plenty of navigation required to orient ourselves and this will stand us in good stead on race day when we will be crossing this area late in the day and possible when its dark or getting that way……


Duncan in the Adidas Adizero XT4 Trail shoes, ideal on this terrain - plenty grip and very positive on the feet

Heading up onto Great Whernside above Wharfedale on our scout of some of the Fellsman. Some areas one is not allowed to go onto before race day due to access restrictions. This is Duncan, wrapped for the conditions prior to it becoming really awful.I remember it was only raining just here with a bit of a gale..


2nd days scouting on Fellsman Route, another stormy blizzard day high up and freezing cold

Descending from Great Whernside below Capplestone gate heading in the direction of Grassington on the last section of the Fellsman. Descending from Whernside negotiating some crazy bogland, I had managed to sink upto my waist at one pint whilst trying to leap a bog, most amusing as i tried to extricate myself. It just added to the fun of the day and served to show us that  a particular short cut was not going to be an option on race day… stick to fence lines is the best option for this late section……

The day consisted of a boggy and snowy travers of Buckden Pike, across to Great Whernside then down to Capplestone gate, whereby we cut off along the Dalesway track to head back to Kettlewell where we had left one of the vehicles to take us back to Buckden. I have some fun memories of this part of the Dalesway from my attempt the other year – by this point I was staggering and dithering after being sick loads on route and was forced to abandon in Grassington ( save it for another year hey)

Anyway with healthy legs and lots of optimism we wrapped up our scouting trip and headed back to North wales where a couple of days later (after a good long bike ride) we were up in the storm clouds and high winds of the Glyders before descending the red dot route  / painted path ( with the Pedol Peris special gully short cut)  to Pen Y pass then bashing down the road back to the village for another good day out in awful conditions…

Since then, the weather has improved, the running continues and the legs are gradually getting used to some increased mileage. For the next couple of weeks the focus will be on some speedier trips out generally with 1 more long run, and will include some interval training to get the legs turning over quickly. Just this morning we ran a tempo session over Clegir, up the Fachwen road and down through the quarries to Nant Peris and back to the village which certainly got the legs going, as we included a few fartlek hill sections and some speed endurance work…Hopefully this will work towards improving our general cruising pace for the Fellsman and beyond…

Snowdonia Weather