On Friday I leave for France and UTMB, so much of this week is dedicated to race preparation. One decision with which I’m struggling is my footwear. I have narrowed it to:
- Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 (read my review; buy now), and
- Salomon Sense Ultra (read my review; buy now).
Ultimately, I may be obsessing over a detail that matters little. Other factors (e.g. training, race strategy, nutrition/hydration) will play a much greater role in my performance. But, still, if one shoe will be a few minutes faster than the other, I’ll gladly take that advantage.
My current plan is to fly over with both pairs, and make a last-minute decision based on course reconnaissance. But I’m sharing this internal debate in the hopes of hearing your thoughts and insights.
Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 v. Salomon Sense Ultra
The Speedgoat 2 and Sense Ultra differ primarily in their cushion and stability, or lack thereof.
The Speedgoat is classic Hoka, with a generous 32/27.5-mm stack height (heel/toe). On technically easy and moderate trails, I can barrel forward with near reckless abandon. But they’re inherently top-heavy, and are therefore clumsy when the footing is loose, off-camber, or talus-y.
The Sense Ultra is lower to the ground (26/18 mm heel/toe), so it’s more stable and agile. On technically moderate and difficult trails, I can nimbly dance through. But they’re much less forgiving on, say, gravel beds or pounding downhills.
I have run fast and far in both shoes. I wore the Sense Ultra for Bighorn 100, and was on course record pace until the trail degraded into a slip-and-slide. More recently, I wore the Speedgoat 2 on a new FKT for the 27-mile Pawnee-Buchanan Loop.
Fit, traction, and durability are generally equal, at least within the context of a 100-mile race and within their much larger differences. Both weigh 11.0 oz in my size 11.5.
Have thoughts or insights on what shoe would be best for UTMB? Please leave a comment.
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