Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Minimalist running and the Bondi B


Pick your's up at the Boulder Running company!
(if you are lucky enough to live here...)
Worn alot of shoe brands over the years, from Nike ACG, GoLite, Montrail, New Balance, Salomon, Pearl.. and they are all excellent shoes for the most part. But the Bondi B has to be one of the most inovative products to come out in years.

It is very interesting to compare the whole minimalist footwear movement and think about where trail running footwear has been and where it's going. For most of the 2000's (the "Bush years"..ugh), I found trail running footwear to be in the doldrums. It seemed that many a trail running footwear company's M.O. was 12-16 ounce behemoths that sold because they looked decent when tried on the retails floor with a pair of jeans. That was what sold, so it was what they made. True there were some inovative products but for me most trail shoes were too heavy for race performance. I actually prefered to race in light weight road shoes in many cases. Then the minimalist movement happened and folks could realize that you can have fun out there and not wear a pound on each foot.

I do think there is a place for 6 ounce shoes, but not for the vast majority of runners. Enter the Bondi B. Now you can run with the whole minimal shoe, but for a meager 2 ounces more you get the benefit of CUSHIONING! The Bondi B is an 8.5 ounce shoe which offers the benefit of light and fast (up OR down), but you don't trash your legs, reinjure that ole nagging knee, PF (plantar fasciitis), irritate the IT attachment, etc.

I was at the outdoor retailer shoe working the booth, and the president of Five Fingers stopped by to try on the Bondi B. Thoroughly impressed with Hoka One One, he applaudedthe ingenuity of the Bondi B. This was coming from a guy who had a hand in revolutionizing the sport of running. I also met the original designer of the Five Fingers shoe.. nice guy as well, with an obvious creative spirit about him which would inspire something like a barefoot shoe.

Alright I am sponsored by Hoka One One, but thus far the Bondi B and Mafate have changed my perspective on running, training, and racing. I think this year will be pivotal for the company, as even more top trail running results will come from Hoka in ultra and sub-ultra races. Also sports like triathlon and Xterra will see the benefit of such a shoe, as one comes off the 2 mile swim and 130 mile bike, the best thing they can have on their feet would be a light weight cushioned Bondi B.

We'll see what happens! The footwear scene is trendy and change is constant, but I expect there will be quite a few shoe companies copy-catting the Hokas very soon, and this is a trend here to stay.

48 comments:

  1. Hi Dave, I agree on the Hokas. I have been brought back to running mountains because of them afetr years of non-running.

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  2. Hey Dave, I am having trouble with my IT band and was surprised to find your comment about IT attachments associated with this shoe. My issues came with overtraining. Do you think the shoe would be a good preventative measure? I was under the less is better trend assumption.

    Thanks for any thoughts...
    Trevor

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dave,

    Do any of the Hoka One models come in size 13 or bigger? I have checked a few online stores now and each has carried only 12.5 or smaller. Also, how is the fit of the toe box? Thanks.

    Go Longer.

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  4. hey wesa,
    Ran in the Hoka Bondi B's for the first time yesterday out at Teller Farm, doing 14 miles with a 4 mile tempo in the middle. Amazing. Went home and changed into my Brooks Cascadias to finish my workout with the dog and it felt like I had two pieces of bark strapped to my feet.

    I literally cannot wait to race in these Bondis next month!

    I agree on you assessment of trail shoes of yore. I loved the Montrail Odysseys but, of course, Columbia stopped making them because it was a good shoe.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I might mosey on over to BRC at lunch today to try them out... but quite frankly I can't afford to drop $(insert three digits) on any pair of shoes.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Re.. IT band attachment issues. That injury is such a complicated one. Besides an ankle sprain three years ago from racing on scree, I had IT issues twice in 15 years, and they were my only injuries. They lasted there weeks each time, and then faded away.
    I should not make any claims about Hoka shoes "curing" what ails any runner. I am sure there will be some runners for whom the Hokas won't work; it is inevitable for any shoe. That said I think the net result for most of the running population will be beneficial for their running, particularly running hills and paved surfaces.
    RE sizing.. the Hokas only come up to size 12.5 at the moment unfortunately.. as the volume of sales go up and the company can afford to make the molds for the peripheral sizes, then the larger sizes will be available.
    Brendan Weasel.. try them on and email me. I'd love to know what you think..

    ReplyDelete
  7. How are they running up hill? I've always clocked quicker uphill splits in MT100's over softer LunarFly's due to the fact that the MT's transmit power to the ground more directly. The LunarFly's are only 2 oz heavier as well..

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  8. Hi Dave great post! I absolutly love both the Mafate & Bondi B.
    I wore my Mafate out of the box on my 46 hour 135 mile b-day run back in December. I swear the following day I just out of bed and completely for got I just ran 46 hours. usually after a hundred I have to prepare to stand up because of the stiffness. Not with Hoka I felt like I maybe only ran 50k.
    Glad you are on the team with you and Karl you should be able convert people. I have converted at least 100 people into wearing Hokas.
    See you on the trails.
    Catra

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  9. These shoes are the Pontiac Aztek of the shoe world. They look exactly like the huge shit that I left in the toilet after my run this morning.

    I will stick with the MTs because Anton is the coolest and anything that he wears is what I am going to wear. He is the best and I love him.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Dominic, for me they run quite well uphill. I would agree that there will be slightly better energy transfer on the uphill in a shoe that doesn't have cushion. Makes perfect sense. As you do repeated laps on the same mountain you may see a curve of results favoring the Hoka d/t by not getting beat up on your descent. I guess it is even possible on a climb of the same mountain, depending on how long the climb is, that the lack of getting your legs trashed.

    Catra.. nice to see you here! I know what you mean as far as recovery; I am a believer that recovery is just as important as the workout.

    Anonymous.. it must have been a chore swallowing that Hoka shoe, then powering it out. Agreed on your awkward point though.. Hoka's don't work for everyone and the MT100 is a great shoe, as is Tony.

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  11. Dave, I really want to try the Hoka's but there are 3 things holding me back.
    1. A couple months ago I tried on the Mafates and the forefoot felt really narrow. I have a wide forefoot. I recently purchased a pair of NB MT101's and I love the way they fit and feel. They are perfect for a race like the Pikes Peak Ascent, but the lack of cushion makes me think that I could not use them in an ultra. Do any of the Hoka's have a wide forefoot?

    2. The high platform. I recently rolled my ankle resulting in a serious ankle sprain. I feel like if I rolled my ankle in the Hoka's I would do some serious damage. Have you ever rolled your ankle while using the Hoka's?

    3. Cost ~$170. If I knew that the Hoka's would really work for me I would be willing to pay, but I'm not 100% sure that they will. I have tried several versions of La Sportiva shoes over the years (that I've won at Pikes), but I always end up cutting holes in the sides of the shoe because of the narrow forefoot and ultimately not using them.

    Just my thoughts,
    -Kraig

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  12. Hi Kraig.. say Hi to Brook for me..
    1) The Bondi B fits slightly different than the Mafate. I think you should try them on and see if they will work for you in fit. I personally think the Bondi B runs a 1/4 size smaller than the Mafate (the Hoka trail shoe), but you should try them on and how they feel. Everyone's foot is different with different brands.
    2) I havent had the ankle rool problem with either the Mafate or the Bondi B. The wider base helps create a more stable platform, while offering more traction d/t increased surface area. If you feel this could be a concern, then the Bondi B is a touch lower than the Mafate. I have also tried running in both kinds of shoes without the sockliner, which creates a slightly different feel, and fit.
    3) Price. Yeah a bit high but not compared to the top selling running shoe of N%ke.. about $150. And them Hoka's will last 600 miles.. so you buy them less often than other shoes. Karl meltzer's shoes from his Pony express run had 600+ miles and were still running.

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  13. Hi Dave,
    Brook says "Hi".
    I tried on the Bondi B's today at Boulder Running Company and they have a little more forgiveness in the forefoot compared to the Mafate's they and feel pretty good. The dude at the store said that he would NOT recommend using the Bondi B's for trails due to the less aggressive traction design. What do you think about that? Do you notice a difference in traction between the Bondi B's and Mafate's?
    One of the other guys at Boulder Running Company said that he ran last year's Leadville 100 in the Mafate's with a broken Calcneus (heel bone).

    ReplyDelete
  14. Kraig,
    it depends on the trails really. The Bondi B has a road outsole but enough traction for %90 of dry trails. I wouldn't run on ice or slick stuff, but you can tell by looking at Personal preference though. Pop a few screws in them for ice or get some microspikes

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  15. "Hoka's don't work for everyone and the MT100 is a great shoe, as is Tony."

    I agree Dave. I think Tony is one of the finest shoes money can buy.

    ReplyDelete
  16. hey Dave,

    I am sorry this is a bit off topic from your endorsement but you are one of the more credible sources for my questions.

    I am a grad student and I am cutting out abit early for spring break so that I can swing up to Boulder for a day or so and checkout the Green Mt. that I get to read so much about before heading to Summit County for some shred.

    I am just wondering what would be your recommended route to the peak for a Green Mt. virgin?? Will yaktrax suffice or should I go ahead and pickup a pair of microspikes before??

    Also, just out of curiosity- What was your athletic background prior to ultras?? XC/Track??? please elaborate if you have the time.

    Thanks so much,
    Jacob

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  17. hey Jacob,
    I would definitely take traction when you come out; unless you know the mountain's subtleties of what to wear bring a device. Yak tracks are okay but I wouldnt use the old ones. Microspikes are better I hear but I don't own any; I just buy hex head screws and put about 10 in each shoe and it works well for me unless it is super icy.
    As far as routes go, they are "all good", bra! You wont go wrong in just finding your way around up there. Bring a map. Link over to Bear and So Boulder peak if you like. I actually like So Boulder peak better than green.. if you want to run this then find the So Mesa trailhead (not chatauqua) and run up Shadow canyon. You can easily tag Bear peak too, as they are part of the same massif. Wish I oculd join but I wont be around for a bit..

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  18. I bought a pair of the Malfates about a month ago. I'm planning on 5 hundreds in 5 months this year and have been trying to find something that I can run neutral in (no huge heel/forefoot difference) but also has plenty of cushioning. My first run was 10 miles of roads and the shoes worked pretty well. Different than anything I had ever run in and I swear that my legs felt less beat up. The major problem I had was the uppers. They dug into my foot so badly that I bled. I tried modifiying the shoe a bit, and tried them on the trails the next day. I had to come home and change because the pain was so bad. At this point I'm thinking about just cutting off the upper and attaching something that I know that fits to the soles. Does the Bondi B have a softer upper? Nobody here sells them and I really don't want to throw away another $170.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I just received a pair of these units from the Boulder Running Co. - I think I'm going to send them back - they definitely run small, maybe a 1/2 size small(?) The toe box (most likely due to the small fit) felt quite narrow. I've run in Vomeros and Nimbus shoes on the trails before... and I'm wondering why people who want more cushioning aren't taking this step first. I would like to experiment with the pair I have, but scuffing up 170.00 is not an option right now. They do feel springy/bouncy - one can only tell after an hour or more on the trails.... -Gus in C.A

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  20. Nathan,
    Where does the Mafate chafe you? You may have the same problem as Gus, with having a 1/2 size too small. The fit of the Bondo B is more comfortable and noticably different.
    Gus, Is there any way you can try a 1/2 size up? I am sure the BRC will send you a different size; let me know if they can't.
    Dave in CA

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  21. Dave,

    Do you know the drop on the Mafates and the Bondis? I seem to run much more injury free when I run in shoes with a low drop. I'm still waiting for someone to make a zero drop shoe that isn't too minimal for everyday use.

    Dan

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  22. Dan, They both have a 4 mm drop.

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  23. I wrote about the minimal drop of the Hokas in a previous post. It's like running in "minimalist" shoes, allowing for a natural foot strike but with cushion, lots of it. I was worried about the sizing as well but find it true to my size. The issue of feeling smaller might be the low profile toe box, especially at the toes. There isn't a lot of volume right at the end of the shoe, so if you have tall or fat toes, your true size might feel a bit snug. I've put my Mafates through the tests and have nothing but praise for them. Looking forward to getting some of the new black ones.
    tim

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  24. Hi Dave,
    Thanks for responding to my comment. The shoe fits fine and I have plenty of room for my toes. There are several areas that it rubs. When I first got them it was in the area of the top eyelet, near the ankle on the outside. The problem is the seam where the two materials come together. I was able to get rid of that problem by removing the insole which dropped my foot. Last time I wore them the seam by the outside of my big toe rubbed so bad I got a blood blister. Same socks I aways use, so it wasn't that. I looked in the shoe and there is a large seam there too. I really want these to work. Have you tried the Combo XT's?

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  25. In case anyone is still following this, a few comments:

    1) Fit: Bondi size 11.5, Mafate size 12

    2) Bondi on trails fine - been on snow, mud, and dry

    3) Soft rubber on Mafate worthless on pavement - wears out instantly, Bondi slightly better wear

    4) Swapped out insoles on both for real insoles

    5) Mafate upper very stiff compared to Bondi

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  26. I have the Leadville 100 in three weeks and have done all of my runs in the Brooks Defyance. I kill a pair of Defyance every 3 weeks and have thought I might give these a shot. I got a pair of last year's Mafates which were from a tradeshow and had some mileage on them. I am a neutral forefoot/midfoot runner to begin with so I thought the transition would be fairly seamless. I wore them for the first time for the last two hours of an eight hour run adn was *shocked* by how my knees didn't ache. I was so amazed, I did a few sprints down the last section of the Mesa trail onto bluebell road(stairs, roots, drops, rocks) and felt amazing. I have a tad bit of a twinge in my left achilles, but I am wondering if I have enough time to adjust to the shoe for the race... What do you think? I wouldn't even risk it but the difference in overall fatigue and aching was huge. I noticed that this year's mafate seems to have a slighter hard durometer than last year's - is that a good thing?

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hi Dave,
    I've never added to a blog before, but I felt compelled because of my bondi's.. I've had injuries come and go for over 45 years of running but the last 7 years my feet have hurt continually. I attributed it to genetics and old age (my dad always complained of tender and sore feet).

    Because of Karl Meltzer's comments (I'm a huge fan and know him from volunteering at the Squaw Peak 50), I bought a pair. No kidding, I've been pain free from day 1. In addition, I recover daily about 30% quicker. I now pass runners on downhill sections at races! That has never happened before.

    There are some small snags. I now have 2 large toe black nails. I have to be extra careful in "v"-shaped ruts because the shoes will let your ankles roll inward. I've had to shorten my stride in certain rocky conditions to keep the Hoka's happily "rocking" under the center-of-gravity of my body. The toes are big and sticky. When you stub a toe you can really get slammed. My biggest fear was rolling the ankle outward. This just hasn't happened.

    Lastly, the bondi has enough flex in the forefoot that they feel responsive on almost all terrain. They are also wide enough to ski on. I just slid down Fossil Mnt in Wyoming with them, what a blast. In my opinion, the bondi's are the best thing ever in trail running.

    Jim B - Provo, UT

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  28. Dave,
    I've had IT issues quite a bit, and have used the Mafates for a couple months. I do like them downhill, and they'e fine uphill (most shoes are) but I'd say that the IT band seems to act up more on flats with the Mafates than with other shoes.
    With the rocker design, if you land forefoot, you don't get a 4 mm drop because you land on the rockered away section, so maybe more of a 6 mm drop or something. It feels awkward to land forefoot in the shoes, and forefoot landing seems to be the only way I've found to not aggravate the IT on flats.
    Just 2 cents!
    -Chris L, Boulder, co.

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  29. Have been in the Bondi B's for a few months now and competed in my first ever 'ultra' at the 'Boise 50K Frenzy.' I already knew that the extra cushioning provided by the Bondi's resulted in far less next day soreness, but was especially grateful for this benefit after the race, as there was a lot of wicked downhill pounding. I fear that if I were in any other shoe, I would be taking off more days from running and hopping on the bike for cross training ( which isn't always a bad thing ), but you get the picture.

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  30. Anonymous writer
    I have the same sentiment word for word as you.. Less trashed=>more recovery=>more quality training=> better racing results=> positive reinforcement=>success breeds success=>more fun in life=> fewer injuries=> happiness and joy.. but you get the picture. D

    ReplyDelete
  31. i don't know if anyone is still following this here comment thread. i don't heel strike hard, but i am a heel striker. most of you are, too, even though you tell yourselves you land on your forefoot.

    observations about the bondi b's? shortened my stride a touch and really put that built in rocker to use and it made a nice difference in how my legs were able to recover from day to day training and i found i wasn't fighting the shoe. found that my hamstring and glute muscles were fatigued a bit more when i started in these shoes. that too, soon subsided. my opinion is that these shoes encourage endurance. i don't have any desire to race a 10K in them, but i look forward to running for a couple of hours and being able to go back to work without worrying that my feet and body are going to be wrecked.

    sizing is a mystery. i went up a half size on the bondi b's and i don't use the footbed in them, and that seems to be the sweet spot for me. deviate much from that an mister blister comes a calling. tread peels away pretty easily, but the eva is holding up just fine for the most part. i have about 400 miles on mine and the last 100 miles or so have been the best ones, yet. eva does compress a bit over time, but that doesn't seem to change how the shoes feel while your running.

    looks. well, i've moved past the looks. healthy, consistent running and increased endurance for me is the selling point. it would be cool if you did a camo version, but that's just my inner sylvester stallone coming out. the hoka rambo does have a nice ring to it.

    what else.

    i do think that if you find these work for you, you should run in these consistently. changing from a shoe like this back to something conventional made for some awkward runs. stride felt awkward and stiff, like my timing was off. i'd liken it too getting a hitch in your golf swing. when i go back to the bondi's, things seemed to smooth back out for me. so stay with them once you decide to go this route.

    i reckon that all. thank you.

    Breece

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  32. Thanks for the Hoka information, Dave! Thinking seriously about them due to some PF issues. Despite the Obama years (...ugh :)), some good and inovative shoes to be worn.

    Joseph

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  33. Dave- I've been running for about 18 yrs, relatively injury free. Until recently I've been having an achilles issue and a little knee pain, especially on the trail. (Running in the Montrail Bajada and Masocist) When running on the road I run in Brooks Glycerin 9's. They don't bother my 2 issues as much but since I've pretty much got off the road and hit the the trail do to crazy drivers my Achilles really acts up, especially after my run. I put in about 12-15 miles a day on the trail. The trail is a good mix of up hill, downhill, rooty and smooth sections. So my question to you is...First which Hoka should I get? I want to run Both trail and road. I am a neutral runner also I am 6'2" 200lbs and love to run. When I'm on the road I'll put in 60-80 miles a week. Also I think I read that the Hoka has a 4mm drop, would that be an issue for some one like me who runs in a 10-12mm drop shoes. Would live your input and opinion. Also would love run my first 50 Miler and 100 Miler this year. Did my first 50k a month ago. Finished 8th overall 4:48. Thank you Dave!

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  34. Dave-Sorry 1 more thing...Also being 40 yrs old I want to continue to run for many more years, so I'm hoping Hokas help with that. In hearing the Hokas don't last long (sole wears out pretty quick) would I be better off having a trail pair and a road pair? As much as I dont want to drop that much money on shoes. I'm wondering if having one pair for both trail and road would just wear out way to quick. Just wondering. Thank you!

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  35. Hello dave, I ran Quicksilver 50 last month and have had knee pain on the outside of my right knee since the race. I am really bumbed about this and can only run about 2 miles of flats without pain. I am thinking of getting the One One Stinson Evo's and was wondering if you think that they could help me get back out on the trail again. Im really missing being able to run its such a big part of my life.

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