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I am a Bicolano by birth and choice. By any standards, I am a slow runner but I like it that way. I look at running as a healthy and exciting way to make a difference. Together with my fellow runners from our family, school, office and the community, we use running to give back..

October 17, 2013

HOKA MAFATE 3 : Rugged Paradise

Trekkers entering Cirque de Mafate (Photo courtesy of Louise Southerden)

EmoticonCirque de Mafate is a volcanic caldera region on Reunion Island, a French territory in the Indian Ocean.

The cirque is entirely enclosed by mountains, especially thousand-metre cliffs, know as remparts which encircle an alpine paradise of meadows, waterfalls, peaks and deep gorges. The name "Mafate" (pronounced "MAH-fatty") comes from the Malagasy word "Mahafaty", which means lethal, an allusion to the difficulty for accessing the Cirque. There are no roads. Today, Mafate can still only be reached by helicopter or on foot, making it a playground for trekkers and trail runners.

Remparts of Cirque de Mafate

Rugged paradise that is Cirque de Mafate

No doubt, being French, the Hoka One One founders Jean-Luc Diard and Nicolas Mermoud are very familiar with this challenging trail paradise and had it on their minds when they crafted in 2010 the very first Hoka model. An all terrain beast, the Mafate was  first made famous by Karl Meltzer when he ran the Pony Express Trail in 2010 – 3400km in 40 days (http://larrybrownsports.com/everything-else/karl-meltzer-ran-the-pony-express-2064-miles-in-40-days/37350). A trail running classic was born.

Mafate 3 (Color: Anthracite/White/Cyan)

Out of the box
Now on its 3rd version, the Mafate  still incorporates the principal design feature that worked so well for Meltzer. The EVA (foam) that makes up the midsole  is thicker than normal (2.5X more volume than in most running shoes) and 30% softer. It is  exceptionally light for its size (with all this bulk, only 11.3 oz), comes up around the sides of your foot to hold it nice and stable and respond to how you move, and there is a rocker (a nice rolling angle) at the front and back to guide your stride and hopefully improve your running efficiency.  

Rocker profile

More midsole volume of EVA.3 coins on a sofa
Since the Mafate 3 is a trail shoe, it has a lugged outsole that provides very good traction on hard pack and on gravely, loose surfaces.  Bonus to the widely set lugs on the Mafate 3: they do not hold mud or rocks. The upper on the Mafate 3 uses Hoka’s highly evolved speed lacing system similar to what the Honka Stinson Evo Tarmac has. My experience  of running with the Evo Tarmac for 2 ultras (Mayon 360 and T2K) already, I haven’t had a Hoka come loose.  

Lugged outsole

Speed lacing system
Got delivery of my Hoka Mafate 3 just this morning. It is my 3rd Hoka pair, after the Stinson Evo Tarmac (http://bicolanopenguin.blogspot.com/2013/05/hoka-stinson-evo-tarmac-opposium.html) and the Bondi B (http://bicolanopenguin.blogspot.com/2013/06/hoka-bondi-b-i-will-never-go-back.html). Opening the box, a rugged tank of a trail running shoes revealed itself. In the afternoon, I was already testing it. No trails in our village, so the  road would do. The sound of the lugged outsole connecting with the concrete surface, even while walking, made a noisy racket just like a main battle tank would do.  Nothing subtle about this  running shoe.  This is all bulk and rough.  It felt heavy, like those steel-toed safety shoes,  while walking but when I started to run, the Mafate 3 felt lighter.  Felt like the Adidas Energy Boost but with more comfort to my old knees. 

The upper of the Mafate 3 is constructed of lighter, more breathable mesh.

Penguins like the Hoka.

More importantly, the rockered midsole geometry and low heel-toe differential of the Hoka encouraged a more natural running motion for me. No heel striking with the Mafate 3. There is truth to what the Hoka website (http://hokaoneone-na.com/about_technology.html) asserts on their innovation: "Runners can fly in Hokas because they feel as if they are floating over the ground instead of repeatedly pounding into it."

Sounds like this Hoka is living up to its Cirque de Mafate origins:  a rugged paradise. Emoticon

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