I had never intended to join the Hoka revolution. Post-injury I was looking for some new trail shoes when the distinctive colourway of the women’s Speedgoat caught my eye on a stall at an event. I don't choose my running shoes by colour (honest!) but I was intrigued to see what they were. Persuaded by the vendor to give them a try. after a few test runs up and down the field, I was convinced enough to buy them.
Eight weeks later and my Speedgoats are my current ‘most-worn’ shoe. I’ve worn them a lot, and on a variety of terrain; from hard-packed stony trails to smooth grassy slopes, wet, muddy woodland paths and even short sections on the road. So, how have they fared?
What works well for me:
* The substantial cushioning makes the shoe very comfortable indeed, especially on harder-packed trails. It disguises all but the biggest lumps and bumps on the ground below. There is no 'Princess and the Pea' story with this shoe! The ‘running-on-a-mattress’ bouncy feeling takes some getting used to, but it’s worth persevering for the springiness it brings. I’d be happy to run for hours and hours in these.
* Deep padding around the ankle adds to the comfort of the Speedgoat. It’s soft but secure, with no rubbing at all, important for those of us prone to blistering in that area.
* The flat, wide laces are easy for cold fingers to adjust and tie.
* The grip underfoot is superb; it’s the kind that just invites you to run down steep grassy hills over and over again, just like a speedy goat. On wet, slippery grass, mud and rock, the grip performs well, allowing a fast movement through the stride cycle.
What doesn’t work so well for me:
* As someone with pretty narrow feet, the toe box feels very wide. It took a number of runs and a lot of fiddling with the laces to get the fit right and stop my forefoot sliding around in the front of the shoe.
* The cushioning that works so well has its downsides; sometimes as an off-road runner it is beneficial to feel the ground under your feet, and with the Speedgoat that just doesn’t happen. I wouldn’t feel confident wearing these on more technical fells, for example.
* Because the cushioning underfoot is so substantial, I wouldn't want to run in these shoes all the time. I suspect that the level of bounce they generate could lead to my legs needing to work less hard and therefore losing strength and power over time.
* To allow water to escape, and to keep the feet cool in hotter climes, much of the upper is mesh. The holes are quite big and as autumn and winter take hold, cold feet are starting to worry me. With a more open mesh than found on many other off-road shoes, grit, sand and other debris also have an easier route in.
* The width of the sole takes some getting used to; I clipped my own feet with each other at first, and I don't have a cross-over gait. Note; don’t try to drive in your Speedgoats if you have a manual car!
Overall, I do love my Speedgoats; they are a welcome addition to my trail shoe collection. They are comfortable and perform well on stony tracks and trails as well as grassy slopes, where their grip is second to none. For longer distances, the cushioning and comfort they provide underfoot is superb; I’d wear them for an ultra on trails, no question. They are not, in my opinion, an all-round off-road shoe however, and I will certainly continue to complement mine with less-cushioned shoes that better meet the demands of some of the more technical terrain we have in the UK.