It's Officially (Virtual) Marathon Season. The Hoka One One Bondi 7 May Not Be Your Glass Slipper on Race Day...
...but It Will Get You Comfortably Through All Those Training Miles to the Starting Line.
Guest blog written by Robert Busby.
If you've gone on a run around dawn sometime this past week, you probably rejoiced at the low-sixties temperatures and been just a-okay settling for the eighty-percent humidity. "Man, smells like fall and marathon training," you may have even said aloud to no one (because pour one out for group runs, right?).
Unless you've just woken up from summertime hibernation in an ambitious attempt to sleep through Memphis highs in the nineties and matching humidity levels, you've already heard the news that the St. Jude Marathon Weekend, the Academy Awards of the Mid-South race season, has gone virtual.
Suppose you're a hydration-bladder-half-full kind of optimist. In that case, you're probably super pumped that, as a consolation prize, St. Jude Marathon is giving participants the rare opportunity to run up to all four distances in the first-ever 4-Race Challenge. (See here for details.)
Whether you're doing a couch-to-5K or also tackling the 10K, half-marathon, and full-marathon, you're going to put in hundreds of training miles before you even toe the (see: virtual) starting line of this year's St. Jude races. If you're looking to add a shoe to your rotation that will make those long, sometimes grueling weekend runs more comfortable on your feet, then you may want to give the Bondi 7, the epitome of Hoka One One's max cushioning brand, a try.
If you've already bonded with the Bondi in one of its six previous iterations, you'll easily recognize the newest version of these twin monoliths (oxymoron much?), which plopped down onto the Salisbury Field of fall shoe releases on August 1, just north of a month ago. The Bondi's behemoth bed of foam carries a stack height of 33 mm in the heel and 29 mm in the forefoot for what equates to a 4 mm drop, and the midsole here is a full length of compression-molded EVA, which sits on an outsole of blown rubber concentrated at the heel and forefoot to provide sufficient traction and adequate durability in high-wear areas.
Firm out of the box, the midsole stiffness opens up under your feet, compressing and bouncing back so that your landings don't feel overripe or mushy, as can be the case in the max-cushion offerings from some other big brands. Further, the midsole density of the Bondi 7 can increase the structural efficiency of Hoka's Meta-Rocker design, a curved midsole geometry that rolls you through your natural gait cycle so that you can put up colossal mileage while deceiving your legs into believing you're still sipping iced tea on the front porch (drop a Lemon-Lime Nuun tablet in that tea, and you've got yourself an instant, cross-country Arnold Palmer. Let us know if it tastes good.)
And while Hoka has specific stability shoes in its arsenal—such as the Arahi or Gaviota, both of which employ Hoka's signature J-Frame technology—Hoka builds their shoes on some of the widest foundations on the market, with midsoles designed with a bucket seat-like Active Foot Frame, which nests your foot so that your landings feel secure no matter how your foot greets the ground. The Bondi 7 is no exception here.
The updates to the Bondi 7, which are few, are carried almost exclusively in the open-engineered mesh upper. The handful of horizontal TPU overlays on the Bondi 6 have now been stood upright, providing a little more support and protection around the toe box and midfoot. And the colorways, especially in the women's versions, manage a delicate balance between being both subdued and fun.
The most significant addition to the Bondi 7 is the memory foam collar, which, coupled with the aforementioned internal heel cup and slightly narrow upper, provides a reassuring hug to your foot in a world where we've had to pump the brakes on such amicable displays of affection (for the foreseeable future, at least, and most certainly for our own good). And while some shoe manufacturers are replacing traditional laces with springy, stretchy, nylon Slinkies that must be retied with some frequency throughout a run, the flat laces on these big boys won't slip, allowing you to further dial in a fit that will last the entire training session.
Overall, Hoka has managed to shave roughly .2 ounces off the Bondi 7. Making the weight of the men's 10.7 oz and the women's 8.9 oz. Though it's a higher volume midsole, they feel surprisingly lightweight given the shoe's stack height. However, given the 33-mm heel construction, midfoot strikers may find themselves fighting an insistent heel landing, especially toward the end of a long run, when the legs transform into massive lengths of cooked spaghetti or twin, uncooperative kindergartners carried kicking and screaming and anchored on either of your shins into their first day of school.
And even if you are a heel striker, you may still want to opt for the lighter, quicker Rincon or Clifton for your high-intensity training runs or even as your glass slipper on race day. However, if you have—long before our current pandemic scenario—been more than happy to socially distance from the pavement (that necessary evil that comes with running and gravity), then the Bondi 7's weigh-in won't get in the way of recovery or even long runs during which you're unconcerned with pace and just looking to get the miles beneath you before your big dance this fall marathon season.
Instead, what you're likely to find in the Bondi 7 is hundreds of training miles' worth of soft landings that will arrive you at the ball on fresh legs, ready to dance to your BPM's content.
- Memphis, TN.