On May 4th, one of HOKA’s most innovative shoes was unveiled in a way that challenged limits. The Carbon X was showcased by HOKA athletes from around the world in attempt to conquer a 100K course in Folsom, CA. The goal was simple — to break a World Record. After nearly five hours of running at a 5:48 per mile pace, Jim Walmsley did just that, walking away with the World Record for the 50 mile distance en route to finishing the 100K.
After years of development by the HOKA Design, Product and Innovation teams, the Carbon X had finally made its debut. We sat down with Director of Design Dr. Matthew Head, and Senior Product Innovation Manager Thibaut Poupard to learn more about how the Carbon X came to life and how this ultra running shoe can help inspire athletes of all types to reach for their personal best.
HOKA: What makes this the perfect shoe for breaking the 100K world record?
HEAD: No shoe is perfect for breaking records or can guarantee that! It comes down to a huge combination of factors that aren’t under our control: the wearer, their training, conditions etc.
This shoe has, however, been carefully engineered for moving fast over long distances; perfect for the 100k attempt. It has that classic HOKA cushioning for feeling fresh when the miles add up. It’s also inherently stable, so as the run wears on and you fatigue you have to worry less about your form. Then lastly the Carbon Fiber plate ensures the Carbon X has our best execution of the rocker yet, meaning you can move smoothly through the gait cycle whatever the mile. The result is an ultra running shoe that makes you feel like you want to move fast when you step in and fast as your run progresses.
HOKA: What differentiates this ultra running shoe from our previous carbon plate model, the EVO Carbon Rocket?
POUPARD: The EVO Carbon Rocket was designed to target shorter distances than the Carbon X. The concepts and construction are similar, but there are clear differences. The Carbon X has a greater amount of cushioning, and a more pronounced heel to toe drop— 5mm vs. 1mm. Ultimately, the Carbon X is a shoe designed to empower athletes of all levels to perform at their best, enabling them to roll smoothly and efficiently.
HOKA: What aspect of this design are you most proud of?
HEAD: I’m proud of the whole package and what we’ve done as a team. It’s a classic HOKA product, made for everyone; we focused on the problem of moving fast over long distances and this is the result. If I had to pick something, the reaction people give when putting the shoe on for the first time and going for a jog has been really satisfying so far.
HOKA: Why will original HOKA fans loves this shoe?
HEAD: This is unmistakably a HOKA product — a great rocker, endless cushioning and inherent stability, all in a fast package. So, for a HOKA fan it’s just another extension of our experience and another difficult choice to make!
HOKA: Why is now the right time for HOKA to release the Carbon X?
POUPARD: After years of perfecting the Carbon X, it finally felt ready. In addition, the goals of the shoe aligned with the aspirations of the HOKA brand and our athletes. By setting the 100K Record challenge with Project Carbon X, we could inspire runners to push their own limits in whatever distance they pursue. It started with trail running. We are now we are inspiring people in the same way on the road. It is in our DNA.
HOKA: What testing went into perfecting this shoe? Who tested it, and in what conditions? How did that feedback help develop the Carbon X as we see it?
POUPARD: The Carbon X has been extensively tested by HOKA Athletes, everyday runners and in labs to ensure it reaches the standard HOKA has set with previous styles. We’ve produced many iterations over many years and tested them all to ensure that we’ve delivered the right balance of attributes.
HOKA: Who was the Carbon X made for?
POUPARD: The Carbon X was made for all runners who are willing to make their heart beat faster in the pursuit of speed!
Shop the shoe that HOKA Athlete Jim Walmsley broke the 50 Mile World Record in here.