Running Average: Exploration RUN Workshop with HOKA ONE ONE, and Carbon X First Impressions

It was pretty early…

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I finally got my hands on the HOKA ONE ONE Carbon X yesterday morning (June 29th). The event I received them at (and signed up for) was the “Exploration RUN Workshop with HOKA ONE ONE”, run by HOKA ONE ONE Singapore and Run Singapore.

This was my first time attending such an event, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect beyond turning up to pick up my shoes. There I was, at 6:30am, at Punggol Waterway Point for the first time, looking for a sea of blue, which I ended up finding pretty easily as there were a number of keen runners already jogging around in their brand new Carbon X’s.

*angelic sounds*

After registering my name, I was given my shoes in the size I had pre-ordered (US 10.5, if anyone is interested) and hastily put on my socks and the Carbon X’s.

I intend to write a full review sometime in the future, but my first impressions were good. Based on some reviews that I had read online, I was deathly afraid that the Carbon X’s would run small, but they ended up fitting nicely – while wearing my Kalenji thin socks from Decathlon, they might even have been a little big. Thankfully, the lacing system was able to overcome this and I was able to get a good lockdown on my foot, all while maintaining a lot of space in the toe box.

*angelic sounds continue*

Taking my first few steps, I was already acutely aware of the carbon fibre influence in the shoe – what’s slightly different about the carbon fibre plate in the Carbon X (as compared to other shoes with carbon fibre plates) is that it is shaped like a two-pronged fork, the shorter prong towards the outside of the shoe and the bigger, with the longer prong coming under the big toe. The net effect is that you feel like the shoe is not only rolling you forward (thanks to the meta rocker), but rolling you onto your big toe for the toe off which is supposed to be the best way to run.

Once I got over that, I noticed the cushioning. The Carbon X is the first HOKA I’ve owned, but I was recently trying the Clifton 6 at Running Lab as it was supposed to be closer to the original Clifton 1 that everyone raves about. The Carbon X definitely doesn’t feel as soft as the Clifton 6, however it is still extremely cushioned and still more cushioned by a long way compared to the other shoes in my inventory.

By this time, everyone had their shoes on and the official proceedings were starting. After some brief introductions, we all headed out in three groups: 5:30/km pace, 6:00/km pace, and the last group at 6:30/km or less. Naturally, I stuck to the last group as my weekly average pace is close to 7:00/km and I didn’t want to overdo it before my half marathon next week (July 7th).

The run we went on was around the Punggol Waterway Park, which for me was a first, but I really enjoyed the run as it alternated between pavement and trails. The only unfortunate thing about the first part of the run was that our group actually set out at a 6:00/km pace and much of the group faded away after 3km. I still managed to stick with the pace leaders, but I can’t say that it was super comfortable.

Run, Forest, run!

Thankfully the pace eased over the next few kilometres and I was able to find a good rhythm to stick to. Pocari was one of the sponsors for the event and the first drinks stop was a welcome interlude, however the next drinks stop was slightly less welcome – in fact, the group I was running in missed it completely as it was hidden from the running track. Thankfully I run with very little hydration normally, but I was hopefully those behind me didn’t also miss it.

So how did the Carbon X’s feel to run in? To be honest, I felt like I’d been running in them for months already – there was no break-in required, the extremely thin upper seemed to be doing it’s job in keeping everything well ventilated, and the cushioning was sublime on a run like this. My only gripe is that they are so very white that I felt myself tiptoeing around puddles as we transitioned to a dirt track that had recently been rained on.

Keeping pace with Jeri Chua, HOKA ambassador and founder of Red Dot Running Company

At some point, the pace leaders for my group broke off to get a drink while I kept trudging along and I quickly ended up alone. This worked out for me as I used the time to get used to pacing at 6:30/km – I’m intended to run at this pace for most of next week’s half marathon. At some point (around 13.5km), however, I got a bit lost – the organisers had been quite good at directing runners in the right direction at various intersections, however I presumed that the group I had started out with may have spread out more than they could handle. Rather than get completely lost, I just took a breather and waited for some other runners who knew the route.

At just about 16.7km, I saw the HOKA ONE ONE flags emerge from the walls of the Waterway and made sure to finish strong. Drenched in sweat, the organisers took us through cool down exercises and a brief talk on the shoes themselves. A very rushed session on the importance of arm position and alignment of body parts during running followed, but for the most part it was information that was fairly common sense for experienced runners. Still, it was appreciated, if rushed.

This is my “send help” face

That concluded the “Exploration RUN Workshop with HOKA ONE ONE” event. Overall it was well-organised with only a few hiccups, and I enjoyed myself as well as the shoes. In terms of value, I would very much recommend you jump on any future sessions like these if you know you want the shoes that are being promoted. While you are taking a bit of a risk with the size and fit of the shoes, the dollar value that you get from the end is worth it – this event ran me $249 SGD, which is $50 less than the retail price of the shoes, not even including the cost of the t-shirt, goodies, and info session.

Till next time, happy running!

Published by Stephen Yuen

I've been many things in my life, but right now, I'm an engineer, a runner, a husband, and a cat daddy. Who knows what comes next.

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