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HAT 50k – Inov-8 ROCLITE 285 Trail Running Shoe Review

Before the HAT 50k I had only put 14 miles on the ROCLITE 285. I was worried that if the ground was too hard on race day the heavy duty lugs might put a hurtin’ on my feet over the 31 miles. When I was trying to decide which trail shoe to go with, I tested three shoes out on some muddy trails. The great fit and sure footed traction of the Inov-8 ROCLITE 285 sold me. I am lucky that I tried them on rain soaked trails, I might have gone with an alternate shoe if the conditions had been better, and that would have been a mistake.

The week before the HAT 50k the weather reports were indicating rain on the day of the race. I refused to believe it would actually rain during the race. It did. On the way up to Susquehanna State Park, sheets of rain fell from the sky. I have already run the HAT twice before, it is a super tough course even in ideal weather. I found myself in the van before the race wondering if it would be a big deal if I just didn’t run. Several of us sat in the van until the very last minute trying to stay as dry as long as we could.

Lining up at the start I was sure of two things, the training I had done had me prepared for the grueling run, and I had the right shoes for what was sure to be a sloppy day of trails. The HAT consists of three loops. The first loop is a shorter loop that gets you out on the single track. The trails were muddy and a little loose, but by the second pass the trails had been mashed up by nearly 500 mud stomping ultra runners. By the third loop of the race the trails looked like some one was going around and laddling pudding on the course. Charging up the hills my Inov-8s dug in and I never lost my footing. All around the trail were wide swaths of mud where you could see lesser shoes had lost there traction. Running down hill on trails is my favorite kind of running. Because of the loose ground many runners had to be cautious going down the wet slopes, not me. The lugs on the ROCLITE 285 acted like lion claws digging in to zebra’s hide. I was moving fast and in control. Where I thought the lugs would bother me was on the two sections of road. I would bet there is a total of six miles of road in the race. The very last bit of road is a pretty steep downhill and I have to admit the front of my feet were feeling a little fatigue from the aggressive lugs. Once we got back on the last two miles of single track trail the irritation went away and I was fine. The shoes are light, responsive, and caused NO hotspots or blisters even though the shoes were soaked by both rain and stream crossings. I did feel like they held some water and didn’t drain quite as fast as the MT 101s I ran in last year, but that could be from two different causes. I wore a fairly thick compression sock and MT101 don’t have sock liners where the ROCLITE do. I suppose if your brave you can run without the liner. The Inov-8 ROCLITE 285 was the perfect shoe for the HAT 50k’s terrain and conditions. Stats on the Inov-8 ROCLITE 285

The race had nearly 400 finishers this year and I finished in the top 100. I feel pretty good about it. I also PR’d the distance. Congrats to all the finishers, the HAT is a seriously tough course. Special congrats to both Caleb Masland (my coach) 1st place overall, and congrats to Kristin Van Eron 1st place female overall. Both of which were hanging out in Westy before the race. My little 1988 Volkswagen Vanagon is good luck. I also want to thank Stein Langlie for being a great running buddy throughout training and the race. We ran the whole HAT together and finished with the exact same time. A side note Caleb Masland, overall 1st place finisher ran in the Inov-8 X-Talon 190.


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  1. Steve says:

    great review and follow-up from your decision to decide which trail shoe to go with.
    loved this quote, "The lugs on the ROCLITE 285 acted like lion claws digging in to zebra’s hide."

  2. PhroYo says:

    Awesome review! Congratulations on PR'ing that distance. I hear the HAT 50k is a challenging race. I know someone who had to DNF and another who told a similar tale to yours. Couldn't imagine running a technical trail ultra in those conditions. You rocked it!

  3. Stein Langlie says:

    I saw you slip once… or maybe twice – but I'm with ya – Innov-8 did it right! Great running with you this year. Let's break 5 hours next year 🙂

  4. Pingback: HAT 50k Tips

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