The sequel to HOKA ONE ONE’s Carbon X shoe comes, like its predecessor, with a mission: break records. And just like its predecessor, it did.
In 2019, HOKA set six elite runners loose wearing its latest shoe, the Carbon X. The idea was to promote the shoe’s cutting-edge tech by taking down a hallowed running record: Nao Kazami’s 100K mark.
But while the team fell just shy of Kazami, Project Carbon X still proved a success, with Jim Walmsley piloting the new kicks into the record books by breaking Bruce Fordyce’s 36-year-old fastest 50-mile time.
And despite the trials and tribulations imposed by COVID-19, HOKA set out to do it again. This time, it launched the Project Carbon X 2. It’s a new shoe with the same idea, same mileage, and an added goal: see if anyone can break the 6-hour mark.
And while the fleet of runners again failed to topple Kazami’s record, Walmsley again took his HOKAs to victory. This time, the 31-year-old Arizona ultrarunner broke the American 100K record, formerly held by Max King, with a time of 6 hours, 9 minutes, 26 seconds.
“Only 11 men in history have ever broken 6 hours and 20 minutes in the 100K distance. Guess where we are aiming??” Walmsley teased on Instagram before his race.
Walmsley finished just 11 seconds behind Kazami’s time, set in 2018. Walmsley’s achievements thus far also include winning Western States in 2018 and 2019, and he holds the current course record.
Project Carbon X 2
Unlike the pomp and circumstance of the original Project Carbon X, this year’s event required isolation and no crowds. On Jan. 23, a field of 20 elite runners — 14 men and 6 women — tackled the race against time in Chandler, Ariz., running in and around Wild Horse Pass Motor Sports Park.
On the men’s podium, Walmsley was followed by Rajpaul Pannu (6:28:31) and Kris Brown (6:39:14). For the women, Audrey Tanguy (7:40:36), Nicole Monette (7:43:18), and Courtney Olsen (7:55:11) finished 1-2-3, falling shy of Tomoe Abe’s world record (6:33:11) and Ann Trason’s U.S. record (7:00:48).
HOKA ONE ONE Carbon X 2
The Carbon X 2 literally follows in the original Carbon X’s footsteps as a purpose-built distance racing shoe.
This time, HOKA updated the shoe with a “simplified” mesh upper the brand says improves breathability. It also utilizes lighter-weight foam on the sole, a new PROFLY midsole material for better cushion, and a brand-new carbon plate.