Wednesday 20 March 2024

Hello Hylo Athletics

The run across the USA is a little over 407 days away from starting. There is so much going on behind the scenes to make the run a huge success for St. Benedict's Hospice. The latest bit of progress to report is concerned with the running shoes I'll be wearing for 3150 miles from Coney Island to Huntington Beach. 

I'm no running shoe afficianado so what you will read below is just my lay person's take based on running over 10,000 miles around the world so far (plus all of the training miles on top of that). What I do have is a very good idea of what works best for me when tackling big miles, in extreme hot, cold and wet conditions on a multitude of various challenging surfaces. 

I also must take into account the irreversible damage that my feet took during the run across Australia. The condition of my feet have definitely improved since that 2384 mile epic back in 2013. I've been told, however, that I will never see the return of the lost fatty padding on the sole of both feet. One of the conservative treatment options for "fat pad atrophy" is to wear proper footwear with adequate cushioning and support. I'm sure you can appreciate that I can't just wear any old shoe on a daily basis never mind to run across an entire continent. I have zero regrets about the state of my feet. The generosity that each step has been able to attract for St. Benedict's Hospice and other local charitable causes is worth it tens time over.

Without further ado, I'm very pleased and proud to announce that I'll be running the 3150 miles across the USA in 2025 wearing Hylo Athletics Impact running shoes. After a very successful test run last weekend, I had no hesitation in taking them up on their very kind offer of support. A huge heartfelt thank you goes to them for responding to my story and the plans I have for next year's run with such kindness. 

Hylo Athletics are a relatively young British company and only launched their running shoes earlier this month. If this is their initial version of a running shoe then the future is very bright for them in my opinion. They came recommended by my friends at specialist running shop Northern Runner in Newcastle. I should mention that Charlie, at the shop, has been responsible for recommending some game changing kit over the years. 

I was sent a black and white pair of Impact to try. That is just one of four different colour ways available incidentally. They felt extremely comfortable straight out of the box and the size eleven felt very true to size. As you should know by now, that word "comfort" is always something that I look for in a running shoe. If I'm going to be running for 100 consecutive days then I need them to pass what I like to call my "slipper test". In other words, at the very least, they should feel like a comfortable pair of slippers that you'd put on after a hard day's work. 

The next and most important step was to run a few miles in them. My initial observation was around the support they gave. Again, forgive the layperson's terminology. Every step felt like the impact was being absorbed by the shoes' very generous amount of cushioning. The shoes felt like they were breaking the fall of each step that I took. That sounds ludicrous as I write it but those are really the only words I can use to describe the protection that I felt my feet were being given. I must say that they didn't feel over spongy though. The balance in that cushioning felt just right leaving me with a feel of control as I ran.

With over five million steps to be taken during the run across the USA year, a decent amount of support underfoot is going to be hugely important. I've worn some excellent shoes in the past but these felt different in terms of cushioning and support. When I looked up the amount of cushioning, it was no surprise to find that the Hylo Athletics Impact had considerably more than I'd had before. Over 3 cm to be precise. Oh and only 2g heavier than mat previous shoes.

Hylo Athletic's description of the technology that underpins that comfort and support goes as follows:  "HYPERBOLT™ Hyperintelligent foam Class-leading innovation and performance - gas-injected, super critical foam, bio-based midsole. Reduces density, reduces weight and increases rebound.".

It would be remiss of me not to mention the core value of Hylo Athletics; Sustainability. 

As they say on their website and social media "We are a community of runners. On a mission to protect the thing we love most. And the planet we do it on. And we RUN LIKE THE WORLD DEPENDS ON IT, always.".

There is a clever bit of technology built into the shoe which they call "Hyloop". "NFC-activated technology tracks the footprint of every stitch. Once you hang up your hylos, send them back. We’ll grind them into something new.". This is an attempt to reduce the awful statistic that says 90% of old running shoes end up in landfill.

I was intrigued when I saw the design of the sole of the Hylo Impact. I read on the Northern Runner website that is "inspired by Formula One technology. Its specially designed outsole is made to efficiently displace water and boost traction, offering unwavering stability, even on wet surfaces.".

The Northern Runner review continued "Echoing the qualities of the acclaimed Hoka Bondi, the Hylo Impact differentiates itself with exceptional responsiveness and even cushioning. It provides the necessary comfort and support for everyday running, making it an ideal pick for both leisurely runners and competitive athletes. 

The defining characteristic of the Hylo Impact is its dedication to sustainability. Utilizing biobased materials such as castor bean and Tencel™ Lyocell, this shoe presents a green alternative without sacrificing on performance. 

The Hylo Impact encourages recycling via Hyloop by a simple scan of the tongue, reinforcing its commitment to the circular economy. With a carbon footprint substantially below that of traditional running shoes, the Hylo Impact embodies forward-thinking environmental design. It features a 33mm heel stack, 25mm forefoot, and an 8mm drop for a stride that is both comfortable and effective. Its DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating further ensures your feet stay dry, enhancing the shoe's adaptability to various conditions. At a mere 280g, the Hylo Impact combines lightness with durability, ready to take on the daily demands of training while promoting a reduced environmental footprint. 

Choose the Hylo Impact running shoe for a perfect mix of advanced technology, peak performance, and eco-consciousness, and contribute to a greener planet with every step."

Once again, a huge thank you goes to Hylo Athletics for their amazing support with the supply of such a brilliantly innovative product. 

Whether it's the Appalachians, the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains or Death Valley and the Mojave Desert, my Hylos and me are going to be together on a quite remarkable adventure next year. They'll then get returned, recycled and made into shoes for somebody else's adventure. There's a very poetic quality to that.