There is no substitute for first-hand testing when it comes to running shoes. That's why we provided the new HOKA Mach 4 to two of the most interesting runners we know to get the inside track on the shoe's new tech. Francisco Balagtas and Aisha McAdams are not only accomplished runners in their own right, but they are also influential athletes and personalities in the running community — and the types of people that scrutinize over every detail of the gear they use.

We caught up with Balagtas in New York and McAdams in Boston to ask them not only what they thought about HOKA's Mach 4, but also their thoughts on the unique running communities in each city.

Aisha McAdams, Runner & Professional Photographer

aisha mcadams
Gear Patrol Studios

Aisha McAdams is a Boston-based professional photographer and runner. McAdams ran competitively in college, but now enjoys the fact that accomplishing her running goals can happen on whatever timeline she determines. These days, McAdams says that photography fills up most of her time, though she attributes many of the lessons she's learned that have shaped her practice to the ten plus years she spent running competitively.

We caught up with McAdams to hear her thoughts on documenting running as well as HOKA's new Mach 4.

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Q: What's your favorite part about documenting/photographing runners?
Aisha McAdams: "Similar to other documentary work, there is something truly beautiful about the connections you make with your subjects. As a runner myself, it’s even more special when you instantly can share the love for something with another individual."

Q: What's your favorite running moment that you have captured?
AM: "I’ll never forget last February — I was out in Atlanta shooting the Olympic Marathon Trials. I went there with the intention to capture the emotions and moments before what was for many people, the biggest race of their life. I met with them in their hotel rooms the morning of and spent time with them as they undressed, slid into their singlets and laid on their bibs. The tension and calmness made me feel like I was about to race as well.

"One of those athletes was Molly Seidel. She welcomed me into her life moments before the world witnessed what she was capable of and made the Olympic team. She’s become a dear friend of mine since. While I thought that concept would come to a close as my last subject crossed the finish line, it created an ongoing story that I look forward to sharing with people someday."

Q: What was your first impression of the Mach 4?
AM: "The first thing I noticed was how lightweight they felt compared to my other everyday trainers. I’m pretty sure I tossed them up [in the air] because I was so satisfied with the weight. Immediately, I was impressed by the updated sole and how slick it was."

aisha mcadams running in hoka one one sneakers
Gear Patrol Studios

Q: How did you feel after running in them?
AM: "My legs felt great! There are a lot of shoes out there nowadays that feel a bit more foreign and I lose that sense of my connection to the ground. The cushion and bounce of these make them perfect for my everyday miles but the lightness means I can still rock them when I need to spice things up with fartlek’s and negative split runs."

Q: The refined collar shape was created to alleviate pressure on the achilles. How was your experience with this?
AM: "There’s nothing better than when you don’t notice particular parts of your body while running. I’ve had a fair amount of issues with my feet and a tight achilles, so I am particular about making sure I trust the shoes I am wearing. With some shoes, there is a rubbing and a pressure that is quite irritable and it’s a constant battle of deciding what socks will help alleviate that. Luckily, the Mach 4 does it for you so you don’t have to think about what else you put on your feet."

Q: How does running in Boston differ from other places?
AM: "There’s nothing that can compare to the community of runners you find in Boston. It’s a melting pot. You have professionals, Olympians and a huge amount of people who embrace running as an everyday part of their life. It’s a city that has integrity in the sport and a place many continue to train competitively while balancing successful careers and their lives. You can head to the track at nearly any given time, or the infamous Harvard tempo loop. You're bound to have company."

Francisco Balagtas, Runner & Running Coach

francisco balagtas coach
Gear Patrol Studios

Francisco Balagtas is a Queens, NY-based runner, running coach and race strategist. He's been featured on the cover of Runner's World, and is a core member of the Orchard Street Runners running crew. Balagtas also runs an Instagram account titled Project: No Days Off, where he chronicles his running streak that has gone on for over five years.

"What I love about coaching runners," Balagtas says, "is the connection you get to develop with your athletes." He enjoys the process of watching runners develop over time. We caught up with Balagtas to hear more about his running streak, as well as what he thought of the new HOKA Mach 4.

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Q: This year, you hit a 1,500-day running day streak. What an accomplishment. Has that continued?
Francisco Balagtas: "It is still very much continuing and as of March 7, 2021, it is at 1,527 consecutive days."

Q: What was your first impression of the Mach 4? How far did you run in them during your testing?
FB: "The Mach 4 was legitimately the first HOKA shoe I’ve ever slipped my foot in, let alone held in my hands. The first time I picked them up, it was how light the shoe was that intrigued me straight away.

"I ran four consecutive days in them, with a total of about 84 miles. The first day in them, I took them out for 33 total miles which included a morning run commute, actively coaching a track workout, more run commuting between meetings, easy miles with friends and an evening run commute home. I also added in another 34-mile day built around two coaching sessions for two of my athletes training for a 30-mile race. "

francisco balagtas running in hoka one one sneakers
Colorway available in May.
Gear Patrol Studios

Q: How did you feel after running in them?
FB: "I’m not a stranger to 25+-mile-long run days, but the main problem area that fatigues me the most after a long day is the balls of my feet from striking — so much so that it is uncomfortable to walk barefoot. Even after the two 30+-mile efforts in them, I felt none of that fatigue in my feet."

Q: How does running in New York City differ from other places? What is the community like?
FB: "As much as people think NYC isn’t inviting to run in and around, it is very much the opposite. Endless combinations for routes, as well as exploratory opportunities, make this city...unique.

"I think whatever the sport or activity in question is, the strong sense of community drives these activities to another level. The community wants to be active and supportive to those who reside in it. Sometimes it takes action from individuals and groups to create something the community can support and rally around, and I admire those who are doing that at this moment."

Q: What is your favorite run in NYC?

FB: "An A to B long run, in the middle of the summer, ending at Rockaway Beach, culminating in a swim in the Atlantic Ocean."

Gear Patrol Studios
Mach 4
HOKA ONE ONE
$130.00