Before I get into talking about the Torrents, I thought I'd give a bit of background on my shoe history (aside from wanting to own lots of shiny pairs). When I started running in my teens I wore Asics road/trail shoes and continued to do so throughout my military career and even wore the Asics GT 2000 for Marathon des Sables. Based on research and reviews, I tried to use Innov-8 Roclite shoes whilst training for MdS, but I didn't get the support I needed and suffered from ankle issues.
Post MdS I introduced Salomon Speedcross which I got on really well with before they made the forefoot narrower in the Speedcross 4 iteration. Using this model after moving to the Lake District and running over more fell terrain and lots of steep descents, meant that again, they didn't give me the support I needed.
Jayne has used Hoka shoes for quite some time having ran in the Challenger and Speedgoat models and kept on about how they good they are. In preparation for the Spine Challenger I was on the look for something new so decided to give the Speedgoats a try. Initial thoughts were very positive and the extra cushioning was very welcome. I had no issues on the fells with them in terms of grip and performance. I used the trainer and mid boot version for the Spine Challenger and they worked really well. However, with more and more training since then, I started to feel that my feet still needed a bit more room to spread out. Also, on the technical terrain I wasn't getting enough feedback, causing some issues with my right ankle. So once again, I was on the hunt for an alternative.
After a fair bit of research, the Hoka Torrents seemed like they could be the shoe I've been looking for. They are sold as a lightweight trail shoe that still provides cushioning and an aggressive grip. I went to a Hoka demo day at George Fisher in Keswick a few weeks back and spoke to the Hoka rep who also made me aware that they are the widest fitting shoe Hoka produce and are essentially a lighter, less cushioned version of the Speedgoat. This ticked all the boxes I wanted to resolve with my Speedgoat shoes. As part of the demo day, I got to try them out on the Keswick Park Run which was a mixture of trail and single track. The shoes were way more comfortable than anything I'd experienced in a while and I was instantly impressed. So much so, as soon as I got home I bought some. We both got a pair in fact and they were a really good buy Outdoor GB at £78 each.
Obviously a Park Run isn't the typical kind of run I would be using these shoes for, so the real tester came on the Derwentwater Dawdle which Jayne and I completed last week. This race was a 23ish miler with over 4000ft of ascent over trail, single track, road and technical rock terrain. The shoes boast a PROFLY™ midsole which is supposed to provide 'a forgiving landing and responsive toe-off'. I immediately felt I had the connection with the terrain like I used to with my Speedcross shoes but with extra cushioning and I had no ankle pain whatsoever (we both wore them for the first time during this race). The shoes also claim to have high traction rubber and aggressive lugs (tread) to ensure solid grip on varied terrain. The race was a wet one with constant rain and lots of wet rock and I felt sure of my footing throughout. However, I could tell they weren't as grippy as the Speedcross or even my Speedgoat shoes and if you ask Jayne who was also trying them for the first time in this race, she slipped about more than normal in these shoes compared to her speedgoats. I definitely think this is down to running style though, with myself being much more confident with my foot placement over any terrain (especially fast technical descent) compared to Jayne who is a lot more cautious/less confident (a big chicken really) meaning I put my weight behind every step and trusted the shoes to do their job.
To close, I absolutely loved the fit, comfort and performance of the Torrents and they will now be my main training/racing shoe, especially as they come in such a jazzy colour! However, Scafell Sky Race require a certain size of lugs on your shoe so I may seek out the wide fit Salomon Speedcross 4 shoe for that race to ensure I meet the requirements.