After a whole lot of anticipation, we received our first pairs of the Rocket X 2 in April of 2022. Stephanie Bruce was the first HOKA NAZ Elite athlete to race in the shoes when she wore them at the Boston Marathon (more on that race below). In just 11 short months we’ve accomplished an awful lot in what is hands down the best racing shoe HOKA has ever produced, and what we believe is one of the very best “super shoes” on the market. There were some tough calls but we put together a list of our 10 best races in the Rocket X 2…so far. Who knows what this list will look like next year!!
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10) STEPH FINISHES 12th AT BOSTON
We had to put this one on here. First of all, Steph ran great! She was 12th place in an extremely deep field. She was the second American finisher. And her time of 2:28:02 was the second-fastest of her career. But for the rest of time, this will be our first-ever race in the Rocket X 2!
9) ALICE 11th AT THE OSAKA WOMEN’S MARATHON
Like Boston, this one is on here for a couple of reasons. Alice finishing 11th place at one of the world’s most prestigious women’s only races was a huge deal in and of itself. But it was also important for us to have an athlete compete in the Rocket X 2 in Japan–a country crazy for the marathon. Alice’s picture was all over town leading up to the race and she competed in front of millions of viewers live on Japanese TV.
8) ALIPHINE WINS THE BOLDER BOULDER 10k
There is arguably no grander finish in all of U.S. road racing than the final 150 meters of the BOLDER Boulder 10k. With all of the citizens’ waves finishing earlier in the morning, the professionals come into a packed Folsom Field to the screams of 50,000 people. And the winner receives the loudest screams of all (especially if they’re American). This year, in her Rocket X 2s, that was Aliphine!
7) WESLEY WINS THE PITTSBURGH HALF MARATHON
In only our second-ever race in the Rocket X 2, Wesley Kiptoo (who we had just signed to the team weeks earlier) went out and won the UPMC Pittsburgh Half Marathon in a dramatic sprint-to-the-finish. His time of 1:01:25 was a team record, and Pittsburgh is not a flat course.
6) ALIPHINE, MATT, STEPH AT NYC
By the fall, we knew we definitely had a winner in the Rocket X 2. So we stepped to the line at the TCS NYC Marathon with full confidence. Two-plus hours later we had three top-13 performances with Matt Baxter finishing 12th in the men’s race, Steph 13th in the women’s race, and Aliphine earning our team’s 11th World Marathon Major Top Ten with her 7th-place performance.
5) WESLEY OUTLEANED IN HOUSTON
Against a world-class field at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon–the fastest half marathon in the United States, Wesley broke things open with 5k to go, followed only by Leul Gebresilase (runner-up at the 2022 London Marathon). The two dueled all the way to the finish with Gebresilase barely edging out Wesley 1:00:34 to 1:00:35. Wesley’s time was another team record.
4) ALIPHINE WINS THE USATF 25K CHAMPS
After finishing second at the Pittsburgh Half Marathon two weeks prior, Aliphiine raced in the Rocket X 2 for the first time at the USATF 25k Championships where she went head to head against then U.S. Marathon record holder, Keira D’Amato. Aliphine won, by 45 seconds, in 1:23:19.
3) STEPH WINS THE USATF 10k CHAMPS
In a race that held a whole lot of meaning to her, Steph went out and crushed it at the Great Cow Harbor 10k in Northport, NY. The win in a speedy time of 31:52 gave Steph her third career national title. As for the shoes, consider this; Steph’s time was a course record and 44 seconds faster than she had run on the same route one year earlier.
2) ALIPHINE AND LAUREN GO 1-2 AT THE USATF HALF CHAMPS
This was a fun one. Lauren Hagans, in only her third career half marathon, took off from the gun on the difficult Cowtown course in Fort Worth, Texas, and only Aliphine followed. The duo, who had been training together for several weeks, continued pulling away from the chase pack. Eventually, Aliphine won it in a team record time of 1:09:37 with Lauren 14 seconds back in 1:09:51. And that wasn’t all. Paige Wood finished sixth and Futsum Zienasellassie, in the men’s race, was a very close third. Big day for the team and the Rocket X 2.
1) FUTSUM WINS THE USATF MARATHON CHAMPS
It was sort of an impossible task to pick one race above the others, but we went with the same performance you the fans picked as our best of 2022. Futsum had rejoined our team in October after an original stint from 2017-2018. To have him back was awesome. To have him win a national title two months later was exponentially awesome. Plus, did we mention it was his debut marathon? It was also our team’s first men’s national title on the roads, and his time of 2:11:01 was our fourth-fastest ever. The Rocket X 2 and Futsum are one heck of a nice mix.
Honorable Mentions: Alex’s road 10k team record (28:29), Aliphine’s road 10k team record (31:08), Wesley’s third place at the Manchester Road Race, Lauren’s win/course record at the Cardiff Kook Run