Noah Schutte signs with HOKA

It is a blustery day in Leiden and I meet up with Noah Schutte at the entrance to the Cronesteyn Park, by the train line which heads towards Utrecht. It is a Monday, the week before the NK 10km in Schoorl and thus he has just a gentle run scheduled. We make our way around some of the greener pastures and also head straight into the wind along a newly cemented path, heading back to Leiden. Indeed, it is so windy that it is barely possible to talk. There are next to no cyclists about; those that are out, struggle more than us runners. So, I ask Noah: what’s your least favoured weather conditions? Unsurprisingly, he mentions the wind, for it is indeed the bane of many runners’ existence. Even for the elite, it turns out. 

The updated portrait on his Strava account indicates his recent move to becoming a HOKA sponsored athlete. I tried out a lot of different shoes. There was a time when I was unsponsored, so, I was able to try out the usual popular carbon plate shoes. The HOKA race shoes, with their foam at the front of the shoe, give an extra kind of bounce, which I really like. I was in a position, where I was looking for the right kind of shoe; I wasnt in a hurry to sign with one particular company. It was very important for me to have the best track spikes and fortunately they had just come out with a suitable pair. I feel lucky I get to sign with the company that has the best shoes for me.”

One of the common trajectories of longer-distance runners is to shift to the longer distances (half-marathon and full-marathon) as they become older, leaving their track and shorter-distance races behind them. Noah, on the other hand, has no such plans of limiting himself to one discipline. “I am planning on doing a marathon some time in the next few years; but I don’t know exactly when or where. I see that some athletes switch over to do marathons and then that’s all they do. The 10,000m on the track is one of my favourite events and I wouldn’t feel like giving that up. At the end of the day, I just find running too much of an enjoyable sport to only run on the roads.”

Schoorl didn’t turn out to be Noah’s day. Although he had felt capable of winning it in the lead-up to the race, he came in fourth; a few seconds behind the winner. “I had been feeling good prior to the race, but in the end, I was beaten by better runners on the day. Looking back on it, I probably wasn’t in the shape that I needed to be in to win it. Tactically, I don’t think I didn’t anything wrong. But, during the race, I started to get the feeling that those around me were in better shape than I was. When I took the lead I noticed I couldn’t push enough to make a difference, so I settled back in. So, yeah, when it came down to the last kilometre or so, Richard Douma was able to outsprint those of us in the lead group.”

Fortunately, with running, there is little time available to stand still and be negative about a race result that didn’t go one’s way. Noah is now in Flagstaff, Arizona at altitude, and is training for a 10,000m in the middle of March. Towards the end of our run, I ask him what is it that motivates him: I just want to see how much I can push myself and to see how good I can become. I want to get the most out of myself as an athlete.”

Report: Andy Fuller

*Photos courtesy of Noah Schutte

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