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How Hoka Athlete Hellah Sidibe’s Run Across America Made History and Helped Soles4Souls

Hellah Sidibe endured seemingly endless challenges when he became the first individual Black man to run across America in May 2021, including racism and his feet swelling from a size 10 to 11.5. Despite the challenges, the journey, which he accomplished in 84 days, had plenty of upside. Sidibe’s effort raised more than $22,000 for Soles4Souls (with money still pending from sponsors) and three tons of shoes were collected. Although proud of his accomplishment, Sidibe doesn’t necessarily have plans to top it. “If you’re trying to one-up what you did, you’re never going to be satisfied. It might be the biggest thing I’ll ever do, and I’m OK with that,” he said. But the 32-year-old still has big goals for the coming year. Sidibe said he will race in the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run in June. The runner also signed with Hoka in May (although he has run in its shoes for years) and has a goal to help increase the brand’s presence on the pavement, to complement its strong standing in trail running. “On roads, you see a lot of Nike. My goal is to make Hoka popular at road races,” Sidibe said. “I want Hoka to be the top shoes out there, not just with the elite but also with avid joggers, hobby runners.”

Below, Sidibe reveals details about his run across America and the state he loved the most.

BEST FOOD I ATE ON MY RUN:

“Frozen pizza. I was all about it. We had an oven in our RV, it was boujee.”

BIGGEST MISTAKE I MADE:

“Not training vertically and then running every mountain within the first week.”

BEST TIP FOR ANYONE LOOKING TO RUN LONG DISTANCES:

“Run pressure free. That’s how I fell in love with this — zero pressure. Go your own pace.”

SCARIEST MOMENT:

“An officer in Oklahoma started touching his gun to unclip it because he didn’t believe my story. I had to stop to catch my breath for almost 10 minutes. I was like, ‘I could have got shot right there.’”

STATE THAT MADE ME THE MOST NERVOUS:

“Missouri. I was called racial slurs, was flipped off. That was a tough state to go through.”

FAVORITE STATE:

“New Mexico. The Navajo people, the Díne people, were incredibly friendly. A native offered their land for us to park our RV overnight to sleep because we were in the middle of nowhere.”

Hellah Sidibe
Hellah Sidibe.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Hoka

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