The Kalenji One running shoes are by far the cheapest shoes I have ever run in. Let me start by saying that I was amazed to find running shoes for R199 (that is £9.99 or about $15).
* Update January 2019: I see they are now R219.
I was very skeptical when Decathlon opened in 2017 in South Africa and I saw these on the shelf. I did not trust the price and went ahead and bought a pair of mid range Kalenji Active Grip trail running shoes. After some months and many extremely happy kilometres with these I decided to give the Kalenji Ones a try. I decided that I needed to feel what shoes at this price point will do. It was pretty much an experiment.
My initial plan was to run one or two short runs a week in them. Just feel them out. I decided to not run more than 10km in them per week. That was the plan anyway. I also decided that for shoes this cheap it does not matter if I get only 200 or 300km from them. It would still be a bargain.
Here are my impressions of the shoes:
- They are not the most stylish, but also there is nothing wrong with the design.
- The materials are easy to clean when dirty.
- They have a 10mm heel to toe drop. (Compare drop with other shoes from Kalenji here).
- There is no “rubber” outer sole, just an EVA sole. Generally running shoes have a rubbery outer sole and a cushioning white EVA mid sole. In this case the whole sole is white EVA.
- Super light at only 180grams in a UK size 8.5. (Compare weight with other Kalenji running shoes here).
I started running some short training runs in these. I quickly realised they were lighter and had more cushioning than most racing flats from other brands. This made me try them for a 5km fast Parkrun. I ran a Parkrun PB on that day. Still is my fastest time on a Parkrun to date.
I slowly increased the weekly mileage I ran in these and phased out some of my more expensive shoes. I quickly got to 200km total mileage in them. I felt great with no signs of pending injuries. The shoes were also still looking fine and the EVA had no signs of collapse or wear.
I decided it was time for a new experiment. I decided to run a marathon in them. I discussed this idea with my wife until two days before the marathon that both of us were running. I was not convinced it was a good idea. It was a Comrades qualifier and I did not want a shoe malfunction or an injury due to the shoes. The night before the marathon I made up my mind to just run with them. The weight is what really made me think it was a good idea. Also I have worked very hard the last three years on my form and I was confident that having good form and not heel striking should be fine in these shoes.
I comfortably ran a marathon in the Kalenji One running shoes. I was suprised that I had no issues with my feet or knees (I used to get knee issues before I worked hard on my form). The shoes performed really well. I loved the low weight.
I currently have 427km on these and they are still looking good for a lot more. I will keep you updated.
- Update April 2019: I know have 746km on these and have bought a second pair. Will see if the first pair does 1000km. They still fine for running.
In conclusion: I love these shoes. I think if you are a heal striker you do need to spend more (even in the Kalenji range) as these shoes only have an EVA heel with no extra cushioning system. For more money in the Kalenji range from Decathlon you will get things like their K-Ring technology as well as rubber outer soles. Their K-Ring technology is great for heel striker, but for mid / front foot strikers I think it just ads extra weight. If you are worried about thorns or glass etc. the rubber outer soles will give better protection as the EVA is very soft. If you are running on the road in good conditions and want an extra light shoes these are amazing though.