inov8 MUDTALON SPEED RunUltra Review
As a Peak District local and an eager, but distinctly amateur, fell and ultra-runner, I’m no stranger to spending a British winter of training, racing, and more often than not, sliding around in the muddy stuff. Which is why as the nights have drawn in and the weather worsened, I was extremely excited to put to the test inov8’s latest mud-conquering offering, the inov8 MUDTALON SPEED.
Promoted by the lakes-based company as the outcome of a 20-year journey from MUDROC to MUDCLAW and X-TALON, the MUDTALON SPEED is inov8’s first shoe to launch from their rebranded 2024 footwear collection. The shoe comes boasting new enhancements in grip, cushioning, protection, durability, shape and fit according to their website description. My previous experience in using the inov8 X-TALON 212 to battle against a number of local mud-strewn fell races has always been positive, especially in regards to grip, therefore I was keen to see how the new inov8 MUDTALON SPEED performed.
- Launch date: January 2024
- RRP: £130 | $140 | €150
- Weight: 260g (average weight across all sizes and fits)
- Lug depth: 8mm
- Total stack heights (floor to foot): 26mm heel / 22mm forefoot
- Midsole depth: 11mm heel / 7mm forefoot
- Drop: 4mm
- Fit options: Precision and Wide
- Launch colours: Black/Yellow (Men) | Burgundy/Coral (Women)
Straight out the box initial impressions are it’s a good looking shoe, coming in two distinct colourways; a men’s black and yellow and a women’s burgundy and coral. Another stand-out first impression is the change from the classic inov8 name and logo, to a simpler and more subtle branding coming as a result of a “refreshed design direction”, and likely to feature on all future inov8 products. In my opinion, the old logo and branding looked better, although I’m much more interested in how this new offering performs on the Peak District trails than how it looks. Before we get to that however, it’s worth highlighting some key facts and features of the MUDTALON SPEED.
The first new feature of this shoe its shape, which inov8 state has been completely redesigned to hug the natural contours of your foot, whilst providing a roomier toe box, to “ensure comfort and unhindered performance”. The MUDTALON SPEED also features two new fits, precision for a closer, racier option, and wide for a more relaxed feel and comfort over longer distances. Being a men’s UK size 10, I initially tried a size 10 in the wide fit, but this was way too big around the toe box, so instead opted for a UK size 10.5 in the precision fit, which ended up being spot on.
Notable other features are the newly shaped 8mm lugs comprised of STICKYGRIP rubber on the outsole, which are designed to provide traction even in the muddiest and wettest conditions, alongside a META-SHANK rock plate for protection and stability. Added to this is a brand new POWERFLOW PRO foam midsole and 6mm BOOMERANG footbed, coupled with a new upper made of flexible ripstop material designed to enhance breathability and drainage.
After testing this shoe on a number of Peak District runs of between 3 to 10 miles, and in the varying classic British winter conditions of wet, muddy and icy and trails, I can safely say that invo-8 got the naming right with this one, mainly the SPEED bit. This shoe is FAST. Weighing in at 260g, it feels light and responsive on the trails, whilst the aggressive lugs provided me with grip on even the most mud-drenched of local trails. The weight of the shoe and lug length encourages you to go faster, and the grip gave me the confidence to really send it on the downhill sections of my runs. Surprisingly on the rockier stuff, the shoe performed well in the grip department also, and the 4mm drop ensured I could actually feel the trail underneath my feet.
The new midsole and foot shape is also evident out on the trails, the shoe feels springy and more supportive than my X-TALON 212’s, and the wider toe box is definitely a noticeable improvement from earlier inov8 mud-slaying models. Despite this, this is definitely not an ultra-distance shoe for me, and probably why inov8 haven’t marketed it as such, the overall lightness and large 8mm lugs underfoot mean it’s much more suited to the shorter and racier muddy stuff. I did have issues however with the shape of the shoe at the rear rubbing against my heel, as it seems much higher and more angular than other inov8 models, and this isn’t something I’ve experienced with their shoes before.
The new “geodesic” structured material of the upper is a great addition, remaining flexible underfoot whilst also being extremely good at drainage when wet, having run through many puddles and crossed a few bogs and streams, with the MUDTALON SPEED taking them all in its stride. With an RRP of £130, is not exactly a cheap shoe which, with its light minimalist design, and the omission of an ‘G’ (inov8’s graphene enhanced rubber) infused midsole or outsole, one wonders exactly why its been given this price tag. The laces too, feel thin and cheap in comparison to some other inov8 models, and are difficult to properly cinch and tighten when wearing gloves.
Overall, this is a great shoe for tackling shorter muddier runs and races, and the MUDTALON SPEED really comes into its own when going fast over uneven and wet terrain. The shoe is light, responsive and provides truly excellent grip, definitely making it a fine companion to UK based fell races, although some might not get on with the new shape of the shoe, especially on longer runs. For me, the shoe is an excellent upgrade to my X-TALON 212’s, and I’ll be continuing to use it as my weapon of choice to battle the elements over the wet winter period.
Have you tried the inov8 MUDTALON SPEED? Don’t agree with this review? What’s your opinion? Add your own comment to this review and share your experience and passion for running with others.
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