Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Inov8 Mudclaw 300 - review

Now thats YELLOW 
NOTE - I've now destroyed these shoes... the update is HERE

How many incarnations of the Mudclaw have we had? I have no idea, but have worn more than a few blisters and destroyed feet in the past. However, the new Yellow 300's and the Red 265's have burst onto the scene and look pretty damn good. They've been around for a year or so, and are very obvious on the race scene as there are so bright despite the best efforts of the mud and bog to diminish their insane brightness.

I tried to be co-ordinated
Having seen them about, I waited until my current 333's were on their last legs before going to Pete Blands to try a pair on, and get them on my feet. After running around Bleaklow one winter in Roclites, I went over to the Mudclaws simply for the grip in such muddy and slippy conditions. I have used the old white ones with the offset laces, which gave pretty much everyone who ever wore them HUGE blisters and cut up feet, then the 330's which I mangled into oblivion, and most recently the 333's which have been pretty good, though the uppers were the weak link in this shoe. (I don't appear to have published a blog on those yet... my apologies, I shall sort that out presently) This appears to have been fixed in the 300's.

First impression of the 300's (other than the incredible yellowness) is that the fore-foot seems a lot wider than any other mudclaw I have ever worn. I always take size 7 in inov8 and this is no exception, though there just seems to be more space. The nice thing about this shoe is that extra room in the toe box. It put me off to begin with simply because I hadn't got the
sock/shoe ratio quite right. Perhaps thats the most important point about getting fit right.
Soles looking pretty good
My first run in them was somewhat plagued by my feet slipping around within the shoe as I contoured, but up and downhill was fine. The grip was confidence inspiring, as ever.
I changed the sock configuration around for the races that I have been in, either wearing thicker socks, or doubling up with a thin pair and a thick pair, and bang, not a problem. No slippage inside the shoe, no problems, just good solid grip right the way around.

The soles are proper Mudclaw soles. Fantastic grip in the mud, on grass, and around all kinds of fell terrain. Not great on wet rock, (I'm still waiting for that scientific breakthrough!), and the compound feels very flexible when you run on harder surfaces- I wonder just how long the grip is going to last. Despite having worn them for just less than 150km, one of the studs is, I fear, starting to deteriorate and rip off. Hopefully this isn't the case, but I can't lie about what I see.
Slightly cracking stud, after 145km

I wouldn't say that I've *never* slipped while wearing these shoes - that would be downright lying. However, when I *do* slip, I have the absolute confidence that I will regain my balance and footing with these shoes, and that it is a momentary lapse, and probably on a surface that pretty much nothing will provide adherence to.

As with climbing shoes, the grippy rubber is always the bit you want, and the bit you pay for, but the problem is the grippier rubber always wears out the fastest. The concerning thing is that this might be happening with fell shoes now.

During the Sedburgh race I passed a couple of people who mentioned that they were really feeling the shoe under the ankle bones as they traversed around the hill. (I was in x-talons, so I couldn't comment on that), and on the odd occasion that I've been running over the hills and traversing, I can say that I sometimes feel that. The more I run in them, the less I feel it.

I suppose that's it really. The more you run in them, the more comfortable they get. However, the more you run in them, the faster they wear out.
Looking slightly less yellow
Dilemma! But there is a crossover stage where they are comfy as can be, AND have superb grip. As long as you can keep them in this sweet spot, the better they will be.

Yes, they are the best Mudclaws I have worn yet, the most comfortable and the least blister inducing. They are also the most solid around the toe box and toe crease that I have seen in the mudclaw range, with the rand giving confidence in the construction. This has so often been the weak point of inov8 shoes, and it appears to have been fixed on this model. (indeed, I have yet to see a pair of 300's with bust up toe
No, I haven't destroyed these yet, and I look forward to training and racing in them this winter.
300's being used to good effect descending at FTOP
Excellent grip. Good space for big socks. A proper winter bogtrotting shoe. If you're running on the moors this winter, ok they may be expensive, but seriously, I don't think there is a better shoe out there.

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