Cut Graham Jordison open and he bleeds inov-8. Our Design Manager has been an integral part of the brand since its very first day. Back in 2003 Graham was inov-8 founder Wayne Edy’s first recruit and, driven on by a continued desire to innovate, has since designed countless award-winning shoes, including the iconic MUDCLAW. In this new blog post, Graham answers questions about the MUDCLAW, a running shoe which, as the name suggests, claws through mud and comes back up begging for more.
Where did the original idea for the MUDCLAW running shoe come from?
Our first-ever shoe in 2003 was the MUDROC. While it was a great success in launching the brand, I knew we could develop a shoe that was even more performance-oriented and offered the best grip in soft and muddy terrain for elite runners, including those racing in the UK fells. The natural sole profile from the MUDROC worked really well on undulating terrain but I felt that we could get greater bite and grip for runners tackling steeper slopes by reshaping and repositioning the outsole cleats. And so the MUDCLAW was born.
What was that original testing process like?
Inspired by super-grippy climbing shoe technology, we tested several compounds of sticky rubber and cleat shapes until we got the balance right. Among the things we looked closely at was using larger cleats in areas of high wear and smaller cleats where greater traction was needed. We also focused on the key outsole areas around the heel and toe, ensuring we gave runners the best grip possible when landing and toeing-off. By doing all these things we built a MUDCLAW running shoe that helped runners attack muddy and loose debris-type ascents and descents with more confidence.
How much fun was it to design a shoe with such a unique, aggressive look?
It was great fun because my industrial design background lent itself to creating a real technical design. The upper of the shoe also needed to reflect the aggressiveness of the outsole, so we stripped it back to help create a simple, fast, fierce and unique look. On some of the early MUDCLAW shoes we also tried using offset lacing in a bid to give the foot more inner support and help runners when they were contouring along the sides of slopes.
What significant changes have been made to the MUDCLAW over the years?
Over the years we have developed the MUDCLAW so it offers increased durability and protection against the muddy and unpredictable terrains found when running off-trail. The outsole design has fundamentally remained the same, although we changed from having a bi-planer (rounded) heel profile to a flatter one to aid stability underfoot. The current MUDCLAW in the range is the MUDCLAW 300. (Ed – the 300 in the name represents the weight of the shoe, so in this case 300g).
What is it about the MUDCLAW shoe design that makes it so good for running in mud?
Every single cleat has been sized, oriented and positioned with performance in mind… everything from directional traction to the shedding of mud before the next strike phase. The triangular cleat shape gives the MUDCLAW its strength and, coupled with our durable sticky rubber compound, means it can cope brilliantly with not only the thickest of mud but also wet rock.
But it’s not all about the outsole. What makes the rest of the shoe perfect for running over soft and muddy ground?
Getting the balance right in the shoe upper is also key. We’ve always focused on trying to deliver a MUDCLAW that is thin enough in the upper as to not hold water but at the same time be durable enough to survive the harsh conditions it is subjected too and be both breathable and comfortable.
The cleats on the MUDCLAW are 8mm in depth. Ever thought about making them even longer?
We actually tested a longer cleat version and there wasn’t any increased performance in grip. The shape of the cleats are such that the tips have less rubber on them, so the longer you make them, the more vulnerable they become to tearing. We feel 8mm is the perfect depth. Added to that, another key factor in making a shoe that gives the off-trail runner confidence is ensuring the foot stays close to the ground. This ensures a stable and responsive ride.
A common question – What’s the main difference between the MUDCLAW and the X-TALON range?
Much of the X-TALON has taken its DNA from the MUDCLAW but we were always after creating two distinctive products. The MUDCLAW is as literal as it sounds – it claws through mud and performs best when racing and training in extreme, muddy running environments. The X-TALON is lighter and excels in fast racing conditions. As well as soft off-trail ground, it also performs superbly on harder mountain running trails thanks to its unique profile and cleat design. (Ed – the X-TALON shoes in the current range are the X-TALON 200, X-TALON 212 and X-TALON 225).
The X-CLAW 275 was introduced to the range recently. How does this differ to the MUDLCAW?
The X-CLAW 275 also has an aggressive outsole suitable for running over soft, muddy ground. It’s in our standard (wider) fit, which provides extra comfort for runners with wider feet. It also has increased cushioning underfoot. The MUDCLAW is in our precision fit, retaining the pedigree of a fast-feel, supportive running shoe that holds the foot close and aids the runner looking to move at speed over the muddiest of terrains.