British brand Inov8, have had a busy few weeks recently if you hadn't noticed. (check thier facebook page)The Inov8 Team have been over in Chamonix racing and testing at the highest level. The Mont Blanc Marathon is a legendary race, flat out, fast and furious big mountain running. Inov8 had a team delegation drawn from many countries, and they saw some great success with 5 of their athletes finishing in the top ten. Kilian Jornet (Team Salomon) won the race, but it looks like everyone was talking about Team Inov8. Salomon is a big company, with big marketing money, and a dedicated following in Europe. On the flip side, you would be hard pushed to even find a shop selling Inov8 shoes in the mountain town of Chamonix, but that is changing fast.
The Mont Blanc marathon week hosts a mix of races around the famous massif. One of the most exciting to watch is the 1km vertical race. The steepest trail in the valley gets attacked by athletes going at maximum heart rate, hauling themselves up this vertical sprint. It looks brutal, and it must feel like every limb is on fire, with your lungs trying to burst out of your chest. Inov8 athlete Florian Reichert finished 13th.
While the team were assembled they used the chance to get a load of product development sorted. Now, for a distinctively British brand to be testing in the Alps, with a crew of international athletes is a big deal. Especially when you consider that Inov8 shoes were born, then tested and raced in the muddy rolling hills of the UK. British fell running and Alpine mountain running couldn't be more different for a sport that looks so similar. The difference is the climate. UK fell runners run wet and cold, with just enough kit in a bum bag to get you off the mountain. In the Alpine sky running races they run at higher altitudes, rocky ground and with the bigger risk being sun burn and dehydration. This is the challenge that faced the Inov8 designers when they embarked on their latest project; clothing for mountain runners, the world over.
Launched this week the range is small compared to other brands, but there is not a dud in sight. They look to have listened to precisely what elite runners wanted, and concentrated on the essentials. The result is a range of lightweight, high performance kit that is light enough for a short British fell race, but sturdy enough for a multi day alpine ultra marathon. Take a look for yourself at the planetFear store. Online and in store now.
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