Looking for the fastest trail runners out there, this summer Merrell ran a contest for trail runners to win a chance to race for a spot on its elite, international athlete roster as part of its Get Fastest Known Time (FKT) challenge. The two new Merrell athletes are now signed for the 2024 season and will work first-hand with the brand’s product research and development test lab.

Merrell launched its “Get FKT” marketing campaign in tandem with the Merrell Test Lab (MTL) Skyfire 2 debut back in April. The brand says the Skyfire 2 is on pace to become the trail running shoe with the most FKTs – the fastest known time on a certain route that is at least five miles long or has 500 feet of climbing – set in the world. 

The contest challenged trail runners to set a new FKT route while wearing the MTL Skyfire 2, which it described as “powerfully fast and practically weightless as the lightest plated trail running shoe on the market — coming in at under seven ounces while maintaining 5mm lugs.”

“Think you’re fast? Put your miles where your mouth is and enter for a chance to race for a spot on our elite roster of sponsored athletes,” challenged Merrell senior brand marketing specialist Ben Stark. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for runners who wouldn’t traditionally have an opportunity to work with a brand at this scale.” 

Details of the contest, which ended in mid-August, included: 

• Six applicants (three male, three female) were initially selected to race for a spot to become a member of the brand’s sponsored athlete team at an exclusive Get FKT event.

• Contestants put the MTL Skyfire 2s to the test in the Get FKT challenge on the 3.2-mile route with 2201 feet of climbing.

The one male and one female trail runners who set the FKT at the event were crowned Merrell’s Get FKT challenge winners. 

• The two Get FKT challenge winners each earned a sponsored spot on Merrell’s global trail team.

“We have been at the forefront of studying the unpredictable nature of the trail for more than 40 years, from varying terrain types and changing weather conditions across a multitude of climates,” explains Stark. “MTL’s materials and technologies help athletes adapt and overcome the ever-changing nature of the trail. Our core knowledge and legacy continue to set the tone for rapid breakthroughs in the trail run space that other brands are now chasing,” said Stark. 

MTL is the brand’s in-house product incubator where its most technical and category disruptive innovations are conceived. The MTL collection is lab verified and athlete validated — working with athletes worldwide on rigorous prototype testing to refine and create products that continue to push the boundaries in the outdoor space.

“Being a Merrell athlete has made my dreams come true and it’s exciting to offer that chance to two new trail runners,” says Merrell athlete Rachel Tomajczyk. “I’m able to test MTL products and give feedback on gear, so I know I’m racing in the best shoes on the trail and setting the bar high for elite performance.”

Tomajczyk has set more than a dozen FKTs wearing the MTL Skyfire 2 and its prototypes to date. “On your mark, get FKT,” says Tomajczyk.