Inov8 Launches Mudtalon Speed  Trail Shoe

Inov8 has poured 20 years of expertise into creating what it is calling “the ultimate running shoe for muddy hills and trails.” The recently released Mudtalon Speed is the first shoe to launch from the its new 2024 footwear collection that headlines INOV8s first-ever rebrand.

A pack of new shoes across all three of Ionov8’s key categories – Run, Walk and Gym – will be unleashed throughout 2024 in a landmark year.

The first of those is the Mudtalon Speed, representing the heritage of the brand born – and still based – in the muddy Lake District fells of England. Like the other shoes in the 2024 collection, it features a new foot-shaped fit that promotes a more natural feel. This in turn brings greater levels of comfort and performance. The shoes come in two brand-new width fits – Precision and Wide.

And while the new collection’s first shoe retains some of the key DNA that has made the brand’s Mudclaw and X-Talon footwear franchises successful over the last 20 years, the Mudtalon Speed is more revolution than evolution, according to founder Wayne Edy.

“This is a new breed of beast, a fast-feel shoe to meet the next-generation needs of runners who like to speed over muddy fells, hills, mountains and trails,” Edy says. “The feedback in testing has been incredible and we can’t wait for more runners to try the new Mudtalon Speed.

“This is the start of a huge year for Ionv8, the biggest since we began 20 years ago,” he adds. “The team has worked unbelievably hard on our 2024 rebrand and product line. We look forward to sharing it all with everyone in the coming months.”

Inov8 ambassador Andy Berry last year wore Mudtalon Speed shoes to set a new solo winter record of 18-hours-six minutes for the 42-peak Bob Graham Round in the Lake District.

New Balance Unveils Performance Apparel, New FuelCell Rebel

New Balance kicked off the new year by making strides in performance apparel through its latest running innovation, the RC Short. Along with the short, New Balance recently launched the latest iteration from the FuelCell line – the FuelCell Rebel v4.  

The RC short is tailored for comfort, with a built-in brief and moisture-wicking four-way stretch fabric, along with internal and external pocket to stash essentials for a distraction-free run. The RC Short is designed to make running a lightweight and airy experience, with a retail price of $65.  

“The RC Short is the direct result of extensive consumer feedback and exhaustive wear testing at the New Balance Sports Research Lab. Designed and built for superior comfort, the RC Short features our internal brief with seamless constructed fabric, allowing fewer seams and a distraction-free run,” explains Amy Margolius, senior manager, apparel product creation at New Balance. “While the internal brief provides just the right amount of support, the perforated stretch woven shell features a versatile design that compliments runners’ needs for functional movement.” 

The FuelCell Rebel v4 is the latest offering from New Balance’s FuelCell line with a more comfortable price point. Designed for those that live an active lifestyle with running as their go-to activity, the Rebel v4 powers superior everyday performance without compromising on style. The tech innovation is lightweight for up-tempo runs with a midsole cushioned and stable for daily mileage. The Rebel v4 will go on sale on March 1, 2024, for a retail price of $140.  

Among its other features: 

  • New Midsole material made with PEBA/EVA blend Increased Fuelcell foam size
  • Engineered mesh upper with Fantomfit and a gusseted tongue for midfoot lockdown
  • Very light sub seven-ounce package for tempo workouts or long miles  


United Sports Brands Names Gyori New CEO

United Sports Brands, the parent of Shock Doctor, McDavid, Cutters, Nathan, Pearl Izumi and Glukos, has appointed Phil Gyori as CEO.

Gyori has more than 30 years of executive and management experience. According to the USB announcement, under his leadership at Pelican, “revenue increased almost 50 percent during his seven-year tenure. In his prior 16 years working at Bushnell, he helped the company achieve a five-fold top-line increase and integrated ten acquisitions.”

Most recently, Gyori was the CEO of Pelican Products and has also held past senior leadership roles at other outdoor and lifestyle brands, including Bushnell and Nike.

The executive move comes after USB’s recent acquisition by Norwest Equity Partners.

“I am excited to join the company and its fantastic group of industry-leading brands,” says Gyori. “I feel fortunate to be able to partner with the exceptional team that is already in place, and look forward to building on the foundation that USB has created.”

Fila Dives into Pickleball With New Shoe

Joining a host of footwear brands making a big move into the country’s fastest-growing sport, Fila this week released the Volley Burst to its pickleball footwear lineup.

The men’s Volley Burst is available in three colorways: harbor mist with white asparagus/seafoam green contrasts, mazarine blue with safety yellow/white accents and classic white with Fila navy and red trim. The women’s version is also offered in three color options, white with metallic silver accents, white with scuba blue/gold fusion and vibrant pink paired with Aruba blue/mazarine blue.

Fila’s Evergrind material offers traction during quick movement for both pro and enthusiast pickleball players.

The world’s number one female pickleball player, Anna Leigh Waters, a Fila-sponsored athlete, provided feedback during the design process to fine-tune the shoe’s responsiveness during play. “I’m absolutely loving the Volley Burst,” says Waters. “It was awesome for me to be involved and give feedback in the shoe’s design process, and the comfort and responsiveness have me playing at the top of my game.”

“The rising popularity of pickleball opens up exciting opportunities for the brand and deepens our commitment to deliver high quality in performance footwear for every player,” explains Nick Nolan, senior manager of Footwear Product Management at Fila. “We believe the Volley Burst is among our best and we’re excited to see it on both professional and recreational players across the country.”

Rodriguez joins Brooks Running 

Brooks Running has hired Gabriel “Gaby” Rodriguez as its new VP-apparel and accessories. In his new role, Rodriguez will lead all apparel and accessories design, development, product management and merchandising for Brooks’ global business. 

Rodriguez brings with him a longstanding career in the industry, with 13 years of experience leading apparel categories at Under Armour. More recently, he served as the Director of Run/Train, Curry & Basketball businesses and previously managed International On-Field Soccer and Latin America Merchandising. 

“Gaby’s leadership capabilities, deep knowledge of the running industry and strategic insights perfectly position him to lead Brooks into our next phase of growth,” says Dan Sheridan, president and COO at Brooks. 

Rodriguez’s background in the sport as an NCAA cross-country and track and field athlete and youth coach, coupled with his understanding of the running community, influences his approach to creating apparel that meets the needs of today’s runners. Rodriguez is returning to Brooks after working for the brand from 2007 to 2010 as a field marketing representative in Mexico, Central America, and the Southeast and South Central territories in the U.S. 

“I am so humbled to be back at Brooks leading such a talented team of product professionals and rejoining its culture of celebrating the run,” says Rodriguez. “I’m looking forward being a part of the Brooks brand as we work on building the most authentic performance running apparel and accessories in the industry.”

Clarks’ Jonathan Ram Re-Elected as SFIA Board Chairman

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) recently announced that Jonathan Ram, CEO of Clarks, Inc. as chairman of the SFIA Board of Directors for the 2024 term. In addition, Isabel Coscia, senior VP-marketing for Technogym; Ryan Cruthirds, chief digital commerce and brand development officer for Implus; and Koichiro Kodama, president and CEO for Asics North America were newly elected to the Board, along with three Board members who were re-elected, all for three-year terms. 

Ram was appointed to his current role with Clark’s in April 2022, after serving as the group president for global activewear with HanesBrands. Additional previous executive positions include New Balance, NBA and Roots.

“We are thrilled to welcome back Jonathan Ram as our Board Chair. His strong vision and active leadership continues to be critically valuable in guiding the organization at a time of industry disruption,” says Tom Cove, SFIA president and CEO.

New Additions to the SFIA Board of Directors Include:

  • Isabel Coscia: Senior Vice President, Marketing, Technogym – 2024-2026
  • Ryan Cruthirds: Chief Digital Commerce and Brand Development Officer, Implus LLC – 2024-2026
  • Koichiro Kodama: President & CEO, Asics North America – 2024-2026 Board Members Being Re-Elected Include:
  • Terry Babilla: President & CEO, BSN Sports – 2024-2026
  • Kurt Tandan: Associate General Counsel and Vice President of Government Affairs, Adidas – 2024-2026
  • Mike Zlaket: CEO, Rawlings Sporting Goods – 2024-2026

K-Swiss Appoints Richard as VP–Lifestyle

K-Swiss has hired athletics footwear veteran Andrew Richard as its new VP–lifestyle, responsible for leading lifestyle sales for the Americas region, including the wholesale sales team and K-Swiss distributors. 

Richard has previously worked at Nike, Reebok, Timberland, Puma and Asics. Most recently, Richard was the VP and GM of North America at FootBalance System, where he helped expand the distribution of the company’s 3D foot scanning and custom insole technology.

“Andrew’s combination of sales, strategy, planning and merchandising makes him the perfect fit,” says Barney Waters, K-Swiss brand president. “As we evolve the brand with a wider and more premium assortment, his skillset and experience will be extremely valuable.”

“I’m delighted to join a brand with such a storied history and so much future potential,” adds Richard. “Leaning on K-Swiss’ leadership in tennis to build a lifestyle business is a big opportunity.”

Images courtesy K-Swiss 

Merrell Signs Ambassador Athlete  

Merrell has signed ultra-runner Coree Woltering as an ambassador athlete. Woltering has competed in some of the most challenging trail races globally, setting the fastest times on the Ice Age Trail and competing in Eco-Challenge Fiji 2019. He runs in Merrell’s Agility Peak 5 while testing out the Merrell Test Lab (MTL) Long Sky 2 and its new Matryx edition. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Coree to Merrell, as his dedication to running, incredible talent and authenticity resonates with us,” says Merrell VP-brand marketing Lindsey Lindemulder. “His passion for the outdoors, commitment to excellence, and unique contributions to the running community make him an invaluable addition to our team. Together, we look forward to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the world of outdoor performance. 

Merrell also signed Sara ArandaMorgan Elliott, and Mercedes Siegle-Gaither as its newest Merrell Test Lab (MTL) trail team athletes. The three competed in Merrell’s Get FKT Challenge to earn a spot on the global roster of trail runners wearing the MTL Skyfire 2.