“What. Are. Those!?” A colleague of mine asked. “These,” I responded holding up the pristine, bright orange shoe and waving the 8mm studs at him, “Are the new inov-8 X-Talon G 235. Pretty gnarly right? They’re really designed for trail and mountain running. Fell runners love them!”
“Well you don’t see many of those round here!” He laughed.
True. I thought. But you also don’t see many 2 hour marathons and that doesn’t stop everyone and their dog in the West London area cracking out a pair of neon Vaporflys for their lunchtime 5k.
And so it was that on a rather miserable, grey, unseasonably mild, and therefore unbelievably wet Monday afternoon I found myself running loops around Wormwood Scrubs in West London looking for every last square inch of mud and every last millimetre of surface water. I found it. I found it all. And boy was I flying!
The X-Talon 235, and it’s slightly underweight stringbean sibling the 210, have both been given inov-8’s much lauded and celebrated graphene treatment. Their inauguration into the G-Series range was summed up best by the tagline that accompanied the marketing campaign – ” A Legend Reborn” – And I’ve got to say I think that pretty much nails it.
I was fortunate enough to get hold of a pair of the G235’s to test out and as winter arrived in all it’s sodden windy glory, they couldn’t have come at a better time.
The shoe is lightweight, it’s 235 grams obviously, but it is an incredibly solid design in spite of the minimalist feel to it. The upper is made using a singular seamless piece of super tough ballistic nylon. This material was specifically designed for maximum durability and abrasion resistance. It was originally intended for use was during World War II to protect against shrapnel and other ballistic impacts. Now, I’m almost certain it’s not anything close to being bullet proof but stick it on a running shoe and you can be rest assured you’ve got the most protected feet on the trails, short of wedging a steel toe cap in there. inov-8 almost went as far as that, but in their own special way, by adding a printed rubber rand on the outside of the toe box for extra protection.
Alongside the graphene enhanced G-Grip the outsole plays host to the aggressive 8mm studs, Powerflow+ midsole technology delivering 10% better shock absorption and a 25% increase of energy return, as well as the second generation Meta-plate for flexibility and underfoot protection. There’s a lot going on there and all packed into a 6mm heel to forefoot drop. The overarching theme of the shoe, and what inov-8 have successfully accomplished, is a flexible fierce and fast design. The shoe is intended to run at top speeds of any runner, across any terrain, over any distance.
On inov-8’s “Fit Scale” the G235 comes in as a 2, a Precision Fit. It fits tightly around the entirety of the foot from heel to toe. This precision allows for increased agility and the ability to react at speed to changing or challenging terrain. It’s the first time I’ve worn a shoe designed as precision fit and from the moment I put them on I noticed the difference. In a good way. The shoe clung to my foot, as tightly as it could without being a nuisance, and it brought with it a confidence to just hit the ground running with complete disregard for the ground I was running on. By that I mean the biggest change I noticed when heading out on a familiar route that miserable Monday afternoon was instead of trying to pick my way round, or slowly through, uncertain and questionable terrain I found myself careering straight over any amount of mud and water with unwavering stability and traction at all times. Instead of trying to force a solid footing going up or downhill the shoe did all the hard work with every foot strike. In other words, my mind was clear of any concerns for where my foot was landing every time meaning I could focus purely on trying to keep the tempo consistent and efficient – the two simplest, effective and important factors when hoping for a successful run.
I spent quite a few weeks through late December and into January running almost exclusively off-road or cross country, no mean feat in the depths of winter for sure; but I still had one question hanging over the shoe – Most of the routes I’d been doing had maxed out around 10 miles, a fair distance but just how far could the shoe be pushed? In early January I ran the Country to Capital Ultra. 43 Miles. Starting in the Chilterns countryside and finishing in Little Venice near Paddington in London. The race is very much split into 2 halves. The first being rolling countryside, woodland trails, fields and farmland. Then at about 23 miles the route hits the Grand Union canal and it follows the canal path for a pancake flat and challenging 20 miles to the finish line. I ran the first 23 miles in the G235 with absolutely no qualms, no issues and with no doubt in my mind that they are indeed a class act. Could I have continued for the full 43 in them? Probably, Yes. Was I glad I swapped them out for a road shoe with substantially more cushioning as I began the 20 mile pounding along the canal path, Yes. But only because it would’ve been a pointless waste of all the X-Talon’s built in genius.
Like I said previously this shoe is flexible, fierce and fast – It’s phenomenal.The X-Talon G 235 is on sale now. Discover more at https://www.inov-8.com/