Outdoor brand Merrell and premier obstacle-event company Tough Mudder Inc. have teamed up for a multi-year partnership, introducing Merrell as the presenting partner for more than 60 Tough Mudder events in 2016.
With this new partnership comes new products and features for participants.
Tough Mudder, a team-oriented 10-mile mud run and obstacle course, is designed to test physical and mental strength. The event is not a race, but a challenge focused on teamwork and comradery, which is where Merrell and Tough Mudder Inc. came together.
“It was clear we wanted to do the same things. We wanted to build a community, and we wanted to get people to live healthy, active lifestyles, but not in an overly competitive way. It’s about teamwork and comradery, getting together and having fun. It was clear the Merrell team had the same values,” said Will Dean, CEO and co-founder of Tough Mudder Inc.
Merrell President Jim Gabel told Footwear News, “Our consumer panel was telling us that they saw the outdoor-adventure challenge as a creative platform and a new opportunity for the brand, which is this whole idea of nature’s gym.”
Merrell has developed specific gear for Tough Mudder, which Gabel says is not derived from something else but are made specifically to improve Tough Mudder participants’ enjoyment. This includes Merrell’s new All Out Crush trail-running shoe, available in February 2016 for $119.
The shoe features M SelectTM Grip and deep, multi-directional lugs to provide 360-degree traction, while flex grooves release mud to allow the foot to move naturally and help propulsion on ascents. A TPU mesh coating helps protect from the elements and allows for easy cleaning of mud and dirt, while a UniFlyTM midsole provides a more efficient stride.
Dean added, “We are focused on the fact that the people who do a Tough Mudder have the right gear and right equipment. It isn’t a fun experience if you’re covered in mud and you’ve got shoes that aren’t gripping and you’re slipping everywhere and you’re freezing. So it made a ton of sense [to team with Merrell].
Even before the partnership, Dean said Mudders were already opting for Merrell products. “We looked at what products participants were wearing and what they were most satisfied with, and trail-running shoes were far better than gym sneakers. Merrell was top of the list,” he said.
Merrell, a division of Wolverine Worldwide Inc., is dedicated to the design process for new gear, so much so that the company will be building a mini Tough Mudder course at its 330-acre headquarters in Michigan.
“That is, for myself, the rest of the executives and right down to the employee,s in order to experience this environment so they understand it,” said Gabel. “When we design Tough Mudder products for Tough Mudders, the only way you can do that is to be in that environment.”
Other points of the partnership include a new event series called the Tough Mudder Half, which brings the same obstacles to a shorter-distance format.
Participants will also receive a new co-designed Merrell finisher T-shirt at the end of each race with Merrell’s M SelectTM WICK technology to combat sweat and dry faster. Merrell and Tough Mudder will also co-develop a unique obstacle for the 2016 event series.