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What pandemic? Two Chicago area retailers forge ahead with store openings. Page 8.

THE NEWSMAGAZINE FOR RUNNING SPECIALTY RETAILERS / RUNNINGINSIGHT.COM THE NEWSMAGAZINE FOR RUNNING SPECIALTY RETAILERS / RUNNINGINSIGHT.COM

MARCH 16, 2020 NOVEMBER 2, 2020

SEEKINGINCLUSION Running Industry Diversity Coalition formed to increase opportunities in running.

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The Evolving Run Consumer

Run specialty retailers are in an ideal position to capitalize on pandemic-era buying trends. / By Dirk Sorenson, NPD Group

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ince the COVID-19 public health crisis began, dramatic shifts in U.S. retail have occurred — both in terms of what consumers are purchasing and via what outlets. Through the sports and recreation lens, many categories have experienced exceptional sales growth as a result of consumers transitioning to a fitness mindset. At the same time, retailers have been

experiencing differing results largely depending on the sales channel. Regardless of product category, sales have shifted away from specialty retail. Retailers considered essential and those with a strong online focus have benefitted. Run specialty sales mirror this overall trend. E-commerce retail and large format sporting goods stores gained share in the six months from March through August 2020.

RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2020 all rights reserved. Running Insight is published twice each month, is edited for owners and top executives at running specialty stores and available only via email.The opinions by authors and contributors to Running Insight are not necessarily those of the editors or publishers. Articles appearing in Running Insight may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the publisher. Divesified Communications, 121 Free St, Portland, ME 04101; (207) 842-5500.

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This growth outside of run specialty stores has resulted in a loss of four share points, or a $46 million swing in sales away from run specialty retailers.* Looking To the Future While these shifts have had a challenging impact on specialty stores, including those selling performance running shoes, this masks a bigger and far more positive set

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The Evolving Run Consumer (continued)

Someday large running events will return, but until then run specialty retailers will need to cater to a changing consumer who has very different shopping habits. Photo by Michael Carruth on Unsplash.

of consumer trends that could propel specialty running sales to strong, long-term growth in the future. NPD’s point-of-sale data reveals that consumers have been investing heavily in home fitness and individual sports since the pandemic began. Overall home fitness equipment sales grew by 102 percent to $1.77 billion from March through August 2020 compared to the same months last year. Sales of cardiovascular machines experienced the highest increases over this period, up 137 percent. Individual sports such as golf have also seen a surge in sales. Golf equipment sales grew 38 percent in the six months ending in August 2020 compared to the same period one year ago.* 4

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Stepping back from these specific numbers, a broad and powerful consumer trend emerges. Consumers are looking for ways to be more active in and near their homes. With gyms and other activities still largely prohibited from operating at full capacity, consumers continue to evolve their behaviors towards individual home-based activities. This is an enormous opportunity for those in running retail and manufacturing. It is worth noting that most of the sales losses in specialty running occurred in the first three months of the pandemic. During the opening months (March through May), sales were down 35 percent for road running shoes and 21 percent for trail running shoes compared to

the same period in 2019. In the last three months (June through August), sales have vastly improved, with road running shoes down only three percent and trail running shoes flat over one year ago.* Taking Advantage of Home Fitness With fitness equipment sales growing triple digits, many may wonder why running shoes sales have not followed this pace. The answer is that many consumers are either using shoes they already own to participate in home fitness, or they may be confusing casual athletic shoes as a performance option. In fact, casual athletic footwear sales grew by eight percent from June through August compared to last year.

What does all this mean for the future of running-focused retail? First, the permanence we are seeing in e-commerce heightens the importance of having a seamless online experience. NPD’s Checkout data points to online sales sustaining even as brick-and-mortar retail has reopened. In fact, online sales receipts (per capita) across the categories that NPD tracks shows doubledigit growth for nearly every week from March through September compared to last year. This e-commerce acceleration highlights the need for retailers to put greater effort towards their online platforms to reach consumers. One trend that may provide a notable advantage for smaller, Š 2020 Diversified Communications


The Evolving Run Consumer (continued) Retailers can take advantage of the shift in consumer behavior towards immediacy. As the pandemic has impacted the daily lives of Americans, many consumers are now waiting for the actual need before buying an item.

Brighter days are ahead as running has emerged as one of the beneficiaries of changing consumer activity trends. Photo by Zac Ong on Unsplash.

local retailers is in the buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) model. Large retailers have had challenges executing this model as it puts unique stress on staffing; however, smaller retailers, with the aid of manufacturing partners that have invested in online technologies that track store availability, have an immediate opportunity to gain sales online and generate store traffic in their local markets in ways that bigger retail chains are presently challenged to provide. This online model, where a manufacturer site has driven 6

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transactions to local shops, has been highly refined in the bicycle industry and is now being deployed by numerous specialty running brands. Regardless of manufacturer, those selling running shoes should take advantage of this partnership. A focus on creating online sales opportunities provides some near-term advantage and will set up individual retailers for longer term growth as online selling continues to grow. That said, the longer term opportunity for sustained growth for running retail and manufacturing

lies with taking advantage of the home fitness trend and the need for immediate service, which consumers are now demonstrating. Serving the New Runner Finding opportunity in home fitness requires that retailers and manufacturers recognize that this consumer is likely new to at-home fitness and may be new to running, as well. This consumer segment will benefit from a different product assortment and an understanding by specialty retailers that the wave

of running-inspired, casual athletic shoes in the market may confuse the everyday and newer consumer. Education on the qualities of a specialty running shoe is a first powerful step. Equally as important, retailers can take advantage of the shift in consumer behavior towards immediacy. As the pandemic has impacted the daily lives of Americans, many consumers are now waiting for the actual need before buying an item. For example, this year’s backto-school sales and their poor performance reflects this trend. Consumers were willing to wait for schools to reopen to make key purchases and opted not to take advantage of sales. The reason this can be a positive for specialty running retailers is that as long as legitimate demand is present for a category, there will be less need for sales and discounting. Wit h i mp r ove d m a rg i n health and increases in product demand as a result of the fitness movement, this brings with it long-term growth opportunities for all players that have a place in this space, including run specialty. n *Source: The NPD Group/ U.S. Retail Tracking Service Š 2020 Diversified Communications


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A Tale of Two Openings Even in a pandemic, two intrepid Chicago area running stores open their doors. / By Daniel P. Smith

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andemic? What pandemic? The heck with the pandemic. That had to be a little bit of the thought process that two running retail entrepreneurs were going through when, in the middle of one of the worst health crises and social upheavals in our country’s history, they decided to follow their dreams anyway and open their run specialty stores. Talk about the best of times and worst of times ... But the result is now in place. In Commonwealth Running Company and the Last Lap Cornerstore, the Chicago area boasts two of the latest entrants into running retail’s ranks. The two shops, which opened in February and September, respectively, and sit just under 20 miles from one another, enter the retail game at a peculiar time. The pandemic, after all, has given hesitancy to in-store shopping and largely halted in-person events and group runs, key elements that have consistently helped run specialty retailers build their tribes and drive sustainable operations over the years. Though facing unique, once-in-a-lifetime challenges, these two fledgling run shops underscore the resiliency, adaptability and enterprising spirit that have come to define the run specialty channel. Commonwealth’s Long, Winding Road Nearly a decade ago, Matt Abitbol began cooking up plans for a run specialty store, a 8

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Matt Abitbol (left) cuts the ribbon to celebrate the opening of Commonwealth Running Company in Evanston, IL. He is joined by City of Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty.

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Tale of Two Openings (continued) concoction that included a designated running store savings account, exploring dozens of run shops and working the floor at a Chicago running store to gain valuable retail experience. In May 2019, Abitbol left his longtime career in banking and began finalizing plans for his jump into running retail waters. He signed a lease on a storefront in Evanston, a waterside suburb immediately north of Chicago, in November, moved into the space in January, 2020 and officially opened Commonwealth Running Company on Feb. 28, 2020. “For years, this was my mission,” says Abitbol, a veteran of some 80 marathons. “I couldn’t have been any happier to finally have the doors open.”

Commonwealth Running Company opened its doors on Feb. 28. On March 16, owner Matt Abitbol closed the doors of his Evanston, IL-based shop in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Next: Closing the Store Sixteen days later, Abitbol voluntarily closed his store, days before Illinois officials issued a stay-at-home order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Commonwealth did not record a sale for 10 days. Abitbol had no client base to ping and, because of Commonwealth’s youth, could not pursue Paycheck Protection Program funding from the federal government. “There were no reinforcements coming,” he says. With only Commonwealth’s nascent online store able to corral revenue, Abitbol scoured for ways to generate sales. Friends helped him fine-tune his online marketing and digital advertising. Abitbol hustled to make home deliveries and quickly fulfill every online order. An April 21 story in the Chicago Tribune, meanwhile, highlighted his plight and drew © 2020 Diversified Communications


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Tale of Two Openings (continued)

In September, Ian Gonzalez opened Last Lap Cornerstore in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood. The running store inhabits a 180-square foot shipping container.

attention to Commonwealth, even spurring some sales. The collective efforts steadied Commonwealth, which reopened to in-store traffic on June 3. Abitbol has since crafted a business plan with more realistic projections, while also recalibrating store procedures and working to build his client base. “I can’t look at what I was expecting to do. This is the world now and I need to learn to survive in this environment,” he says. 12

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Having endured the initial coronavirus hit, Abitbol believes his business has been sharpened by the pandemic. Forced to weather a challenging environment, it – and he – did. Commonwealth and Abitbol have shown resiliency and strength, flexibility and fortitude. “I’m actually close to where I want to be and don’t fear closing the doors tomorrow as I once did,” he says. In fact, Abitbol expresses optimism for the road ahead.

“I definitely expect to be here and my long-term hope is that there’s a net positive from this, that the people who picked up running during the pandemic are visiting running stores like mine now and well into the future.” Launching Last Lap Unlike Abitbol, Ian Gonzalez never ha rbored a ny longstanding desires to own a run specialty store. In fact, he didn’t even enjoy running until recently.

“I barely even ran for the bus,” he jokes. While training for the 2018 Chicago Marathon – only his second race ever – Gonzalez lamented having to travel upwards of 30 minutes from his South Side home to grab energy gels. “It’s mostly complaining that sparked this business idea,” Gonzalez says. Tossing himself deeper into the running world, including leading runs for GumboFit and 7onSundays, two local running groups, Gonzalez’s energy for the business intensified. “Here I was leading run groups and passing on information, but I felt I was only giving half of the solution,” he says. “I wanted to be more of a support system for those I was running with.” Sitting on his couch in June, Gonzalez made the “impulsive decision” to apply for a business license. While friends and family urged him to bypass any physical storefront in favor of an online-only play, Gonzalez rejected that notion. “That defeated the purpose because I wasn’t solving issues if I was only online,” he says. “Runners in my neighborhood would still have to wait days to get those must-have items delivered or would have to make a special trip up north.” Com m it ted to havi ng a physical location, Gonzalez nevertheless recognized the risk, especially during the coronavirus age. He sought to create a business that would be as “pandemic proof” as possible. So, instead of pursuing a traditional brick-and-mortar retail location, Gonzalez signed a lease © 2020 Diversified Communications


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Tale of Two Openings (continued) for a space in Boxville, Chicago’s first shipping container mall and street food market. The slimmed down space provided Gonzalez favorable terms. And rather than chasing shoe and apparel brands, Gonzalez focused on the cornerstore ethos of quickgrab essentials like nutrition, accessories, recovery tools and higher-margin branded merchandise like Last Lap running tees and hats, his best-selling item.

Last Lap is intent on building a community of runners from its unique storefront in Boxville, Chicago’s first shipping container mall.

‘Shocked’ By The Support “Hat sales paid our rent for two months,” he says, adding that the 180-square foot shipping container forced him to be more intentional about his

product mix. Open since late September, Gonzalez has been “shocked” by the wide-ranging support for Last Lap, which included an online feature with Runner’s World and numerous customers from zip codes well beyond the store’s Bronzeville neighborhood. “I really thought it would just be the people I’m running with and a slow build from there, but the love and support I’ve received from so many has been great,” he says. “Last Lap is about sharing what I have learned over my recent years and I’m excited to keep doing just that.” n

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Running Toward A More Inclusive Industry How the Running Industry Diversity Coalition came to be – and what it hopes to accomplish. / By Daniel P. Smith Lampen-Crowell’s introspection proved to be the powerful first step in a monthslong journey to create the Running Industry Diversity Coalition, a collection of running retailers, vendors, advocates and other industry insiders committed to fostering a more equitable and inclusive future.

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he murder of Ahmaud Arbery ig n it e d ref le ct ion i n Ch r is Lampen-Crowell. With a son A rber y’s age, Lampen-Crowell, the co-founder of the five-store Gazelle Sports chain in Michigan, felt personal ties to Arbery and shuddered at the tragic circumstances surrounding 16

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the Georgia man’s death. Soon, LampenCrowell began examining Gazelle’s work to combat discrimination and promote diversity. Admittedly, Lampen-Crowell recoiled at his findings. “I realized we hadn’t done as much as we could have,” Lampen-Crowell. “In fact, we were rather blind to it.”

Accelerating Movement As Lampen-Crowell began talking with other running retailers throughout the spring, including John Benedict of Playmakers, Kris Hartner of the Naperville Running Company and Cathy Pugsley of Potomac River Running, a glaring, toooften-ignored reality emerged. “Our industry claims to be inclusive and in so many ways it is with respect to age and shape and pace,” Lampen-Crowell says. “On this issue of race, though, we haven’t done nearly enough.” A movement began stirring, LampenCrowell says, as he and his fellow running retailers contacted Running Industry Association executive director Terry Schalow and Fleet Feet executive Robyn Goby, whose boss, Fleet Feet CEO Joey Pointer, had penned an open letter urging “partners, competitors and friends” in the running industry to condemn systemic racism and “band together to create a movement … that will impact our communities forever.” “We needed to push the conversation beyond our small circle,” Lampen-Crowell says. “And let’s face it: We were still white people talking amongst ourselves and we

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To get involved: www.runningdiversity.com.

Running Industry Diversity Coalition (continued)

A Open Letter to the Running Industry As some of you know, the three of us have helped form a new organization, the Running Industry Diversity Coalition (RIDC). We would like you to join us as we work to make the industry we love more diverse and inclusive.

running industry can and should be a leader of diversity, equity and inclusion. We know that we can and must do more; the running industry is primarily directed, managed and owned by white people (yep, that is us too). We also know we can bring change if we do this together.

We realize that many of you are engaged in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work within your business already — thank you! And we understand that for many this may not be the most urgent priority during this unpredictable year. However, we feel strongly that the

The running community has become more racially diverse. Let’s hold ourselves accountable, evolve and work together so that diversity is cultivated at all levels of our running industry. We can share the path of listening, learning, and acting so that together we

didn’t know what we didn’t know.” With a focus on graduating from talk to purposeful action, the collective marched forward. They contacted Teresa Baker, co-founder of the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge, who connected the group with Harlem Run and Run 4 All Women founder Alison Mariella Désir as well as Verna Volker of Native Women Running. Brooks and Hoka One One entered the fray as well. Soon, the Running Industry Diversity Coalition planted its roots in the ground, unified by a love of running and an earnest desire to see the industry become a more welcoming, aware and unified version of itself. “There’s good reason to take a step back, listen and learn and understand the barriers to run that exist for people of color, which is important to welcoming them into our businesses, bringing them onto our teams and increasing diversity in our 18

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corner of the world,” LampenCrowell says. Described as “a working group that seeks to challenge the current status while unifying and amplifying the inclusion, access and roles of Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC)” in the running industry, the Coalition aims to nurture and build a more equitable and inclusive industry by attacking prejudicial structures, improving representation of those from marginalized groups and providing a platform for the sharing of best practices and resources to drive accountability. It’s an admittedly daring endeavor, yet a necessary one if the running industry is to become a truly transformative player in society that chips away at long-standing inequities, strengthens opportunities and connects people to movement. “I refer to this as the neverending ultramarathon,” says Martha Garcia, Hoka’s director of global brand creative and

will amplify the strategic and human success of diversity. The value of inclusion runs deep throughout the running industry. We touch lives and can improve our businesses, our communities and this world by putting one foot in front of the other together. The time to act is now! Join us at RunningDiversity.com With heartfelt gratitude, John Benedict, Playmakers Robyn Goby, Fleet Feet Chris Lampen-Crowell, Gazelle Sports

communications. The Coalition will pursue its goals together, continually inviting other partners into the fold and sharing best practices. That work officially began on Oct. 28 with the first in a series of six conversations built around topics such as the importance of diversity and inclusion, authentic marketing and representation, recruitment and hiring and unconscious bias. “As runners and athletes, we’re accustomed to competition. With diversity and inclusion, it’s all about sharing,” Brooks senior manager of diversity, equity and inclusion Shannon Woods says. The Role of Running Retailers Whereas brands like Brooks and Hoka bring a powerful megaphone alongside funding to the party, Lampen-Crowell urges his fellow running retailers to recognize their crucial role in this effort. As visible anchors in their community with

training groups and events, running retailers can help people who haven’t always felt welcome, and might even have felt separated, find comfort in running. “Access to run is an issue in the BIPOC population and we owe it to them to understand how we can become more welcoming in our business,” Lampen-Crowell says. Yet more, a business case exists as well. As demographics shift and equity and inclusivity intensify as important social issues, consumers will more critically assess where they spend their money, LampenCrowell contends. In addition, more diverse voices in the room and heightened awareness of varied perspectives can fuel better business outcomes. “I truly believe creating a more equitable and inclusive running industry will make us stronger and bring more creativity to the forefront,” Lampen-Crowell says. n © 2020 Diversified Communications


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A Run With ...

Patrick Hitchins, FitRankings A transformative year for racing has opened up opportunities for those willing and able to think creatively. The past year has been transformative for the concept of virtual racing. What role has FitRankings had in this? Any examples we can talk about? Virtual racing has been around for a long time, dating back in some versions to the 1970s with Postal Nationals in High School. More recently, during the 2000s in-person races might provide a very basic option for individuals to pay an entry fee, get a bib, a T-shirt and then manually input their results with an uploaded picture of their time on a watch — yes, literally a picture of a watch.

digital community they’ve cultivated is their Instagram or Facebook page. The social space is increasingly crowded, resulting in higher advertising costs and lower ROI. For all the social followers and engagement a brand has, we ask the questions: “Is this approach delivering a deeper connection? Are they able to gather email addresses and are followers actually engaged with the organization’s message and mission in a meaningful way?” What if there was a better way for companies to build a digital community and virtual experiences that connect with active lifestyles in an authentic way? That’s where FitRankings comes in. We provide the technology for organizations to do more with their virtual race/challenges, increase participation and turn engagement into bottom-line impact.

The good old days. How has that changed, especially in 2020? At the beginning of the pandemic most virtual races used a basic manual entry solution, relaying on the manual entry of a time for a basic race distance. That worked for a while, but now that we are six months into the pandemic, consumers and race/ event organizers are looking for a more engaging virtual experience. That’s where FitRankings comes in? FitRankings can offer a better virtual race solution for organizations. Partners can leverage the world of connected health devices/wearables (like Fitbit, Garmin, Apple Watch) for direct upload of activity, real-time leaderboards, comments, likes, contextual messaging and mapping. Additionally, FitRankings has the ability and support to design fitness experiences with their partners that appear as native content with no upfront costs. 20

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Give us the “elevator pitch” on how retailers and brands can get involved with connected fitness to help build their business or brand in this environment? With 90 percent of U.S. adults having a wearable or fitness app, manufacturers and retailers in the running and active lifestyle space have an opportunity to connect to consumers in an authentic way, leveraging FitRankings platform and suite of software tools. For many companies, the only

How can your technology help race and running business recover from what has been a disastrous year? As a runner and veteran of the active lifestyle space, my heart goes out to all those affected during the pandemic. Many of my closest friends own events and work at brands that have had to make difficult decisions to survive. Although COVID has been a painful chapter for the endurance industry, many of our partners have realized the potential for FitRankings technology to represent a new revenue stream and engagement opportunity for their community. Partners have attracted people from all over the globe that may have never participated in a live event or engaged with

© 2020 Diversified Communications


their brand. These partners have already decided to make virtual challenge programming part of their long-term strategy. And make some money? We are happy to report that we have been able to help many partners generate significant revenue through our product at a very critical time. Keeping people on payroll and doing our part to help make sure the industry as a whole survives, this is important to us. What are some of the good things you have seen coming out of this situation? Necessity is the mother of all invention. The best events, brands and people have found a way to survive, and some have even thrived during this time. As painful as COVID has been, it has forced innovation. This is a common theme you see in history: Crisis breeds opportunity. How so? Organizations have had to redefine what “community” means. Community is easy to define when there is a physical event or group of people gathering. COVID has forced organizations to re-define their notions of community and use digital tools to help create new communities. How about in terms of actual events? Organizations thought it was enough to offer a virtual race in which you could manually input your 5K or marathon time and receive a bib and a medal. Quickly they realized that consumers want more than this and 21

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they were swimming in a sea of like competitors. The problem is that while you might get a different T-shirt, or medal, the reality is this: You are running alone, in a loop around your neighborhood. That is a lonely feeling. How has that been changed? As the pandemic has progressed we feel that individuals as well as races, brands and organizations have felt this empty feeling inside after completing a virtual race in which you are manually entering your results on a web page. A CMO for a brand actually called his virtual race experiences exactly that — empty. For all the innovation in digital, we think everyone rightfully expects more. Is there a chance this concept will remain in the new normal? Most partners we have worked with have seen 20-60 percent new participants in their virtual offering. These are participants who have never engaged with the brand or event. Virtual experiences have provided comfortable entry points and allow more people to connect, thus increasing revenue for these organizations. So why stop offering opportunities to drive revenue and invite new people in when the world goes back to normal? We believe virtual and in-person offerings can open the opportunities and ultimately create new and sustainable revenue channels for anyone involved in the event marketing channel. Do you have any advice to the

running business – and our run specialty retail readers – on how to survive in this business and social environment? The good news is that during economic crises people tend to shed expensive spending, such as gym memberships, and invest in basic things like running shoes. The unique conundrum that COVID presents is that the traditional communities that supported basic purchases like running shoes have been dismantled. Now the challenge for specialty retailers and other brands is to maintain these communities by implementing new digital tools. And that’s where advanced digital technology comes in? FitRankings provides one set of digital tools to help drive community engagement virtually, but there are many others. The best in run specialty are doubling down on email and social and are dipping their toes into other initiatives. The most creative retailers are finding ways to set themselves apart and are becoming digital marketing professionals. They will survive this difficult time and be stronger on the other side of the pandemic for learning and implementing an omni-channel approach to their marketing. So what happens next with Connected Fitness and the accompanying technology in the racing and running businesses? We are in the first or second inning of the long game that is Connected Fitness. Since the first GPS watch came out in the late ’90s, companies have done

“At the beginning of the pandemic most virtual races used a basic manual entry solution, relaying on the manual entry of a time for a basic race distance. That worked for a while, but now ... consumers and race/event organizers are looking for a more engaging virtual experience.” a great job of creating wearables that produce vast amounts of data and creating sensors that are increasingly accurate. The problem is translating this data into meaningful insights and experiences for the individual and for communities. Just because I ran a fast morning run, can see it on a map and know the elevation change, doesn’t mean I can connect that data to an experience or community that is relevant to me. What’s next for FitRankings? With all the entrants to the connected fitness market there seems to be a strong divide between the individual with their own wearable, their data, and trying to connect that data to a larger ecosystem and community. That is where I hope FitRankings can play a crucial role. We want to take that run, ride, swim or walk done in isolation and connect it to a growing ecosystem of brands, retailers, causes and organizations that can provide more meaning and an authentic experience around that data. n www.fitrankings.com © 2020 Diversified Communications


Going Up!!!

Brands join the effort to help Kenyan athletes attempt mountain running records.

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upported by a coalition of running brands, athletes Joan Massah Cherop and Kenneth Kemboi are planning on setting fastest known times for summiting Mt. Kenya. For background on this ambitious effort, go back to the 2019 Detroit Marathon, when Joan Massah Cherop broke the tape to win — she knew 2020 was going to be a year of even bigger races and greater opportunities. Soon, an invitation to the Paris Marathon confirmed her hopes and she stepped up her training. We all know what happened next through: race delays and cancellations. Like many athletes, this left Cherop not just feeling let down, but struggling financially. Her main sponsor, the Kenyan running company Enda, jumped into action to help. Following the Kenyan running tradition of working with others to lift each other up, Enda built a coalition of brands in the running space to sponsor Cherop and fellow Enda Elite Athlete Kenneth Kemboi to lead an attempt to set new fastest known times (FKT) running up Mt. Kenya. Coros, Janji and UltrAspire joined the project to provide the GPS watches, apparel and hydration and lighting equipment the athletes will need to race up Africa’s second tallest mountain to Pt. Lenana at 4985 meters (16,355 feet). Asked why they wanted to be part of this historic effort, each brand had its own reasons. “We want to help everyone run Kenyan, which means working together to achieve great things,” says Navalayo Osembo, cofounder of Enda. ”So it’s an honor to have such great athletes and companies coming together for this historic effort. “Joan and Kenneth help design the shoes they train in – our daily trainer the Lapatet – and we’re really excited to have them using our new trail shoe as they take on this incredible challenge.” Adds Mike Burnstein, co-founder at 22

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Joan Massah Cherop is one of seveal elite runners attempting FKT’s on Mt. Kenya (below) this year.

Janji: “At Janji we believe that running is the best way to explore the world around us, and while we love running in cities, there is something magical about getting off pavement and into nature. We design gear at the intersection of running and adventure, so naturally the idea of kitting out some of the world’s best marathoners as they veer off-road gets us fired up.”

“We believe innovation comes from need and the need is discovered by pushing your limits to the extreme,” chimes in Joe Petty, marketing director at UltrAspire. “We are inspired by athletes and excited to support some of the world’s greatest competitors as they tackle this monster of an endeavor.” And Dan Suher, director of global sales and marketing at Coros, points out that the company us all about the outdoors, mountains and a passionate active lifestyle. “We are excited for the opportunity to expand the reach of trail running to a new, underrepresented community. Our motto is ‘Explore Perfection,’ and nothing embodies this phrase like the chase of an FKT on Africa’s second tallest peak.” Over the next three months the athletes will attempt to set records on all three major routes, including breaking the 25-year-old record on the challenging Sirimon route set by Italian Fabio Meraldi. Each run starts in tropical rainforest, then climbs roughly 2750 meters (9000 feet) to the snow-capped summit. Stay in touch: www.endasportswear. com/blogs/news. n

© 2020 Diversified Communications


Coming Down!!! Inov-8 Descent Race staged on ‘world’s toughest ski slope’ in Austria.

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hat goes up also has to come down and in another unique event in a unique world organizers and participants – including a daredevil 82-year-old runner – had to overcome more challenges than usual at the third staging of the inov-8 Descent Race on the world’s most notorious ski slope. Featuring an insanely steep gradient of 80 percent, the legendary Streif – on the Hahnenkamm mountain in Kitzbühel, Austria – is regarded as the toughest on the world cup ski circuit. That didn’t stop the inov-8 event. In this innovative event format, runners raced 350 meters down its fearsome slope, negotiating near-vertical blind drops as they went. To make things more difficult in this difficult year, strong storms forced the original schedule on Saturday to be postponed 24 hours, with everyone on the mountain working together to ensure a successful, COVID-19 compliant event was held on the Sunday. It worked. Runners from the UK, Italy, Germany and Austria individually slalomed their way down a course marked by red and blue ski flags. Many completed it twice, with their times added together to decide the final results. To prove age really is no barrier, 82-yearold Austrian Hubert Zohrer took to the slope and ran the first heat in two-minutes, 15-seconds. Hubert, who left the second heat to the youngsters, said: “It was very steep, but great fun.” The winner, thanks to an incredibly fast first heat (53:88 seconds), was Rene Claussnitzer, from Germany. Despite a fall in the second heat that resulted in a leg injury, Rene held on to win with a combined time of one-minute, 50.99-seconds. Second-placed Michele Roth was just 0.40 23

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Running down the Streif in Kitzbuhel is not a matter of simply heading downhill. Photo: Michael Werlberger.

seconds behind, with Gregor Rom in third. In the women’s race, Lisa Groll, winner of the inaugural event in 2018 and second last year, reclaimed top spot on the podium with a combined time of two-minutes, 44.86-seconds. Maria Magdalena Uberall took second place, with Veronika Schlogl in third. The top-three in both the men’s and women’s races – plus the evergreen Hubert – all wore inov-8’s Mudclaw G 260 V2 shoes with Graphene to get tougher grip on the downhill course. “It was a difficult weekend with the storm on Saturday, but thanks to the adaptability

and commitment of everyone we were able to stage a brilliant race the following day,” reports Georg Uberall, an outdoor sports retailer from Kitzbuhel who organized the unique race. “Everyone got to grips with the tough course and demonstrated both skill and bravery to tame the world’s most notorious ski slope,” adds Lee Procter, communications and ambassadors manager for inov-8. “There is no other race in the world quite like it!” The fourth inov-8 Descent Race will take place October 2, 2021. For details: www. ueberall.cc/de/descent-race-kitzbuehel.html n

© 2020 Diversified Communications


Good Forever ... Even During COVID Lifetime guarantees offer a unique selling point for run specialty stores and their vendors. / By Daniel P. Smith

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hen it comes to its warranty program, Darn Tough Ver mont doesn’t m i nce words. The 42-year-old company is simple and direct: No strings. No conditions. For life. “If our socks are not the most comfortable, durable and best fitting socks you have ever owned, return them for another pair,” the Vermont-based sock company directs on its website. “Our warranty has been a keystone of DNA since our inception [and is] a true testament to how much we believe in

our socks,” Darn Tough brand manager Courtney Laggner says. It’s a similar tale at Ciele, the Montrealbased peddler of high-end performance running caps. When Jeremy Bresnen and Mike Giles founded the company in 2014, they did so with a “Million Miles” guarantee in tow. “They were aware that the product was in a premium space and at a premium price point and intended to stand fully behind it,” Ciele marketing and community lead Andrew Jamieson says of Bresnen and Giles.

With its “Million Miles” promise, Ciele stands behind the quality and durability of its caps. At run specialty stores, staff frequently point to such lifetime guarantees in discussing product with customers.

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A full-satisfaction guarantee, Ciele’s “Million Miles” promise helps to justify the price of hats that run $35-$50 and pairs with packability and washability to complete the brand’s “elevator pitch” to retailers and consumers alike. “Not a lot of people expect to see this in the run specialty channel, but it says that we have pride in our product and our brand,” Jamieson says. “We’re asking a lot, but promising to deliver on that.” Over the years, brands such as Craftsman, Vermont Teddy Bear and Zippo have used lifetime warranties as a marketing tool and differentiated selling point. In the run specialty channel, products with lifetime guarantees – or other similarly ambitious warranty programs – are scattered around store showrooms, largely applied to accessories. In addition to Darn Tough and Ciele, North Carolina-based Feetures offers a lifetime warranty on its socks, a pledge it promotes on its website and on the front of its packaging. “We have always wanted to turn a negative experience into a positive one,” Feetures VP–marketing Joe Gaither says of his family-owned firm’s rationale for offering such a guarantee. “We’re customer service-oriented and a lifetime guarantee is the ultimate promise in customer service.” Other brands like Julbo eyewear, HydraPak and CamelBak tout their own versions of lifetime guarantees. Bold and unique as these lifetime guarantees might be, do they resonate with running retailers? With consumers? John Lumley, owner of the Running Hub in Santa Fe, NM, carries Darn Tough, Feetures and Ciele in his 19-year-old store. He calls lifetime guarantees “nice and interesting,” but says such warranties have not overly swayed his decision to stock one product over another. “When the manufacturer believes in their

© 2020 Diversified Communications


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Good Forever (continued)

Both Darn Tough (top) and Feetures, two well-regarded sock brands in the run specialty channel, offer lifetime guarantees on their socks.

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product to that extent, it helps, but my foremost priority is to address a niche that customers are requesting,” Lumley says. Similarly, Alex Warren, coowner and GM of Runologie, a five-year-old shop in Raleigh, NC, says his decision to carry a product is most heavily influenced by consumer demand, though a brand’s willingness to be a partner “that creates a quality product and backs it up with a different mindset,” which can include a favorable warranty program, is important. Jamieson says most retailers are receptive to Ciele’s Million Miles promise and encouraged by it. “They take it as a value add and as a value proposition with their customer,” he says. As run shops work to sell more product to their existing customers, such “value adds” can propel purchases. In the case of Ciele, Warren acknowledges it can be tough for customers, especially beginning runners, to take a leap and purchase a $40 hat. “In that way, the brand’s guarantee is a foot in the door — for them and for us,” he says. While Lumley reports that some Running Hub customers respond to these ambitious warranties with skepticism – “They always want to know the catch,” he says – the guarantees ultimately help to show customers that the store believes in the quality and durability of the products it carries. “A nd that’s a positive,” Lumley notes. While lifetime guarantees might not overwhelmingly drive a consumer’s purchase, such

friendly pledges can certainly be a piece of the equation, so long as retailers make them known. Though neither Lumley nor Warren actively promote some of the more compelling product warranties in their respective stores, both operators say they and their staff weave the information into conversation with customers. “It helps us deliver the product to our customer better and gives everyone involved a lot of reassurance that if they don’t like it, they’re not stuck with it,” Warren says. Gaither says some of the best run specialty associates he’s encountered use Feetures’ lifetime guarantee as “the closer” to overcome a customer’s hesitancy to spend $15 on socks. “This conveys something built to last, not something disposable,” Gaither says. And if the customer decides to return the item to the store, something brands like Ciele and Darn Tough both permit, that shouldn’t be viewed as a negative, but rather an opportunity to see a customer again and make good on a promise. (This rings just as true for products from brands like Super feet and Sma r twool, which offer friendly, though not lifetime, guarantees.) “Retailers have the option to offer the warranty in their store, so that customers can swap socks on the spot,” Laggner says of Darn Tough. “For retailers that take advantage of this, it’s a great story to tell and the reaction and response from customers helps them build brand loyalty and immediate gratification in store.” n © 2020 Diversified Communications


NOVEMBER 12 - 14

It’s time to reconnect with running.

@RUNJAM_

POWERED BY RUNHOUSE

GORUNJAM.COM


#LetHerRun Marathon Sports campaign raising awareness of the safety of female runners.

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ith research finding that 84 percent of women have experienced some kind of harassment while running that left them feeling unsafe, the Marathon Sports family (consisting of Marathon Sports, Runner’s Alley and Sound Runner) has formed the #LetHerRun Women’s Safety Campaign, built to help raise awareness for the safety of female runners who run alone and are followed, attacked or harassed while out for a jog. The retailer says the goal of the campaign is “to help educate our community on how to respect female runners and, most importantly, to just let females run.” Marathon Sports, Runner’s Alley and Sound Runner developed the idea of #LetHerRun in reaction to a number of recent social media status updates from local female runners who had experienced harassment while running all over New England. The retailer took a poll on its Instagram page and out of 300 female runners who follow it, 287 said they’ve experienced harassment by males while out on a run or for a walk at any time of the day in Massachusetts alone — 45 of them then sent messages telling of the traumatic experiences they had. “With this type of response, and no one talking about the issue, we needed to bring attention to what women face every time they go for a run,” explains Amanda Perri, digital marketing manager for Marathon Sports and the creator and spearhead of the campaign. “We thought the best way to go about that would be to create a social call to action to spread awareness and a virtual event to help raise money for local homes for victims of Domestic Violence.” The goal is to bring the topic of female runner safety to the forefront because most available advice talks only about what women should do, where and when they should run, items they should carry and 28

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what to wear to stay safe on runs. “Every single day across the world thousands of female runners are harassed out of the blue, whether that’s in the form of being cat-called, being followed, stalked or even being attacked,” Perri explains. “It’s one of those hush-hush topics that people are afraid to talk about, but now we are bringing this topic to the forefront where it deserves to be. “Women should feel comfortable and safe running, running is meant to be enjoyable,

not complicated, and certainly not scary,” she continues, adding that Marathon has already seen a great response from bringing the conversation to the table. “Our hope is that other running specialty retailers around the world can bring awareness to the topic in their local communities.” One of the goals is to recruit other run specialty retailers participate every year by taking the month of October to talk about the safety of females both runners and non-runners. (Any retailers interested in joining can reach out to amanda.perri@ marathonsports.com for a free toolkit that includes logos and social imagery.) The first event for the campaign was a #LetHerRun Virtual Event that took place on November 1. One hundred percent of net proceeds from registrations and T-shirt sales are going directly to homes for victims of domestic violence across New England. In addition, Brooks Running donated sports bras and apparel to a female in a local home for victims of Domestic Violence for the first 50 individuals to register, n

© 2020 Diversified Communications


Lost Revenue, New Opportunities Kilter looking to help restore some of the hundreds of millions lost for charities in 2020.

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his week the New York City Marathon would have raised more than $40 million for hundreds of charity partners, from organizations such as Fred’s Team that have nearly 1000 runners down to Brave Like Gabe Foundation, which may have 20 or less. Across the world, marathons have become a huge source of revenue for charities who use the events to engage runners in fundraising. For marathon race directors, charity partners have become increasingly more important to its runners over the years. In fact, some races make more revenue off of a charity entry than a non-charity participant runner registration fees plus the charity partner fees are factored in. But in pandemic-ravaged 2020, canceled races all over the world meant that the charities for which many runners were fundraising ended up losing out on hundreds of millions of critical dollars. Additionally, the virtual races that have resulted from the cancelled equivalents haven’t offered the official charity partners any resolutions. To make matters worse, 2021 is still a big question mark for races and charities are already looking for supplemental ways to engage their runners to make up for a year that lacked engagement with their teams, fundraising dollars and ultimately new loyal supporters. That’s where a company like Kilter plays a role. Seth Braddock, founder and CEO, started Kilter in 2016 with an initial mission to build a tool to motivate people to lead healthy and active lifestyles. In the beginning, Kilter was simply a rewards platform for gym-goers and there was no tie-in to charitable giving. Braddock says he started the company because was looking for a solution to his own problem — keeping himself active 29

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Kilter founder and CEO Seth Braddock created Kilter as a tool to motivate people to lead healthy lifestyles.

while working in a busy corporate job that required constant travel. Over the past four years, however, Kilter has evolved into the tool it is today as Braddock and his team have closely watched the evolution a population that is driven by a health revolution and by people who care about giving back, yet want easier ways to do so. “This is a new initiative at Kilter,” Braddock says of the groups work with racing and charities. “But we felt this to be a natural extension to our current programming and an easy opportunity to provide to charities and their runners who are uncertain about their future in 2021. “We want to help, we have the tools to help charities meet their runners where they are today and we can do something

here that is really fun for everyone to get involved in and ultimately makes a really big difference from a financial perspective,” he adds. So as the racing business heads into 2021, Kilter is looking to play an expanded role, starting with a March, 2021 free 31-day running based challenge called Miles For Meaning. Kilter and its sponsors are awarding at least $80,000 in donations to charities. The charities will compete for a minimum $25,000 grand prize and a minimum of 50 available $1000 matching donations. Individual participants will also be able to compete for prizes during this challenge as well. The campaign is already in front of some big running names and brands, with formal announcements coming soon. All charity teams will be added to the challenge by February 15 and this campaign can be a valuable pre-built social good platform for race directors to give to their various charity partners of their respective races in an effort to recoup lost funds from 2020 cancelled races. For more: kilterrewards.com n

© 2020 Diversified Communications


Time To Jam Runhouse’s Run Jam looks to rebuild the running community during the pandemic.

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hose creative folks at Runhouse in Philadelphia are at it again, this time with something they are calling Run Jam — a three-day long running event with a variety of programming designed to get runners out of the pandemic doldrums and back to building community and participating in running. Run Jam is scheduled for November 12-14. “We created Run Jam because we were itching to get back into putting on running events but knew we couldn’t build something traditional,” explains Runhouse’s Ryan Callahan. “Using the mantra ‘Let’s not make this a typical virtual event,’ we thought a lot about everything going on the world and the conversations we are having

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at our office and with our team. “We also thought about how you create an event where everyone feels connected and is participating together, something most virtual events really lack,” he adds. “We decided we wanted to create an event that was equal parts fun and unique while also bringing together leaders and perspectives that can help the community move into the future with a renewed commitment to making the sport the best it possibly can be.” A portion of proceeds are being split between supporting training services for low income and underrepresented running communities via City fit Girls as well as to the newly-formed Running Industry Diversity Coalition.

It all starts Thursday, November 12, with a panel on The Future of Running. Hosted by Knox Robinson (@firstrun), panelists include Alison Desir (Hoka/ Oiselle), Mary Cain (Tracksmith), Molly Huddle (Saucony), Ted Metellus (NYRR) and Takia McClendon and Kiera Smalls (City Fit Girls). That event will bring together some of the biggest names in the running industry and the sport to talk through how the business can build the next era of running from post-pandemic events to making running inclusive to everyone. Then on Friday, November 13, Run Jam is hosting Track Night, a sub-elite mile throw down. Runners will hit their local track at staggered times throughout the evening, run a timed mile and stream it online to the Run Jam audience. The fastest runner at the end of the night goes home with $1500 in cash and gear from Saucony, Ciele and Tracksmith. Run Ja m ends on Saturday, November 14, with the Coast to Coast 5K. With a same-time start time around the world, the race begins at 10 a.m. and closes 90 minutes later. Run Jam will have live tracking and, of course, all runners will get a shirt and a small poster for participating. Runhouse is organizing Run Jam in collaboration with Saucony, who is the official footwear sponsor, as well as Tracksmith and Ciele Athletics. For more: gor unjam. com n

© 2020 Diversified Communications


To listen to the full interview with Chris Farley on The Run Matters Podcast powered by Skechers Performance, click here.

Run Matters Podcast Debuts Powered by Skechers Performance, inaugural podcast features Chris Farley of Pacers Running.

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hris Farley admits that this past spring when Pacers was forced to shut down because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, he feared for the future of his business. “It was an emotional time,” he said on the first episode of the Run Matters Podcast. “I thought our 17 years of work could go up in smoke.” Farley worked on keeping his staff together by hosting daily zoom meetings and looking at how to develop his staff for post-pandemic retailing. “We focused on emotional intelligence and giving our employees a voice in how the business is run,” he says. Pacers brought in a life 31

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coach and conducted personality tests for staffers to determine strengths and how they could be best utilized going forward. The store also was one of the first in the country to roll out a virtual shoe fitting program. “In our stores, our fitting and customer service is a great differentiator versus any competition and we have been able to translate that to the virtual world,” Farley says. Pacers invested in hardware with numerous new iPads for every store and training in virtual fitting for its team. “It’s been incredibly successful and is continuing now as we’ve opened our stores again.” Speaking of opening stores, Pacers

will soon open its seventh location in the Georgetown section of Washington, DC. “We’re doubling down on brick-and-mortar,” Farley told Run Matters. “It’s time to take the offensive and come from a position of strength. Running has never been this hot and the best way we can create and service new runners is through our physical stores.” The Run Matters Podcast Retail Edition powered by Skechers will feature a fulllength interview with a leading run retailer each month. Any retailer interested in being included should contact Ashley Barrett at ashley.barrett@skechers.com n

© 2020 Diversified Communications


running shorts Running Insight Launches Footwear Week — December 1-4, 2020 RUNNING INSIGHT HAS LAUNCHED Footwear Week, a new event that connects specialty retailers with the running industry’s leading footwear brands. It will take place virtually from December 1-4, 2020; registration is free for retailers. “As we find new ways to do business during these challenging times, connecting across the running industry has never been more critical,” says Christina Henderson, executive director of Running Insight. “We’re launching Footwear Week to facilitate connections between specialty run retailers and leading footwear brands, helping to set each up for success in 2021. We’re committed to pursuing new ideas that will help us continue to support the running community.” With customer service provided by experienced event coordinators, Footwear Week simplifies the process of arranging and scheduling meetings for retailers — enabling them to meet one-on-one or in a group setting with preferred vendors based

on their business needs and availability. The event also provides attending retailers with access to exclusive educational sessions presented by top sponsors. Early sponsors include Brooks, Saucony and Under Armour, with additional sponsorships available to running footwear brands.

Brooks To Sponsor Houston Marathon Brooks Running has signed on as the Official Footwear and Apparel Sponsor for the Houston Marathon, replacing Skechers. Brooks’ three-year partnership covers the Houston Marathon Weekend of Events, which includes the Chevron Houston Marathon, Aramco Houston Half Marathon and We Are Houston 5K presented by Aramco and Chevron. The sponsorship complements an existing relationship between Brooks and the Houston Marathon Foundation, in which the Houston Marathon Foundation was a recipient of the 2020 Brooks Run B’Cause grant. With the grant, the Foundation was able to provide 200 pairs of Brooks running shoes,

socks and 50 run bras to students and schools participating in the We Run Houston after school program. With the partnership coming during a year where the traditional in-person Houston Marathon Weekend of Events to be held as the 2021 Virtual Houston Marathon Running Events, Brooks plans to create an experience through a virtual event over 10 days where runners will have the option to complete their race distance anywhere between January 8-17, 2021. As the official apparel and footwear sponsor, Brooks Running will outfit race ambassadors, the Houston Marathon Committee and provide the finisher shirt for the marathon and half-marathon events.

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Retailers are encouraged to register for Footwear Week online. During registration, attendees can also secure their access to the second edition of Market Week, an event for all run product categories, which will be held virtually from January 26-28, 2021. runninginsight.com/footwear-week

Hyperice Partners With MLB Hyperice has entered into a multiyear partnership with Major League Baseball (MLB), which will include a future investment by MLB in its business. The two organizations will work together with club medical, athletic training and strength and conditioning professionals to prioritize player health and athlete longevity league-wide. As part of the partnership, Hyperice products and technologies will be available for use during games and in the dugout and bullpen. Fernando Tatís Jr., the shortstop for the San Diego Padres, is the brand’s first MLB athlete to join Hyperice as an ambassador and investor.

© 2020 Diversified Communications


running shorts Merrell and Honey Stinger Collaborate On Limited-Edition Trail Shoe MERRELL AND HONEY STINGER have teamed to create the limited-edition Merrell Agility Synthesis trail shoe. It offers a lightweight fit and stabilizing grip and is manufactured with responsiblysourced materials where possible. Features include a partially recycled upper woven with performance yarns, a Bloom algae foam midsole and a partially recycled outsole with sticky rubber for ground traction. “We believe in the simple power of getting outside and are excited to partner with Honey Stinger as a like-minded, active brand,” says Erika Derylo, Merrell performance marketing manager. “And just like Honey Stinger uses responsibly sourced honey in all of their products, we’ve brought in partially recycled upper materials and partially recycled outsole rubber to emphasize our shared commitment to sustainability.”

“Teaming up with Merrell to create this limited-edition shoe was a natural fit for the Honey Stinger brand,” adds Mike Keown, CEO of Honey Stinger. “Their deep passion for the outdoors and

commitment to sustainable sourcing are well aligned with our own values and we are excited to be able to express and celebrate both of those aspects with this unique collaboration.”

Charm City Closes Locust Point Store Charm City Run has decided to close its Locust Point store in McHenry Row after eight years of operation. In an Instagram post this weekend, the run specialty retailer says it “was not an easy decision,” but “this last year has been a struggle on many fronts for us.” Charm City admitted that the pandemic has affected some of its locations more than others. “It was apparent that closing the Locust Point store was in the best interest of Charm City Run’s overall health and sustainability.” Charm City Run was co-founded by Josh and Kara Levinson in 2002. The first shop opened in Timonium, MD, and had since expanded to Annapolis, Bel Air, Columbia, Frederick, and Fells Point and Locust Point in Baltimore. The events business times and manages more than 120 races per year.

2021 Boston Marathon Will Not Take Place in April The 125th Boston Marathon, traditionally held on the third Monday in April – Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts – will be postponed until at least the fall of 2021. The Boston Athletic Association (BAA), which has been meeting regularly with its COVID-19 Medical & Event Operations Advisory Group to determine when and how the Boston Marathon can be held again, will begin working with local, city, and state officials, sponsors, organizing committee members, and other stakeholders to determine if a Fall 2021 date is feasible. “With fewer than six months until Patriots’ Day and with road races prohibited until Phase 4 of the Massachusetts reopening plan, we are unable to host the Boston Marathon this coming April,”

said Tom Grilk, C.E.O. of the BAA. “By shifting our focus to a fall date, we can continue to work with stakeholders to adjust the in-person experience for runners and supporters alike. Prioritizing the safety of participants, volunteers, spectators, and community members, we continue to assess all elements of the race including a potential reduced field size or weekend date.” No 2021 date has been selected; however, the BAA will work with local, city, and state officials and members of its COVID-19 Medical & Event Operations Advisory Group to establish under what conditions the next live, in-person Boston Marathon can occur. Before the end of the year, the BAA seeks to announce a new date. Other details such as when registration may open and the field size, will also be forthcoming.

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© 2020 Diversified Communications


running shorts New Balance Goes Virtual for 2020 NYC Marathon Collection W I T HOU T I TS H IGH LY V ISI BLE sponsorship of the 2020 New York City Marathon, which is going virtual this year, New Balance nonetheless came up with a running collection to make the virtual day a little more personal for thousands of runners. Every year, dedicated runners lace up for the annual New York City Marathon, preparing to run 26.2 miles through the five boroughs and crossing the finish line in Central Park to the applause of a massive crowd. This year, marathoners will face a new challenge – and, for many, their hardest yet – as they take on the 2020 Virtual TCS New York City Marathon. Throughout the month of October, thousands of participants will map their own 26.2 mile courses and took on this year’s race before November 1. The 2020 New York City Marathon and other remote

races pose a unique challenge, but New Balance believes that it’s more important than ever to celebrate the power of running. As part of this commitmentt, last month New Balance unveiled a limited edition capsule collection to recognize the 2020 Virtual New York City Marathon that

Addaday Launches Adaptive Learning Technology Platform Addaday recently launched its Adaptive Learning Technology platform, designed to take the guesswork out of wellness routines using a range of Bluetooth-enabled portable massage devices powered by its intelligent Addaday app. The Addaday app analyzes user input (such as location and intensity of pain, rate of perceived exertion, stress level, sleep quality and pre-existing conditions) and collects optional variable data from the user’s wearable device (including workout data and heart rate variability) to determine appropriate treatments from millions of therapy variations. It then wirelessly programs the Addaday device to change intensities and duration, supported by a

step-by-step video guide of the routine showcasing movement of both the device and the body to mimic techniques used by professionals. The app also includes therapies that are device agnostic.

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includes a new colorway of the FuelCell RC Elite marathon racing shoe as well as a commemorative singlet and T-shirt. “Virtual racing strips the sport back down to its core, while allowing us to measure our efforts against athletes from all over the world without the complexity and cost of travel,” says Bekah Broe, senior product manager at New Balance. “It’s true that some races are iconic because of the scenery and challenge their courses provide and 2020 has forced all of us to become more creative in our approach to running and to embrace the race course in our own backyards. “If we, collectively as runners, can challenge our personal bests without the thrills and fanfare of a typical race experience, it’s exciting to imagine how much faster we can be when we’re once again reunited on the starting line,” Broe adds.

The Addaday app is available for both iOS and Android and connects to Apple Health, with connectivity to numerous other fitness platforms and wearables coming online this fall.

© 2020 Diversified Communications


running shorts Tracksmith Alumni Championship Looking to Save College Track Programs WITH SO MANY COLLEGES AND universities under COVID-19-caused financial pressures, and with many of them opting to cut interscholastic athletic programs, Tracksmith has launched a virtual race in which profits will go to support those running programs facing expulsion. It’s called the Alumni Championship, is open to athletes 18-and-over from around the globe and is aimed at reigniting competitive spirit, and it works something like this: • The Alumni Championships are open to individuals and teams from around the world, whether or not they ran competitively as a student.

• Runners are asked to submit the alumni team for which they’ll be competing. If they didn’t go to college, they can choose a preferred allegiance or run for the School of Life alumni team. • Runners then must run a two-mile race on a track or road sometime between October 31 and November 8. • Prizes (Tracksmith gift cards) will be awarded based on fastest men and women, open, masters and teams. “Whether you ran in college or not, whether you’re in fighting shape or fighting to get back into it, we invite you to join fellow alumni and fans for a two-mile race and ultimate bragging

rights,” says Tracksmith athlete experience manager Nick Willis. “With no collegiate championships until March, this is as close as we’ll get to crowning a 2020 champ.” Profits from the Alumni Championship virtual race will go to establishing a fund to support college track and field programs facing elimination by athletic departments under financial pressure. The funds will be used to equip running programs with the tools and strategic framework they may need to build their case to protect track and field. For more: ht t ps://r unsignup.com / alumnichampionships

New Product Watch: Banana Wave Making a Natural Wave Runners looking for a healthy nondairy alternative that actually tastes good can now check out Banana Wave, which features a naturally sweet and creamy consistency that can be compared to a banana milk shake (yum!). Banana Wave is made with real, whole bananas, along with fiber-rich oat milk and Madagascar vanilla and now it is bringing its plantbased and vegan-friendly attributes to the running business. The company, headed by CEO Steve Gelerman, is promoting Banana Wave as a product that will transform the alternative milk category with a banana-based oat milk with no artificial sweeteners, flavors or coloring. It contains the essential vitamins and minerals runners crave — vitamin A, B12, C,D, fiber and potassium. “Banana Wave is perfect for runners who are seeking a dairy-free milk option that’s not only healthy, but also tastes great,” says Steven Gelerman, CEO of Banana Wave. “All four of our products are high in potassium, which helps aid

in muscle recovery, high in fiber for improved digestion and steady calorie burn, and are packed with B vitamins, which helps boost energy levels.” The products are also fat-free and low in calories to assist in weight management and improved health and wellness overall, he adds. Even better, Banana Wave does

come in four flavor s – O riginal, Chocolate, Strawberry and Mango – and in two sizes — 32 ounce in all flavors and an eight-ounce option in Original and Chocolate. They retail for $3.99 and under. Banana Wave has a two-year shelf life and does not need to be refrigerated until opened. For more: www.bananawave.love

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© 2020 Diversified Communications


running shorts Aetrex Welcomes Albert 2 TAKING A SIGNIFICANT TECHNICAL step forward for run specialty retailers, Aetrex last month unveiled its Albert 2 All-In-One Scanner, billed as “a state-ofthe-art, all-in-one 3D foot scanner that takes foot scanning to a completely new level.” The unique foot data can be used to help retailers find the best-fitting footwear and orthotics to help facilitate a more personalized, omnichannel relationship. Albert 2 is an all-in-one device that Aetrex claims collects more data about a customer’s feet than any scanner and that it creates a profit center for retailers

Running Medicine Receives RWJF Award

Running Medicine, a walking and running program for Native-Americans in New Mexico, is among five organizations recently selected as 2020 winners of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Sports Award. The running organization joins AGE UP, Border Youth Tennis Exchange, Soccer in the Streets and the United States Association of Blind Athletes as a recipient of the prestigious award. The winners receive a $25,000 cash award and were honored at a virtual ceremony on October 4 that aired live on the RWJF Facebook page.

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with the integrated program of add-on sales with Aetrex Orthotics. Among the other benefits of Albert 2: • A foot scan takes 20 seconds or less and can measure and analyze two feet at the same time. • It captures complete data (length, width, depth, girth, in-step and arch height) as well as pressure data. • Static Pressure data is collected, with an option for Dynamic Pressure. Albert 2 was launched to the trade last month and will be available to customers in February, 2021.

Running Medicine offers family-oriented walking and running programs for Native-Americans in Albuquerque, creating a culture of health that is available to all people regardless of ability, age, fitness level or ability to pay. This award recognizes and honors those in the sport who display an innovative and collaborative approach to making their communities a healthier place to live. This includes sports teams, athletes and community-based organizations that use sports as a platform to address many of the root causes that influence health and health equity. CPC/JackRabbit Complete Shoes.com CriticalPoint Capital (CPC), the private investment firm and owner of JackRabbit and Olympia Sports, early last month completed the acquisition of Shoes.com from Walmart. Shoes. com is an online retailer of footwear, apparel and accessories offering shoe brands spanning athletic to casual. Originally founded in 1999 as ShoeBuy, Shoes.com is headquartered in Boston. The acquisition marks CPC’s most recent investment in the footwear

industry, having completed previous transactions with JackRabbit, Clever Training and Olympia Sports. Tailwind Unveils Salted Caramel Rebuild

Tailwind Nutrition recently introduced a limited edition flavor for this season — Salted Caramel. Tailwind Rebuild products were developed to help athletes recover faster and feel better on their next adventure. Tailwind Rebuild is the first sport recovery drink based on a patent-pending perfectly complete protein. Salted Caramel Rebuild is now available for a limited time only at TailwindNutrition.com in a four-pack of individual servings (MSRP $12).

© 2020 Diversified Communications


running shorts Balega Unveils New Styles in Hidden Comfort and Hidden Dry Collections BALEGA HAS EXPANDED TWO OF its most popular sock styles for Fall 2020 with new colorways of the Hidden Comfort (in photo)nand Hidden Dry collections. The new styles are now available online and at running specialty stores. Hidden Comfort (MSRP: $14) remains the best-selling Balega product. Crafted with proprietary moisture management yarns, densely compacted into each square inch, the Hidden Comfort provides protective cushioning. The low-modulus elastane throughout ensures a structured but nonrestrictive fit and the plush under-sole cushioning adds extra protection. The mesh construction provides ventilation, while the heel tab helps prevent the sock from slipping into the running shoe. The Hidden Comfort is being offered in six two-tone styles: Midgrey/Legion Blue, Cherry/Denim, Denim/Neon Orange, Wildberry/Bright Lavender, Midgrey/ Candy Floss and Lilac/Neon Aqua. T he l ig ht est so ck i n t he Ba lega

ASICS Names Sullivan President and COO ASICS has appointed Richard Sullivan president and COO for ASICS North America (ANA). He replaces current ASICS North America CEO Koichiro Kodama, who has been appointed to a new global role as managing executive officer based at ASICS’ headquarters in Kobe, Japan. In other moves, Barbara Turner will assume the role of chief administrative officer and Sean Condon has been named VP–omnichannel. Sullivan, a 25-year veteran of the footwear industry, most recently served as ANA executive VP overseeing digital, sales, marketing and merchandising, where he was instrumental in restructuring, evolving and ultimately growing

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collection, Hidden Dry (MSRP: $14), offers a triple-Y heel that creates a pocket ergonomically formed to the shape of the heel for fit and comfort. The Hidden Dry socks feature a hand-linked toe closure, a contoured fit and low-volume construction to provide support while being extremely

lightweight. The enhanced grip construction in both the arch and the ankle provides support while the heel tab helps prevent the sock from slipping into the shoe. The Hidden Dry is offered in Black, White, Midgrey/Fog, Bright Turquoise/Navy, Neon Aqua/Lime and Electric Pink/Peach.

the business over the last year. He had joined the brand as the president of ASICS Canada in 2016,. Turner will step into a new role of chief administrative officer for the region. Turner was previously VP–human Resources at ASICS. Condon, who currently serves as the senior director overseeing Digital, E-commerce and Retail, is promoted to VP–omnichannel. Condon will continue to set and implement strategy for ASICS’ digital and direct-to-consumer businesses. Along with the new appointments, Sullivan’s ANA leadership team includes Paul Ljucovic, chief financial officer; Ian Dickinson, VP–categories; and Sean Mannion, VP–U.S. Sales.

© 2020 Diversified Communications


VENDOR FOCUS

Naked Sports Innovations Small and nimble, with a focus on taking a different product path, is the Naked story. says Dakota, “this outlier and creative company ethos is what drives the Naked culture. We thrive on shared goals and ideas within our corporate atmosphere.” THE NAKED NAME: Dakota explains that the design culture of Naked is to create products and garments in the most minimal, lightweight and highly engineered way possible. “In doing so our products are so efficient and lightweight you feel like you are wearing nothing … you feel naked.”

Naked Sports has six high-performance hydration products for men and women at run retail in 2020.

THE NAKED STORY: Naked Sports Innovations was incorporated in 2016, but Lindsay Dakota, an industrial designer and trail runner, actually created and designed the very first high-performance waist belt “running band” in 2014 while running in the surrounding mountains of Los Angeles. His brother, Richard Petersen, a triathlete, tested the first few prototypes that Dakota had made and together they declared they had a truly innovative product. Thus, Naked Sports Innovations was born. NAKED TODAY: With six employees, more than 32 distributors around the world and a team of advisors and mentors, Naked finds its products on runners globally. From the original running band to running vests to the innovative women’s Spra (high-performance, hydration and accessories carrying sports bra) to new products 38

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being introduced later this year, Naked currently produces six hydration products engineered for men and women. SMALL IS GOOD: Naked Sports Innovations is an innovative and dynamic company without the constraints of a large corporation. In fact,

THE TECHNOLOGY STORY: Naked continues to explore the idea of more sustainable fabrics and how to incorporate them into very technical garments. In addition, the company continues to also explore integrating bio-technology tools into its products. THE NAKED DIFFERENCE: From the very beginning Naked has chosen a different path. At the core Dakota, as a designer, is a futurist. While other brands have chosen to evolve their products along known trends, Naked chooses to explore what’s possible – not what has been done – and looks to outside inspiration. THE COVID-19 IMPACT: Naked was forced to make some unpopular decisions to ensure the long-term health of the brand. Its employees were taken care of and remained flexible so that they could all continue working together, but remotely. “We have seen the pandemic as an opportunity to explore new ways to do business and to communicate with our customers,” Dakota explains, with a robust online presence and expansion of distribution/

© 2020 Diversified Communications


VENDOR FOCUS

nakedsportsinnovations.com retail as well as exploring new sales channels. THE MARKETING STRATEGY: Naked recognized the fragility of sponsoring professional athletes, but saw its Ambassador program blossom to help create new initiatives such as its Run Responsibly virtual event. While some product development has been slower to market due to disrupted supply chains and closed factories, Naked continues to focus on releasing new products. SIMPLEXITY?: Simply put, the company’s mantra of “simplexity” describes how a seemingly simple product can be extremely hard to develop and achieve. The result are products that are deceptively capable of carrying everything runners need in a lightweight and efficient manner.

Lindsay Dakota (below) and Naked’s seven sponsored athletes, including Scotty Hawker of New Zealand (above), believe in “simplexity,” the art of making deceptively simple products that are actually extremely complex.

THE HYDRATION EQUATION: With most races no longer providing watering stations along the way, the demand for hydration products at run specialty retail has skyrocketed. Ironman, for example has mandated their athletes be self sufficient. Naked welcomes this and sees new possibilities as a brand. THE AMBASSADORS: Naked Sports creates products for the most demanding athletes and activities in the world, who then provide real-world testing. What really excites Dakota is the company’s Ambassadors and everyday customer that may not reach the podium but

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are passionate for its products. “Their shared passion throughout their communities has been the backbone of Naked’s marketing success,” he says. THE SOCIAL CONNECTION: Social media has played a significant role in Naked’s outreach and marketing. Through its subscription emails, Instagram and Facebook channels it manages to stay close to its customers, while most of its distributors establish “Naked” Facebook pages. The company shares information with them and they then share with their regions.

ADVICE FOR RUN SPECIALTY RETAILERS: “Run specialty is going to stay with us — and we need them,” says Dakota. “They provide an important link to customers in their regions and the ones that do not provide any digital connection will be left behind. A smaller footprint is better, more flexible without being tied to a large monthly nut.” NAKED PLANS FOR 2021 AND BEYOND: Growth is the plan, says Dakota. “We will continue on our same path, building on the platforms in place and adding new ones, whether physical or digital.” n

© 2020 Diversified Communications


Footwear Week December 1-4, 2020 Meet with the right people at the right time. Footwear Week connects retailers with the running industry’s leading footwear brands at the time of year critical for planning business in 2021.

Virtual Event

• Easily arrange one-on-one or group meetings with preferred vendors on a day and time convenient to your schedule • Access exclusive educational sessions presented by top footwear brands, including early-signed sponsors Brooks, Saucony, Under Armour, and more

HOSTED BY

Register for free at:

www.runninginsight.com/footwear-week

Profile for Running Insight

Running Insight 11.1.2020  

Running Insight 11.1.2020