Running Insight 1.25.22

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KATHRINE SWITZER RUNS FEARLESS: PAGE 4

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

MARCH2022 16, 2020 JANUARY/FEBRUARY

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WOMEN TO WATCH IN RUN SPECIALTY IN 2022 Stephanie and Carrie Blozy, owners of Fleet Feet Hartford, are among the influential women who run this business. See feature on page 8

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Women Who Run This Business

WOMEN ON THE RUN As 2022 kicks off, we present a special issue devoted to The Women Who Run This Business.

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this is an issue of Running Insight devoted to the women who run this business. It is a term that we use often here when we write about just how powerful and important women are in run specialty — the store owners, the company presidents, retail salespeople, brand managers, sales reps, athletes and influencers. Together they have changed the run specialty business — for the much better.

specialty chain and how they view this business we are in. Women like Christi Beth Adams, of Fleet Feet Nashville (December 14 RI+), Melissa Vitale of True Grit Running (October 19 RI+), Ellen Brenner of Fleet Feet Rochester (Septemebr 21 RI+) and Jen Brummer, from Gazelle Sports (August 17 RI+) are among those who have shared their wisdom, wit and insights in the past few months.

For proof of their impact on the running business at all levels you needed to look no further than the aisles of The Running Event 2021, held last month in Austin, TX. The Austin Convention Center exhibit hall and conference rooms were filled with more women than could be found at any trade show in almost any other industry. It is testament that these women have made successful inroads into run specialty — not just at the store level, but in management, at major brands and in associations. For the past years in our digital Running Insight+ newsletter we have published a feature we actually do call The Women Who Run This Business — it provides a monthly insight into women from all links in the run

RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2022 all rights reserved. Running Insight is published monthly, 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 issue of Running Insight takes that concept a few steps further, with the debut of the 25 Women to Watch In Run Specialty in 2022 that starts on page 8. The staff at Running Insight spent a considerable amount of time putting this list of impressive women together – the biggest challenge was limiting it to only 25 women – and we think we paint a strong picture of these influential women and their businesses. The women on the following pages, led by the amazing story of Kathrine Switzer on the next page and continuing with with those in the Front Lines feature by Tom Griffen on page 26, do truly run this business. It is their unique worldview, passion and dedication that makes run specialty so special and we are glad to be able to tell their stories in our pages.

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Women Who Run This Business

RUNNING FEARLESS Kathrine Switzer broke barriers for women in running and continues to advocate for the sport’s role in empowering females.

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n 1967 women took a major stride in the world of running when Kathrine Switzer became the first female to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon. The iconic photos of race director Jock Semple trying to remove her Bib #261 made her an instant celebrity and cast her in the role of sports and social advocate. Without knowing it when she crossed the finish line in that 1967 race, she forever changed the face of running for women. Switzer is an Emmy award-winning television commentator and has been honored widely for her achievements, including being inducted into the USA National Women’s Hall of Fame for creating positive social change. Switzer stopped running and traveling long enough this month to speak with Running Insight for our special Women Who Run This Business Issue about that momentous day, her role in the growth of women in running and where she sees the business of running today. Let’s get right to the point: How do you view the progress women have made in the business of running headed into 2022? Pretty good, not super great, but it is progressing. How so? I’m glad to see women race directors, heads of Comms at races and others taking more roles in running admin. They are also getting stronger in the big brands of shoes and apparel, but not as many as should be are in the C-suite. How about advances of women in running itself? It is woefully lacking. Critical to the success of women athletes is the lack of women coaches. Many problems that have occurred in women’s sports – sexual harassment, bullying, etc. – are because we don’t have enough women coaches to fill those important positions. What is holding them back? It is hard being a woman coach because a woman’s domestic situation is more complicated. Male coaches traditionally can be at night games and travel with a team all weekend, but women coaches don’t have the domestic support to allow that. We’ve got to figure that out. It’s not that they wouldn’t be good coaches or don’t want to be, it’s because they don’t have the domestic support.

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Do you think your story has played any role in progress women have made? Sure it did. It showed then and now how ingrained belief in a ‘woman’s appropriate place’ was 50 years ago. I didn’t get push back just from Jock Semple [the race director who tried to remove her bib at that Boston Marathon]. My worst detractors were other women. My greatest defenders were the very few other women who ran and, hugely, the great bulk of male runners, whom I called the original New Age Guys.

of women themselves happen. Through running, these women became empowered and got better jobs, finished that education, were tough enough to leave bad relationships.

When did you sense all of that changing? It wasn’t until we created women’s-only running events – such as the Avon International Running Circuit – from that negative moment to get women out running did the transformation

What lessons would you like young women take from the experiences you have had in the world of running? That the worst things in your life can become the best things. Who would have imagined that getting attacked in the Boston

And that iconic photo … The photo became a clarion call to women everywhere. Then when we got the women’s marathon into the Olympic Games 1984 we realized this was one of the biggest social revolutions of the century. That incident was a big spark in starting that revolution.

Marathon because I was a female would result in such a positive outcome? That was quite an unforeseen result for sure. The other thing I learned from this and running itself was that consistency and persistence count more than talent and that sometimes when people don’t believe in you, running gives you the lift to believe in yourself, to forge on and create positive outcomes. I am not particularly talented, but I do know how to work hard. That combination usually gives great results. Switching gears a bit, what are you focused on these days? What’s a typical day like? My focus right now is to get my non-profit, 261 Fearless – named after my old bib number

from 1967, the one the official tried to rip off my body – on solid ground to be secure for decades to come. We are already global on five continents and 12 countries after only six years and we have empowered hundreds of women around the world and are now pushing strongly ahead with an educational component so women can train other women. So a typical day is 50 percent percent 261 Fearless work, 25 percent percent speeches and 25 percent interviews. And an hour run. How has the pandemic impacted what you do professionally and personally? It has been pretty good for me. My husband and I were lucky enough to get locked down in New Zealand, the safest and sanest country in the world. The pandemic has allowed me to

The iconic photo of Kathrine Switzer being attacked by Boston Marathon race director Jock Semple (in dark clothes) for running in what he considered a men’s-only race in 1967. That’s Switzer’s boyfriend Tom Miller (#390) pushing Semple to the side as Switzer went on to complete the landmark race. Photo: Boston Herald.

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Running Fearless (continued) get more rest. I was spending 60 percent of my time in airports, on flights and in hotels. I can do so much virtually now. Nothing beats giving or hearing a speech in person, but I love doing Zoom as I can also reach out to people quite personally. Plus, I can see my 261 women all over the world rather than just one country at a time. Are you running much in races or casually these days? Yes, I still take running very seriously and have the Tokyo Marathon 2023 in my sights. Running Boston in 2017 was the happiest day of my life — being the first woman who ran a marathon 50 years after she ran her first one. After that I ran NYC and in 2018 ran London. In 2019 I did a ton of Rock ‘n’ Roll stuff, but 2021 was a tough year as I was in an accident in January, recovered by September and then was knocked back by shingles. I am only coming out of that now, so I have a lot of recovery yet to go. What’s planned for 2022?

This year for the Boston Marathon we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of women being official in the marathon — Boston was the first to do that, in 1972. Eight women ran that day and all eight of us finished.

often bloody feet. I was bleeding out of my shoes in 1967. Now, 50 years later in a nearly new pair of Adidas Boosts I didn’t even have a chafe or hot spot after running for 4:48 in 2017 on a warm day in Boston.

How will you be celebrating that special date? Five of us will be in Boston in 2022 and the official Boston Marathon gear is dedicated to this anniversary. And if you can imagine, my autograph is on the label of these clothes along with my quote: “Be Fearless! Break Barriers!”

How does today’s apparel stack up against what you ran in originally? It is aerodynamic, wicking and dries fast. I especially love the pieces that are colorful. I’m still a sucker for the designs of the wild ’80s, but at age 75 I’m not sure I can quite carry that off as well now as I did then.

Our readers would be interested in what brands you run in? I’m an Adidas ambassador and only wear the best!

Changing it up again, how can running play a role in women’s lives in this unique culture? Similar to the goals of 261 Fearless, running will empower us and give us faith, belief and persistence to adjust, pivot and create in the New World of 2022. This will be a transformational year — everything in all of our lives will never be the same after this pandemic. But running will give us the ability to create and transform,

What do you think of the shoes and apparel being made for female runners? (As opposed to the gray sweat pants and shirt you ran in at Boston!) It’s beautiful and efficient. The shoes are the most changed. Marathon running in the past always meant blisters at best and

too. Running makes us bold and we will need to be bold in 2022. And what message would you give to women looking for inspiration in business — and in life? To stay as healthy and fit as possible, to help face this health crisis and to feel empowered and strong, because running does make you Fearless in the face of adversity. The transformation in running gives you mental clarity, to see a new path, a new opportunity, a new business even. And it not only forestalls the aging process, but gives you the guts to age without fear. I’m 75 now — OMG! Finally, what’s next for Kathrine Switzer and how are you going to accomplish that? I’m working on it right now — to regain the health and fitness I lost in 2021, to work on a new look for the future depending on what happens in 2022, to keep inspiring women and men to do the same, and to enjoy the company of my husband more every day. Maybe – no promises here – write another book. n

261 Fearless Looks to Empower Women Through Running Established in 2015, 261 Fearless Inc. is a global non-profit organization founded by Kathrine Switzer that uses running as a vehicle to empower and unite women through the creation of local non-competitive running clubs, education programs, communication platforms and social running events. It aims to break down the barriers of geography and create a global community for women runners of all abilities to support, encourage and inspire each other towards a positive sense of self and fearlessness. “It means that the ability to become empowered and fearless lies in all of us, that even the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other can give us the strength to believe in ourselves and to overcome incredible adversity,” says Switzer. “But you have to have the opportunity to try. And that is what 261 Fearless gives.”

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Women Who Run This Business

25 WOMEN TO WATCH IN RUN SPECIALTY IN 2022 Many people say that women really do run this business, so the editors of Running Insight took a look at who the women are who are making the most impact in the world of run specialty these days. This list of 25 Women to Watch in Run Specialty in 2022 includes retailers, brand executives, athletes, influencers and entrepreneurs — and one pair of sisters. These remarkable women – and dozens more like them – really do influence the business of run specialty as well as the lives of millions of people.

Burke Beck • Stephanie and Carrie Blozy • Christine Bowen • Jen Brummitt Anne Cavassa • Kathy Dalby • Alison Désir • Monica DeVrees • Martha Garcia Kara Goucher • Christina Henderson • Gina Lucrezi • Bekah Metzdorff Catherine Moloznik • Kelly O’Cadiz • Britt Olson • Nicole Otto Cathy Pugsley • Megan Searfoss • Molly Seidel • Dawna Stone Keri Straughn • Shannon Woods • Wendy Yang

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MOLLY SEIDEL Professional Athlete Puma AFTER A 2021 HIGHLIGHTED by a bronze medal in the Olympic marathon and a 2:24 finish in New York City, what might Seidel do for an encore? She has a yet-to-be-determined spring marathon on her radar as well as donning the USA singlet at the 2022 World Championships marathon in Eugene this summer. The affable Notre Dame alum also has hopes of making pro running “more relatable” to the general running community, including removing the intimidation factor that seems to hinder everyday folks from embracing the sport. On being a key figure in Puma’s running renaissance: “I’m going to continue to demonstrate to people that Puma is back in the running scene in a big way and excited to show what this is. Aside from obviously racing and training in Puma gear, I’m always happy to be testing innovations with their product and innovation teams. This includes also being able to use a new race day shoe, the Fast-R, which I’ve been really excited about for a long time now. I can’t wait to run a marathon in that.”


25 Women To Watch in 2022 (continued) KATHY DALBY CEO and Partner Pacers Running

BRITT OLSEN General Manager, North America On

MONICA DEVREESE Co-founder rabbit

Now in her 20th year with Washington, D.C.based Pacers Running, Dalby touts 2022 as “our year.” After spending much of 2021 investing in and building the infrastructure necessary to propel Pacers Runnings’ bestin-class ambitions, Dalby is steering Pacers Runnings’ energized charge into the future. The six-location retailer has employees across all divisions sprinkled coast-to-coast, inclusive storytelling ready to roll, deep product inventory and the necessary tech solutions to support its vision of national service alongside local brick-and-mortar retail.

Olsen’s top priorities for 2022 include advancing On’s efforts in performance, design, sustainability, culture and impact. She teases upcoming moves from the Swiss brand “around social and environmental impact” and touts the potential of “Right to Run,” On’s upstart program dedicated to bringing safety, access, awareness and inclusion to marginalized groups across many circles of oppression.

DeVreese, who is also the co-owner of California’s Santa Barbara Running Co., continues steering rabbit’s impressive growth. In the coming year, the apparel brand will unveil partnerships in the sustainability and women’s empowerment sectors. The company will also be involved with the Silo District Marathon in Waco, TX, an April event armed with the star power of HGTV’s Chip and Joanna Gaines, to support the cancerfighting efforts of the Brave Like Gabe Foundation.

On run specialty’s future: “We are an industry of helpers who believe in healthy communities and if we continue with our north star of helping as many people as possible through running, we can enact some real and positive change in the lives of our employees and our customers.”

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Lessons from the pandemic: “Prioritizing the health of your team should always be top of mind, even when we aren’t in a pandemic. A happy, healthy team is willing and able to find a solution to any problem. They are eager to collaborate and they thrive with agility.”

One change she hopes to see in the business world: “We recently partnered with Women-Led Wednesday to support, promote and empower women in leadership, both in the run specialty marketplace and other industries. This speaks to a broader goal of ours, which is to see a strong female voice in business, philanthropy, leadership roles and much more. By shining a light on women in the workplace, we hope to usher in a more gender-balanced economy in the future.”

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25 Women To Watch in 2022 (continued) MEGAN SEARFOSS Owner, Ridgefield Running Company and Darien Running Company

ALISON MARIELLA DÉSIR Director of Sports Advocacy, Oiselle Co-chair of the RIDC

ANNE CAVASSA President Saucony

Since COVID-19 infiltrated American life, Searfoss took her business online, switched her POS system, embraced iPads on the sales floor, launched a second store in nearby Darien, CT, and opened a pop-up shop catering to high school athletes. She calls 2022 a “year of refinement,” which includes maximizing every inch of space at her 1500-square-foot stores, overcoming supply chain challenges and continuing her hunt for talent while still exploring new growth opportunities.

While her work on building inclusive communities realized success virtually, Désir is looking forward to seeing what will be possible with in-person events in 2022. Her book, “Running While Black,” will be out in October – her goal is to make the New York Times Bestseller list – while her second apparel collection with Oiselle will be available in Fall 2022, giving her a unique double impact on the running community. Meanwhile, RIDC plans to hire its first executive director this year, deepening its impact through collaboration, education, research and reporting.

Cavassa calls 2022 a “big year” for Saucony, a brand that continues to see explosive global growth fueled by key footwear franchises like the Triumph as well as the ballyhooed Endorphin Collection, which will welcome version 3s of the Speed, Shift and Pro in addition to adding a much-anticipated new trail offering with the Endorphin Edge this year. The brand will also expand its retail footprint in China, jumping to about 100 Saucony stores in operation across the Asian country by year’s end, and introducing a stunning brand flagship store in Milan.

A message to the running industry: “Racial justice must be part of how you do business. For companies just beginning to consider how to embed a racial justice framework into your business, mistakes and discomfort are par for the course; however, remaining authentic and transparent about where you are in your journey and what your struggles are as well as holding yourself accountable to your commitments will keep you on the path moving forward.”

One change she hopes to see in run specialty: “I wouldn’t change a thing, but rather look to enhance the unique strengths of what run specialty has to offer. Run shops exceed expectations of what independent retailers can do because they are so committed to their communities and I would want to double down on that. As brands, we need to do our part and support our retail partners with fresh product so they can continue to create connections with their local communities.”

What she enjoys most about run specialty: “We are all fortunate that run specialty is a very sharing community. It is easy to pick up the phone and talk to another owner to gain insight and share ideas.”

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25 Women To Watch in 2022 (continued) CATHY PUGSLEY Owner/President/Company Mom Potomac River Running/PR Training

After what she describes as “one foot in and one foot out” for the past year – a time when PRR in the Washington, D.C./Virginia area didn’t see the rebound some parts of the country already had – Pugsley is anxious for a return to live events in 2022. But she does believe that COVID emphasized the adage, “when a door closes, a window opens,” because the tough retail environment allowed her to negotiate favorable lease terms in some of her stores. Reduced foot traffic forced Pugsley and her team to elevate their online game — an investment she feels will continue to pay dividends in 2022. An upgrade in its website and online store, along with an investment in FitStations, will allow one of the country’s leading run specialty shops to standardize the buying experience. Lessons from the pandemic: “We are working hard to determine what motivates the running store staff so that we can holistically reward and compensate them for a job well done, which means looking beyond typical paycheck compensation.” 14

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CARRIE BLOZY AND STEPHANIE BLOZY Co-owners Fleet Feet Hartford

For the Blozy sisters, 2022 is about opportunity. A major renovation to their Hartford building will bring apartments above their retail store and a parking garage underneath. While that renovation will stir some upheaval – including a potential move to a temporary space – the sisters will soon have a “blank slate” to design their new store. The fresh physical space combined with applying the lessons they learned during the pandemic, namely a devout willingness to embrace change, underscores the Blozys’ commitment to creating a dynamic, evolving business and, yes, seizing opportunity. One change Stephanie hopes to see in the run specialty world: “I would like to see that our staffs are customer service intensive similar to a hair stylist or high-end restaurant wait staff. Customers should be encouraged to tip for good service – even a few dollars would mean a huge difference to our staff’s bank accounts and make working the sales floor more attractive. We tip coffee baristas and bartenders for much less interaction and service.”

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25 Women To Watch in 2022 (continued) WENDY YANG President Hoka

KELLY O’CADIZ Chief Operating Officer Pacers Running

GINA LUCREZI Founder and Owner Trail Sisters

Yang says Hoka will continue to build brand momentum in 2022. This includes rolling out a reimagined brand expression, unleashing ambitious efforts to elevate Hoka’s positioning with new customers and introducing superior products rooted in performance and innovation like the new Mach Supersonic and Tecton X, a trail shoe featuring dual carbon plates. Under Yang’s leadership, this and more should help Hoka propel more individuals across finish lines, including marquee races in the UTMB series for which Hoka is now the premier technical footwear and apparel sponsor.

Last fall, O’Cadiz, a 13-year Pacers Runnings employee, was elevated from senior purchasing director to chief operating officer at the six-store, Washington, D.C.-based retail chain. Tasked to execute Pacers Runnings’ ambitious organizational strategy, O’Cadiz hopes to bring “cohesive clarity to the workplace” by streamlining workflows and encouraging deeper collaboration among the retailer’s swelling enterprise.

Eager to increase women’s participation and confidence in trail running, Lucrezi looks to continue shepherding Trail Sisters’ explosive growth. With its new mobile app, Trail Sisters arms women with an accessible tool to connect with and join more than 140 Trail Sisters groups around the U.S., while free educational courses aim to help members feel more prepared and empowered on the trail. Lucrezi, meanwhile, is taking the reins as race director of the heralded Lake Sonoma 50, which has introduced a marathon to its 2022 slate.

A source of inspiration in her career: “Growing up as a competitive athlete, I learned that you need to work incredibly hard to win. Not just physically, but mentally. At the same time, competition has taught me the importance of being ready and able to pivot, assessing and shifting strategies as needed. This has never been more important than in this incredibly dynamic time that we live in.”

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Lessons from the pandemic: “Modernize your critical processes now. COVID threw many curveballs … and taught us we cannot be caught flatfooted. With the threat of COVID still lingering, your business needs to be prepared for the unexpected. Streamlining and adopting more automated processes is key to building a more resilient business.”

Lessons from the pandemic: “I’d say the biggest takeaway is making sure people are being approached with patience and grace. The pandemic affected everyone and I think we all need to have a bit of patience for each other and to provide each other some grace as we are all trying to find our way.”

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25 Women To Watch in 2022 (continued) KERI STRAUGHN Co-Owner Palmetto Running Company

CATHERINE MOLOZNIK Senior Director of Purchasing Fleet Feet

MARTHA GARCIA Founder I Am Collective

Back at The Running Event 2019 Straughn and Palmetto Running won the inaugural Big Pitch for their Eco Initiative and just recently at TRE21 it received the Impact Award from On Running for its ongoing environmental commitment. Straughn, with her easily recognizable blue hair, plans to keep that momentum going with the launch of The Low Impact Alliance, born out of her belief that all businesses have the duty and responsibility to operate in an environmentally responsible manner. Oh, and in 2021 she and her family launched a second business (Runner’s High Coffee Co.) and tripled the size of their Hilton Head location.

With Fleet Feet’s December 2021 acquisition of nearly 60 JackRabbit stores across 15 states, Moloznik has more on her shoulders than ever before. She’ll be leading efforts to fold the JackRabbit stores into Fleet Feet’s corporate-owned portfolio, which jumped from 40 to almost 100 with the headlinegrabbing deal. This means leveraging technology and data to make informed, disciplined decisions and bringing a “hyperlocal at scale purchasing model” to life for both company-owned stores as well as operating partners.

Garcia does not believe in gatekeeping knowledge. She does believe in the power of a collective group and hopes to achieve this by building a community of passionate marketers who see, hear and value each other’s perspectives. Her I Am Collective agency plans to nudge running brands to be the leading example of inclusive marketing and she is energized by the opportunity to provide education and mentorship through storytelling, utilizing the lessons learned throughout her career working for private and corporate brands. The aim: Sharing her story and perspective in an effort to empower individuals to achieve their personal and professional goals.

Lessons from the pandemic: “2020 taught us about the importance of speaking up. As business owners we are taught to keep our opinions to ourselves and focus on selling, but after the events of these past two years we knew we had to make a change. Runners want to purchase from brands that they feel good about — a place that has a soul and a purpose.” 18

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One change she hopes to see in run specialty: “Introduce newness and innovation to our marketplaces faster. We need to keep the customer engaged and coming back into our stores. In addition, we need to attract the new, younger consumer, so understanding their needs and catering to that experience through innovative products and unique experiences instore will be key – and something we will need our vendor partners’ support with.”

Lessons from the pandemic: “I’ve learned to pause and reflect. Life moves very fast and when I started I Am Collective I promised myself to be present for every single moment — from the first rejection to paying taxes.”

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25 Women To Watch in 2022 (continued) BEKAH METZDORFF Co-owner Mill City Running and Saint City Running

DAWNA STONE CEO, Running USA

CHRISTINE BOWEN VP–Partnerships, Running USA

Metzdorff, who owns and operates the two Minneapolis area running stores with her husband, Jeff, is geeked about two things on her 2022 agenda: first, plotting a significant space refresh at Mill City Running; and second, deepening her relationships with the stores’ race team members, including a February trip to Sedona, AZ. Thereafter, Metzdorff wants to continue empowering staff to activate creative, smart ideas to propel the business while also developing new ways to make both Mill City and Saint City more accessible and welcoming environments.

With a mission to grow the sport of running, the Running USA team is developing several initiatives centered around DEIA, sustainability and industry best practices for 2022, along with the beginning stages of developing a campaign to get more Americans running. Stone keeps a huge white board in her office where she is constantly adding future initiatives and goals and one in particular is front and center — although she is not ready to unveil the project, she hints that its overarching mission will be to educate and inspire a new and inclusive generation of runners.

Lessons from the pandemic: “We are all so interconnected, to our customers, to the brands we work with, to the factories those brands get their product from, to the people that transport the product and on and on. We can do hard things together and we should consider everyone involved in the decisions we make.”

Lessons from the pandemic: “Individuals in the running industry are resilient. We are not only used to working really hard, but we also love what we do and are an extremely passionate group. Just like when running a race, we have good days and bad days, but that doesn’t stop us. We move on and persevere and this was more important than ever during the pandemic.”

Along with several new ideas up their sleeves to expand Running USA’s membership and provide high-value benefits and education, Bowen is looking forward to continuing to help both their event and vendor members recover from the challenges of the past two years. The idea of being able to head back out on the road to connect with events and bring education to local markets has her incredibly invigorated, as does a focus on DEIA in 2022. Bowen knows there is an opportunity for Running USA to help its events create more inclusive environments for participants, which will require her and the team to lean in, listen and put their plans into action.

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Lessons from the pandemic: “Be adaptable and practice patience. I’ve learned that there is always a way, but it’s not always the way things have been done before.”

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25 Women To Watch in 2022 (continued) SHANNON WOODS Senior Manager Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Brooks Running

CHRISTINA HENDERSON Executive Director The Running Event and Running Insight

BURKE BECK Co-owner Red Coyote Running and Fitness

Brooks’ DEI efforts go well beyond creating opportunities to grow its workforce and for women and Black, Indigenous and People of Color and Woods is making sure the company continues to make progress towards its 2025 DEI goals. A key component in 2022 will be building the Brooks internship program, charged with creating a talent pipeline through the educational and work experience that exemplifies Brooks’ inclusive, creative and innovative culture. To be successful, Woods is setting DEI goals and resources to reduce barriers to participation and create accessibility for all. All the while Brooks has also been refining how it creates product and marketing partnerships.

Henderson believes in the power of events and under her watch The Running Event uses that power to bring minds and passions together to collectively produce something valuable. After enduring a one-year COVID hiatus and then organizing a successful return of TRE in 2021, this year she plans push to find new ways to support the run specialty industry. Her focus will be on being a leader for industry initiatives — not merely on how many attendees she can get to The Running Event 2022, but rather on creating new runners and supporting the industry in a way to have those runners support run specialty.

The word “innovate” remains top of mind for Beck and she is actively brainstorming and plotting new initiatives for Red Coyote, the two-store, Oklahoma City-based run shop she guides with her husband, Jon. Beck says Red Coyote has “plans for expansion in 2022” as well as some “brand innovation projects that will focus on introducing Red Coyote to new audiences” while also allowing current customers fresh ways to connect with the retailer. Beck, who co-founded the empowerun group alongside Pacers Runnings’ CEO Kathy Dalby to amplify the female point of view in the running industry, is also challenging her team to create actionable goals around diversity.

Thoughts on DEI … “The work of diversity, equity and inclusion takes perseverance and patience, but most importantly it’s about people. Building authentic relationships with my team members, with our customers and with our business partners is one of the most significant attributes to achieving diversity, equity and inclusion.” 22

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Lessons from the pandemic: “Relationships are everything. We took for granted being able to gather, to meet people, to brainstorm and build. The past 19 months, for me, reinforced that we need each other. It could have been a very isolating time, and it was unavoidable at times, but I’m confident that the strength of our industry relationships got our businesses through it.”

Lessons from the pandemic: “COVID-19 created a profound pivot in both my personal and business life. I learned to relinquish control and trust my team. They showed immense resilience and adaptability and with each new challenge we grew together.”

© 2022 Diversified Communications


25 Women To Watch in 2022 (continued) JEN BRUMMITT CEO Gazelle Sports

NICOLE OTTO Global Brand President The North Face

KARA GOUCHER Distance Analyst NBC TV

Brummitt, who ascended to Michigan-based Gazelle’s CEO seat last summer, will oversee some big moves in 2022. Gazelle will open a new store, its sixth location, in downtown Grand Rapids this summer and rebrand its largest signature event from Gazelle Girl to SHE RUNS Grand Rapids. Thereafter, Brummitt looks to inspire and empower her team to connect, listen, support and service Gazelle’s customers and community partners.

After 16 years at at Nike, where she served as VP of Nike Direct North America, overseeing the brand’s North American inline and factory stores as well as the company’s digital experiences, Otto, named to the post earlier this month, brings a different vibe to TNF. With its Vectiv line making waves in the trail category, she will undoubtedly continue to focus on forging deep connections with consumers and with her retail experience at Nike that included expanding the Nike Live concept into the New York City and Los Angeles markets, a greater retail emphasis for the VF Corp. unit could emerge.

While Goucher has plans to complete a 50-mile run in 2022, albeit not an effort surrounded by massive hoopla, the former Olympian is most looking forward to her turn on the mic when the World Championships visit Eugene, OR, this July, that global event’s first trip to U.S. soil. As an analyst for NBC’s broadcast of key distance events, Goucher looks forward to helping audiences understand racing nuance and celebrating world-class performances, including the competitive efforts of American athletes striving for top finishes.

A source of inspiration in her career: “I love Brené Brown. My copy of ‘Dare to Lead’ has been my go-to leadership book the last several years. Also, my daughters, Caroline and Kate, who are incredible sources of inspiration and motivation for me on the good days and really hard days of leadership.”

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On why she joined The North Face: “Few brands in the world have earned truly iconic status like The North Face and I couldn’t be more excited to be joining the brand at this time. I look forward to working closely with The North Face leadership team in addition to VF leadership to drive the next phase of growth for this beloved global brand and all that it represents.”

One change she would like to see in the running world: “Results are important, but I hope we can put more focus and appreciation on individual storylines and humanizing athletes, both from the United States and internationally. There are mothers and wives, fathers and sons competing. They’re not just athletes, but individuals with compelling human stories.”

© 2022 Diversified Communications


Women Who Run This Business

OCR Dreaming

Nicole Mericle has set out to grow women’s role in Obstacle Course Racing.

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he gender disparity in Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) is undeniable. It can be seen in participation numbers, media coverage and sponsorship support. Nicole Mericle has set out to change all of that. As one of the top female athletes in OCR, Mericle recognized an opportunity to change the trajectory of the sport. Her passion for the project was born out of reallife experiences and seeing the challenges women face in her chosen sport. In the past five years, Mericle says she has witnessed countless talented women sign up for races only to walk away prematurely, unrecognized, unsupported and unable to figure things out. She knows what it’s like to be that newcomer. “Early in my career I, too, struggled to master the many elements of OCR,” she recalls, but with time and persistence she became a three-time OCR World Champion and the 2019 Spartan World Champion. Now, Mericle, who counts VJ Sports Shoes, Honey Stinger, InsideTracker, Darn Tough Vermont, Sur PhytoPerformace and Goodr as her brand partners, frequently finishes in the top 10 of the men’s field and is known as one of the most obstacle proficient athletes in the sport — male or female. Her motivation now is not to beat her competitors, but to elevate other women. “I hope women and girls will see my accomplishments as proof of what they can achieve,” she says. Taking a step in that direction, in the spring of 2021 Mericle founded the OCR Dream Team, a women’s elite development team committed to identifying up-and-coming athletes and providing more opportunity for women in OCR. She pulled together her own sponsors, connections and looked to the most 24

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knowledgeable women she knew in coaching, mental performance and nutrition. Together with a team of female experts, the OCR Dream Team set out with the dream to change OCR. OCR welcomed five athletes in 2021, providing them with everything an athlete could need — a monetary stipend, regular blood biomarker testing, training and racing gear, coaching, nutrition counseling, mental performance guidance, psychological support and mentoring The team’s success last year included: • First, second and fifth placements at the North American Championships • Second place finish in the U.S. National Series • A Canadian National Series Champion

• Second and fourth placements at the Spartan World Championships Its 2022 athletes include Annie Dube, Emma Cook-Clarke, Arielle Fitzgerald, Morgan Schulz, Lillie Elkin, Ashley O’Hara, Miranda Kielpinski and Hannah Holmes. Nicole has an admittedly ambitious vision for women’s OCR. “I envision a field of women redefining what’s possible, pushing the men’s field and proving that women are just as skilled and strong as their male counterparts,” she says. “I see women competing fiercely and realizing their potential through collaboration and community.” n For more: www.ocrdreamteam.com

© 2022 Diversified Communications



Women Who Run This Business

Front Line Voices

Six women speak out on their experiences in run specialty and where we all go from here. / By Tom Griffen

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ere’s an idea I had late last year: I’d love to do an interview-based article featuring female run specialty staffers working for or with various shops — a diverse sampling of women who influence the landscape. I pitched the idea to Running Insight: What do you think? They accepted my pitch. But after further thought, I wasn’t sure this article should be written by me. After all, I represent the long-time cultural focus of our industry — I’m a white male. And though my intentions are good, hasn’t my voice (and voices like mine) been heard enough over the last half century or so? I think the answer is, alarmingly, yes. Still, write it I did. But I committed to do so using a more thoughtful framework. I left my opinions out of it. I didn’t impose my two cents or speak to the whole as if they are one. Because they are not. I wrote this article in a way that’s similar to how I am trying to live my life — I did it with inclusivity at the forefront of my mind. Sometimes I do this well, while other times I fail miserably. So I spoke with floor staffers, leadership team members, event coordinators and community partners, anyone willing to share their story and honestly comment on what it means to be a woman in our industry. I wanted to help amplify their voices. In each request, I asked folks to consider connecting me with women less-represented by the industry as a whole. Why? Because I worried if I wasn’t clear about this detail, I’d unintentionally find myself introducing you hereafter to a group of – in plain words – white women. And though I have no doubt the interviews would have been interesting, they wouldn’t have represented the diversity the run industry is working 26

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hard to more actively include. I hereby introduce you to Nandi, Victoria, Tricia, Caroline, Sydney and Liza (pronounced Leeza). Please take a few minutes to give a listen to what they have to say. NANDI SMITH Marketing Director Run For Your Life Charlotte, NC Pronouns: she/her Nandi Smith says she’s one of the few people in Charlotte who was born and raised there. After graduating from North Carolina State in 2021 with a degree in Fashion Textile Management and a Marketing concentration, she wasn’t sure what to do. She applied for a job at Run For Your Life with hopes of someday working into a marketing role. Her goal was quickly realized.

“When I entered Run For Your Life, there was already a woman of color in my role, which made my aspiration less intimidating,” she says. “It can be nervewracking otherwise. But seeing her as my predecessor paved my way.” Nandi believes this is the sort of direct influence we can have on each other — and on our industry. Nandi’s role asks for a lot. No day is ever the same and she enjoys making sure things fall into place. She’s driven mostly by the opportunity to create community. “I love having the opportunity to talk with people. And waking up at 5 a.m. is a lot easier when it’s centered around this.” Getting to hear others’ stories and building relationships fills her heart, which ultimately makes her feel more complete in her role.

Nandi Smith, Run For Your Life

© 2022 Diversified Communications


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Front Line Voices (continued) Nandi is passionate about sustainability, both personal and planetary. She’s optimistic about the possibility of brands choosing less wasteful practices and this outlook carries over into her personal life. Not only is she a long-time vegan, but she’s also a big proponent of self-advocacy. “Women, especially Black women, have to start with the self. We need to make sure we’re serving our needs and be honest when things are taking a toll,” she says. She’s gotten good at this over the years, but it helps to be in a supportive environment. “I’m blessed to be in a space where I don’t feel left out.” VICTORIA SANCHEZ Store Manager Pacers Running Alexandria, VA Pronouns: she/her Victoria Sanchez is part of the female majority currently on Pacers Running’s leadership team. “There’s something about being a woman working alongside other women,” she says. “It affords a different sort of inclusivity. It empowers me to more easily speak and be heard.” Victoria appreciates this seat at the table and wants her voice to reach across the board. “Pacers affords me this opportunity and this is exactly what keeps me here.” Victoria’s management strategy revolves around teamwork. “There’s lot of tag-teaming,” she says. “I do my best to lead by example and don’t try to do everything.” Victoria makes sure her staff is delegated to and empowered to help accomplish the store’s myriad roles and responsibilities, while encouraging people 28

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Victoria Sanchez, Pacers Running to speak up and let their needs be known. “Asking for help is okay,” she says. “And I take this seriously. I want to make sure everyone knows that their voice matters. It’s part of how we’ll continue to grow.”

It’s apparent to her that the run industry is lacking adequate female representation. “The biggest roles are still largely occupied by men. I’m definitely not alone in wondering where all the female race winners are. They sometimes get attention,

Tricia Beaty, Big Peach Running Company

but it’s minor compared to men.” She believes that choosing to give voice and opportunity to women or other less-represented groups may seem like a leap of faith, but she’s sure it’s worth it. “More women-owned businesses at the forefront, more women athletes in the headlines, more highlights on female staffers. Taking such risks is part of how the industry will live up to its aspiration to be more inclusive.” T he COV I D bubble has proven that small businesses, especially minority-owned, can thrive in the face of massive adversity, she believes. “There’s a lot to learn from success stories outside of the industry’s historical norm.” TRICIA BEATY Director of Apparel, Accessories, and Trademarked Goods Big Peach Running Company Atlanta, GA Pronouns: she/her Tricia Beaty has a background in nursing and nutrition but got into running when a friend recruited her to train for a 5K and then a marathon, during which time the friend dropped more than 100 pounds. “I was inspired,” Tricia says. “And I wanted to inspire others, too.” She took a job with Big Peach Running Company and eventually became the first female manager at the retailer. She is a single mom and like many others during COVID she had issues with daycare that made it hard to be at work as often as she had been. “But our leadership team figured a way for me to work from home and this made a big impact on me,” she says. When she started at Big Peach, it was obvious she had joined a male-centric space. © 2022 Diversified Communications


Front Line Voices (continued) “But things have changed,” she says. “I’ve worked in industries where women were excluded, so I know how that feels. Being included is beautiful. Everyone has the right to feel empowered. And really, it’s not hard to do. It’s a choice.” She recalls a recent manager’s meeting where the leadership team spent time scrutinizing where Big Peach, as an organization, may be inadvertently excluding people. “We spent hours discussing how we can remedy this and be even more inclusive,” she says, and one of those solutions was to consciously add more women in the workplace. “Having women on staff shows other women they can do it, too,” Tricia says. “And attracting more females and diversity to the workplace has got to involve more than just good intentions. CAROLINE AUSTIN P.E. Teacher & Head XC/Track and Field Coach at Catlin Gabel Middle School Portland, OR Pronouns: she/they Caroline Austin has a long history in run specialty, having spent seven years in the Fleet Feet organization, working in both the Seattle and Portland locations. Caroline has also coached collegiate runners at Washington State and Seattle University. These days, Caroline coaches middle and high school crosscountry and track athletes and teaches P.E. at Catlin Gabel School, all while nationally competing in the steeplechase and marathon, hoping to once again qualify for the Olympic Trails (2024) in both events — and hopefully achieve a 29

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Caroline Austin, Catlin Gabel Middle School Photo: Aisha McAdams never-before-done double. Passion, peace and helping others is what gets Caroline out of bed in the morning. “I love running and all the sport has provided me with, so I drive to be my best and share my passion with others,” she says. “This is essential in making sure that I am doing my part as a member of society.” In times of difficulty, running has helped Caroline keep things balanced. Caroline says that the challenges faced by women in the run world include a lack of representation — and most especially for women of color. “Often, in a male-dominated space there is sometimes a need for women to prove themselves credible even if their qualifications speak for themselves,” she points out, adding that in order for the industry to affect change it needs to bring communities into the fold that are not already

the target audience. “Women occupy the running space at a higher capacity across the board,” she says. “The focus should be on lifting them up, along with people who have not been historically listened to or supported.” Her dream is to see less elitism in the run industry as a whole, more inclusivity. Some of her ideas: Youth programs, adult new runner groups, providing community space for events that bring people together. “All of this is what will help people, women or other marginalized groups, realize the possibility of their own potential.” SYDNEY SETH Sales Associate Charm City Run Annapolis, MD Pronouns: she/her Syd ney Set h ha s, qu it e

literally, been connected to run specialty for her entire life. Her family owned the now-closed Annapolis Running Shop, once a competitor of Charm City Run where she currently works. Sydney imagines she’ll always be connected to the industry in one way or another, mostly because it offers a daily reward. “I want to make customers feel better about themselves,” she says. “I want to make people happy and this can be done daily in run specialty.” Sydney says a focus on females in the industry has been a long time coming. She spent her younger years under the management tutelage of her mom, so she knows what it feels like to rise up under female leadership. She believes the male-to-female staff ratio ought to at least resemble the customer base. “Because for a woman,” she says, “working for, or walking into a male-centric environment, can feel bombarding.” Females in run specialty should extend across the roster. “We need to grow the female presence across the board and across all brands,” she says. “We also ought to be actively identifying and developing female staffers who can grow into all roles, including leadership.” Sydney says this needs more than lip service. It needs a plan of action, one that includes an open dialogue that encourages productive feedback. “One that empowers women to make their voices louder,” she adds. “One that provides a safe space for collaboration and includes strategies to put our industry on the maps of people who’d never hear of us otherwise. “More women on the floor would attract more women on © 2022 Diversified Communications


Front Line Voices (continued)

Liza Clark, Pacers Running

Sydney Seth, Charm City Run the floor,” Sydney says. “It’s a win-win.” LIZA CLARK Store Manager Pacers Running Arlington, VA Pronouns: she/her Back in 2001, when Liza Clark started working out with Weight Watchers, she could run 17 seconds on a treadmill. Shower facilities at her work made it easy to keep up with her training and one day at lunch, someone asked her if she wanted to train for a marathon. “In my family, my dad was the runner, not me. But in 2002 I joined the Galloway program and ran the Marine Corps Marathon,” she says. Her dad secretly trained to go the distance and surprised her at the start. He ran the first 25 miles with her. “I grew up under Oprah,” Liza says. “Say yes to hard things! Say what you mean! Accept our 30

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bodies! I do this work to help women see and hear themselves. To teach women it’s okay to be scared and feel hesitant. But also to encourage them to say, ‘let’s go!’” Liza believes part of being a strong and empowered woman in any space is to feel empowered enough to allow fear to come along for the ride. As for the discussion about women in the running industry, Liza says it’s an important conversation that will eventually help give women the green light to be who they are and a welcoming place to do so. But such inclusion needs to be harvested and that’s going to take some practice. “Women, if a thing is not thought to be for us, may refrain from stepping in,” she says. “And since the run industry is often perceived to be elitist, prolific or exemplary, we need to constantly ask ourselves if

this is the image we want to convey.” Liza says limiting our language or allowing for false narratives will forever keep all folks, including women and other marginalized and less represented people, boxed in. Liza believes we need to reach out and interface. We, as an industry, need to take the initiative and eliminate the risk of perception — if you don’t see someone like you, it’s probably not for you. This is avoidable and it’s in our collective power to do it. Liza says it’s our passion to help, care, listen and support that will always keep people engaged. “We’ve got to be proactive and physically go to where people are,” she says. “If those we want to connect with are out of our demographic scope, we may miss them. Yet these are exactly the people we should be talking about and speaking

with. To show them that our industry exists for them. And more than that, to prove that we need them.” Challenge Accepted? Our challenge, as a n industry, is to hold ourselves accountable to the regular creation of safe spaces where we amplify the stories of underrepresented people within our ranks. Whether it’s the voices of women, people of color, the LGBTQ community or any other group historically outnumbered, we need to do more than simply promote our good intentions. Instead, we need to activate, with abandon, a blazing path towards a more diverse and inclusive run industry. And above all else, as we hear each others’ stories, like those of the women above, we revise our own. Stories connect us. Let’s make sure they are being told more often. n © 2022 Diversified Communications


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Women Who Run This Business

Social Running

Two women are breaking barriers for female runners and retailers in the social sphere. / By Camryn Claud, Upper Quadrant

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n 1967 – a year ironically considered modern – the race manager of the Boston Marathon attacked Kathrine Switzer to take her out of the race because she was a woman. At the time, it was commonly thought that a woman running such a long distance risked her uterus falling out. Thankfully the race official failed and Switzer finished (with her uterus). With her triumph over this misogynistic ideal, she also started something massive and profound in our culture. Brave women like her, and men like the other runners who surrounded and protected her, helped start the modern era of female participation in sports, including Title IX and the opportunities it created for millions of young women during the past 50 years. Fast forward to present day and the story of running is largely a story of women in running. Women are a majority of run specialty customers, as well as race participants. And among the most fascinating subplots of the story is women connecting with one another in meaningful ways. Once limited to neighborhood-based groups, modern social media platforms have opened opportunities for women to connect globally, sharing stories, training tips, encouragement and inspiration at unlimited scale. Taking The Lead in Social Among those social media innovators are content creators Alysha Flynn (@WhatRunsYou) and Erin Azar (@Mrs. Space.Cadet). Each has a unique, personal journey to running. Azar started in the midst of life-changing events. “I started running two years ago after having my third baby,” Azar explains. “I filmed it because I thought I could look back on it and kind of motivate me to keep going.” 32

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Mrs. Space Cadet, aka Erin Azar, celebrates her successes – and failures – with her social followers.

When she posted that content to TikTok, it went viral. “I was posting about the relatability side of running in a candid and humorous way,” she adds. “Since then, it’s been impacting other people’s lives, which is another reason I keep going.” Meanwhile, Flynn started as a studentathlete and with the encouragement of an influential adult. “I started running back in third grade and ended up doing really well on a test in gym class,” she recalls. “When I finished the mile, my gym teacher walked over to me, and I will never forget – he’s a legend

in my life – he patted me on the back and said ‘kiddo, you have a place in the world, you’re going to be a runner.’ “To me, it was the first thing that made me feel like I had a place, that made me feel like I had a home that felt safe, even if other things weren’t quite in alignment in my life, [running] always made me feel safe.” For both Azar and Flynn, running has become a space where they can feel safe to share their thoughts and experiences with other women involved in the sport. “As things progressed, it really became

© 2022 Diversified Communications


THE GRIP TRUSTED BY PRO ATHLETES “I wouldn’t run in anything else” -Nicole Mericle, OCR world

champion and founder of the OCR Dream Team

Photo by Jack Goras Photography

#THEBESTGRIPONTHEPLANET


Social Running (continued) more about not just feeling safe in running, but the people it was bringing to my life and the value that they were adding to my life,” Flynn says. Their enthusiasm for running directly translates to the rising success of their popular social media platforms. Azar has 703,000 TikTok and 68,000 Instagram followers who engage with her inspirational and often hilarious “Struggle Runner” posts. Meanwhile Flynn shares advice, coaching tips and inspiration with her 330,000 TikTok and 22,000 Instagram followers in order to “help beginner runners take on their identity as a runner.” Creators Or Influencers? Both passionate women have ambitious goals for their platforms and consider themselves content creators versus influencers, as they enjoy being true to themselves and celebrating the authenticity of their content. “If you think of influencers solely as someone who has influence or impact on somebody else, I would say, ‘yeah I’m an inf luencer,’” admits Azar, who prefers the overall term “content creator” because she is creating this content, not really setting out to influence someone one way. “I’m just being myself.” As her platforms grew, people would tell her she was inspiring them or getting them into running. “I thought it was really cool, but I didn’t really believe it until I ran the New York City Marathon,” she recalls. “I saw everyone there with Mrs. Space Cadet signs and people were crying, or we were hugging, and that was a huge shift for me.” 34

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share options.” However, sharing content with such a deep, personal connection is not for the faint of heart. Providing a transparent window into their lives and baring the road bumps in their running journeys to the world can be taxing, but both Azar and Flynn say it’s been worth it.

Alysha Flynn aims to strike a balance on her social media platforms between inspiring the everyday runner and providing advice for the athletes she trains.

Flynn aims for a balance between inspiring the everyday runner and providing advice for the athletes she trains. As a coach and trainer, she’s helped runners meet their goals for more than six years. “For me, sharing content was about trying to share it in a way that made the idea of starting something new feel less scary, feel safer to ask questions and know that I was thinking about it from a behavioral perspective,” Flynn says. She was, in fact, gathering information not just

from her own experience, but from all the athletes that she was coaching. “In a lot of ways, I feel like I’m a content creator and I’m sharing content to build trust and to share things in a way that’s easily digestible,” Flynn says. “I do understand that within that space where the trust is already built and you’re working with me one-on-one, I do end up influencing your decisions and I take it so seriously. It’s important to me that all angles are weighed before I

The Challenge of Sharing They are not unaware of how their stories fit into the broader story that goes back to and includes Kathrine Switzer. Continuing the story, Azar and Flynn are breaking boundaries and encouraging more women to begin their own running journeys. “Running is giving women a sense of community again. Especially with COVID, and with so many new runners coming into the space, finding that sense of community, and realizing it’s giving them something they never even knew they needed,” Flynn says. “It’s never about the run, it’s about the experience as a whole and how that’s serving your life and empowering you in ways that you really didn’t expect. “For me, the barrier I’ve faced and continue to face, is the thought of could this be misinterpreted if I share what my goal is because a lot of beginners are looking at pace and comparing,” she continues. “To me, to share my journey, I feel like if I can share it in a way that people understand that goals should be scary, they should challenge you, force you to become another person and build your confidence as you go, then I can share that side of my story too.” Parallel to Flynn’s journey, © 2022 Diversified Communications


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Social Running (continued) “For me, sharing content was about trying to share it in a way that made the idea of starting something new feel less scary.” — Alysha Flynn

Azar started sharing content to relate to beginner runners and humanize the struggles that come with starting a running routine. Many of Azar’s followers credit her with inspiring them to start their own running journey. “I do feel like as a female in a content creator space, the barrier I find unfortunately is we are judged on the look of

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our face, and sadly algorithms also judge by the look of their face,” Azar comments. “In a way, I kind of appreciate that a bit because it keeps the type of people who would judge me on my appearance away and I happen to have a super supportive audience because of it. I feel like males don’t face that same judgement.” The Retail Connection Both Flynn and Azar believe that run specialty stores have been pivotal in shifting the dynamic of female representation in the industry. “The specialty stores do a great job of making you feel comfortable in their stores,” Flynn says, pointing out that they are willing to take what they have in their store and find

the best option for a female runner. “They see the demographic of who comes into the store,” she adds. “I also noticed, in terms of employees, there usually is someone in the stores that I’m comfortable approaching.” Azar and Flynn often do reflect on the future of female representation in the running industry and social media sphere, along with their own contributions to the space. “As we redefine self-care, to not just be manicures and bubble baths, having moms or other women understand that they need to take care of themselves too, it can be getting out for a run and getting your blood flowing with time to yourself in fresh air,” says Azar. “If you have people like me

and Coach Alysha, or even other influencers or store owners being more open and talking about that positive impact, I feel like it’s just going to flood the market and sport even more. Just to show that you belong here too.” “That feeling [of connecting with fellow runners] has never gotten old,” agrees Flynn, who feels that every single time out it’s new and different, it’s resonating something different in the person. That’s why she loves pacing and helping someone live in their race getting through the miles, because it brings so much joy to watch. “I love feeling that sense of community. That feeling of connecting goes back to that sensation that I have a safe space and a new home,” Flynn adds. n

© 2022 Diversified Communications


Women Who Run This Business

Keep Running Mom

USATF Foundation awards Maternity Grants to four elite mom-athletes.

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n a truly unique effort to expand the reach of running, the USA Track and Field Foundation (USATF Foundation) has established what it is calling its Maternity Grants to support mother-athletes who pursue motherhood during the course of their athletic careers. The first round of recipients are Shannon Rowbury, Molly Huddle, Ce’Aira Brown and Elvin Kibet. Each will receive $4000 in support. The new Maternity Grant is intended to provide additional and vital support to mothers during pregnancy and post-partum as they return to training and competition form. This grant is specifically intended for mothers who plan to return to an elite level and pursue achieving spots in an Olympic Games, World Championship or other Team USA competitions. “I’ve seen athlete-moms become even stronger after starting a family, but that’s not without much support behind the scenes, such as child care, baby supplies, pelvic floor rehab and other return-to-sport PT, so this will help a lot with that,” says Huddle. “Thank you to the USATF Foundation for helping support my return to sport as I navigate motherhood.” “I’m proud to be part of an organization that recognizes the opportunity we have to help our talented athletes who are in the prime of their careers pursue their dreams of both family and athletics,” says USATF Foundation director Lisa Larson. “The grants will help these inspirational women come back stronger and faster than ever. With their best performances in front of them, the real winner is the sport of track and field.” • Shannon Rowbury, who is currently pregnant with her second child, is one of the fastest American middle distance runners 37

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Ce’ Aira Brown (Photo: Timothy White)

of all time. She is a 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympian, with a personal best of 3:56.29 in the 1500 meter. • Molly Huddle is arguably the most decorated American women’s distance runner in history, with 28 national titles to her name. She is the current American record holder in the 10,000 meter, 20k and half marathon and a two-time Olympian. Huddle is pregnant with her first child. She and her husband Kurt live in Providence, RI. • Ce’Aira Brown is an 800 meter specialist and she competed for Team USA in the 2019 Doha World Championships, where

Shannon Rowbury (Photo: Pace Sports Mgmt.)

she qualified for the 800 meter final and placed eighth. Brown gave birth to her son, Ya’sin Lamar Henry, in November. • Elvin Kibet is both a road and track specialist who most recently competed in the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 10,000 meter. Kibet competes for the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program and lives in Colorado Springs. She holds the ranking of U.S. Army Sergeant. Kibet is expecting her first child this year. Grants will be determined on a case by case basis when expectant mothers apply at usatffoundation.org. n

© 2022 Diversified Communications


Women Who (Want To) Run This Business

Fresh Perspective The diary of an undervalued college graduate. / By Isabel Scipio

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lways looking for different viewpoints from individuals to share with run specialty retailers faced with the ongoing challenge of finding and keeping good employees, Running Insight asked recent college graduate (BA Journalism, University of Alabama, 2021) Isabel Scipio for her thoughts on what young women are looking for as they enter a competitive and unique business environment in 2022. Here she provides her thoughts on what retailers should be looking to provide young employees and what her generation can offer.

THE IMAGERY FOR GRADUATION looks similar for most college students — a turned tassel, a wave to a beaming support system in the seats of the auditorium and a brisk walk across the stage. By the time their diploma is in their hands, two words are cluttering the graduates’ minds: “What now?” Most have little time to enjoy their degree before the real world, mentors or older family members are pushing them to put it to use. The post-grad job search is a source of headache among many twentysomethings trying to find their place in a world that is seemingly oversaturated with better versions of them already — better resumes, better connections, better chances. So, where do they go from here?

growth within the company. Hiring managers possess the ability to give the candidate an opportunity, or leave them jobless. However, college graduates carry tools that warrant far more than being a face behind a cash register, an eye on the sales floor or someone to unlock a dressing room. Helping to Close the Digital Divide More than ever, young adults are the carriers of endless information. Between accessibility through social media and the knowledge acquired as a result of four-plus years spent at school, college graduates are brimming with insight that retail business owners operating in the bubble of a small town simply don’t have access to. These recent graduates are eager and willing to share that expertise and can be an invaluable resource to independent store owners whose

strengths are in purchasing, merchandising and selling — ­ not blogging or TikTok. Take, for example, online platforms such as Instagram, Tik Tok and Twitter that are curated experiences to each user’s respective interests, a constant influx of information and in turn, a map towards what the world is talking about. Trends from fashion styling to athletic training to productivity hacks are accessible by way of a few minutes of scrolling on any platform. While members of older generations – yes, that means many in the run specialty retail world – roll their eyes at the modern fixation on technology, the truth is that the world is evolving from one minute to the next and twenty-somethings are seeing it all. Beyond an online presence, the time graduates spent in college was dedicated to equipping themselves with the skills

Isabel Scipio provides insight into what college graduates can offer as they enter the workforce.

A Turn to Local Retailers More times than not, the small business or retailer in their hometown is their next stop. When they arrive they usually are met with conditions reminiscent of adolescence — strict hours, minimum wage and no clear sign of a career path or chance for 38

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© 2021 Diversified Communications


“When I find a job in my maledominated field, it will most likely be a man who has the ability to choose between giving me the job or not.” — Samantha Retana

me the job or not. “There’s a lot of big companies that I’d like to work for, but I’d rather go to a smaller name that values me, allows me to work my way up within the company and pays me accordingly,” she adds. It’s no surprise that along

with changes in work scenery, twenty-somethings no longer wish to accept the bare minimum. Benefits, flexibility, opportunity for upward mobility and compensation for their time are high on the totem pole, according to Aya Lechin, a graphic designer and college

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— Aya Lechin

Aya Lechin believes the environment in her workspace makes a huge difference in her productctivity.

to contribute to society, both in and outside the confines of their respective fields. These individuals have the knowledge and education to make a change and are actively in search of the opportunity to put them to use. Changing Workplace Models With each generation, traditional workplace models are shifting and as a result of COVID working remotely is more prevalent than ever before. It is this environment in which recent younger workers can excel. Samantha Retana, a soon-tobe graduate of the University of Georgia, lists accessibility in her requirements for her post-grad job search. She believes that because many college graduates are moving away from the corporate workspace, it’s imperative that a job allows her the opportunity to work from home when possible. Along with flexible hours and benefits, Retana emphasizes the fact that she not only hopes for a livable wage, but one that is equal to her male counterparts. “As cliché as it sounds, women are still fighting the patriarchy when it comes to pay,” she says. “When I find a job in my maledominated field, it will most likely be a man who has the ability to choose between giving

“I feel like a positive environment and knowing that my work is being valued helps me to create at a much higher quality.”

graduate, who says that the environment in her workspace makes a huge difference in her productivity. “I feel like a positive environment and knowing that my work is being valued helps me to create at a much higher quality,” she says.

Samantha Retana looks for not only a livable wage, but one that is equal to her male counterparts.

A True Partnership The relationship between store owners and college graduates can, and should, be mutually beneficial. Recent graduates come armed with enthusiasm, insight and the potential to elevate any job they tackle, if provided with the space to do so. At the same time, small business owners such as run retailers possess the life experience and the foundation on which these individuals can build a career. While local businesses may have smaller names, there is an immense advantage and potential to flourish from the inside out. By fostering relationships, rewarding college graduates for their knowledge and time and choosing to curate an enriching workspace, independent run retailers can make way for massive growth and, in turn, will have employees who are dedicated not only to doing their job well, but playing a key role in the success of the business. n © 2022 Diversified Communications


running shorts Speedland Partners With Bowman SPEEDLAND HAS ADDED DYLAN Bowman to its roster of athletes and advisors. An endurance athlete living in Portland, OR, Bowman is a top contender in American Ultrarunning. “We are thrilled to be working with Dylan as an athlete partner,” says Dave Dombrow, co-founder of Speedland. “Dylan has an incredible global running resume in premier races and will be a great asset to help shape our product insight. And we look forward to supporting and working with his Podcast – Freetrail – allowing us to communicate directly with

World Athletics Rules On Sole Thickness For 2024 Running Shoes The sole thicknesses for all athletic shoes in track and field events will be simplified to a stack height of 20mm from Nov. 1, 2024, according to a recent announcement from World Athletics. Current regulations allow for shoes to have maximum thickness between 20-25mm depending on the event, while it can go up to 40mm for road races. According a Reuters report, World Athletics said the timeline was agreed to give shoe manufacturers enough notice after they had made “significant investment” in shoes with a sole thickness between 20-25mm. “There has been an enormous amount of background work and meetings held both internally and externally on our shoe rules since the inception of the Working Group on Athletic Shoes in June 2020,” World Athletics’ chief executive Jon Ridgeon told Reuters. World Athletics also said athletic shoes must not contain any embedded “sensing or intelligent” technology now or in the future, with the new rules and

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our core audience.” Additionally Speedland will be the title sponsor for the Western States qualifying race, The Gorge Waterfalls 50/100K Race, reflecting the brands ongoing commitment to the sport. The Gorge Waterfalls is a scenic 100K and 50K trail running race through the heart of the Columbia River Gorge and a 2023 Western States qualifier.

regulations set to be in place from Jan. 1, 2022.

product for both runners and race spectators.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Partners With Biofreeze The Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series has entered into a multi-year partnership with Biofreeze, making it the Official External Pain Relief Partner of the Series and of each Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series event in the United States both on-course and at the Finish Line Festival. The Biofreeze Pain Relief Zone will be featured mid-way through both the marathon and half-marathon distance courses of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series when participants need it most. Designed much like a “pit stop” on a racetrack, the Pain Relief Zone’s “Cooling Crew” will provide Biofreeze cold therapy pain relief treatments to help runners finish their race strong. Runners will also be able to enjoy the benefits of cooling pain relief in the Biofreeze Recovery Zone within the Rock ‘n’ Roll Finish Line Festival. The Recovery Zone will serve as a space for runners to recover from the race and will feature samples of Biofreeze

Volumental Raises $13 Million Volumental, a computer vision company that helps retailers and brands solve fit and improve customer experience, has raised $13 million capital from a minority equity investment, the company’s largest financing round to date. The financing was led by CNI, a growth-oriented private equity firm based in Stockholm. CNI was joined by new investors Backstage Invest, Abanico Invest and other existing partners in this financing round. Volumental’s suite of 3D scanning and data tools optimize fit for shoppers by bringing together everything needed to simplify sizing. The company’s position in the FitTech category has fueled its growth with its retail scanning, mobile scanning, personalized recommendations and digital marketing tools being leveraged by nearly 100 leading brands and retailers across mobile devices and in more than 3000 retail stores globally.

© 2022 Diversified Communications


running shorts Brooks Spread Cheer with Macklemore OVER THE PAST HOLIDAY SEASON, Brooks Running launched its Run Merry Crew initiative, an effort to give back and spread cheer in the Seattle community and beyond. As part of the effort, the brand teamed up with local musician and philanthropist Macklemore to help bring the holiday spirit to life for guests at Mary’s Place, a provider of shelter and services for families experiencing homelessness, whom both have supported for years. In mid-December Brooks and Macklemore surprised nearly 200 Mary’s Place guests with an evening full of food and dancing. During the event, Brooks and Macklemore surprised the Mary’s Place team and presented them with a combined donation of $50,000. “Seattle is home and I’m proud to join Brooks to lift up organizations like Mary’s Place that are doing incredible work to support members of our community who need it most,” Macklemore said at the event. “Brooks has been a long-time supporter of Mary’s Place,” added Jim Weber, CEO of Brooks Running. “Every year we donate

Brands Raised Funds for of Wild Places In late 2021,15 business members of The Conservation Alliance, including Buff, Nuun Sport, La Sportiva, Osprey and Superfeet, raised more than $78,000 to suppor t the nonprofit’s efforts to protect wild places in North America. Other brands involved included Backpacker’s Pantry, Juniper Ridge, Sea to Summit, Snoplanks and TREW Gear. The companies each donated five perent of their online revenue as part of The Conservation Alliance’s annual We Keep It Wild fundraising campaign. Combined, the brands helped raise more than $32,000.

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Brooks CEO Jim Weber (left), Marty Hartman, executive director at Mary’s Place, and Macklemore shared the cheer during the holidays.

several hundred of pairs of shoes to help families access the best running and walking gear in the world. We’re excited to dial

up the holiday spirit this year and celebrate the incredible community we have here in Seattle with our ‘Run Merry’ efforts.”

New Product: Power Plate Pulse Power Plate recently unveiled an upgraded Power Plate Pulse massage gun, a powerful, yet lightweight, quiet full-size handheld massager designed to relax, rejuvenate and repair muscles. Among its features: • Six vibration intensity levels. • A long-lasting six-hour battery life from a single charge. • 20 percent lighter than its predecessor. • Six unique attachments to optimize preparation and recovery. • The addition of an antimicrobial coating, which helps stop the spread of everyday germs and bacteria.

Offered in matte red and matte black, the Power Plate Pulse has an MSRP of $199.99

© 2022 Diversified Communications


UQ CADENCE BY UPPER QUADRANT IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE RUNNING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION

UQ DATAPOINTS

Inventory Snapshot BE ST S SE LL ER

Weeks on Hand

Men’s

23.8

BRAND INVENTORY ASSORTMENT ASICS

TOP SELLING RUNNING SHOES

Other

Mizuno Altra Brooks On

Hoka

1

Brooks Adrenaline

2

Brooks Ghost

3

HOKA ONE ONE Bondi

4

HOKA ONE ONE Clifton

5

Brooks Glycerin

Women’s 1

Brooks Ghost

2

HOKA ONE ONE Bondi

3

Brooks Adrenaline

4

HOKA ONE ONE Clifton

5

On Cloud

Weeks on Hand Comparision

Weeks on Hand Comparision

Inventory metrics for in-store inventory only. Metrics do NOT include third-party sellers, brand, in-transit or on-order inventory. Weeks on Hand is based on sales from 11/18/21 through 1/16/22 and inventory as of 1/16/22.

DataPoints is produced by Upper Quadrant by aggregating data from over 140 doors.

Saucony

Upper Quadrant assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this site. The information contained in this site is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness, or timeliness.

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© 2022 Diversified Communications


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