Running Insight 10.15.18

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The Sky Isn’t Falling on the Running Race Industry page 2

The Changing Face of Expos page 10

Merrell Ambassador Mirna Valerio highlights the new Trailhead section at The Running Event

Playmakers Honors the Munsons

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page 20

OCTOBER 15, 2018




A special report by Brian Metzler



aybe the r unning bubble hasn’t popped after all. Despite a grim outlook about contraction and declining participation numbers over the past two years, the sky might not be falling in the running race industry as it has been reported. But there are plenty of indications that suggest race organizations are having to work harder and be smarter to reach their registration and revenue numbers. Under the headline “The Running Bubble Has Popped,” the New York Times published an article on the morning of the 2017 New York City Marathon that suggested that mass participatory running was waning and the halcyon days of the running race industry were in the rearview mirror. While Running USA participation numbers showed the massive, decade-long growth spike plateaued in 2016, many close to the running event industry view it as a necessary market correction and not a

complete upheaval that will result in a dramatic downturn. While many events have struggled to maintain registration numbers and a few have gone out of business, there are plenty of examples of continued growth and interest in running, says Rich Harshbarger, CEO of Running USA since 2014. For example, the demand to run Marathon Majors in Boston, Chicago and New York City has continued to soar, but so too has the popularity of races such as the Cherry Blossom 10K, Marine Corps Marathon, Beach to Beacon 10K and Big Sur Marathon, to name a few Plus, many legacy events around the U.S. had big years while celebrating milestone anniversaries this year, including the Bolder Boulder 10K, Cowtown Marathon, Flying Pig Marathon, Walt Disney World Marathon and Pittsburgh Marathon. Even if overall race participation numbers have plateaued, there are still considerably more people running now compared five to 10 years ago, he says. “When you look at the 25 years

RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2018 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.


The Chicago Marathon continues to draw a crowd to Windy City streets.

Reports of the demise of running events are certainly premature. Events large and small remain the lifeblood of the competitive and casual running community.


Mark Troy Leonard.................................. Christina


Managing Editor....... Michael Jacobsen:


© 2018 Diversified Communications


So many shoe companies. Dishing out so many marketing claims. It’s exhausting. But we don’t

make promises, we make shoes. For runners. And runners need shoes that actually perform. Which is where our foam comes in. Don’t believe us? Try on a pair, and let the running do the selling.


Running Race Industry (continued) “When you look at the 25 years of growth that this sport has experienced, it’s not like market has contracted so tightly. I think it just reached a point where supply outpowered demand.” RICH HARSHBARGER CEO OF RUNNING USA

Race organizers realize you don’t have to be Irish to enjoy the Shamrock Run in Portland, OR

of growth that this sport has experienced, it’s not like market has contracted so tightly,” Harshbarger says. “I think it just reached a point where supply out-powered demand. “And if you compare that to a 25-year look any other commercial industry – whether it’s engineering or technology or automotives or commercial packaging – and you see yearover-year growth, and in some cases double-digit growth, that’s frankly not sustainable in any industry,” he adds. “For it to have plateaued and not to significantly dropped off, in my opinion, was not given its fair due.” In addition to an oversaturated event market, increased competition from other athletic and lifestyle activities and events, a reduced interest in novelty runs 4

and obstacle course racing and the 2017 sale of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series to Ironman’s parent company, Dalian Wanda, have been among key reasons for some contraction and concern over the past two years. Not Doom and Gloom

There have been plenty of additional positive signs, too. A strong domestic economy, record-setting high school track and cross country participation numbers, continued growth in trail running and ultrarunning and the resurgence among elite American women – most notably Shalane Flannagan winning the 2017 New York City Marathon and Desi Linden winning the 2018 Boston Marathon – are among the many reasons to be optimistic. Plus, modern “run

crews” have created a new interest in running in cities with a younger, more socially-oriented vibe. So it’s not all doom and gloom, it’s just different. No doubt the changing marketplace has forced race organizers to become smarter and savvier by optimizing social media efforts, developing more partnerships and having a renewed focus on connections to the local community. “It’s a very intriguing time in the industry, that’s for sure,” says Patrick Byerly, executive VP of Denver-based Motiv Sports, which has created a stable of 19 U.S. and six international events through acquisitions, partnerships and greenfield startups since 2015. “You have to be much more sophisticated in how you are © 2018 Diversified Communications


Running Race Industry (continued) “It’s a very intriguing time in the industry, that’s for sure. You have to be much more sophisticated in how you are marketing your event and the strategy behind it because it’s not just as simple as turning on registration and watching people come in the door.” PATRICK BYERLY EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT MOTIV SPORTS

The post-race beach party after the 2018 Surf City Marathon was a huge success.

marketing your event and the strategy behind it because it’s not just as simple as turning on registration and watching people come in the door,” Byerly points out. “I wish it were still that way, but it’s just not.” Better Understanding

At the same time the New York Times article was published last fall, Running USA was in the process of conducting its first Runner Retention Survey to better understand race registration trends. The report, released in February, highlighted several key factors for race organizations to consider, but also optimistically suggested that race registration could rise again soon. Among the key findings: • The decline was more among older runners than younger runners. 6

• The high price of events is a limiting factor. • Poor to average race experiences drive runners away. • Most people generally have less time to train and participate in races. Plus, the report said, on average, runners were interested in running more events, not fewer. Takeaways include the idea of offering additional points of entry with events that are easier to train for, have new wrinkles, a younger vibe and lower entry fees, Harshbarger says. “That gives me a positive outlook on where things are headed,” he adds. “There are a lot of factors that go into those things – weather, injuries, the economy – and what people say they’re going to do and what they actually do are sometimes two different things, so we’ll see how

that bears out.” But he points out that in a competitive, saturated market, the events that will fare best are the ones that are proactive about engaging both runners who have previously run their event and new customers who never have. The continued rise of yoga, CrossFit, Orange Theory, Soul Cycle and Peloton have created greater competition for a consumer’s time and money, which means race directors need to ensure they’re creating the best possible experience for their customers. “I think it falls to the event organizer’s responsibility to be unique in offering an experience people want to be a part of,” Harshbarger says. “I think the most important piece is focusing on what is unique to that individual event © 2018 Diversified Communications

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Running Race Industry (continued) “I think we’re in a cautiously optimistic phase. We aren’t going to see more meteoric growth like we did for so long, but there will still be growth. For now, it’s about sustaining what we’ve built.” JEAN KNAACK EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ROAD RUNNERS CLUB OF AMERICA

A backdrop of San Francisco helps to draw crowds of runners to the annual Golden Gate Half Marathon.

and that market – whether it’s a particular city or geography or time of year – and how that event can make it special and make it their own. It’s not so much about ‘why run?’ but it’s more about ‘why run our event?’” Bold Moves Pay Off

Optimizing the local experience has been a key to success for the Bolder Boulder 10K, which operates in a saturated race market along Colorado’s Front Range. Now it its 40th year, it has drawn between 48,000 and 53,000 runners in recent years despite competition from other events by continually adding new wrinkles and adapting to trends. Last year, it took the bold move to start a new, large-scale event called the Fortitude 10K in Fort Collins on Labor Day weekend. Partnering with the city of Fort Collins and Colorado State University, the race featured a college stadium finish line and an innovative, spectator-friendly elite race format. It drew 8000 runners in its inaugural year and 7000 this year. “We felt there was a need for 8

a race in Fort Collins based on some of the aspects that have helped the Bolder Boulder grow and thrive through the years,” says Cliff Bosley, race director for both races. “In both cases, it’s about creating a quality, local event for all levels of runners that will inspire them to come back year after year.” Even though it is a national organization, elevating local connections through sponsors, partners and experiences is inherent to Motiv’s strategy, Byerly says. That includes adding shorter race distances, non-competitive fun runs and non-running events for kids and families. In the past year, Motiv invested in a massive protective tent for its Shamrock Run weekend of races in often-rainy Portland, OR, created a beer mile relay at its IPA 10K in Sebastopol, CA, and added a post-race beach party at the Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach, CA. “If an event company is producing a great experience there will be longevity in that,” Byerly says. “But it someone has a great idea but then they don’t execute it

well and participants don’t have a great experience, you’ll see those dissolving and become flash-inthe-pan type of events. “Just as with any industry, the great companies and brands are going to survive and the ones who have solid plans and are executing and delivering great experiences are the ones that are going to thrive,” he adds. Cautiously Optimistic

If a market correction has weeded out the less competent organizations and fly-by-night operators that entered the business to make money quickly, that will ultimately be good for the industry and good for runners, points out Jean Knaack, executive director of the Road Runners Club of America, which has more than 2300 club and event organizations among its membership, up from just 600 in 2005. “I think we’re in a cautiously optimistic phase,” she says. “We aren’t going to see more meteoric growth like we did for so long, but there will still be growth. For now, it’s about sustaining what we’ve built.” n © 2018 Diversified Communications



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The Changing Face of Major Race Expos Retailers are taking advantage of vendors reassessing their investments. / By Daniel P. Smith


ver two days in early October, upwards of 150,000 people filed into Chicago’s McCormick Place for the Abbott Health & Fitness Expo. As the official race expo for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, the event featured some 180 exhibitors covering 240,000-square feet. With an opportunity to be seen by runners from more than 100 countries and all 50 states, nearly half of whom claim household incomes in the six figures, the Chicago Marathon marketing engine bills its expo as a prime opportunity for the industry’s biggest brands to capture attention and sales from

an engaged and energized demographic. A similar story emanates from the race expos in Boston and New York City, Chicago’s prominent marathon peers. But not everyone’s buying that seductive sales pitch these days. At the Boston Marathon Expo this past April, Nike and Mizuno sat on the sidelines, as did brands such as Under Armour and Reebok, both of which have worked to make inroads into the running specialty category in recent years. Neither ASICS nor Adidas had their own branded presence at Chicago, while ASICS, Brooks, Saucony and Nike are among those who’ve reportedly opted

Dick Pond retains a significant presence at the Chicago Marathon expo, anchored by its shoe mobile.


out of participating in New York City’s marathon expo that starts Nov. 1. Expos Have Evolved

A decade ago, major running brands would have scoffed at the idea of skipping a major race expo, especially given the exposure such expos offered to tip-of-the-spear runners and international clientele. Today, however, largely driven by rising costs, questionable ROI and the pull of other marketing endeavors that provide access to other running tribes, brands are being far more judicious with their expo participation, either bowing out completely or severely slimming down their presence. “Years ago, I think the major brands felt they absolutely had to be at these expos in grand fashion to be thought of as legit and relevant as a running brand,” says Jim Stuart of Dick Pond Athletics, a five-store Chicago area running retailer. “But now, I don’t think they’re as eager to make the big marketing splash at an expo because they’re content to make little splashes elsewhere throughout the year.” New Balance, in fact, remains among the few prominent running brands with a dedicated, branded presence at the nation’s three premier marathon expos. “It’s certainly not cheap, but show me a spot where you can get 120,000 engaged, targeted consumers in your vicinity over a few days,” New Balance senior manager for running marketing Andy Downin says. “We always come back to this as an opportunity you can’t leave behind.” Others, however, are willing to do just that, undoubtedly driven by accelerating costs and shifting priorities. At last year’s TCS New York City Marathon Expo, booth spaces ran $60 per square foot, with an additional $1000 premium for corner locations. Thereafter, vendors faced additional charges for operational expenses such as electricity or Internet. For many major running brands, the booth

© 2018 Diversified Communications


Race Expos (continued) of those [expo-related] bills come across,” Stuart says. “The thought that ASICS or anyone else thinks that their dollars might be better spent elsewhere isn’t necessarily unexpected.” The Future of Race Expos

New Balance made sure it had a significant presence at the 2018 Brooklyn Half.

space alone approached $50,000. Toss in the cost of shipping in the booth and products, staffing, lodging and the like, and a sixfigure investment emerged the norm, not the exception. “Costs have risen so dramatically compared to the benefit of attending that brands have had to really decide if the investment is worth it,” Running Industry Association executive director Terry Schalow says. And if a brand is not the marathon’s primary footwear sponsor – that is to say Adidas in Boston, Nike in Chicago or New Balance in New York – the interest in devoting capital to expo space, inventory and personnel becomes even more tepid. “Not long ago, the brand sponsor didn’t necessarily have a presence at an expo particularly 12

larger than its peers,” Schalow notes. “But at many major race expos today, runners are funneled into the sponsor’s sales environment, where a healthy amount of money is spent on branded event gear.” The changing face of major race expos has triggered an adjustment for local running retailers, many of whom enjoyed rather sweetheart deals from brand partners. Dick Pond, for instance, held a long-standing relationship with ASICS at the Chicago Marathon expo. That relationship, one that produced favorable terms and revenue for Dick Pond, has dwindled in recent years as ASICS has chosen not to pursue a “fullblown booth” in Chicago. “And it’s ha rd to blame [ASICS] because I’ve seen some

The evolving nature of race expos has compelled improvisation and fresh thinking from both brands and retailers alike. At Chicago, for instance, local retailers, once in the background and working covertly behind their vendors in a distinctly branded environment, are now taking the lead. Naperville Running Company (NRC) had six consecutive brand booths lined up next to one another in Chicago, including Garmin and Feetures. NRC staff manned the booths, handled logistics, coordinated set up and figured out the orders in advance of the early October event. “We’re making proposals to brands along these lines because we know it’s a spectacular investment to have a defined brand presence at one of these major expos,” NRC owner Kris Hartner says. “Brands are taking the money they might have once dumped all over the place and consolidating it.” Also at Chicago, Dick Pond Athletics had its own space anchored by one of the company’s famed shoe mobiles. Within that space, Dick Pond had a select vendor presence with brands such as ASICS and GU sitting alongside general merchandise like magnets and Chicago T-shirts. “This seems to be the way things are moving,” Stuart says. “Brands still want a presence and throwing a few dollars or product your way is smarter than doing a full-blown booth.”

Stuart anticipates this will hold for the coming years, particularly among the big brands. “For many smaller vendors, the expos are more relevant because they need that exposure,” he says. “For the big brands, awareness is already there, so it seems easier for them to bow out completely or at least alter the way they’re accustomed to doing business.” Downin foresees a potentially more radical shift on the horizon, particularly when a brand can leverage prominent event sponsorship to redefine the typical expo experience. At the 25,000-runner Popular Brooklyn Half last May, New Balance worked with the New York Road Runners to host a preparty, not the “traditional expo,” on a pier overlooking the southern tip of Manhattan. Stripping away many other vendors, the three-day event included live music, beer trucks, local food vendors, free espresso and yoga sessions alongside a “tight assortment” of New Balance products. “We’ve seen a massive shift in how business is done and have partners who’ve worked with us to reimagine the expo experience to give guests the premium, fun experience they want to have,” Downin says, adding that New Balance will continue to evolve and push the expo experience. “The consumer is changing and they want a different experience. They’re not walking around the expo floor for three hours like mom and dad did.” As the race expo of today looks different than it did a decade ago, Downin expects the race expo of tomorrow to similarly have a different face. “You can’t pull out the same playbook year after year,” he says. n © 2018 Diversified Communications


New Balance Unveils ‘Road To NYC Marathon’ All roads lead to New York as NB makes quite a splash leading up to the marathon.

New Balance is putting all of its marketing muscle into its sponsorship of the TCS New York City Marathon.


ith an eye on New York in early November, New Balance last week unveiled its “Road To NYC” campaign via social media and out-of-home advertising. The fully integrated campaign includes runners, official footwear, apparel and accessories, out-of-home advertising, experiential runner activations, digital, social engagements and an on-course block party. For year two of the brand’s TCS New York City Marathon sponsorship, New Balance is celebrating the journey runners go through as they train for a marathon. The campaign features real runners and attempts to tell a piece of their story through imagery and an emotional series of videos showcasing the official New Balance 2018 TCS New York City Marathon collection. 14

Each runner featured in the Road To NYC campaign will be running the marathon in 2018 and New Balance chose those specific runners because they embody the spirit of independence and embrace individuality. “We are excited to continue the momentum from last year by bringing great product and experiences to runners from around the world,“ says New Balance VP–running Tom Carleo. “The beauty of the NYRR partnership is that it allows us to keep up this energy and conversation with runners 12 months a year, culminating in November with the TCS New York City Marathon.” As part of its partnership with the New NEW BALANCE BEGAN BLANKETING NYC WITH A MARATHON MESSAGE THIS WEEK.

York marathon, New Balance will once again transform the typical expo experience to bring the streets of New York to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. The famous storefront shopping experience found throughout New York City will be brought to life on the expo floor with hero displays drawing attention to the Marathon Windcheater Jacket and pinnacle Capsule Collection that features the new Marathon NB Radiant Heat Bonded Jacket and Vest. To further honor the runner’s journey, New Balance will create a sensory experience that allows runners to engage with the brand through various photo opportunities as they exit the retail space at the expo. In addition, throughout the month of October the New Balance social channels will feature profiles, tips and tricks and social takeovers from the stars of the Road to NYC campaign as well as other runners from around the world. For race day New Balance will host a block party at mile 16 featuring the Brooklyn United drumline to cheer and encourage runners as they take on the last few miles of the race. In addition to the drumline, New Balance will be handing out free swag, including branded cow bells and thundersticks to spectators. New Balance also began blanketing the city in the Road to NYC creative with outof-home advertising last week. This includes digital billboards in Times Square, subway takeovers at the digital 34th Street-Hudson Yard, a domination at Columbus Circle near the finish line, taxi TV videos and local and national broadcast spots. The New Balance TCS New York City Marathon Collection launched on September 5 and is available at select retailers, including the NYRR Runcenter Featuring the New Balance Run Hub, New Balance 5th Avenue and <http://> with suggested retail pricing ranging from $30 for graphic T-shirts to $450 for the Marathon Gore-Tex Shell Jacket. n

© 2018 Diversified Communications

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Hit the Trail at The Running Event New section to put a focus on hot new segment for running retailers.


rail running will hit the trade show f loor at The Running Event t h is yea r. T he T R E Trailhead Stage is a new area on the trade show floor, located in booth 1749 and it is designed to educate retailers about the changing trail business. It will include presentations from r u n ner s, br a nd exe cut ives a nd ret a i lers about t he t ra i l categor y. The Content partner for The Trailhead Stage is the American Trail Running

Association and the group will manage content throughout The Running Event trade show, starting Wednesday, November 28 through Friday, November 30. “Our goal is to offer concise, yet engaging presentations from those who eat, sleep and breathe trail running. They’ll provide insights to help you advance your retail savvy to learn what your customers need to be appropriately outfitted for any terrain,” says Christina Henderson, TRE Event Manager. A few other Trailhead presentation

The new TRE Trailhead exhibit area will educate retailers about the changing trail business..


highlights include taping classes, sponsored by Rock Tape, and the debut of a new film about the journey of ultra-runner Dave Mackey coming back to run the Leadville Race Series after recovering from a tragic accident that resulted in the amputation of his leg. Sponsors will help produce a wide array of content, ranging from product technology to diversity in the consumer base. One of Trailhead’s featured speakers include: Merrell Ambassador Mirna Valerio (featuerd on our cover this issue), a native of Brooklyn, NY, a former educator, crosscountry coach, ultrarunner, obstacle course enthusiast, and author of he memoir, “A Beautiful Work in Progress.” Although Valerio began running in high school, she recommitted to the sport after a health scare in 2008. It was then that her love for running and all its attendant benefits were reignited. She soon started her blog Fatgirlrunning, about her experiences as a larger woman in a world of thinner athletes. Mirna’s athletic story was featured in the WSJ, Runner’s World, on the NBC Nightly News, CNN, on the CW Network, and in the viral REI-produced documentary short, “The Mirnavator.” Her writing has been featured in Women’s Running Magazine, Self Magazine Online, Outside Online, and Runner’s World. Presenting Sponsors include Altra, Balega, Hoka One One, Merrell, Nathan, On, Rock Tape, Salomon, Spenco, Topo, Trigger Point and Vibram. Presenting sponsorships for Trailhead are sold out. Supporting Sponsors for Trailhead are Buff, GU, the Outdoor Industry Association, Rabbit, Ragnar Trail Relays, Trail Nuggets and the Trail Running Film Festival. ATRA is the Content Partner; ExpertVoice is the Research Partner; Trail Runner magazine is the Media Partner and Helinox is the special seating sponsor. For information about TRE Trailhead: Daemon Filson at n

© 2018 Diversified Communications

athlete: Rory Bosio, 2-Time UTMB Champion artwork: Dennis Mukai reference photograph: Luis Escobar






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Get Your Sole Renewed at The Running Event Vibram giving TRE attendees an opportunity to make their favorite shoes as good as new.


ibram and The Running Event are teaming up for a special promotion that will allow attendees to get their favorite pair of shoes re-soled with Vibram’s new Litebase Technology with Megagrip oustoles and make a contribution to a worthy cause. The re-soling will take place at The Running Event in Vibram’s Sole-Factor RV (in photo), which tours the country and will be making its TRE debut in Austin. Vibram Sole Factor will be located at Booth 1447. Each attendee who gets their shoes re-soled will be asked to make a $25 donation, which will be passed on to the Austin Chapter of Girls on The Run. Diversified Communications, the new owner of The Running Event, will match all contributions from attendees. The promotion will take place on Wednesday, November 28, and Thursday,

November 29. Re-soling will NOT be available on Friday, November 30. The featured outsole is Vibram’s Litebase Technology with Megagrip. static/-/Sites-VibramUS-Library/default/ dw f6bbe 4 c9/ Vibra m _ Sou l Factor_ Tour_2018_0611_v5.pdf

TRE Partners With RIA Partnership to benefit all running specialty retailers at annual event in Austin next month.


he Running Event (TRE) conference and expo and the Running Industry Association (RIA), the nonprofit trade group representing independently owned running retailers and the brands they sell, have entered into a partnership focused on helping specialty running retailers excel during The Running Event 2018, to be held November 27-30, 2018, at the Austin (TX) Convention Center. The announcement was made by Bill Springer, executive VP of TRE owner Diversified Communications, the owners of TRE, and Terry Schalow, RIA executive director. Members of the RIA will receive discounted registration, which will provide access to the conference and expo, including 18

two buyer-focused conference sessions presented by RIA on Wednesday, November 28. RIA members will have full access to the expo floor and its more than 260 exhibitors, including platinum TRE sponsors ASICS, Balega, Brooks Running, New Balance, On and Saucony. They will also be eligible to compete in the popular Indie 5K race and attend the Best Running Stores in America Awards and Banquet, both on Thursday, November 29. “Ever since assuming control of TRE earlier this year, Diversified Communications

has impressed us with their understanding of the running market and the importance of working closely with independent specialty retailers, the brands, and the companies that provide services and support to the channel,” says Schalow. “We share with the RIA a dedication to drive the running industry forward,” adds TRE event manager Christina Henderson. “TRE will help accomplish that goal by providing an exceptional four days of networking and retail education in one of America’s finest cities.” n © 2018 Diversified Communications






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Playmakers Honors Its Founders


laymakers, the Okemos MI running store, honored its founders Curt and Judy Munson by naming its new community room after the couple. Curt Munson is regarded as one of the most influential store owners ever in the channel whose work and philosophies bridged the era from old school running store owners who built a business on their passion for the sport to the modern group focused on better business practices to serve a community of runners. Playmakers opened in 1977 and has launched the careers of many individuals who have gone on work for running vendors or opened their own businesses in the category. Playmakers was named Store of The Year by Running Insight in 2010 and Munson was inducted into The Run Specialty Hall of Fame in 2009. n


Curt and Judy Munson — in person and on the wall in the new Playmakers community room.

Š 2018 Diversified Communications


running shorts Lily Trotters’ Brand Story and Marketing Plans Win at Title Nine Pitchfest

The Lily Trotters team celebrates its Title Nine Movers & Shakers PItchfest success.


ily Trotters last month won the inaugural Title Nine Movers & Makers Pitchfest, a nationwide search to find entrepreneurial women to come pitch their brand, tell their story and show their products to a panel of industry experts. Title Nine is the largest independently owned and operated retailer in the women’s fitness and adventure space. Lily Trotters was initially selected as one of nine finalists from a pool of more than 200 applicants. All finalists received a mentor session prior to Pitchfest with a veteran

Title Nine “Mover & Maker.” Successful female entrepreneur Bronwen Lodato, of Bronwen Jewelry, mentored the Lily Trotters team, providing feedback on the pitch and guidance about possible questions the team should be prepared to answer. The Pitchfest judges included Kelli Jones, #girlboss of NoSo Patches, and long-time Title Nine employee Alice Lee, current VP–merchandising and product development. Speakers included Sally Bergesen (Oiselle), Bronwen Lodato (Bronwen Jewelry), Jen Gurecki (Coalition Snow), Jennifer Ferguson

(Handful Bra) and Title Nine Founder Missy Park, each of whom shared stories of perseverance, overcoming failures and ultimately achieving success. Lily Trotters founder and designer Susan Costa-Walston shared the story of Lily Trotters as the first and only compression sock brand focused solely on the female athlete. Costa-Walston took the panel through the initial concept of Lily Trotters to its 2015 KickStarter campaign to presently being sold online and in more than 120 retail locations. Casey Szesze, Lily Trotters director of operations and engagement, discussed the benefits of compression, what sets Lily Trotters apart and spoke about her own evolution from running coach and initial product tester to Lily Trotters brand ambassador and full-time employee. As a result of this recognition, in 2019 Lily Trotters will be featured in Title Nine’s 2019 Spring catalog. Lily Trotters will also be provided with mentorships with Title Nine leadership and will be featured as a Mover & Maker in various Title Nine digital and print marketing materials. Lily Trotters is a women-owned business located in Baltimore and committed to making quality designer and high-performance compression socks in the U.S. n

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Bedgear Partners With NYC Marathon

Knowing that a good night’s sleep can lead to a good day’s run, Bedgear has entered into a multi-year partnership as the Official Pillow and Mattress Partner of the TCS New York City Marathon. Bedgear will host a never-before-seen experience in the TCS New York City Marathon Expo Presented by New Balance at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, November 1 to November 3. The space provides Bedgear with a platform to inspire runners with new products and an understanding of the importance of being fit for a pillow and mattress together to build sleep reserves for the big race, as well as to maximize all of one’s daily activities. Bedgear will fit runners for their personalized Performance Sleep System on the new M3 Launchpad, billed as the world’s first modular mattress that empowers consumers to select their comfort choice with four options of individualized support ranging from very firm to very plush. “At Bedgear, we understand that rest and recovery is essential for athletes to reach their personal best, and this partnership helps us continue our support of the running community,” says Eugene Alletto, Bedgear founder and CEO. “The mattress industry, as a whole is boring; at Bedgear, we encourage people to shake it up, wake up, and make the most of every moment. We look forward to delivering our Performance Sleep products 24

to help all runners be ready for race day on November 4.” In addition to the sponsorship, Bedgear has formed a six-person run team to represent the company in the New York Marathon. Management Changes at Vibram

Michael Gionfriddo last week announced his retirement as president and CEO of Vibram Corp., North Brookfield, MA, effective December 31. Fabrizio Gamberini has been appointed the new president of Vibram in the United States. The company also announced that Richard Riegel, currently a member of Vibram’s board of directors, has been appointed chairman of Vibram. Both new appointments are effective today. Gionfriddo has been a part of Vibram’s management team since 1998 and has led the company as its president since 2011. Gamberini, who came on board as president effective October 9, joins Vibram after successful leadership positions as CEO of Geox USA and of Marcolin USA, general manager for Nike and for Hewlett Packard. Implus Acquires RockTape

Implus sees its recent purchase of Rock Tape driving growth in two ways. Execs at the North Carolina-based company, which also owns Balega, Trigger Point and Sof Sole, plan to promote Rock Tape through its run specialty sales force, which will

greatly increase its visibility and distribution. Secondly, Implus CEO Seth Richards says the company’s other brands, most notably Spenco and Trigger Point, will benefit from Rock Tape’s strong position and distribution in the medical and clinical markets. “The run specialty retailer does not have great exposure to Rock Tape, but we plan to change that quickly,” Richards tells Running Insight. Rock Tape will be in the Balega/Implus booth at The Running Event, according to Richards, and that will just be the beginning of the synergy the new parent company will provide. Implus is known for its state-of-the-art distribution facility in Durham and the company also has a developed international distribution network. “We bought it because it was a great business and we believe we can make it even better,” Richards adds. Through the end of the year, Rock Tape will continue to ship from its own warehouse and Implus will take over shipping on January 1, 2019. For Implus, the Rock Tape acquisition marks its 20th since 2006 and its ninth in the past three years. The company also recently closed on an acquisition of SKLZ. Implus also owns Balega, Trigger Point, Fuel Belt, Spenco, Sof Sole, Harbinger, Perfect, Apara, Penguin, Yaktrax and Little Hotties, among others. Darn Tough Adds VP

Darn Tough Vermont recently promoted Lyn Feinson to VP–product design and development. Feinson is stepping into the role after three years with the brand. Feinson’s experience in textiles continues to contribute to the company’s growth. Feinson will be focusing on product growth strategies in innovation, increasing category productivity and sustainability initiatives. Fleet Feet Opening in Jackson

Fleet Feet Jackson is opening an additional store in the location that previously housed Stinky Feet Athletics. © 2018 Diversified Communications







“It’s not product that makes a running store great, it’s service and the knowledge of the employees.”

running shorts Plaatjes Opens In Motion

Former Boulder Running Company coowner Mark Plaatjes’s new store in Boulder will open in the next two weeks. Plaatjes, a minority partner in BRC, called himself an “unwilling participant” in the 2013 sale to the Running Specialty Group and said he was eager “to get back in the game.” The new store will carry the same name as Plaatjes’ highly regarded Physical Therapy practice, In Motion. In fact, the PT practice will be housed in the same building as the store, occupying 1000-square feet of the 5000-square-foot space in Central Eastern Boulder. Previously the PT practice was located on the second floor of the Boulder Running Company’s main location on Pearl Street in downtown, but Plaatjes said it “makes more sense to have the two



businesses operate out of the same space.” Like his former partner in BRC, Johnny Halberstadt, Plaatjes was an accomplished runner in his native South Africa, who never really competed outside of his country because of the government’s Apartheid policies. He sought political asylum in the United States in 1988, saying “I didn’t want my daughter to grow up in a country where she felt inferior.” In 1991 Plaatjes won the Los Angeles Marathon in 2:10:29. In 1993, he finished sixth in the Boston Marathon, qualifying for the U.S. team at the World Championships. On July 24, 1993, Plaatjes became a U.S. citizen. He and Halberstadt were partners in BRC for more than 20 years and the store was regarded as one of the best in the country,

winning Store of the Year honors from Running Insight. The store pioneered many concepts that are now standard procedures in running stores, such as gait analysis. His new store will focus on fitting techniques and getting runners into the right shoes. “It’s not product that makes a running store great, it’s service and the knowledge of the employees,” Plaatjes says. Plaatjes has been considering opening a store for a while, but did not want to compete against former BRC employee Henry Guzman, who opened a store several years ago. Guzman has since closed his store, which made Plaatjes more receptive to the idea. He will be joined in his new venture by several former BRC employees, including his daughter Luz, who will be the apparel buyer. n

© 2018 Diversified Communications



NOVEMBER 27-30, 2018 • AUSTIN, TX

An interactive, educational area on the exhibit hall floor devoted to the growing trail running category. Featuring presentations from top athletes, brands and retailers who will highlight opportunities around this evolving business.

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Visit for more details and a daily presentation schedule.

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