THE RACING ISSUE
THE NEWSMAGAZINE FOR RUNNING SPECIALTY RETAILERS / RUNNINGINSIGHT.COM
MARCH 16, 2020
TURN UP THE HEAT A Race Directors Roundtable discusses the pros and cons of event organizing in 2020. Page 4
Rugged Races • BibRave Takes Off • Healthy Kids Running Series Boulderthon Aims High • Coronavirus Special Report ... pages 2,3
The Coronavirus Conundrum How run retailers are dealing with the uncertainty delivered by a massive health crisis. / By Daniel P. Smith
country, Two Rivers Treads, Ranson, WV, in an email to its customers emphasized the safety precautions it is implementing, especially in its fit process, which usually encourages close contact as its employees sit and fit each customer. During this time, however, Two Rivers Treads is asking customers to understand that its employees will be avoiding close contact. Also, like many other retailers, it is offering free shipping for all online footwear orders as well as curbside pick up “for anyone who wants to come by but is inclined to not come in.” On its Facebook page, Fleet Feet posted a note from CEO Joey Pointer – a missive later shared by many local Fleet Feet outlets on their own digital channels – detailing efforts to provide a safe environment. Pointer specifically identified in-store cleaning procedures, including having disposable wipes and alcohol-based hand sanitizers for both employee and customer use. “I want you to know that nurturing the health and well-being of our Fleet Feet community is, and always will be, our
highest priority,” Pointer began. While acknowledging the seriousness of an issue that transcends business concerns, running retailers are nevertheless left to grapple with the uncertainty of a complex, still-unraveling public health crisis impacting routine American life. Thus far, many running shops are maintaining regular store hours while thoughtfully working to preserve healthy business operations. Ann Arbor Running Company owner Nick Stanko has reduced staff to “keep things simple,” while Philadelphia Runner has touted free shipping from the company’s online store. In Atlanta, West Stride has invited customers to call or email in orders for curbside delivery and encouraged self-care, reminding that being outside and active is key to physical and mental health. “Running or walking outside is a fantastic thing you can do by yourself and a great activity to de-stress and keep some normalcy in your life amid these abnormal times,” West Stride owner Genie Beaver says. “That’s an important message we can all share now.” n
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rom reassuring notes to customers to cancelled group runs and store events, the ever-evolving COVID19 pandemic has brought unease to the run specialty marketplace and forced running retailers across the U.S. to take steps designed to protect customers and the business. “There’s a feeling of uncertainty hovering over everything and you’re not sure where it will go,” says Dave Kazanjian, owner of Methuen, MA-based Whirlaway Sports Center. Citing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fleet Feet Chicago has suspended group runs as well as racing team and running club activities through the end of March. In Michigan, the Ann Arbor Running Company has similarly discontinued group runs and events, while Whirlaway cancelled its Saucony High School Spike Night planned for March 19. That energy-filled annual event brings more than 100 local athletes into Whirlaway’s doors. “That was a tough decision because it’s a strong sales event, but also one of our favorite events on the calendar,” Kazanjian says. “You’re just trying to evaluate things responsibly and respectfully and make the right decisions for all involved.” In a March 12 email to customers, the five-unit Philadelphia Runner chain said it planned to continue with its scheduled group runs, though it encouraged participants to allow extra space between others, to avoid group photos, hugs and high fives and to stay home if they were feeling ill. In that same correspondence, Philadelphia Runner spotlighted its measures to ensure hygienic stores, including “even more rigorous” cleaning procedures, such as directing staff to wash hands between customers and sanitizing high-contact areas like counters and door handles. Typical of run retailers all over the
‘Not a Good Situation Right Now’ Running shoe vendors are struggling with the increasing impact of Coronavirus. / By Brian Metzler
Photo: Visuals by Unsplash
s the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continued to deepen across the world through the first half of March, it’s clear it’s having a big impact on the running shoe industry. Almost every brand has reported some shoe and apparel lines being slowed or halted due to supplier chain disruption in East Asia countries. Although the majority of running shoes have been shifted away from Chinese factories in recent years, shoe factories in Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia have reportedly been on the verge of running out of raw materials because trade has been cut off with textile and component suppliers in China. And that will likely mean delay, postponement or canceling of some shoe models and apparel lines slated for the third and fourth quarter of 2020 and through 2021, officials at several brands told Running Insight last week. Although no brands contacted by Running Insight were willing to talk on the record about specific supply-chain challenges and how that might impact getting product to market during the late spring, summer and 3
fall, every person contacted suggested that it’s much worse than anticipated. And that doesn’t even begin to account for the lost sales during what is expected to be a worldwide retail decline in the first quarter, the cancelation of hundreds of races and events around the globe and the possible postponement of the Tokyo Olympics. “Yeah, this is turning into a long-term situation,” says one VP–footwear at a U.S.-based brand. “First and foremost, we are hoping this pandemic resides and that good health is the order of the day going forward. But for now it’s still a huge two-fold problem, both the health issues and the manufacturing delays. “I think some brands have been working hard to source materials from different places, but it’s still not a very good situation right now as far as keeping things on schedule,” he adds. Although only about 30 percent of running shoes are produced in China, a glimpse of the overall decline in the footwear industry can be seen through the 15.7 percent drop from shoes imported from China based on year-over-year numbers as of early February,
according to the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America. “Some are trying to build when the rain has already started, but smart brands have been working with suppliers to diversify out of China to make sure they weren’t too over-reliant [on China],” Andy Polk, SVP at the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, told Footwear News recently. “Things are going to get very squeezed and a lot of people are shuffling around trying to find suppliers. You can negotiate [with suppliers on] some of this, but I think you’re going to see cost increases in the supply chain for spring and summer.” While most running vendors felt the impact of virus, Seattle-based Brooks was among the brands that felt the impact the most on a day-to-day basis. The Seattle area was one of the epicenters of the outbreak and, as of March 14, Washington state had more positive cases (510) and deaths (37) than any other state. Although Brooks has had no known exposure among its U.S. staff as of Feb. 13, the company paused all non-critical business travel in and out of its Seattle headquarters and encouraged employees to work from home and avoid face-to-face meetings. “We are assessing the situation daily and following recommendations from the CDC, WHO and local public health authorities,” Brooks CEO Jim Weber said in a statement late last week. “Our priorities are helping employees stay healthy and safe, keeping our business running, servicing our customers and staying connected with each other.” Nike temporarily closed its Beaverton, OR, headquarters on March 1 for extensive cleaning and also temporarily shuttered its European office in Amsterdam after an employee contracted the illness. The brand’s world headquarters will remain open, but the company is now encouraging U.S.-based employees to work from home through the end of the month. n
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THE RACING ISSUE
RACE TALKING Running Insight brings together four race directors in a VIRTUAL RACING ROUNDTABLE to
discuss the state of the U.S. racing marke, including its challenges and opportunities as well as the role of run specialty in this ever-evolving ecosystem. / By Daniel P. Smith
What’s one word you would use to characterize the current racing marketplace? Pete Van Slooten: Exciting! Competitive! Inspiring! Why choose just one? Exciting because there are some cool events from one mile to 100 miles that are drawing new people out to the starting line; competitive because there are many new and different events and alternative fitness options; and inspiring because more people are setting race or fitness goals and accomplishing them. Lisa Reeves: Optimistic. At Pacers we’re seeing 12-15 percent growth in our marquee events. Amy Frostick: Experience. In the running marketplace it’s all about the type of experience you’re creating for participants. Jim Stasaitis: I’ll say exciting, but with a pinch of apprehension. Exciting because we’re still selling out our Boilermaker Road Race, but apprehensive because of uncertainty around the coronavirus. We’re getting a lot of questions about our cancellation policy. What’s the single biggest change you’ve noted in recent years? Frostick: I like to compare our industry to the craft beer industry. In the last five to 10 years, so many races have entered the
Jim Stasaitis’ Boilermaker Road Race celebrates its 43rd running in July with an expected 19,000 participants.
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Race Director Roundtable (continued) Sitting at the Table ... Pete Van Slooten ... Van Slooten is the events manager at Utah’s Salt Lake Running Company, which owns seven races as part of its RUN SLC Race Series and Park City Trail Series.
Lisa Reeves ... As senior race director with Pacers, the Washington, D.C.-based chain, Reeves oversees Pacers involvement in about 60 races each year, including marquee events such as the PNC Parkway Classic and Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon & Half Marathon.
Amy Frostick ... Frostick’s Virginia Beach, VA-based J&A Racing, which she owns with her husband, Jerry, hosts eight events each year, including the 25,000runner Yuengling Shamrock Marathon weekend.
Jim Stasaitis ... Stasaitis and his team in Utica, NY, produce the 19,000-participant Boilermaker Road Race, which will celebrate its 43rd running this July, as well as two additional events: a Halloween-themed kids’ race and the Erie Canal Half Marathon.
marketplace, you can almost find one in every city. I think we’re starting to see a shakeout of some of those events and the ones that will survive are the ones in which the owners/staff are all in and willing to change with industry demands. Van Slooten: In my mountainous neck of the woods, there has been growth in mountain climbing races. Where once we had only the Wahsatch Steeplechase and Bair Gutsman, there are now multiple races and series that focus less on running and more on racking up vertical or climbing up a ski resort. Also, more people seem to expect a good finisher’s medal now than in the past. Stasaitis: There’s a new generation of runners participating in races for health and camaraderie. They’re more completers than competers and that’s forced us to adapt, including putting a
time limit on the racecourse. Reeves: Hands down, increasing security costs.
binders of information about race details that we can pass on to the next generation of Boilermaker race leaders. Van Slooten: I’ve been lucky to manage races during a strong economy, but when the economy eventually softens I imagine it will be harder to maintain the consistent growth of the current period. Also, severe weather events, wildfires and the smoke from wildfires have already proven disastrous for some race directors. In response, directors may have to think harder about their contingency planning and customers may change their purchase habits based on cancellation policies. Your plan should be ready to deploy, as customers will certainly let you know if you don’t handle a cancellation to their satisfaction. Frostick: Finding new runners is always a challenge. There are so many different gym types and
activities and people’s schedules are busy. How can we make our races attractive to a new runner? We are also challenged with everchanging city entities and must constantly show how relevant we are to negotiate prices on city expenditures.
What are the biggest headwinds you’re facing as a race director? (Ed. Note: These interviews were conducted before the full impact of the Coronavirus was felt on events across the world.) Reeves: Literal “headwinds” are weather, government shutdowns, sport safety/security and consumer interest. Stasaitis: Security. That’s a big concern. A thunderstorm used to be our main worry, but so many more potential threats exist today. We host monthly security meetings that include local, state and federal representatives to be on top of this. Succession is another challenge. We’ve got a bunch of gray hairs on our race committee and are actively working to bring younger blood into a more active role. We’re creating
What notable opportunities do you see? Frostick: Same as our biggest challenge: new runners. Van Sloo ten: I see t he opportunity to grow the participant base into more diverse communities. Reeves: The opportunity to reimagine and reinvent the road-race experience and how we produce events; to lock in our principal focus on hitting every touchpoint throughout the consumer journey; and to be adaptable with creative solutions in giving the consumer what that they want. © 2020 Diversified Communications
Race Director Roundtable (continued) Stasaitis: We have a new president who isn’t connected to running or racing and having those virgin eyes asking questions has made us think about ways we can improve and adapt. This year, we’ll be giving away finisher medals at Boilermaker for the first time. How do you see local run specialty stores best fitting into the racing scene? Stasaitis: Our local run shop, The Sneaker Store, has built training programs around the Boilermaker 15K. That feeds energy around the event, brings new runners in and allows us to market the event together as partners. Frostick: The stores need to stay relevant and decide how they can be part of the runner
experience, which can be as simple as creating a cheer zone on the course. We need activation and experience for our participants. [Virginia Beach running store] Running Etc. helps us fit almost 700 kids who receive free shoes in our Starting Strides program, which is part of our Operation Smile Shamrock Final Mile. Reeves: We’ve found success at Pacers by creating a profit center that’s focused on event management. Brands are not interested in partnering with events that don’t have a retail tie-in. They are looking for brick-and-mortars offering comprehensive business plans that are focused on the consumer journey with community engagement. With six Pacers retail locations throughout northern Virginia
PULLING DOUBLE DUTY
IN THE LATTER HALF OF THE 20TH CENTURY AND into the Millennium, running retailers entered the racing game – creating and producing their own races – largely to build a customer base and drive brand awareness. But as both retail operations and races become increasingly more complex, is the race director-retailer pairing still a viable, realistic and beneficial reality? Though races have become more corporate and intricate in recent years – what once could be produced with cones, flagging and a simplistic timing system now demands coordination with city agencies, digital know-how and a litany of other investments to appease participants and achieve profitability – retail operations like Washington, D.C.-based Pacers and the Salt Lake Running Company (SLRC) continue to see power in the race director-retailer one-two punch. “If you understand the consumer journey and support people who are setting goals, the opportunity is there,” says Pacers senior events director Lisa Reeves, adding that Pacers has 365 days to talk about events in its stores and help people engage with a greater community.
and Washington, D.C., we’re able to tap into multiple diverse running communities and support the retail-brand-event “trinity.” Van Slooten: In my opinion, race companies want a retailer at their event to enhance the participant experience and to sell some expo space, but they don’t realize how much of a risk and operational disruption it is to take inventory and set up shop offsite for a day or two. At Salt Lake Running Company, we’ve realized that the customer gets the best service and experience in our stores. As such, we rarely set up offsite sales or expos other than at a few key events, though we know other stores have been successful doing race expos by investing in specialized vehicles, additional on-call employees and duplicate inventories.
What fosters a successful partnership between races and local running stores? Van Slooten: A winning strategy for us has been to make our community room available for race packet pickups. This drives traffic into the store and offers street cred to the event. For charitable causes, we set aside a certain budget for raffles and donations. One benefit of hosting our own races is that they are less expensive to donate race entries to event raffles and auctions than retail product, which allows us to stretch the donation budget and get exposure for our races. Reeves: Any relationship has its own unique set of components and measures of success, but it’s advantageous when the race and retail store share similar values
While SLRC stores promote SLRC events – employee names function as race coupon codes and staff earn spiffs for signing up participants – events manager Pete Van Stouten says ongoing contact with retail customers has also helped SLRC develop events for under-represented groups and untapped markets. To wit, SLRC developed its four-event Park City Trail Series, which includes a 5K, 10K, 10 Mile, and Half Marathon, to provide a more accessible trail experience for novices at a time in which trail races have largely embraced longer distances and higher elevations. To be certain, the retail-race double has its share of challenges. First, Van Slooten says, there’s always the risk that a negative race experience can lead to a lost retail customer or race detractor. Second, the shop’s role as race host often means sales associates function as an event’s de facto customer service department. Whether answering participant questions on the phone or tending to other event tasks, such duties pull staff from the sales floor. This, in fact, prompted Pacers to segment its retail and race operations. “Otherwise, it can get very overwhelming,” Reeves says. n
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that can create a win for the race, participant and store. Stasaitis: Communication is huge, as is a willingness to work together toward a common goal. It’s a real struggle if either party is selfish.
Salt Lake Running Co. puts significant effort into the RUN SLRC Race Series.
and the common objective to outfit the local runner and bring authenticity and locality to the event. Frostick: Think outside of the
box and create partnerships that can make a difference. Running stores can leverage shoe or apparel partners for free swag, cheer zones, etc. — anything
Offer one big prediction for the next five years. Frostick: We’ll see more races exit the space than enter. It’s not a glamorous job, it’s hard work and you need to be constantly evolving. Races need to market what is new and exciting about their race, which includes expos evolving into something less antiquated. Reeves: Ongoing consolidation in races. Once we hit the bottom of the consolidation phase, you’ll likely find the races that remain will become more professional. The late growth we saw in the
mid-2000s is a thing of the past, though you do see trail and ultra-races having a lot of legs right now. There will always be runner conversion. The real test of time is going to be how race directors adapt, reinvent and develop the road race to engage new consumers. Van Slooten: We’ll see more diversity at races and events. Running is such a universal activity and I expect that the mental constr uct that r unning is for a certain type of person will fall and the joy of running and celebrating with others will be felt by a wider audience. Stasaitis: My crystal ball’s a bit cloudy, so I don’t have any bold predictions. I am, however, optimistic that our race and many others will continue going strong. n
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THE RACING ISSUE
Rugged Races has emerged as one the fastest-growing endurance event companies. / By Daniel P. Smith
s 2010 began, neither Brad Scudder nor Rob Dickens could’ve imagined the decade ahead. They would battle larger, more moneyed obstacle-course race (OCR) enterprises to establish Rugged Maniac as one of the category’s premier brands. They would stand in the Shark Tank and score a deal with Mark Cuban. Their Boston-based firm, Rugged Races, would acquire others and be acquired itself, all en route to becoming one of North America’s largest endurance-event 10
companies. “No,” Dickens assures. “We never imagined this.” Now with some 100 events scattered across the U.S., Rugged Races is no longer some modest OCR upstart. Rather, the Scudder and Dickens-led business stands an ascendant industry force driven by an enterprising mindset and backed by a powerful parent company. Most entrepreneurs dream of earning a spot on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” but when producers for the hit show contacted Scudder and Dickens in 2013 about a potential
appearance, the duo behind the upstart Rugged Maniac OCR series did the unthinkable: they declined. In the three years since Scudder had authored the first Rugged Maniac OCR in Springfield, MA, an inaugural event that attracted 2000 participants, Rugged Maniac had blossomed from a one-off production into a viable business. Scudder had recruited Dickens, his former law school pal, into the fold and the duo had bootstrapped Rugged Maniac into a growing, multi-city OCR operation. “We didn’t need to give up equity,” Dickens says of declining the “Shark Tank” invite. Slowly, though, the partners reconsidered, reasoning that the show’s immense reach would provide great publicity for Rugged Maniac events. And if Cuban, the billionaire owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, made a reasonable offer, well, then Scudder and Dickens would listen. After all, Cuban boasted celebrity status and deep connections in the sports industry. Cuban, it turns out, was intrigued and the two parties struck a deal: $1.75 million for a 25 percent stake in the business. Buzz from the show and Cuban’s involvement unlocked a world of opportunity for Scudder and Dickens, leading to new team members, a new office, more events and soaring participation numbers. “The ‘Shark Tank’ appearance moved the needle for us,” Dickens says. Hitting the Roads Following their “Shark Tank” appearance on April 25, 2014, Scudder and Dickens focused almost exclusively on growing their Rugged Maniac OCR events. After two years, however, they found themselves
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Once a two-person operation, Rob Dickens (in gray suit) and Brad Scudder (with red tie) have built an expansive team at Rugged Races to handle the company’s extensive – and growing – event list.
increasingly contemplating opportunities beyond the OCR world, namely road races that offered a more consistent customer base. “We had built this expertise [in producing events] and road races presented a way to expand and diversify our portfolio,” Dickens says, acknowledging a real fear that OCRs might “fade away” as a passing fad. In early 2017, Rugged took its first steps into road running when it purchased Loco Races, a New Hampshire-based operation with a portfolio of about 20 New England area races. Taking charge of business operations, marketing and design to better meet the expectations of contemporary race participants, Rugged tripled Loco’s revenue in its first 11
year at the helm. “As our first foray into road races, we wouldn’t have done this again if things flopped,” Dickens says. So, Rugged hunted other prospects, specifically seeking races with high growth potential. It purchased Maine-based GiddyUp Events as well as the Milwaukee Marathon, an event besieged by problems, including two consecutive years of improperly measured courses. In Milwaukee, Rugged applied its expertise to the troubled event, which includes a half marathon and 5K in addition to the full marathon. The company shifted the race date from October to April, moved the start and finish lines to Fiserv Forum, the city’s sparking new arena, employed
two USTAF course certifiers to ensure accuracy, organized an army of race-day volunteers and honed in on the details — from providing abundant portable toilets to working with the city to fill potholes along the race course. In 2019, Rugged’s first year in charge at Milwaukee, participation surged to 7500. “We’re a bit of perfectionists over here,” Dickens says. Keeping Pace In fact, 2019 turned out to be Rugged’s most active year yet. The company acquired the Providence Marathon (RI), the Santa Rosa Marathon (CA), the Best Damn Race Half Marathon (FL), the Fargo Marathon (ND) a nd Ch icago -base d R A M Racing, the force behind the
20-city Allstate Hot Chocolate race series. “While Rugged Maniac takes place in the warmer months, Hot Chocolate takes place in colder weather, so we’re not only diversifying the types of events we run, but also when they appear on the calendar,” Dickens says, adding that Rugged works to keep existing operators involved to ensure on-the-ground personnel capable of interacting with the local community and government. Powered by parent company GateHouse Media, which acquired Rugged in 2018 for $10.4 million and then merged with Gannett in 2019 to form one of the nation’s largest media conglomerates, Rugged looks to continue building momentum as 2020 unfolds. Leveraging the infrastructure and reach of its ownership, which publishes some 500 newspapers across the U.S., Rugged sees vast opportunity to boost the profile of its events, acquire additional race properties and provide new offerings. For instance, Dickens says Rugged looks to relaunch the Wonder Woman race series – acquired in the Fargo Marathon deal – in as many as 10 cities this year. “We see promising opportunities around the U.S., but also want to take a breath and allow our systems and processes to gel and solidify after so much action over the last two years,” Dickens says. “For us, it’s about honing our craft, improving our business in all areas from the swag to the runner experience to the marketing and making sure we’re focused on the right areas to sustain success.” n © 2020 Diversified Communications
THE RACING ISSUE
Kids on the Run Healthy Kids Running Series gets young boys and girls out to run.
Getting young boys and girls – ages two to 14 – out to run for fun is the ultimate goal of the Healthy Kids Running Series, hopefully coming to a town near you this year.
n these current times when childhood obesity is rampant and an Inactivity Pandemic – coupled with the growth of e-sports and other sedentary activities – threatens the health of an entire generation, it is more important than ever to find ways to keep kids active. There’s no doubt about it — kids gotta run! Enter Healthy Kids Running Series, the brainchild of founder and president Jeff Long, a former track athlete at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and an entrepreneur who looked for and found a way to get young boys and girls interested in running — and to have some fun and exercise at the same time. Long started Pattison Sports Group, which focuses on multiple roles in Event Management, Corporate Consulting and Property Representation, in October, 2008, and a year later the Healthy Kids Running 12
Series debuted. What began as a simple Pattison Sports Group community giveback program turned into a seven-week program in the Fall of 2009 and then again in the Fall of 2010. It was shortened to a five-week
series in 2010 as a Spring Series was added in 2011. “The thinking behind HKRS was to put out as much positive energy in the community with the hope we would get that same energy back,” Long explains. “We are a service company whose mission is to serve kids.” The kids and their parents are listening, because in 2020 the Healthy Kids Running Series will hold events in 300 locations in 36 states and Long says that with an average of 1.5 start-a-race applications a day he expects more than 70,000 runners to participate this year. Healthy Kids Running Series is organized as a 501c3 non-profit corporation, with Long running the show, supported by an executive director, national director, four program managers and a few support staffers. The heart of Healthy Kids Running Series,
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Series as big as their facility will allow — most locations can handle 300-400 young runners because races are broken out by distance and gender. The larger Series have up to eight heats on the 50- and 75-yard dash, with 30-plus kids per race. All of this effort is directed at the young runners, starting at an incredibly cute two-years old up to 14-years old, and it all adds up to Healthy Kids Running Series laying claim as the largest co-ed youth running program in the country
The Healthy Kids Running Series staff, led by founder Jeff Long (back row, second from left) makes sure Community Coordinators have the resources to keep the young runners happy, including bibs and medals for all.
however, are its Community Coordinators, the women and men who organize the programs in their local communities. They are typically a female between the ages of 32-45 and most have full-time jobs, so their biggest challenge is finding the time and developing the expertise to market their Series while leveraging their network of friends and sponsors. They are first responsible for finding the facility to host the races – which range from a 50-yard dash for the littlest runners up to a mile for the middle schoolers – and then marketing the Series and securing volunteers to help execute the five weeks. All registrations go through the national HKRS website and forwarded on to the local Coordinators. They receive half of the net profit and HKRS headquarters receives the other half to invest back in the program in the form of IT solutions, travel 13
to map out courses, medals, trophies, insurance, rental fees and the rest. The Community Coordinators have the ability to grow their
The Industry Participation Long stresses that involvement in the Healthy Kids Running Series can be quite a boon for local running stores, many of whom are already involved as both sponsors and Community Coordinators. Among the stores already involved in various capacities are New Balance, Fleet Feet, Bryn Mawr Running Company, Blue Ox Running, Charm City Run, Foot RX Running Asheville, Haddonfield Running Co., Lucky Road and many, many other local stores. These retailers not only get to help pull off a family-friendly community event, they also get some valuable exposure by hosting race bag pick ups for hundreds of runners, are welcome onsite at all five races in each Series, can offer in-week training and have the chance to market any other races they may have scheduled. Some stores actually serve as Community Coordinators to help part-time workers make more money. Brands, too, are more than welcome to get involved and Long is actively recruiting many to be a part of the Healthy Kids Running Series family. The benefit for
The Healthy Kids Running Series will hold events in 300 locations in 36 states and more than 70,000 runners to participate this year. both retailers and vendors is that there is much, much more to Healthy Kids Running Series than a bunch of little kids buying their first pair of sneakers. “The misconception is that our demographic is kids, but I’m not sure the last time a five-year-old drove himself to a race,” Long says. The ultimate target market is the mom and dad driving them to those races. “Our parents are 25-44-yearsold, active, health-conscious people,” Long points out, citing some exact statistics. “They are 29.1 percent more interested in health and wellness than the general population and 22.6 percent more likely to do their own running race than non-HKRS parents.” A regional and national Healthy Kids Running Series sponsor gets significant price breaks, a logo on all T-shirts across the country, a large social media presence, entitlement opportunities with bibs, medals, a soon-to-be-released video series and all the traditional elements such as logo on flyers and the HKRS website, onsite presence, e-blasts to parents and sampling opportunities. With momentum carrying into 2020, Long says his ultimate goal is to have a Running Series in all 50 states and then to grow internationally. “Our strategic plan projects HKRS to be in 750 towns and host 250,000 runners by the end of 2024,” he says. On your mark, get set and go to HealthyKidsRunningSeries.org n © 2020 Diversified Communications
THE RACING ISSUE
Running High Inaugural Boulderthon will test race organization and running at altitude.
unners have a chance to go high at the first-ever Boulderthon in October that will test the limits of not only the their ability to complete a half or full marathon at altitude, but also that of the organizer’s ability to pull off the premiere event in Boulder, CO. Set in the foothills of the Rockies, Boulderthon consists of half and full marathons, with a first-ever downtown finish and post-race celebration that the race organizers, Stronger Faster Boulder, promise to be an inspiring and unforgettable experience. The race, set for October 11, 2020, has been three years in the making, but the goal from Day One has been to create Colorado’s signature Fall marathon. “Our hope is that runners and spectators from around the world will come to Boulder to participate in the city’s marathon,” explains race director Phil Dumontet, who points out that the area, after all, is known as one of the great training grounds for Olympians, world-class athletes and leisure runners alike. “With Boulderthon, everyone will be able to experience an exciting race in a setting where natural beauty meets metropolitan excitement at the foot of the Rockies,” he adds. Based on the numbers for the Boulder Backroads race, Dumontet set a target of 2000 runners for the first year of Boulderthon. But considering how numbers are trending, they now anticipate close to 3000 runners for the half and full marathons. The challenge for the runners – and the organizers – is the simple fact that running a high-altitude marathon will definitely demand more out of a person. After all, at altitude there are lower levels of oxygen and this forces the body to work harder to produce more red blood cells. The organizers are urging runners from out of the area to arrive in town a few days 14
Race director Phil Dumontet has made downtown Boulder the finish llne for the inaugural Boulderthon.
early to acclimate to the altitude — and to enjoy all that Boulder has to offer. And, oh yes, drink plenty of water. (On the flip side, when runners return to lower altitudes, they may very well feel like Superman or Superwoman since muscles get a natural boost when additional oxygen is available.)
From a race organization and production standpoint, the only challenge that differs from any other race event is to ensure ample amounts of hydration. To that end they have partnered with Boulder-based Skratch Labs to provide a pure, natural form of nutrition mix, and with Eldorado Springs, an awardwinning local spring water source, for all of its starting line, on-course, and post-race hydration stations. The organizers are currently partnering with Boulder Running Company as the run specialty retail sponsor. It is a preferred signup location for the race, with all runners receiving a special discount and free training tech T-shirt if they sign up in-store at the race’s registration kiosk. In addition, Boulder Runner Company is promoting Boulderthon in its store windows with large banners, as well as in-store with the dedicated registration kiosk, through its e-mail newsletters and during its weekly group runs. Other sponsors include Frasca, Ozo
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As the run specialty retail sponsor, Boulder Running Company is all-in with its support of Boulderthon in October.
Coffee, Cured, Hydrate IV, P urely Elizabeth, Sk ratch Labs, Eldorado Springs and the
Downtown Boulder Partnership. Others expected to join the fun are Crunch Boulder, CYL Sauna
Studio, Stretch Zone and Runners Roost, along with many other local partners.
Despite the city’s high altitude, the course is fairly flat overall, making Boulderthon a great event for both beginning marathoners and elite athletes. This race will also serve as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. The course begins at the Boulder Reservoir and provides sweeping views of the Flatirons. The finish line awaits runners in the heart of the city, on the famous bricks of Pearl Street Mall. There, runners and spectators will be able to enjoy the after-party, surrounded by some of Boulder’s best-known shops, restaurants and bars. It all adds up to a unique runner’s high – and, for the race organizers, a similar successful experience – that can only be reached at altitude. n
Add The Running Event to your 2020 plans! Contact Christina Henderson to reserve a booth.
DECEMBER 1–3, 2020 • AUSTIN, TEXAS therunningevent.com
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THE RACING ISSUE
A Run With … BibRave’s Tim Murphy Co-founder of the race and fitness agency takes time out to explain its role in the run specialty business.
s a marketing agency that specializes in “digital word of mouth” promotions, BibRave holds a unique niche in the endurance and fitness space. It started in 2013 as an online resource for runners to find and write race reviews and has grown its digital community of running ambassadors, what it calls The BibRave Pros, into a nationally distributed marketing platform for races and brands. BibRave is known for operating turnkey influencer campaigns and as those campaigns grew and became more successful it branched out to offer more elaborate services. It now partners with races and brands on custom content programs, custom podcast content, highly-detailed project management and execution, retainer-based creative concepting and branding workshops, and white label ambassador programs. Among its programs is the always muchanticipated BibRave 100 Awards presented annually at The Running Event, which honors
the best and most successful races and race promotions around the country. Running Insight got founder and president Tim Murphy to slow down for a few minutes to explain BibRave’s connection to the run community and how this relationship helps to grow that business.
in the run event business? It is “move people and businesses to constantly evolve what makes them great.” The running industry can be slow to change and we view BibRave’s role as pushing our partners to innovate new programs and experiences to keep runners engaged in the sport.
Running Insight: Describe the role BibRave plays in the run community in 2020? Tim Murphy: BibRave occupies a very unique role due to our close connection with runners and the running community, runningrelated brands and endurance events. Our BibRave Pro ambassadors have a reach of over 800,000, we work with approximately 200 events and we partner with 50 to 60 brands. Because of our B2C and B2B connections, we have a unique perspective on how the business of running can impact the consumer and vice-versa.
Why is there a need for what BibRave does? Anyone who works at an endurance event or running-related brand can tell you that there’s just never enough time in the day/week/ month. BibRave offers additional bandwidth, expertise, highly detailed project management and creative horsepower to take workload off our clients’ plates and ensure projects are executed at a high level and on-time.
What is BibRave’s on-going vision for its role
Tell us about the BibRave 100 and how it helps build that community. The BibRave 100: A Definitive List of the Best Races in America, which we co-host with The Running Event, continues to be a big
The BibRave 100, presented annually in partnership with The Running Event, is an important part of the agency’s efforts. Shown here: 2019 winners at TRE in Austin.
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The BibRave Braintrust: Back row (left to right): Julia Montag, Laura Mullins, Andy Wallace Middle row: Carolyn Gardner, Tim Murphy, Jenn Savedge, Jessica Murphy Front row: Kim Fulmer, Marlene Weiss
area of focus for Team BibRave. As The BibRave 100 becomes a regular source of information for runners researching their next bucket list race, there are a ton of messaging and engagement opportunities for race service providers and endemic running brands. We’re excited to keep investing in and growing key runner resources. How do you work with both race directors and retailers? In many cases, retailers are the race directors. In other cases, the retailers have a vested interest in partnering with the race to host various elements of race weekend or pre-race build-up. BibRave can help facilitate and message around all of those activities. How can retailers get involved? The same way BibRave brings a uniquely informed point of view to bear for our race and brand partners, we work with retailers 17
in a similar way. From hyping in-store events and specials, to organizing social media campaigns that drive people in-store, BibRave has a ton to offer the run specialty world. How about with the brands? We’ve also worked with our brand partners to educate and drive runners to retail locations and capitalize on those retailer’s expertise. What brands are involved as sponsors and what are the benefits to them? And how can other brands get involved? We work with 50 to 60 endurance brands across all verticals – headwear, footwear, eyewear, electronics, nutrition, compression, hydration – you name it. We’ve worked with large brands like Garmin, Brooks and Nathan as well as growing brands in the space like AfterShokz, Flipbelt and Knockaround.
Why do they work with BibRave? Our brand partners are those who believe in the power of (digital) word of mouth, who hate the “same old, same old” and are looking for a different way to show up to runners — and who need to do so with very little lift. What makes the community of BibRave runners – and runners in general for that matter – so unique? The BibRave Pros are a group of 100-plus running bloggers and social influencers across ages, genders, races, markets, distance preferences, speeds and running experiences. They are runners with loyal readers and followers, whose audiences turn to them for information on the best races to run, the best gear to try, the best nutrition to use, etc. How does that translate into your other offerings? Our white label ambassador
management programs – where we handle recruiting, contracting, on-boarding, message coordination and day-to-day community development for our clients’ owned communities – is growing every year. We have so many best practices and processes to share when it comes to managing influencers/ambassadors and we’re able to use those to build large and robust communities for our race and brand partners. What’s the future look like for BibRave in particular and the running business in general? As we work with more races and brands on an on-going, retainer basis, our custom content and event activation business is picking up a lot of steam. We’re extremely excited to be working with like-minded races and brands who want to re-imagine how we talk to and show up for runners. n © 2020 Diversified Communications
THE RACING ISSUE
Amphipod Unveils Custom Race Program Sales and marketing tool allows run retailers to further their exposure at races they support. WITH THE SPRING AND SUMMER race season right around the corner in most parts of the country, Amphipod has launched a novel Custom Race Program for specialty running stores that will allow retailers to become even more closely aligned with the races they are supporting. Available to Amphipod dealers, stores can choose from a focused collection of Amphipod’s best-seller pieces customized with their store and/or race name. The Custom Race Program gives specialty running stores the opportunity to further take advantage of their race-tostore connection — elevating awareness, promoting store training programs, future races and in-store events while showcasing the caliber of gear customers can find in their stores. Run specialty retailers can also add a custom hangtag with even more tailored messaging that can help drive race participants back into their retail store and training programs. “So many run shops either own or are closely connected with race operators in their area and the opportunity to crosspromote is now even more essential,” explains Amphipod CEO June Angus. “We are excited to provide our specialty retail partners another tool to help them grow and drive their success.” The Program includes a variety of items such as customized Hydraform Handhelds in 10-, 12- and 17-ounce. sizes, MicroStretch Luxe Belts for phones and nutrition, Race-Lite Number Belts and Vizlet LED Magnetic Reflectors. Program minimums vary starting at 250 pieces and can accommodate volumes for races up to 20,000 participants. Angus says that the per-item cost, sample and production timing depends upon customization elements and volume. For more: firstname.lastname@example.org
Already holding a strong position in the race business, Amphipod is expanding its partnerships with run retailers with a novel Custom Race Program that will allow stores to market themselves to participants.
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Connect, celebrate &
BRING MORE BACK TO YOUR STORE
Winners announced March 16th!
MAY 17-19, 2020
Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Stone Mountain, GA Interested sponsors, please contact: Christina Henderson, email@example.com
running shorts Brooks Vs. Brooks: The Plot Thickens With Countersuit IN AN ESCALATION OF TRADEMARK wars between Brooks Sports and Brooks Brothers Group, the clothing company earlier this month filed a response and counterclaim against the footwear brand for “breach of contract, trademark infringement, dilution and unfair competition.” According to Brooks Brothers, the lawsuit seeks to eliminate potential consumer deception or confusion caused by Brooks Sports by intentionally dropping its logo in association with its brand name, which it claims is in direct violation of a longstanding co-existence agreement between the two companies. The tenuous “coexistence” agreement between Brooks Sports and the unrelated but similarly named Brooks Brothers clothing company had fallen apart last month when the running shoe and apparel company filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Brooks Brothers. From Brooks Sports’ perspective, the cause of the new dispute stems from Brooks Brothers’ 2018 move into selling athletic footwear, which Brooks Sports contends confuses consumers, damages its own marks and undermines that 1980 “coexistence” trademark agreement between the companies. Its original complaint challenged Brooks Brothers’ alleged effort to block it from registering its own trademark in the
United States and other countries. It also challenged Brooks Brothers’ Dec. 30, 2019, trademark application to use “Brooks,” without “Brothers,” on eight categories of items, including clothing and sporting goods, as well as on retail stores. Brooks sued in the federal court in Seattle, where it is based. It is seeking damages, including for breach of contract, and to halt any infringements by Brooks Brothers. In the new counterclaim, Brooks Brothers says that in the 1970s Brooks Sports began selling running shoes under the mark
“Brooks,” prompting an objection by Brooks Brothers and eventually, in 1980, a coexistence agreement providing that Brooks Sports could use “Brooks” alone for athletic shoes, but could only use “Brooks” on athletic clothing if combined with a logo or other word. Brooks Brothers claims that after nearly 40 years of co-existence based on these terms, Br o ok s Sp o r t s h a s breached the agreement by dropping its logo and filing for the word “Brooks” alone for a variety of apparel items, selling T-shirts and hats displaying “Brooks” without its logo, and filing a lawsuit against Brooks Brothers. According to the new claim, “In order to protect its internationally renowned trademark and prevent consumer confusion between the companies’ respective brands, Brooks Brothers has opposed Brooks Sports’ newly filed applications around the world and filed a counterclaim in federal court to enforce the terms of the contract.”
SynchroKnit Powered By Wigwam Sponsors 29-Race Series SynchroKnit, the technology-driven brand from Wigwam Mills, is sponsoring a lineup of 29 running races over the coming nine months, in locations across the U.S. The races include road, trail and a variety of distances from 5Ks to the Rio Del Lago 100 Mile outside of Sacramento, CA. Also, included in the lineup are Zooma weekend get-away race events
for women and the Wasatch Trail Run Series in Utah. “We wanted to extend our support to all runners and a wide assortment of races. An obvious common denominator among runners is the need for healthy, comfortable feet during and after a run or race,” says Brad Bates, director of sales at Wigwam. “SynchroKnit’s groundbreaking technology can make a difference to all runners. The sock has an unrivaled precision, non-slip fit
and was launched in the run category because runners, in particular, demand precision fit from their shoes.” At the same time the SynchroKnit running sock collection is launching with five styles: the Catalyst UltraLight Low, the Surpass UltraLight Low and the Surpass Lightweight Low, Quarter and Mid Crew. They are now available online at SynchroKnit.com and through specialty retailers, including REI and MEC.
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running shorts Inov-8 Brings Twin-Spike Technology to New OROC Shoes RUNNING BRAND INOV-8 HAS launched Twin-Spike technology in the outsoles of its new shoes. By adding two metal spikes to the rubber studs, rather than the traditional use of a single spike, Inov-8 is giving runners double the grip. The new OROC shoes are designed for orienteers and runners who race off the trail, thus encountering all kinds of unpredictable terrain. The strong spikes protrude from rubber studs as the outsole hits the ground, digging into frozen terrain, holding firm on slippery rocks and providing traction through mud. There are two models featuring the new Twin-Spike technology — the OROC 270 and OROC Ultra 290. The OROC 270 weighs just 270g and has a snug fit for running fast. The OROC ULTRA 290 weighs 20g more but boasts a roomier fit for increased comfort
Normatec Acquired By Hyperice NormaTec, known for its pneumatic compression systems, has been acquired by massage tool company Hyperice. As part of this acquisition, the companies will combine workforces, integrate product offerings, accelerate international business and advance manufacturing competencies and product development initiatives. NormaTec’s CEO Gilad Jacobs will join Hyperice’s leadership team and board as chief innovation officer. The two companies have been working collaboratively within the sports performance and military markets since 2016, which helped accelerate this acquisition. “We started Hyperice not only to help improve athlete’s performance, but to provide the same level of technology to everyday people,” says Hperice founder Anthony Katz. “In NormaTec, we found a company that shared our vision and mission and we are excited to welcome 21
over longer distances. The OROC 270 has 48 metal spikes per pair and the OROC ULTRA 290 has 60.
them into the Hyperice family.” Also as apart of the deal, the combined companies plan to launch “wellness pods” (a physical experience which includes a full suite of Hyperice and NormaTec devices), along with solutions-based protocols and education specifically designed to optimize human performance, longevity and health. The company will also be engaging in scientific research to study the combined effects of the company’s full suite of products used in a variety of sequences for warm up, recovery and general body maintenance. The acquisition gives Hyperice a second base of U.S. operations in Boston, which will work in conjunction with Hyperice’s global headquarters in Irvine, CA. 361 Degrees Awards Cup Winners 361 Degrees recently revealed the divisional winners of The 361 Retail Racing League “The 361 Cup.” The 361
Both models also include a flexible underfoot protection plate and a Powerflow+ midsole for energy return, plus durable upper materials that repel water and hold tough against prickly vegetation. “Following on our pioneering use of graphene in running, hiking and fitness footwear, we are now the first brand to use a Twin-Spike design in shoes for orienteers and off-trail runners, all of whom face unpredictable terrain that is often hidden by vegetation,” explains Inov-8 COO Michael Price. “By increasing the number of spikes on each pair compared to previous models and configuring them in a way that allows the twin spikes to work in tandem, we have boosted grip levels and given these athletes the confidence to attack unpredictable offtrail terrain.”
Cup was a seven-month long challenge offered to all 361 Degrees specialty run retail partners. The league consisted of teams made up of store associates from the authorized retailers. The teams competed at local races to win their respective region’s division and the opportunity to run a final race during the Carlsbad 5000 and take home the coveted $50,000 prize purse. The Regional winners each raced two verifiable chip 5K races consisting of six to eight team members. The top two men’s and women’s times where aggregately combined for the final leaderboard times. The winners: USA North Division - Gazelle Sports of Grand Rapids, MI USA East Division - Charlotte Running Company of Charlotte, NC USA West Division - Run Republic of Walnut, CA. Canada Division - City Park Runners of Winnipeg, Canada
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running shorts Hoka Heads Into Apparel, Unveils Ten9 Trail Shoe
CONTINUING AN ACTIVE 2020 SO far, Hoka One One recently unveiled its new apparel collection, followed up by the introduction of its unique Ten9 trail shoe. * Available only online, a 27-piece collection from Hoka One One marks the shoe company’s first serious foray into the apparel and accessories markets. The collection includes tops, socks and hats, among other items, along with men’s and women’s lifestyle pieces for casual wear. Sustainability is a major part of the collection, which is aimed at runners, walkers, fitness-seekers and outdoor adventurers. The Unisex Puffy Jacket insulation is made with PrimaLoft, which contains 100 percent post-consumer recycled content, and all performance tops are made with Polartec Power Dry fabric, which consists of at least 50 percent recycled fibers. The new line’s launch collection features 27 pieces for men and women, including running and fitness staples such as tops, tights, shorts, socks and hats, as well as casual lifestyle pieces. 22
* Aiming at the niche downhill trail running market, Hoka One One this month introduced its Ten9 ultra-size shoe, which, the company says, features “never-seen-before
midsole geometries and a new wider and innovative platform designed to maximize ground contact for a smoother, more stable and efficient cruise over challenging terrain and distances.” The Ten9 looks to provide stepped forward balance and grip in addition to a unique geometry that helps to control the heel. In essence, the shoe provides runners with a smoother transition from heel to toe, especially on an incline or decline. One feature that will appeal to ulta-runners is a unique Lycra vamp that adjusts to deal with foot swelling over longer distances.
RUNNING INSIGHT CLASSIFIEDS ... POSITION AVAILABLE
Feetures New England Territory Manager Feetures is seeking a qualified individual to be its Territory Manager in New England. The Territory Manger will lead all of our sales efforts in the New England territory which includes Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The primary objective will be strengthening our business in this territory with all existing and potential new accounts. This position will report to our National Sales Manager. For more information and the complete job description: https://feetures.box.com/s/6ql0dh0c21n7dmfkbevs0xwhje1yskga
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