Running Insight 3.2.2020

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MARCH 2, 2020

. O C NG I N N U R 10 N Y N L K OW O D O R S B UBLE DO The Subtle Art of Store Design 4 The Running Store of the Future 16 Fleet Feet Unveils Drop Shop 20 TRE 20 Planning Underway 22

Olympic Trials Marathons Coverage 2

Running to Tokyo Shoe hype stole the spotlight at U.S. Olympic Trials Marathons in Atlanta on Saturday. / By Brian Metzler


lthough February was a tumultuous month for the running shoe industry with the coronavirus disrupting production and shipping in China, every brand had their moment in the sun as the excitement of the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon faded into March. The results of the men’s and women’s Olympic Trials races on Feb. 29 in Atlanta had both expected outcomes – notably Galen Rupp winning the men’s race and the hype and prevalence Nike Alphafly Next% shoes – and plenty of encouraging unexpected outcomes — new and familiar faces on the Olympic Team, Oiselle and Tracksmith dominating the apparel worn in the race and new shoes from Saucony, Brooks and Hoka One One making impressive debuts. While most observers figured Rupp would make the team and likely win the men’s race – which he did in an impressive 2:09:20 – it would have been nearly impossible to pick the rest of the U.S. roster correctly. Jake Riley and Adbi Abdiraham turned in impressive comeback races to round out the men’s team, while Aliphine Tuliamuk was somewhat of a surprise winner in the women’s race (2:27:23). Along with Tuliamuk, Molly Seidel and Sally Kipyego ran determined races to give the U.S. a strong, talented, even if unlikely, women’s trio for the Tokyo Olympics. Whether the Tokyo Olympics actually happen – given the growing fears of the spread of the coronavirus – was an emerging story the moment the races finished, but so too was all of the new running shoe hype. Nike famously gave all of the 650 runners who ran the races a free pair of its much-hyped green and white Alphafly Next% shoes in the days before the event and, although not every runner wore the cartoonish, thickly cushioned shoes with carbon-fiber plates, plenty of others opted for Nike Vaporfly 4% or Nike Zoom X Vaporfly Next% shoes. The Swoosh also got a nice boost from the NBC broadcast crew. The Alphafly Next% ($275) officially went on sale at at 10:07 a.m. ET, about 2

The massive women’s field led to somewhat surprising winners, while the men’s race sent a strong contingent to Tokyo led by pre-race favorite Galen Rupp.

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The big winner in Atlanta: Nike Alphafly Next%

THE LEADERBOARD Women 1. Aliphine Tuliamuk, Hoka Rocket X 2. Molly Seidel, Saucony Endorphin Pro 3. Sally Kipyego, Nike Zoom X Vaporfly Next% 4. Desi Linden, Brooks Hyperion Elite 5. Laura Thweatt, Saucony Endorphin Pro Men 1. Galen Rupp, Nike Alphafly Next% 2. Jake Riley, Nike Alphafly Next% 3. Abdi Abdirahman, Nike Zoom X Vaporfly Next% 4. Lenny Korir, Nike Alphafly Next% 5. Augustus Maiyo, Nike Zoom X Vaporfly Next%


two hours before the races started and within 15 minutes later they were sold out. By the next morning, the shoes could be found selling on for more than $1100 per pair. Brooks, Hoka and Saucony also gained some of the new-shoe spotlight. Although Desi Linden just missed her third-straight Olympic berth wearing the Hyperion Elite ($250), her fourthplace finish in the still gave the shoe plenty of credibility. Saucony lau nche d its Endorphin Pro ($200) at a big Thursday night event at Big

Peach Running Company and then Seidel gave the shoe instant fame with an unforgettable, 2:27:31, runner-up performance in her marathon debut. Hoka kept its new Rocket X ($200) under wraps until just after the race. Tuliamuk wore them on her way to winning the women’s race and so did Stephanie Bruce (sixth) and Kellyn Taylor (eighth), as well as Martin Hehir (eighth) and Scott Fauble (12th) in the men’s race. Meanwhile, ASICS had two 30-second TV spots for its forthcoming MetaRacer during NBC’s broadcast, although Sara Hall (DNF) and Lindsay Flanagan (12th) didn’t have the results the brand was banking on. New Balance had the least visibility with its new shoes, but a few runners sporting pairs of Fuel Cell TC shoes, including pre-race favorite Emily Sisson (DNF). As far as athletes go, Riley might turn out to the biggest winner. One of many unsponsored runners to finish in the top 10 in the men’s field, Riley, a Hansons-Brooks runner from 2011-2016, turned down a limited and very modest contract with a shoe brand in the days prior to the race and gambled on his chances of making the team. The 32-year-old from Boulder, brought his own Next% shoes to Atlanta and wound up running a new PR (2:10:02) in the free Alphafly shoes, but he now figures to sign a more lucrative deal or the remainder of 2020. For now, it will be interesting to see which of the new shoes emerge as the leaders as the shoebuying season heats up at running stores before the Boston and London marathons in mid-April and also if the $200-and-over price tag will become the new norm in running shoes. n © 2020 Diversified Communications


The Subtle Art Of Store Design A primer on how run retailers can offer more through merchandising and design. / By Holly Wiese, 3Dots Design


esides great service, product and local knowledge, what else are you offering your customers? That is the number one question we ask our clients when they call us about a store remodel or design project. Your customers already know that you sell shoes and apparel and likely provide them with great service, but is that enough nowadays? I would argue to say absolutely not. When is the last time you’ve walked out of your store, opened the front door as if you’re entering for the very first time and tried to assess your store experience as a first-time customer? I recommend that all store owners try this exercise — soon. When you walk in for the very “first time,” I wonder if it is clear to you where the men’s product stops and the women’s starts. Are you able to stop for a brief moment right inside the door to take the whole space in, whether it’s a 1500- or 6000-square-foot space, so you have clear lines of sight to chart out your plan for exploration of the whole space? Is there anything that draws your eye throughout the store to notice some key focal points strategically placed or are you immediately lulled into a trance of messy product confusion, where nutrition is crammed in next to socks, next to shoes and with brand signs dating back to the 1980s stuffed in

every square inch, in between medals you won in college and race bibs from the first 10K you ever ran? Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy some old running memorabilia as much as the next potential customer, but there’s an art to making it look intentional in your store as opposed to just squeezing it in like a yellow pages ad, wherever you may have an empty square inch on the wall. These are some of the subtle nuances of well-designed stores that owners have

Clear sight lines and strong focal points at the Fleet Feet flagship store, Carrboro, NC.

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thought through and strategically implemented. There’s a reason you walk in to a Target to buy a notebook but leave with a cart full of items without even knowing what hit you. There are no coincidences in great retail. It’s very strategic — from the vibe you feel as soon as you open the door, to the signage, lighting and fixtures, to the traffic flow that’s created by the layout. And it continues all the way down to how every piece of product is hung on hooks, fixtures or folded on shelves.



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Store Design (continued)

Before and After: Top, before remodel shot of Fleet Feet Montclair shows a cluttered floor that makes it difficult to focus on things. After a remodel (bottom) the store features clean merchandising and categories defined by bold focal points.

Sound overwhelming? Let’s break it down in to a few key areas that you can sink your teeth into. General Store Layout Tips Have you stepped back and actually developed a logical strategy for what product categories go where in your store? If your answer is no, here are a few important but simple things to consider. • Balance throughout the space. If you have your three busiest categories all placed very close to each other in the store,


you’re likely not doing a very good job of creating balance in your traffic flow. For instance, we like to separate men’s and women’s footwear so that you can spread out the traffic in the space. Nobody likes to feel crowded when they’re shopping and having footwear separated by gender helps give everybody some breathing room in the store. • Spacing between your floor fixtures. Ideally, you’d like to have 36-40 inches between each fixture, but you can go as tight as 30 inches if you’re really short on space. Any closer than that

and you’ll make your customers feel uncomfortable as they walk through the crowded floor and, consequently, they’ll avoid browsing altogether. The less they browse, the less they spend. • Product adjacency. Have you been strategic about complementary product categories being merchandised near each other? Make it easy for your customers to add on their own sales instead of forcing them to dig through your displays to find what they’re looking for. A si m ple m i st a ke t h a t we frequently see is people

merchandising their nutrition next to body lubricant or detergent products, both of which are obviously not edible. Yes, they come in similar type packaging, which is all the more reason they need to be separated in your displays. I once attended a bike race where they were announcing all day that the chamois butter sample packs were not to be eaten like the Clif Bar frosting samples that were in a similar package. You see where this is going. An example of a great product adjacency might be placing your compression category next to your medical recovery. They are potentially serving a similar customer need. We also like to double merchandise hot-selling socks near the checkout since that’s an impulse buy that never fails. • Sightlines. Can you stand at the front entrance of your store and clearly see all of your product categories? Do you have fixtures, walls or displays blocking key signage or product? These types of things can both frustrate your customer as well as invite them to steal a small accessory or energy bar that may be tempting. • Focal Points. A key piece of the great store design puzzle are focal points to silently pull your customers throughout the store. These may be large signs, graphics, accent colored walls, mannequin displays or any other sort of visual cue that helps your customer better navigate your space. The key is that these things are happening without the customer even knowing. I go back to that Target example. It’s like a Jedi mind trick,

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Store Design (continued) where your customers are getting drawn to areas that will appeal to them and, before they know it, they’ve got a stack of irresistible add-on sales because your focal points grabbed their attention as they explored the space. The Role of Signage, Lighting Often overlooked by retailers, signage and lighting can have a huge impact on the customer experience. In addition to good general lighting (the lights that actually make your store bright when you flip the switch), track lighting to bring life to the wall and feature displays are equally, if not more, important to the success of your store design. Professional lighting is well worth the investment and running to Home Depot to grab something that’s on sale doesn’t cut the mustard in today’s retail world. Signage is a category that is often an afterthought, yet it’s the one easy storytelling process that can take place while your staff members are busy helping other customers. Clients often say to me, “Well, don’t you think our customers know what a pair of gloves are without a sign that tells them?” To which I reply, “Sure thing, but if they came in looking for shoes and as they’re waiting for their size to come out, they look around the store and see a sign catches their eye that says gloves, it might get them thinking about taking a look before heading out since it’s cold outside.” The idea is to quietly plant ideas in your customers’ heads. Get them thinking above and beyond the one thing that brought them into your store in the first place.


A well-curated apparel display in a running store makes it easy to shop with product close to the mannequin to entice shoppers.

Finally, apparel — the hardest category for all run specialty stores to merchandise and sell. How do you sell apparel in your store when your customers can easily find that same product online or in any number of other stores? Well that’s easy — get them excited! Remember, no customer has ever walked into a running store planning on buying a new pair of shoes, new shorts with a matching top, a cool new hat, a vest and a couple pairs of socks. Nope, they come in to buy those shoes and it’s your job as a store owner or merchandiser to get them emotionally connected to your displays and so excited about the apparel you have that they’re compelled to bring some home. We’ve had incredible success with this category in run specialty stores by bringing in mannequins (lots of mannequins), merchandising full outfits with accessories (yes, put handhelds on the mannequins as

well as hats, socks and anything else that fits) and by making the apparel section look very well curated instead of like a dumping ground for clothing. By “very well curated,” I mean be selective as to what you’re putting on display. You simply can’t be everything for everybody, so figure out who

your target customer is and be very intentional on your apparel buying and merchandising for that market. Feature a couple hot new outfits on your mannequins and put the stock for these outfits right next to them in a clean, simple display. The moment your walls and fixtures become lined with apparel, your customers get overwhelmed and decide it’s easier to avoid it. Less is more and doing the work for your customer in this category is what’s going to inspire them to buy more. Remember, your customers are the same ones who are shopping at Whole Foods, Anthropologie, Apple stores and all the other high-end retailers out there who are now competing with you for their dollars. Give them the same high-end retail experience when they enter your store that they’ve come to expect elsewhere and you’ll give them a reason to keep coming back for more instead of going elsewhere or online. n

About the author Holly Wiese has more than 25 years experience in the field of visual merchandising and retail design in specialty running, specialty cycling, outdoor, active apparel, women’s fashion and collegiate bookstores. Before starting 3 Dots Design, Wiese consulted in the bicycle industry where she oversaw all aspects of retail design and visual merchandising for Giant Bicycle. In addition, Wiese has designed and merchandised for such brands as Pearl Izumi, Shimano, Fleet Feet, Electra Bicycle, Cervelo, Moving Comfort, Club Ride and Hind Sportswear, as well as a vast number of specialty run and bike retailers across the country. Recent design projects for 3 Dots Design include the newest Fleet Feet flagship store location in Austin, TX. For more:;

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Doubling Down in BKN Design has helped Brooklyn Running’s second store in New York become a destination. / By Daniel P. Smith


ake no little plans,” famed American architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham once declared. Embracing Burnham’s enterprising spirit, running specialty retailers Matthew Rosetti and Matthew Byrne are at it again. After entering the run specialty game in 2010 with the Scranton Running Co. in northeast Pennsylvania, Rosetti and Byrne later added the Brooklyn Running Co. in New York City (2013) and Valley Running Co. in Forty Fort, PA (2017). Last October, the former Scranton High School teammates expanded their retail portfolio with a second Brooklyn Running Co. door – this one located in the New York City borough’s Park Slope neighborhood. Located a 5K away from their flagship Brooklyn Running Co. shop in Williamsburg, the 2000-square-foot Park Slope unit embraces a more modern aesthetic dominated by painted white brick walls, sleek lines, an illuminative skylight and a prominently branded moss wall – a stark contrast from the dark tones, reclaimed wood and whiskey bar feel of the Williamsburg showroom. “The Park Slope location is cleaner and brighter, a blank palette, which is intentional, so that the product serves as the decorative art,” Rosetti says. “It feels more hospitable and welcoming, especially for our female customers.” Rosetti discusses the motivation to expand, the lessons he and Byrne carried into their new endeavor and creating a sustainable, multi-door retail operation. What prompted the opening of a second Brooklyn Running Co. location? This move boiled down to four things. First and foremost, the strength of the Brooklyn Running Co. brand. Certain metrics – both quantifiable and anecdotal – showed that what we were doing in Brooklyn was resonating with people, so much so that we could 10

Brooklyn Running’s new Park Slope location features a clean, bright look that fits in with the neighborhood.

open a new location, leverage that brand strength and it would make an impact. Second, after years of pundit pronouncements that brick-and-mortar retail was on the path to extinction, we have seen clear evidence that the consumer preference pendulum continues to swing back in favor of supporting traditional, but evolved, multichannel, experiential retail business models. We believe run specialty, for those executing well, is in a healthy place and part of the conversation. If you can cultivate an experience, an environment that transcends the transactional through both service and events, then there can be a place for you in the modern retail space. Third, we felt we were getting our back of the house to a level that we could scale. We have much room for improvement in this

regard, but if we didn’t believe our professional house was in sufficient enough order, then we wouldn’t have moved forward with a second Brooklyn location. Finally, we found a great landlord with whom we could build a partnership, one who had a community and local-driven vision for his neighborhood of properties. If you’re simply going to pick a spot on a map because you feel that neighborhood is underserved, then you’re going to struggle in New York City. The Park Slope location and this landlord relationship gives us an opportunity to build our business in a manner that we hope is sustainable for years to come. What did you learn from your first three stores, both in Pennsylvania and Brooklyn, that you

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Brooklyn Running Co. (continued) traffic and has helped to break down that invisible barrier so many see between the sidewalk and a run specialty shop entrance – the perception that running stores are just for fast people.

Flexible racking and wall displays make the new Brooklyn location more functional to focus on hot product.

applied to this second Brooklyn Running Co. door? Above all else, how critically important the basic blocking and tackling of retail are. You have to be able to deliver for your customers time and again with professional, high-touch service, the right product mix and an engaging environment while also constantly monitoring the financial health of your business. We’ve come to believe that 2000-2500-square feet is the right store size from both a rent perspective as well as maximizing square footage. That’s just big enough to allow for events and to provide customers some breathing room to shop, but also brings some constraints to the stockroom and forces some real physical inventory constraints beyond any GMROI (gross margin return on investment) or turn goals you may have set for yourself. It’s a bit like the tail wagging the dog. 12

We also saw how important it is to have flexible racking and merchandise displays. In our first store, we went with customized shelving, racks and displays. They look beautiful, but don’t function well at all and that has proven limiting. It’s better to go with the basics that are functional and flexible. In what ways are you trying to differentiate this second Brooklyn Running Co. shop from its older retail sibling in Brooklyn? While we initially chose our Williamsburg location as a pure retail play in a trendy and growing neighborhood, the Park Slope shop gives us a chance to host events much more efficiently and to take advantage of nearby Prospect Park, one of the borough’s best running spots. We already have five or six groups running out of the Park Slope shop every week and we designed the store with this in mind. We

have artificial grass up front with PT tools and rollers to pull run groups away from the sales floor as well as a big wall of cubbies as you enter the stockroom that creates a community clubhouse feel. This provides great optics for customers, too. When you have runners hanging out doing their thing, it feels authentic, like a running shop should feel. We’ve also created a special section for fresh product footwear drops that sits to the left of the main shoe wall. This is our way of showcasing newer, eye-popping product. Just like the Williamsburg location, the Park Slope shop aims to be a clubhouse, yes, but also a clearinghouse of information for anyone and everyone, especially beginners and those new to the sport. Plastered on the front window of both locations is the same message: “Beginners are our specialty.” This has made a discernible difference in foot

What early hurdles have you encountered with multiple locations in the same market and how are you addressing those challenges? While we’ve learned from our experience with two doors in northeast Pennsylvania, we’re still adapting how to make operations efficient between two shops in a place like New York City, including even seemingly basic things like swapping stock. Buying is also a challenge because Williamsburg and Park Slope, bizarre as it might sound given their proximity, are very different markets. One is skinny jeans and well-groomed upper lip hair; the other is dad jeans and strollers. This demands constant attention, tweaking and monitoring. Staffing, though, is the biggest challenge. Our people are our brand, so we’re continuing to professionalize how we hire and train without turning the place into a corporate drone factory. New York City offers us a continuous supply of very talented people, but they tend to turn over quicker. We have a significant employee manual, thorough training process and a long shadowing period. Even as we add new faces, we hope to create and maintain parity so we’re executing on the customer experience every time. Even though these stores are only three miles apart, we didn’t expect much customer cannibalization and running a zip code © 2020 Diversified Communications

Brooklyn Running Co. (continued) model gave us hope that we’d be tapping, mostly, an entirely new market. We’re already seeing that hold true with encouraging numbers.

There are already a number of groups that call the new Brooklyn Running Co. home and the store makes it a point to welcome new runners to the space.

As you move forward with four running stores in your portfolio, what specific elements are you most closely monitoring? Financial liquidity and/or appropriate capitalization to accommodate our working capital growth. Companies go out of business because they run out of cash, first and foremost, not necessarily because of profitability problems. We’re also dabbling with e-commerce and will continue to do so. Most people hit the shop button on our website simply to

pre-shop the store — to see what we have, the price points and product mix. Not having a robust e-commerce platform, even if it doesn’t generate material direct sales, hurts us because people go elsewhere or don’t go anywhere at all and just buy online. Outreach is something we’re looking to improve as well. We’re very good “in the box.” Customers come in and we nail it, but we need to strengthen outreach. Who’s going to leave the store to visit the podiatrists, the physical therapists and other professionals who can be partners and advocates for our brand? We’re pushing to change this behavior and set more clear outreach plans and goals as we grow the staff. n


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The Running Store of the Future

Insiders provide their insight into what it will look like in the next decade. / By Daniel P. Smith


but I know we’re heading down that path to personalization and trying to solve this by meeting the customer where they are. Does that mean a 3D printer in back producing customized options? It’s possible.

Burke Beck, co-owner, Red Coyote Running and Fitness, Oklahoma City, OK The big challenge we’re facing is that the customer is pickier than ever. They want what they want, in the color they want, when they want it. Now, I don’t know exactly what the solutions to this will look like,

Brian Jones, co-owner Playmakers, Okemos, MI What was once considered a luxury for the store owner will become a requirement in the future. Store environments will be enhanced with technology and in-store experiences. The fixturing and details that were once reserved for branded stores and the best of retail will be common in the run specialty environment. Retail and entertainment will blend to give the consumer not only the merchandise they are looking for, but also an interactive experience. Scanning technology will help with not only insoles and footwear, but apparel as well. The level of service will be elevated, including scheduled private fittings by dedicated career-oriented staff members. Retail wages will continue to go up and the best stores will find a way to attract the best talent. Stores will partner at a higher level with a handful of key vendors rather than what today can be upwards of 10-plus footwear vendors. Retailers will assist with online returns for these key partnerships and help to make the purchase process seamless. Vendors will support retailers with the ability to immediately replenish inventory and drop ship unique sizes and colors to the consumer on behalf of the run specialty store. Finally, the very best stores will invest in dedicated community spaces with unique activities bringing the local community

ne decade ago, as the running specialty industry ticked upward at a rather rapid clip, it would’ve been tough to predict what the 2010s would eventually deliver. While some saw the accelerated, intensifying march of online commerce, including aggressive direct-to-consumer efforts from some of the run specialty channel’s marquee players, coming, other industry-altering winds weren’t as easy to forecast. To wit: Hoka One One was but an infant brand in 2010, while On hadn’t yet been conceived by its Swiss co-founders. Over the last decade, technology – both on the product and digital sides – has surged; stores have opened and closed, including big-box names like The Sports Authority; and run specialty’s overall performance climbed and dipped and then steadied itself. Change was the one constant and the smart money sits on the current decade’s winds shifting just as fast. “There is a lot that is changing and is going to change not because it needs to but simply because it is,” Saucony VP–U.S. sales Joe Toth says. Running retailers, industry insiders and brand representatives offer their best guesses on what the run specialty retail environment will look like in 2030.


“What was once considered a luxury for the store owner will become a requirement in the future. Store environments will be enhanced with technology and in-store experiences. The fixturing and details that were once reserved for branded stores and the best of retail will be common in the run specialty environment.” BRIAN JONES, CO-OWNER PLAYMAKERS

together on a daily basis [and] key vendor partnerships will help to make this happen. Parker Karnan, GM, Karnan Associates We’ve been talking about running specialty and online as channels. By 2030, we won’t be talking about channels, but rather retail — and there will be good retail and bad retail. For good retail, the recipe will be personalization and experience. That means running stores personalizing

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The Store of the Future (continued)

“Not so long ago there was this ominous conversation about run specialty’s future, but I’m convinced specialty’s here to stay. In fact, given consumer habits and the desire for something unique, local and experiential, specialty is making a resurgence that will be amplified so long as we all deliver on service and experience.” JOE TOTH, SAUCONY

communication to customers; having systems – POS, email and race registration – that all talk and work together; inventory visibility and sales options that offer convenience to customers. The customer wants it today and will expect it tomorrow. Terry Schalow, executive director Running Industry Association There’s little doubt in my mind that the running store of the future will possess an omni-channel element in which customers can shop with the store any way they want, whether that’s online or in the store. The running store of the future will also be big on outreach, connecting 18

with customers whenever and however they can, offering not only purchases, but experiences that help people feel more connected to the store, such as running tourism, coaching or nutritional advice that, it should be noted, offer stores potential revenue streams as well. The best stores will create a holistic running experience that pivots around connections to the store.

gait analyzed and preferences documented. Then, they’d pick the shoe style, including upper pattern and drop as well as midsole material depending on the ride they like and the colors they want. Then, they’ll pay for their purchase. Several days – or even hours – later, the shoe would be ready for pick-up. Completely customized and made locally and sustainably for them.

Holly Wiese, founder, 3 Dots Design “It’s pretty undeniable that stores will get smaller and will stock less inventory. With a combination of on-hand inventory, digital kiosks or online ordering portals, customers will be able to visit the store to touch and feel some items while others will be ordered. You simply don’t need as big of a store if that becomes the prevailing model, which will also be more convenient and easier to shop for customers and will require less financial outlay.

Joe Toth, VP–U.S. sales, Saucony Not so long ago there was this ominous conversation about run specialty’s future, but I’m convinced specialty’s here to stay. In fact, given consumer habits and the desire for something unique, local and experiential, specialty is making a resurgence that will be amplified so long as we all deliver on service and experience. We’ll see more stores doubling down on community, opening with beer taps or cafes attached so the store serves as a community center and social hub. I see running stores providing the service of specialty with the endless aisle selection of online – only at more lightning speed. It will be a Warby Parker-like experience where if you want a color that’s not in the physical store, then the store will be able to have it at your house tomorrow. This isn’t in run specialty yet because it requires resources, but as this shopping experience becomes more accessible and the standard, it will work its way into the channel. And I see more business integration between retailers and vendors. We’re going to become supportive in this type of seamless retail environment, getting the consumer from our social media right to the retailer.

Stephanie Blozy, owner, Fleet Feet West Hartford West Hartford, CT When I think of the running store of the future, I think of a store that has a workshop in lieu of backstock. As technology allows for more economical product customization, I envision specialty run stores having 3D printers that create custom insoles, midsole molds that allow for personalized or custom-injected midsoles with the preferred amount of cushioning and stability and sewing machines that weave the upper to color and fit specifications. Customers would come to the store to get their feet scanned for length, width and girth, have their

“The tug of war will still exist between leading running shoe brands, who will continue to seek growth through their own direct-toconsumer business, and leading run specialty retailers, who will be able to leverage their coveted retail floor space.” ISAAC ALVEAR, 361 DEGREES USA

Isaac “Ike” Alvear, head of sales, 361 Degrees USA While we as a collective group of both vendors and retailers aspire to evolve, we will be challenged based on a simple premise that the majority of our business will depend on footwear sales to humans with no man or woman having the same size, shape of foot or gait cycle. This will require us to still understand the best method to provide fitting and proper biomechanical gait analysis. The tug of war will still exist between leading running shoe brands, who will continue to seek growth through their own direct-to-consumer business, and leading run specialty retailers, who will be able to leverage © 2020 Diversified Communications

their coveted retail floor space. The successful run specialty retailers will continue to elevate their consumer experience and expertise on all aspects of running to their community. Store associates no longer will be just sales associates, but evolve into a collection of educators, fitness training leaders and master fitters, creating opportunities to become accredited professionals.

“I see the running store becoming more tech friendly and mobile, including the process and transaction being handled directly on the floor, and product become way more advanced.” CHRIS HUGHES TRACK SHACK

Chris Hughes, director of retail operations and special events, Track Shack, Orlando, FL I see the running store becoming more tech friendly and mobile, including the process and transaction being handled directly on the floor, and product become way more advanced. I can’t even imagine what high-end marathon racing footwear will look like in a decade.

But whatever the future might bring, I don’t see the desire for personal touch going away. Service is the most crucial element for running stores today and will remain so in 2030, though we will all have to adjust to what that means, how it looks and how much technology is involved in that process. At its core, though, the running store will remain a high-touch experience rooted in a community feel, personalization of service and experience. Dave Egan, founder, Perpetual Motion NW Retail is always changing – sometimes for the better, sometimes not. We should lean into innovation and creativity, but not based on needing to innovate for innovation’s sake but rather accounting for benefits. So, I wonder about two things

in the future of run specialty retail: the future of innovative product in the channel and how retailers will get outside their doors to drive the next generation of runners. In the mountain bike category, 29 and 27.5-inch wheels as well as fat tires came along as innovative solutions to minimize abuse to the body. How does running footwear find its own innovation that keeps people in the game longer? Then, what are stores doing to cultivate new runners, especially youth, and empowering them to commit to a regular running and fitness routine every day? Time is a valuable thing we all hunger for, but the smart retailers won’t be staying within their four walls. They’ll be open to innovative solutions on the product side and will be actively working to cultivate new customers. n

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MAY 17-19, 2020 Atlanta Evergreen Marriott / Stone Mountain, GA Interested sponsors, please contact Christina Henderson,


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Drop Everything! Novel Fleet Feet Drop Shop concept in Portland opening March 5 with zero inventory.


here’s a revolutionary new concept coming to run specialty retail and the difference is that it includes no actual inventory — but more selection than could ever be carried by a traditional store. To understand the new Fleet Feet Drop Shop to open this month in Portland, OR, it is necessary to start at the beginning with Wade Pannell, the CEO and owner of Fleet Feet Pacific Northwest, who runs the business with his partner in business and life, CFO Julie Pannell. They own stores in Spokane; Spokane Valley, WA; North Spokane, WA; Tacoma WA; Bonney Lake, WA; Renton, WA, NW Portland, OR; Vancouver, WA; Lake Oswego, OR; and Meridian, ID. And now there is the Fleet Feet Drop Shop, what Pannell, calls “a continuation of our brand promise to offer personalized outfitting with our fit id experience for every customer who walks in the door.” Simply put, Fleet Feet Drop Shop is a retail store with an inventory-less model. The store keeps one pair each of the 35 top-selling shoe models in stock, in every size they come in. This model gives the customer the ability to find – and more importantly, try on – the product they want and have it arrive at their doorstep in the color they desire, in two days. There will be fewer styles than a traditional store — in its average store, Fleet Feet Northwest carries approximately 65 (10 in Wide) styles in men’s and women’s. In the Drop Shop, there will be 35 styles (15 in Wide), a number determined to be most efficient since 85 percent of its current sales are covered by those top 35 styles. There will be more colors available to purchase than at its traditional store — one or two colors will expand to three to five. 20

The urban Portland location of the Fleet Feet Drop Shop makes the concept work for its local clientele as construction wraps up for the planned opening March 5.

“We have the ability to really focus on a value proposition for the customer that’s centered around selection and convenience

— two factors that make shopping online so attractive,” he explains. Pannell developed the idea of the Fleet Feet Drop Shop after observing during his eight years in the run specialty business that the two largest reasons for dissatisfaction with the in-store experience were missing the customer’s size in the shoe they want to try on, and lack of color choice, both of which stem from the physical constraints of the store and how much inventory can be on-hand at one time. “The value proposition to the customer is clear cut — drop in, try on the shoe in the size and width you need, choose the color you want and have it delivered to your doorstep in two days,” Pannell explains. The concept works because customers are already used to this endless aisle from shopping online and now

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they can have that same selection, but experience the product ahead of time before purchasing. Pannell believes the time and location are right for the Drop Shop concept because of the many challenges affecting the urban brick-and-mortar retailers — among them, constantly escalating real estate prices, increased drive times from congested roadways and, last but not least, the availability of products online elsewhere in every size and color desired. An urban brick-and-mortar store has trouble competing in that environment. So now the Drop Shop model maximizes accessibility and convenience for its customer base with a smaller footprint store that

is just within walking distance. Pannell explains that while the traditional Fleet Feet store excels in the suburbs or a mid-sized city in the middle of the country, for more urban markets, and specifically in Portland, the challenge became an opportunity to offer a variation on the traditional Fleet Feet model that accommodates for the realities of urban retail, sets the business up for success and doesn’t compromise the brand experience. As a result, the target customer remains the same — the person seeking out the best personalized footwear solutions for them, whether that’s for performance, comfort or pain relief. All of these customers visit Fleet Feet

Regular Fleet Feet services, including fit id, will be at the Drop Shop to assure that the company’s service model remains solid. The difference: One pair in all sizes of its 35 top-selling shoes will be in stock for fitting.


NW’s current stores and Pannell expects they will regularly visit the Drop Shop as well. He certainly does not anticipate any decrease in traffic in his other stores because of the Drop Shop. “It’s a tremendous complement in that it’s providing an additional outpost for customers seeking products so that we have a wellrounded ecosystem of Fleet Feet stores in the Portland market,” he says. “With Drop Shop, the customer experience is rooted in product availability and the convenience of knowing they will get the shoe and color they want in two days delivered to their doorstep.” And at the same time, his larger footprint stores will still be there to provide their neighborhoods with the same experience they have ever since they opened. They will continue to be fullservice stores where you can leave with a pair of footwear the same day. The buying for all of Fleet Feet Pacific Northwest’s stores, including the Drop Shop, is centralized in Spokane.The distribution center is located there as well and will service its traditional stores will weekly fills and the Drop Shop customer with no-charge direct shipping to whatever location they prefer — home, work or a store. One of the vital factors in the success of the Drop Shop will be the acceptance of the concept by its major vendors and Pannell is heartened by the experience so far. “The footwear vendor community loves the service provided by Fleet Feet and when looking at the Drop Shop model, most vendors see the opportunity to fulfill more product to the customer in exactly the size and color they need,” he says. “The Drop

Simply put, Fleet Feet Drop Shop is a retail store with an inventoryless model. The store keeps one pair each of the 35 top-selling shoe models in stock, in every size they come in. This model gives the customer the ability to find – and more importantly, try on – the product they want and have it arrive at their doorstep in the color they desire, in two days. Shop removes the guesswork of ordering a new shoe online and provides a competitive set of options in models and colors. We expect to see significant growth for every vendor involved in the Drop Shop by fulfilling more options to our guests.” In addition, the Fleet Feet Store Support Team has been heavily involved in the marketing, logos, branding and development of the Drop Shop. Fleet Feet corporate views this as an opportunity to test many of its current assumptions about the footwear consumer, the urban retail environment and back-of-house operations and from there, see what types of additional markets could benefit from this concept. With the opening slated for March 5, Pannell expects to have a good idea of the success of the Fleet Feet Drop Shop concept fairly quickly. “Our KPIs are pretty standard in that we’ll look at and compare revenue, UPTs, DPTs, return rate, Net Promoter Score and profitability of the Drop Shop model both as a standalone and compared to traditional models,” Pannell explains. n © 2020 Diversified Communications

15 Years Running: TRE 2020 Planning is Underway O

n behalf of Diversified Communications and myself, I want to thank you for your continued support of The Running Event. We are already enthusiastically planning

for TRE 2020, another year in Austin and the event’s 15th Anniversary! The Run Specialty Channel continues to thrive. You are a special group that encourages and inspires your communities to develop a love and passion for running. And in the process, you’re changing lives for the better. You’ve also inspired me and our team to be even better. We recently finished our TRE19 debrief/2020 planning meetings in the Diversified Communications offices in Portland, ME, and we left with one main initiative — to better serve this industry. We read and analyzed your feedback in the post-event survey and we’re listening and acting accordingly. Here are a few takeaways that we will put into place in 2020: • We will continue to work on the education. You and your store are unique and Christina Henderson Event Director

have different educational needs. We hear you and we will continue to adapt our presentations, workshops and panels. • The two-day trade show was productive and will remain and we will fine tune the hours to better suit both retailers and exhibitors. • Effort will be put into keeping the Trade Show floor vibrant, exciting and productive. In the process we will give more run specialty stores more reasons to attend The Running Event. There are additional initiatives in the works for The Running Event 2020, Running Insight and Best Running Stores 2020 that I will be excited to share with you in the coming weeks and months. After reading your feedback, I believe we all appreciate and value our industry coming together once a year – now for 15 years running – to see the best of what brands have to offer and to learn from one another. I always welcome your comments, thoughts or suggestions to make what we enjoy working on, and being part of, even better. Call me at 214-263-4706 or email me at I look forward to hearing from you. Best regards, Christina Henderson Event Director

Produced by

Diversified Communications


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Add The Running Event to your 2020 plans! Contact Christina Henderson to reserve a booth.


running shorts New ASICS Campaign Puts Spotlight on Its Athletes A FULLY INTEGRATED MARKETING campaign that includes two new commercial spots featuring ASICS’ team of athletes that debuted on NBC on February 29 serves as the centerpiece of the company’s new 2020 North American “I Move Me” brand marketing campaign. The campaign highlights the ASICS team of athletes, both those who have been with the brand for years and some new faces, in a campaign that will roll out over the next few months. The content showcases not only the brand’s values and heritage, but also highlights the athletes’ journeys and features the latest products. “Launching our new campaign is just the beginning as we look to inspire our core consumers, remind them of our heritage and values, champion our athlete ambassadors and share the quality of our products,” says Koichiro Kodama, CEO of ASICS North America. In the lead-in brand video, consumers are introduced to a montage of 12 ASICS athletes as they prepare and train for events in their respective sports, with a powerful voiceover from Deena Kastor, the U.S. women’s marathon record holder. “I’ve been with ASICS for over 20 years and I’m excited to tell the brand’s story and share its deep heritage with consumers both new and old,” says Kastor, ASICS elite marathoner. “2020 is a big year for the brand and it’s an opportunity for us as athletes

to champion the ‘Sound Mind in a Sound Body’ ethos and inspire that next generation of athletes.” The second brand video champions ASICS’ roster of female runners and brings the consumer on an emotional journey as they are guided through a depiction of the mentality required to succeed through a long season of marathon training. ASICS athletes featured in the campaign include distance runners Kastor, Sara Hall, Emma Bates, Lindsay Flanagan, Diane Nukuri, Diego Estrada and Clayton Young; wrestlers Jordan Burroughs and Adeline Gray; and track and field athletes Kiara

Parker, Kate Hall and Payton Chadwick. Find more on these athletes and others at dedicated athlete page <https://> . Since ASICS is an advertiser of NBC’s coverage of the 2020 Summer Games, the first two commercials debuted during the U.S. Marathon Trials on February 29. The ASICS 2020 I Move Me brand campaign will continue to roll out across broadcast, digital and social channels. Activations and in-store events with ASICS athletes, ambassadors and partners will continue to drive the brand’s message around key global sport and brand moments.

Puma Upping Its Running Game Puma says it plans to increase its investment in the running market into 2021 with a number of its already successful key products, including the Ultra Ride and Speed 600, leading the charge. Also part of the plan is a relaunch of Puma Running, highlighted by more new products, for 2021. In a recent conference call with

financial analysts, CEO Bjorn Gulden admitted that the brand hasn’t “done that much [in running] lately.” But, he added, “We need to be in this category.” On the call Gulden reported that the brand’s Americas region sales rose 17.9 percent in fiscal year 2019, to $2.1 billion. Corporate sales of $5.94 billion, were up 16.7 percent.

North American sales rose 21 percent to $1.53 billion. Direct-to-consumer sales rose 22 percent to $1.51 billion. Footwear sales increased 17 percent, with all segments up double-digits with the exception of Team Sports, which rose single digits but is expected to increase by double digits in FY20 helped by soccer’s Euro Cup and the Tokyo Olympic Games.


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running shorts Wanda Still Looking to Sell Ironman Triathlon Business CHINA-BASED WANDA SPORTS GROUP has confirmed to various business sources that it is in preliminary discussions for a potential sale of its Ironman triathlon business. According to a statement from the company, no agreement has been reached and talks may not result in a deal. Bloomberg News reported earlier this month that the company is working with an adviser and has held discussions with private-equity buyers that expressed interest in the business Previously, Wanda Sports had declined to enter talks with the Professional Triathletes

Organization (PTO), which was believed to be interested in buying the Ironman business last year. PTO said at the time it believed that the over-leveraged capital structure of Wanda Sports has hampered its ability to invest in its business. Dalian Wanda Group Co., the China-based group led by billionaire Wang Jianlin, bought the Ironman business five years ago for $650 million in 2015. Ironman then became part of Wanda Sports. Citing sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg said Wanda Sports is hoping to

raise $1 billion from the sale of the triathlon business, which its parent company Dalian Wanda Group acquired in 2015 when it purchased Ironman’s parent company, World Triathlon Corporation, for $650 million. Again, according to Bloomberg, a few weeks earlier PTO had made a second proposal to enter into discussions with Wanda Sports about acquiring Ironman, stating in a letter sent to the company that it was prepared to consider an all-cash transaction. Wanda rejected the PTO’s first approach in October last year.

Strava Milestones: 50 Million Athletes And Three Billion Activity Uploads Strava passed a significant milestone recently when its athletes shared more than one billion activities in the last 13 months, surpassing three billion total activity uploads to the social fitness community since its founding in 2009. More than 50 million athletes have joined Strava and today about one million new athletes join each month. As its global athletic community grows, the pace of activity uploads from Strava members has also accelerated, reaching 19 million uploads per week in 2019. Since crossing the two billion activity mark in late 2018, Strava has seen average monthly uploads increase by 40 percent. This includes 59 percent more activities uploaded by women, 46 percent more run activity uploads and 41 percent more uploads from outside of the United States. “We founded Strava to connect athletes, through our technology, to the feeling of camaraderie that comes from being on a team,” says Michael Horvath, CEO and co-founder of Strava. “Our employees wake up every day obsessing over our athletes, eager to keep building the innovative experiences that connect them to what motivates them.”

Salomon Teams With Raleigh Distance Project Salomon has entered into a partnership with the Raleigh Distance Project, a team of elite female runners based in Raleigh, NC. Salomon will support the athletes through their training and competition as the official footwear and hydration sponsor alongside Oiselle, the group’s official apparel sponsor. The Raleigh Distance Project’s values of helping aspiring elite distance runners reach their goals, creating enthusiasm for the sport and building the running community, aligns with Salomon’s ethos, particularly as the brand doubles down on its commitment to women. The Raleigh Distance Project began in 2017 when six elite female distance runners came together to pursue their passions as a team. The team members devote time to train together as well as to motivate the larger Raleigh running community by striving to instill joy wherever they go. This community-driven approach to running reflects Salomon’s goal of enabling and inspiring people to play outside, making the partnership an ideal

fit going into the 2020 season. “The women of the Raleigh Distance Project have been an inspiration not just to us here at Salomon, but to the larger running community, since its inception. Their successes illustrate the strength that can be found in community when a group of like-minded, passionate and talented people put their efforts toward


a common goal,” says Erin Cooper, run marketing manager for Salomon in North America. With the launch of the latest Sonic 3 road running footwear collection, as well as the announcement of the redesigned Predict 2 for Fall 2020, Salomon is poised to support the athletes of the Raleigh Distance Project for their racing needs.

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running shorts Diadora Names Poerner to Head U.S. Efforts BRYAN POERNER HAS BEEN NAMED country manager for Diadora USA. In this role, he will oversee all sales, marketing and operations for the brand in North America. Poerner joined Diadora in 2017 as sport sales manager and has spearheaded the brand’s development in the U.S. run specialty market. Under Poerner’s leadership, the brand is now carried in more than 200 run specialty stores around the country. Diadora’s Mythos footwear collection is sold only in the run specialty category and the brand has set up a unique program where revenue from its online consumer direct sales is shared with run specialty accounts. In addition to running, Poerner oversees Diadora’s business in performance tennis, performance soccer and heritage product that pays homage to the brand’s Italian roots and sport classics. “Running will remain a key part of what we do in the U.S. long term,” Poerner says. “This is the direction laid out by our president Enrico Polegato, and we are happy

Des Linden Joins Coros Pro Athlete Team Coros Wearables, makers of GPS watches, has added six athletes to its Pro Athlete Team, led by two-time Olympian and 2018 Boston Marathon champion Des Linden. Other team members include American 25K record holder Parker Stinson, 2018 U.S. Marathon champion Emma Bates and Grandma’s Marathon course record holder Kellyn Taylor, along with rising stars Reed Fischer and Samantha Bluske-Palmer. The athlete signings mark an expansion of the young brand, as it looks to duplicate its success in the trail running market. “Our roots are in Trail and Ultra Running and we have no plans to slow down our contribution to the sport,” explains Coros director of global sales 27

to embrace and accelerate this in North America. Diadora has a great history in running and there is great passion among our executive team for the sport and the role

and marketing Dan Suher. “We also see a fantastic opportunity to expand our commitment to the global running community by partnering with a fantastic group of road-running athletes.” ASICS Invests In Foot Tech Company ASICS Ventures, the investment subsidiary of ASICS Corp., has invested in a Japanese startup called no new folk studio Inc., developer of sensing solution ORPHE Track, which measures and analyzes foot movement. ASICS, working jointly with no new folk studio, is currently developing smart running shoes that give runners real time feedback on the changes in their foot movement. Foot movement data, including number of steps anddistance, cadence and angle of ground contact, are collected and

it will play in our growth.” Gelindo Bordin, the only man to win both the Boston Marathon and an Olympic Gold Medal in the Marathon, is the global director of sport marketing for Diadora and there are numerous other Olympic runners on the global business development team. Poerner was a collegiate runner at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and later a Puma athlete. After graduating college, he produced records and toured the country in a couple of punk rock bands. During this time he also went to work for Puma, where he spent 14 years, and was eventually named national accounts manager. Poerner says Diadora is run in a collaborative fashion that reminds him of his DIY Punk days. “We create what we think is right and bring that to the market. I am lucky to be an environment that allows for that sort of imagination and to have a president who is embraces these ideals. Working with Enrico and the entire Italian team has been one of my greatest joys of my professional career.”

together with biomechanics expertise at ASICS Institute of Sport Science, are analyzed to provide runners feedback on gait analysis, including step length and foot strike pattern. A prototype of the smart running shoes was presented at the ASICS booth at CES 2020 in Las Vegas and ASICS intends to launch its first smart shoes in 2020. No new folk studio Inc. was founded in October 2014 and has conducted multiple proof-of-concept projects with the ASICS Institute of Spor t Science since April 2017 to jointly develop smart shoes that can measure foot movement during running and walking. The company won the Grand Prize in the ASICS Accelerator Program for startups, held from March through July 2019.

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running shorts Three Connecticut High School Girls Suing Over Trans Athletes Policy THREE CONNECTICUT HIGH SCHOOL girls have filed a lawsuit over a policy that allows transgender athletes to participate in sports based on their gender identity. The three – Selina Soule, Chelsea Mitchell, Alanna Smith – claim in their lawsuit the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s (CIAC) policy is a violation of the Title IX act. The policy, they say in the suit, results in “boys displacing girls in competitive track events in Connecticut.” In a statement, the CIAC maingains that the policy was implemented in 2013 and is compliant with state and federal law. In addition, the American Civil Liberties Union said it would seek to join the lawsuit to defend the interests of transgender student athletes.

“Efforts to undermine Title IX by claiming it doesn’t apply to a subset of girls will ultimately hurt all students and compromise the work of ending the long legacy of sex discrimination in sports,” Chase Strangio with the ACLU said in its statement. The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the conservative nonprofit that is representing the plaintiffs, said in its statement that CIAC’s policy “robs female athletes of opportunities because of the physical advantages of males.” “Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field,” ADF attorney Christiana Holcomb said in that statement. “Forcing them to compete against boys isn’t fair, shatters their dreams and destroys their athletic opportunities.” According to a report by CNN, the lawsuit

mentions two transgender athletes by name, Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, who it says began competing in the 2017 track season and brought home “15 women’s state championship titles.” Miller and Yearwood, the suit says, took “more than 85 opportunities to participate in higher-level competitions from female track athletes” from 2017 to 2019. The lawsuit comes nearly eight months after ADF filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education on behalf of three athletes claiming CIAC’s policy on transgender athletes violated Title IX. It then called for an investigation into the policy. That investigation is still pending at the Office of Civil Rights, CIAC said in their statement.

Kahtoola’s Uphill Event Raises $52,000 Kahtoola’s recent 13th annual GoreTex Kahtoola Uphill fundraising event raised $52,000 for a local Flagstaffbased nonprofit, Friends of Camp Colton. All Uphill event profits directly benefit the camp’s youth environmental education programs, including scholarships that allow low-income students to attend Camp Colton. Each February, the Kahtoola Uphill event takes place on the snow-covered San Francisco Peaks at the Arizona Snowbowl, which overlooks Kahtoola’s Flagstaff headquarters. Designed with fun in mind, the Uphill challenges participants to conquer the mountain on foot using winter traction or skinning. The race features three routes varying in distance and elevation from 1.5 miles/650 feet for the Fun Climb to the more advanced Agassiz Climb totaling 3.5 miles/2200 feet. Kahtoola Uphill has raised more than $400,000 to help kids get outside and immerse them in the power of nature.

New Product: Tailwind Rebuild A new caffeine-flavored addition, Coffee Rebuild, has been added to the Tailwind Rebuild line. The entire Tailwind line was developed to be delicious and easy on the stomach while providing the replenishments necessary after a workout. Coffee Rebuild packs 80mg of caffeine per serving and includes amino acids, organic rice protein powder and 100 percent Arabica coffee beans. The rice- and coconut-based product helps to rebuild muscle, replenish glycogen stores and restore electrolytes while rehydrating.

Under Armour Podcast Focuses on Athletes U n d e r Armour has launched A podcast series – The O n l y Way I s Through – that grants listeners access to athletes and the sweat behind their success. In the newest episode, listeners can hear sprinter Natasha Hastings’ (in photo) talk about her experience discovering she was pregnant in the midst of training for the 2020 Olympics, and refocusing her mind and body to prepare for the birth of her son — all while continuing to compete at the highest level. Determined to leave her mark at the upcoming Olympics, Natasha trained through her pregnancy with the guidance of Under Armour’s human performance team.


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