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RUNNING CENTRAL EVOLVES INTO RC OUTFITTERS APRIL 1, 2019 on-running.com
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RC RE-BRAND In central Illinois, Running Central rebrands as RC Outfitters. / By Daniel P. Smith
ive years ago, Running Insight profiled Adam White’s last daring bet. That was when White and his wife, Marie, moved Running Central, a Peoria, IL, staple since 1977, into a 20,000-square-foot space in the city’s redeveloping Warehouse District. In the $2.2 million project, the Whites transformed a 111-year-old former hardware and lumber supply store into their version of a running specialty wonderland. More than 150 unique models of adult shoes, some 4000 units of women’s apparel and an RC Kids Zone stocked with over 100 boys’ and girls’ footwear styles sat in a lively space featuring exposed timber beams and reclaimed artwork. “The running specialty industry didn’t present the model we envisioned creating, so we built it ourselves,” White told Running Insight back in 2014. Now, White’s at it again, putting another fresh spin on the business he purchased in 2007. “Darwin said we have to evolve and stay relevant,” White says, “and he’s right.” A Fundamental Disconnect
Even amid all that euphoria and optimism back in 2014, White confesses something didn’t sit right. “I said for a long time that stores with running in their name were at a competitive disadvantage and that included us at Running
In Peoria, IL, Running Central, a community staple since 1977, has given way to RC Outfitters, revised branding that better reflects the retail environment owner Adam White and his team have created.
Central,” says White, a Peoria native and prep running star in the central Illinois city. “If you’re not a runner, but need to be properly fit, would you be comfortable at a place called Running Central? That was a barrier to entry and I knew it.” Still, though, White hesitated to drop the name during that substantial 2014 project, one that also included broadening and diversifying the store’s inventory into more lifestyle categories. He retained the Running Central moniker, deferring to a name that had been a community mainstay for 40 years.
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“Quite honestly, fear got the best of me,” White says. “I stuck with Running Central and with sound reason for doing so.” But as the last five years unfolded, White increasingly recognized a fundamental disconnect. The Running Central name did not fit with how the business had evolved both within its four walls and out in the community. Customers, nearly two-thirds of whom did not identify themselves as runners, failed to see Running Central’s broad offerings, which had come to include denim, dresses and wool sweaters in addition to the
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Running Central Re-Brand (continued) running staples. “People weren’t seeing or aware of our offerings because they were, more often than not, just thinking running shoes,” White says. With purpose and intent, White began dissecting where his business was and where it needed to go. “If we are to be as successful as we want to be, then we have to make sure our brand connects with our community,” White says. “I became convinced that wasn’t happening as well as it could have or should have.” The Birth of RC Outfiters
On March 13, Adam White revealed the re-branded RC Outfitters during a fourminute Facebook Live session, detailing the reason behind the changes. The store’s new look replaces the showroom (below) that prominently featured Ned, Running Central’s longtime on-the-run caricature.
On March 13, White unveiled RC Outfitters, a modern, evolved twist on the Running Central legacy. After closing for business on Sunday, March 10, White and his team spent the next 66 hours refreshing the massive downtown Peoria storefront for its new era. On the walls, navy blue, teal, mustard yellow and gray tones replaced the store’s existing green and black scheme, while Ned, Running Central’s longtime on-the-run caricature, gave way to a new brand mark: a shield with the letters R and C cut by an ascending, feathery graphic designed to mimic an eight-lane running track and the winged foot. It’s a clear nod to the store’s running-fueled heritage, but also a timeless logo that represents the promising future White envisions for his business. The new logo, which sits prominently on an illuminated shoe wall at the rear of the showroom, is also present on a revised social media presence and an overhauled website, one that boasts a telling slogan: “More than Just a Running Store!” To
that point, the diverse array of inventory from lifestyle brands like Toad&Co and Prana remains as White and his crew aim to outfit customers “for every occasion.” With this, White announced programming designed to bring sustained activity to the store: twice-weekly happy hours that invite customers to relax and unwind with a chardonnay or beer as well as yoga and Pilates sessions and trunk shows. “We’re doing exactly what we’ve been doing for the last five years, but throwing a powder keg on it,” White says. Veteran run specialty retail consultant Parker Karnan, whose known White for a decade, calls the RC Outfitters’ re-brand “daring and smart.” “In an evolving market, the smart people go back to what their customers want and that’s what Adam is doing here,” Karnan says. “He’s branding his business as the one it has become and what he believes it needs to be moving forward.” The Running Heritage
D u r i n g a f o u r- m i n u t e Facebook Live session on March 13, White revealed RC Outfitters to the public and, in his typical candid and enthusiastic style, detailed what he did and why. In that soliloquy, White assured that RC Outfitters was not turning away from running at all. In fact, he pledged to “double down” on structured running activities. To that end, RC Outfitters introduced a women’s running group called Sole Squad and announced three different weekly fun runs. On March 31, meanwhile, RC Outfitters hosted a free road race on Peoria’s © 2019 Diversified Communications
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Running Central Re-Brand (continued)
Adam White decided to re-brand Running Central as RC Outfitters when it became increasingly apparent that customers were overlooking his diverse inventory assortment, which included running footwear as well as causal wear such as denim (below left) and dresses.
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Running Central Re-Brand (continued) riverfront to celebrate both its new era and its running DNA. White says the fun runs, programming and road race represent pieces of his shop’s multi-layered, 10-week guerilla marketing effort designed to spotlight RC Outfitters’ new identity and its mission to be one of the region’s premier retail destinations. Providing an Experience
White aims to make RC Outfitters a comfortable place for customers to visit and linger, something he looks to accomplish with twice-weekly happy hours.
“While people shop great apparel stores, they don’t shop specialty run. They buy specialty run,” White says. “We’re gunning to change that by providing a pinnacle, magical shopping experience alongside engaging events that are valuable to the Peoria community.” Leading up to the re-brand,
White selectively shared his ideas with colleagues and vendors at The Running Event and, later, with RC team members. The response, he says, was universally positive, confirmation for White that his gut was leading him in the right direction and that re-branding his business to better reflect its present reality and marketplace position was indeed a savvy move. Now, days after the unveiling, White says he’s receiving validation from the most important group of all: his customers. “It’s been an awesome, overwhelming response across the board,” he says. “People understand why we’ve done what we’ve done and are behind it, which just feeds the excitement and energy.” n
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10 Social Media Commandments for Thou In this Easter season, run specialty retailers need to know thyselves. / By Daniel P. Smith
or the vast majority of running stores across the U.S., social media stands an integral part of the marketing mix, but often one run shops struggle to utilize in the most effective ways possible. While popular platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube offer running retailers a direct, cost-effective way to build brand awareness, strengthen existing connections and demonstrate the authenticity so core to the run specialty channel’s being, achieving those objectives stands an ongoing battle. Much of that struggle resides in uncertainty. Though many run shops remain adamant about being present on select social media platforms, the mechanisms and moves to more successfully pull social media’s levers, particularly in ways that ultimately drive traffic and sales, aren’t always clear. Enter the 10 Commandments of Social Media for the run specialty retailer, a set of guidelines and principles designed to help running stores more effectively leverage social media and spark more productive outcomes.
I. Thou shalt set a plan.
In today’s digitally charged, smartphonetoting world, social media can not be an afterthought. Craft a defined social media strategy by creating a content plan, preparing a social media schedule and outlining objectives. Specifically, Johanna Fiedler, director of vertical marketing and consumer engagement for Promoboxx, the only retail marketing platform powered by brands, urges retailers to set SMART goals – that is, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound – for social media posting and performance. “When you set a SMART goal for your store’s social media presence, you can ensure that you are posting with a purpose and that you have concrete ways to measure if 8
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Social Media Commandments (continued) you achieved your goal — and, if not, what you can change to meet it next time,” Fiedler says .
self-serving with constant store announcements. “Think about how you can be a problem solver and share solutions that will enable your audience to thrive,” Burke says.
From Facebook’s ubiquitous boxed blue “f” and Pinterest’s scripted red “p” to Instagram’s camera and Twitter’s bird, the store’s homepage should include icons that link directly to the shop’s social media presence. This simple move invites deeper engagement and pulls customers into the store’s own digital ecosystem.
VIII. Thou shalt embrace profesionalism.
III. Thou shalt segment thy content routinely.
IX. Thou shalt use video.
II. Thou shalt spotlight social media action.
While some retailers might post the exact same message on each of their social media platforms, Fiedler recommends defining a voice for each specific social platform. Twitter, for instance, lends itself to more newsy content, while Instagram relies on strong visuals. “Think about who is seeing your content on [each] platform and what they may be interested in,” Fiedler says.
IV. Thou shall post consistently.
In volume and tone, but, above all, frequency, be consistent on social media. Create a regular – and manageable – posting schedule for each social media outlet. “Even if your reach or consumer engagement may seem low, don’t stop posting,” Fiedler suggests, reminding that an empty or quiet social page appears untrustworthy, an especially undesirable result given how consumers increasingly launch 10
Social media pages for a business directly reflect on the store, its staff and its brand. If the store’s vibe is whimsical, sophisticated or quirky, don’t be afraid to embrace that in genuine ways. But resist the political commentary and off-color jokes.
their shopping journeys online. Adds Saucony ecommerce director Kellie Burke: “Once made, keep your content promise. Hold yourself accountable for creating, distributing and maintaining quality content on a regular cadence that your audience can count on.”
V. Thou shalt balance thy content
Trumpet the store, yes, but maintain an unrelenting focus on customers. Respect their time and be an ally, not a shameless advertiser. Think of social media much like a 30-minute sitcom on television: providing 22 minutes of entertaining content in return for eight minutes of advertising. While it’s acceptable to push your products or services in small doses, Amber Murans, a principal with Left Hand Marketing in suburban Chicago, reminds retailers that they should devote much of their time to “providing educational or entertaining content and engaging with people.”
VI. Thou shalt start thy content journey with thy customers.
To generate content ideas, consider starting with common in-store conversations that staff have with customers, whether that’s related to cold weather gear, training, injury prevention or local running spots. “Think about the questions that customers commonly ask in-store and translate that information into your posts on social media,” Fiedler says, adding that retailers can access specific running industry content on Promoboxx to support their posting needs.
VII. Thou shalt prioritize quality.
Provide relevant content that helps customers, not just news of a store sale or recent inventory arrivals. Share training tips, links to inspirational videos, information on injury prevention and so on. Think quality, not quantity. Customers often ditch pages that fail to engage or feel too
Video continues to become one of the globe’s prime mediums for digesting content. To wit: Alexa reports that YouTube sits behind only Google as the world’s most trafficked website. That said, Murans encourages retailers to make video a central part of their content strategy. “Video communicates more than any other medium and is the best way to create engagement on social media,” she says.
X. Remeber thy is human.
Even in an increasingly digital world, an earnest craving for human interaction remains strong. Like and share others’ social media posts. Respond to questions and comments. In other words, be social on social media. “Remember, while machines do incredible things, people are emotional and have a vast array of feelings,” Burke says, urging retailers to listen to their audiences and respond in personal ways focused on “thoughtful connection, not perfection.” n © 2019 Diversified Communications
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One-on-One with ‘Shoe Geek’ Dan Sullivan The new Skechers NSM sounds off on the run specialty business and his role in it. / By Brian Metzler
fter 23 years of working in various product and sales management roles for Saucony (1996-2002), New Balance (2002-2010) and Saucony again (2010-2018) – and earning an MBA along the way – Dan Sullivan got an offer he couldn’t refuse. He resigned his position of VP–sales with Saucony in November joined Skechers in December as its new national sales manager-performance. He is managing the men’s side of the other performance categories – walking, hiking and cross-training – but he’s overseeing the performance running category for men and women. Running Insight sat down with Sullivan recently to talk about his new role and the opportunities and challenges facing the brand as it continues its quest to grow in the performance running category. He says he will remain rooted in Boston but will spend a week or two every month at the brand’s Manhattan Beach, CA, headquarters and additional time on the road visiting specialty run shops and key accounts. What did you find so compelling about Skechers? I had dinner with (Skechers chairman and CEO) Robert Greenberg and he said, ‘Dan, there’s Nike at number one, Adidas at number two, Skechers at number three. What’s the difference? Those brands are rooted in performance, we’re not. I want to get to this performance thing right.’ And I told Robert that is music to my ears, because I’m a performance guy, that’s what I know. And honestly, performance is where it all starts and that’s where it all stays. Fashion trends go up and down, but performance is what remains. That’s just the beauty of performance and building products for their intended use and that’s what we want to keep growing at Skechers. What is Skechers’ new Hyperburst foam and how will it spur growth? For years everyone was talking about new 12
foam, new foam, new foam, and that’s why all of a sudden you’re seeing a shift to TPUs and different types of foams. But Hyperburst is an EVA, and it’s pretty amazing. It’s created by saturating a solid piece of EVA with carbon dioxide that has been heated and pressurized into a super critical fluid state. After saturation, the CO2 returns to its normal gas state, creating thousands of bubble-like cell structures trapped within the midsole, making it lighter and more resilient. The bottom line is that it’s super light and resilient. I’m excited about these shoes and the new technology and that’s what sold me.”
Is it your goal to grow Skechers’ specialty running business? “We’re probably in 60 run specialty shops, but we’re probably doing well in about 10. Rush Running in Arkansas is probably our best shop because Mike Rush really believes in us. There are certain places where we’re niche and people like our product. “You can’t find our product everywhere, so it’s pretty clean. We want to grow those opportunities. Right now, Running Warehouse is our nnumber one, if you consider them run specialty. If we can get in with those guys and they love our product – and again it comes down to having good or great
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RUNNING INSIGHT Dan Sullivan (continued) “It takes time to grow in the running specialty business. But if we can get a couple of key doors and go big, that will be a start. We’ll do some fun stuff, get some exposure and get the brand humming in a few locations and take it from there.”
product – then we can increase that considerably. If we can do that, we’ll have some runway.” What’s your strategy about growing Skechers’ specialty run business? “It takes time to grow in the running specialty business. But if we can get a couple of key doors and go big, that will be a start. We’ll do some fun stuff, get some exposure and get the brand humming in a few locations and take it from there. My first task is creating the right sales team. I’m building a sales force and figuring out how we’re going to cover the country. “We’ll probably have six reps to start off and we have some key people already on the team, but we might realign the territories a bit. Then we’ll have another person handling the key accounts and non-running accounts like Kohl’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Famous Footwear. “That’s all going to happen by April so we can have our team in place by our Spring sales meeting. And then it will be calling key retailers and asking what we can do. I know we’re not going to be number one tomorrow, but give us a chance and let’s make something happen.” What’s the key to helping a running shoe brand rise in 2019? “Things have changed. It’s not the core four brands that owned it. You can come out of nowhere if you have innovation. You can’t be a me-too brand. You have to have a unique point of view. You can’t be meek and just follow. You can’t just say ‘hey, let’s take the Ghost and copy that and call it our own.’ “If you’re trying to compare your shoes to another brand’s
great shoe and you come up with a good shoe, well, good doesn’t beat great. That’s why I like that Skechers has these great new shoes and we have a point of view. We’re going after the faster runners with these shoes, the tip of the spear. We’re going to be carving out some new niches.” What are your thoughts about the mid-range shoe business? “I need to develop two businesses. I need our performance/ technical run specialty business to keep growing in innovative ways, but to keep the bosses happy, I also need to make sure the business at Kohl’s and Famous Footwear is going great, too. “We’re going to keep those things separate, but we need that to be humming. But it all starts with performance. The $50-$60 shoes we produce have to be beautiful and have the right colors, but I want what we’re doing with our performance line – the design, the wear-testing, the validation – to be the same throughout. “I want that consumer putting on a $50-$60 shoe to know that Skechers has the best fit and feel. That will extend the brand’s reputation and it might mean that new runner will eventually evolve to our high-end performance shoes.” What is the future of performance running? “It’s innovate or die. You either grow or you’re shrinking. I think the running space is always going to grow because there are always new ideas and one idea brings out other new ideas. Hyperburst is new for us, but it might lead to something else. We all thought EVA was
maxed out. Industry experts said that EVA was maxed out because it has 70 percent energy return and you’ll never get 80 percent, but Hyperburst changes the game because the energy return is significantly more than that and no one was thinking about EVA that way a few years ago. I think there are endless possibilities, and that’s why this industry is always so exciting.” What do you like most about the running shoe industry? “It’s full of good energy and good people. You’re not going to make crazy money like you might in the tech world or the banking industry, but you’re going to have a lot of fun and have a healthy outlook about life because you’re helping people improve their lives. I played college football and then was coaching football at Harvard, but I found that wasn’t for me because it was quite a grind. I wound up getting a job working for an investment bank and lasted three weeks. “My mother had called me one day and said, ‘Saucony called about that application you submitted a year ago and I guess they’re ready to hire you.’ So I walked into my boss’ office at the investment firm and said, ‘today is my last day.’ Katie, my girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, thought I was nuts. “But knew I was never going to be successful in that world because I wasn’t passionate about it. I wanted to be in a position where I was improving my own mental well-being and hopefully others’, too, and being involved with health and wellness. But, also, I have always loved shoes and have always been a shoe geek.” n © 2019 Diversified Communications
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running shorts Fleet Feet Captures One Millionth Customer Scan
ess than two years after introducing 3D scanning technology into its stores, Fleet Feet this month scanned its one millionth pair of feet as part of its exclusive in-store outfitting experience known as fit id. Introduced in June 2017 in collaboration with Fleet Feet’s technology partner Volumental, 3D foot scanning has created a collective and growing data hub of insights regarding aggregate customer foot shape and size, fueling both innovation and enhanced customer personalization of solutions and advice. Data from the 3D foot scans has allowed Fleet Feet to identify trends and insights that inform better purchasing decisions. Specifically, Fleet Feet found that over the course of 2018, twice as many women as men need a wide shoe, that 40 percent of
both men and women have high arches and that nearly one in five customers scanned have at least a half size difference between their right and left foot lengths. This information has led to changes in purchases, with the brand seeing increases in the sale of insoles and wider shoes across the system since June 2017. The customer foot scans taken during the fit id experience also fueled the creation of the first running shoe constructed from the data points of over 100,000 customer foot scans. Done in partnership with Karhu, the 100-year-old Finnish running shoe brand, Fleet Feet debuted the Ikoni in August 2018. This Fall, Fleet Feet and Karhu will debut two additional running shoe models also shaped by 3D foot scanning data. Fleet Feet now stands at 177 franchise and company-owned locations in 37 states. n
CEP Compression Launches 3.0 Sock
EP Compression is launching this month its 3.0 sock with new features designed to combine comfort and performance at an affordable price point. A true graduated compression solution with more than six miles of engineered threading, the new sock was developed to give runners and other athletes the kind of pressure that builds confidence and endurance. Featuring a new design and color concept, CEP’s 3.0 sock offers a variety of styles that are easy to combine. The 3.0 sock combines 16 different yarns in its construction, more than twice that of its predecessor — making the product softer, more comfortable and easier to put on. The 3.0 sock keeps the body cool on hot days and warm during cold days and its new moisture and clima management systems help keep sweat at bay. A knitted, asymmetric toe box is also intended to fit the natural shape of the foot and toe for a more seamless feel. “With the launch of the 3.0 sock, we’re carrying forward CEP’s reputation for comfort and medical-grade quality into a new look and feel,” says CEP senior VP Luke Rowe. “While graduated compression wear can be useful to have on during activity, some of its biggest benefits have to do with recovery and injury prevention,” he adds. n 16
GU Energy Labs Sponsoring Ironman
GU Energy Labs will be the official energy gel sponsor of the 2019 North American Ironman and Ironman 70.3 events, supporting each with its line of Roctane Gels that are designed for long-duration and high-intensity activities that push athletes to their limits. Roctane Energy gels provide a boosted supply of essential nutrients in a form that’s portable and easy to digest. These gels are packed with up to three times as much sodium to aid in hydration and three times as many amino acids to help prevent muscle breakdown, as regular energy gels. They also include betaalanine and taurine to buffer acidity levels and improve heart function. n © 2019 Diversified Communications
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running shorts Brooks, New Balance Unveil Boston Shoes This Month Brooks Boston “T” Launch 6
and in a nod to previous Boston-inspired Brooks shoes, red lobsters appear on the heel, tongue and insoles. New Balance 890v7 Boston
Brooks Running recently unveiled this year’s Boston themed shoe, the Boston “T” Launch 6. Inspired by the city’s infamous transportation system and the spirit of running in Boston, the shoe is a memento for those who run in the city. The limited edition Boston “T” Launch 6 was available beginning March 28 at retailers and online at brooksrunning.com/boston (MSRP: $100). The Launch 6 features a new engineered, one-piece mesh upper and internal bootie for a breathable and lightweight fit. The shoe’s BioMoGo DNA midsole and rebounding rubber outsole offer a springy feel underfoot while a Midfoot Transition Zone gets the runner from heel to toe quickly. On the limited-edition Boston “T” Launch 6, a map of Boston’s iconic subway system wraps the heel while street and subway map lines cover the heel collar and tongue. The words “Boston 2019” appear on the heel
New Balance is introducing the 890v7 Boston this month, marking the 10th year that the company has created a special shoe for the brand’s Spring running campaign. The inspiration for this limited-edition running shoe comes from Springtime running in Boston — specifically the tulips that become so prominent in the Boston Common as the spring running season arrives. The sock liner details a white throated sparrow, a frequent visitor of the Common — when the sparrow’s song is heard throughout the park, it is a sure sign that Spring has arrived. The presence of gold throughout the shoe represents runners’ “crowning moment” to symbolize their achievements. The heel design and insole both feature the words
“RUN BOS” along with a silhouette of the state of Massachusetts in the insole to emphasize New Balance’s continued commitment to the runners of its home city. This limited-edition style is built on New Balance’s cult favorite 890 running shoe with updates and a new attitude in the 890v7, combining innovation and nostalgia.
The 890v7 Boston for men and women retails for $129.99 and is available beginning April 1st online at www.newbalance.com. It is also being sole at select retailers, including the New Balance Boylston store (583 Boylston Street, Boston), the New Balance Global Flagship at Boston Landing (140 Guest Street, Brighton), and the New Balance booth at the John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo. n
Coros Partners With Lake Sonoma 50
oros Wearables has been named the Official GPS Watch and Maps Sponsor of Lake Sonoma 50, a 50-mile charity trail race held April 13 benefiting Children of the Vineyard Workers Scholarship. As part of its sponsorship, Coros will have representatives onsite at several events throughout the race weekend and will provide opportunities for participants to test Coros watches on the course and upload the official course map to their watch. The Coros Apex offers 35 hours of battery life in full GPS mode. Several members of Coros’ Pro Athlete team will be participating, including 24 Hour World Record holder Camille Herron (in photo), 2017 LS50 Runner Up and Master’s Course Record Holder Magda Boulet and multiple top 10 LS50 finisher Sally McRae. n 18
Arcanum Seeking Reps
Arcanum Sports Performance is seeking independent sales agents for a first-to-market CBD Kinesiology tape. The company says it’s looking for individuals with “a desired interest to add a successful sports + athletic tape to your sales channels and who want to be a part of the $522 million CBD industry.” Send resume to Tyler Mintz, COO: Tyler@ArcanumEdge. com; 720-472-2727. n © 2019 Diversified Communications
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Next-Generation Racing Shoes Dominate NYC Half Belay Tilahun pulled off a surprise win in the United Airlines NYC Half on March 17 in New York City, taking the lead only in the final kilometer to grab the men’s title. Tilahun, a native of Ethiopia who lives in New York, was entered by West Side Runners and started just behind the invited pro athletes. He quickly joined the lead pack and ran strong enough to finish in 1:02:10, besting a deep pro field that included Eritrean Daniel Mesfun (2nd, 1:02:16) and American Paul Chelimo (3rd, 1:02:19). Not surprisingly, all three of the top men wore various editions of Nike Vaporfly 4 percent shoes.
New Indoor Mile World Record Yomif Kejelcha set a new indoor mile world record at the Bruce Lehane Invitational on March 3 in Boston. The 21-yearold Nike-sponsored Ethiopian coached by Alberto Salazar in the Oregon Track Club clocked an eye-popping 3:47.01 to demolish Hicham El Guerrouj’s 1985 mark (3:48.45). It was the first indoor mile race to produce two sub-3:50 efforts, as American Johnny Gregorek (ASICS) finished second to Kejelcha in 3:49.98, the sixth-fastest ever and second behind Bernard Lagat in U.S. history. The record came after Kejelcha narrowly missed two other indoor records this season. He missed the mile record by an excruciating 0.01 seconds on Feb. 9 at the Millrose Games and then watched countryman Samuel Tefera kick past him to break El Guerrouj’s indoor 1500m world record a week later in Birmingham, England. Kejelcha’s 3:47.01 is the fastest mile run in the world since Alan Webb’s 3:46.91 outdoor American record in 2007. Behind Kejelcha and Gregorek, Sam Prakel (3:50.94, No. 5 U.S. history) and Henry Wynne (3:51.26, No. 7 U.S. history) also turned in breakthrough races.
Hawks, Drew Win Chuckanut 50K In the women’s race, world recordholder Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya won by a full minute (1:10:07) wearing a pair of Adidas Adizero Adios 3. Also in the top 10, several runners donned yet-to-be-released prototype racing shoes, including Jared Ward (4th, 1:02:33) and Noah Droddy (5th, 1:02:39), who wore green Saucony mystery prototypes rumored to have a carbon fiber plate embedded in the midsole. Meanwhile, Desi Linden (5th, 1:11:22) turned in a solid race in a tune-up for the Boston Marathon wearing a pair of yet-unnamed Brooks racing prototypes that will debut at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials in Atlanta. several hours before the fast heat.
The trail racing season got underway in earnest at the Chuckanut 50K in Bellingham, WA, on March 16, and Hayden Hawks (Altra Running) and Kathryn Drew (Kintec Footwear, in photo) looked like they were in midseason form. After finishing a close second two years ago, Hawks returned this year for some redemption and also to get the monkey off his back from a few recent DNFs. He wound up outrunning Andy Wacker, Tyler Sigl and Rob Watson to win in 3:37:34 — the fifth-fastest time in the long history of the race despite having to maneuver through sections of snow, ice and mud. Drew battled fellow Canadian Kim Magnus throughout the race, but sealed a win in 4:26:54 by building a three-minute gap along the fast and flat final 10K section.
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