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MARCH 16, 2020 APRIL 1, 2021 MARCH 16, 2020 APRIL 1, 2021
Joining the race to make the world a better place in which to run. • • • •
Retail Eco-Efforts Vendors Go Green Social Causes Earth Day 2021
GREEN DAYS The eco-race is bringing retailers and vendors together to make the world a better place in which to run.
A good planet is hard to find — so run specialty retailers and vendors are making significant eco-efforts part of their businesses.
t’s not easy being green these days. As the run specialty business continues to battle the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and as runners return to the streets, trails and tracks – and to running specialty stores – there is often little time or energy left to think of Mother Earth. Yet through it all the business of run – retailers and vendors alike – continues to
make the environment a priority. These stores and suppliers know, perhaps more than most any other industry other than the outdoors segment, that the environment and their business are inextricably linked – you can’t run without safe and accessible places to run and clean air to breathe – and many have made it a cornerstone of their business strategies.
As we celebrate Earth Day 2021 on April 22 still in the grip of a pandemic, run specialty retailers nonetheless have made the effort to bring the environment into their stores. Four of them are detailed on the next few pages — they are among the many retailers across America with a defined eco-strategy and special events that marry their bottom line to their green efforts. Those efforts are made possible by impressive eco strategies of so many vendors to run specialty. From shoes made with recycled clothing (ASICS) to repurposed shoes that can be traded in for a new pair (On Running) to sharing their own sustainable technology with others (W.L. Gore), vendors are giving retailers the products they need to bring a green message to their customers. Many of these efforts and products are profiled in the pages of this special issue. Yes, it is not easy being green during these challenging times when many stores are just happy to be able to turn on their (energy saving) lights in the morning. But many are finding it is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes business sense. We celebrate all of these eco-efforts in this special issue and we salute all of those retailers and suppliers profiled in these pages as well as the dozens of others making the environment a priority. Happy Earth Day 2021. Stay green! n The running business knows that it needs safe and accessible places to run and clean air to breathe. Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash Cover Photo courtesy of Topo.
RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2021 all rights reserved. Running Insight is published monthly, is edited for owners and top executives at running specialty stores and available only via email.The opinions by authors and contributors to Running Insight are not necessarily those of the editors or publishers. Articles appearing in Running Insight may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the publisher. Divesified Communications, 121 Free St, Portland, ME 04101; (207) 842-5500.
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Earth Week will bring together global activists and influencers – and perhaps run specialty – for a host of eco-events.
un specialty retailers still looking for a partnership or causes to support for Earth Day 2021, April 22, need look no further than an organization called earthday.org that is bringing together various groups to make a green impact as the world emerges from a pandemic-induced slumber. Along with lead organizers Education International, Hip Hop Caucus and Earth Uprising, earthday.org is organizing three separate parallel climate action summits on April 20 and 21 ahead of the Biden Administration’s global leaders’ climate summit. The parallel summits are focused respectively on climate literacy, environmental justice and a broad range of youth-led climate-focused issues. Earth Week will also bring thousands of groups and millions of voices together to stand up for climate action and bring awareness to humanity’s greatest existential threat. The centerpiece of it all on Earth Day will be when earthday.org brings together its partners, activists, educators, researchers, musicians, artists, influencers and more for its second-annual Earth Day Live. “This Earth Day, we have an important opportunity to challenge world leaders to see climate change for what it is — a pressing global security threat, one that threatens everyone and everything but particularly our most vulnerable people and places,” says earthday.org president Kathleen Rogers. April 20 … The three days of climate action begin with the global youth climate summit led by Earth Uprising, in collaboration with My Future My Voice, OneMillionOfUs and hundreds of youth climate activists. The summit will consist of panels, speeches, discussion, and special messages with today’s youth climate activists. In the evening on April 20, the Hip Hop 4
Earth Day 2021 is April 22 and retailers can partner with organizations to go green. Photo: earthday.org
Caucus and its partners will present the “We Shall Breathe” virtual summit. This digital event will examine climate and environmental justice, connecting the climate crisis to issues of pollution, poverty, police brutality and the pandemic, all within a racial justice framework. April 21… Education International will lead the “Teach for the Planet: Global Education Summit.” The multilingual virtual summit will span several time zones and feature prominent activists from every continent, focused on the crucial role that educators play in combating climate change and why need transformative climate education is needed now. April 22 … Parallel to the Biden Administration’s global climate summit, earthday.org will produce its second Earth Day Live digital event. The multi-hour
multi-channel livestream will include segments taking place around the world starting at noon Eastern Time. Workshops, panel discussions and special performances will focus on Earth Day’s 2021 theme, Restore Our Earth, which examines natural processes, emerging green technologies and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems. Topics will include climate and environmental literacy, climate restoration technologies, reforestation efforts, regenerative agriculture, equity and environmental justice, citizen science and cleanups. World climate leaders, grassroots activists, nonprofit innovators, thought leaders, industry leaders, artists, musicians and influencers will be involved. For more information about Earth Day 2021: www.earthday.org/earth-day-2021/ n
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GREEN ADVOCATE Palmetto Running embraces environmentalism with real-world actions. / By Daniel P. Smith
PRC brings its running community together to take care of the ground they walk and run on.
or Keri Straughn and her brother, Christian Fyfe, partners in the family-run, two-store Palmetto Running Company operation in South Carolina, protecting the environment is an important personal cause. The siblings are both parents of young children and interested in activities that support a healthy planet well into the future. “We need to take care of the ground we walk and run on and to create that happy, healthy future, we need to make changes now,” Straughn says. While many environmentally conscious decisions weave into Straughn and Fyfe’s personal lives, it is their role at Palmetto Running where they believe they can have the greatest impact. Over the last two years, Straughn and Fyfe have assembled Palmetto Running’s ever-evolving array of environmental activities into a formal program. The company’s multi-pronged Eco-Initiative promotes environmental stewardship through a mix of strategic business choices and community 6
outreach. Palmetto Running has committed itself to purchasing products made with more sustainable, recycled and eco-friendly materials and directs a slice of every transaction to the Coastal Conservation League, a South Carolina-based nonprofit that works to protect local landscapes, wildlife and clean water. Inspired by the Swedish trend of litter pickup while jogging, or plogging, Palmetto Running also hosts Pick Up and Jog events on the second Saturday of each month. “As business owners, we want to use our platform for good and to do something for our community and the planet,” Straughn says. Palmetto Running will take another step in that direction later this month when it hosts a family-oriented affair on April 24 in Hilton Head, SC. The event will pair sunrise yoga and a fun run with organizations introducing their environmental efforts and detailing ways individuals can have a positive impact on the Earth.
“We hope we can inspire others to be more involved in environmental matters and also set an example on how to run a sustainable business,” Straughn says. n
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Fleet Feet Fort Wayne has its own Plogging Challenge. / By Daniel Smith
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ooking for its own eco-initiative even in the midst of a pandemic, last April Fleet Feet Fort Wayne debuted the Fleet Feet Plogging Earth Day Challenge. More than 60 individuals collected trash as they walked and jogged around their respective neighborhoods. When participants then posted about their efforts on social media, they were entered into a raffle for a $100 store gift card. “It was a bit of a last-minute effort [in April 2020], but it gave people a reason to be active and healthy outside and to help the environment at the same time,” Fleet Feet Fort Wayne owner Kevin Croy recalls.
With some added planning devoted to the 2021 event, Croy has been collaborating with the local trail system to boost participation, while also urging Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry to issue a proclamation creating a Fort Wayne plogging day. In addition, Croy plans to issue wooden medals to participants who complete a 5K or 10K route, fill up a onegallon trash bag and post their collections to social media. “The hope is that all of these efforts push us close to 1000 participants,” Croy says. “We’ve had years of helping people get active and healthy and the Plogging Challenge is an extension of this by supporting the Earth’s health, too.” n
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SHOE REDO A
Running Etc. collects donated shoes to lessen footwear’s environmental impact. / By Daniel Smith
s ea rly as the 1980s, Mike Robinson saw a need to collect donated running shoes at Running Etc. in Norfolk, VA. Initially a grassroots effort that supplied local high school coaches with running shoes for athletes in need, the floodgates opened when Robinson publicized the shoe collection on his website around the turn of the century. Suddenly, Robinson was handing bags of running shoes to local coaches as well as homeless ministries around Norfolk and Virginia Beach, where he opened a second store in 2004. While Running Etc. continues directing
Mike Robinson and the Running Etc. team are committed to recycling through shoe collections.
donated shoes to local needs, the shop also sends a substantial size of its collection to the MORE Foundation Group. In addition to devoting the collected shoes to reuse, MORE supports reforestation projects, agroforestry training programs and carbon-offset initiatives such as the One Million Tree project currently establishing nurseries in Ghanaian schoolyards. “People know we do the shoe collection and they support it enthusiastically,” says Robinson, who opened Running Etc. in 1986. “To know we’re helping others and our environment is important.” n
TRAIL ADOPTION I
Fleet Feet Bloomington takes care of the pathways in its community. / By Daniel Smith n Ju ne 2 019, t he F le et Fe et i n Bloomington, IL, adopted a 1.5-mile stretch of the Constitution Trail, a 37-mile rails-to-trails path that runs through the city of Bloomington as well as the neighboring town of Normal. Now, once a month a group of 10 volunteers corralled through an online signup meet at Rollingbrook Park, which is also the frequent assembly point of Fleet Feet Bloomington’s training groups. Armed with garbage bags, gloves and vests, the volunteers fan out along the trail and pick up any trash along the Fleet Feet-adopted stretch. “It’s a great social activity for friends or even families that want to engage in a community service activity together,” says Fleet Feet Bloomington owner Julie Sibley, adding that even non-runners participate. A Ro t a r i a n w it h a c o m m u n it y
Fleet Feet Bloomington meets once a month to clean up an adopted trail in its home town.
service-minded spirit, Sibley says she felt the civic responsibility to keep the trails clean as both a runner and as a local business owner.
“I am always looking for opportunities to give back to our community and keeping our trail clean just seemed like the right thing to do,” she says. n
© 2021 Diversified Communications
LIGHTWEIGHT SHORTS Designed to be those ready-for-anything shorts you wear on repeat.
Four of the major makers of running shoes and apparel discuss their eco-efforts in 2021 and beyond. / By Cregg Weinmann
ustainability is more than a buzzword in the manufacturing of consumer goods in 2021 — it is an expectation. We hear the message of conservation and responsibility repeatedly in the media stream that informs us on a daily basis. The pandemic has spurred the need for activity, for mental and physical health and for a focus on a return to normalcy. Finding a balance between sustainability and performance in our running footwear, apparel and equipment is best when the
two align, a goal which is becoming more possible to achieve. To put the industry-wide eco-effort in context, Running Insight spoke with a number of leading brands about their efforts to produce the running products needed by experienced runners as well as those pandemic-motivated newcomers. The commitment to sustainability of these four brands – Hoka One One, Puma, Reebok and Topo – is helping to set the pace for the overall business to run into a renewable future.
THE PROCESS How do you approach adherence to sustainability from product design to delivery and beyond? Colin Ingram, Director of Product, Hoka One One … “There are innumerable ways a brand can address sustainability, from packaging and waste to manufacturing and materials, just to name a few high-level areas. This can seem daunting, but it provides a brand lots of opportunities to choose how they will create a
Topo has always embraced the philosophy of reduce, reuse, recycle.
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A CT I V E C O M F O RT P E R F O R M A N C E
Sustainable Efforts (continued) more thoughtful approach to production. At Hoka, we are taking steps to improve how responsibly we manufacture our footwear and apparel, but we also recognize that sustainability efforts must, themselves, be sustainable — we take small steps we can manage in the short-term, then build on them season-over-season for longterm improvement.” Hanna McGoldrick, Manager, Running Communications, Puma … “Sustainability is a key value for Puma, deeply integrated in our business operations. It guides our company to work faster toward a more just and sustainable future. For example, by 2030 we’ll reduce our carbon footprint by 35 percent as compared by 2017 levels, including all of our direct and indirect emissions. As most of
Puma’s carbon emissions stem from our supply chain, we aim to focus on reducing these emissions by 60 percent.” Corinna Kelly, Reebok … “Creating sustainable products is truly a collaborative effort — not only from designers, developers and marketers within Reebok, but also with our partners in our supply chain developing new materials. From the beginning of our ReeGrow program we were clear that our number one priority was to use as much plant-based ingredients as possible while maintaining product performance. “For every ReeGrow product we challenge ourselves to make every major component with plant-based ingredients and to meet third party testing standards of at least 50 percent bio-based by weight.
Having clear objectives gave every person working on the project a framework for decisions from material selection to design details.” Tony Post, President, Topo Athletic … “Beyond using a l most exclusively waterbased cements and no leather, which often uses harmful tanning agents and dyes, we have always embraced the philosophy of reduce, reuse, recycle. For Topo, it starts by making products that can last longer and that don’t break down as easily so we can all reduce our consumption. “Quality materials, smart designs and constructions can also help. We also believe in reusing product when possible; for example, we have a lot of wear test shoes and some lightly used production returns that
Hoka One One is addressing the issue of sustainability from packaging and waste to manufacturing and materials.
“Creating sustainable products is truly a collaborative effort — not only from designers, developers and marketers within Reebok, but also with our partners in our supply chain developing new materials.” Corinna Kelly, Reebok we donate to groups like Back on My Feet and Soles4Souls or other organizations where lightly used product can be put to use. “Recycling is harder, but we are testing a variety of projects where we use recycled scrap content in some of our componentry — meshes, footbed foams and some outsoles. There is certainly a lot more we need to do, but the product still needs to meet our quality and performance standards, which again helps us get to that first point of reduce.” THE RETAIL ADVANTAGE Do your sustainability efforts benefit your retail partners? How can they take advantage of your work in this area? Hanna McGoldrick, Puma … “We have 10 sustainability targets we want to reach by 2025, our 10FOR25. These targets include commitments towards climate, water and air, chemicals, biodiversity and plastics, but also health and safety and fair income. These target areas feed into all initiatives, collaborations and efforts we’re taking to make things better for the environment and communities. “To inform our consumers
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Sustainable Efforts (continued) “We all operate in an industry where those practices that so many of us do without thinking in fact cause harm to the planet. While I can’t really change that right now, I try to be sensitive to it and make good choices that allow us to get better while doing as little harm as possible.” Tony Post, Topo Athletic about these initiatives, Puma has set up a dedicated website, puma.com/foreverbetter. Corinna Kelly, Reebok … “We know sustainability is a core component of what consumers care about. Not just our consumer, but all consumers are moving in that direction. We have some retailers that have said they will only support brands that are sustainable by 2025. In essence, we’re trying to do the right thing for the planet and in so doing, we are making it easier for our retailers. “If we build our product in a way that is consumer-first, our retailers will – and should – have an easier job selling it. The story around how and why the product is made is easier to tell because it’s driven by consumer priorities. We also aim to deliver content to all of our partners to help story-tell. “The retail environment and specifically the specialty running stores in the U.S. are a crowded space. We know retail owners have limited shelf space and need each product on the wall to have a purpose. Floatride Energy Grow, and specifically the plant-based performance foam it is built on, delivers a
unique selling point that retailers and runners are excited about. “To make it easier to talk about the features and benefits of the product, hear the example on https://www.reebok.com/us/ forever-floatride-grow-shoes/ FX9307.html” Tony Post, Topo Athletic … “For sure we can do more to educate retailers and consumers about steps Topo is taking to improve our sustainability efforts. We clinic stores and we identify some efforts in the catalog and on our website, but we’re also very sensitive about ‘greenwashing.’ So many companies these days talk about sustainability or eco-friendly benefits, at Topo we try to make it just another part of our standard procedure — seeking eco-friendly materials and processes whenever we can.
“One advantage of being a smaller, privately held company is we don’t have to answer as much to shareholders or a stock price and can just try to do the right thing for our customers without doing too much harm to the planet. We haven’t made marketing sustainability a company initiative, but we have always sought more ecofriendly materials and processes as part of our standard operating procedure. “All that said, we still make shoes in Asia then ship them to the U.S. and we then ship them from our warehouse to consumers and stores, sometimes one or two pair at a time. We travel around the country or world to meet with customers and others associated with helping building the brand, although one bright spot of the pandemic is how it has cut down on our travel and increased video calls.
“The most important thing we’ve tried to do is keep it simple. By no means have we solved it, but we do believe that simplicity and a unique perspective helps us cut through the clutter and land our message.” Corinna Kelly, Reebok
“We all operate in an industry where those practices that so many of us do without thinking in fact cause harm to the planet. While I can’t really change that right now, I try to be sensitive to it and make good choices that allow us to get better while doing as little harm as possible. “Just saying it’s hard to find the right balance between making and delivering a great product that helps people get/ stay healthy and making it in a
Puma has 10 sustainability targets — its 10FOR25 – that it wants to reach by 2025.
© 2021 Diversified Communications
Sustainable Efforts (continued) “There are innumerable ways a brand can address sustainability, from packaging and waste to manufacturing and materials, just to name a few highlevel areas. This can seem daunting, but it provides a brand lots of opportunities to choose how they will create a more thoughtful approach to production.” Colin Ingram, Hoka One One
committed to improving our practices in the long term. The last thing we want to do is unveil an overly-ambitious program – something into which a retailer might buy – only to need to change course later. We think our open, thoughtful, longterm approach benefits all of our partners, and bodes well for minimizing our environmental impact down the road.”
way that you can be proud of the ingredients and process to get it into their hands. Which brings me back to my first point, why just making stuff that lasts longer has been a priority for us at Topo. Buy less and use it more.”
Rus s Stevens, A s sociate P roduct Ma nager, Topo Athletic … “We start our material selection process by considering the quality and durability of the material. We feel that durability is important in creating truly sustainable product. When someone purchases a high-quality product, they will be able to use it for longer and need to replace it less often, which leads to less consumption. “We do have a couple of ecofriendly materials we’re excited to be introducing into the line starting in F21. The first is an engineered mesh that uses 30 percent recycled material, which roughly equates to the recycled plastic from three 550ml water bottles per pair of shoes. We will first be introducing this material in our Phantom 2 and Fli-Lyte 4 models with plans to bring the mesh into additional models next season. “We will also begin using an eco-friendlier insole in select models. The insole uses Ortholite’s Hybrid X25 compound, which uses five percent recycled rubber and 15 percent post-industrial scrap to total 20 percent recycled materials per
Colin Ingram, Hoka One One … “It is becoming increasingly important to retailers that they select partner brands that are making efforts to improve the sustainability of their practices; their consumers are demanding it and, more and more, the retailers expect it themselves. Hoka seeks to be transparent about our efforts in sustainability — that we are making progress and taking steps to be better, but that we have a lot of work to do. That is something to which we think retailers, and their consumers, can relate. We are taking realistic and manageable steps to improve and those changes are positive and worth celebrating. “More importantly, while we strive to make thoughtful production decisions through material and process selections in the short term, we are
EDUCATING CONSUMERS How do you educate your end users to sustainability?
insole. We will first be introducing this insole in our MTN Racer 2 and ST-4 launching in F21 with plans to introduce the footbed into more models in the future. “We know that we have a long way to go in selecting more ecofriendly materials and that the two materials we’re adding in F21 are just a small first step. As we continue to source ecofriendly materials that meet our expectations for performance and durability you can expect to see more and more sustainable materials in the Topo line.” Hanna McGoldrick, Puma … “To inform our consumers about these initiatives, we have set up a dedicated website, puma.com/ foreverbetter.” Corinna Kelly, Reebok … “The most important thing we’ve tried to do is keep it simple. By no means have we solved it, but we do believe that simplicity and a unique perspective helps us cut through the clutter and land our message. “We know that it can be hard to know what purchase decisions are most sustainable. We try our best to avoid general terms and simply and specifically show the plant-based ingredients that our products are made of because, ultimately, we believe that what you’re made of matters and making footwear with things that grow is a more responsible approach. “Focusing on ReeGrow is clearly our USP. We have to stay focused and consistent — our team leans heavily into the idea that we need to get bored of our own messaging and designs in order for it to land with the consumer because the topic
“Sustainability is a key value for Puma, deeply integrated in our business operations. It guides our company to work faster toward a more just and sustainable future. For example, by 2030 we’ll reduce our carbon footprint by 35 percent as compared by 2017 levels.” Hanna McGoldrick, Puma is so tricky. Many consumers believe ‘sustainability’ means so many things — we can’t switch marketing and content too frequently because it just is too complex. Therefore we keep it simple.” Colin Ingram, Hoka One One … “Hoka and our larger organization at Deckers are committed to full transparency about our efforts to move toward more responsible manufacturing practices. On our website you can read our most current Corporate Responsibility Report, which details how we joined the United Nations Global Compact in 2016 and how we have set additional goals for ourselves to reduce water usage and waste; source third-party certified sustainable alternatives for our materials where possible; reduce energy consumption and seek renewable alternatives; and achieve environmentally-sound management of chemicals. It also details our efforts to embed human rights across our production chain and seek equity, inclusivity and diversity in our workforce, industry and sport.” n
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Reducing Impact Brooks Running is lessening its environmental impact while upping product performance. / By Judy Leand
Brooks’ eco-strategy means empowering designers to make smarter decisions in the design process.
sing a long-term, science-backed approach to sustainability that will greatly reduce its environ ment a l i mpact wit hout compromising product performance is the objective of eco-efforts at Brooks Running. That commitment will be on display this month when the company announces its ambitious 10-year roadmap for sustainability that will encompass circular product as well as carbon neutral initiatives. Its sustainability work is focused in two key areas: reducing its carbon emissions across its entire business with a commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2040; and decreasing its reliance on non-renewable resources by incorporating more sustainable materials into its products and reducing the material waste generated during product manufacturing. On the supply chain side, responsible sourcing is a priority and the company
has instituted a Supplier Code of Conduct that sets standards for environmental and key human rights issues, including health and safety. Regarding product, the brand’s sustainability program aims to reduce environmental impact through a focus on materials, waste and chemicals. Part of this process calls for empowering designers to make smarter decisions in the development process – such as by using information gleaned from tracking pattern efficiency for each part of a shoe’s upper – that will reduce a product’s footprint. Brooks also seeks to reduce its carbon footprint and part of this process entails prioritizing ocean shipments over air shipments. At present, the company is focused on converting polyester to recycled polyester. “This conversion is being applied across the majority of our footwear and apparel product,” explains David Kemp,
senior manager of corporate responsibility at Brooks Running. For example, Brooks’ Spring 2021 footwear styles have all converted the majority of the different reinforcement textiles to 100 percent recycled polyester and many include an upper textile with a minimum 30 percent recycled content. “The percentage of our footwear and apparel that is made from more sustainable materials is expected to increase in future seasons,” Kemp adds. Brooks previously announced that it aims to use only recycled polyester by 2023 and that 100 percent of leather is sourced from Leather Working Group Gold-Certified tanneries. Kemp believes that one of the biggest challenges of designing and producing sustainable products is to maintain performance. “Delivering a top-quality fit, feel and ride is the Brooks promise, so we’re focused on decreasing our environmental impact while maintaining – or improving – the performance benefits for the runner,” he says. Although using more sustainable materials or manufacturing processes can cost more financially, the company is hoping to see that price difference decrease as sustainability efforts become more mainstream. Brooks is also offsetting the cost through its other sustainability efforts that lead to cost savings. On the retail front, “We’re constantly hearing from specialty retailers that runners coming in to shop are seeking out products with a sustainable component, whether it be how the product is made, a give-back component, or something in between,” Kemp reports. “Sustainability is a global priority for Brooks. This expands beyond just the runners [for whom] we create product, but also leans into our employee base across the globe as well as our supply chain.” n
© 2021 Diversified Communications
Counting Sheep Smartwool boosts sustainability with recycled wool and renewable-based materials. / By Judy Leand
ong at the forefront of sustainability and animal welfare efforts, Smartwool continues to up its game with a number of eco-initiatives. The latest effort focuses on actively investing in regenerative agriculture and other natural climate solutions through ZQRX, a 100 percent regenerative wool platform that was launched earlier this year. The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM), together with the Smartwool, Allbirds and Icebreaker brands, are putting aside competitive interests to work collectively with 167 sheep growers to create the world’s first regenerative wool platform that represents 2.4 million acres in New Zealand. With regenerative farming practices representing an effective means of sequestering carbon, the ZQRX framework offers a considerable opportunity to mitigate climate change. All four parties are doing their part to address the impact of the global fashion industry, which is responsible for 10 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The three brands together represent more than four million pounds of wool. (Smartwool and Icebreaker helped establish the original ZQ platform 13 years ago.) Smartwool’s other sustainability programs include partnering with parent company VF Corp. to work with manufacturers to reduce their emissions and optimize logistics; engaging consumers on best practices to wear more, wash less; weeding out synthetic materials wherever possible and moving towards responsible, renewable-based alternatives; and product circularity, which calls for keeping materials and products in use for as long as possible. The company also plans to announce other sustainability programs later in April. On t he product side, t h is mont h Smartwool is re-launching its hiking sock
Smartwool uses recycled fabrics whenever possible. In addition to recycled wool, the brand has started to feature recycled nylon and poly in its Merino Sport apparel. It accomplishes this by working with its partners to create facilities and processes that allow for the use of recycled wool and even opens up the process so that other brands can use recycled fabric and materials, too. Reclaimed wool fibers and highquality Merino 250 scraps are collected, deconstructed and turned into new recycled fabric for fleece and reclaimed insulation — and the resulting garments perform just as well (and in some cases better) than traditionally made apparel. The company also points out that one of the biggest environmental impacts of wool comes from the methane released by the sheep growing it. The Smartwool Women’s Merino 150 Baselayer Short Sleeve uses a nylon core to increase durability while still keeping 100 Taking wool that already exists percent ZQ-Certified Merino wool next to skin. The Indigo and reusing it helps to reduce CO2 Blue colorway, shown here, also features plant-based dye. emissions. Meisinger believes that the two line that now incorporates recycled nylon. main challenges of designing and producIn the running category, all socks are made ing sustainable products are maintaining with ZQ-Certified Merino wool. product durability and being aware of envi“We’re incorporating recycled nylon ronmental impact. And while there are extra into our ultralight jackets and recycled costs involved in obtaining sustainable polyester into our Merino sport shorts,” materials and in using eco-friendly manuexplains Maggie Meisinger, Smartwool’s facturing processes, “the more companies manager of strategic communications, who that take part, the more mainstream it will also reports that all of the brand’s socks become,” she says. are made with ZQ-Certified Merino wool, These days, notes Meisinger, “consumers all shorts and ultralight jackets utilize 100 are conscious of products they are buying percent sustainable fabrics with recycled and want to make a positive change in the content and ZQ-Certified Merino wool, world and leave it better than they found and all Merino Sport 150 tops and beanies it. Retailers in all categories are bringare 100 percent sustainable materials with ing sustainability stories to the forefront. ZQ-Certified Merino and recycled content. However, sustainability is at the forefront for From fleeces to Smartloft insulation, many consumers and is often expected.” n
© 2021 Diversified Communications
Completing The Circle On Running co-founder Caspar Coppetti discusses the importance of the brand’s Cyclon shoe and its subscription service.
unning Insight recently caught up with On Running co-founder Caspar Coppetti to discuss the brand’s environmentally inspired Cyclon technology and the unique subscription concept that recycles shoes for reuse. Running Insight : Please describe the Cyclon technology in terms an editor can understand. Coppetti: The Cyclon shoe is a product of three years of research in the On Lab and a breakthrough discovery of fusing two high-performance polyamides to fulfill the demands of a running shoe without compromising performance. The best part is that these two materials can be recycled together. How does that work? The upper is engineered from PA11, a bio-based polyamide derived from castor beans. The castor beans undergo a heating process to extract castor oil, which is then transformed into the Amino 11 molecule. We arrive at PA11 through a heat and pressure process. We’ve used PA11 in our shoes for quite some time, but it wasn’t until Cyclon that we discovered how to construct an entire shoe from this bio-based material. PA11 is durable and tough yet flexible and lightweight, making it the perfect material for a high-performance running shoe. And the rest of the technical story? The sole of the Cyclon shoe is made from Polyamide 12, or Pebax. Pebax is a popular material in the sportswear industry and also happens to be 100 percent recyclable. Due to the incredible quality of these two materials, used product can be ground, melted and transformed into shoes of the same
© 2021 Diversified Communications
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For a fun, animated explanation of the Cyclon concept, click here.
and waste from manufacturing by half, a first but mindful step towards protecting our planet. How do you promote this to consumers? Our vision for Cyclon is to include our community in the process. We want our subscribers to follow Cyclon’s journey, take ownership – or lack of – and truly be part of this groundbreaking moment in sportswear. Through Cyclon, we extend an invitation to invest in experience instead of ownership, an entirely new concept in the realm of sportswear.
On’s Cyclon subscription service establishes a relationship with the brand’s runners by allowing them to return their used shoes for a new pair — the old pair is then recycled for 100 percent reuse, completing the circle.
type. We believe that Cyclon is a testament to the complementary nature of performance and sustainability. At under 200 grams, the Cyclon shoe is On’s lightest shoe in both weight and environmental impact. How does the “subscription” shoe concept work? Cyclon equips our subscribers with 100 percent recyclable high-performance products, but circularity is only achieved once we get the product back — that’s where the subscription comes in. The Cyclon subscription service creates a relationship with our runners, one where they can return used products in exchange for our next model. How does that all come together? The recycling process begins when the Cyclon subscriber returns after-life product in its initial packaging. Used gear 22
will arrive at recycling facilities, where it will be ground in preparation for melting and 100 percent reuse. We expect the Cyclon running shoe to provide unmatched performance up to 600km. That’s a lifespan of around six to nine months, which means we’ll be exchanging products twice a year. To achieve maximum sustainability we ask our subscribers to partner with us in only returning products once they have reached the end of their life cycles. While they’re out enjoying a new pair, we’re recycling the old, completing the circle. It seems this is more than a way to sell shoes — it is more of a company commitment. Growing up in the Swiss Alps gives you a special appreciation for the natural world. Nature is not only where we play and run, it’s also our source of inspiration and, above all, our home. The
genius and beauty of the natural world is that it’s inherently cyclical — all living organisms play a role in the health of the entire ecosystem. From birth to decay to rebirth, waste is never part of the equation. And Cyclon grew out of that philosophy? Cyclon is our effort to mimic nature by designing out waste and keeping materials in use. It’s our first step to challenging the linear production models of the apparel and footwear industry. The environmental impact of our products has always been top of mind, but now, as a truly global company with a worldwide community, we must take on more responsibility. Materials are responsible for 80 percent of our carbon footprint related to product. Created from over 50 percent bio-based materials, the Cyclon shoe has the potential to reduce On’s carbon emissions
Will this shoe be available through retailers? The Cyclon subscription will not be available through our retailers when the Cyclon shoe launches in the latter half of this year. We’re looking forward to seeing how the service expands once it’s underway. Does this sustainability concept add to the cost of the product and are customers willing to pay more for a sustainably-made pair of running shoes? Consumers who purchase a Cyclon subscr iption a re conscious of the effect their purchases have on the environment. We’re confident that experiencing the latest in running technology while contributing to sportswear’s circular economy is well worth the $29.99 a month subscription fee. What comes after Cyclon? I’m incredibly proud of the milestones On has achieved in the drive towards sustainable solutions and look forward to taking humble steps forward in making the greatest positive impact. n © 2021 Diversified Communications
Walking the Eco-Walk Balega’s commitment to sustainability is part of every step along the way to a greener future.
ustainability goes well beyond raw materials and final product at Balega — it is all about process and logistics and how the entire package ties together for a sustainable corporate philosophy. Since 2013 Balega has steadily been working towards a greener footprint, a process that has included waste water reduction, lowering energy consumption, maximizing opportunities to reduce the number of containers it ships and recycled pulp in its
packaging. Natural fibers such as mohair have been part of its performance line for a long time and 2021 will see the sock company introducing recycled performance fiber into some of its top selling styles. It all stems from the company’s culture since its beginning, according to Tanya Pictor, VP of Balega at Implus. “Balega is a brand with conscience, from community to environment,” she points out. “It is our contribution in some small way of protecting our world – the world we
Balega’s environmental effort starts with raw materials and includes recycled performance fiber in its socks.
enjoy running in – for our children and a brighter tomorrow. It should not be part of your thinking, just a part of your doing.” For Balega to introduce recycled/sustainable performance yarn into its product is an easy pivot, after the more substantial commitment with its manufacturing partners to invest in energy-efficient machinery, refining process and recovering waste water. But that investment has paid off. “Consumers demand great product, but they also want you to do good,” Pictor explains. “It separates those brands that are real and authentic from the pretenders. You have to walk the walk to truly gain consumer loyalty and acceptance.” Balega has also invested in promoting its sustainability message through its packaging, social media and every touch point along the way, always mindful not to seek opportunity through jumping on the bandwagon. “We always try to remain humble in our commitment to our consumers and the run community,” Pictor adds. Balega understands that everything it does to forward its eco-efforts has a cost, but it strongly believes that consumers are willing to pay more for product provided that the perceived value add is genuine. “Given the option, we believe consumers in the run community will opt for a sustainable proposition,” Pictor says. “Our consumers are extremely passionate about the environment they play in.” The next step is for run specialty retailers to take that eco-message to that consumer, an effort Pictor believes these stores are well suited for. “Our run specialty retail partners are all extremely adept at selling product that differentiates,” she says. “Offering them a compelling story allows them to do what they do so well, better.” n
© 2021 Diversified Communications
A New Mission Integrating recycled plastic bottles, and EcoPure, Newton Running releases an eco-friendly Spring 2021 line.
Newton Running’s Spring 2021 line has been re-engineered to be made entirely from recycled or biodegradable materials.
s it enters into its second year as active members of the UN Global Compact – which requires a commitment to its 10 principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environmental responsibility and anti-corruption – Newton Running has made sustainability a cornerstone of its Spring 2021 Line. Newton has long made the environment part of its corporate mission – it currently powers its office and warehouse space entirely with wind energy and recycles or composts 95 percent of all the waste it generates – and this next generation of footwear marks a major stride in the brand’s sustainability initiative. “Ever since Newton was founded in 2007 we have been committed to leaving this planet better than we found it,” explains CEO Jerry Lee. “To now have a product 25
line that matches our mission is a very proud day for us.” For Spring 2021, Newton Running has re-engineered both the men’s and women’s Gravity 10, Motion 10, Distance 10 and Distance S 10 to be crafted entirely from recycled or biodegradable materials, all without sacrificing performance. Taking it a step further, Newton is also taking plastic bottles out of landfills and utilizing them in the laces and upper mesh of each shoe. Each pair will use four water bottles worth of recycled plastic. The soles feature EcoPure, a biodegradable plastic additive that is designed to help reduce the amount of waste and plastics in our environment. An average shoe can take upwards of 40 years to biodegrade. However, Newton’s Motion 10, for example, is treated to break
down into nontoxic biomass and biogas up to 75 percent quicker in landfills while not compromising quality, durability or performance, so that in 10 years only biomass and biogas remain. The biogas can be used to create clean energy and the biomass turns into non-toxic dirt. The shoeboxes are even entirely compostable. “Moving forward, all Newton products will be made of recycled and biodegradable materials — this is only the beginning of our innovations,” adds Lee. “The next generation of runners is depending on us to make better decisions today.” The Spring 2021 line, the first release of what the company says will prove to be an innovative year for Newton, is a step towards creating a more sustainable future for the brand, runners, and outdoor enthusiasts. n
© 2021 Diversified Communications
Package Deal ASICS’ efforts range from reducing emissions to utilizing recycled materials in product and packaging. / By Judy Leand
Nearly the entire upper of the ASICS GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 neutral running shoe is formed with recycled materials, and the Flytefoam midsole technology incorporates cellulose nanofiber, a sustainable material that increases the durability of the foam.
ong on the forefront of running industry eco-efforts, ASICS continues to establish aggressive company-wide goals regarding sustainability. Today those initiatives range from reducing emissions to using recycled materials in products as well as packaging. “Regarding our materials, we’re targeting 100 percent recycled polyester uppers in all footwear by 2030,” says ASICS America merchandising manager Robert Fay. “We are working not only on products such as footwear and apparel, but also on packaging, 26
which is essential for the transportation and protection of merchandise.” Fay explains that as part of the packaging effort, ASICS reviewed the specifications of its shoebox and introduced an environmentally friendly box last summer. “The new box is made of 100 percent recycled paper and uses 10 percent less material compared to our previous box,” he explains, while water-based ink rather than oil-based ink saves about 50 percent in ink usage from the original box. The new sustainable version will be applied
to an estimated 47.5 million boxes a year and, as a result, ASICS expects to reduce its CO2 emission by approximately 1200 metric tons annually. Fay also points out that the company has made major sustainability progress across its running and trail lines, with the pinnacle of those efforts the recently released GELNimbus Lite 2 and GEL-Kayano Lite shoes, plus a new trail offering coming in Fall 2021. “These new models are the sustainable versions of two of our legends models, with over 80 percent recycled polyester in
© 2021 Diversified Communications
Part of the new ASICS Sunrise Reborn Pack, the upper of the Metaride utilizes recycled clothing collected in Japan.
the uppers, a sustainable fiber injected into the midsole to reduce weight without sacrificing durability and a process implemented to reduce waste during the coloration process,” he explains. ASICS is now launching two unique collections focusing on those sustainability efforts. • The Sunrise Reborn Pack is comprised of two models – the Metaride and the GELQuantum 360 TYO – both of which utilize recycled polyester fabric made from collected clothes in the shoes’ uppers. “We utilize clothing that would be discarded and reduce the usage of virgin polyester raw mater ials,” says Fay. “We 27
have achieved reducing CO2 emissions by approximately 25 percent in this recycling process, compared to the general manufacturing process of polyester pellets. We are taking up the challenge of circular manufacturing and responding to climate change.” • The second collection is a pack for Earth Day and other similar initiatives are in the pipeline — complete with apparel tie-ins. Each season, ASICS continues to increase the percentage of items in the line containing sustainable materials, as well as the percentage of sustainable elements in the products, and within the next year expects to
release a product with a fully recycled upper. “All new items in the line have 20 percent or more recycled polyester, with the goal of 100 percent by 2030. Each season we’re moving closer and closer to that mark,” according to Fay. Of course, such advancements also bring unique challenges, primarily sourcing at scale and ensuring the materials and processes adhere to the company’s durability standards. “We tend to start with tests in a single style, then expand out from there. The team is experimenting with numerous sustainability initiatives per season, all with the goal of broader line adoption going
forward,” notes Fay. “Any time you’re trying something new that has not yet been adopted at scale, there can be initial costs associated with R&D and implementation. “A s we i mplem ent a nd expand their presence in our line, those constraints tend to be mitigated,” he adds. “Costing is not the primary challenge, it’s more the scaling up of the programs which plays into some of our targets.” Addressing consumer demand for sustainable products, Fay believes that some consumers are willing to pay more, but the majority acknowledge that while it is part of their decision matrix, it may not be something they’d pay a premium for currently. As a result, ASICS is focused on offering sustainability as a benefit and giving the consumer the opportunity to decide. For example, the GELNimbus Lite model features more sustainable benefits than the traditional GEL-Nimbus shoe, but both carry the same retail price. Fay credits run specialty retailers with being a sounding board for the brand through the development process, which has helped lead to initiatives such as the Lite shoes. He adds that while sustainability is a hot topic globally, “we definitely see the U.S. being early adopters in ASICS’ sustainability goals.” n © 2021 Diversified Communications
Setting a High Bar Janji continues to hold itself to a sustainable standard in production and product development. / By Carly Russo
he potential for eco-consciousness is never too high for Janji, a company founded on the principle of sustainability. Now the running apparel brand is inspiring industry change with new products and practices, making it more environmentally responsible than ever. Since its founding, Janji has been committed to funding clean water projects around the world. The brand’s current collection
is inspired by Chennai, India — the first city ever to run out of water due to climate change. In an effort to reduce its own water consumption, Janji strives to create apparel that is more odor-resistant and requires less washing. “Apparel production is the second dirtiest industry and we want to be a leader to fight for clean water through sustainability,” says Janji co-founder Dave Spandorfer. “After
Recognizing that apparel manufacturing is one of the most environmentally harmful industries, Janji has set a goal to inspire change from within to achieve a sustainable model.
all, as a brand that cares deeply about our world and our world’s waters, Janji leading on sustainability won’t solve our issues, but it’ll hopefully help inspire, motivate and keep the conversation going.” With that goal in mind, Janji continuously holds itself accountable to improve its products and its treatment of the planet. The result is the first biodegradable technical running shirt that can decompose in four years. Whereas polyester typically decomposes in 400 years, Janji’s fabric technology significantly reduces that number by eliminating non-biodegradable alternatives. Along with quick decomposition, the brand is also developing an apparel line that is built to last. Its new products can withstand daily wear for more than five years and will include Oeko-Tex and bluesign fabrics going forward — companies that use these certified textiles take part in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible production system that eliminates harmful substances throughout the process. These values are especially close to the brand’s heart, since Janji only partners with manufacturers that uphold fair labor conditions. As brands continue to focus more on eco-efforts, Janji believes retailers can take part as well just by spreading the message. “They can buy from sustainable brands, they can encourage reducing, reusing and recycling old products and they can encourage more run commuting,” says Spandorfer, who believes retailers benefit greatly from carrying sustainable brands. Throughout the year, Janji will keep striving to meet its goals while setting the bar high. The brand projects that it will be mostly free of virgin non-biodegradable polyester in its primary fabric program by 2022. n
© 2021 Diversified Communications
Sock Experience Experia by Thorlos has put a sustainable message into its new sock line. / By Carly Russo
ocks are becoming a lot more sustainable with Experia by Thorlos entering the eco-game with the launch of an eco-friendly line focused on reducing pollution and waste in its collection for Fall 2021. The Experia Green line features an assortment of performance socks made from certified Repreve yarns, which consist of fibers sourced from recycled materials. The new socks are crafted to assist in ocean clean-up by recycling an average of four plastic bottles per pair — contributing to
the brand’s mission to reduce global waste. “Today’s consumers demand high performance and are incredibly sensitive to the impact their choices have on the environment,” says Eric Cody, global director for Thorlos and Experia. “We are proud that we have been able to meet both of these demands with Experia Green.” Experia Green is the first line of many new products for Thorlos and Experia under the recent partnership with Lamour. The brand joined Terramar and Trimfit among many others in Lamour’s portfolio,
The new Experia Green is the first of many lines for Thorlos from Lamour.
“We are constantly looking for more ways to source recycled materials to eliminate waste to protect our planet without compromising quality and durability of our products.” Ani Basmacioglu, director of brand merchandising for Lamour
establishing a partnership that will help the brand reach its goal of introducing more sustainable practices in its supply chain. “We are constantly looking for more ways to source recycled materials to eliminate waste to protect our planet without compromising quality and durability of our products,” says Ani Basmacioglu, director of brand merchandising for Lamour. “Experia is looking to bring awareness about the importance of being green. We want to make our products better while making a difference,” Featuring a mesh fabric and blisterresistant seams, the Experia Green sock provides a breathable option for runners with the planet’s well-being in mind. As consumers increasingly demand better green practices from retailers, brands that care about sustainability are becoming more popular. “As more customers look for creative ways to recycle and reuse, retailers will benefit from supporting brands like Experia that are purposeful to show their commitment and support in helping bring awareness and in making the planet better,” adds Basmacioglu. The socks are available in three lengths, including a no show liner, a tab back low cut and an ankle cut in five color ways for Fall 2021. Experia plans to create additional colors for a Spring 2022 collection. n
© 2021 Diversified Communications
Breathing Easier The Gore-Tex brand continues to be a leader in sustainable technology and practices. / By Judy Leand
Gore-Tex technologies are designed to offer an optimized combination of a low environmental footprint while maintaining a high level of durable performance.
or more than 40 years, the GoreTex brand has been a leader in the technical apparel, footwear, gloves and accessories industries. That commitment is even stronger in 2021. “Gore-Tex product technologies are designed to offer an optimized combination of a low environmental footprint while maintaining the highest level of durable performance,” says Kristin HerrmannRatz, who works in the company’s Fabrics Division Strategic Marketing. “In addition, we offer solutions that help customers [partner brands] deliver long-lasting products and services to consumers to ensure the 30
products successfully perform for the duration of their lifecycle. She adds that in the running footwear category, Gore-Tex Invisible Fit product technology laminate, which is bonded directly into the shoe, is bluesign approved. Last fall Gore-Tex launched its three PRO Technologies for apparel: PRO most durable, PRO with stretch and PRO more breathable. It’s the brand’s most rugged and durable product technology and the garments using it will carry the “Gore-Tex PRO NEW” tag. In Spring 2021, the market will see an increasing number of partner brands using
the new PRO. The three-layer Gore-Tex PRO laminates feature an innovative Gore Micro Grid Backer technology, now developed with solution dyeing (for the non-stretch Gore-Tex PRO fabrics). A specially woven lining protects the membrane from abrasion on the inside and slides easily over layers, allowing the wearer to move freely. The low denier backer is still highly breathable and robust, without adding excessive weight, and the robust outer face material is comprised only of textiles between 30-200 denier, ensuring that garments are highly abrasion- and snag-resistant. The company has also committed
© 2021 Diversified Communications
Gore remains more committed than ever to applying its scientific knowledge to protect both people and the planet.
to an extensive, long-term effort to eliminate PFCs of Environmental Concern from its consumer products and believes that the single most influential lever to improve the environmental footprint of a product is to prolong its useful life. Gore-Tex products are built to last longer and taking care of those products helps maintain performance while extending the life of the article. For this reason, Gore is committed to educating consumers on wash and care of its products, providing repair kits to keep Gore-Tex gear functional when damage does happen and providing information on global Gore-Tex authorized repair centers. The brand is also 31
incorporating the use of more recycled textiles; dying methods that have fewer environmental impacts via less water, chemicals or energy; and simplification in the manufacturing process to integrate Gore-Tex into shoes to reduce water, energy and waste. The company employs the bluesign, HIGG Index, OEKO-TEX certifications on the social and environmental fronts and these standards help ensure transparency and product integrity. “The Gore-Tex brand will continue to invest in research and development as part of our commitment to high-performing product innovation. We take this responsibility as an industry leader very seriously and will continue to evolve our science and technology — working to
develop new materials, technologies, processes and products that offer high-performance while supporting our sustainability journey to protect people and the planet,” says Herrmann-Ratz. Increased Consumer Demand She also observes that the industry is seeing an increased demand from consumers for eco-designed products and many top brands are responding with compelling offerings of bio-based and mission-based materials. “Sustainability is a key priority for the Gore-Tex brand and we are committed to applying our scientific knowledge and expertise to protect both people and the planet,” she explains. “The ability to leverage our
innovative curiosity has created an exciting new focus where we can seek to provide sustainable solutions to help meet the challenges of a circular economy. The opportunities that can be found within these emergent ideas are particularly intriguing and where true innovative change can make a significant impact. “In exploring different ways to collaborate with other industry leaders on the rethinking of products, processes and existing business models, we are opening the door to new potential for the future,” Herrmann-Ratz adds. While brands are continuing to seek more sustainable material options, consumer demand is mixed and Herrmann-Ratz describes two main consumer groups — those who feel strongly about purchasing sustainable products and don’t see price as an obstacle and those who want to purchase responsibly made products but expect the brands to absorb any additional manufacturing and material costs rather than pass those onto the consumer. In the running market, however, there is strong interest in sustainable products from all parties — partner brands, retailers and consumers alike. “We have noticed that the most prevalent attributes being communicated to consumers by [our] customers and retailers are about the use of recycled materials, un-dyed or solution dyed materials and the focus on a product’s durability and lifecycle longevity,” says HerrmannRatz. “Customers, retailers and consumers understand that a product with a long useful life is a key lever in reducing environmental impact.” n © 2021 Diversified Communications
Packaging It In VF Corp. and its outdoor and apparel brands commit to eliminate plastic packaging. / By Carly Russo
The North Face and other VF Corp. brands are focused on developing packaging alternatives that make less of a negative environmental impact.
lastic bags are a thing of the past for VF Corp – or at least they will be by 2025, as the company vows to eliminate single-use plastic with its new goals for sustainable packaging. “With a portfolio comprising some of the world’s most iconic apparel and footwear brands, we recognize we play an important role as environmental stewards and can serve as a catalyst for industry movements that drive positive change,” explains Jeannie Renné-Malone, VP–global sustainability for VF. VF is the parent company to several outdoor and running brands, including The North Face, Timberland and Icebreaker, all of which will implement reusable and recyclable materials instead of plastic going forward. By 2023, VF aims to transition to paper-based packaging that consists of 80 percent recycled content at minimum. Any of the company’s existing single-use
packaging by that year will be 100 percent recycled or comprised of bio-based content. However, getting rid of plastic is only half the battle. In order to keep up with sustainability standards, VF is making paper packaging that is eco-friendly as well. The company has partnered with Canopy’s Pack4Good initiative as a commitment to stay away from materials from endangered forests and vulnerable sources in an effort to reduce forest fiber consumption. “Our new global packaging goals are an example of how we can leverage our scale for significant impact. In just one year, we could potentially eliminate as
“In just one year, we could potentially eliminate as many as 100 million polybags from our packaging waste.” Jeannie Renné-Malone, VP– global sustainability for VF
many as 100 million polybags from our packaging waste,” says Renné-Malone. The North Face has already contributed to this goal through its Polybag Brigade program, where the brand recycled more than five million bags. Like The Nor th Face, VF’s other brands are also making strides individually. Timberland is currently designing its products for 100 percent circularity — meaning everything can be recycled in order to produce zero-waste. This includes using natural materials sourced through regenerative agriculture. As for Icebreaker, the brand plans to remove synthetics from its entire product line over the next three years. Staying on track to meet its goal by 2025, VF is setting yearly targets for itself and its external events. This year, the company’s distribution centers became zero-waste as of April 1. n
© 2021 Diversified Communications
Green Down Under Fractel is bringing its eco-message – and its running headwear – from Australia to the U.S.
n Australian headwear company is making inroads into the U.S. running market with a distinct eco-message that focuses on sustainable materials and a partnership with 1% For The Planet. Founded in 2018 by Australian athlete and entrepreneur Matt Niutta, Fractel is bringing a focus on headwear for runners that offer a fusion of function and style, along with its own environmental message. “Given our love for the outdoors, our future product planning has always been eco-focused,” Niutta says, explaining that since it was initially unable to meet the MOQ for recycled fabrics Fractel partnered with 1% For The Planet, where one percent of its total revenue is contributed to an environmental non-profit organization. “We pride ourselves on a quality product and a brand with both personality and a story,” Niutta tells Running Insight. “Our products are a direct representation of our community and our target market is anyone with a passion for movement and the outdoors — primarily in the running and adventure space.” The company is taking that eco-message a step further in 2021 with the introduction of 100 percent recycled polyester into a range of its products. It will be using CyclePET milled in Taiwan, which uses 100 percent post-consumer PET beverage bottles to make recycled PET yarn for the fabrics. This particular fabric Fractel will be introducing is bluesign-approved, which ensures it of a responsible use of resources, clean processes with controlled air and water emissions, safe processes for the workers and in the end a safe product for consumers. This year Fractel is also continuing its product expansion with the introduction of 100 percent recycled polyester fabric
to be used in more than 75 percent of its products. “Sustainable fashion is a key driver for us and we have our sights set on transitioning our whole range to recycled materials as soon as possible,” Niutta says. Since its launch in Australia in 2018, Fractel has grown organically and it is now making a push into the U.S. market, already being stocked in more than 35 stores domestically. Further growth was seen last year with the launch of Fractel UK as well as in South Africa and continued growth in America, along with retailers and agents in New Zealand, Denmark, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong. “We are a small brand with plenty of momentum,” explains Niutta. “The running culture and community aspect is massive in the U.S and we want to take what we know from building our brand here in Australia further abroad to share more stories and
continue growing our community. “When performance and style are combined, synergies are sure to arise,” he adds. “Fractel Headwear intends to bridge and commune the worlds of sports and fashion, by bringing out the best of both.” Fractel found initial success in its home country by focusing distribution in run specialty stores with a focus on bringing premium products to the table with sustainability front of mind. “We’re a community-driven brand with a passion for sustainability, function and style,” he adds. “We all have a ‘why’ and we believe we all have a story to share. We want our products to resonate with you like they do us and be a conversation starter for all the right reasons.” A major part of its message is its ecocommitment, evidenced by its partnership with 1% For The Planet. n
Fractel is bringing its headwear for runners to America, along with its eco-commitment to 1% For The Planet.
© 2021 Diversified Communications
French Twist Veja teams with a local running group to develop and promote its ecologically-produced Condor 2 running shoe.
aris-based footwear brand Veja has found a distinctly French way to promote both its latest product and the eco-message behind its 2021 offerings by teaming with an offbeat running group called Jolie Foulée, which calls itself a bunch of “untalented runners.” Sébastien Kopp, co-founder of V, explains the reasoning behind the partnership, the benefits to both groups and how it ties in with the Veja Condor, the brand’s first ecological running shoe. Running Insight: Just what is the Jolie Foulée running group? Kopp: It is a bunch of friends, super nice guys. In Paris, everybody always has a big opinion of themselves. They don’t. They just have pleasure in everything they’re doing. How did Veja become involved with them?? Lionel, one of Jolie Foulée founders, was working for Patagonia and that’s how he met the Veja crew. As soon as Veja started working on a running shoe we contacted them to test them and get their feedback. At one of these meetings, we asked them, “Why don’t we make a shoe together“? We knew they had good eyes for running shoes. Why Jolie Foulée? The Veja collaborations are always a question of who we meet and who we like. We can collaborate with high-end fashion designers or with a young and unknown artist. Our collaborations are always a question of love. What do you hope to accomplish with this particular collaboration? These incredible people always lead us somewhere else, make us discover their
an effective running shoe, convince the best retailers to offer it to their customers and then it’s rolling. Veja does not do any advertising, we do not a have a financial relationship with influencers. What is Veja’s commitment to the environment? Our principles are to trace ecological raw materials and then to establish clean chains of production. The Condor 2 sole is made with sugar cane, banana oil and rice husk — it is more than 50 percent bio-based. This has never been done in the running world.
Veja’s new Condor 2 (above) illustrates Veja’s commitment to the environment, while its partnership with Jolie Foulée is its unique way to get feedback while connecting with the run community.
universe. It is very nice for us — it is like traveling with amazing companions. What else is Veja doing to promote the Condor 2? You know, we are not the most aggressive with promoting. Users will promote it if they like it. We have a very natural way of promoting: We do the job. We propose
How has the Condor been accepted by the running community? So when we launched the first one, everybody was smiling. From 30 retailers the first season we now have 200 around the world, working with the best stores. To organically establish Veja in the running world will take three to four years. We have a lot of projects coming up — our process is step by step. How do Veja’s products reflect your commitment to the environment? Every material in a Veja sneaker or running shoe is traced, so we know where it came from. Every Veja shoe contains wild rubber from Amazonia, organic and fairtrade cotton and recycled materials. It is not one line, or one model. It is everything we do. Producing it in Brazil is important. We don’t make promises, we only talk about what is achieved, what is out on the market. But we don’t use global expressions like “sustainability” or “commitments to the environment.” So many brands are using it today and they are not doing the job. So we prefer to talk about reality. n
© 2021 Diversified Communications
Keeping It Wild Runners can shop from 14 outdoor brands this month to support the protection of North America’s Wild Places.
unners and outdoors enthusiasts can shop with a purpose April 21-27 and raise money for the Conservation Alliance’s #WeKeepItWild campaign. A number of top run and outdoor brands – ranging from Topo Athletic to GU Energy Labs, 14 in all – are coming together to support the Conservation Alliance by donating five percent of all online sales during the last week of April. The goal is to create a rallying point for like-minded brands to join together and drive meaningful impact during the week surrounding Earth Day, April 22. The coalition sale is an opportunity for consumers to shop from the participating brands to make an elevated commitment to supporting The Conservation Alliance’s efforts to protect North America’s Wild Places. “The Conservation Alliance was established in 1989 to bring like-minded brands together for the protection of wild places.
The #WeKeepItWild campaign does just that by collectively raising funds that, when combined, have a much greater impact,” says Conor McElyea, membership program manager at The Conservation Alliance. “Our members are vital to our work — by paying annual membership dues, dictating how and where those funds are allocated and throughout the year using their voice as advocates for the protection of public lands. We are sincerely heartened to see this group of member organizations going above and beyond to support our mission and hope that this program can continue to grow and become a true win-win for both the Alliance and participating brands.” Those participating brands are Helly Hansen, MiiR, Backpacker’s Pantry, Toad&Co, Ruffwear, Gregory Packs, Topo Athletic, Royal Robbins, Nomadix, Mountain Safety Resea rch ( MSR), Therm-a-Rest, Grayl, GU Energy Labs and Dometic. Funds raised online from these companies
will help the Alliance protect wild lands and waters across North America, supporting a vision of a planet where wild places, wildlife and people thrive together. “Now, more than ever, the team at Topo Athletic has been honored to play a role in lifting people’s health and spirits through outdoor exploration and a deeper connection with nature,” says marketing director Michael O’Brien. “We are proud to be an ongoing supporting partner of the Conservation Alliance and all the critical work they do to protect our lands and public spaces. Topo looks forward to contributing to the annual We Keep It Wild campaign so the Conservation Alliance can continue to act on their mission and we thank our community for making the campaign a success.” “GU Energy Labs is proud to continue and elevate its support of The Conservation Alliance through the #WeKeepItWild campaign,” adds Christian Lepley, VP– marketing at GU Energy Labs. “Protecting the places we play for communities all over the country is a key component of our mission and this partnership allows us to have a direct impact ensuring access for anyone who wants to explore these amazing spaces,” The Conservation Alliance is a coalition of 250 businesses who pool resources to fund and advocate for the protection of North America’s Wild Places. Since 1989, the Alliance has helped protect 73 million acres of wildlands and 3576 river miles, removed or halted 36 dams, purchased 18 climbing areas and designated five marine reserves. To date, they have awarded more than $25 million in grants to 211 organizations. To learn more: http://www.conservationalliance.com n
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Run For Everyone Communities need safe green spaces to run — here are some ways retailers can help provide them. / By Tonya Russell
s rewarding as running is, many do not get to reap the benefits of the sport — even though just a few neighborhoods over there may be a robust running scene. One reason for this, which may also affect the overall health of the community, is the lack of safe green space and paved roads to aid in the pursuit of wellness. Studies show a correlation between the health of a community and this access to green space. Many running retailers are hoping to bridge the gap, both by helping to provide an enjoyable experience for seasoned runners and for new members of the community who may not otherwise be exposed to the sport. Safe spaces in which to run can look different for every community and while the area of Schaumburg, IL, is considered suburban, there is a large trailer park community situated next to an industrial park. Chris Schiel, the owner of Xtra Mile Running, hopes that his store can help make running accessible for the kids living in the Elk Grove section where the trailer parks are located. Schiel’s store has a Youth Run Club, a free eight-week program, and any given summer 60 to 75 children practice twice a week and then participate in actual meets. They’ve been partnering with CARA, a local nonprofit with a Go Run program, which sets up free five-day races in Chicagoarea parks. Schiel explains how he hopes to get Schaumburg more involved. “For our events we partner with the park district and local coaches who help them get excited about running. As they get older, they find role models in the program. We’ve been trying 36
Xtra Mile Running partners with a local park district and coaches to get kids interested in running.
to gain traction in Elk Grove, since there are disadvantaged kids that could really benefit from our program.” Most of their children come from what Schiel refers to as “District 54,” but he believes that other Elk Grove kids need an outlet as well. He calls the area “Truck City” and condemns the “nasty industrial roads.” The atmosphere around truck stops is no place for children. They may be out of a truck’s sight line, leading to potential injury. Also, most people there are either sleeping or refueling, so drivers may not be mindful of small children darting past. The realities and myths around crime and even abduction abound, as well. Schiel’s mission for Summer 2021 is to get more participants from the mobile homes to join in the running festivities, which take place in parks that aren’t too far away but remain inaccessible when there is no transportation. COVID-19
permitting, he is working with CARA to figure out busing or other options to help boost participation. The Philly Effort Common pitfalls for impoverished urban areas include treacherous road conditions, equipped with potholes, uneven sidewalks and traffic. Drug crime exists as well, like in the Kensington section of Philadelphia — an area embattled with an opioid crisis so bad that children see addicts and needles on their way to school. An area like this would not be ideal for someone to take up jogging or any form of outdoor exercise. Someone living in this community may also not be able to afford to commute somewhere else to start running. Think about the costs associated with running. The average income of individuals who run the New York City Marathon is $130,000 annually. That is almost 300
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percent more than the general population. With so many being willing to splurge on the latest carbon plate shoe, it’s easy to overlook how cost-prohibitive the sport can be. In some neighborhoods in urban communities it is common for half of the population to make less than $20,000 per year. For a city like Philadelphia, the promise of gentrification means that cozy residences are being purchased in crime-ridden areas like Kensington, forcing clean-up efforts in the process, but it may not necessarily unite neighbors. Ross Martinson, the owner of Philadelphia Runner, was never aware of the added burden felt by inner city kids. “Growing up outside of the city, it didn’t occur to me that some kids have to make sure that they’re running in running-specific clothing,” he says. “Otherwise, they have to worry about the police thinking they’ve done something wrong and that they’re running from something.” (One of his stores is in University City, the section near the University of Pennsylvania’s campus, a mixed income area with a heavy police presence.) Martinson explains that running stores and clubs have the ability to unite a community when they are inclusive and someone who would ordinarily fear looking suspicious running alone may find their community in group runs. Philly Runner often partners with Students Run Philly Style, a program that pairs students with mentors, with the ultimate goal of completing a half or full marathon. Police presence is increased 37
Philadelphia Runner looks to unite its diverse community through running.
in areas undergoing gentrification and unfortunately often it’s because new neighbors are more willing to call the police when someone or something looks suspicious. Police make some feel safe, but a study from the Urban Institute finds that many residents do not feel safer with a police presence. In fact, only about 34 percent of residents believe police are actually there to help. Last Lap’s Contribution This is a similar story for the south side of Chicago, an area always pulled into conversations about crime. Last Lap
Cornerstore is a way for local runners to get what they need to run without leaving an area in which they feel most at home and comfortable. Owner Ian Gonzalez set up shop in the Bronzeville shipping container community and, according to its website, “Last Lap Cornerstore’s mission is to make sure you have what you need to power through your workouts, group runs or race days. Leave the big-box store in the past and come to your friendly neighborhood corner store for runners.” The location and mission take away the intimidation factor that
comes from visiting a high-end retailer in another neighborhood of Chicago. For retailers searching for a way to give back to their local community, no action is too small to help create equity and reach individuals who could one day enjoy running. A task as common as plogging can help to beautify the community and make it safer for foot traffic. (The name comes from “plocka upp,” Swedish for pick up, and it is when you stop to pick up garbage on runs.) Many run clubs and stores, including Philadelphia Runner, have hosted meetups to do just this, often cleaning up waterfronts and parks — beautifying the space, preventing garbage from ending up in waterways and making them more safe for runners. Martinson says retailers that partner with or sponsor races should make sure that a portion of their proceeds go to enhancing the community. For instance, funds from the Philly 10K have gone to beautifying the Reading Viaduct, adding greenery to a sea of city concrete. For ideas on how to help, he also recommends connecting with a local community development corporation to see what existing projects could use extra support. There is always something that the running community can do, Martinson explains. “The industry is changing and beginning to wise up to what’s happening around us.” Running can be for everyone and the existing running community is in the position to inspire more people to fall in love with it. n © 2021 Diversified Communications
Running For Humanity College professor and Zwift record holder Marcus Holmes runs for pleasure — and to make the world a better place.
hat was once an activity for Marcus Holmes to stay in shape as a college student has turned into a full-blown passion that recently earned the William & Mary professor a distinction shared by Hollywood movie star George Clooney, among other big name entertainers. And he is using this newfound-celebrity to promote his work in diplomacy research and as a part of popular social justice campaign called “Make Humanity Great Again.” Holmes is an avid runner, logging in the neighborhood of 10 miles a day, and he has been using the Zwift platform to improve his marathon time and connect with other runners. Holmes runs so much on Zwift that he has recorded the most running miles of anyone on the platform — 8107.7 as of earlier this year. This Zwift connection put him in touch with British comedian/actor Eddie Izzard to discuss international diplomacy during a recent virtual marathon. It seems that Izzard herself ran a series of virtual marathons for a campaign called “Make Humanity Great Again” and invited many people to join as guests during her runs, including such notable entertainers as Clooney, Stanley Tucci and comedian and podcast host Joe Rogan. “Hey, I was a guest just like Clooney,” Holmes says. “Of course I’m not comparing myself to these people, but I just think it’s kind of fun that I was involved in something some pretty famous people took part in also.” During their mid-January conversation, Holmes sat in front of a Zoom background of the school’s Wren Building and Izzard ran on a treadmill. They spoke for nearly a half-hour about topics ranging from Holmes’ work at William & Mary to his research on diplomacy. “We were talking about running and my academic work and that dovetailed with her interests, so it all came together in a 38
nice way that I really wasn’t expecting. It was fun,” says Holmes. During the “Make Humanity Great Again” campaign, Izzard ran 32 marathons on a treadmill in 31 days to raise money for charity. Those tuning into Holmes’ conversation with Izzard heard about the research Holmes is doing on diplomacy for a book he is writing with Nicholas J. Wheeler, a professor at University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. The book will explain how some world leaders are able to build bonds of trust through face-to-face interactions, while others fail to do so. Holmes started running competitively after college. That’s when he ran the first of his 17 marathons, including Boston, Chicago and New York. He started using Zwift in June of 2018 in preparation for another marathon. He set Marcus Holmes is using his newfound “celebrity” to spread the word about diplomacy and social justice. Photo: Stephen Salpukas/William & Mary.
a goal to run a sub-three-hour marathon and the online program, which includes a mobile application to chart progress and chat with other runners, helped him accomplish that. He ran a 2:59.09 in that race and has since bested that mark with a 2:56.48. Holmes estimates he runs 10 to 12 miles a day on the treadmill in his basement. All those miles add up quickly, which is why he was able to rack up such a large number on Zwift. He has become semifamous for his mile total and for his time in the spotlight with Izzard. “I started using Zwift to sort of keep my mind off of something that normally is really boring and sort of difficult to do,” Holmes says. “And it turned out to be this large international community that I had no idea even existed that now I’m a part of and kind of famous on it, too.” Holmes has connected with runners in Singapore, London and Brussels. What was once mostly idle chitchat has morphed into conversations about Holmes’ work. Zwift allows for actual conversations via headsets through an add-on, but Holmes sticks to texting on his old-school Blackberry phone and its QWERTY keyboard. “I know it sounds tricky to run and type, but it’s actually not that bad. You kind of get used to it,” Holmes said. Holmes started running marathons shortly after college to challenge himself. He moved up to ultra-marathons after that and now has a goal of running 100 uninterrupted miles on the treadmill. “One hundred miles is attractive to me because it’s going to be so physically horrendous,” Holmes says. “I’m not sure if I have a masochistic streak or something, but I’m just attracted to these really difficult and challenging physical endeavors. n This article was written by Nathan Warters and originally appeared on wm.edu and is excerpted with permission.
© 2021 Diversified Communications
To listen to the full interview with 605 Running on The Run Matters Podcast powered by Skechers Performance, click here.
Out of the Oven and Into the Fire A one-time bakery owner finds success in run specialty in South Dakota.
reg Koch was not looking to get into the run specialty business. He was helping to run his family’s bakery in Sioux Falls, SD, and was active on the town’s civic association when he saw a business plan from three brothers who were opening a running store. “That was 2014 and I was hooked,” Koch tells The Run Matters Podcast powered by Skechers Performance. He started working there part-time, moved to full-time and now has an ownership stake with the founding brothers Grant, Paul and Logan Watley; his role is as general manager of a thriving retail, events and coaching business. “We believe in experienced-based retail,” he tells the Podcast. “Everything we do is based on movement and that includes our enhanced fitting process, running form analysis and even our private by appointment shopping.” The store is known for its summer race series and will host an in-person half marathon, The Sioux Falls Skedaddle, in late April. Skechers Performance is the footwear and apparel sponsor for the Skedaddle. When he first saw the business plan for
Top photo: Greg Koch, 605 Running Co.; below, Benson Lang’at (right) with Meb Keflezighi.
605 Running in 2014, Koch was enthralled by the idea of creating a community-based business and he has developed that plan with a series of races and a coaching program led by Benson Lang’at, a collegiate All-American
from Kenya, who is also a clinical psychologist. “Exercise is one of the best activities for your mental health, so the runners we work with sometimes get a double dose of run coaching and psychology,” Lang’at says on the podcast. Lang’at and his staff focus on the “coaching” aspects of the job, while the store handles billing, insurance and other administrative issues. “Of course, the store benefits from the community that is developed from the coach runner experience.” Lang’at has become “a local rock star,” according to Koch, and the community rallied behind its adopted son when he made plans to run the Virtual Boston Marathon last fall. “Benson broadcast his race route and more than 100 people lined the way to cheer him on,” Koch says. The mayor of Sioux Falls Paul TenHaken was the lead cyclist clearing the way on the route and eight other friends of Langat road along as part of his support team. As for Koch, he says he had the best honor of all. “I got to be the starter of the Boston Marathon for him. I was the race director, hype man and starter all at once. It was great.” n
© 2021 Diversified Communications
For more information on The Running Event 2021, click here.
running shorts The Running Event 2021 Is Set for Nov. 30-Dec. 2 in Austin, TX RU N N I NG I N DUST RY LEA DERS – retailers, vendors, marketers, race organizers and anyone involved in the business of running – can now confidently mark their calendars for The Running Event 2021 (TRE), which will take place November 30 to December 2, 2021 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX. Diversified Communications, the organizers of TRE and publisher of Running Insight, is committed to creating a productive and lively in-person event where business, networking and celebration can occur safely for the running industry community. “Run specialty retailers have unwaveringly supported their communities and they continually inspire us to do the same for our industry,” says TRE executive director Christina Henderson. “The running industry thrives on connection and I believe that has become even more evident over the past year. Some things will look different from previous events, but the people and the connections will remain — and be stronger than ever.” Stressing that the health and well-being of attendees, exhibitors, speakers and staff will always be a priority, Henderson says she is confident in the ability to facilitate a safe and valuable event. The show organizers are working in close collaboration with the city of Austin and the Austin
New Balance Unveils Performance Mask New Balance has unveiled an Active Face Mask intended for fitness and per formance activities. The New Balance Active Face Mask features three layers of breathable fabric (a mix of polyester, polypropylene and spandex) that has been treated with wicking to channel away moisture. The mask is marked with a reflective logo and has behind-the-head 40
Convention Center as they institute reopening plans. They are also working with leading global event associations as they develop guidelines for the events industry. “This year we are putting even more work and thoughtfulness into the education provided at The Running Event to ensure it is valuable for your team, especially considering the new challenges and initiatives brought to the forefront over the
past year,” Henderson says. “The r unning community is evergrowing and evolving and we believe it’s imperative to come together and work together to support it,” Henderson adds. “We can’t wait to see you in Austin.” For more information on The Running Event 2021: www.therunning event.com. Henderson can be reached at chenderson@ divcom.com.
straps and a moldable nose clip to ensure a secure fit. Its shaped design leaves room for breathing and helps keeps the mask away from the mouth, while offering optimal chin and mouth coverage. The New Balance Active Face Mask (sizes XS/S, S/M, M/L and L/XL) retails for $25 for one mask and a wearable carrying case. It is currently available for purchase on NewBalance.com.
© 2021 Diversified Communications
V I RT UA L E V E N T
S AV E Market Week SUMMER the D AT E J U N E 8 – 10, 2021 Meaningful Connections & Quality Conversations Market Week Summer unites run specialty retailers with the running industry’s top brands for dedicated business meetings, dynamic brand presentations, and lively town halls.
Meet with brands across multiple product categories, including footwear, apparel, hosiery, technology, nutrition, and recovery
Get market insight during forwardlooking brand presentations
Speak with fellow retailers about topics critical to the run specialty industry during focused town hall discussions
LEARN MORE runninginsight.com/mw-summer HOSTED BY Produced by
running shorts Cautious Optimism Taking Hold For The Race Business in 2021 AN OPTIMISTIC NOTE WAS SOUNDED in a recent article in none other than The New York Times that reported that marathon organizers are hoping their events can return this fall with new protocols and precautions. Among the possible new protocols: The New York City Marathon usually has 55,000 runners, but officials are considering a field of roughly 30,000, among other possibilities. There will probably be thousands of fewer runners and it may take them much longer to start the race due to staggered starts. Crowds are likely to be smaller than usual along the race route. “Is the marathon going to happen? Absolutely,” Ted Metellus, the race director for the New York City Marathon, planned for Nov. 7, told The New York Times. “It’s what it is going to look like that’s in question.” Organizers admit that no matter what plans they announce in the coming weeks and months, everything is subject to change. Again in the NYT article: “Heaven knows what things may intervene between now and the race,” said Tom Grilk, chief executive of the Boston Athletic Association, which conducts the Boston Marathon, scheduled for Oct. 11. “What we’ve learned is that the signal feature of this pandemic is uncertainty.” Plans for the marathons in New York, Boston and Chicago, which is scheduled for Oct. 10, have special significance because they are parts of the World Marathon Majors series. Those races – along with the three major marathons in London, Berlin and Tokyo – offer the most prize money, attract the best marathoners and “serve as bucket-list events for runners of all abilities.” The glut of races this fall – the ones in Boston, London and Tokyo usually take place in March and April – has sent
runners scrambling. Elite runners, who usually do one race in the spring and one in the fall, must decide which major race to run. The London Marathon is supposed to take place on Oct. 3. Tokyo’s is scheduled for Oct. 17. Berlin’s is planned for Sept. 26. Everyday runners are weighing which race will give them the best chance of entry. The Los Angeles Marathon recently cluttered the schedule further, announcing it would hold its race, which normally occurs in February, on Nov. 7, the same day as New York’s. In a typical year, the Boston, Chicago and New York events draw a combined total of more than 130,000 runners. Carey Pinkowski, the chief executive for the Chicago Marathon, told the NYT that they have not given up hope that his race can produce the nearly 46,000 finishers it did in 2019, but he said this “transition year” was likely to produce an altered event. “I don’t think anyone expects it to be at the same grand level,” Pinkowski said. “Is it going to look different? Absolutely.
Is it going to feel different? Absolutely.” Officials are trying to figure out some kind of testing regimen for participants and volunteers. Also, they are running through a series of ideas that account for the size of the roads, space between runners and logistics at the start line to keep runners safely distanced for as long as possible. To compete, runners will probably be required to test negative for the coronavirus in the days leading up to the races, though organizers must still figure out when tests would take place, who would pay for them and the consequences for someone who tests positive. In New York, where the 30,000 participant maximum has been discussed, it usually takes about six minutes to release 5000 runners. Under one plan that has been discussed, according to people with knowledge of the planning, about a dozen runners would start every four seconds, which would mean taking roughly 30 minutes to get 5000 runners across the start line if the process runs at optimum efficiency.
© 2021 Diversified Communications
running shorts Tecnica’s Magma Trail Shoe Hits Stores This Spring MAGMA, TECNICA’S NEW TRAIL shoe for Spring/Summer 2021, addresses the reality of how many Americans hike these days, using one style of shoe — a trail runner. The Magma (MSRP $140) addresses the need for grip and support by bridging the gap between a trail running shoe, hiking shoe and approach shoe. The new outsole combines Vibram Litebase technology and Megagrip compound rubber that wraps the upper at critical abrasion zones, providing grip, traction and durability not just underfoot, but also at the toe and sides without additional weight or bulk, and with no need for a conventional glued rubber rand. The unique multi-traction outsole tread pattern, inspired by MTB enduro tire designs, offers optimal grip on all surfaces and in both dry and wet conditions. The last, midsole toe rocker and rounded toe shape have been designed to enhance the Magma’s responsiveness, grip and transition in technical terrain
Altra Adds To Its Elite Ambassador Team Altra has finalized its 2021 Elite Ambassador Team with the addition of Ryan Montgomery and Justin Grunewald. They join a collection of athletes who inspire communities to move naturally, amplify each other’s voices and unite athletes of all kinds. Throughout the sponsorship, each of the 20 athletes represent Altra at events and on social media, share their unique experiences, and wear Altra footwear as they train for and competes. • As one of the few openly gay athletes in ultrarunning, Montgomery seeks to create positive visibility and space for other LGTBQIA+ athletes and encourages them to 43
feel comfortable in their own skin. Montgomery is currently preparing for a 100-mile race while continuing to coach and empower all runners to go further than they ever thought possible. • No stranger to overcoming obstacles, Grunewald lost his wife to a rare cancer and worked to overcome his grief through running and working with his nonprofit, Brave Like Gabe, which supports rare cancer research and empowers cancer patients to run on hope. With aspirations to be a 100-mile race expert, Altra’s technical footwear options provided Grunewald with the confidence he needed to descend steep mountainsides and achieve great distances.
Volumental Adds Hollowell Volumental, the fit technology company based in Stockholm, has appointed Brent Hollowell, formerly at Fleet Feet, as its chief marketing officer. In the newly created role, Hollowell is responsible for positioning Volumental’s fit-based personalization platform. Hollowell brings more than 25 years of footwear marketing experience to Volumental, including key roles as the former chief marketing officer for Fleet Feet, where he managed the brand’s vendor partner program and leadership positions within Adidas and Foot Locker. He reports directly to co-founder and CEO, Alper Aydemir.
© 2021 Diversified Communications
running shorts For Your Reading Pleasure: Four New Books Focus on Different Aspects of Running A SLEW OF NEW RUNNING-RELATED books have been published by Bloomsbury Sport that shine a light on the pleasure, pain and motivation of running around the world. “Out of Thin Air: Running Wisdom and Magic from Above the Clouds in Ethiopia,” by Michael Crawley, came out in January; “Running in the Midpack: How to be a Strong, Successful and Happy Runner,” by Anji Andrews and Martin Yelling, will be out in early April; “Run Well: Essential Health Questions and Answers For Runners,” by Juliet McGrattan, will be published in midMay; and “Eat Run Enjoy: Recipes for Running Performance and Pleasure,” by Billy White, is scheduled for a mid-June release. • Why does it make sense to Ethiopian runners to get up at 3 a.m. to run up and down a hill? Who would choose to train on an impossibly steep and rocky terrain? In “Out of Thin Air,” Crawley recounts his 15 months in Ethiopia training alongside runners at all levels of the sport in order to answer these questions. Full of wonderful insights and lessons, Crawley gently pulls back the layers on one of the world’s most incredible sporting cultures, revealing a powerful simplicity at its core. • The first running guide designed to
engage with the substantial – yet often overlooked – middle-of-the-pack-runner, “Running in the Midpack” offers expert knowledge and advice to this important group to help them go faster and further. While most running guides favor beginners and elite runners, Andrews and Yelling have teamed up with the runners that make
up 80 percent of the running population. Running in the Midpack offers advice on how to reduce the risk of injuries, work through performance plateaus and bring more enjoyment to the training process through a fascinating mix of expert knowledge, runners’ stories, and sample workouts. • Dr. McGrattan’s “Run Well” is a handbook that carefully navigates and answers common health questions that ever runner asks. The book is packed with practical, realistic and sound advice on topics from head to toe for anyone who runs. • “Eat, Run, Enjoy” is about two passions: trail running and delicious food. A recipe book designed for runners of all levels, it features 80 mouth-watering, nutritionally balanced recipes, many of which are vegetarian and vegan, and all designed with busy runners in mind. In addition to recipes, White is joined by some of the world’s best trail and mountain runners, from Europe to the U.S., to offer their nutritional advice and tips on how to become a better runner. All four titles are available either as a PDF or in physical format at www.bloomsbury.com/us/non-fiction/sports/ as well as through Amazon, Bookshop.org, Barnes & Noble and other book sites.
Tifosi Partners With Podium in Canada Tifosi Optics, the Georgia-based maker of sports eyewear, has entered into a p a r tn e r s hip wi th Po diu m Imports of Penticton, BC, Canada, for exclusive distribution in all sports specialty markets and channels in Canada. Established in 2006, Podium Imports is a distributor to cycling, running, outdoor sports and other retail channels in Canada.
Omega Files for Bankruptcy Omega Sports, which has seven stores in Charlotte, Greensboro, High Point, Wilmington, Raleigh and Winston-Salem, recently filed a bankruptcy. Filed by Craig Carlock, who acquired Omega Sports in April 2017, the bankruptcy petition listed assets of the Greensboro, NC-based chain, in the range of $1 million and $10 million and similar liabilities.
According to reports, among the top unsecured claims held by non-insiders are two PPP loans secured during the pandemic amounting to $1.4 million together, as well as Phil Bowman, a former co-founder who continued as an investor with the 2017 acquisition. The biggest vendors involved repor tedly include New Balance, Brooks Sports, Under Armour and On Running.
© 2021 Diversified Communications
running shorts ASICS Unveils Two Models Based on ‘Human-Centric’ Design
TWO HIGH-PERFORMANCE RUNNING shoes that “take the power of humancentric design to the next level” were unveiled by ASICS this week as part of its Innovation Summit 2021. In what the company is calling an
industry first, the Metaspeed Sky model and the Metaspeed Edge models have each been designed with a distinct type of running style in mind. The new racing shoes do not require runners to adjust their running styles to fit the shoe anymore; instead, ASICS is giving them high-performance shoes that support their own running styles. The shoes were unveiled at ASICS’ Innovation Summit 2021 – the brand’s annual showcase of the pinnacle of new performance sportswear. This year ASICS hosted its first fully personalized experience, taking guests on an interactive virtual reality journey through the past, present and future of the ASICS story and its longstanding commitment to humancentric design. The experience culminated in the reveal of the Metaspeed innovation. The design story behind the two new models centers on an insight by scientists at the ASICS Institute of Sport Science (ISS), who recognized that the type of shoes powering the world’s fastest were
only favoring one type of runner — stride runners, those with a long-loping gait with large periods spent airborne who increase their speed by extending their stride length. ASICS research, however, showed that these shoes do not fully support elite athletes who prefer the other major running style — Cadence, which features smaller steps made while hovering over the ground with minimal up and down motion. Crucially, these runners increase their speed by both extending their stride length and increasing the number of steps they take per minute. The sports scientists at the ISS measured that athletes perform better when running in shoes that are optimized for their running style. Addressing the challenge, ASICS created the Metaspeed Sky model for Stride runners and Metaspeed Edge model for those with a Cadence style. Both are optimized and proven to improve runner performance for each of the two major running styles.
Altra Partners With &Mother for Charity Run Altra is partnering with &Mother for a Mother’s Day virtual 5K to support its mission to break the barriers that limit a woman’s ability to thrive as a mother and in a career. This Mother’s Day, May 9, women and men across the country are invited to take part in the Mom Forward 5K. The race will honor and celebrate mothers while also raising awareness of gender equality in the workplace. To register, visit, https://runsignup.com/ MomForward5k. Together, Altra and &Mother are working to shift the narrative away from barriers typically associated with motherhood in the workplace. Instead,
they hope to create an inclusive narrative that highlights the immense value mothers bring to their chosen career paths. “Altra believes in the power of women,” says Shanna Burnet te, head of Altra’s Global Community and Partnerships. “We stand behind &Mother’s mission to shape positive dialogue and to challenge the stereotypical view of working moms. Together we are thrilled to co-host a virtual 5K to bring awareness and support for mothers everywhere.” “Mother’s Day is all about celebrating the mothers in our lives, but why stop there? Let’s celebrate the ways we can all step up for mothers who
choose to pursue and thrive in career and motherhood by advocating for support, combating maternal bias and collectively working to normalize motherhood,” adds Molly Dickens, co-founder and executive director of &Mother. Registration is $25 and all race proceeds will benefit &Mother and its first initiatives. All participants will receive a medal, neck gaiter, Picky Bars, discount codes for Nuun and Cadenshae, and a chance to win Altra’s new, road-ready shoe – the Rivera. Participants are encouraged to share and tag @AltraRunning and @andmother_org using the hashtag #MomForward5K.
© 2021 Diversified Communications
One More Thing ... Eight Earth Day ideas run retailers might want to try on April 22.
till looking for an Earth Day event for your company that can move your eco-efforts forward? Here are eight ideas, courtesy of recyclecoach.com that can be adapted to any store’s or business’s situation. There are a billion people that celebrate Earth Day every year, so join the fun and Go Green! 1 Establish a Green Team Taskforce A Green Team taskforce will help you understand how your company will be more green and sustainable in the future. It can investigate methods of reducing your environmental impact, explain the goals of sustainable development to your employees, roll out affordable plans and initiatives that save you money and resources and take ownership of all sustainability matters at your company. It can be a volunteer role or officially appointed. Earth Day is a good time to announce it to the world. 2 Have a Community Earth Day Party Everyone loves an Earth Day party, so go ahead and host a special event and invite your business network, employees and customers to your own green bash. Earth Day activities for companies don’t have to be expensive, and a party is no different. Some ideas: A dress-up theme where everyone creates an item of clothing from recyclable materials; an event where everyone in the community brings a bottle and builds a sculpture; everyone brings old clothes/unwanted items, then swaps them/gives them away.
3 Host a Green Fundraiser What better cause for a fundraiser than our planet? Your Green Team can pick a cause or organization – and your company will raise money for that cause. Create a jog-a-thon, push-up-athon or sing-a-thon for pledge-based fundraising. Put on a show and sell tickets, then donate the money. Raise money for your own ongoing green education initiative. It can end in a big finale on Earth Day.
4 Launch an Incentives-Based Recycling Program Why not launch an office recycling program in honor of Earth Day? The average employee creates an enormous amount of waste every month, waste that harms the earth and your pocket. Create recycling stations in visible work areas and assign volunteers to make sure employees follow the rules. Use an app that educates your employees and links everyone together and, better yet, create exciting rewards for employees that recycle the most waste.
5 Reward Your Green Customers To celebrate Earth Day, pick some activities that remind your customers that you appreciate their green efforts. How about offering discounts for customers who recycle … or a “bring in recycling, get 20 percent off program” … or host a free-dinner-for-all-greenclients evening. 6 Start Donating Food Surplus to Homeless Shelters Many companies have pledged food to recycling companies, homeless shelters and other sustainable programs for use. This Earth Day, your idea can be to create a zero waste kitchen for your employees. Even if you only donate 30 percent of all unused food to the homeless, it can make an enormous difference in their lives. 7 Invite an Expert to Speak to Your Employees When companies get experts on sustainable development to do a talk for their employees, it tends to spark real change. Topics can include Earth Day recycling, Energy Efficiency in the workplace or New Technology and Climate Change. 8 Lend Your Employees to an Eco-Cause Find a cause and then ask your employees to volunteer as helpers on Earth Day. They’ll love it. Get them to sign a host of new petitions supporting the environment, go out en masse and plant trees where they are needed or descend on a polluted beach or trail and clean it up. n
© 2021 Diversified Communications
November 30 – December 2, 2021 AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER, TX
THE RUNNING EVENT
The Running Event is the industry’s premier event for run specialty retailers and race directors, providing an exciting and dynamic experience that enables them to source new and innovative products from market-leading brands.
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