Running Insight 4.1.2024

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MARCH 16, 2020 A DIVERSIFIED COMMUNICATIONS PUBLICATION THE NEWSMAGAZINE FOR RUNNING SPECIALTY RETAILERS / RUNNINGINSIGHT.COM APRIL 2024 ALL GOOD HERE Run specialty’s sustainability efforts seek to make the world a greener place in which to run. + Essays from the world of nonprofits. Page 28.

It is springtime in America and there is no better time of the year to put together our “Feel Good” issue that takes a deep dive into the many positive efforts being made to make the run specialty business a special place. In this case, we focus on two areas of vital interest to the industry — sustainability and inclusion. This special issue is broken into two sections.

The first focuses on the environmental and eco-efforts in run specialty as we do each year around Earth Day (April 22, in case you wondered what would be a good day to go plogging). There is never any challenge finding enough to write about when it comes to sustainability — from a product, personal and retail point of view. It seems every year there are more sustainable products, more special events and more organizations making an effort to protect the lands on which our industry depends.

Most impressively is the overwhelming number of eco-focused products – shoes, apparel and more – that come across our desks every month. Senior writer Danny Smith’s article starting on page 4 highlights many of them and we apologize in advance if we left anyone out — which we surely did. Feel

free to fill us in on any of these sustainability efforts and we will keep writing about them in Running Insight and Running Insight+

Part Two of this special issue then takes the “feel good” vibe a step further by providing a forum for many organizations whose efforts focus on diversity and inclusivity — terms that mean different things to different people but in this case means anything that makes the running community more representative of our country as a whole.

From nonprofits committed to promoting DEI to others dedicated to protecting our public spaces to still others looking to make sure more kids and underrepresented communities get out there running, again there is no shortage of efforts making the running community a better place to be.

We reached out to many of these organizations and nonprofits and asked them to put together an “essay” on who and what they are all about and why and how our readers should get involved. Those essays start on page 28.

Enjoy reading. Our goal is to give you some serious food for thought in how your business – and you personally – can do well by doing good. And, as Ben Franklin did say back in his time, “doing well by doing good” can be a mantra that can make the run specialty an even more special place to work and live. n

On the cover: Avid runner and hiker Scott Wormser, a local partner of Sneakers4Good who collects used running shoes to support the nonprofit Project Purple in Seymour, CT, and its mission to raise awareness, drive research and provide aid for patients who are battling pancreatic cancer.

2 © 2024 Diversified Communications RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2024 all rights reserved. Running Insight is published monthly, is edited for owners and top executives at running specialty stores and available only via email except for two print issues year. 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. Diversified Communications, 121 Free St, Portland, ME 04101; (207) 842-5500. SUBSCRIBE BACK ISSUES Advertise Editorial Christina Henderson Glenn Dulberg Daemon Filson Beth Gordon Mark Sullivan Michael Jacobsen DOING WELL Ben Franklin said it first back in his day and Running Insight explores it in this special issue. BY DOING GOOD
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products to operations to partnerships, running and outdoors brands are making sustainability a priority. / By Danny Smith

Athough Scarpa is becoming increasingly vocal about its environmental chops, the familyowned outdoors brand isn’t simply paying lip service to sustainability.

No, Scarpa is actively working to be a positive environmental steward from product development to manufacturing to events, right down to foregoing the traditional – and eventually discarded – trade show booth at The Running Event in favor of a mobile showroom.

Across its product lineup, Scarpa is incorporating more earth-friendly materials. Every component of its Spin Planet trail running shoe, for instance, features some percentage of recycled content: 100 percent in the upper, 45 percent in the midsole and 30 percent in the outsole.

At the company’s facilities in Italy, 100 percent of the electricity comes from certified renewable sources, including lowimpact plant biomass. This enables Scarpa, a company on the cusp of earning B Corp Certification, to offset approximately 1000 tons of carbon dioxide each year.

At its Asolo, Italy, headquarters, meanwhile, all staff have received training on sustainable innovation, while a group of 16 Sustainability Ambassadors spread across

4 © 2024 Diversified Communications Run Specialty and Sustainability
Running and outdoor brands such as Saucony are pushing the pace on sustainability, with the focus both on product development and in their corporate business operations.

Sustainability Surge (continued)

every department are available to answer employee questions about sustainability issues.

“Our efforts are a very small step in helping to protect the environments where our are products are used,” says Melanie Hood, marketing and communication director of Scarpa North America.

Scarpa is among many brands paying greater focus to sustainability. From eco-conscious products to environmentally friendly operations to ecologically minded initiatives, brands across the running and outdoor space are making sustainability a greater priority.

Embracing Sustainability

Two years ago, Brooks launched its first carbon-neutral running shoe with the Ghost 14. For Brooks, which aims to be net-zero carbon by 2040, the updated Ghost represented another step toward reaching that ambitious goal.

And its momentum hasn’t stalled since.

Last September, Brooks introduced the Green Silence Ghost 15, in which processes such as dope dyeing reduced water use by 94 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 92 percent. In addition, Brooks unveiled a new outsole comprised of 20 percent recycled silica content. By 2030, the brand plans to incorporate at least 50 percent recycled or bio-based content in all of its product materials.

Other entrenched footwear brands are also chasing more eco-friendly performance running shoe models.

Mizuno’s ballyhooed Wave Rider 27 features more than 90 percent recycled content on its upper body textile, upper body

lining textile and sockliner lining. For good measure, the Wave Rider 27 also tosses in a plant-based Wave plate. The Wave Horizon 7 and Wave Sky 6 similarly feature majority recycled content on their uppers.

Saucony captured rave reviews last fall with its Triumph RFG, an eco-friendly version of its popular high-cushioned daily trainer. Gear review website Believe in the Run labeled the model a “Jolly Green Triumph” for its ability to go green without sacrificing performance. A vegan style with recycled materials, the Triumph RFG combines plant-based dyes in the upper with a 55 percent cornbased PWRRUN BIO+ foam midsole limiting dependence on plastic.

(It’s worth noting Saucony’s eco efforts extend beyond performance running footwear. In February, the Boston-based brand released a limited-edition Grid Shadow 2 collaboration with streetwear brand Bodega called the Jaunt Woven. The earth-tone colored model features a recycled gum rubber outsole alongside a recycled mesh tongue, collar liner and footbed.)

Friends of the Earth

Given the negative environmental impacts of footwear throughout its life cycle, from greenhouse gases emitted through manufacturing to the millions of shoes sitting in landfills, footwear players continue seeking ways – big and small –to deliver more environmentally friendly options.

Xero Shoes crafted its new zero-drop Zelen road running model with upper mesh, lining and laces made from rPET

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The Mizuno Wave Rider 27 (top to bottom), the Zelen from Xero Shoes, Salomon’s Index.03 and Mammut’s Sertig TR Low trail runner are among the many performance running footwear models injecting sustainability into design.
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Sustainability Surge (continued)

recycled materials, while Mammut’s new Sertig TR Low trail running shoe is 100 percent decarbonized. Mammut also chose recycled materials for the Sertig to promote a more circular economy and swapped non-biodegradable fabric treatments with more sustainable alternatives.

French brand Veja places sustainability at the center of its universe, a reality particularly evident in the Condor 3 that debuted on March 28. Lightweight with high-end shock absorption, the third iteration of Veja’s flagship running shoe includes numerous bio-based materials, including an engineered mesh upper comprised of 100 percent recycled polyester and a 43 percent sugar cane-based EVA midsole.

Then there’s Salomon, which proudly calls itself “the sole provider of a fully recyclable shoe in the market” with its Index.03. The shoe features two distinctive parts marked by a red line circling the shoe: a TPU lower section that is repurposed for ski boots and a polyester upper reincarnated into fabrics. To return the shoes to Salomon for disassembly, users simply scan a QR code on the tongue, register their shoe and grab a free shipping label online.

Erin Cooper, senior marketing manager for run and outdoor at Salomon North America, describes the Index.03 as “a north star in product sustainability” for the brand and says each iteration of the Index has sought heightened sustainability without sacrificing performance — an admittedly “delicate balance.”

“The key for us is to always

approach sustainability with a curiosity mindset to see what is possible,” Cooper says.

Green Beyond Shoes

Sustainable products, of course, are not limited to footwear. Apparel and accessory brands are also contributing to the sustainability surge in run specialty.

Gorewear’s new Concurve Running Jacket, for instance, uses Gore’s new expanded Polyethylene (ePE) membrane. While still providing the traditional benefits of Gore-Tex products – waterproof, windproof and breathable – the ePE membrane eliminates the use of harmful PFCs and also boasts a reduced carbon footprint achieved by its lower material mass and new material combination.

Swedish apparel company Houdini Sportswear continues bringing circularity front and center by developing durable, earth-friendly products. In its most recent Fall/Winter collection, Houdini only used recycled, recyclable, renewable, biodegradable or bluesign-certified fabrics. Before putting any item into production, the company consults its own design checklist, which poses questions about versatility, durability, construction and a potential end-of-life solution.

On the eyewear side, Tifosi Optics has developed a plantbased frame technology called Thrive, which is composed of 45 percent renewable raw materials derived from castor oil. Tifosi founder Joe Earley says the Thrive material will become more commonplace across the company’s product lineup in the coming months,

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Tifosi Optics recently unveiled a plant-based frame technology called Thrive. Composed of 45 percent renewable raw materials derived from castor oil, Thrive delivers a light, flexible design and a reduced carbon footprint.

including in its popular Swank series.

“We listen to consumer and customer feedback, which has indicated that a focus on environmental improvement or reducing our impact is important,” Earley says.

Looking Inward

While brands can certainly pursue sustainability on the product side, it’s far from the only way they are chasing environmental goals. Efforts on the corporate side, in areas like operations and packaging, are also helping brands reduce their environmental footprint.

In 2015, Houdini launched a Planetary Boundaries initiative and began collaborating with earth system scientists from the Stockholm Resilience Centre. With the initiative, Houdini studies nine different aspects of its environmental impact, including climate change, fresh water use and biosphere integrity to propel its progress.

Upstart sock brand Jogology,

founded by run specialty veterans Tanya and Bert Pictor and Luke Rowe, has put sustainability front and center from the onset. The not-yet-one-yearold brand eschews plastic in its packaging and shipping and uses 80 percent post-consumer waste board in its packaging.

And Polartec, which invented the first fleece crafted from recycled plastic water bottles some 30 years ago, recently unveiled its Beyond Begins Today initiative. Building upon Polartec’s existing use of recycled and plant-based materials and certified waste reduction activities, Beyond Begins Today includes static and multimedia content to advance the narrative around sustainability as well as a promise that every new product launching in 2024 will either reduce Polartec’s impact on the planet, endure the test of time or contribute to the circularity processes. Polartec technologies are used in products from brands such as Patagonia, Arc’teryx and Salewa.

Last July, Balega became Climate Neutral Certified, the end of a nearly two-year process in which the Implusowned sock brand committed to measuring its climate impact in manufacturing and business operations, setting reduction targets and offsetting its carbon emissions. Implus senior VP–global category and brand development Ryan Green says Balega will continue working on improvements.

“Climate Neutral Certification is part of a larger commitment and it is important,” Green says. “We believe sustainability and our social responsibility are critical to our shared future and that building superior products means building ethical and sustainable products.”

Outdoor Research, an established brand pushing more into the running category, is a founding member of the Climate Action Corps, a collection of companies committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sharing their measurable

progress annually. In addition to phasing out PFAs – the so-called “forever chemicals” – Outdoor Research continues developing climate action plans and using renewable energy.

And upon its founding 2022, footwear brand NNormal joined 1% for the Planet, an organization whose member businesses commit to donating one percent of their top-line revenue to environmental partners. NNormal’s partner is the Kilian Jornet Foundation, which promotes mountain preservation through research, education and community activities.

“We have always thought that companies have a significant role to play in social responsibility and we wanted NNormal to be part of that commitment from the get-go,” NNormal CEO Sito Luis Salas says of the brand’s participation in 1% for the Planet. “We believe all actions should be undertaken with a commitment … and the environmental preservation is for sure our big one.” n

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NNormal CEO Sito Luis Salas (left) and Houdini CEO Eva Karlsson are among the many leaders pushing for more sustainable products and operations.


Run specialty retailers provide insight into their varied sustainability efforts. /

Running is elemental, an activity that reaches to people of all abilities. Fresh air, cardiovascular and muscular strengthening, mental clarity — each enhance our overall health. Of course the run specialty business, as advocates for improved quality of life and protection of the environment, is vitally interested in promoting health and fitness without drawbacks.

So how do run specialty retailers get involved and respond to this challenge? Here three retailers present their approaches to these important questions.

What emphases do you place on a “green” approach to running product?

“I feel like we’re in the infancy of running shoe sustainability. There’s a lot of maturing yet to happen. Most brands are telling a green story, but I don’t experience customers making final purchase decisions based on sustainability yet. It’s more like a feel good add-on value, like when consumers read the Brooks shoe box or the hang tag on a Nike shoe. I believe some consumers are making green purchase decisions, but not at running specialty. These customers are buying Allbirds. That’s the brand I feel is doing the best job capturing green purchases.” — Bob Coll, Owner, Eugene Running Company, Eugene, Oregon

“We place a heavy emphasis on a green approach to product — environmental sustainability is the first set of criteria we judge potential new products on. There are some product categories that still have quite a bit of catching up to do in this

regard. But then other product categories, like apparel, make it really easy to decide which products to bring in. Apparel items made of recycled materials have been available for some time now, so it’s much easier to put together an assortment in the

10 © 2024 Diversified Communications Run Specialty and Sustainability
The team at A Runner’s Mind hosted a demo run on March 22 with Hylo Athletics to test out their new daily trainer, the Impact. They ran two miles to Coyote Point Park, did a trash pickup (27 pounds of trash in all of 20 minutes), then ran back to the shop.
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Challenge Accepted (continued)

stores of a collection of apparel, even from various brands, that all tell at least some extension of the green product story.” —

Nick Kovaleski, A Runner’s Mind

“While our customers don’t often inquire about our products’ green initiatives upfront, they deeply value supporting brands committed to eco-friendly practices. For instance, when our staff discusses brands like Mizuno, Newton and Recover Brands, known for prioritizing sustainability, customers recognize the importance of investing in products that offer both comfort and contribute to a healthier planet.”

So which running brands resonate with runners for their green efforts?

“A lot of the larger brands that have a green approach to their products haven’t necessarily done a great job telling those stories. Reason being, they don’t want to be accused of ‘green-washing.’ Fortunately that perspective is changing and a lot of brands are realizing that it’s worth educating consumers about the green and sustainable aspects of their products. Now they need to master telling those stories authentically to avoid being accused of green-washing.

“Some younger brands have had an easier time getting those messages across because they don’t have a history of negligent product creation. For example,

On Running has put sustainability and a green approach to product at the forefront of their design from the beginning. Janji is another younger brand that has placed environmental stewardship and sustainability at the forefront of their messaging from the start. Consumers only know these brands to be green, so they’ve had an easy time adopting runners based on these efforts.

“Some larger brands, like Nike, ASICS and New Balance, are doing a great job keeping their audiences engaged by sharing their progress in sustainable materials innovation. Consumers are interested and when you keep them connected to what you’re working on and the exciting updates to come, they’re all the more interested in your products when they launch.” — Nick Kovaleski

“Typically our customers don’t explicitly express concerns about green practices during their shopping experience, but we have observed a growing interest in eco-friendly options. Although sustainability is not yet a primary factor influencing their footwear purchasing decisions, it’s becoming more prominent in conversations about clothing and apparel. Customers appreciate brands that prioritize sustainability, as it reflects their commitment to quality and environmental responsibility.” — Steve Moore

“There are several specific ways to measure the sustainability of running shoes and different manufacturers seem to invest in predominantly one of those ways — recycling (Nike Regrind), carbon

neutral production to delivery (Brooks), lower consumption due to longevity (NNormal) or sustainable and biodegradable materials (Allbirds and Kane recovery).” — Bob Coll

How do your customers demonstrate their concerns about green practices?

“Reuse and recycling programs are at the forefront of green concerns from what I see. Customers want their old shoes to be worn by someone less fortunate or ultimately recycled for the materials. From my perspective it’s a major concern for lots of avid runners that consume a lot of shoes.” — Bob Coll

“The amount of customers who actually demonstrate their concerns about green practices is miniscule, which, of course, is unfortunate. A majority of consumers will continue to purchase items regardless of their composition, whether green or not. Because of that, we need to rely on brands to start producing items that carry that value at the core.

“We’re thrilled to be launching Hylo Athletics at both stores. Their Impact trainer is ‘proof that nature can perform.’ With a shoe composed of bio-based materials like castor beans and sugar cane, and with an established program to send the shoes back at end-of-life for Hylo to recycle them into new shoes, consumers no longer need to even worry about how the shoes are made.

“Most consumers aren’t worrying about it in the first place, so make shoes that eliminate that variable by just being made of the right ingredients

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Cameron McKinney, manager of Eugene Running Company, points out that the Pegasus 40 (pictured) is the only shoe model in the industry shipped to retailers (and direct to consumers) using a single box without an external shipping box, which reduces materials. The shoe box is not colored the typical Nike orange to reduce impact and is constructed of 90 percent recycled material.

Challenge Accepted (continued)

to start with and you’ll continue winning consumers with both performance and brand values.”

Are there local races (you support) with green practices?

“Back in 2019 we partnered with Catherine Elvert of the City of Palo Alto to help them grow their untimed Earth Day 5K into a chip-timed zerowaste race — the Great Race for Saving Water. The City of Palo Alto has a requirement of zero-waste (nothing sent to the landfill) for any event hosted by any of their departments. We used it as a case study to determine the feasibility of hosting zero-waste events. Turns out, it’s possible.

“Since then, we’ve been able to transition our 1000plus person Gobble Wobble 5K/10K on Thanksgiving Day into a zero-waste event as well. This event includes a pancake breakfast after the run, so there are a lot of elements involved in producing this race; but with the right mindset and the commitment to changing how you operate hosting a race or event with green practices it is absolutely possible. And once we learned how to host larger scale events without sending waste to the landfill, it was easy for us to also implement these practices in-store for any group runs, demo events, etc. that we host on a weekly basis.” —

“While we don’t organize races ourselves, we wholeheartedly support local events and charity races that prioritize green practices. Our involvement extends to sponsoring and

participating in these events, as well as promoting environmental awareness among our customers. Additionally, we actively contribute to sustainability efforts in our store by carrying shirts made from recycled yarn, using recycled bags at checkout, accepting and donating used shoes and sponsoring events at our local trail aimed at cleaning and maintaining the environment.” — Steve Moore

Finally, does “going green” make good business sense for you or is it more of a feel-good practice?

“The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive, as ‘going green’ can make both good business sense as well as help me sleep better at night as a leader. I was raised by parents who do a really great job putting the environment first, so I’ll admit that I approached green

business practices from a feel good mindset. But when push comes to shove, and numbers need to actually add up in order to continue operation, good business sense also matters.

“When that happens, it’s really about flipping equations upside down and changing your perspective on everything to look at things from a different angle. Sometimes, one of the best ways to go green is to eliminate wasteful elements and when you do that without feeling the need to replace it with an alternative because you realize it was excess in the first place, you’re going to save money because you’re eliminating a line-item altogether.” —

“We definitely recognize the value of green products and actively advertise the sustainable aspects of different products using in-store merchandising and conversation. The importance and effectiveness of sustainability in the running industry will only increase over time and most runners are willing and active participants in the green movement.

“It’s hard to quantify an economic advantage of going green, but it’s easy to realize the implications of not going green. There really is no other logical choice. The biggest consideration isn’t ‘are we going green.’ but rather ‘at what rate of speed in going green makes the most sense.”

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Run Moore’s store logo takes on an appropriate theme for their inaugural Earth Day run on April 22, which they hope to make an annual event for their community.
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Small Strides, BIG CHANGE

Get plogging: The Low Impact Alliance continues its mission to promote sustainability within run specialty.

Having already made a significant impact in raising awareness of sustainability efforts within the run specialty community, April is now a big month for the Low Impact Alliance with a number of upcoming activations happening alongside the rollout of its Better Bins Program.

The Better Bins officially launched in stores over the winter and can be found at 15 storefronts, including Rochester Running Co. (NY), Brooklyn Running Company (NY), Run Hub Northwest (OR), The Exchange Running Collective (TN), Palmetto Running (SC), A Runner’s Mind (CA), Get Fit (TX), West Stride (GA), Red Coyote Running (OK) and Run In (SC).

First, in celebration of Earth Day, the Low Impact Alliance and ASICS are hosting their second annual Nationwide Plogging Initiative during the month of April. Last year’s event proved to be a success by engaging retailers across 20 different states and Canada with a total of 76 plogging kits requested.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, plogging is any activity that combines exercise with picking up litter. It’s a simple way to engage with a retailer’s community and to protect the land on which its customers live and play.

With LIA’s resources, a free kit and a step-by-step digital guide to execute an event in a retailer’s own region can help host a successful and impactful group plog.

The Plogging Kit includes:

• 10 pairs of reusable ASICS X LIA

co-branded gloves

• 20 recycled plastic bags

• A digital scale to weigh what’s collected In addition to growing the Nationwide Plogging Initiative, the Low Impact Alliance is collaborating with Janji to create a limited

edition piece of apparel that will go back into funding the LIA. With Janji’s mission to foster greater access to clean water across the globe, and their efforts towards sustainable products, LIA gets to work with a like-minded partner and to continue making an impact in this industry.

Using its tagline “Small Strides for Big Change,” LIA is also platforming the importance of any and all efforts made towards sustainability. The Janji apparel will speak to the everyday adventurer and champion the folks doing work to protect the environment. n

For more:

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Run Specialty and Sustainability



Every Shoe Counts

10 great ways running stores can champion sustainability in their communities. / By Kristy

In the bustling world of retail, run specialty stores hold a unique position. Beyond being mere purveyors of shoes and gear, they’re hubs of community, knowledge and passion for the sport. That means that as the call for sustainability grows louder with each generation, running stores have an exclusive opportunity to lead the charge towards sustainability within their communities.

By embracing eco-friendly practices, hosting green events and advocating for environmental awareness, these stores can become beacons of sustainability in the running world.

So here are 10 ways that run specialty retailers can support the effort. Time to get going!


Say goodbye to boring plastic bags and hello to reusable totes. Ditch the single-use plastics and encourage your customers to strut their stuff with eco-friendly, branded shopping bags. Bonus points for bags made from recycled materials or quirky designs that scream “I’m saving the planet, one run at a time!”


Turn your regular group runs into ecofriendly adventures. Host a monthly or quarterly run, then equip your crew with gloves and trash bags. Challenge them to a trash pick-up competition along the route. Who knew saving the planet could be so satisfyingly sweaty?


Show off your eco-chic side by stocking up on sustainable gear options. From shoes made with recycled materials to apparel from brands committed to ethical manufacturing, your store will be the go-to

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Run Specialty and Sustainability
RunUnited‘s sustainability campaign kicked off recently with collecting used running shoes to support the local Methodist Mansfield Medical Center.

spot for runners who want to look good and feel good about their purchases.


Get creative and host a recycling event or drop-off where runners can drop off old shoes, clothing and accessories for reuse or recycling. Plus, offer incentives for those who participate — trade in and trade up! Be the “Certified Sustainable Store” in your community.


Keep your customers in the loop with the latest ecofriendly tech trends. From GPS watches with solar charging capabilities to biodegradable phone armbands, help runners stay connected without harming the planet. Because saving the world shouldn’t mean sacrificing style or functionality.


Turn your store’s waste into gold with a composting program. I know my local running store is right next to a smoothie shop and also offers free coffee sometimes at packet pick-up. From coffee grounds to banana peels (fuel for those long runs, right?), show Mother Nature some love by reducing your store’s landfill footprint one compost heap at a time.


Lead the charge in trail conservation efforts. Organize trail clean-up days where runners can give back to the great outdoors by picking up litter and maintaining local trails. Don’t forget to treat your trail blazers to coffee or a snack. I know I definitely appreciated the breakfast tacos after the Austin Marathon Shake Out Run.


Elevate your race swag game with eco-friendly goodies. Swap out the usual plastic water bottles and cheap trinkets for reusable water bottles, bamboo sunglasses and organic cotton T-shirts. Your runners will thank you — and so will the planet.


Encourage eco-friendly transportation options by offering bike racks and incentives for cyclists. Whether it’s a discount on gear or freebies for those who bike to the store, show your support for pedal power and reduce carbon emissions one bike ride at a time.


Be the change you want to see in the running world. From implementing energy-efficient lighting or recycling programs in your store to advocating for

sustainability initiatives in your community, lead by example and inspire others to follow suit. After all, saving the planet is a team sport.

One store leading the way is Colorado Running Company, which has kept thousands of sneakers out of landfills with their sneaker reuse and recycling program and is using the funds from it to give back to Achilles International, an organization dedicated to empowering people with disabilities to participate in mainstream running events.

So there you have it, running fam — 10 epic ways your run specialty store can champion sustainability and make the world a better place, one run at a time. So lace up those ecofriendly kicks and get ready to save the planet in style, because when it comes to sustainability, every step counts! n

19 © 2024 Diversified Communications
Southwest Runners is a Sneakers4Good partner that repurposes and recycles running shoes to support their store team, events and other community efforts. A supporter drops off more shoes at Girls on the Run Pocono’s annual shoe drive fundraiser that supports more than 7000 girls in the Lehigh Valley, PA.

Run Specialty and Sustainability

Out On An Island

Sustainability lessons learned as a business owner and race director. / By

Road and trail running are growing at a rapid pace and while this is exciting for all involved in the industry, it also means that there is a growing amount of waste that is produced from vendors, participants and spectators. As the industry fought through the pandemic, our sustainability efforts were put aside in favor of more

single-use plastic, plastic shields and nonrecyclable containers.

But now as we return to racing as usual, leaders in the industry need to start implementing sustainability efforts wherever they can. These efforts can often be seen as an extra cost and lift for businesses and race organizers, when in reality that’s not always the case. As the

race director for the Run Catalina Island race series, I wanted to make sure that our organization and those that work on our events with us were putting in the effort to produce events that are able to showcase the island’s beauty, while leaving no trace behind.

An often overlooked element of a sustainable event is making sure that the

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Out On An Island (continued)

vendors and partners you’re bringing in also have their own eco-initiatives in place. Suppose your organization is ensuring each step of your own work has

sustainability in mind, but they bring in a vendor who has multiple single-use plastic items, plastic wrapping or Styrofoam peanuts that have the potential

to be left behind or create extra non-compostable waste at your event. In that case, it’s still a reflection of your event’s sustainability efforts since your event in the end led to the creation of that waste.

As an example, a unique sustainability-focused partnership we’ve made is with Fulton, a sustainable insole brand that we brought on as a 2023 race sponsor for the Catalina Island Half Marathon. Fulton has a variety of insole designs that allow the brand to provide a fit for all feet. The company focuses on providing support that improves whole body wellness, as well as sustainability by only using regenerative, plant-based materials to make its products.

As a sponsor, Fulton also made a donation to the Catalina Island Conservancy for every participant that signs a “No Trash Left Behind” pledge, as an effort to protect the Catalina Mahogany that is only found on Catalina Island.

This is a great example of sustainability efforts that come with little to no cost to your business. Not only did we partner with a sustainable brand, but we also were able to get participants to engage in their own eco-initiatives by signing our No Trash Left Behind pledge and we found a sponsor that was willing to donate to a sustainable-focused charity on the race’s behalf.

Focus on Sustainability

If your brand or event donates to nonprofit organizations, another eco-effort you can make is to have that organization be one that is focused on sustainability. With each registration

of one of our Run Catalina Island events, a portion of the proceeds are directly donated to the Catalina Island Conservancy. These funds are not only going towards a nonprofit that focuses on conserving Catalina Island, but it has a direct relation to us, as the events take place on the island.

Another sustainable step that is starting to catch on is cupless races. To take this step without taking on the extra costs of reusable cups, we encourage runners to have their own water containers that can be refilled at our water stations.

I understand that this method isn’t going to be realistic for all races, but it can make a big difference and even save you money. This can even work for businesses outside the running industry that provide plastic water bottles or water stations for employees.

If getting rid of these cups isn’t possible, then look into other methods to cut waste. As a result of our cupless races, we no longer serve any singleuse plastic at the finish line. Everyone has their own cup to use already.

Examples we’ve implemented into our events are using bungee cords instead of zip ties, medals made of sustainable materials and mandating that vendors can’t use packing peanuts or plastic for shipping.

Other ideas include participants having the option to opt out of race day merch in exchange of having a donation made in their honor, donation bins for clothes left at the start and finish lines and working with local bike rental shops to give discounts to participants

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The beauty of Catalina Island inspires the sustainability efforts by organizers.

who bike instead of drive to the event. Even these little steps can make a huge difference in the long run, which is really what sustainability is all about.

A more unique but still accessible eco-initiative that events and businesses can make is to get a sustainability certification. A certification is an excellent way to actually measure the difference you’re making, while gaining a valuable asset that shows others you’re making strides to make your community a cleaner and healthier place to live.

There are a variety of organizations that will review your event or business and provide certificates to those who meet the standards. Run Catalina Island is currently working with the world’s leading responsible sport certification, the Council of Responsible Sport. At our upcoming event, they will be attending the race and measuring our sustainable efforts throughout the event — if standards are met, we will be a certified event.

First Step: Commit

So what does this all mean in the end for the racing business?

Overall, my key tips for race directors and businesses in the run specialty space is to look into all the waste that your event or business is producing and then find what alternatives are available to replace that waste. Will they cost you more initially but save money in the long run, or will they even save you money right off that bat?

Also, find ways to get your participants and employees involved with their own ecoinitiatives. Can they sign a pledge to leave no traces behind

or choose to make a donation to a sustainability-focused charity? This small step can help create a chain reaction of getting more people aware of their own waste contribution and give them a feel-good moment of putting in effort to help the environment.

If you’re making these strides, then you should definitely be researching what certifications your business qualifies for that highlight your sustainability efforts.

And last, but not least, find other organizations that are also creating eco-initiatives and find out how you can work together, because there truly is power in numbers. n

Mike Bone is a leader in the endurance sports industry, as he has been involved in owning and operating sports marketing and management companies in Southern California for more than 25 years. Bone is the president and CEO of Spectrum Sports Management & Timing Services, which produces notable events in California including the Run Catalina Island race series, LA Tri series and Bike The Coast. On top of managing these events, he has created and manages several dozen sporting and charity events throughout California. Last year, Bone also joined the Special Events Committee on Catalina Island as a new committee chair member. Bone was born and raised in Southern California and is a graduate of the University of California at Irvine, with a degree in economics. He is married to his wife, Bonnie, whom he met at UC Irvine and has two sons, Andy and Matt.

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Author Mike Bone (right) stops for a chat with two participants in the Catalina Island races. Below, part of the scenic trail that brings runners to the island.

Run Specialty and Sustainability

Out of the IMBOX

This year promises to be the perfect storm for running — the Paris Olympics will shine an international spotlight on running, participation is at an all-time high and technology is not only engaging running enthusiasts, but at the same time also welcoming new participants. All of this momentum is taking place during a time when the brands, retailers and consumers are making purposeful decisions that protect the planet, especially products that provide best-in-class durability.

Enter IMBOX Protection from Denmark, billed as “the world’s only in-store footwear protection technology” enabling consumers to protect their newly purchased footwear with a PFAs-free treatment. It only takes one minute for a cost between $7-8.

Today, IMBOX Protection has more than 7500 retail units worldwide and is selling more than 35 million treatments each year, with the most recent partnership being with Snipes, the iconic sneaker retailer that is installing IMBOX units across the U.S.

The IMBOX Story

IMBOX Protection recognized that running was having a moment, which is why the company, with U.S. headquarters in Chicago, decided to engage with the run specialty market. As the running footwear market continues to thrive, with a five percent year-over-year sales increase to $1.9 billion (according to Circana), IMBOX Protection saw the need for providing advanced protection technologies to keep pace with this growth.

The IMBOX units quietly dispense their formula, ensuring precise application, drying and heating for each shoe, preserving all materials, including suede, leather, textile, nubuck and synthetic components. As the footwear undergoes the

treatment, customers may watch each step of the process on a 24-inch display on the front of the machine. Treated shoes emerge ready to wear.

The brand is committed to environmentally smart practices, especially the shift towards PFAs-free retail practices. The fluid used in IMBOX Flagship is water-based and has received CE (European Union safety/ performance approval) and UL (Global safety/performance approval) approval, signifying a commitment to high-quality standards in eco-friendly shoe protection.

The Run Specialty Opportunity

For run specialty retailers, this is a distinct added value benefit for their customers. IMBOX Protection knows that running shoes are vulnerable to stains in light of their component technologies and fabric. The brand’s proprietary treatment enhances stain resistance without compromising breathability — a real win-win for runners.

IMBOX Protection has seen enthusiasm for its technology in running retail

in Europe through its partnership with Runners Need and Stadium. IMBOX is now looking to expand to more U.S. running and sports retailers.

“The expansion of in-store value-add options caters to consumer preferences, ultimately contributing to heightened retail profitability,” explains Oliver Hede, VP–North American sales. “By addressing consumers’ needs for weather resistance and performance, IMBOX Protection provides a cost-effective and time-saving solution, benefitting both retailers and customers, as well as minimizing damage to planet.”

“Runners, now more than ever, require the assurance that their investment in highperformance footwear is complemented by state-of-the-art protection,” adds Johan Eklöf, customer experience specialist at Stadium. “IMBOX Protection gives us a fantastic opportunity to ensure and extend the longevity of performance running shoes. It’s a win-win for retailers and discerning runners who understand the value of preserving the integrity of their footwear.” n

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IMBOX Protection giving retailers and consumers a planet-friendly choice for extending the life of running shoes.

From SAC To Cascale

Name change reflects the changing nature of sustainability efforts beyond apparel.

Reflecting the ongoing changes and challenges in sustainable efforts within the apparel and running business, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), the global nonprofit alliance that empowers collaboration to drive equitable and restorative business practices in the consumer goods industry, has rebranded and is now called Cascale. Its membership includes more than 300 retailers, brands, manufacturers, governments, academics, industry associations and NGOs/nonprofits worldwide.

“Each year, over 24,000 users rely on the Higg Index for improved benchmarking, reduced auditing and proactive action,” Cascale stated in a recent release announcing the name change. “As home furnishings, sporting and outdoor goods and bags and luggage companies began joining the SAC and using the Higg Index tools alongside existing corporate and non-corporate SAC members, the organization identified the need for a more expansive name. Cascale reflects its goal of scaling collective action.”

As of January 2024, 10 percent of Cascale’s members serve or operate in product categories adjacent to apparel and footwear.

“Cascale’s vision reflects my mission to inspire responsible businesses that commit to transparency and benefit people and the planet,” explains co-founder Rick Ridgeway, former VP–sustainability and public engagement at Patagonia. “Its enduring collaborative spirit and unwavering commitment to sustainability has delivered tremendous impact — but we still have work to do, together.”

“Over the years, this organization has consistently demonstrated commitment to living out its values and embracing change for the collective good,” adds Tamar Hoek, Cascale board chair and senior policy

director at Solidaridad. “I am excited to continue my involvement as board chair at Cascale, alongside executives and staff, and work with members and partners in this exciting new chapter. This is the next evolution towards impact.”

In 2009, Walmart and Patagonia founded the SAC to convene apparel industry stakeholders on a pre-competitive basis and develop a common approach to measuring sustainability. In 2010, the SAC launched the Higg Index suite of tools businesses and organizations use to measure, evaluate and improve social and environmental impact in the textile,

apparel and footwear industry.

Krishna Manda, Cascale vice chair and VP–corporate sustainability at Lenzing Group, sounds the same theme. “Collaboration is at the heart of creating positive change in the industry. Just as we’ve emphasized before, no single player can drive this alone. Cascale’s impactful work has set the stage for a transformative journey. We are thrilled to continue supporting the organization in its next phase of development, building on the revised strategic plan. This is not just a transition; it’s a shared evolution towards a healthier and greener future for everyone.” n

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Specialty and Sustainability

Run Specialty and Sustainability

Supporting the Land

Protecting places to run and get outdoors is the primary goal of The Conservation Alliance.

The Conservation Alliance represents a coalition of nearly 300 businesses that pool resources to fund and advocate for the protection of North America’s wild places and outdoor spaces. Through the collective power of its membership it engages businesses to take bold steps to conserve wild public lands and waters through grantmaking and advocacy.

Beyond that, The Conservation Alliance organizes support to show that land protection and outdoor recreation directly benefit local and national economies by sustaining and creating jobs, improving quality of life for community members and generating revenue. Since 1989, the group has awarded more than $31.9 million in grants and helped protect more than 82 million acres and 4570 river miles, remove or halt 38 dams, purchase 22 climbing areas and designate five marine reserves.

Running Insight caught up with Conor McElyea, senior director of membership and partnerships, whose primary role with TCA is to manage its business members – overseeing member recruitment, retention and cause marketing initiatives – for insight into how and why the work of The Conservation Alliance can benefit run and outdoor specialty retailers.

The importance of The Conservation Alliance’s mission … “As trail running continues to grow in popularity, trail access is critical to the success of both brands and retailers alike. Our work to conserve land and water is fundamentally good for business. For run specialty retailers specifically, this helps expand trail access in communities through North America, ensuring that runners have outdoor spaces to access now and into the future.”

Armed with numbers demonstrating the growth of the outdoor industry, The Conservation Alliance has been able to make some significant strides in protecting the land on which we run.

Challenges for the Conservation Alliance … “The gears of politics and government can grind extremely slowly and priorities placed on conservation and protecting public lands are constantly shifting based on any number of myriad factors. For us, the mission always remains the same despite the challenge of the day and we continue to move the ball forward thanks to our members and their unique ability to tie conservation to economic stimulation in a way that gives us a seat at the table, regardless of the political dynamics at any given time.”

Challenges/opportunities … “Any environment or administration will present both benefits and challenges. Geared with extremely strong support and impressive numbers demonstrating the growth of the

outdoor industry, we are able to show the public’s appetite to protect and expand public lands irrespective of the nature of the political environment.”

The current administration … “We are incredibly grateful to the Biden Administration, which helped us deliver a record-setting year for conservation in 2023, using administrative action to protect nearly 12 million acres of land. The administration has shown incredible support for us in our goals in the past couple of years and we look forward to working with both the Administration and both chambers of Congress to continue to advance our conservation priorities in 2024.”

The retailer opportunity … “First and foremost, members of The Conservation

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Alliance help protect land and water that have a clear people and recreation benefit. And it’s those areas that are used by running consumers and in turn become part of the running industry’s supply chain.”

The brand opportunity … “For brands that want to give back and have a positive impact, we can be a one-stop-shop for conservation giving. Through TCA, member companies have the ability to support 50 grassroots conservation organizations per year, all through one partner. They then have an opportunity to engage in advocacy efforts by leveraging a trusted partner and working in tandem with hundreds of their peers from the business community. That coalition approach provides both strength and cover in numbers. And at the end of the day, they’re given access to marketing materials and resources that they can share with their community around what they’re investing in and the impact that it’s having with real, tangible successes.”

Getting involved … “If you work for a business, reach out and explore how your company can become a member. We have established ourselves as the business voice for conservation and want to invite businesses of all sizes and geographies to get involved and join the movement that we are creating.

The level of commitment … “Membership dues are tiered based on revenue to make it approachable for businesses of all sizes to take part. Dues range from $500 a year for businesses with less than $1 million in annual revenue, all the way

up to $100,000 a year to be part of our Pinnacle membership program.”

The Running Event connection … “I participated in TRE in both 2022 and ‘23,

hosting educational breakfasts on the first day of each show. My goal has been to educate the running community on our work and start the conversation around how they can support. The reception has

Success stories for the running community … Nearly all of the campaigns that TCA supports improve trail access that benefit runners. Here are some recent examples of projects that its funding has helped support:

• Green Mountain Conservancy, Deer Run Nature Preserve, VT

• The Frontera Land Alliance, Lost Dog Conservation Easement, TX

• Trust for Public Land, Spence Mountain, OR

• Northeast Wilderness Trust, Woodbury Mountain Preserve or Grafton Forest Wilderness Preserve, VT

• Continental Divide Trail Coalition, CDT New Mexico State Land Acquisition Easement Project, NM

• The Trust for Public Land, White Rocks & Otter Creek, VT

• Ventura Land Trust, Mariano Rancho Acquisition Project, CA

• Central Oregon LandWatch, Save Skyline Forest, OR

• John Muir Land Trust, Almond Ranch, CA

• The Trust for Public Land, Catamount Community Forest , VT

been overwhelmingly positive, with dozens of highly engaged conversations with brands and retailers who have long felt like they should be doing more to give back, but haven’t known where to start or how to most effectively spend their dollars.”

The run specialty business participation ... “Our representation from the running industry still has a lot of room for growth, providing exciting opportunities for continued education and engagement in the years to come.”

The Conservation Alliance’s goal for 2024 … “This year is all about growth and impact. This organization has deep and strong roots from within the core outdoor industry, yet in recent years has worked to diversify and broaden the representation of our membership, adding dollars to our grant program and powerful voices to our advocacy efforts. This year we hope to continue that growth with greater representation from outdoor segments that include run, bike, snow and fish, while also adding representation in natural foods/CPG and hospitality.”

Focused efforts … “When it comes to impact, we are supporting active legislation and advocating for more National Monuments designations, securing large protections in California, Alaska and Colorado, protecting millions of acres and land and water that will benefit recreation access and the recreation economy.” n

For more:

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Conor McElyea speaking at The Running Event 2023 breakfast in Austin, TX.

As part of our ongoing effort to provide a voice for the nonprofits and other organizations within the run and outdoor specialty communities, Running Insight reached out to a number of groups with an offer to provide space in this issue for “essays” explaining who they are, what they do and why retailers and brands should get involved with their efforts. The following pages are their stories in their own words, along with information on how to contact each organization.

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Helping Runners RECOVER BETTER™ Serving Run Specialty Since 1991

Going National

Runners for Public Lands is committed to give runners a national voice.

Pickleball was the fastest-growing sport in America in 2023. Everyone knows that. But right behind it, according to the Outdoor Industry Alliance’s 2023 Outdoor Participation Trend Report, was running — in total, 65 million people in the United States identify as runners. And as the desire to run continues to grow, we become more aware of how our sport is directly impacted by reduced access to public lands, climate change, sustainability practices and the lack of equitable access to nature.

Yet unlike many other outdoor recreation groups in the U.S., road and trail runners have not yet organized themselves as a national group to influence policies and

promote recreation norms aligned with today’s environmental movement. Runners for Public Lands (RPL) was founded to give runners a seat at the national outdoor advocacy table.

We endeavor to engage, educate and mobilize runners to have a collective impact on policies and the values that will greatly shape how our sport grows in the future. RPL believes that by activating runners and sharing their voices with policymakers, industry leaders and other nonprofits, we can make an impactful and influential contribution to the environmental movement and protect the people and places we run with.

Based out of Ventura, CA, Runners for

Public Lands is the nonprofit that represents runners in protecting the environment and it is celebrating its fifth anniversary on Earth Day 2024.

While our vision to build inclusive running communities dedicated to protecting the environment remains the same, we are excited to unveil a new 2024-25 Strategic Plan that focuses our efforts and increases our mission-driven impact by educating, inspiring and empowering more runners to:

• Protect the lands run they run on.

• Promote environmental and social justice.

• Advocate for local and national-level policies that support equitable access to nature, the protection of public lands

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The focus of Runners for Public Lands is to preserve the lands the industry depends on for runners and hikers of all ages.

and climate change mitigation efforts.

• Encourage event organizers to raise the bar and work to support the evolution of social norms that prioritize belonging and environmental responsibility at running events.

Runners for Public Lands works to make runners more aware that access to running spaces is not guaranteed and provides collective tools that promote positive change.

Engaging Runners

Our programs empower runners to learn more about the people and places they run with and become active in caring for the environment, developing and retaining running opportunities for more diverse communities and working to ensure outdoor recreation and nature are accessible to all.

RPL’s key programs educate, inspire and activate runners to:

• Volunteer for service days and become active recreation stewards in their community through our Trail Work Series.

• Support and inspire diverse communities of runners through

the Everyone Runs Fund, our grant program that reduces barriers for underrepresented runners by providing funding, gear and support.

• Learn about ways to protect

the people and landscapes by using RPL’s Environmental Toolkit and our advocacy work on issues that impact our ability to run now and in the future.

• Support race directors and running club leaders through RPL’s Race Director Guide for Community Building and Environmental Stewardship and other event resources.

Run Specialty Opportunity

As outdoor recreation and the sport of running continue to grow, we expect the demand for gear, footwear and apparel to grow right along with it. According to the data released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis in November 2023, outdoor recreation accounted for $1.1 trillion in gross economic output in 2022 and 2.2 percent of total gross domestic product in the United States. While more consumers are seeking products to help them pursue their recreational activities, we hope that they are also becoming more aware that their purchases impact the environment.

RPL takes great pride in partnering with outdoor industry brands and retailers that prioritize sustainability as well and are committed to strong environmental and social justice values. In 2024 we are seeking to build lasting relationships with new brands through the RPL Brand Coalition.

Through this coalition, RPL provides tailored opportunities for brands and retailers to connect and collaborate with us and our alliance of organizations, on projects, programs and missionlevel initiatives, elevating both brand values and RPL’s impactdriven work. n

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RPL endeavors to engage, educate and mobilize runners to have an impact on policies that will shape how the sport grows.

Empowering Moms

&Mother provides supportive infrastructure and is a gamechanger for parents who run and the brands they buy.

Before the 2023 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon, Bridget Cheung wondered how she’d navigate feeding her baby on race day. As a longtime runner, the new mom was excited to return to the sport she loves, but she worried about the logistics of nursing before and after running 13.1 miles through the city.

Cheung’s concerns were put to rest when she discovered the &Mother lactation tents located at the start, along the course and near the finish line. In one of her first races postpartum, the New Jersey runner finished in 1:31:37.

“You have no idea how appreciative I am to have a space before and after the race to nurse and not have to feel anxious while running today,” Cheung said later in the lactation tent.

Cheung’s experience is one of many examples that demonstrate the importance of organizations prioritizing the needs of mothers and caregivers. Since November 2022, &Mother has partnered with New York Road Runners (NYRR) to provide lactation stations at the TCS NYC Marathon, the United Airlines Half Marathon and the Brooklyn Half Marathon. In total, over 125 women have used the resource on race day.

&Mother is a nonprofit organization dedicated to breaking the barriers that limit a woman’s choice to pursue and thrive in both career and motherhood. For many women, this includes the ability to continue participating in sports — and creating supportive infrastructure is critical to their experience. &Mother also recognizes that athletics is a demonstration space for the rest of society. So, if lactation stations and childcare can be provided at road races, then other workplace leaders can see the benefit for their employees.

“We envision a society at a gender parity that is healthier and more productive because it values the contributions of women, with or without children,” explains Alysia Montaño, Olympian and president and founder of &Mother, who says that in 10 years she envisioned a culture where motherhood is not a limiting factor in how women succeed professionally or personally and where women can openly express their needs and receive support without retribution.

“We envision a working world where mothers are supported as leaders and sought after as employees,” Montaño adds. “Where the value of mothers in the workforce has become intrinsic such that structural norms facilitate the needs of the modern family.”

The Run Specialty Opportunity

The run specialty and event business should pay attention to the benefits and opportunities in partnering with an

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&Mother founder and Olympian Alysia Montaño envisions a culture where motherhood is not a limiting factor on how women succeed professionally or personally.

organization such as &Mother.

Running event organizers have a major opportunity to provide supportive spaces that not only welcome mothers and caregivers, but also enables them to show up as their best selves. &Mother offers in-person and virtual consulting services that help guide event organizers on best practices for race deferral language, lactation spaces, caregiver lounges and childcare — all components that create a more inclusive race experience for mothers and parents.

&Mother has coached race organizers at a number of events over the last year, including:

• The 2022 USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships, where all athletes, coaches and event staff enjoyed childcare and lactation stations.

• The 2022 TCS NYC Marathon, 2023 United Airlines Half Marathon and 2023 Brooklyn Half Marathon, where runners utilized lactation stations along the course.

• The 2023 5K and 10K in Santa Cruz, CA, where participants used lactation stations and the first ever caregivers lounge.

In early October, the organization also provided free childcare and lactation spaces to the mothers participating in the Women’s Sports Foundation Annual Salute — &Mother’s first activation at a non-race event. For the moms and caregivers in attendance, these services helped them feel welcome while celebrating the many milestones in women’s sports that year.

lactation support, even if they do not personally need to use the service.

• 88 percent would prefer to support a race that provides childcare options, even if they do not personally need to use the service.

&Mother’s in-person or virtual consulting services include a customized event standardization playbook, which provides recommendations for event provisions, including, but not limited to, lactation stations, breast milk storage and transportation, caregiver lounges, family support, deferral language (including pregnancy and postpartum) and childcare. These standards can also be implemented at running or outdoor industry events, as &Mother demonstrated when they consulted with The Running Event in Austin, TX, last year on how to set up lactation spaces for brand representatives and attendees that are lactating.

Getting Involved With Moms

To drive event participation and demonstrate true support to mothers, brands, race organizers and running stores can work with &Mother to create supportive infrastructure at races and related events, including educational events focused on maternal wellness topics that help mothers continue or return to running. Feedback from moms

“It is support like this that helps keep working moms confident that they can stay on the ice, field, and/or in the boardroom,” points out Kendall Coyne, a professional hockey player and new mom.

and caregivers shows this is much needed.

Thanks in part to the passage of Title IX 51 years ago, the current generation of women who are becoming mothers has participated in sports since childhood and they do not want to give up their athletic pursuits because they are becoming mothers. Of the over 500 people surveyed by &Mother in the last year:

• 97 percent would prefer to support a race that provides

&Mother’s Changemaker Grants also provide a platform where brands can align themselves with professional mom athletes that have the potential to reach or return to pinnacle performance if they had basic support needs met, such as paid maternity leave and access to affordable childcare. Brands can help bridge the monetary gap these athletes’ experience and commit themselves to contract language that protects sponsored athletes throughout their maternity journey.

In a partnership with &Mother, running industry leaders can create an inclusive environment that supports and celebrates the accomplishments of mothers and caregivers. n

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Lactation stations such as this one at The Running Event in Austin, TX, last year allow mothers the ability to continue their professional careers while nursing.
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Get Up and Go, Kids

Healthy Kids Running Series targets a new generation of runners.

Kids in America need to get up and run. And Healthy Kids Running Series (HKRS), the national nonprofit founded in 2009 to provide children with a fun introduction to the sport of running in an environment that builds confidence and self-esteem, is one of the best ways to get them moving. And run specialty retailers can certainly benefit by helping them along because HKRS is there to offer an inclusive youth running experience for kids ages 2-14, inspiring them to believe in themselves and live an active healthy lifestyle.

We believe our cross-country inspired program encourages kids to adopt a “Get Up and Go” attitude. Our program helps kids connect the dots between being outside, moving your body and having fun. By making running and fitness fun, we’re setting kids up for a lifetime of healthy habits.

This is how it works: Each week children run an age-appropriate distance, focusing

on consistency and self-improvement over the course of the Series. Our youngest runners start with a 50-yard dash at age two, by kindergarten they’re running a quarter mile and by fourth grade they are up to a full mile each week. Every runner receives a finisher medal at the end of the last race. Over the course of the five weeks points are awarded based on placement and at the end of the season some runners may get a trophy.

Exposing kids to a “race” is a way for them to compete with themselves and improve on their experience week after week, while also helping them learn about winning and losing in a positive environment. HKRS is most definitely not designed to be a competitive running event with a heavy focus on placement, times, points and trophies. And some locations only award trophies for the longer distances. The focus really is on making running fun.

Healthy Kids Running Series is an inclusive program. Kids of all abilities are

welcome and we never turn anyone away who wants to participate.

An Inclusive Program

To that end we offer a Challenger Division for children with special needs and/or disabilities. These kids are often excluded from traditional youth sports, but are welcome at HKRS and participate alongside their peers.

We also have a Registration Assistance scholarship fund for families that may need financial support. Our Underserved Community program is focused on bringing our races, and healthy activity opportunities, to areas with less access to healthy activity. Our mantra is “Get more kids running!”

Parents who are runners love HKRS. Many often wonder how they can get their kids involved in the sport they love so much in a way that is low pressure and won’t burn them out. By making sure running is fun, and allowing kids to participate with their peers and friends, we’re bringing running

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families together in a healthy activity everyone can enjoy.

Many of the kids who start running with HKRS when they’re young go on to join their middle school track teams or continue recreational running as they get older. We especially love when high school track and crosscountry athletes come back to help volunteer at the race course.

But there are plenty of kids who won’t go out for school sports and they are welcome, too. HKRS is a positive environment where runners are celebrated for their own accomplishments — however success is defined for them. Our goal is to make running fun so they continue in whatever way works best for them.

National Reach, Local Focus

Over the last 15 years we’ve been in 500 communities, serving close to 500,000 young runners. Yet this national reach is really driven by our local focus.

The heartbeat behind any HKRS program is the Community Coordinator, the race director responsible for executing the program. Community Coordinators are active, involved members of their community. They seem to know everyone in town or they’re not shy about making new connections. They love talking about Healthy Kids Running Series and thinking of new ways to make race day a fun and exciting event.

As a nonprofit, HKRS would not be successful without the financial support of our sponsors. Local sponsors enhance the race day experience and receive valuable benefits that build brand awareness and exposure in their local community. Sponsors

receive signage and branding at the race, the opportunity to share discounts/promotions and the ability to be on site interacting with participants and their families.

Run Specialty Opportunity

Run specialty retailers and brands can get involved through

sponsorship and as community coordinators. In fact, the general manager of Fleet Feet, West Reading, PA, Jason Corby, serves as the Community Coordinator for the HKRS Reading, PA, program organizing the event and making sure the kids in his community have access to the

sport of running.

He also secures Fleet Feet, West Reading as the race bib sponsor for the Series. Fleet Feet’s logo appears on all the race bibs (five per runner) and he holds a “Packet Pick Up” at the store, increasing foot traffic and welcoming potential customers with the opportunity to learn more about the store, what they do for the community and what products they offer.

“Sponsoring Healthy Kids

Running Series provides value to Fleet Feet because it makes a personal connection with local runners and fitness enthusiasts in our area,” he points out.

Corby also invites the local run club and college athletes to volunteer at the races in the finish line chute, starting lines and along the turns. This helps improve the race experience for the kids and also gives them the chance to see the runners in their community helping out and showing encouragement. The kids are learning that there’s an entire community of people ready to support them through their running journey.

Community Coordinators love giving back to the running community by ensuring the next generation of runners have a positive and fun experience. Corby also loves teaching the kids about sportsmanship and being a good teammate, as well as the fundamentals of running and the importance of stretching and warming up.

Healthy Kids Running Series is working hard to bring the sport of running to as many kids as possible and partnering with run specialty retailers and brands is an essential part of that mission. It truly is a mutually beneficial relationship. n

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It’s a medal for all finishers in the Healthy Kids Running Series as the emphasis remains on participation and self improvement for all levels of runners. Below, HKRS executive director Dawn Epstein celebrates with a young runner.

Allied in the Outdoors

looks to build a like-minded DEI coalition.

The outdoor industry has a lot of work to do on matters of equity and inclusion. Despite good intentions, progress remains slow and a significant gap exists between intention and impact.

As a result, in early 2023 a group of outdoor industry leaders set out to build an organization dedicated to advancing equity in the industry through collaboration and resource sharing. Drawing on inspiration from other impactful industry-led initiatives, they created a central group to bring the outdoor industry and historically underrepresented groups closer together and move us in the right direction.

Last October, this group, now known as the advisory board, collectively founded the Outdoor Diversity Alliance (ODA). ODA is designed to help companies move from

self-driven, internal diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work to shared, collective action that will do more than what any one company can accomplish on its own.

The mission of the Outdoor Diversity Alliance is to assist the outdoor industry in addressing systemic issues impacting diversity, equity and inclusion through collective action. This includes racial diversity, sexual orientation, body type, physical ability and LGBTQIA. Central to our theory of change is the idea that business leaders must listen to the needs of historically underrepresented communities and groups and drive change across the industry.

Stating a Purpose

Our founding board started building ODA by getting clear on our purpose and the gap that exists in the industry around advancing

equity work. We talked to dozens of companies and nonprofit leaders to understand their specific needs and challenges. From these discussions, common themes emerged:

• Industry leaders lack the expertise to address systemic issues. Company leaders are seeking allies and community and a space to collaborate free of judgment.

• Companies are eager to learn from each other’s successes, mistakes and effective strategies.

• Getting called out is a common fear. People would find value in being part of a supportive community that can provide guidance and coaching if they happen to make a mistake.

• Companies are struggling to make meaningful progress on hiring diverse talent, employee retention and customer acquisition from underrepresented communities.

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Early last year a group of outdoor industry leaders set out to build an organization dedicated to advancing equity. The result is the Outdoor Diversity Alliance. The Outdoor Diversity Alliance

Centering the needs of people most impacted by the equity movement is a vital piece in how ODA functions. Following our initial outreach, we hired 18 people representing outdoor affinity groups and historically marginalized communities to tell us where they believe the industry is falling short, what the industry is doing well, why the industry is struggling to make meaningful progress on recruitment and retention and what they need from the industry to build trust and create a sense of belonging. This group is referred to as ODA’s “Community Advisors.” Common themes emerged:

• Companies are only working with certain community members for events and campaigns specific to their identity. (i.e. Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Pride Month)

• Recruitment and retention is a challenge because they do not have relationships with diverse communities; they don’t currently represent a diverse workforce; they are hiring diverse talent without a genuine commitment to changing culture from within; and other cultures are not reflected in the brand.

• Companies are focusing DEI efforts in marketing only and they are hiring diverse talent to be featured in content while the leadership is white.

• It takes collective efforts to think at a systems/ecosystem level. Sharing successes and failures encourages collaborators to feel more comfortable and secure in the work.

• There is a need for industry-wide standards for pay and code of ethics and agreement on what diversity, equity and

inclusion mean.

ODA’s goals are a direct result of feedback and recommendations from the brands and community advisors. Our goals toward a more equitable industry are:

1. Support the development of authentic relationships by helping companies and historically underrepresented communities and groups connect.

2. Develop the framework for an industry-wide equity assessment.

3. Create authentic storytelling models led by underrepresented communities.

ODA’s Work To Date

There have been a number of initiatives undertaken by ODA already.

• Outdoor Pathway Scholarships. Earlier this

year, the Outdoor Diversity Alliance and Outdoor Recreation Roundtable’s Together Outdoors initiative launched a program to connect students from underrepresented communities to outdoor and environmental professions. The Outdoor Pathway Scholarship program acknowledges the importance of diversity and inclusivity in these sectors by providing students with $5000 in scholarship funding over two years, mentorship and assistance with job placement in the outdoor industry and environmental field. The first Outdoor Pathway Scholarship awards will be announced in May.

• Community Building. Our first quarterly virtual member meeting was held in March. We spent 90 minutes building relationships across our network, sharing successes and mistakes

and planning work that will center community expertise and advance equity in the outdoor industry. ODA’s members will be meeting in-person for the first time on April 30 at the Keen headquarters in Portland, OR

The Retailer Opportunity

There are many ways outdoor and run specialty retailers and brands can be a part of this effort.

First, become a member. With each new member we strengthen our collective impact. We are inviting all outdoor and running industry companies and nonprofits to join the Outdoor Diversity Alliance. Annual membership dues are collected on a sliding scale based on revenue.

Then listen to the needs of underrepresented communities. Whether you’re specialty retailer, a brand or a nonprofit, you can join ODA members in committing to the following:

• Track Progress. Measure the diversity of candidate slates and track progress each year.

• Participate. Offer internal education about anti-racism and cultural competence and increase the number of education opportunities offered each year.

• Take Action. Establish a minimum of one year-round campaign(s) with a grassroots group from a historically underrepresented community or group. Once a relationship is established, introduce partners led by underrepresented communities to a leadership representative, marketing director and social media team. Ensure that historically excluded groups are a core part of annual philanthropic budget and track donations over time. n

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Scholarships and community building have fueled the formation of the ODA.

Closing The Gap

National Black Marathoners Association

offers a chance to reach a new demographic. / By

Twenty years ago, the National Black Marathoners Association (NBMA) started what we like to refer to as the third running boom — ethnic minorities, a movement that has certainly financially benefited race organizers and run specialty retailers and brands by introducing this underrepresented market segment into the sport.

Based on our 2010 marathon study, Blacks represented about 16 percent of the U.S. population, but less than one percent of marathon finishers. The percentage of African American finishers at other distances wasn’t much higher. This 15 percent gap between Blacks in the U.S. population and the running community represents a huge growth opportunity for retailers and brands.

The NBMA has embarked on training and education programs to close this gap. The running industry noticed the success of these programs as the number of African American distance runners, clubs and crews increased. Due to the “curb cut effect,” the NBMA paved the way for other ethnic minorities to form similar national supportive organizations, such as Black Girls Run (2009) and Black Men Run (2013) and Latinas Run (2016). The founders of some of these organizations were NBMA members. Financial support for the NBMA from race organizers, running retailers and brands is needed to continue this growth.

The Running Booms and NBMA

“What is not defined cannot be measured. What is not measured, cannot be improved. What is not improved, is always degraded.” So said physicist and mathematician William Thomson Kelvin.

A case history of the running booms and how they were measured and then marketed is illustrative of what can be happening now with the NBMA.

Recall that the first running boom started in the 1970s and encouraged men to pursue healthy lifestyles through physical fitness activities, such as jogging. Then the second running boom, which focused on women,

was organic and occurred in the 1980s. The men took women (i.e. wives, daughters, mothers, etc.) to races. Also, the races (and club training runs) went through the White communities. Thus, women were passively given first-hand exposure to distance running.

40 © 2024 Diversified Communications Essays
Tony Reed and the NBMA are committed to dispelling myths about Black runners and marathoners.

They didn’t have to travel far to be inspired or to find role models.

Measuring and monitoring the growth of women runners was unintentional. The data were tracked and measured through race registration forms, where gender identification was required for distributing awards. Initially, this data were not captured for marketing.

When the running industry noticed the growth and economic potential of women runners, they invested money to attract and grow this market segment. The races switched from offering unisex finisher shirts to genderspecific shirts in different styles and colors. Brands started developing woman-specific product lines, such as sports bras and shoes. The race cut-off times were increased, which opened the doors for more women participants. And more women were appearing in promotional and marketing materials. As a result of the attention given to this marketing segment, women represent about sixty percent of race finishers.

It’s important to note that these changes only occurred because gender was being identified and tracked on race applications. That’s where the NBMA, which has been promoting the inclusion of race/ethnicity on race applications for 20 years, gets involved. We felt that if the running industry saw the growth of ethnic minorities, they might financially invest in our programs to accelerate the growth of this market segment.

Unfortunately, unlike the women’s running boom, the ethnic minority boom would not be organic due to myths, nonexistent role models, few

distance running coaches and the lack of races and training routes through the Black communities. The NBMA developed and implemented programs to address these challenges.

The NBMA, a nonprofit entity, started in 2004 as the country’s only national Black running organization. Although “marathon” is part our name, we have always been open to runners of all distances. In 2004, the two co-founders, myself (Tony Reed, executive director) and Charlotte Simmons were experienced runners. We had completed more than 200 road races, including more than 70 marathons combined. We also had previous experiences as members or officers of our local running clubs in Atlanta and Dallas. We understood the running community.

Mythbusting Black Runners

The NBMA’s three objectives are to:

• Encourage people to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

• Recognize the accomplishments of African American distance runners.

• Provide college scholarships. (Over $50,000 has been awarded.)

The first two objectives are intertwined. Unlike the second boom where role models were easily accessible, the community was supportive and races were routed through their communities, we had to find and promote African American role models in our communities and proactively become MythBusters. The major myths are twofold:

1. Running is bad for your knees.

2. African Americans are sprinters, not distance runners.

The first myth was addressed by encouraging African Americans to obtain their Road Runners’ Club of America (RRCA) Distance Running Coach Certification. In 2015, the NBMA partnered with the Dallas Marathon and the RRCA to award scholarships for this certification workshop.

Based on the positive feedback and social media attention, the number of Blacks who obtained their coaching certification exploded. This set the standard

and other national Black running organizations began pursuing coaching certifications for their ambassadors and running leaders. These coaches were able to implement “couch to 5K” programs and, later, half marathon and marathon training programs for African Americans, while teaching injury-prevention strategies.

They also partnered with local retailers and fitness centers to offer workshops on topics, including running shoe selection, proper bra sizing and fitting, strength training and stretching.

The second myth about African Americans only being sprinters led the NBMA to create a biennial awards occasion — the National Black Distance Running Hall of Fame and Achievement Awards Event. This was about recognizing the accomplishments of overlooked distance runners, while building a portfolio of role models for future runners. For example, people are only recently acknowledging that Ted Corbitt conceived of changing the NYC Marathon route from multiple loops in Central Park to running through the five boroughs. Inductees were, subsequently, recognized by other halls of fame and athletic organizations.

In 1982, at the starting line of my first of 132 marathons, the White runners told me that I was in the wrong race and they were discouraging me from participating. However, as my family’s genealogist and as student of a Black history, I focused on my Black “myth busting” role models, Benjamin Coleman and Dick Gregory. In 2007, I became the first Black in the world to complete marathons on all seven continents.

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National Black Marathoners Association (continued)

My running clothes and other artifacts from the last continent, Africa, are with the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture and a special three-hour video recording of my life story is in the U.S. Library of Congress. In 2013, I also completed marathons in each of the 50 states. In 2022, the RRCA inducted me into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame.

If I had listened to the 1982 naysayers, instead of focusing on my role models, my accomplishments may not have occurred.

Recognizing Black Runners

The biennial awards event also recognizes the achievements of “ordinary runners, who have completed extraordinary goals” such as:

• Marathons or half marathons in 50 states, seven continents or Five Island Challenge

• World Marathon Majors

• One hundred or more marathons or half marathons

• Three or more Boston Marathons, where they met the qualifying times

• Ten or more 140.6-mile triathlon (minimum of 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and 26.2-mile run)

Based on our research, many individuals did not pursue and/ or achieve these goals until after we promoted the goal, they read it on our website’s Achiever’s webpage or they met a NBMA member at our summits who had reached the goal.

NBMA documentaries and their related shorts were selected by 28 film festivals in the U.S., Canada, Sweden, France and India. They’ve received 29 awards, including 14 first place

awards. More importantly, they’ve had major impacts on the Black running community.

In 2015, our official historian, Gary Corbitt, began compiling the names of the fastest African American women marathoners. A person inquired about the fastest U.S.-born, African American women marathoners. The latter became known as “The List” in the Black running community. Marilyn Bevans, who was inducted into the first Hall of Fame class, was also the first to achieve this feat at the

1975 Boston Marathon. During the next 45 years since 1975, The List had grown to about 20 women.

To encourage more U.S.born African Americans to pursue this goal, I wrote and directed the documentary, titled Breaking Three Hours: Trailblazing African American Women Marathoners. It profiled nine of our Hall of Fame inductees. Within two years, 10 more U.S.-born Black women achieved this goal, compared to only 20 women over the previous

45 years. This goal of making The List has become the new standard for the serious Black women marathoners. Their next goal is qualifying for and competing in the U.S. Olympic Trials. According to mathematician William Thomson Kelvin, we defined it, we measured it and we improved it.

Our current documentary project is titled We ARE Distance Runners: Untold Stories of African American Athletes. It focuses on dispelling the myth that African Americans are sprinters, not distance runners. This features six Hall of Fame inductees who went from inner city poverty to making world history, running more than 3500 miles from Los Angeles to New York City, setting world records, overcoming breast cancer, losing more than 100 pounds and coaching more than 30,000 runners. This movie is still in the film festival phase and needs your support for completion.

Run Specialty Opportunity

Since 2004, the NBMA bought the seeds, planted them, purchased and applied the fertilizer and paid the water bill for the crops. Then run specialty retailers, race organizers and brands harvested and benefitted from the crops.

Unfortunately, the industry did not financially invest in the programs. Our programs started the ethnic minority running boom. However, we need the running industry’s tax deductible financial support to implement the next phase of our educational programs, to reach more African Americans and make the industry more profitable. n

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Reed and the NBMA have bought the seeds, planted them and applied the fertilizer. Now the run specialty industry can benefit from the fruit of their efforts.

Exhibit at The Running Event 2024

More than 60% of the 2024 exhibit hall is already filled. Will your brand be there?

What TRE 2023 Exhibitors had to say about the event:

Given all the various shows out there, this show produces results in connecting with retailers, making industry contacts and selling product.”

If you want to be relevant in running, plan to be here for three years if you’re a new brand. Best Industry shows on the planet!”

This is the epicenter for all things running industry.”

Produced by: Book your booth for 2024 Contact your dedicated account representative or email to get the conversation started. *Testimonials from TRE 2023 post-event survey
NOV 19 – 21 / AUSTIN, TX


Shattering Barriers

Black Men Run uses running to promote health among African American men. / By Bryan Castleberry, COO, BMR

Brotherhood. Unity. Health. No Man left behind! These are the words that come to mind when people think of Black Men Run.

In an era where the health and wellness of Black men are critical conversations, Black Men Run has emerged as a beacon of hope, empowerment and community. According to statistics from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),

• Heart disease is the number one cause of death for African American males.

• Fifty-four percent of African American adults have high blood pressure.

• Non-Hispanic blacks were twice as likely as nonHispanic whites to die from diabetes.

At the heart of Black Men Run lies a commitment to dispelling stereotypes and shattering societal barriers. Historically, African American men have faced disproportionate health challenges, including higher rates of obesity, hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. Through the simple act of running, members of this organization are reclaiming control of their well-being and inspiring others to do the same. By fostering a culture of accountability and support, Black Men Run emboldens individuals to transcend limitations and unlock their full potential.

to encourage health and wellness among African American men, Black Men Run transcends the conventional running group.

It is a movement dedicated to initiating change, breaking stereotypes and fostering a supportive environment where its members thrive physically, mentally and socially. Armed with a vision to effect change, they

• Creating opportunities for African American runners to do the activities (e.g., road running, trail running and ultramarathon running) they enjoy doing.

• Creating safe and inclusive spaces for Black Men to share stories of triumph and struggle and to find solace in the company of like-minded individuals who understand

established a platform where men could come together, lace up their sneakers and hit the pavement. What began as a modest local running group in Atlanta, GA, swiftly burgeoned into a national movement, captivating individuals from all walks of life.

Black Men Run, also known as BMR, was established by Jason Russell and Edward Walton in July 2013 as a vehicle to encourage health and wellness among African American men by promoting a culture of running or jogging to stay fit. Founded with the mission

Black Men Run is comprised of more than 50 chapters across 39 states and it also has an international presence with chapters in London, Paris, Japan and Kenya. Since its inception, Black Men Run has benefitted the running community and industry by:

their journey through organized, chapter runs, regional and national races, social events and virtual forums.

Black Men Run is not just a run club, it is also recognized a network of influence and impact. As BMR continues to do more in the trail running and ultra marathon spaces, along with expanding our footprint globally, it seeks to collaborate and/or partner with organization and / or brands that align with the mission and vision of the organization. n

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Black Men Run is dedicated to creating opportunities for African American men to hit the road running.

Run Around The Block

New Running Industry Diversity Coalition program aims to support Black ownership in run specialty retail.

As part of an ambitious effort to promote diversity within the run specialty community, the Running Industry Diversity Coalition (RIDC), the nonprofit organization whose mission is to unite the running industry to improve the inclusion, visibility and access for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), recently launched its newest initiative — Run The Block, a mentoring and grant program focused on expanding ownership in the running industry. Here’s the details:

• Individuals who own a store with at least 51 percent Black ownership are encouraged to apply. This criteria aims to increase access to financial support and mentorship for businesses substantially owned and run by Black individuals, addressing historical barriers to access capital.

• The selected entrepreneur will be granted $200,000 thanks to the support from Brooks Running and others, as well as mentorship from running industry leaders to facilitate the opening of a run specialty store.

“Run the Block is starting a new chapter in the running industry, focusing on long-term business success and generational wealth for the communities we serve,” explains Kiera Smalls, executive director of the RIDC. “It’s more than just a mentoring and grant program; it’s about leveling the ownership playing field.”

“When Brooks first joined the RIDC, we were most excited about the opportunity for brands and retailers to come together to support necessary change in the running industry,” adds Brooks CEO Dan Sheridan. “We jumped at the chance to back RIDC’s Run the Block pilot program because we saw it as a powerful way for Brooks and other industry leaders to help increase diversity in run.

“Together with our partners and allies, we aim to provide Run the Block beneficiaries

our expertise and experience to help them succeed and thrive,” Sheridan adds.

The RIDC began accepting applications for Run the Block last week and they remain open until May 15, 2024. To learn more and apply for the grant program, visit n

About RIDC

The Running Industry Diversity Coalition (RIDC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was founded in October 2020 with the vision to see and experience a running industry committed to racial justice where Black, Indigenous

and other people of color are welcomed, valued and amplified. The organization has driven awareness, conversations and action nationwide regarding racial diversity, equity and inclusion. With a dedication to transformative change within the sport of running and valuing progress over perfection, RIDC has partnered with more than 1000 brands, organizations and retailers committed to advancing racial justice both personally and professionally to collaborate and improve the inclusion, visibility, and access Black, Indigenous and other people of color have in the running industry.

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One More Thing

Run Specialty Elevated

on future of the business at annual meeting this month.

Answering the million dollar question of “What will the future of my business look like?” the Running Industry Association’s (RIA) annual member event, the RIA Summit, (formerly known as Runchella) plans to give attendees a glimpse into a run specialty crystal ball when it gathers in St. Louis, MO, April 29-May 2.

From an opening night industry panel on how artificial intelligence will impact the run specialty channel, to small group discussions on retaining and elevating superstar employees, to professional development sessions on the future of buying and inventory management, conference attendees will receive actionable, progressive ideas about how to move their businesses forward in a rapidly changing environment.

“Looking ahead as a channel will be a recurrent topic for this year’s Summit,” explains RIA executive director Terry Schalow. “How will AI influence the way we do business and connect with our customers? How do direct-to-consumer brand sales impact bottom lines? What trends are emerging that we need to get ahead of? These are just some of the questions we will address through programming and discussions with our key brands and partners.”

Similar to past RIA events, there will be product presentations and general brand overviews with channel managers, but the 2024 show will also include:

• One-on-one meetings with executives (top-to-tops). Instead of small groups, this is one retail store team and brand leaders in a private meeting. Topics of conversation are open to what retailers wish to discuss with their key brand partners.

• Small group discussions (brands and retailers). Foster better and more productive

ways of doing business together. A few examples of the moderated conversations at the Summit: Book more, chase less — futures planning; How to best partner in the DTC environment; ‘Hidden runner’ acquisition — What retailers and brands should know.

“This event is the most bang for your buck,” says Chris Rogers, of Lincoln Running. “We always come home with positive, innovative ideas for the staff and that’s what it’s all about.

“The ability to interact with both brands and other retailers provides such a unique opportunity that gives us the tools and ideas we need to continually improve our business,” adds Brad Altevogt, Three Rivers Running. “It’s such a productive atmosphere that we even find great ideas just sitting down with others at lunch.”

The event will also offer shorter, demonstration-based sessions with new or new-to-the-channel brands allowing

attendees to meet the owners, view line presentations and truly experience the products — all so retailers can add new items to their product assortments and give their customers a great reason to come see what’s new.

In addition to brand engagement, The RIA Summit offers training on various business tools that support retailers with e-commerce sales, digital marketing and more. Retailers can sign up for workshops with Fitted, Run Free, Optio, Omni, Sports Marketing Surveys and Rare Circles.

In addition, a New Store Track will include sessions that will allow attendees to learn from the masters with peer sharing and mentoring, join the new store RIA Mastermind group and build relationships with dinner date matching and other social opportunities. n

For more:

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Running Industry Association focusing

NOV 19-21, 2024



The Call for Education is open!

We’re looking for a diverse range of voices to share new perspectives and industry expertise with our passionate community of run and outdoor specialty retailers. All are welcome to submit a session proposal.

Speaker Benefits

• One complimentary registration pass, which provides access to all sessions, keynotes, networking functions, and the exhibit hall

• Invaluable networking opportunities with other presenters and industry peers

• Photo and biography featured on The Running Event website and app

• Session featured in marketing promotions and The Running Event 2024 Guide

• Exposure in Running Insight

The Running Event 2024 Call for Education closes Thursday, May 16. Click below to learn more and propose a session:

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