THE NEWSMAGAZINE FOR RUNNING SPECIALTY RETAILERS / RUNNINGINSIGHT.COM
AUGUST 1, 2019
MADE IN THE SHADE
Performance Optics Firms Eye More Shelf Space
Retailers Rate Their Reps. Page 2 ‘Big Pitch’ Coming to The Running Event. Page 12 on-running.com
BEST OF THE REPS
Traits of the best vendor reps — as seen through the eyes of running store owners. / By Daniel P. Smith
n the run specialty channel, vendor reps of both the sales and tech variety play an important role — a face and name retailers can know and turn to for insights on new products, special event support, trendspotting and troubleshooting. Over the years, however, some of the
channel’s major brands have yo-yoed their frontline presence, sometimes building up their on-the-ground forces only to later contract that army before expanding and reducing it once again. Some brands have eliminated reps altogether, while others, particularly a few up-and-coming players
RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2019 all rights reserved. Running Insight is published twice each month, is edited for owners and top executives at running specialty stores and available only via email.The opinions by authors and contributors to Running Insight are not necessarily those of the editors or publishers. Articles appearing in Running Insight may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the publisher. Divesified Communications, 121 Free St, Portland, ME 04101; (207) 842-5500.
eager to make inroads in the channel, have yet to solidify their teams. “Brands that choose not to move forward with sales or tech reps are losing an important connection point with retailers and the channel,” says David Jackson, who worked on the wholesale side with New Balance
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Best of the Reps (continued) “Brands that choose not to move forward with sales or tech reps are losing an important connection point with retailers and the channel.” DAVID JACKSON, FLEET FEET SARASOTA
before becoming owner of Fleet Feet in Sarasota, FL, in 2011. A strong, trusting relationship between running retailers and the brand reps, after all, can benefit both parties. Responsive, involved reps often help their brands capture favor and sales with run specialty accounts, while the presence of responsible, accessible reps provides retailers a direct line to and strengthened relationship with the brands they champion in their stores. Not all brand reps, of course, are created equal. Inhabiting a challenging role that frequently includes extensive travel and massaging tenuous situations between their retail clients and their company bosses, some reps are simply more invested and capable than others. In the March 1 issue of Running Insight, seasoned vendor reps dished on the best traits of the top running store operators. In this issue, Running Insight flips the script and asks veteran running retailers about the shared characteristics of their premier vendor reps. The best reps … are active, engaged partners. Universally, running store owners contacted for this story described the best vendor reps as sincere and active partners who earnestly sought to understand each retailer’s individual 4
business. “I want them to look at my inventory and point out where I have too little or too much. I want them to know my business, including what I did and why,” says Eddie Johnson of the fourstore A Snail’s Pace running store chain in southern California, adding that the best retailer-rep relationships are always collaborative, never adversarial. Charlotte Running Company owner Scott Dvorak similarly prizes reps who are actively
engaged with his business and its best interests. “They’re partners in the sense that they’re willing to clean up inventory, scale down or move things in and out as necessary,” Dvorak says. At Fleet Feet Sarasota, Jackson goes as far as providing reps monthly sales data on their specific brand’s performance in his unit. He urges them to dig into the numbers and make thoughtful suggestions. “The smart reps help operators
better manage their business,” he says. “They show up for appointments, communicate with us and give us quality feedback. They want to be successful themselves, of course, but they want us to be successful, too.” The best reps … are responsive. Jenni Peters, owner of the three-unit Varsity Sports chain in Louisiana, cites responsiveness as a critical quality in vendor reps. That means answering calls and emails, following © 2019 Diversified Communications
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Best of the Reps (continued) “It’s no surprise that the brands we’re doing the best with are the ones whose sales or tech reps are around our staff. That touch is important.” SCOTT DVORAK, CHARLOTTE RUNNING COMPANY
up and reps who do what they say they’re going to do without needing to be prompted, reminded or hassled. “Responsiveness is just essential in business today,” Peters says. “I want that reimbursement or credit memo to be there before I even have to think about it again.”
The best reps … are present. Reflecting on the best reps he’s encountered since launching Charlotte Running Company in 2000, Dvorak touts those who “are not afraid to be on the floor with us.” He likes reps who give him face time, but also those who connect with his employees and arm them with information they can share on the sales floor. “It’s no surprise that the brands we’re doing the best with are the ones whose sales or tech reps are around our staff,” Dvorak says. “That touch is important.” The best reps … possess an enterprising spirit. Given Varsity Sports’ own unique vibe – its retail locations, for instance, reside in converted
houses packed with character and color – Peters relishes reps who are interesting and creative and, above all, understand the importance of those qualities to her business. “Doing novel, different community events is what makes us different than the mall store,” she says. “Our best reps understand we need to create personality in our brand and work with us to make this happen in fun, unique ways.” Sim ila rly, Ken Sung, of Michigan-based Gazelle Sports as well as Go Far in Boulder, CO, prizes an adventurous, entrepreneurial spirit over those reps content with the status quo. “I like those willing to take risks with us,” he says. “They’ll go to bat for us and bring forward
opportunities that make sense for our business.” The best reps … know the product — and not just their own. In the running retail game for nearly three decades, Johnson says high-quality reps know what they’re selling, but, even more, have insights on their competition. “The best reps can point out why their product is better or different than anyone else on the line because they have a more holistic view,” Johnson says, adding that savvy reps are also tapped into wider industry movement as well as consumer trends. “It’s great you know your brand, but I need you to know other stuff as well.” n
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SUNNY OUTLOOK The sunglass market is heating up at run specialty as major brands look to have it made in the shade.
Goodr has shaken up the sunglass business in running stores with fun product at $25 retail and has become the best-selling sunglass brand in running stores. Performance sunglass companies do not want to be left out of the retail mix. The major players in running
eyewear have introduced new styles that emphasize performance, lightweight design and durability. Here’s a rundown of the newest styles and tips from three of the top companies in the market on how retailers can beef up their performance sunglass sales.
The Nike Tailwind Sunglasses feature a lightweight, contoured design that won’t slow you down and stays comfortable, mile after mile. Superior clarity and engineered ventilation help runners stay focused and cool rubber channels in temple arms increase airflow and grip; Speed Tint blocks harsh light on the track and road; a floating nose pad helps optimize airflow and absorb impact; and ventilated temple arms prevent fogging and moisture accumulation. MSRP: $165.
Oakley Mercenary has upped the sportperformance eyewear game with a sleek, double-bridge architecture and a larger, rounded lens shape merged with innovations built to perform. MSRP: $176.
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Sunglass Outlook (continued) TIFOSI
The Vero Race Pink comes with a Smoke, AC Red and Clear lens as a run interchange model and the Carbon comes with a Light Night Fototec, which is made for sport activities that involve low to bright light. Tifosi’s technical line offers different sets of lenses tailored toward the specific use. The Fototec family is a popular choice because the lenses automatically adjust their tint to the conditions of the run. Lenses are made of polycarbonate which is a shatterproof material made to protect runners’ eyes. Tifosi offers adjustable nose and ear pieces* that enhance the fit, making them comfortable for the runner, which leads them to wear them more often. Vents in the lenses increases airflow to reduce fogging. Frames are made from Grilamid TR-90, which is light and durable. The Vero retails from $69.95-79.95; the model shown is $69.95 retail.
Tips from the Sunglass Pros
e asked these three brands their advice on how run stores can sell more performance eyewear.
“There are hundreds of muscles on your head and face. As an Ironman athlete, it was important to use my energy efficiently when biking and running. After squinting all day long, I noticed a drop in energy and headaches were also kicking in. I tried sunglasses with the right lens tints for the right environment, and I found out that I was saving around 15 percent of my energy and no longer squinting and subsequently the headaches went away. My return of energy was transferred back to my overall power and the rest is history.” Greg Welch, Ironman World Champion and Oakley athlete “Shops need to suggest quality eyewear to every customer in the store. Sunglasses are one of the most important pieces of 10
equipment to a runner since most runners are engaging in their sport outside in the sun. If a person is wearing an inexpensive pair of TAC polarized lenses that have distortion, their whole day can be ruined by a distortion headache or distortion nausea. The sad part is that they will never link the ill feeling back to their inexpensive sunglasses. “The sales personnel in the running stores spend a good amount of time educating themselves, and ultimately the consumer, on the best running shoes, but they spend zero time educating themselves on better eyewear options for their customers. So, now we have all these premium and/or elite running stores that work super hard selling a $100–$250 pair of running shoes and then they let that same consumer buy a cheap pair of sunglasses out of a box on the counter. The running store sales personnel and their consumers do not even know that they could have purchased a like kind sunglass at Walmart or the corner gas station for $9.99–$15.99. The fact that the premium elite
running stores can let this happen is very shocking. The running stores are supposed to be offering the best opportunities in all running-related products to their customers, but offering a cheap sunglass that can cause more harm to the overall running experience is a missed opportunity.” Patrick Ebinger, National Sales Manager, Nike-Marchon Eyewear “We suggest that running stores market eyewear as protection or sunscreen for eyes. Many runners are spending large amounts of time in the sun every week training and racing and they should have UV protection for their eyes during these activities. All of Tifosi’s eyewear provides 100 percent protection from UVA and UVB rays. Another tip would be to keep the eyewear near the register and the display full. Consumers want to feel like they have options and that the display is not picked over. Eyewear is always a great add-on to any purchase.” Elizabeth Earley, Tifosi Optics
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‘Big Pitch’ Coming to The Running Event 2019 Retailers Can Win $5000 in Big Pitch Competition at TRE in Austin in November
etailers attending The Running Event will have a chance to win up to $5000 for a promotional campaign to drive younger customers to their stores. The $5000 is the grand prize in “The Big Pitch,” a Shark Tank-like competition presented by Brooks and sponsored by Balega, BodyGlide and Amphipod. The Big Pitch is open to stores with sales of less than $1.5 million annually. To enter The Big Pitch competition, stores need to submit entries of 350 words or less that say how they would use the prize money to drive a new younger consumer into their stores. Entries should be submitted to http:// www.therunningevent.com/the-big-pitch/ The deadline for submissions is Friday
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September 27, 2019. “This contest was created to support stores who may not typically receive marketing support and to have retailers share ideas in a fun format that will inspire other stores to come up with similar promotions,” says Matt Weiss of Brooks, who developed the idea. Three finalists will be selected from all entries received and will get to “pitch” their ideas on stage Tuesday, December 3, to a distinguished panel of judges from the sponsoring companies. Each of the retailers who are finalists in
the competition will receive five minutes to make their pitch and then be questioned by the judges. The three finalist retailers can use Pitch decks of up to three slides. Props and costumes are also allowed if they support the presentation of the idea. The judges for the competition will be: • Matt Weiss, Brooks. • Bert Pictor, Balega. • Bill Sternoff, BodyGlide. • June Angus, Amphipod. The winning store will receive $5000 to execute their idea; Second Place will receive $3000 and third place will receive $1500. Winners will be announced at The Industry Awards dinner on December 5 at The Hilton Austin. n
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RICS Connects A Q&A with Jason Becker, CEO of RICS Software, on the company’s catalog introduction.
ICS Software is one of the leading POS systems serving run and footwear specialty. The company recently introduced its Global Product Catalog to import SKUs, images, descriptions, UPCs and other information to set up products, write orders and receive inventory. Running Insight recently interviewed RICS CEO Jason Becker to learn more about the introduction and the company’s business. RI: What was impetus to launch this new Catalog? Becker: We all live in a hyper-connected world where everyone and everything is connected all the time; however, retailers and brands are mostly disconnected or doing business together in manual, archaic ways. RICS Software has served retailers for 37 years with Point-Of-Sale and Inventory solutions for footwear, apparel and accessories. Our front-row seat to connectivity problems between retailers and brands sparked an initiative to explore how RICS could fix them. That’s why we rolled out the first major step to connectivity by integrating the top running brand’s product catalog data Jason Becker, RICS CEO
directly into our cloud-based Global Product Catalog. How does it work? Retailers using RICS can access the Global Product Catalog to import SKUs, images, descriptions, UPCs and more to set up products, write orders, and receive inventory. The Global Product Catalog provides benefits for retailers and brands. For retailers, using the provided brand data saves significant time and – just as important – ensures data accuracy. The hassle of getting catalogs, managing the data in spreadsheets and hoping that no manual errors occurred in the process is over. For brands, providing accurate product data ensures other connectivity initiatives like vendor managed inventory, electronic ordering and drop-ship are possible. We believe that all retail will be powered by connected systems. We understand the challenges our retail and brand clients face to connect. We’re solving these problems. Essentially, we’re bringing an accurate, connected Global Product Catalog to retailers using RICS. This innovation will open new possibilities for specialty retailers that were previously determined impossible, such as smart replenishment for stores, inventory
look-up from the POS to a brand’s at-once inventory, drop-ship from the POS and other activities that cannot be done without connectivity. What are your impressions of the current state of run specialty in relation to other channels you serve? Each retail channels faces unique challenges, but all face the same laws of gravity related to evolving consumer preferences for how they shop, what they want and how they want to buy. These changes have forced all retail channels and retailers to think critically about what they need to be successful. Personally, I think the run specialty channel is outpacing some other retail segments we serve because of the high levels of collaboration that take place between the retailers, brands and technology partners who all want the same thing — to sell more and win. RICS Software is a POS and Inventory Management platform utilized by 2000 footwear, apparel and accessory retailers. To learn more, contact Keith Keokuk, business development manager at RICS, at 317-275-5941; or email@example.com. Use code “GPC-2020” for details on a special RICS introductory offer. n
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Meetings, Ugh What we need is a new definition of what too often is a waste of everypne’s time. / By Tom Griffen Now don’t misunderstand. I’m not proposing you stop communicating with your staff. No way! I simply want to tweak the long-standing meeting paradigm.
once read that meetings, generally speaking, are either wildly effective or a complete waste of time. Personally, I think most are the latter. It’s time to toss this tired term in the trash. Because guess what? Nothing about it, or any of its traditional attributes, is inspirational. I hereby declare you should no longer, and never again, have a meeting. It’s had a good run, sure, but it’s time to bury yet another old way of doing things. Still think you need them? Here’s some real talk: When was the last time you sat around a conference table and left feeling re-energized? Or knocked out an after-hours huddle and immediately noticed a resulting shift in behaviors? These are rare outcomes. Let’s be honest, meetings exist because they never haven’t. Now don’t misunderstand. I’m not proposing you stop communicating with your staff. No way! I simply want to tweak the long-standing meeting paradigm. So, first things first — let’s give the meeting a new name. Let’s call it a gathering. Sure, it’s basically a synonym, but it’s fresh 15
and new and unexpected. That matters a lot in this day and age. A gathering implies something different, doesn’t it? There’s a certain lighthearted familiarity to the word gathering compared to a stuffy and muddled meeting. A gathering calls to mind the idea of friends, fun, even something to look forward to. Whereas a meeting, well, not so much. Second, let’s mess with the historical format. Can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been to (and facilitated, for that matter) where the list of topics filled a page. Talk about nap time! A gathering, on the other hand, has a focused intention. No more than three predetermined main points. The we’ve-got-just-one-more-thing-to-cover game is a slippery slope and everyone’s already mentally checked out, anyhow. Now let’s talk strategy. There are two things you ought to link with your gathering: forecast, some rules, and a limit to content. 1. Forecast: Forecasting your gathering offers breadcrumbs to staffers. It sets the stage for what’s to come. Lets folks know, in advance, what’s going to be covered
and gives them time to think about it all. It increases chances for conversation. And wouldn’t you rather have the team discuss a topic than be forced to listen to you blab on and on about it? 2. Rules: Rules can actually be an unexpected pleasure of the gathering. Up to three preset rules add an engaging twist to the theme of your event. For example, say the theme of your gathering is customer service. So maybe one of the rules is: If you want a snack during our time together, you have to ask a fellow staffer to get it for you. Or maybe your topic addresses how to better learn the customer’s story. A parallel rule might be: Arrive ready to tell a two-minute work-related story of your own. 3. Limit Content: Keep the content short and sweet, but allow time for genuine togetherness. One of my mentors used to call a one-hour gathering. The first 55 minutes we’d tell stories and catch up a bit, then with five minutes left he’d talk shop. His gatherings were always wildly effective. Let’s Summaraize and End This Meeting • What used to be called a meeting is now a gathering. • Your gathering has focused intention (no more than three main topics). • A week out, forecast the gathering’s plan to all attendees. • Also a week out, present up to three interactive rules for participants. • Keep it short, but allow time for human connection. • A well-facilitated gathering has potential to deepen your team’s togetherness. Leverage this innovative flair to keep your staffers on their toes. n
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Big Peach Brews Up A Celebration Atlanta run specialty retailer celebrates its 15th anniversary with a special beer introduction.
n May 24, 2004, Mike Cosentino, founder of Big Peach Running Co., opened the first Big Peach location in Brookhaven. Now, 15 years later there are seven locations throughout the Metro Atlanta area as well as a mobile store, Big Peach On Wheels, offering a fully stocked mobile shoe fitting and specialty retail experience. As only a retailer with the style of Big Peach could pull off, to celebrate 15 years serving the Atlanta market the retailer has collaborated with Wild Heaven Brewing for a limited release of “Big Peach Running Co. Post-Run Peach Ale” coinciding with a late July celebration that included a virtual 15K run or walk for $15, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Lifeline Animal Project. “We wanted to have a celebration to thank those that supported us throughout the years and as luck would have it, Nick (Nick Purdy, founder of Wild Heaven Brewing) was a fan of ours so we started working on plans for the celebration,” says Cosentino. “Wild Heaven Brewery uses the tag line ‘Serve Your Neighbor’ and that matches our mission to serve the running and fitness community,” Cosentino adds. “We felt it was important to give back to the community and being dog and cat lovers we chose Lifeline Animal Project to support as our way of giving back.” The registration for the celebration included a medal, commemorative bib, food, drink, entry to the party and much more at Wild Heaven’s second location at Lee & White on the West End and with convenient access to the Atlanta BeltLine. Cosentino recalls his thinking when he opened his first Big Peach retail store 15 years ago. “Back in 2004, the Atlanta running and walking community was underserved and being a passionate runner and having a strong interest in retail, I left the corporate environment and opened the first location,” he recalls. “If someone took the time to come through the door, we considered them 16
a guest. I spent all my time in the store, it was my second home. The same way anyone that came to the house was a guest in my home, they would be a guest in the store.” Co-owner Steve DeMoss shares that same sentiment and insists that it continues today. “Everyone is welcome, everyone is a guest,” he says. “Runners come in all shapes, sizes, abilities and backgrounds and it’s our job to help make running more fun and enjoyable. “It has long been the mission of Big Peach Running Co. to encourage more individuals to lead a more active and healthy lifestyle through running and walking,” he adds. “For 15 years Big Peach Running Co. has been a part of the local running and fitness community and it’s their dedication to customer service that has kept them in business as some national sports retailers have failed.” Founded in Atlanta in 2004, Big Peach
Running Co. today is Georgia’s largest running specialty retailer, with seven stores across the metropolitan Atlanta area. It is also one of the nation’s leading authorities on running and walking equipment as well as being selected as one of the Best Running Stores in America multiple times by Running Insight. BPRC has continued to find ways to innovate and provide world class service through its award-winning 3-Step Fit Process to developing TransFORMed Running Workshops that help runners with proper running technique to reduce impact while running. The extensive training program for new team members and expansive selection of footwear, apparel and accessories have been presented various awards and regularly acknowledged by Running Insight, Access Atlanta, Atlanta Magazine, Runner’s World, Competitor Magazine and Creative Loafing. n
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The WIDE WORLD of RUN Interested in Exhibiting?
The Running Event is the intersection of all key players in the run industry.
Contact Us! Christina Henderson firstname.lastname@example.org (214) 263-4706
DECEMBER 3–5, 2019 • AUSTIN, TEXAS therunningevent.com Produced by
running shorts Brooks Running Launches Limited-Edition Melts Collection flexible, arrow-point pattern on the outsole provides a platform for quick transitions as the runner moves from heelto-toe. The Melts Collection includes a women’s Ricochet LE in vanilla sprinkles, featuring the design elements of its Ghost 12 counterpart along with a waffle cone-inspired saddle. The Ghost 12 sells for $130 and the Ricochet LE for $120. The collection went on sale July 25 at brooksrunning.com and at select retailers. Brooks Running Company launched its Melts Collection last week to pay tribute to runners’ favorite post-run treats during the summer: ice cream. New designs inspired by iconic flavors adorn the limited-edition Ghost 12 and Ricochet LE and were available July 25. “Some of our favorite runs are under the sun during summer and we know that many runners, like us, enjoy a cold, tasty post-run treat to cool down,” says director of footwear merchandising Brice Newton. “With the Melts Collection, we give a special nod to those moments by paying tribute to the ice cream and Popsicle flavors we turn to after the miles are in the bank.” The limited edition Ghost 12 features a newly engineered mesh as well as a 3D Fit Print upper for a secure fit. The shoe’s BioMoGo DNA and DNA Loft cushioned midsole provide softness without losing responsiveness and durability. The Segmented Crash Pad, an integrated system of shock absorbers, will cushion the stride and provide smooth heel-to-toe transitions. The Ricochet LE features BioMoGo DNA and DNA AMP cushioning, providing a light, responsive ride to give more energy back to each stride. The 18
Amphipod Appoints VP Amphipod has appointed Linda Glassel VP–marketing, athlete programs and brand engagement. The addition of Glassel builds upon the company’s momentum and innovation leadership position in the running accessory category and will enhance traction for the company’s specialty run channel partners. Glassel comes to Amphipod with more than 25 years of sports marketing, communications, and athlete experience. She most recently served as VP–operations for Back on My Feet, a national nonprofit that uses the power of running and community to help combat homelessness. Subsequently she served as VP–global marketing at Prince Sports, helping to catapult the brand to the number one position in specialty tennis. Glassel has also held prominent marketing and brand positions with Wilson Racquet Sports and Maui Jim Sunglasses, successfully integrating and activating major sponsorship programs and partnerships in the tennis, golf and running segments while also working with Fortune 500 companies as national and global
partners. Glassel also sits on several advisory boards in the nonprofit and B Corp sectors.
Zensah Launches The Cloud Zensah this week unveiled the latest addition to its athletic sock line, the Cloud Cushion Running Sock, a midcushioned no-show running sock. With a medium cushion feel, moisture-wicking technology and shock absorption, Zensah says the socks deliver all-day comfort with “the prefect amount of cushion without being too bulky or thick.” The medium cushion feel helps absorb impact, helping reduce pain and injuries during runs while its anatomical design helps adapt to the left and right foot, reducing the chances of blisters. This Cloud Cushion Running Sock collection is available in black-blue, raspberry and blue/yellow and retails for $15.99.
© 2019 Diversified Communications
running shorts Pro-Tec Launches Resistance Bands, Adds Director of Sales
Pro-Tec Athletics recently introduced its Resistance Bands that encourage muscle strengthening,
toning and mobility training for runners. The Resistance Bands come in three color-coded levels of resistance
– light, medium, and heavy – for use with many exercises. The latex bands were created to withstand repeated use and will not break. The release of the Resistance Bands reinforces Pro-Tec Athletics mission to keep as many people healthy and active as possible. The Pro-Tec Athletics Resistance Bands retail for $14.95 and come with a travel bag. In other news at Pro-Tec Athletics, Carlos Serrano has joined the company as director of sales. Serrano joins ProTec with over 13 years of experience in sales, including more than eight years with Merrell in the sporting goods/outdoor industry. He will be responsible for creating new business strategies, development of new markets, managing existing accounts, and ensuring overall customer satisfaction.
campaign is a celebration of the company’s heritage, future and family. To New Balance, family can be immediate or extended, teammates or coaches, friends or fans — anyone that has had
your back and you consider family. New Balance’s ambassadors are a part of their family; each one unique, but all sharing the common thread that runs in New Balance’s DNA: independence.
New Balance Celebrates Family Following the launch of its “Runs in the Family” campaign, New Balance has been delving into each of its ambassadors’ stories, celebrating the fearlessly independent qualities that run in their family. Early in July Jaden Smith spoke about how “Vision Runs in the Family,” and last week New Balance released its dedicated video on Olympic hurdler/sprinter and New Balance athlete Sydney McLaughlin, revealing how for her, ‘Strength Runs in the Family.’ An Olympian at just 16-years old, McLaughlin has exhibited tremendous inner strength to balance her running career with normal experiences. She’s surrounded herself with a small circle of people who feel like family to help her stay grounded through the highs and lows. The New Balance Runs in the Family 19
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A LOOK AT THE MOST IMPORTANT RUNNERS AND RACES OF THE PAST MONTH
By Brian Metzler
Big Names Win Western States 100
Nike, Houlihan, Lomong Dominate U.S. Outdoor Championships
With another record-setting win in the Western States 100, Jim Walmsley (photo) remains the king of the American ultra-distance trail running scene. The 29-year-old Hokasponsored athlete from Flagstaff, AZ, smashed the course record he set in 2018 by more than 20 minutes with an impressive 14:09:28 effort. Walmsley’s front-running style and versatile range has been impressive in 2019, given that he set a new world record for 50 miles (4:50:07) in May and qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon with a 1:04:00 effort at the Houston Half Marathon in January.
No matter how you slice it, Nike dominates American track and field. and it was on display at the Toyota USATF Outdoor Championships July 25-28 in Des Moines, IA. Led by the double-duty victories from Lopez Lomong and Shelby Houlihan (in photo), the Swoosh was the top brand in the meet. While the 27-year-old Houlihan continued her ascent as one of the top U.S. athletes by winning the 1,500m (4:03.18) and 5,000m (15:15.50) for the second straight year, the 34-year-old Lomong, a 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympian. continued to punctuate his long career by dominating both the 5,000m (13:25.53) and 10,000m (27:30.06). Houlihan and Lomong were among the biggest stars at this year’s championships, which served as a qualifier for the IAAF World Championships that will be held Sept. 28-Oct. 6 in Doha, Qatar. Nike athletes also swept the high-profile men’s 100m (Christian Coleman, Michael Rodgers, Christopher Belcher) and women’s 100m (Teahna Daniels, English Gardner, Morolake Akinosun) and set a new American record in the men’s pole vault (Sam Kendricks, 19 feet, 10½ inches) and a new world record in the women’s 400m hurdles (Dalilah Muhammed, 52.20). There were also a handful of non-Nike winners at USAs who could be among the biggest stars at the world championships, including Noah Lyles (200m, 19.78m Adidas), Emma Coburn (3,000m steeplechase, 9:25.63, New Balance) and Ajee Wilson (800m, 1:57.72, Adidas).
On the women’s side, Clare Gallagher continued to shine. The 27-year-old Boulder, CO, resident won the women’s race in the second fastest time (17:23:25), adding to her impressive list of victories that also includes the Leadville 100 in 2016 and the CCC in Chamonix, France, in 2017. In early June, two weeks before the Western States 100, she embarked on an Alaskan mountaineering expedition that included climbing the second-highest peak in the Brooks Range and visiting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—an area she’s working hard to try to protect and preserve. Unlike Walmsley, who led wire to wire, Gallagher, who is sponsored by Patagonia and La Sportiva, took the lead at mile 80 when Courtney Daulwater dropped out with an injury and then was briefly caught by Brittany Peterson at mile 93.
Ageless Bernard Lagat Breaks U.S. Masters Marathon Record Bernard Lagat refuses to slow down. The 44-year-old two-time Olympic medalist and six-time world champion continued his assault on the American masters record book on the roads on July 7 with a 2:12:10 clocking at the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia. That mark broke Meb Keflezighi’s 2016 record of 2:12:20, but it came up just 40 seconds short of the Olympic-qualifying standard. Lagat’s time ranks sixth among the American runners who have qualified for the U.S. 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon in Atlanta next February. Perhaps most impressive about Lagat is that he owns has the fastest time by a U.S. 40+ man at every distance from the 1,500m through the marathon—1500 (3:40.20), mile (3:54.91), 3000 (7:37.92), 2 miles (8:17.05), 5,000 (13:06.78), 10,000 (27:49.35), half marathon (62:00) and marathon (2:12:10).
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