Running Insight 8.3.20

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THE NEWSMAGAZINE FOR RUNNING SPECIALTY RETAILERS / RUNNINGINSIGHT.COM THE NEWSMAGAZINE FOR RUNNING SPECIALTY RETAILERS / RUNNINGINSIGHT.COM

SCHOOL DAZE Run retail prepares for a Back-to-School season unlike any other — ever.

Run Sock Preview / Page 12 Bob Wallace (1951-2020) Runs His Last Race on-running.com

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MARCH 16, 2020 AUGUST 3, 2020


Back-to-School Issue

The 2020 Back-to-School

For running retailers, uncertainty hovers over the typically robust back-to-school season. / By Daniel P. Smith

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hile the back-to-school season typically means sweet music for running retailers, this fall carries an uneven tune. As the continued reach of the novel

coronavirus impacts school calendars and fall cross-country seasons, not to mention fall marathons, running retailers are confronting a peculiar, question-packed back-to-school season that continues to

RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2020 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.

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complicate planning. “August is our Christmas season, but it’s hard to establish a blueprint for this one and stick to it,” Columbus Running Company (CRC) co-owner Eric Fruth says.

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Cover Photo by Daniel P. Smith; Photo this page: Deleece Cook on Unsplash

BLUES



Back-to-School 2020 (continued) While the National Retail Federation/Prosper Insight & Analytics report released on July 15 pegged overall K-12 sales to jump 13 percent this year over 2019, much of that record tally was attributed to technology purchases for remote learning. In contrast, a recent Deloitte survey projected back-to-school spending on clothing and accessories to drop 10 percent this year. As state leaders, local officials and school districts across the

U.S. contemplate back-to-school and return-to-sports plans, running retailers continue to feel the crush of uncertainty. In Massachusetts, Whirlaway Sports owner Dave Kazanjian stocks running footwear and casual shoes starting at size one. In past years, Whirlaway’s back-to-school season has been a profitable one buoyed by traditional back-to-school pu rchases as wel l as at hletes f looding his store for

cross-country, football, soccer and volleyball gear. Kazanjian calls the 2020 back-to-school season “a crapshoot.” “We just don’t know and that’s something I’ve been saying for the last four months,” Kazanjian says. At Aardvark Sports Shop in Bethlehem, PA, owner Bruce Haines says the normal backto-school campaign produces a 20-25 percent bump in sales. Though Pennsylvania officials

“August is our Christmas season, but it’s hard to establish a blueprint for this one and stick to it.” Eric Fruth, Columbus Running Company

Retailers left in limbo on cross-country season

Though many state officials and prep sports federations across the U.S. have unveiled return-to-sports plans, running retailers remain anxious that the 2020 cross-country campaign and its nearly 500,000 high school participants in the U.S. might evaporate. “Everyone’s on edge if there will even be a cross-country season,” says Columbus Running Company (CRC) coowner Eric Fruth. Across the country, the fall harrier season hangs in limbo. In Ohio, where cross-country has been labeled a “contact sport,” teams can host practices, but not inter-team competitions, per current guidelines from the Ohio High School Athletic Association. The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) recently delayed the start of fall sports to Sept. 14, while the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association has thus far committed to cross-country beginning on Aug. 17 as originally scheduled. In all cases, however, the state athletic associations acknowledge that public health officials or state leaders hold the final word. Such announcements have provided some clarity, but not certainty, which leaves running retailers anxious about investing in cross country-related inventory, especially competition spikes. At Massachusetts-based Whirlaway Sports, owner Dave Kazanjian put his spike deliveries on hold with three different manufacturers this summer as he awaited information from the MIAA. A day before the MIAA announced the delay to fall sports on July 21, however, Kazanjian green-lit about half of his scheduled orders to accommodate customer demand, even though his gut tells him there will not be a cross-country season this fall.

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Whirlaway Sports’ annual Captains’ Night relies on cross-country and track runners to fuel Back-to-School sales, something that is in doubt this year.

“Kids running cross-country are in the mindset that there’s going to be a season. Being the store we are and the reputation we have, we got to have spikes on hand,” Kazanjian says. “Still, how do we justify bringing in our full orders without absolute certainty there’s going to be a season?” When CRC received a call from one manufacturer that spikes would not arrive until September, the store cancelled that order. “We had to go lighter on spikes because of the risk. We could sell zero,” says Fruth, though he adds that CRC still loaded up on the lightweight trainers that young cross-country runners tend to favor. “People are still on their feet and running, so shoes will be needed, but I’m pessimistic when it comes to spikes.” The uncertainty of a cross-country season coupled with Ohio’s limits on mass gatherings has also hampered CRC’s ability to bring its mobile store directly to teams. Yet more, CRC claims a healthy race timing business and is at risk of losing numerous cross-country events should the season get significantly condensed or cancelled. “These are all giant wrinkles to our plans,” Fruth says.

© 2020 Diversified Communications



Back-to-School 2020 (continued) “What can you do but be flexible? This is just the fight we’re in right now.” Dink Taylor, Fleet Feet Huntsville

Columbus Running Co. has shifted to team days and weekends in an effort to attract school runners in a COVID world.

continue insisting that schools will open this fall and sports will proceed as planned, Haines is not expecting to see the typical amount of eager shoppers entering in his doors this August. “I’d be surprised if we see the urgency we’re accustomed to seeing during the back-toschool season,” he says. Heading into Alabama’s 15th annual sales tax holiday July 17-19, Fleet Feet Huntsville owners Suzanne and Dink Taylor did not know what to expect amid rising COVID-19 cases in Alabama and mounting concern that traditional schooling might not begin in August. 6

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“The sales tax holiday is on the calendar, but how will people participate?” Suzanne Taylor wondered as the mid-July weekend approached. The Numbers Story I n t h e en d , F le et Fe et Huntsville’s 2020 sales tax holiday results fell about eight percent below last year’s mark, a rather remarkable turn considering the shop operated at 40 percent capacity. “I would say, in general, it was successful,” Suzanne Taylor says, though she found many shoppers “didn’t even know it was tax-free weekend” due to reduced advertising and

promotion of the annual holiday. With uncertainty hovering over much of the country, most run shops are monitoring the marketplace and pivoting their plans while continuing to offer COVID-era solutions such as curbside pickup, home deliveries and virtual fittings. CRC, which has five stores across central Ohio, is accustomed to hosti ng va r ious large-scale events throughout August to drive traffic into the store, including cross-country team nights. With limits on in-store capacity and lingering COVID-19 fears, however, Fruth and his partners have shifted from team nights to team days

and even team weekends to offer a broader window for athletes to visit the stores. Though some squads have taken CRC up on the offer, it is far from the usual number, Fruth says. “It hasn’t been a perfect transition,” acknowledges Fruth, calling it a constant grind to manage the back-to-school season amid other pressing concerns, such as safety protocols and staff scheduling. Similarly, Haines has been left to figure out how to drive the traditional back-to-school traffic into Aardvark amid instore capacity limits. “How do you create attractive promotions designed to bring people in if you are limited to 15 people on the sales floor at a time?” he asks. “I haven’t had any real revelations about how to get the back-to-school kid in here.” During Alabama’s recent tax-free weekend, the Taylors adapted by setting up fit stations outside of their store to service customers. “What can you do but be flexible?” says Dink Taylor, predicting that his store’s back-to-school numbers will ultimately end up flat. “This is just the fight we’re in right now.” n © 2020 Diversified Communications


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Back-to-School Issue

The Games Will Go On The ability to adapt is crucial in restarting high school sports. / By Dr. Karissa Niehoff, NFHS Executive Director

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and spring sports played during the same time period. While that small percentage of parents who only have their own interests in mind responded with comments such as “Two seasons — so now they have to pick a sport, this is terrible,’’ the majority were supportive, such as this high school coach: “The guys that are truly committed and take the right mindset will turn this into a positive.” T he Iowa H ig h Scho ol At h let ic Association (IHSAA) was the first state association to turn the challenge of the

COVID-19 pandemic into a positive. Although there have been bumps along the way, most schools in Iowa have been able to conduct their normal summer baseball seasons and the IHSAA state tournament is due to be completed in early August. By following strict safety protocols, which sometimes included teams discontinuing their seasons if anyone tested positive for the virus, the IHSAA was able to persevere and became the first state to allow students to engage in activities since the shutdown in March. While it wasn’t exactly the same,

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lanning for high school sports as the COVID-19 pandemic continues is the biggest challenge any of our leadership has ever faced. The classic line of “We’ve never done it that way before” has become, “We must try to do it that way if activities are going to exist this year.” And if these plans are to be successful, we all must embrace change. NFHS member state high school associations are working overtime right now to provide opportunities for students in all high school sports and other activities. While football tends to garner the lion’s share of the headlines, state associations are trying to ensure that all sports are available. Working with governors, state departments of education and public health, and local school districts to balance safety concerns against the need for these vital programs is an overwhelming task. And these decisions must be made differently than the major conferences of the NCAA, or the NBA with its bubble concept or club sports that exist outside the school setting. High school sports are first and foremost education-based programs and complete the academic work during the school day; they do not exist in a vacuum as a training ground for future levels of sport. Out-of-the-box thinking to provide sports opportunities for as many students as possible perhaps was best exhibited last month by the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF). Due to increasing cases of the virus statewide and the cancellation of in-person classes in the Los Angeles and San Diego school districts for the remainder of the calendar year, the CIF pushed back the start of sports until December. In order to offer all of its previously planned sports, the CIF is moving from three seasons to two, with typical winter


and students, coaches and parents had to embrace change, the chance to participate made all the obstacles bearable. In some states, the current levels of positive cases may push back the start of schools and sports, but there is a general belief that the “games will go on.” Whether the schedules have to be adjusted by a few weeks or a few months, state associations remain committed to offering as many activities as possible during the 2020-21 school year. However, it will take a resolve on the part of everyone to keep going and keep trying. Where guidelines call for masks to be worn and social distancing to be followed, everyone must be working together. We k n ow t h a t w h e n

circumstances change, we must embrace change. The NFHS has hosted a National Student Leadership Summit annually in downtown Indianapolis for a number of years. About 150 high school student leaders involved in athletics and activities normally attend the conference to hear from several motivational speakers and network with their peers. Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s summit was held vi r tually on the NFHS Network and, unbelievably, more than 10,700 student leaders attended the online sessions. Through the “obstacles” presented by the pandemic, we were able to reach 10,550 more students than last year. We must keep the faith that high school sports and activities

Cross-country, Track Ranked Safest Sports

THE QUESTION OF WHETHER OR NOT THERE WILL BE school sports in the fall is vital to run specialty, which has traditionally counted on Back-to-School sales as one of its top sales periods of the year. Not only do kids buy sneakers to return to class, but the all-important cross-country and track and field seasons bring dozens of young athletes into stores to gear up for the coming year. While districts around the country seek the right answer about whether or not to return to school this month or in September, hope remains that fall sports in some capacity will return as well. While there are certainly risks in common with all sports, not all sports are equal. Each has varying levels of risks and recently the The Oregonian/OregonLive published an article by Dr. Carlos Crespo, a professor in the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health and Fellow of American College of Sports Medicine, and Dr. Ryan Norton, assistant professor of Family and Sports Medicine at OHSU, assessing those risks involved with different sports. They rated those sports as Lower, Medium or Higher risk. Factors that are considered in the safety of the sport include contact versus non-contact, individual versus team sport and indoor versus outdoor. Generally, non-contact is

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remain a part of students’ lives this year — in whatever new and creative ways surface in each state. n Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff is in her second year as executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) in Indianapolis, IN. She is the first female to head the national leadership organization for high school athletics and performing arts activities and the sixth full-time executive director of the NFHS, which celebrated its 100th year of service during the 2018-19 school year. She previously was executive director of the Connecticut Association of SchoolsConnecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference for seven years.

It will take a resolve on the part of everyone to keep going and keep trying. Where guidelines call for masks to be worn and social distancing to be followed, everyone must be working together.

safer than contact, individual is safer than team sport and outdoor is safer than indoor. The good news for run retail is that both track and field and cross-country were placed in the Lower Risk category, which can perhaps give them an edge over Higher Risk sports such as football and soccer to return this fall. The authors point out that distancing is easier with running. Lanes can be closed between runners to allow more space between them. But Norton and Crespo said that if runners are in the airstream of others, there is the chance for respiratory droplets to spread. The more distance between runners, especially in longer races where spacing happens naturally, creates a safer environment. But there is no contact, which lowers the risk. The way sports are played might not look exactly the same as they did before being shut down by the pandemic. Norton and Crespo said preventative measures should be taken, including changing the rules of some sports to create a safer environment. Other Lower Risk sports include baseball/softball and volleyball. Medium Risk sports include ice hockey/field hock, soccer and lacrosse. The Highest Risk sports include basketball, football and wrestling. n

© 2020 Diversified Communications


Back-to-School Issue

A BTS Like No Other Economic and behavioral shifts will impact back-to-school and sneaker sales. / By Matt Powell, NPD Group

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ver the last few years, we have seen back-to-school sneaker sales start later, peak later, peak lower and last longer than in the past. This has been primarily driven by the “buy now, wear now” mentality; if a new pair of shoes is not needed right now, why should families buy them? Plus, the longer families wait, the greater potential to buy at a discounted price. This back-to-school season will be unique in a number of ways due to the marketplace, economic and behavioral shifts brought on by the pandemic — and I remain pessimistic on how sales will fare this year. June was an outstanding month for sneaker sales, but we should be careful in how we interpret these results. Brands were releasing an extraordinary amount of limited shoes in a month that typically does not see this happen. The results were jaw dropping increases in sales growth, but it is a strategy that is unsustainable for the longer term. After three months of lockdown, there was pent-up demand to just get out and buy something. That spike in therapeutic shopping is not sustainable either. Finally, there were great deals on product that had sat in darkened storefronts and had to be cleared. Again, the sales growth stemming from this is not sustainable. The BTS Scenario Every day we hear about another school district going virtual this fall. Those students probably don’t need new shoes to take classes virtually. (Do they need shoes at all?). Parents may shift their spending to better meet the needs prompted by this new schooling environment and invest in technologies to help their kids learn remotely. Money spent on tech means less 10

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available for shirts and shoes. Other school districts are pushing out start dates as they try to develop saving and executable strategies. Later start dates will impact sales that would have taken place early on. This back-to-school season flux will have an impact on fall sports as well. Will parents feel it is safe for their kids to play sports under COVID-19? Given the circumstances, I would also not be surprised if states cancel or postpone “tax free” holidays. Tax free dates only move the needle against the previous year when they start and when they end. Loss of tax free dates will have a negative impact on sales. From a financial perspective, the economy remains in recession. The June unemployment

rate was at a staggering 11 percent. Those jobs won’t come back quickly and some are likely lost forever. The recent lockdowns will add to the unemployment. All of this impacts consumer spending and behavior. In addition, I firmly believe the supplemental unemployment benefit has propped up retail sales and without it – or if it is a less amount – sales will be hurt. All of these factors will have a negative impact on the back-to-school season. Some of the business will go to the internet, but as we saw in March and April, this was not enough to offset closed stores. Some of this business can be deferred until later, but when will that “later” be? I don’t expect the sports retail business will hit the depths of March and April, but the highs of June will soon be forgotten. n

© 2020 Diversified Communications


Back-to-School Issue

The 2020 BTS Shopper Morning Consult takes a look at what shopping will be like this unusual season.

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survey conducted from July 10-12, 2020 of 540 parents of children ages 5-23, combined with results from a survey conducted August 1-3, 2019 with a sample of 587 parents, by Morning Consult, a global data intelligence company, found some interesting trends run retailers can look forward to this Backto-School season. • Parents are deeply anxious about their children’s education: 86 percent are at least somewhat concerned in light of the pandemic. That’s a higher share than are concerned about their family’s health, economic or mental wellbeing. • Parents feel somewhat more stressed

BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING Considering the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential changes to how schools will operate, would you say that your back-to-school purchases will be mostly similar or mostly different from previous years, or will there be no change?

about shopping this year: 43 percent mainly feel stressed and 32 percent feel excited. In 2019, 38 percent said they felt stressed and 40 percent felt excited. • Despite educational uncertainties and economic turbulence, parents’ back-toschool shopping plans are largely similar to last year. There are certain shifts that retailers should be aware of, such as more

projected spending on electronics and less on clothes, but the shifts may be less deep than expected given the significantly altered conditions. • More plan to shop online: 44 percent of parents say they will do more of their shopping online due to COVID-19, while 26 percent say they will do more shopping at brick-and-mortars. n

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socks APPEAL

Sock makers adapt to a challenging COVID-19 environment and offer retailers advice for success. / By Judy Leand

AS THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC DRAGS ON, companies of all types and sizes have had to make adjustments in order to survive. For makers of running socks, meeting these new challenges is not only helping their businesses weather the storm, but in many cases is setting them up for future success once the health crisis passes. For example, to help keep employees busy on the manufacturing floor, a number of brands have shifted some of their efforts to the production of high-demand items such as face masks. Upgrading machinery and facilities, advancing new technologies and lending support to local communities also figure into the equation. Of course, everybody knows of the hard hits that retailers – particularly the brick-and-mortar stores – are taking in this often desperate and pressure-packed situation. On a positive note, sports such as running are faring pretty well as consumers clamor to get outdoors and remain active and fit. Here is a look at the ways in which sock companies are adjusting their businesses to thrive in the current and post-pandemic environment — and how they’re stepping up to help their retail partners by providing a variety of special programs as well as some sage advice.

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© 2020 Diversified Communications


BALEGA

Balega’s new Reflective Enduro Sock boosts visibility in lowlight conditions by utilizing ultra bright refractive glass beads at the top of the sock. Other benefits include enhanced compression bands at the top of the sock for structure and support, proprietary Drynamix wicking fibers and ventilation panels and a reinforced, extra-deep heel pocket (SRP $16). Advice for Retailers: “Stay focused on your accessories category,” says Tanya Pictor, VP of Balega and FuelBelt Marketing at Implus. “Socks are small-ticket items that deliver big performance, good value and can create amazing color

statements in-store.” Because socks often are the highest margin generators, they deserve focus in the sales process. Special Initiatives: Balega rallied to secure donations for the Solidarity Response Fund for WHO by teaming with its manufacturing partners, sales team and retail partners, and also supported frontline workers. The brand’s South African manufacturing partner quickly pivoted and produced face masks. Balega also offered product programs to retail partners, thus allowing the stores to extend margins to increase their bottom lines during an extremely challenging time.

CEP

CEP’s Ultralight No Show socks offer metatarsal compression over the instep for support, ultralight design and hydrophobic materials for breathability, 25 percent less volume than standard CEP 3.0 No Show Socks, a seamless toe closure, and padded zones for anti-blister and anti-hotspot (SRP $18.50). Advice for Retailers: For running stores, selling more than running shoes has always been the “secret” pathway to improving financial metrics. Now, with an increased focus on cleanliness and sanitary environments there’s an opportunity to suggest/require that customers wear a new or certified 13

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clean sock while trying on shoes, suggests SVP Luke Rowe. “This gives the customer a chance to feel the quality and comfort of the sock as well as the shoe. After fitting with a new sock, you can offer that sock at a special value or provide it to the customer as a gift with purchase. If the purchase offer isn’t accepted, segregate the sock for cleaning,” he says. “This is also an opportunity to offer an accelerated purchase option such as a Buy 3, Get 1 Free promotion.” Special Initiatives: CEP’s parent company’s manufacturing facility continued to produce medical compression products for seriously ill patients and also began production of face masks on contract and now for use by the medi sales team.

© 2020 Diversified Communications


DARN TOUGH VERMONT

The Darn Tough Stride Ultra-Lightweight Micro Crew, part of the new SS21 run line, has a multi-zoned mesh upper for ventilation and comfort, a reinforced heel and Achilles for durability, a re-engineered flex window for targeted fit and flexibility, a True Seamless Toe to minimize blisters and a supportive arch to reduce fatigue (SRP $19). Advice for Retailers: Consumer spending may be challenged, but running has clearly gained traction, boosting the importance of education in selecting the right socks. Darn Tough socks are made of Merino wool, a naturally antimicrobial fiber that repels bacteria and odor while providing fast wicking. “Focus on quality and purchase a product that will last [the customer] more than one season,” advises U.S.

sales manager Tressa Kreis. “Focus on core, but know that consumers will want something new and exciting now that they can shop again.” Special Initiatives: Darn Tough donated 10,000 pairs of socks to hospitals and healthcare professionals across the state of Vermont. The company also created a unique style, the Farmers Market Foodbank sock, to support those impacted by hunger in Vermont — every dollar raised goes directly to the Vermont Foodbank and to date, 264,528 meals have been provided. Additionally, a group of Darn Tough employees volunteered to make thousands of face masks for the Vermont community.

DRYMAX

Designed in collaboration with champion 100-miler Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer, the Drymax Lite Trail Running Speedgoat Crew sock is Made In The USA. It features a proprietary two-layer moisture transfer system utilizing hydrophobic (water-hating) yarns against the foot to lift moisture from the skin to the outer hydrophilic (water loving) wicking layer away from the foot (SRP $15). Advice for Retailers: “Break the mold, don’t be a follower, sell something different that isn’t discounted online,” says EVP Bob MacGillivray. “Give USA-made products a chance, they are more cost-competitive than you think, are easy to

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replenish and offer a good American Made story of quality. Your customers will thank you for offering a broad, well-curated technical line-up of quality products. Your open mind and research will be rewarded with loyal returning customers.” Special Initiatives: The company’s focus is to continue to move forward, push the technical envelope, take the time to advance new technology, and keep the USA factory, warehouse and offices viable. “Drymax is emerging as a smarter and stronger company with all of our employees still on the payroll,” notes MacGillivray.

© 2020 Diversified Communications


FALKE

Falke’s RU3 men’s sock delivers targeted light cushioning and the patented right/left toe box provides optimal fit. The three-layered design of functional and natural fibers protects against blisters by transporting moisture (SRP $21.95). Advice for Retailers: “Our suggestion to retailers is to sell quality products that they can understand, get behind and trust,” says VP Desiree Larson. She adds that Falke has been knitting socks in Germany for 125 years and was the first manufacturer to patent right and left socks. “This creates a better fitting sock and a better performing sock —

quality your customers will come back for again and again for another 125 years.” Special Initiatives: Larson reports that Falke made a lot of changes during the coronavirus pandemic. “This is a crisis that no one has ever experienced before, in both our personal and professional lives. We set up rules to protect our employees and those we interact with. In addition, we introduced Falke face masks knitted on our hosiery machines,” she says. In the USA, the brand is offering the masks to all of its employees as well as to its clientele.

FEETURES

New for Fall 2020 is the Feetures Elite Max Cushion No Show Tab made with Repreve. Part of the Active Performance line, these updated eco-friendlier socks wick moisture and include anatomically designed left/right targeted compression for a custom fit, and a seamless toe to prevent blisters (SRP $15.99). Advice for Retailers: Despite all of the challenges with in-store fitting, it’s important not to lose focus of selling accessories like socks. “There are so many new customers getting into running, you can’t miss the opportunity to give these new runners the full experience your store has to offer. Performance socks are so important for beginner runners because they help solve blister issues that can spoil the investment in a new pair of running shoes,” explains Joe

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Gaither, VP–marketing. “Encourage your staff to do anything they can to get a pair of try-on socks on someone’s feet during fitting and educate them about the benefits.” Special Initiatives: The brand ran a special promotion in partnership with Fleet Feet called “Buy 1 Gift 1” for health care employees. For every sock purchased at Fleet Feet and Fleetfeet.com, Feetures donated a pair to a hospital worker. “With Fleet Feet’s national reach, they were a natural partner,” says Gaither. “We were both looking for a way to give back to healthcare workers because of their sacrifices during these times. They helped us connect with more than 10 hospitals around the country and together we gave away more than 20,000 pairs.”

© 2020 Diversified Communications


FOX RIVER

Fox River’s Mesa Lightweight Quarter Crew is made from all-natural alpaca. The URfit System provides long-lasting support, 37.5 Technology helps regulate foot temperature, and strategic micro-cushioning adds comfort. Wick Dry technology keeps feet dry and helps avoid moisture build-up (SRP $18). Advice for Retailers: “COVID-19 has set retail spiraling into uncharted waters,” says e-commerce director Shaun Erlebach. Coming into the fall season, we feel the key to success will be the ability to remain agile to customers’ needs and to take every step possible to ensure key product information is available at their fingertips through digital means.” Special Initiatives: Fox River introduced the C156 FlexFit

Mask, a reusable, washable, seamless 3D form-fitting protective PPE face mask designed and knit in Osage, IA. It’s the first fully seamless mask ever to be created on a traditional sock knitting machine and each mask exits the knitting machine completely finished without any additional cutting or sewing required. “The ingenuity behind our new FlexFit Mask shows you just how resilient and clever the hardworking, highly intelligent folks at Fox River Mills really are,” says Carter Jones, senior merchandising manager. Fox River has provided employees with two FlexFit face masks and is working with local manufacturers by providing discounted masks to their employees. The company is also working directly with the local school and multiple local retailers to provide the masks, and has donated more than 400 masks to the local Department of Public Health.

ICEBREAKER

The Women’s Run + Ultralight Mini sock from Icebreaker is made with a technical Merino wool blend. It delivers an anatomical toe box for left and right fit, sculptured cushioning for comfort, Achilles and instep support, a reinforced heel and toe, a seamless toe closure and a Breathe zone for ventilation (SRP $18). Advice for Retailers: Because people want to get outside and maintain fitness goals, keeping fixtures stocked, sized and easy to shop will help drive sock sales, says Katie Branaum, key account manager. “Retailers should also look at ways to bundle and promote multi-packs because people are looking to buy essentials in bulk where possible and a multi-pack could be an easy way to increase basket size and drive volume.” She adds that asking vendors for close-outs can be a great way to stock up on discontinued colors and gain extra margin.

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Special Initiatives: “We have made some cuts in production and have made carryover product more of an emphasis for FW20 and S21,” says Branaum. “We don’t feel as though FW20 is a season for launching a bunch of new technologies or categories. We know that our retail partners have residual S20 product on the floor, and we have tried to make that product as relevant as possible, with full margin for future seasons.” That said, she points to neck gaiters as a trend that will remain popular for the foreseeable future, and urges retailers to stock up. Meanwhile, Icebreaker’s “Plastic Free by 2023” pledge is well underway, and some product segmentations are occurring naturally with that. “Our line has always been founded on basics with a ‘less is more’ aesthetic and we see basics (hoodies, joggers, tees), and essentials (underwear, baselayer, socks) driving the majority of our current business,” Branaum reports.

© 2020 Diversified Communications


LE BENT

The Le Bent Trail Light 3/4 Crew is made of Signature Blend fabric that utilizes Merino wool and rayon from bamboo to regulate temperature and keep feet dry and odor free. Other benefits include Definitive Fit System, Achilles and ankle band support and impact cushion zone (SRP $22). Advice for Retailers: When things get difficult, concentrate on the fundamentals, instructs Steve Walsh, Le Bent’s U.S. sales manager. During a health pandemic, consumers want to make the most of their time and this means making sure they have the right gear. “As financial restraints take hold, consumers will increasingly be seeking value for money and genuine high-quality products will be heavily researched and will subsequently win at the point of purchase. Quality is

also the major sales driver of repeat purchase and customer retention,” says Walsh. “Evaluate the range of products in your store and assess which consumer needs they actually meet.” Special Initiatives: Le Bent has been testing a number of products that meet some of the health specifications recommended by the CDC, notes Walsh, and they will be available this fall for ordering. “The best way we can contribute is by driving value into the categories we play in,” he says. “This is how even during COVID we have been able to grow our pro teams globally; our focus has been to continue to have the best athletes in the world to test, fall in love with, then recommend our products.”

OS1ST

The FS4 Merino Wool Plantar Fasciitis Sock incorporates patented bracing technology that uses compression zones around the plantar fascia that strengthen the muscle and provide additional cushioning to the heel (SRP $24.95 No Show, Quarter Crew; $29.95 Crew). Advice for Retailers: “We think consumers will continue their inclination toward outdoor activity where they can escape the restrictions of pandemic living and that is something retailers will continue to be there to support. So, we don’t think the demand will go away,” predicts president Josh Higgins. “However, as we all realized in the first few weeks of the pandemic, retailers and the brands that support them have to stay agile in order to adapt to the moment.” Special Initiatives: In the first few months of the pandemic OS1st worked with retailers that were pivoting to some sort

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of digital presence, whether it was a full-fledged e-commerce website or online ordering. “In that time, we quickly debuted our drop-ship program where stores could use their websites or, if they were in the process of building a site, they could sell off of our website with unique coupon codes until their operation was settled into an e-commerce function,” explains Higgins. “We’ve continued to support independent retailers by reviewing our partner programs to increase margins, extending payment terms, as well as adding more thirdparty platform integrations to our tool bag like working with services like Fitted for online selling and Upper Quadrant for retail-focused marketing support.” OS1st also used its Strava club for virtual races, with all the prizes being gift cards to independent running stores (and some OS1st product too). “Our focus during this time has been 100 percent geared towards supporting our independent retail relationships,” says Higgins.

© 2020 Diversified Communications


SMARTWOOL

SmartWool’s Women’s PhD Pro Endurance Print Crew Socks are Made in USA and offer a women’s-specific fit, Shred Shield technology to reduce wear from toes, and Indestructawool construction for durability. Other benefits include mesh venting, 4 Degree Elite Fit System and minimal and targeted cushioning (SRP $25.95). Advice for Retailers: The company has seen an uptick in run since the start of COVID. “People are looking for new ways to stay active and get outside, and running is one of those hobbies,” observes Maggie Meisinger, SmartWool’s strategic communications manager. To help support this trend, the company is working with specialty retail partners on activations that encourage consumers to continue supporting their local stores.

Special Initiatives: “We held a community SmartWool Ultra Run Strava Challenge for the second year in row and more than 100,000 people joined in to run 100 miles throughout the month of April,” says Meisinger. The brand also launched two giveback campaigns in the spring to benefit healthcare workers. First, the company donated 5000 pairs of compression socks to healthcare workers across 55 hospitals and 22 states (SmartWool employees helped identify recipients in their local communities). Now, SmartWool has taken its product donations a step further with Caring in Pairs, in which the brand will donate a pair of lifestyle socks for every pair sold on SmartWool.com, up to 10,000 pairs. SmartWool has partnered with Good360 to get the donated socks directly to healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, New Orleans, Seattle and Los Angeles.

SOCKGUY

SockGuy’s SGX 6-inch Peace Now model provides a compression ribbing cuff that helps prevent fatigue by increasing airflow. It also has a mesh upper, snug arch support, a streamlined sole and seamless toe (SRP $14.95). Advice for Retailers: SockGuy president Michael Foley advises having socks easily accessible near the checkout area (the brand offers countertop displays at no cost with minimum purchase), as well as close to the footwear display. “Have a good stock of different designs, several cuff heights, and materials – wool, acrylic, compression-fit, padded, non18

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padded – for your customers to choose from. Having your store’s website dialed-in to the latest sock designs, with easy checkout, always helps,” he says. Special Initiatives: “We have very good dealer incentives to encourage orders this summer — the lowest barrier for SockGuy wholesale orders for retailers, ever,” says Foley. “We also designed three new Healthcare Heroes socks in April for the frontline workers to enjoy. For every purchase of these designs, we donate a pair to hospitals, nurses and staff around the country.”

© 2020 Diversified Communications


THORLO

Thorlo’s VRMU Edge Running moderate cushion low cut sock features the brand’s signature cushioning that utilizes NanoGLIDE fiber technology to prevent friction and blisters (SRP $14.99).). Advice for Retailers: Thorlo has found that for most consumers, socks are an afterthought. But if merchandised properly, socks are perhaps the easiest way to increase per-visit profitability. “Socks are an impulse item, much like candy bars at a grocery store checkout,” says Jeff Lawson, marketing director. “The best way to do this is to spiff your sales staff 25 to 50 cents for every pair sold over a prior period level.” He also points out that up-selling socks can happen on its own if retailers make socks hard for customers to avoid, much as grocers do by placing candy near the reg-

ister. “Display socks in the primary traffic aisles and certainly merchandise the staple colors near/on the cash wrap.” Special Initiatives: In April, when demand for PPE such as face masks skyrocketed, Thorlo’s engineers were able to pivot the sock knitting machines to knitting face masks, which the company branded Face Tek. “In a few short weeks, knitting machines were converted, the mask was designed, a website was developed and Thorlo employees were back to work providing PPE for the community and beyond,” says Tracy Harris, marketing product manager. Along with this, the brand launched the Donate4Me initiative: Any time a purchase was made on Thorlo’s website and the Donate4Me code was entered, a pair of Thorlo 12-Hour Shift socks were donated to a healthcare worker.

WIGWAM

The Wigwam SynchroKnit Surpass Lightweight Low features SynchroKnit, a patented contour knit that removes unneeded fabric for a precise fit. The sock also offers a Double “Y” heel gore for enhanced fit, a “Y” gore toe box that allows room for expansion and lightweight zone cushion in heel and toe (SRP $17). Advice for Retailers: Wigwam attests to seeing an increased consumer interest in the sport, but also notes that consumer behavior is focused on pre-determined “essentials,” which often excludes accessories. “A bad sock fit or poor performance can easily ruin the experience. Don’t let the COVID-19 mindset of purchasing only the essentials limit the customer’s investment in their running program,” says Brad Bates, VP–sales. “We should always make sure to remind/market in advance 19

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that socks are the essential gear needed to make sure [consumers] have a positive running experience with their carefully chosen shoe. Creating visual images and pairing sock purchases (or online suggestive selling) with shoes is a must.” Special Initiatives: When COVID-19 hit, the company was in the early phases of introducing its SynchroKnit technology in running socks and it became a challenge to get the word out. “We very quickly went to work with race directors to shift our financial support from the originally scheduled outdoor race schedules to virtual events,” says Bates. “We have had a lot of fun supporting organizers and their events, such as Sarah Ratzlaff with the Zooma Women’s Race Series who created a virtual Run Club for women, and Mitt Stewart, organizer of the Wasatch Trail Run Series.”

© 2020 Diversified Communications


WRIGHTSOCK

Part of Wrightsock’s ECO Collection, the Run Tab sock uses 1.9 plastic bottles in the knitting of each pair. The sock is also certified sustainable, utilizes Repreve recycled polyester in the inner and outer layer and comes with a No Blister Guarantee (SRP $16). Advice for Retailers: When time is at a premium with the consumer at the try-on bench, use of Wrightsock’s unique “Off the Wall Try-On Program” is a safe and efficient way to introduce the brand to new consumers and those suffering from hot spots and blisters, notes Tom Weber, director of sales and marketing.

Special Initiatives: “Once the shutdown began, Wrightsock doubled down and turned internally to expand our efforts to become more sustainable by replacing many of the manufacturing processes to lessen our carbon footprint,” explains Weber. Toward this end, the company invested in replacing old boilers, boarding machines and inefficient finishing assets. Additionally, Wrightsock replaced all the lighting in the entire manufacturing facility and office complex, along with cost-saving, energy-efficient knitting machines, and realigned the workflow processes. “All this investment mirrors with the launch of our new ECO Collection of Run, Explore, Lt Hike and Hike product that contains Repreve, the world’s leading recycled, sustainable and certified polyester yarn.”

ZENSAH

The Zensah Color Explosion Mini-Crew socks boast an anti-blister seamless toe, graduated compression to reduce fatigue and speed recovery and moisture wicking and antiodor proprietary fabric with silver ions. Anatomical left/right foot design, a light cushioned sole and target arch support round out the package (SRP $20). Advice for Retailers: When it comes to the sock category, it’s all about fun, because consumers are looking for ways to express themselves during these challenging times, according to Ze’ev Feig, founder and CEO of Zensah. Marketing manager Diaya Tulshi elaborates, “My advice to run specialty retailers is to remember that we are living in a history-making time period. This is an impactful time where products can be used as a fun way for motivation or memo20

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rabilia to remember a certain accomplishment.” Zensah’s Color Explosion socks certainly fit the bill. Special Initiatives: The company has transformed drastically during the coronavirus crisis. “We launched three types of face masks, the Performance, Copper, and Ear Loop face masks, using Zensah’s technology that can help stem the spread of COVID-19,” says Tulshi. “Zensah’s fabric does not develop an odor, retain moisture or allow the growth of dangerous bacteria during continuous use, which was perfect to create a quality face mask.” The brand also created a Buy One, Give One campaign in which one pair of premium compression socks was donated to healthcare workers in hospitals across the country for each pair purchased.

© 2020 Diversified Communications



The Changing Runner Brooks’ ‘The Future of Running’ Virtual Panel Series begins by exploring 2020’s impact on running. / By Daniel P. Smith

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mid a global pandemic, economic fallout and societal upheaval, the running world has managed to generate some compelling movement and even opportunity. That was the consensus espoused by Brooks CEO Jim Weber and a trio f panelists – Boston-based clinical sports psychologist Dr. Sharon Chirban, Black Girls Run CEO Jay Ell Alexander and Carson Caprara, senior director of footwear and Runsights Lab at Brooks – during the first “Future of Running” virtual panel series presented by Brooks. Titled “What 2020 Means to the Runner,” the 37-minute event on July 16 explored the impact of 2020 on individual lives as well as the sport. Caprara, whose team gathers insights from thousands of runners each year, noted a dramatic shift in why people are running. Before COVID-19’s arrival, Caprara cited a 50/50 split between goal runners – those chasing a performance aspiration – and so-called “soul runners” who embrace the sport as a respite from life’s stress. In the COVID world, however, Caprara says those

with soul runner traits now represent nearly two-thirds of the sport’s participants. “That’s great for the sport because those who love running are less volatile in the sport, more consistent … and tend to engage more,” Caprara said. With many goals wiped away with race cancellations, Chirban said many have turned to viewing running through the lens of its physical and mental benefits, which can include lower rates of anxiety and depression, increased energy and improved sleep. Coupled with “a greater level of acceptance that we’re in this suspended reality” for some time, Chirban predicts “several surges of a new runner population.” At Black Girls Run, an 11-year-old organization that provides encouragement and healthy living resources, Alexander reports a 30 percent rise in group participation. She attributes Brooks CEO Jim Weber led a trio of panelists in a far-ranging discussion on much of t hat g row t h the impact events in 2020 have had on the running business. to the involvement of “lurkers” — individuals interested in embracing the sport, yet hesitant to join a formal movement. “ Pe o pl e a r e wa nting to hit the pavement right now and turn off the noise,” Alexander said. “We may not see so many goal seekers … but accountability and people still wanting to be connected is absolutely relevant.” 22

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To keep this inf lux of new runners engaged, the panelists championed creativity and inclusivity. Alongside partner REI, Black Girls Run challenged its members to run the tiniest mile, which included some participants circling their mailbox or dining room table. Caprara, meanwhile, noted how the surging number of new runners has sparked a more diverse running populace. “People are going to find they belong in this sport and that it’s not exclsive, but very inclusive,” Caprara said. That is certainly the hope Weber and many others clutch as they look ahead, optimistic that running helps us all endure the morass of 2020. “The run is positive in our lives today and that’s a wonderful thing to have and to hold onto … and almost a tool we can use to bring focus,” Weber said. In mid-August, Brooks will host the second installment of its “Future of Running” virtual panel series in which industry insiders will discuss running’s increasing ties to the virtual world and retail adaptation to these changes. n

© 2020 Diversified Communications


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A Virtual Success!

Inaugural Running Insight Market Week brought together run retailers and vendors in virtual face-to-face meetings.

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nique times demand unique solutions and the inaugural Running Insight Market Week, held July 20-23, provided those solutions by successfully connecting major brands virtually with dozens of their run retail customers in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has changed the way the running industry does business. Born out of a demand to bridge the lack of in-person meetings between run retailers and their brands, Running Insight Market Week brought together more than 100 retailers and 14 brands – ranging from footwear to apparel to accessories – in a week-long series of more than 230 faceto-face meetings facilitated by Running Insight and The Running Event. “These are meetings that never would have happened if we didn’t bring together

the reach of Running Insight and The Running Event with our retail partners and the brands that are vital to their businesses,” says Christina Henderson, publisher of Running Insight and show director for The Running Event. “The brands tell us these meetings were extremely valuable to them during a time when they are unable to connect with their retail customers,” Henderson adds. In addition to the many one-on-one meetings, Market Week also featured presentations by Platinum Sponsors Balega, Saucony and Under Armour. An educational session presented by well-known industry consultant Parker Karnan was another highlight of Market Week. “Market Week was great,” says Ann Ringlein, of Lincoln Running Company, whose says her only disappointment was

having to miss some appointments because her store got busy during some of her virtual meetings. “But that is not a bad thing. She was particularly enthused by Karnan’s presentation, which she says provided “so much good info and so many things that hit home — things we have in place and things we were thinking about doing and thus convinced to do them. Education on products always gets me thinking education in the store.” Another highlight was the presentation by Saucony and its late 2020 and 2021 shoe drops. “I got on the phone to my Saucony rep right away and said we want these,” Ringlein says. Presenting Sponsors of Running Insight Market Week were Body Glide, Coros, Darn Tough Vermont, Floyd’s of Leadville, Hotshot, OS1st, Spryng, Swiftwick, Vibe Rollers and VJ Shoes. n

Virtual presentations such as this from Saucony allowed vendors to interact with run retailers digitially during the inaugural Running Insight Market Week.

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© 2020 Diversified Communications


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Beer, Food and Running Dogfish Head Run Club brings Shalane Flanagan’s passions together in a tasty, healthy combination.

[Editor’s Note: Having resided for a time in the small state of Delaware, this editor became very familiar with the locally brewed Dogfish Head beers, specifically its 60 Minute IPA. Living across the street from the Dogfish Head Brewpub in Rehoboth Beach, DE, cemented that sudsy relationship. So this particular piece of news hit close to home — it’s good to see some favorite pastimes coming together.]

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ith a call to all beer drinkers, running enthusiasts and those seeking a healthy balance of work and play in their dayto-day lives, the Dogfish Head Run Club was born as a virtual community that offers training tips, workout regimens, inspirational advice and nutritionally balanced recipes (including beer pairings!) carefully curated by Run Club ambassador and American long-distance runner, Shalane Flanagan. As a four-time Olympian, Flanagan’s career is decorated with noteworthy accomplishments, including winning a silver medal for the 10,000 meters at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, becoming the first American woman in 40 years to win the New York City Marathon in 2017 and releasing two New York Times best-selling cookbooks, “Run Fast. Eat Slow” and “Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.” “For me, life is all about balance; balancing flavor and nutrition and indulgence and nourishment,” Flanagan says. “That’s why, instead of counting calories I focus on eating and drinking foods and liquids made

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only with wholesome, natural ingredients — and yes, that includes beer.” She points out that Dogfish Head’s focus on using culinary ingredients to brew its beers fits her lifestyle. “I can treat myself to a 90 Minute Imperial IPA after a hard workout, spend a Saturday sharing some

Slightly Mightys with friends, create the perfect food and beer pairing with a classic 60 Minute IPA or sip on a SeaQuench Ale after a sweaty, summertime run,” she adds. Now she’s here to help guide runners in both their workouts and eating and drinking: www.dogfish.com/runclub n

A Running Recipe ... Beet Hummus Shalane Flanagan and co-author Elyse Kopecky want to get runners hooked with their “Don’t Get Beet Hummus,” described as a delicious treat that happens to pair perfectly with 60 Minute IPA. “Vibrant with just the right amount of sweet and earthy, this beet hummus complements the balanced hoppiness of 60 Minute,” the authors say. • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 1 ½ cups cooked • 1 medium beer, roasted, peeled, and quartered • 1 clove garlic • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt • Optional garnishes: chopped cilantro, flaky sea salt, olive oil 1. In a food processor or high-speed blender, combine the chickpeas, beet, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Process on high until smooth, stopping as needed to scrape down the sides and underneath the blade with a rubber spatula. 2. Transfer to a small serving bowl and garnish with chopped cilantro, flaky sea salt, and/or a drizzle of olive oil (if desired). Serve with pita chips, crostini or carrot sticks. Recipe sourced from Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. Written by Shalane Flanagan and her co-author (and best friend!) Elyse Kopecky. https://www.amazon.com/Run-Fast-Cook-Eat-Slow/dp/1635651913

© 2020 Diversified Communications


A New Retail Normal

Robin Lewis’ Robin Report provides an insightful look at what consumer-driven retail will look like in the future.

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nterested in seeing the future of retail in a (hopefully) post-pandemic world? Then you should read a recent item in The Robin Report, by well-known writer Robin Lewis, who recently conducted a survey to check the retail industry’s pulse regarding how their business is being affected by the three major issues and challenges of the day: COVID-19, the economy and social injustice. The report provides an understanding of the short- and long-term views on the U.S. economy and how business models would be transforming, as well as some new operational functions driven by the virus that will stick going forward. The overwhelming takeaway is that the consumer will determine the future of retail — not the brands or the retailers themselves. The consumer is always, and now more than ever, in the driver’s seat. Pre-pandemic, armed with technology – and most importantly the smartphone which made each consumer the point of sale – they were already driving huge shifts in the retail ecosystem. Lewis writes that if a retailer was headed in the right direction and well-capitalized pre-virus, they might get a short-term reprieve, but he then suggests that they take whatever money they can get for their dying business and run (away from it). COVID-19 is forcing the acceleration of a transformation retailers were already making pre-virus to serve tech-armed consumers. “Furthermore, and from a morbidly ironic but positive perspective, the pandemic and collapsing economy is wiping out a big chunk of excessive stores and malls,” Lewis writes. Among the other findings of his research: • While many major retailers were teetering on the edge prior to the coronavirus, including Neiman Marcus, JC Penney, J. Crew and others, it’s possible that the more 27

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The consumer will determine the future of retail — not the brands or the retailers themselves. The consumer is always, and now more than ever, in the driver’s seat. Pre-pandemic, armed with technology – and most importantly the smartphone which made each consumer the point of sale – they were already driving huge shifts in the retail ecosystem.

iconic brands, such as those mentioned, will get rescued in bankruptcy by P/E firms and those malls (primarily Simon Properties, who have a major interest in keeping anchor tenants alive, lest they lose income from smaller brands, whose lease agreements include rent reductions if the anchors leave). • UBS analysts predict that 100,000 stores will be shuttered by 2025. It has also been estimated that of the roughly 1100 malls in the U.S., the 800 or 900 B, C and D malls would either have to be transformed into mixed-purpose destinations or shuttered. • During the pandemic shutdown, consumers learned how to love shopping online. Rather than putting on a mask to trek back to an unpleasant distancing experience, they will opt for the convenience of either having their online purchase delivered or they will pick it up in the store or parking lot. According to most experts, online shopping could reach as high as 50 percent, depending on the category. • By definition, physical footprints will shrink and any new store openings will be smaller and easily accessed by targeted consumers. Again, due to increasing online business and the use of data analytics, the surviving retailers will be able to accurately curate assortments for both online and

in-store shoppers, as well as in the smaller neighborhood stores. • The move to less, but correct inventory, greater efficiency and higher margins will emerge in the new normal. This, too, is a result of superior data analytics and knowing the personalized desires of each consumer. • Regardless of their demographics, many consumers lost jobs and are coming out of the pandemic on very shaky financial underpinnings. They will be frugal and very selective in whatever they choose to buy. This characteristic was beginning to define the young consumer cohort well before COVID-19. It will just be more pronounced now. • Before the pandemic, another accelerating trend among the dominant young culture was their growing disinterest in accumulating stuff, particularly linked to their concerns about the planet. Thus, along with financial concerns coming out of the virus, they will be more efficient and selective in their consumption. • Also trending prior to the crisis, and which continues to accelerate, is the control, greater efficiency and productivity, less costly and differentiation that ownership of one’s supply chain provides. This verticalization provides the capability to get the right product to the right consumer, when they want it, where they want it, how they want it and how often. “As for their short-term outlook, readers remain severely impacted by the virus; however, they are significantly more positive now than they were four months ago,” Lewis says, with 44 percent saying the short-term coronavirus impact will be severe, compared to 61 percent earlier. n To read the entire article: www.therobinreport.com/ signals-of-a-new-normal/

© 2020 Diversified Communications


Bob Wallace: A Life Well Lived The running business fondly (mostly) recalls the legacy left by an iconic industry figure.

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ob Wallace, a true legend in the running industry and a true character in life, passed away July 21. His passing leaves a marathonsized hole in the running business. His wife, Rebecca, provided an insightful obituary of sorts of the ups and downs (mostly ups) of Bob’s life and that is excerpted here: Robert Wallace was the king of sarcasm and self-deprecating humor, which makes a sentimental tribute feel out of character. Yet those who had the opportunity to be part of Bob’s life from June 21, 1951 to July 21, 2020 want to shout from the peaks of every 14er he climbed that he was a beloved badass. (This is where Bob would say, “Actually I was just an ass.”) Raised in Croydon, outside Melbourne, Australia, Bob started running as a 12-yearold when his teacher, Roy Whitehead, sent him out to run in the rain. He showed talent and continued to run with the Richmond Harriers, and then at age 18, received a track scholarship to Long Beach State in the United States. He eventually transferred to the University of Texas at El Paso (“Harvard on the border”) where he set two conference records in 1974, before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. In 1976, he placed second at the Australian Olympic trials marathon, which was his first marathon. He won the Australian Marathon Championship in 1977 and represented Australia in the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games. He ran 20 marathons in under 2:20, with several first place finishes to his credit, including the Dallas White Rock Marathon in 1980. In 1981 he clocked his fastest marathon time at Grandma’s in 2:13:14. The following year he ran Boston Marathon, and while Bob told everyone how slow he ran that day, he still had a top-ten finish, sunburn and 28

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Bob Wallace with his wife and best friend, Rebecca.

all. The best part of his Boston Marathon story wasn’t in gutting it out to finish, but in hobbling back to his hotel and coming face-to-face with a cleaning lady, who asked, “How did you do?” With a grin on his face, Bob said, “I finished ninth!” To which she replied in all seriousness, “Better luck next year.” Bob never went back to run Boston, but he seized on his luck when he bought a struggling Dallas running store in 1995 and renamed it Run On! With his wife and business partner, Rebecca, the business grew to six stores and a race timing company before they sold it in 2012 to what is now known as JackRabbit Sports. He was regarded as a visionary in the retail running industry, setting an example for running stores all over the country. (Especially that time he took off running after thieves who fled the store with unpaid merchandise, shouting, “You’re never going to outrun me!”) His leadership style was one of authenticity, trust and empowerment. People were drawn to him because, in his sly way, he knew how to bring out the best in them. Wallace was a founding member of

the retail trade group now called The Running Industry Association. In its first meeting, certain retailers wanted to exclude Fleet Feet stores from membership. Wallace put his foot down and the group was founded open to all stores. Between hundreds of marathon clients he coached and as the co-author of How to Train For Your Bucket List Marathon, he poured his soul into helping others leave their footprint too. Bob had a huge heart for the running community and was adept at helping people reach their goals. What Bob’s running clients came to understand is that his coaching went beyond achieving a personal record. Bob taught people how to believe in themselves the way he believed in them, so they could go on to set and accomplish other life goals. Despite being diagnosed with a brain tumor in February 2019 and the interminable treatment that followed, Bob continued to run, hike, bike and climb mountains near his home in Colorado Springs. Though his diagnosis influenced the way he embraced the rest of his life, which brought out a softer side to him.” Bob is preceded in death by parents, Neil and Yvonne. He is survived by sisters Jane (Peter) and Angela (Flo); brother, Jack; daughters Yvonne Winchester and LaRoux Wallace (Paul); and grandson, Jack. Bob leaves behind his best friend and wife, Rebecca (Salinas) Wallace. Rebecca asks that those wishing to pat tribute to Bob please consider donations to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, or an animal rescue group of your choice. (This is where Bob would say, “Don’t be cheap.”) n

© 2020 Diversified Communications


Bob Wallace Tributes Pour In. Here are just a few we received... Michelle Allen, iRun Texas I met Bob when I first moved to Dallas in 1992 while running at White Rock Lake. He was the manager of Athletic Supply, a local running/sporting goods store in Dallas. He, Rebecca and a group of others used to meet on Saturday mornings for a long run and invited me to join. In those days, Bob was not much of a talker, a little gruff and sarcastic, but had a sense of humor and demeanor that made you feel welcome just the same. Pretty soon I was running with this group every weekend. Fast forward to 2003, after working in healthcare for 17-plus years I went to work for Bob and Rebecca at the running store they had owned since 1995, Run On! It was supposed to be a part-time gig but within two weeks I was a fulltime sales associate, then went into management and from there became their buyer. I remember not too long after I started buying accessories, we were walking into the opening night Balega reception at The Running Event and Chris Bevins walked up to Bob and said, “I just want to thank you for placing the biggest Balega order to date.” I kind of shrunk down thinking, “Oh no, I must have messed up!” Bob just made some sarcastic remark to Chris and introduced me as Run On’s new accessory buyer. After I explained I ordered just like you had shown me, he just laughed and said something to the effect of, “Don’t worry, I’ll just take it out of your paycheck.” In 2009 my husband was relocated to San Antoni. I went to Bob and asked, “What so you think about a partnership opening a store in San Antonio?” He just laughed and said, “Put together a business plan and present it to Calvin (Bob’s financial planner).” Well, they liked it, went with it and almost 11 years later here we are still in business. Bob was my friend, boss, mentor, coach, business partner/ consultant and so much more. He was black and white, no gray. He let you know what he thought. He might disagree with you and he would tell you, but then it was over, and you moved on. He always told me you have to be like Teflon and let things slide off you. He hated the word “cute” and you learned never to use that word when talking about apparel. He had high expectations and could be tough on you, but that was because he wanted to bring out the best in you. Bob was funny and didn’t have a problem making fun of himself or dressing a little crazy. He was a good businessman and I am thankful he was willing to share all that with me. As the years went by, I saw a softer, more sensitive side too. I can only hope that even a fraction of his leadership style and genuinenes has rubbed off on me. And at the end of the day he was always there to share a beer. Bob will be truly missed. 29

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Tim Rhodes, Run for Your Life Bob was an unapologetic curmudgeon, yet so loveable. He was a total giver to the running industry and many times gave me his time and words of advice — he always had time for me. I remember visiting Bob in Dallas once and we were discussing the things he did throughout the day. After listening to the list of tasks, I noticed working on the floor wasn’t among them, so I asked “Bob, do you work the floor?” He responded “Heck no, they won’t let me. I’d piss off too many customers!” Yes, I’d say he was aware of his strengths and weaknesses. Bob used to say he had three things in life he looked forward to: golf, Shiner Bock and his dog (Marley at the time). I know these three paled in comparison to his love for Rebecca. I’m sure his running community probably ranked right up there, too. The running industry lost a legend. In an age when so many people are focused inwardly, Bob definitely has his focus turned outward, to us. I’ll miss his stories, compassion and kindness. Bob was a friend first. John Rogers, Fleet Feet Maine Running When we first started the IRA, Bob was the leader in believing we needed to build a foundation before we could build the house. In other words, let’s not take on more than we could handle, as everyone wanted to build the house versus the foundation. Always insightful, pragmatic, a visionary and a joy to be around. The one thing that sticks out for me, is you never heard anyone – vendor, retailer, race director – say a negative word about Bob, it was always positive. That’s how I will remember him. Eddie Johnson, A Snail’s Pace Bob was a good friend. Our businesses were very similar and we would play golf together every chance we could and usually ended up talking about everything but business. Bob was humble self deprecating and sarcastic. In meetings his input was minimal but very valuable. The RIA would not be here without him today and he was insistent that the organization be open to all stores, including Fleet Feets. One of my best memories of Bob was at an ASICS Gold Club meeting in Memphis when he and I showed up to the Final dinner dressed as Elvis and Rebecca dressed as Priscilla. Bob did not like to call attention to himself, but he did on this night and it was hilarious. n

© 2020 Diversified Communications


running shorts ‘We Run Local’ Charity Effort Shut Down After Trademark Challenge AFTER RAISING MORE THAN $20,000 in support of run specialty stores impacted by COVID-19 closures, the ambitious “We Run Local” campaign spearheaded by Palmetto Running Company (PRC) has apparently run afoul of trademark laws and the charity has been forced to close. According to Rob Fyfe, the PRC owner who started the “We Run Local” campaign in March to direct some revenue to hard-hit run retailers, a race promotion company that he declined to name has the copyrights to the term “Run Local” and has issued a cease and desist letter claiming the use of the term by the charity and by retailers across the country was causing confusion with his trademark and demanding they stop using it or face legal consequences. “We have been forced to close down our ‘We Run Local’ charity website and social media pages,” Fyfe tells Running Insight. “As you know, most all independent running stores use the term ‘Run Local’ in some form or another to help promote their shops and shop local. But because it is now a

Addaday Strengthens Executive Team With Two Appointments Addaday, the maker of injury prevention and recovery technology, has named Ryan Dolan as CMO and Russell Coillot as director of specialty run. Hugh Williams, previously the company’s CMO, now assumes the role as president in charge of business operations. Dolan was most recently VP-sales and partnerships at ROK A; previously, he was VP-sales at TYR Sport and sales and marketing director at DJO Global/Compex in the Recovery Science Division. Coillot brings 12 years of sales and retail management experience in the specialty run category while at Fleet Feet. “The addition of two of the most 30

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registered trademark, we as running stores cannot print the term ‘Run Local’ on any shirts, hats or any apparel.” In addition, the charity and stores are not allowed to use the term in any digital marketing, including the popular #runlocal Instagram page, without the possibility of being sued for trademark infringement. Palmetto Running Company founded “We Run Local” in March when it, along

respected sales and marketing executives in the active lifestyle category underscores Addaday’s efforts to push the brand to its rightful place as a leader in the recovery equipment category,” says Hugh Williams, president, Addaday. “With new innovation, new strategic partners, new big-box retail partners like Target and a robust integrated marketing campaign, Addaday’s future looks very bright.” Spartan Race Cancels 2020 Season Due To COVID-19 Concerns Spartan Race has cancelled all of its U.S. obstacle races and trail races for the rest of 2020. “As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the United States and after ongoing discussion with state

with most other run specialty retailers in America, was forced to close due to the coronavirus. PRC set up the charity to sell shirts and other products online using the “We Run Local” phrase, with buyers able to choose which local store could receive the $20 per shirt donation. The effort raised around $20,000 for stores that were impacted by the shutdown. Fyfe had planned to leave the “We Run Local” site up to continue to provide a way for stores to raise money, but he has had to shut it down and now advises retailers to not use the “Run Local” phrase on any products or marketing. “Here we were trying to do something good for the industry and we put a lot of time and energy into this charity,” Fyfe says. “But we can’t do it any longer because of this race organizer — and we want to advise other retailers about this. “This just seems ridiculous to me that a race promoter trademarks probably the most commonly used term in our industry,” he adds.

governments and health experts, we’ve made the necessary decision to cancel all remaining 2020 U.S. Spartan obstacle course races and trail events,” the company announced in a press release this week. “It was a difficult decision to make, but we believe it’s better to prioritize safety now so we can rally towards the incredible season we have planned in 2021. “We know this cancellation announcement is hard to hear,” the company continued. “It’s hard for us to say. However, there are still five months left in the year. Let’s work together to keep training, stay healthy and be unbreakable so we’re all ready for an epic 2021 season.”

© 2020 Diversified Communications


running shorts On Inks Deal With Swiss Olympic Federation ON AND SWISS RETAILER OCHSNER Sport will be providing the apparel and shoes for the Swiss Olympic team, including the Olympic Games, Youth Olympic Games and all other Olympic missions. On’s deal names it an Official Partner until 2028, while Ochsner Sport’s extends to the end of 2028 to include the Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The partnership of Swiss Olympic with Ochsner sport and On allows Swiss athletes to benefit from a network of the biggest sports equipment retailers in the country, as well as the research and development of the Swiss running shoe brand. The athletes on the Swiss Olympic Team will enter the Olympic Stadium of Tokyo for the opening ceremonies July 23, 2021,

Coros Unveils Colors for Coros Vertix

Coros Wearables recently unveiled two new color variations of the Coros Vertix — the Limited-Edition Mojito (in photo) and stock variation Space Traveler. The Mojito color will have only 200 units available globally and will feature the brand’s newest watch band material, which will be available as an accessory in several additional colors. The translucent fiber watch body showcases the watch’s inner workings along with a new Ultra-light Nylon watch band with hook and loop closure. 31

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kitted out by Ochsner Sport with On clothing and On shoes. Among those stars will be tennis legend Roger Federer (left on photo). “I am very pleased to announce that On will be a new

Along with the Mojito color, Coros has the new Space Traveler color of the Coros Vertix, which will be a lasting addition to the Coros range of GPS watches. The special Mojito green coloration exudes summer vibes, while the Space Traveler color features a speckled metallic watch body representative of the starry skies and the sense of exploration synonymous with the Coros brand. Mizuno To Sponsor Honolulu Marathon Mizuno will be a supporting sponsor of the 2020 Honolulu Marathon, scheduled for December 13, 2020. It will provide all finisher, commemorative and volunteer shirts and sell official merchandise at the Honolulu Marathon Expo. The Honolulu Marathon was first held in 1973 and is the fourth largest marathon in the United States. Tracksmith Launches Fellowship Tr a c k s m i t h h a s l a u n c h e d t h e Tracksmith Fellowship, a grant program to support emerging voices in the

partner of Swiss Olympic,” says the Swiss tennis star and co-entrepreneur of On. “At On, we are all very proud of the fact that the best Swiss athletes will be wearing a Swiss brand at the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” adds On co-founder Caspar Coppetti. “It was particularly important to us that as many talented young athletes have access to On products and our knowledge in biomechanics.” “Strong and reliable equipment-supply sponsors are of central importance to Swiss Olympic. We are particularly pleased that, in Ochsner Sport and On, we are able to count on top Swiss brands that stand for quality, innovation and excellence. Values that are important to Swiss Olympic,” says Roger Schnegg, director of Swiss Olympic.

sport. Creatives across all disciplines are invited to apply for the fellowship, which will provide funding and mentorship for projects grounded in the runner’s experience, with the aim of inspiring and igniting action within the larger running community. This year the brand will fund up to five projects. Whether film or photography, poetry or fiction, podcasts, music, painting or sculpture, runners are invited to submit concepts for a grant at tracksmith.com/pages/tracksmith-fellowship-program. Fellowship submissions will be reviewed by the Tracksmith team and selected based on their originality and potential to elevate the sport, drive conversation and empower new perspectives. Tracksmith fellows will receive a onetime grant as well as mentoring and support from Tracksmith and selected creative mentors. On completion of the project, fellows will collaborate with the brand to present their work to the wider running world.

© 2020 Diversified Communications


running shorts New Launches from Under Armour, Inov-8 Heat Up The Summer Under Armour Unveils HOVR Phantom 2 The Under Armour HOVR Phantom 2, which follows in the footsteps of previous UA HOVR Phantom models with improved design and performance features such as more cushioning, better fit and feel and connected footwear benefits like training plans via MapMyRun, was introduced late last month with an MSRP of $150. The new shoe is designed for those new to running as well as for athletes looking to add more mileage to their training. A new, stretchy, sock-like fit, a soft, supportive midfoot and a durable, flexible outsole make the UA HOVR Phantom 2 “the fastest, most comfortable update yet,” according to the company. More UA HOVR cushioning means more energy return and a lightly padded step. The UA HOVR Phantom 2 is also designed to feel softer and smoother, with a built-in sockliner inspired by bike chamois (the padding in bike shorts), which gives runners instant step-in comfort.

In addition, a more anatomically designed collar, more breathable upper and improved knit material give the UA HOVR Phantom 2 a sock-like fit. The collar dips lower than previous models to fit comfortably around the ankle bone, making it easier to slide on and off. A soft, stretchy upper

Inov-8 Unveils Terraultra G 270 For Ultramarathoners Inov-8 is vowing to “take the sport of ultramarathon running by storm this summer” with an evolution of its Terraultra shoe that features an improvement in its use of Graphene-Grip and a new plush cushioning foam that delivers greater energy return for longer. The new Terraultra G 270 is, says the company, “the ultimate shoe for big trail miles.” The Terraultra G 270 also features a Powerflow Max midsole foam that delivers 20 percent more energy return and retains its cushioning levels for twice as long as its predecessor. This ensures a snappy and responsive ride at all times, even deep into an ultramarathon. In addition, the new Boomerang insole boasts a 40 percent increase in energy

return versus the previous footbed, while Adapterfit technology in the upper works with the foot to adapt to any swelling or changes in terrain and improve overall comfort. The Terraultra G 270 is priced at £145/€170/$160. Because of its collaboration with Graphene experts at The University of

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hugs the foot with a plush SpeedForm 2.0 sockliner and molded midfoot, for cushion and support. The upper material over the toe and forefoot has been adapted with perforations, making it more breathable so feet can stay cool even when running hot.

Manchester, inov-8 is the only brand to use the Nobel Prize-winning material in sports footwear and has a patent pending on the technology. By infusing the world’s strongest material into its rubber, the brand has developed no-compromise outsoles for running, hiking and fitness that are both sticky and tough wearing.

© 2020 Diversified Communications


running shorts SFIA Launches Stimulus Campaign for Activities Hard Hit By COVID-19 RUN SPECIALTY RETAILERS AND race organizers stand to benefit from a campaign launched in July by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) to promote the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act as a consumer-driven economic stimulus. SFIA joins its active lifestyle partners in the health and fitness, youth sports and outdoor recreation arenas in pushing for the inclusion of PHIT in the next COVID relief package. PHIT would incentivize running by providing a 12 to 35 percent discount on physical activity expenditures through the use of pre-tax medical accounts. Race

registration fees, health club dues, outdoor recreation fees and other expenses related to active lifestyles would be eligible for payment using an HSA or FSA. Currently, HSA/ FSA account holders can pay for treatment of disease with their pre-tax money, but not for prevention via physical activity. PHIT has more than 100 supporters in congress, split evenly along party lines. The campaign includes three components: Outreach to Congress by SFIA members and others, a social media campaign around #PassPHIT4 and a virtual advocacy day on July 22 hosting virtual meetings with Congress.

Wanda Sports Completes Sale Of Ironman Wanda Sports Group last week completed the previously announced sale of The Ironman Group to Advance, a private, family-owned business that invests in a broad range of media and technology companies. The sale reflected an enterprise value of $730 million. The company will continue to operate Ironman and Ironman 70.3 triathlon series, Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series and Epic Series off-road mountain bike series races of The Ironman Group in China under an exclusive event license agreement.

In a novel aspect of the ride, in honor of Walton’s impressive height, riders were required to stay at least 6-feet, 11-inchdes apart during the ride in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

ElliptiGO Is Title Sponsor of Bike for Humanity ElliptiGO, creator of the first elliptical bicycle, is now the title sponsor of the ElliptiGO Bike for Humanity II cycling event with Bill Walton and Friends (www.bikeforhumanity.com). Bike for Humanity II took place around the world on Saturday, July 25, 2020, with a goal of raising $1 million for charity. Joining Walton in raising awareness for the event were marathon legend Meb Keflezighi and ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes.

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Gazelle Sports Names Brummitt As First CEO In one of its first steps as it transitions its leadership structure from the original Partner Team, Gazelle Sports has named Jennifer Brummitt as its first CEO. Brummitt, who has been with Gazelle Sports since 2003, “has been instrumental in guiding the development of the company’s current executive team,” according to a statement from the company. As CEO, Brummitt, who was previously director of brand strategy, will continue to lead the executive team and formulate and guide Gazelle Sports’ strategic direction. The move is part of a plan that will see co-owners Chris Lampen-Crowell, Ken Sung and Jean Sequite step away from daily operations over the next few years. Gazelle Sports has five locations in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Holland, Northville and Birmingham, MI.

Similar to the hospitality industry, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) does not help the active lifestyle industry, due to the payroll requirements for loan forgiveness. The industry relies on seasonal employees and part-time help to organize races, run leagues and tournaments and other forms of physical activity and recreation. Encouraging investment in these industries will help sustain them in short term and provide a platform for a healthier America moving forward. For more information on PHIT and the campaign to include PHIT in COVID stimulus: www.PassPHIT.org.

With Brummitt transitioning to CEO, Gazelle Sports also made additional adjustments to the structure of its Brand Team. • Cara Zerbel will take over as director of brand with a focus on building the Gazelle Sports brand, community engagement, strategic partnerships and supporting the company’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion initiatives. • Christina Morrow will move into the role of marketing manager with oversight of marketing strategy and execution.

© 2020 Diversified Communications


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

DECEMBER 1–3, 2020 AUSTIN, TEXAS therunningevent.com


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