Running Insight 9.1.2022

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Consumer purchasing trends are impacting trail running sales in 2022.



The Trail Issue

© 2022 Diversified Communications RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2022 all rights reserved. Running Insight is published monthly, is edited for owners and top executives at running specialty stores and available only via email.The opinions by authors and contributors to Running Insight are not necessarily those of the editors or publishers. Articles appearing in Running Insight may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the publisher. Divesified Communications, 121 Free St, Portland, ME 04101; (207) 842-5500. SUBSCRIBE


n 2022, U.S consumers are embracing the emergence from a pandemic-oriented lifestyle rooted in home-based activities to a social one that includes trips to the gym, playing fields and fit ness studios. With runners once again able to participate in races, run on gym treadmills and exer cise in a wider range of locations, purchasing shifts are happening in the running footwear market. One impact has been a change in running and purchasing habits involving trail running. Boiling it down, the trail running category lost market share to road running in the 12 months ending June 2022, according to retail sales data from The NPD Group. Part of this shift could be attributed to the trend Cover photo by Victor Martinez, courtesy of Runners for Public Lands. Story on page 24. Photo this page: inov-8

• Another point of distinction is that overall shopping basket size is 15 percent smaller when trail running shoes are pur chased than when purchasing road running shoes. Both retail ers and manufacturers should carefully consider what related products to sell as lower-cost add-ons for their trail running consumers.AsIrecently walked through retail store aisles, I noticed that the trail runner product assortment includes well-paired items like hydration packs, gaiters and higher quality apparel. This technical assort ment may need to be shifted to include other, more valuebased products.

Behind the Numbers To put actual sales figures behind these statements, 11 million U.S. consumers pur chased trail running shoes in the 12 months ending June 2022, according to NPD Checkout data, which is down three percent from the prior year. Among other insights from NPD:

• In terms of market basket composition, other unrelated shoe types are the items most likely to be purchased at the same time as trail running shoes. This finding suggests that the buyer is taking advan tage of a single trip to purchase not just for themselves, but also for other family members and friends.•Beyond footwear, socks and shorts are the categories most likely to be purchased. The likelihood of multiple shoe purchases along with add-on apparel items guides retail ers to a viable opportunity for cross-category marketing and promotional campaigns. A Retailing Shakeup For the running footwear market and most other indus tries, a return to pre-pandemic behaviors is shifting sales across categories, but mount ing economic pressures are also shaking up retailing in 2022. The retail landscape is par ticularly challenged this year because average selling prices are increasing and potentially suppressing unit sales. However, a deeper under standing of the consumer profile – from demographics to shopping behaviors – provides a powerful set of fact-based observations to effectively manage these pressures and begin executing on new sales and marketing strategies almost immediately.Suchinsights become even more powerful when coupled with other point-of-sale data assets, leading to more effec tive promotions, better selling strategies and overall improve ments in sales performance at run specialty retail. n

Trail Running Stays Strong This spending shift, how ever, does not diminish trail running’s importance to the long-term health and growth of the running footwear market. In the 12 months ending June 2022, trail running shoes accounted for $453 million in revenue, or 12 percent share of the overall $3.9 billion perfor mance running shoe category, which is down slightly from the year before but still elevated compared to pre-pandemic levels.Market size aside, trail running shoes have a differ ent appeal than road running products, attracting a larger consumer base to engage with the running industry. Understanding the unique char acteristics of the trail running consumer provides the industry with critical insights to gener ate growth for the category.

In the levels.pre-pandemiccomparedstillbeforefromiscategory,runningperformance$3.9ofpercentrevenue,$453accountedrunningJunemonths12ending2022,trailshoesformillioninor12sharetheoverallbillionshoewhichdownslightlytheyearbutelevatedto

• Reviewing the demograph ics for trail versus road running footwear, 55 percent of pur chasers are women for both shoe categories, but age is a point of distinction. Consumers aged 45 and older account for 60 percent of trail running footwear purchases, which is about nine points higher than road running shoe buyers.

6 © 2022 Diversified Communications of consumers who previously purchased trail running shoes for walking or hiking at the height of the pandemic doing so to a lesser extent this year now that additional fitness options are available.

Along the Trail (continued)

• Because trail running shoe buyers tend to be a bit older, on average, than overall run ning shoe buyers, retailers and manufacturers might want to lean in on the needs of aging athletes. Add-on categories such as insoles, mobility tools and injury prevention devices all appeal to older athletes. Knowing that the trail run ning consumer skews older also has implications for in-store apparel assortments.

• Interestingly, consumers shop in-store more frequently for trail running than for road running shoes. Retailers should consider that trail running might elicit slightly more floor traffic than other run ning footwear, which can steer important choices concerning merchandising and shelving shoe models.

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“That let me know exciting product was coming,” he says. In Seven Hills’ rookie year, Kochik settled into a 70/30 split between trail and road footwear on his shoe wall. A decade later, it remains much the same, though his inventory has swelled thanks to the ascension of trail-first brands like Hoka, Altra and inov-8. Kochik was early to the party carrying all three brands.

8 un specialty stores are niche enough in the American retail landscape. But trail runningfocused specialty shops slice that niche even further. Despite that reality, Seattle-based Seven Hills Running Shop, the San Francisco Running Company and the soon-to-open Trailhead Running Supply in Flower Mound, TX, embrace an unapologetic, unabashed focus on trail running above all else.


The decade prior to opening Seven Hills, Phil Kochik worked at other run specialty shops in Seattle, including the trail-oriented Seattle Running Company (SRC). When SRC ceased operations in 2010, however, Kochik spent the next two years readying plans to open his own trail-focused run ning store.

“I want people to be amazed by all we have, and they are,” Kochik says. “I think the trail runner is definitely more enthusiastic about gear and more willing to experiment, including buying multiple pairs of shoes each year.”

© 2022 Diversified Communications R

In addition to the trail-oriented products that fill his shop, Kochik also packs Seven In emphasizing trail over road running, three U.S. run shops buck the norm.

To be fair, Kochik held reservations about leading with trail, which was a growing, albeit still-slim activity with a fraction of the product offerings available on the road side. “I was nervous,” Kochik confesses. “Were there enough customers? Was there even enough product?” An ambitious Kochik plowed ahead anyway, confident that trail running par ticipation would climb and brands would respond with deeper product assortments.

/ By Daniel P. Smith


The Trail Issue

Phil Kochik opened Seven Hills Running Shop in 2012 with a trail running focus and the Seattle-based specialty store continues to lead with trail running footwear and gear a decade later.

“We lucked out because trail product and the store grew together,” says Kochik, whose store celebrates its 10th anniversary nextToday,month.Seven Hills features about three dozen trail running models for each gender, many in multiple colors, alongside a diverse collection of hydration vests, trail-oriented apparel, socks and accessories. Though Seven Hills serves locals looking for their “regular running shoes,” Kochik says trail runners visit the store from upwards of two hours away to see product firsthand and make in-store purchases.

To the latter point, he was intrigued by an advance look at trail footwear from Pearl Izumi about a year before he committed to opening Seven Hills.

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Blazing Trails (continued)

The San Francisco Running Company’s nine-year-old flag ship store in Mill Valley, CA, leaves no doubt about its pas sion for trail running. Between walls adorned with trail running photos and a smattering of trail race trophies and paraphernalia, SFRC general manager Mecque Tucker calls the store “a shrine to trail running in Marin County and northern California.” SFRC’s trail focus fits in Mill Valley, a town nestled in the heart of the Marin Headlands. Despite being less than a dozen miles from downtown San Francisco, local runners seek out trail shoes more than road shoes. Yet more, Mill Valley’s trail running roots run deep. The city, in fact, hosts the 7.4-mile Dipsea Race, the nation’s oldest trail race, which celebrated its 111th running last June. “We lead with trail because of our location and fully acknowl edge this concept would struggle to work as well in the city,” says SFRC owner Ted Knudsen, who purchased the business from founder Brett Rivers in 2019 and “tried not to screw up the Trail running is front and center at the San Francisco Running Company, which features a room loaded with various hydration solutions as well as a shoe wall stocked with trail running models.

10 © 2022 Diversified Communications Hills’ Instagram page with trail running content, including sideby-side comparisons of trail running shoes past and pres ent to feed his insight-hungry clientele.“Iwanted to be different than the others and it’s worked for us,” says Kochik, who considers a defined niche more impor tant than ever given brands’ increasing prioritization of direct-to-consumer sales. “If you stand pat with the old stand bys, you’ll just be outdone by the Internet.”

Trailhead will open this fall in a 1600-square-foot storefront about 400 meters from the North Shore Trail, a popular 23-mile trail running route alongside Lake Grapevine in north Texas.

At SFRC, a top-down love for trail running flows from Knudsen to Tucker to the 10-member staff, all of whom are armed with informed insights on product, training and trail running routes they enthu siastically share with customers.

Other store efforts, such as shoe recycling with the MORE Foundation, nutrition package recycling with TerraCycle and maintaining the Dipsea Stairs, the nearly 700-step climb out of Mill Valley, further reso nate with the trail crowd and demonstrate SFRC’s commit ment to putting action behind its“Wemission.exist to serve the trail community and that’s what we’ll continue to do,” Knudsen says.

Trailhead Running Supply has not opened its doors north of Dallas just yet, but the specialty shop aims to embolden the growth of the trail running community in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex when it opens in the coming weeks.

TRAILHEAD RUNNING SUPPLY • EST. 2022 Inspired by the inclusive and swelling Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) trail running com munity, Drew Flowers, Todd Hawkins and Darren Beck are looking to inject added trail run ning energy into the Metroplex with Trailhead Running Supply, their upstart retail store located just north of Dallas.

SFRC’s Saturday morning trail runs, meanwhile, consistently attract 40-60 runners to its Mill Valley storefront and SFRC is actively aiming to expand the area’s trail race scene, both looking to develop its own races while also sponsoring events such as the inaugural Salomon WMN Trail Half Marathon on September 24.

“People are drawn to trail running for community and inclusiveness, the sense of adventure it brings and being outdoors, and that’s what we are looking to celebrate at Trailhead,” Flowers says.

Flowers, who has both worked as a running store sales associate and managed an REI, says the store is planning a 70/30 split between trail and road footwear, though he admits the market will likely dictate how that ratio evolves.“There will be a lot to learn and evaluate here,” he says, adding that the store will also stock trail-oriented products such as handhelds, hydration packs, hats, gaiters and buffs. “Trail runners, specifically, are gearheads and the traditional running stores don’t carry this broad of an assortment, which we hope gives us an edge in taking away the pain points and making trail running more accessible.”ThoughFlowers acknowl edges the risk of opening a trail-focused running store these days and says he received some sideways looks from vendors when introducing Trailhead at The Running Event last year, he believes the DFW area can support a retail operation like Trailhead, espe cially if the store is successful at “building the community” the way it hopes and plans through runs, in-store program ing and events. “Trail running gives stores an opportunity to connect with people in a different way, even a more genuine way, because the sport is so amazingly inclusive, and we’re certainly betting on that,” Flowers says. Trailhead’s founding trio also anticipates the continued growth of trail running around the DFW Metroplex. When Flowers started running with his Tuesday night trail running group about three years ago, he says a good night would bring “a handful of runners.” Now, the group is 20-30 strong every Tuesday night. One local race director, mean while, has plans for 14 North Texas trail races on his 2023 calendar to further stimulate demand.“People continue discovering what the DFW trails are like and that only increases our optimism for what Trailhead can become,” Flowers says. n

11 © 2022 Diversified Communications foundation [Rivers] laid.” SFRC has made itself the destination shop for the area’s many trail runners as well as trail running enthusiasts who visit the San Francisco market. Both the Mill Valley store and its six-year-old sibling outpost in San Anselmo feature simi lar product inventory — about a 70/30 trail/road split on the shoe wall alongside ever-popular SFRC-branded apparel and trailoriented product like trekking poles and hydration bottles and vests.“We don’t have a hydration section. We have a hydration room,” Knudsen says.

The Trail Issue

With the MT-4, Topo Athletic continues serving up a performance running shoe built to function as beautifully on the road as it does on the trail.

LindThesays.recently released Outroad repre sents Altra’s “Green Mountain” end game. As intended, the Outroad straddles two worlds. It embraces the feel of a road shoe – accomplished with a decoupled outsole creating a more flexible ride and minimal TPU overlays on the upper for a sleeker, lighter feel – with the protective elements typical of its trail running shoes, such as a MaxTrac outsole and a multidirectional lug pattern. With 3mm outsole lugs, the Outroad delivers more aggres sive grip than a road shoe yet represents a step back from the 4.5mm lugs found on Altra’s trail darling, the Lone Peak. “Where the Lone Peak is the moun taintop, the Outroad is the foothills,” LindAltra’ssays.Outroad is among a growing number of running shoes thoughtfully 12 ©

More than two years ago, with the COVID-19 pandemic raging and escapism, partic ularly to the trails, becoming a national trend, Altra began a new foot wear project under the working name “Green Mountain.”


The idea, according to Altra senior product line manager Alex Lind, was to create a new type of performance running shoe and to fill white space in Altra’s existing product lineup. While the Denver-based brand offered standout trail footwear and an ever-swelling collection of road options, Altra possessed no model blending the familiar, responsive ride of a road shoe with the grittier elements of a trail“Thisshoe.was an experience missing in our line and a missed opportunity to bring new consumers into our brand,”

Footwear brands are bringing road-to-trail offerings to market and retailers are getting on board.

2022 Diversified Communications

By Daniel P. Smith


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“You can have cushioning and grip at the same time. These features aren’t mutually exclu sive,” inov-8 footwear product manager Bodil Oudshoorn says. Around the same time, another European brand with a mountain mentality, Scarpa, expanded its running lineup with the debut of the Golden Gate ATR. Scarpa’s most cush ioned running shoe to date and deliberately built to perform on a wide variety of terrain, the Golden Gate ATR uses medium and low densities of EVA in strategically placed locations to provide cushioning and high energy return, while a stream lined, seamless upper gives a road-like feel and a Super Gum rubber outsole provides traction and grip. (Of note, the 84-yearold Italian brand is dropping a Gore-Tex version of the Golden Gate ATR this fall to further expand the model’s reach.)

An Emerging Category

This past spring, inov-8, the offroad and mountain brand headquartered in the U.K., unveiled the Parkclaw G 280. Mashing up road and trail ele ments, the Parkclaw mixes inov-8’s bouncy, energy-return ing G-FLY foam midsole and Boomerang footbed with a toe bumper, breathable zones on the upper and loads of “little cleats” – 98 to be exact – to provide a comfortable, stable ride on road or trail.

Likewise, Topo Athletic entered the crossover category years ago with its MT franchise. Now in its fourth edition, Topo’s MT-4 promises “a comfortable, flexible and versatile ride” for runners heading straight from their “doorstep to the trailhead.” To accomplish that, Topo for goes the traditional rock plate to create a flexible, soft underfoot feel, leans into an open, breath able mesh on the upper and utilizes Vibram XS Trek EVO on the outsole for traction and durability across varied terrain.

14 © 2022 Diversified Communications and quite intentionally designed to shift the dialogue from a trail shoe that can “exist” on the road to a true hybrid model that deliv ers on pavement as well as the trail — and is then explicitly marketed as such.

The road “feel” is important, Footwear brands are churning out performance running shoe models designed to take runners from their front door to the trail. Earlier this year, Altra debuted the Outroad (top) and inov-8 introduced the Parkclaw G 280 (middle). Reebok, meanwhile, recently unveiled the Floatride Energy 4 Adventure.

“Larger, aggressive lugs on the perimeter of the outsole provide added traction in loose terrain while the tight lug pat tern in the center section offers a smooth ride on pavement and hardpacked trails,” Reebok beamed upon introducing the Floatride Energy 4 Adventure.

Reebok, Topo Run Ahead Reebok, meanwhile, debuted the Floatride Energy 4 Adventure last month. The fourth iteration of its out door-inspired road-to-trail performance running shoe, the latest Adventure features a rede signed rubber outsole inspired by gravel bike tires.

In mid-2020, for example, Saucony released the first ver sion of its Canyon TR, a shoe the brand billed as “road to trail and back again.” The current Canyon TR 2 features springy PWRRUN cushioning alongside low-profile lugs for road-to-trail transition and a sleek engineered mesh upper reinforced with a flexible 3D-printed film for added protection and durability.

Even before the pandemic sent people to the trails in droves, however, footwear brands were beginning to lay claim to an intriguing market opportunity.


Road-to-trail footwear also makes an appealing economic case, too, as a more versatile performance running shoe brings added value to a con sumer’s purchasing decision. That reality, many brand reps note, cannot be overlooked as inflation rises and fears of an economic downturn hover above.“People always appreciate versatility and the benefits ver satility brings,” Wilkinson says.

Similarly, Wilkinson calls inov-8’s decision to market the Parkclaw as a road-to-trail option a “tactical” move for a brand most associated with seri ous“Ittrails.was important for us to have a call out so we could open up the brand to a broader set of runners and reach individuals beyond our core consumer,” Wilkinson says. Ditto for Scarpa in unveiling the Golden Gate ATR earlier this“ all about inclusion and trying to bring more people into trail running, which is why we’ve been so intentional and specific [in marketing the Golden Gate ATR as a roadto-trail shoe],” Scarpa North American VP–sales Mark Mathews says. As interest in trail running climbs and new consumers break away from conventional trail shoes, the road-to-trail footwear category represents an enticing and likely-to-grow niche in the marketplace. In fact, that’s why Stevens says Topo is doubling down on shoes like the MT-4 that make a comfort able transition from pavement to Intrail.the coming months, Topo will introduce the Ultraventure 3. A more cushioned option for mild-to-moderate terrain, the Ultraventure 3 is visibly char acterized by more segmented lugs and reduced lug heights on the outsole to better blend road and trail functionality. “We see this category as one that will continue to grow because people want to get out doors,” Stevens says. n

© 2022 Diversified Communications

“There’s a melting pot of people wanting to exercise out doors who are also interested in a different running experience and that has sparked a need for different kinds of products,” inov-8 trail and hike marketing manager Ali Wilkinson says. This, of course, includes the growth of the so-called “urban trail runner.” In the U.S., more than 80 percent of the popula tion lives in metropolitan areas, many of which do not offer immediate access to magnifi cent, technical trails. In Chicago and Houston, two metros no one would necessarily associate with grand off-road adventures, trail running recordings on AllTrails jumped 81 and 79 percent in the first six months of 2022 com pared to the same period the previous year. With urban consumers, in par ticular, a road-to-trail footwear option has definite appeal as an accessible, versatile option for a regular routine that includes groomed paths or foothills. In fact, Stevens says Topo’s MT-4 has proven particularly success ful in these markets. “It’s a product story that reso nates with that customer since they’re not getting out on super serious terrain,” Stevens says.

Paving the Way (continued)

Eager to create a versatile performance running shoe that would woo more runners to the trail, Scarpa launched its road-to-trail model, the Golden Gate ATR, earlier this year.

The Marketing Angle After creating thoughtful road-to-trail footwear, brands have turned to directly market ing the footwear as such. Topo, for example, bills the MT-4 as a road-to-trail option to leave no one “Runnersguessing.could, of course, use a trail shoe on the road, but it is not optimized for that experience,” Stevens says. “By calling the MT-4 out explicitly as a road-to-trail shoe, we’re able to explain why we devel oped it the way we did.”

Welcome the Urban Trail Runner Brands’ rationale for devel oping road-to-trail footwear ranges from the pragmatic to theTheopportunistic.continuedgrowth of trail running domestically and glob ally has certainly emerged as one driving factor. Trail running participation was climbing yearover-year before the pandemic, often at a double-digit clip, while events like Park Run in the U.K., organized and free 5K races traversing different terrain, surged in popularity. And the momentum hasn’t slowed, hinting at even more development to come in the trail category. According to data from AllTrails, trail running activity in the U.S. increased 57 percent in the first half of 2022 compared to 2021.

16 Topo product manager Russ Stevens says, given how many individuals come to the trails from the road. A recent International Trail Running Association survey of 9514 trail runners found that two out of every three first ran on the“Weroad.saw a certain segment of runners looking for product that would be familiar to them, especially as they moved from the road and embraced the trails more and more,” Stevens says of the MT franchise.

T/r Trail TLacelessRaceTechnologyrailspecificCarbon Fiber Plate Linerloc Anti Slip Insole Vibram Mega Grip Outsole

/ By Daniel P. Smith

On the programming side, running stores might host workshops on trail eti quette, identifying key rules of the trail such as standing to the side when stopped or announcing oneself when passing, or organize trail cleanup events or fun runs on the trails. Run shops might also team with local trail advocacy partners such as cycling clubs or transportation organizations to promote increased trail building, connec tivity and access.

(T)rail Connection

Railbanking Explained

“Whether it’s pro moting trail use or advocating for trail connectivity, there’s no question the run community can be a powerful force in this effort and benefit from more convenient and accessible trails in their local community.”

As U.S. railroad corridors across the U.S. plunged into misuse and faced poten tial development in the 1970s, citizen advocacy began sprouting around preserv ing the corridors for some worthwhile purpose. With a 1983 amendment to the National Trails System Act, something called “railbanking” became the go-to antidote. With railbanking, railroad companies voluntarily handed over rail corridors to trail agencies with the agree ment that railroads could resume control of the corridors should rail service resume.

18 © 2022 Diversified Communications From coast to coast and sea to shining sea, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is on a singleminded mission to make multi-use trails a vibrant slice of the American land scape — and it’s inviting the nation’s run shops to join the movement.

At the most basic level, Horton says run shops can make sure customers know these local spots exist by posting trail maps in the store, sharing maps or photos on digital channels and promoting TrailLink as a discovery tool. “For people who run, walk or hike, bringing awareness to multi-use trails can get them out of traffic and quickly into nature,” Horton says. “Access to the outdoors that is safe and close to home is fundamental to our well-being and criti cally important.”

Railbanking sparked a surge in trail development efforts and the RTC emerged in 1986 to bring coordination and efficiency to such projects. Today, RTC remains one of the nation’s foremost champions of trail use and development with a focus on trail advocacy, protection and promotion as well as building model trail projects like its flagship effort, the Great American Rail-Trail.Launched in 2019, the Great American Rail-Trail aims to create a cross-country multi-use trail that is fully traversable by bike or foot and separated from vehicle traffic. At present, the project is more than 50 percent complete and includes 10 seg ments of at least 100 miles. The designed route spans more than 3700 miles from Washington State to Washington, D.C. and connects some 150 existing rail-trails, greenways and other multi-use paths. “Trails serve as an invitation to the out doors and also build community in unique ways by connecting businesses, neighbor hoods and people,” Horton reminds.

A Call to Running Stores Run specialty shops can play a valuable role in promoting and preserving multi-use trails, which can, of course, help fulfill business objectives. A more sizable, diverse collection of individuals hitting the trails, after all, opens the door to increased store traffic and sales.

“Where legislators and leaders have seen the impact of the trails, they are continuing to invest and the benefits of the trails are being captured more and more.” n

“People value trails in their community, even more so after the pandemic, and our goal is trails connecting everyone, every where,” says Brandi Horton, the RTC’s VP–communications.

“For progress to happen, you need fund ing and political will,” Horton says, noting that trails are important for recreation, but also economic development, tourism and the environment since viable multi-use trails offer an alternative to automobile travel.

Retailers have an opportunity to grow with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

The Trail Issue

20 © 2022 Diversified Communications

By Cregg Weinmann

f you want an informed opinion on the state of trail running in America, you go to someone who has spent a lot of time on them. That would be Michael Wardian, who has garnered a well-earned following for his long distance running accomplishments. Two items that stand out are the completion of all six World Marathon Majors in a single year, along with the World Marathon Challenge of seven marathons on seven continents in seven days — where he averaged two hours, 45 minutes for the seven races. Apparently that challenge wasn’t enough, so this spring Wardian decided he would do a cross-country run — lit erally running clear across the country. His home is near the eastern end of U.S. Route 50, so tracing along this route, from San Francisco, CA, to Rehoboth Beach, DE, gave the effort a name: the Running Home Project. A good part of the logistics of an undertaking like this is to make sure he was supplied with the necessities, especially water, and his goal for the run was a successful fundraising effort on behalf of World Vision USA to provide safe drinking water projects to communities in need.

Running Insight caught up with Wardien on a rare day off of the trail and road to gather some insight into running across the country.


MRW: I loved the experience, it was everything I hoped it would be and a dream come true.

Cross-Country Trek

Michael Wardian provides insight into America’s trails following his run across America. /

The Trail Issue

Few people know America’s trails and roads like Michael Wardian.

Running Insight: Your “little” trek across the USA was the ultimate trail run. How did you find the experience?

Do you connect with local running stores in various places?

21 ©

I try to work with brands to provide feedback and guidance as to what works for me and what I think could be tweaked.

Who are your trail go-to retail ers in your area? You know, for trail extras.

Your posts from the trail and road showed some impressive trail terrain. What were your favorites?

I definitely love to see and run with local running stores, I work with so many, but my local ones are Potomac River Running and Pacers Running.

MRW: I usually go to REI as I like them, I am a member and they have great selection Anything else you’d like to add? I just want to thank everyone for their interest and support and I will see you out there. n

Wardian’s cross-country run took him from California to Delaware.

2022 Diversified Communications

I loved a lot of the route that was on Route 50. Colorado and the mountains of California were spectacular, too, as was running through Virginia and Delaware. I love those states. What are your favorite trail run ning experiences? I have enjoyed a lot of time on trails and some of my favorites are the Na Pali Coast Trail in Kauai, the Israel National Trail in Israel, the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in France, all the trails in Shenandoah National Park and the Billy Goat and Potomac Heritage trails in Washington, DC area. What are your essential trail gear items?

I think great trails shoes are really helpful and also a hydra tion vest, I used Hoka for shoes and Nathan for hydration. Do your observations in trail performance find their way into trail running products? I definitely make suggestions and sometimes companies will incorporate them. How do you help make it happen with brands and designers/developers?product

It was to fulfill a dream, but also to raise money for charity. The goal was to raise $100,000 for clean water projects for World Vision USA and so far we have raised over $115,000 and changed over 2200 people’s lives. So cool. Which trail systems along your route impressed you? I was really impressed with the Katy Trail in Missouri. It was beautiful, shaded and flat, all of which were appreciated. Of course, I loved the W&OD Trail in the Washington, DC area — that is one of my favorites and I live on it.

What motivated you to run across the country?

•tears.Notsure why this question was asked, but apparently trail runners like to get their rest. Almost half (44 percent) say they get seven hours of sleep each night; another 25 percent get six hours of shuteye and 22 percent stay in bed for up to eight hours.

• The favorite distances for a trail race are marathons,half-marathons and 12 Ks. Three percent like those 100

• Most trail runners run either once (31 percent) ortwice (29 percent) a week.Less than one percent runon the trail every day.

• More than one-third of trail run ners (39 percent) run in four-to-six races a year. Another 31 percent run one-to-three races a year. Only seven percent take part in more than 12 races a year.


• Motivation for trail running is mostly to “keep in shape physically” (69 percent), followed by “discover new places” and “feel in harmony with •nature.”Trailrunners on average go through two pairs of shoes a year.

ITRA global survey finds trail runners are unique … but we already knew that.

• Salomon also takes the lead in apparel. Suunto and Garmin are the top choices for smartwatches, with Garmin registering a clear lead with almost 60 percent of trail runners using a Garmin watch.

• Popular shoe brands runthe gamut, with Salomonleading the way, followedclosely by Hoka. Bunched inthe middle of the trail shoe pack are La Sportiva, ASICS,Saucony, Nike, Brooks, NewBalance and inov-8.


• They look for specificgear and the majority investbetween $200–$600 a yearon trail running equipment.

• When they do run they most fre quently devote four-to-six hours a week to trail running

•milers!Trailrunners aren’t afraid to spend on race registrations. Most spend between $100-$200 a year just on fees, followed by those who spend $200-$300. Four percent actually spend more than $1000 a year.

• Injuries are part of thechallenge of trail running,with 62 percent indicatingthat have been injured as aresult of their training. Themost frequent injuries are,of course, sprained ankles,broken bones and muscular

Trail Habits Trail


• Trail runners don’t just hit the trails. Almost 24 percent also mountain bike, with popular “other sports” including swimming, road biking and weight •lifting.Trail runners like to go it alone. More than two-thirds say they don’t have or need a coach.

fter two disrupted years, life is getting back to normal and trail running events have restarted in most countries. As a non-profit association representing trail running worldwide, it is one of the goals of the International Trail Running Association (ITRA) to provide its community with relevant information about hitting the trail.To that end, ITRA recently released a worldwide survey that gathered infor mation on trail runners’ behavior and habits while training and racing. Here are some of the highlights gathered from responses from more than 9500 trail runners in 104 countries. (Interestingly, respondents were 82 percent men and only 18 percent women.)

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• Road running appears to be the gateway to running of most trail runners. However, a significant proportion (20 percent) started directly on the trails. The majority began trail running between 26 and 45 years old.

RECOVER BETTER™ pro tecathletics com Premium Qualit y Reasonable Price PostureNEWSupport supportcomfortableprovidestrapsshouldercushionedTapered, • Proper postural alignment supports a more efficient and injury free run • Correct posture takes pressure off neck and back • Trains muscles to hold shoulders in proper position • Lightweight, comfortable design fits under or over clothing

Running Insight caught up with Nancy Hobbs, ATRA founder and executive direc tor, for a deeper dive into the association’s focus and its goals in 2022 and beyond.


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very year the American Trail Running Association (ATRA), which was founded in 1996, introduces a theme, most often reflecting the culture of its sport or a timely topic. This year’s theme – Trail Running is for Every Body – brings the 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, based in Colorado Springs, CO, closer to its mis sion to represent and promote trail running, mountain running and ultra trail running. This mission is realized through resources, education, partnerships, support and guid ance on its website at www.trailrunner. com, through its social media channels – @atratrailrunner – and from an ATRA team that includes board members and consultants.

Nancy Hobbs: I like to think of trail running in terms of playfulness, challenge, exploration and mindfulness, all of which are realized through participation in this welcoming and inviting activity. Trail run ners are those who seek off-road adventure, away from pavement, incorporating single track, switchbacks, rocks, grass, roots and other natural obstacles as they recreate over a variety of terrain. Elevation changes are inherent in the sport, but not mandatory. Has the association’s role changed much in the two-plus years of the pandemic? Like many other organizations and companies, we did realize a bit of a pivot. We spent more time and resources on our website and educational materials, includ ing articles and videos offering advice, tips and techniques. And has that evolved over the past few months? Whereas the majority of traffic on our website was our calendar, now there was a shift to articles and resources. We featured a list of podcasts, coaches and camps, trail maintenance opportunities, sustainabil ity suggestions to name a few. We also conducted our 25th anniversary virtual challenge providing community through weekly trail teasers – a total of 17 – to keep our audience engaged during the pandemic. ATRA’s goal is to promote the sport of trail running — and run retailers can easily join the effort.

ATRA’s Nancy Hobbs is looking to expand the reach of trail running races and events and retail presence.

The Trail Issue

Running Insight: So what is your definition of a “trail runner?”


26 © Hopefully some of these ways to engage community will continue well past the pandemic.

What is ATRA’s focus these days?

How have ultra and trail running evolved – and grown – in the past few years? No question the sport has grown. There has been an increase in events – both inperson and virtual races, camps, and non-competitive group runs or get togethers – brand aware ness and media coverage, all which fuel participation and interest. Livestreaming has increased the fan base and pro vided another entryway into the sport. How about as far as footwear, apparel and other gear?

There are now more gen der-specific products in the marketplace, from hydration vests to apparel. The needs of the entire community are being addressed from trail running poles to nutrition for the long run and everything in between. Any other initiatives?

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How about highlights for trail runners themselves? Beyond events, highlights for individuals may include the first time they spot a particular wildflower on a trail, or notice a doe and her fawn grazing in the distance. I’d like to think that each time someone steps on a trail they find a special moment, or create a special memory. Well put. So, who is your target member? Quite simply, anyone who resonates with our sport.

Back ATRA (continued)

There has been a focus on DEI, land use and trail main tenance as well as a deeper dive into the ethos of the sport and multi-user interactions on the trail. Trails are Common Ground is a nationwide cam paign that was launched under the leadership of David Wiens to bring various user groups together to create a safe, inclu sive and respectful environment for anyone who steps, rides or rolls onto any trail, anywhere.

Is there a highlight of the trail running season?

Highlights are typically realized in events and there are numerous events, from the historic – think Western States 100, Pikes Peak Marathon, and Dipsea – to the international stage like UTMB, and the Trail and Mountain Running World Championships. The US Trail Running Conference, which ATRA serves as a partner orga nization, will celebrate its 10th year in October.

Individuals, groups, brands, companies, race directors, run specialty stores and organizations. What is the benefit for run spe cialty retailers and vendors to put more emphasis in both products and events for trail runners? The first step is to create a welcoming environment to create and build community and trust — and community translates to traffic in the store and sales. It can be a weekly run featuring some aspect of trail running technique – uphill run ning, navigating gnarly terrain, downhill running – a monthly movie night introducing a cool outdoor video, or sharing new technology for the trails.

Finally, what do you see as the near-term future of trail running and how can ATRA and run retail ers make that happen? Many of the areas we talked about already can add to the upward trajectory of our sport in terms of awareness and growth. With that growth comes chal lenges. Near term we should all make a commitment to respect, preserve and protect trails and share the ethos of trail running within and beyond our com munity. I hope that we can all encourage a continued dialogue on what we as trail runners and lovers of the trails can do to insure the continuation of responsible trail use for Every Body. n For more on ATRA’s 2022 theme – Trail Running is for Every Body – check out body-our-theme-for-2022/

Throughout ATRA’s tenure the focus has always remained true to its mission. Our com munity continues to be “trail curious” and is hungry for content, resources and advice. ATRA provides this through our quarterly newsletter, e-newslet ters, social media, videos and more. ATRA welcomes article submissions and stories to share whether from races, individuals, organizations or brands.

Trail runners are open to these efforts? Trail runners are like sponges, absorbing information con stantly. How to run faster, smarter, with purpose. Where to find the hidden trail gems to explore. Meeting other likeminded friends to train with. The number one thing is to create a safe space to invite con versation and then welcome and embrace curiosity and provide tips, techniques and sage advice. How – and why – should retailers get involved with ATRA? ATRA can provide content and advice. We also conduct annual surveys to keep informed of trends and demographics in our sport. We have a website with a wealth of information that is easy to share. ATRA conducted a “Spotlight on Specialty” series of articles presented by our partner in Saucony yourfeatured,Iftrailrunonelight-on-specialty/).com/trail-news/category/spot(https://trailrunner.Thiswaswaytosharestoriesofwhatspecialtyweredoinginthespacetogrowcommunity.aretailerisinterestedinbeingcontactATRAtosharestory.

· L I G H T W E I G H T · P E R F O R M A N C E F I T · M O I S T U R E - W I C K I N G · F R I C T I O N - F R E E D E S I G N ©2022 Implus Footcare, LLC · balega is a trademark of Implus Footcare, LLC · 2001 TW Alexander Drive, Box 13925 Durham, NC 27709, USA · · 1 800 466 7587 · 9/22

RPL’s goal is to provide the trails and spaces for anyone who wants to put one foot in front of the other.

In the past year, RPL has launched its first toolkit, identified strategic plans to accom plish environmental goals and hosted local Southern California events that solidified its presence as an organization dedicated to positive environmental change and social justice through milestones, including:

At more than 60 million and count ing, recreational trail runners might be the fastest growing group of activists our country has ever seen. As more runners hit the dirt, their organic love of the trails is quickly sparking into a larger movement of protect ing where they play — whether it’s their local turf or the wider global playing field and its incumbent issues of climate change, public lands, equitable access to nature and product sustainability. The overarching message trail runners are sending to manufacturers, retailers and brands today is that if commitment to the planet isn’t part of the purchase price, then they will buy from corporations who are working harder to make a difference.

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• Named beneficiary for 2021 Women Run the Vote, presented by Oiselle and Run for All Women; the 900-plus mile relay

Why partnering with Runners for Public Lands is making sense for the running community.

From the Dirt Up The Trail Issue

Who Is RPL? Runners for Public Lands (RPL) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization located in Ventura, CA. Since 2019, this grassroots organization has been quietly leveraging the power of local running communities to promote advocacy on environmental issues, build diversity and inclusion and connect runners with brands and organizations who align and advance the mission of protecting the environment and ensuring the trails are open and available to anyone who wants to set one foot in front of the other.

• Joined Ventura’s Westside Clean Air Coalition to stop poorly planned, toxic soil removal and the expansion of a dangerous compression station across the street from a local elementary school and after-school club.•Hosted Patagonia “Run To” Film Screening: “Corriendo para salvar una Cuenca (Run to Save a Watershed)” featuring Patagonia trail runner and activ ist, Felipe Cancino.

• Named beneficiary for Trail Runner Magazine’s #MatchTheirMiles 2021 Earth Day event.

• Established RPL’s National Advisory Council, led by Zoë Rom, the first female Editor-inChief of Trail Runner Magazine Future, short-term goals for this young organization include educating runners on environ mental issues, creating new programs and initiatives that will diversify the trail running community, expanding RPL’s geographic footprint through out the United States and partnering with organizations whose values align with the RPL mission of social justice and environmental stewardship. Longer-term goals include scal ing to a nationally recognized entity in order to do the most good for the greatest amount of people and public spaces — while retaining an organic, grassroots enrollment.

• Released a Statement in Support of Transgender Youth in conjunction with the Running Diversity Industry Coalition

• Established Student Runners for Public Lands, a pilot youth club that builds inclusive youthrunning communities dedicated to protecting the environment.

“ROI is a really good metric for success within a business landscape, but not all invest ments should be held to this metric,” says Jess Rogers Bloom, president of RPL’s board of directors and global product lead of the Trail Running and Hike Categories at Patagonia.

“If a brand is solely interested in what they can get monetarily from a partnership, then it’s most likely not the right relationship,” Bloom adds. “Investing in RPL means investing in our vision of creating more inclusive running communities and a dedication to protecting the environment, building community and open ing equitable access to nature.“ Social and environmental justice have been key brand dif ferentiators for many years and have built allegiance with con sumers in both the running and outdoor industries. By fostering relationships with running com munities, manufacturers and retailers can better understand differing land, social and cli mate priorities of these groups and engage at a whole new level.

© 2022 Diversified Communications event focused on the relationship between environmental justice and indigenous sovereignty.

Building Brand Trust RPL recognized early on that monthly and weekly run ning groups don’t only increase awareness of the need for envi ronmental stewardship. They also boost a sense of belonging, which carries over to any brand willing to extend itself as an essential part of the experience. Community trail running events inspire participants with opportunities to explore and celebrate naturally beautiful landscapes. With the support provided in these events, runners can also venture into amazing places and purchase equipment needed to experience these places on their own — and leave with an even greater sense of urgency to protect the planet’s sacredCorporationsresources.and organiza tions who partner with RPL become part of this circle of belonging and, in turn, can capi talize on unique opportunities to build brand loyalty among their target demographics. Today’s trail runners consider a variety of factors when making running-related purchases that go beyond function and quality. They also want to know that their spending is aligned with their personal beliefs and that the corporations and retailers they purchase from share a sense of stewardship for the lands that make their sport possible.

Running is a sport that requires very little gear. When it comes to runners choosing a brand, they are more likely to consider where products are made, how their buying dol lars protect public lands and the impact of their purchase on the environment.

Gaining From An RPL Partnership


Environmental stewardship is a key component of the Runners for Public Lands mission.

“Corporations and retailers who partner with us can expect a mutually beneficial relation ship,” explains John Meadows, a member of the RPL board

For a young organization, RPL already has a very orga nized corporate membership focused on tiers of protection of the environment and corre sponding benefits for partners.

© 2022 Diversified Communications and manager–North American marketplace for Hoka. “As we continue to grow and priori tize pillars within our mission, we challenge our community to think differently while sup porting them with programs like the Race Director Resource Hub, Everyone Runs Fund, Environmental Toolkit and other resources. “In turn, we rely on the action of our partners to promote our programs and advocacy across their platforms and support the development of new initiatives,” Meadows adds. “We all need each other to make a larger impact on our world.”



Trail runners consider their time on the dirt as a gift and will support likeminded companies and retailers that have a legitimate environmental ethos.

• Use of RPL logo digitally, at events and through brand collaborations.•Featuresin RPL’s rapidly growing monthly RPL news letter and opportunities to further engage with its running


Putting RPL To Work

Many companies invest signif icant time and research dollars in order to establish themselves as a responsible corporate entity by making claims and initiating efforts close to the hearts of their biggest buyers. Working in tandem with a non-profit such as Runners for Public Lands not only eliminates that internal burden for a com pany, it also welds a brand or retailer to an aspirational ethos that enables buyers to think of themselves as beyond the sub culture of Partnershipconsumption.withRPL elim inates this element of proof because RPL is agile enough to show consumers how and where their dollars make a difference — from its diverse representa tion on its board and National Advisory Committee, low over head and women-led status to its supportive approach integrating belonging, natural history and environmental stewardship into trail running events. Most trail runners consider their time on the dirt a gift and they cherish the land they run on that makes that possible much more than the gear they wear to make it happen. Today’s con sumers know they can spend their money on many companies that claim to be part of the sus tainabilityHowever,movement.Millennial and Gen Z consumers are far more savvy and will dig deep to dis cover what these “green” claims actually mean. For brands that want to go beyond selling and truly capture the hearts of their consumers, partnerships with nonprofits like RPL not only increase loyalty, but can build lifetime relationships within fresh demographics who care about climate change, sexism, racism, homophobia and human wellness as much as they do for their own personal comfort. n The Dirt Up

“As runners, we move slower, we are human powered, and therefore often have time to notice the little things on the trail, spend more time taking in the beauty around us and use our runs to reflect on our days, the news and how we feel,” says Kathleen Baker, RPL’s man aging director. “Sustainability can come in the form of trail maintenance, where and how our clothes are made, protect ing the public lands we run on and fighting for voices that have been marginalized. Regardless, it is now a part of many runners’ decision-making and a priority in how we as consumers invest as well as what we expect from the brands that we engage with.”


Through its Brand Coalition and Corporate Membership Program, RPL makes it easy for sponsors to get started with a robust set of resources, including:•Exclusive opportunities to sponsor RPL programs, such as the Race Director Resource Hub.

RPL goes far beyond these deliverables and enables brands to provide hard evidence that they are making an impact in the global community, includ ing implementing Terracycle at races, planning trail clean-ups and expanding beyond grass roots efforts to organically grow into a regional and national pres ence able to take on even greater challenges. Making An Impact These are precisely the kind of initiatives today’s consum ers are seeking. In establishing a company as an advocate for meaningful change, going beyond ROI to the greater intan gibles of consumer trust, brand loyalty and welcome conversa tions with customers willing to listen to messaging throughout their lifetimes. This cannot be measured in graphs and surveys.

Connect, learn, and do business with top brands at #TRE22 Switchback at The Running Event (TRE) delivers an elevated onsite experience where outdoor retailers and brands can do business, develop meaningful connections, and access valuable industry insights. Interested in exhibiting? Contact Christina Henderson, Event Director, at NOV 29 - DEC 1 AUSTIN, TX Produced by:@therunningevent TODAY:REGISTER Welcoming the Outdoors In


“We’ve kept all the garments super-light weight by removing unnecessary features and instead sharply focused on the things which hikers really need to safely go faster on trails and chase down mountain summits.”

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The brand from the English Lake District is well known for its award-winning hike and running footwear and now the apparel expansion includes a full clothing collec tion called Venturelite.

“We’ve seen the continued growth in popularity of faster-paced hiking and want to give these outdoor lovers the same speedy-feel that trail runners enjoy from their clothing but with the necessary hiking twists,” explains Helen Stuart, inov-8’s head of clothing and equipment.

Stuart, whose team also launched the brand’s first gym clothing range earlier this year, adds: “The hike collection has been designed with layering in mind, with each style working in sync with the other. This mirrors our trail running range, but with the overall feel being less athletic and more“Andrelaxed.while it is all light and fast, no compromise has been made on protection or durability either, with each garment designed for multi-day use and materials carefully chosen to enhance a longer lifespan.”Thecollection was researched and designed in the Lake District, taking two years from original concept to launch.

Already a well-respected footwear brand for trail and off-road run ning, inov-8 has taken the next step and recently launched its first hiking clothing range, designed for faster, lighter outdoor adventure.

Inov-8 Dresses Up

The Trail Issue

Footwear brand expands into its first hiking clothing line to complement its trail running offerings.

With a carefully designed ergonomic fit that works with the body’s natural move ments when hiking, the range includes comfortable mid-layers, hoodies, tees, trou sers and shorts. A three-layer waterproof jacket boasting high levels of breathability will launch in time for winter.

inov-8 made the move to trail and run apparel to complement its position in performance trail footwear.

Across both inov-8’s hike and run cloth ing ranges there are 36 styles, of which two-thirds contain recycled yarn content. All the recycled yarns are certified by the Global Recycled Standard, which verifies recycled content and ensures responsible production.Allmainfabrics also carry the Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex guaranteeing the absence of substances that are harmful or may pres ent a risk to health. Packaging comes in the form of new polybags featuring biodegrad able organic technology. n

Another goal was to make a shoe where runners didn’t have to stop and re-tie them or be in danger of getting in the way of terrain, catching on roots or snagging on sharpTherocks.interesting angle is that Naked designers turned to soccer shoe design for inspiration, since soccer player foot work and athleticism is unparalleled. They also knew that the design and construction couldn’t follow the same path as typical trail running shoes.

Naked will continue a similar distribution strategy as its existing hydration product lines, with the foot wear being a part of its wholesale and global distribution platform as well as the direct relationship with its select specialty retail partners. Headed into 2023 Naked plans to con tinue building out its product lines by sharing the ideas of its premium lines with newly expanded product. Hydration will continue to be the core category, while footwear will expand and go into other disciplines. Apparel is also on the draw ing“Beyondboard. that we have several amazing initiatives we will continue to explore in both performance and lifestyle,” Dakota promises. n

The time was right for Naked Sports to expand from hydration into trail footwear with the T/r Trail Race. Running

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He stresses that the time felt right for Naked to expand into trail foot wear because, in his words, “with the dearth of innovation in the trail segment, Naked is poised to continue leading by innovation.” Of course, the marriage of idea with material and construction has to be right, he adds. “Now is that time and the shoe now becomes an integral segment of the whole Naked story.”

“As with the innovation of our other products we were waiting for the right time to create the shoe we wanted and continued along the same narrative as our hydration products.” Dakota says. “That is, to not only create something that hadn’t been done, but to also create a new level of performance.” The result is the Naked T/r Trail Race, featuring laceless technol ogy, a carbon fiber midsole plate, Linerloc non-slip insoles, Vibram outsoles and a knit cuff for ankle security. Naked teamed with per formance footwear designer Danny Dance to create what it calls “the most advanced trail racing shoe ever.” MSRP is $289.99.

The Naked T/r ultimately performs as “a finely tuned race day weapon for both amateur and occasional trail runners who will benefit from knowing they have on the same shoes as elite trail runners.” The marketing of the new shoe will align with the same message as all other products by Naked, points out Dakota. “We design extremely innovative products that solve many issues that most have not addressed yet and we provide gear that allows you to get outdoors and not have to think about your gear,” he“Wesays.feel the market currently is the perfect time for Naked to launch shoes,” he says, adding that “anytime is a good time for us because what we create is new and does not follow the same path as other brand’s offerings.”

“We wanted a shoe that met the demands of the most difficult conditions encountered by athletes and runners,” explains Dakota, adding that they wanted a shoe that, once on, made runners forget they were wearing a shoe — not in a bare foot way, but in a way the made them trust the shoe was going to perform intuitively.


The Trail Issue

Expanding from its suc cessful niche in hydration products was a natural for Naked Sports Innovation — it was just a matter of when the time was right. That time is now and, according to co-president and co-founder Lindsay Dakota, design ing shoes is something Naked has thought about for several years.

Shoe Show Trail Issue


Running Insight editors pick some of the hottest shoes for the trail for 2022-23. HokaSpeedgoat5 NamedforHokaathleteKarl“Speedgoat”Meltzer,theSpeedgoat5isbackwithlessweightandmoretraction.Thelatestdesignisahalf-ouncelighterduetoanewmidsolecompound,yetstillsupergrippywithVibramMegagripwithTractionLugforenhancedgriponloosesoil.MSRP:$145SauconyEndorphinEdge MadewithPWRRUNPBfoamcushioning,alightweightmeshtokeepoutmoisture,theEndorphinEdgealsofeaturesaCarbitexcarbonfiberplatethathelpspropelrunnersforward. MSRP:$200 Altra Mont Blanc Boa The new Mont Blanc Boa is engineered with a combination of Altra’s Balanced Cushioning platform and Footshape Toe Box, a plush midsole foam Ego Max, the Boa Fit System and a Vibram LiteBase outsole. The result is a micro-adjustable, breathable and traction-ready shoe, prepared to go on allday trail excursions. MSRP: $210

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The ZoomX Zegama offers grip and stability, so runners can keep climbing and reach greater personal heights. Whether it’s a challenging, rocky landscape going uphill or a steep, slick decline, the ZoomX Zegama allows runners to run the terrain comfortably. MSRP: $160 Adidas Soulstride Ultra Soulstride Ultra launches in 2023 featuring new technology from Adidas Terrex. Designed to maximize comfort over longer distances, this shoe introduces Light Boost, featuring a 32 percent weight reduction and four percent more energy return compared to the original Boost. In addition to new midsole tech the Soulstride is wrapped with Continental rubber for durable traction in any condition. MSRP: $190 Brooks Caldera 6

From the Fall 2022 collection, the Caldera 6 features nitrogen-infused Dan Loft v3, originally introduced in Aurora-BL, for the brand’s softest cushioning yet. Additionally, the Caldera 6 has raised midsole foam walls and wider base, allowing the foot to feel secure within the shoe in a saddle-like fashion. MSRP: $150

Nike ZoomX Zegama

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The Ultra 50 is Dynafit’s solution to long runs on mixed alpine terrain that doesn’t sacrifice utility for comfort. This lightweight 290g shoe is designed with cushioning that promotes blood circulation and combats fatigue for long runs and wet conditions. The 8mm drop height and Heel Preloader keeps runners’ feet protected through mixed terrain. MSRP: $129.95

ASICS Novablast 3 TR

The Novablast 3 TR features a more aggressive outsole trail than ASICS’ performance running model, the Novablast 3. This trail shoe features features a full FF Blast+ midsole and an upper made with 75 percent recycled PET. MSRP: $145

A heavy-duty, yet light trail running shoe, the MTL Long Sky 2 features a Vibram Megagrip outsole to keep feet firmly planted in terrain and with quick-dry fabric for water evacuation. Designed to blend the lightweight performance of track shoes and the durability of hiking boots, the MTL Long Sky 2 gives trail runners an abrasion resistant, antibacterial, breathable and adaptable solution. MSRP: $140.

Dynafit Ultra 50

Merrell MTL Long Sky 2

Reebok Floatride Energy 4 Adventure

The Floatride Energy 4 Adventure is made with a redesigned rubber outsole inspired by gravel bike tires. Larger, aggressive lugs on the perimeter of the outsole provide added traction in loose terrain, while the tight lug pattern in the center section offers a smooth ride on pavement and hardpacked trails. MSRP: $120 Xelero Steadfast Trail Xelero’s first trail shoe, the Steadfast Trail is equipped with a waterproof seamed sealed upper, two control plates to offload bottom pressure and aggressive lug bottom for traction. MSRP: $234.99

Under Armour HOVR Ridge

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The HOVR Ridge Trail running shoes have a reinforced upper optimized for lightweight, rugged protection and 3D overlays for extra lockdown and security. The Ortholite sockliner uses recycled material repurposed for comfort and resiliency and a full-length Vibram outsole with a traction lug design for grip and durability. MSRP: $140

waterproof. Featuring a Gore-Tex membrane, vegan materials and an abrasion-resistant gaiter, the shoe keeps feet warm, while the Boa fit system allows for quick adjustments and the Frixion XF 2.0 outsole offers grip on all types of terrain. MSRP: $229

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A new plated trail shoe, the Pulsar Trail Pro is lightweight and made with the brand’s softest cushion yet. With a TPU plate tucked inside a springy midsole, this shoe provides propulsion at toe-off for a smooth ride. MSRP: $160

Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro

inov-8 TrailFly Ultra G 280 Flyspeed, the brand’s first nitrogen-infused midsole foam, debuts on the TrailFly Ultra G 280 launching in October. The shoe weighs 280g and has graphene-enhanced rubber, using this strong material to deliver a tough grip. MSRP: $185

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Topo Pursuit

VJ Shoes XTRM2

Created to perform in both wet and dry conditions with a Vibram Megagrip outsole and a collar design to lock in runners’ feet for added comfort, the Olympus 5 also features an engineered mesh upper. MSRP: $180

Pursuit delivers Topo’s first cushioned, zero-drop trail runner, with a durable and grippy ride. The tightly woven mesh upper provides breathability with overlays placed in high-abrasion areas. The zero-drop, 28mm platform offers a neutral alignment, promoting a midfoot strike and natural stride with ample cushioning. MSRP: $140 Altra Olympus 5

The XTRM2 is made for rocky and technical trails, with aggressive lugs and a 100 percent butyl rubber outsole combo grips dirt, mud and rocks. The upper is made of a durable, light and breathable Schoeller Keprotec material and the soft heel technology reduces pressure from the heel bone and Achilles tendon. MSRP: $170

Tecnica Sulfur

New for Spring 2023, the Sulfur is a high-performance approach shoe designed to assure a grippy, stable foundation for safely navigating steep, rocky terrain. While its technical features read like a must-have checklist for an AMGA guide, the fit and comfort of the Sulfur cater to those who also value versatility for a trail-to-town lifestyle.The Sulfur is a properly cushioned, stable approach shoe with an out-of-the-box fit.

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The Mafate Speed 4 is back and lighter than ever, with updated cushion and traction. Key updates include a more breathable, lightweight upper and an updated two-part midsole that pairs Hoka’s lightest, most responsive foam underfoot with a firm, responsive layer of rubberized EVA foam underneath. Finally, the new outsole features 5mm Vibram Megagrip with Litebase construction and Traction Lug. MSRP: $185

MSRP: $190

Hoka Mafate Speed 4

The upper, midsole and outsole all feature recycled content, along with the breathable upper that is made with 100 percent recycled content, the midsole with 45 percent recycled content and the PRESA outsole with 30 percent recycled rubber. The flared heel on the midsole creates a wider landing platform for serious stability. MSRP: $159

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Lowa Axos GTX Lo

A hybrid urban-trail shoe, the Axos GTX Lo is constructed with seamless welded PU/synthetic uppers, is 100 percent vegan and features a waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex lining to protect feet from the elements. MSRP: $230

Ryka Kenai Mid-Top Designed for a woman’s unique foot shape, the Kenai Mid-Top hiking shoe features Re-Zorb Lite for lightweight impact protection and shock absorption and a TreadTech lug sole for increased traction. It is built with a narrower heel, roomier toe and softer foot cushioning. MSRP: $170

The Tahoe GTX has a Sigma Grip sticky rubber outsole with a defined heel that provides enhanced braking potential. The Gore-Tex liner makes the shoe waterproof and breathable, allowing for more miles of wear. MSRP: $190

Asolo Tahoe GTX

Start Simple, Then Expand Starting simple when it comes to sock selection seems to be the trend for new runners, but once they see the difference today’s high-tech socks can make, they become more likely to upgrade to the next level.“Yes, some get the tech in socks and jump on board,” says Alexis Kinney, accessory buyer for Up and Running, Dayton, OH, pointing out that most will buy the multi pack first so they can acquaint themselves with technology. “Then they upgrade to the fancier socks as they progress in the sport,” she says. Though socks are becoming a more expensive and therefore more demanding to sell as an add-on, they remain a reliable piece of a store’s product mix since runners will inevitably always need them.

“Running socks are getting harder to sell as add-ons with the rising prices getting closer to $20 per pair,” he adds. “The newer runners may buy the cheaper multi-pack socks and then upgrade later to the higher price single-pack socks.”

Today’s high-tech socks are certainly worth the investment for runners; however, this season socks might mean high price tags for anyone shopping for new gear.

By Trish Carlton

Just because newer runners are less likely to purchase the top tier socks right away doesn’t mean that they aren’t aware of what they can offer their feet. Many retailers are aware that these customers have done their homework on some level and find it important to help them understand all of their“Whetheroptions.our customers who are newer Higher price point running socks present both a challenge and opportunity for retailers.

Forward SOCKS 2022

This is challenging for any run specialty retailer hoping to sell more advanced socks at these higher price tags to existing runners who know and understand the benefits are worth the cost. What becomes even more challenging, however, is selling them to new runners, most of whom do not understand the importance yet of spending a few extra bucks to get the right socks on their feet.

“I find that most new runners are not thinking about socks,” says Jimmy Wiggins, managing partner of Varsity Sports, New Orleans, LA. “That is why emphasizing the importance of the socks as well as letting the customers use try-on socks while going through the shoe fitting process is very important to including socks in the sale.


“And you can’t beat the margins,” Kinney adds, pointing out that socks are an easy way to improve a customer’s experience whether they are running or not. “A good pair of socks makes a good pair of shoes great — and for most people that is brand new information.”

Yes, the often overlooked but always important running sock is making its case as being just as important to a runner as the shoe and other essentials. Choosing just the right sock can make all the difference between a good run and a bad one. These socks not only look good, but they prevent blisters, control moisture and cushion the feet.

veryone in run specialty retail knows that running shoes always take prece dence when selecting the right gear for a long stride, but there’s one not-so-secret ingredient that can take that run to the next level — and the retail sale to a higher level as well.

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Best Sock

“Customers are still purchasing socks, but the retail cost is soaring. We have had several customers express sticker shock in our shop,” says Dustin Pearce, owner of Run Hub Northwest, Eugene, OR. “Nearly $20 for one pair of socks is more than many can justify when they can buy a six-pack at a box store for that price, even if the quality is inferior.”

Taking Over From Cotton

“Socks are great because they’re applicable to everyone. Everyone needs and appreciates good socks for running, walking, at work or for casual wear,” says Nate Wallack, manager of Runner’s Den, Phoenix, AZ. “And sure, they’re an add-on sale, but it’s always an easy and organic conversation because the majority of the options out there really are great and salespeople won’t feel as though they’re being pushy when they mention them to a customer. They’re easy to talk about because every salesperson has their ownKinneypreferences.”agreesthat socks are applicable to everyone and points out that they offer the additional bonus of improving a customer’s in-store shopping experience.

The Sock Display on Display

“Priority number one for customers is preventing blis ters,” echoes Wallack. “I assure them that any sock we sell will accomplish that and mention how the rest is subjective.” His sock-selling style is simple: “Socks are a simple item in the store and I try to let them stay that way. How high of a sock do they want? Thick/thin? I tell customers they should try a single pair, or maybe a three pack, and their feet will con vince them of how much better they are than the cotton ones in the drawer at home.”

“Currently we sell socks from Feetures, Balega, Sock Guy and some three packs from Saucony, with Feetures by far our big gest offering,” says Wallac, who explains that like many other items in the store its sock selec tion is cyclical by nature. “We have sold Feetures the longest and as a result they have the biggest following among our customers,” he explains. “We’ve brought in more SKUs over the years and that following has grown. Balega makes a broad range of great socks as well and they could very well have been our best selling brand if not for Feetures’ longevity in our store. Sock Guy is relatively new to us and is in our store on a trial basis. They’re a great price and I like the personality they bring to the sales floor.” Similar to Wallack, Wiggins also attributes the longevity of specific sock brands in his store to their lasting popularity among his customer base. “We sell Feetures, Balega, Swiftwick, Injinji, Sky and Saucony multi-packs,” says Wiggins. “There are a lot of brands out there and they all feel great, but these are the brands that we have had in our store for a while. Other sock brands would have to offer something new and different to be added to our Thoughstore,”certain brands have accumulated a fan base over the years, retailers also say the seed product that sock vendors send to them helps maintain brand loyalty. Yet this year retailers have found that vendors are sending less samples that they can push in their stores, which adds to the difficulty of selling socks in the higher price range.

“Over the last several years we’ve seen significantly less seed product for staff and nearly zero try-on socks for our cus tomers,” says Wallack. “The vast majority of brands are making high-quality socks and the ones that sell are the ones that have already found their way onto a runner or walker’s feet. “It’s not enough to make a good sock,” he continues. “If I were one of these brands I would be aggressively seeding salespeople with a variety of different models and let them take it from there.” With added costs and less tryons, Wiggins and Pearce also feel that sending more sample pairs in addition to creating socks at a lower price point would help them sell more socks from the vendors they do carry.

“Right now the challenge is the price increases,” says Wiggins. “In the past, the try-on socks and employee seeding have had the biggest impact on sockPearce,sales.”however, is looking for more affordable socks to sell in a challenging economic environment.“Sockbrands need to make models in the $12-$15 price point again,” he says. “Customers are just having a hard time justifying one pair at nearly $20. Perhaps, offer twoto-three pair packs, as Brooks does, with a lower price point per sock. In addition to actively offering seed pairs for staff at least once per year, because they are your best ambassadors.” n

43 © 2022 Diversified Communications runners are aware they shouldn’t be wearing cotton or not, the socks in the store always seem to pique their interest,” says Wallack. “Sometimes they will have already read on a blog or seen on a YouTube channel that socks are important. Other newer runners are sometimes amused by the idea that some thing as simple as socks makes a difference and they start curi osity shopping. In either case most newer runners do end up purchasing socks.” The biggest concern for run ners buying new shoes is the same concern they have when buying new socks — Will these help with blister prevention? For retailers this is one of the main selling points when discussing the unique features of the hightech“Customers’socks. main concern with socks is reducing blis ters, so we begin with talking about socks being the one of the best way to reduce blisters,” says Wiggins, who explains to customers that the quality run ning socks they carry are not cotton, that these wick away the moisture better than the cotton socks. “Cotton socks also do not retain their shape and stretch out, needing to be replaced more often,” he adds. “The running socks we carry hold their shape and last much longer, with some offering a lifetime guarantee,” Comparing the moisturewicking qualities of high-tech socks to standard cotton socks is certainly the easiest and most effective way to convince both new and experienced runners that upgrading their sock selec tion is worth it, especially given the higher price tag.

When it comes to product placement, socks are tradition ally featured next to footwear on the floor display, since it makes the most sense for the buyer’s journey. This is also the easi est way for retailers to suggest compatible socks for a shoe. Although they are regarded as an add-on sale, retailers also feel that it’s important to recognize socks as a separate category from“Wesneakers.previously had socks merchandised with the foot wear, but currently have them with our impulse buy area near the check-out counter,” says Pearce. “Regardless of where displayed, we view socks as their ownAndcategory.”justlike any other apparel category, socks have popular go-to name brands.

Advice for retailers from Robyn Goby, Regional Sales Manager. “Recommend sock fitting as part of your shoe fitting process every single time. Before the customer tries on their first pair of shoes, they should be set with socks. Whether you’re pulling socks off the wall or using try-ons from a bin, make sure they understand the benefits of the sock and how it ties into the fit of their new shoe.”

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SOCKS 2022


Advice for retailers from Josh Law, President. “Use real-life usage as a selling point. For example, when anyone asks me about our athletic socks I tell them that I have worn them during a 100-mile trail race, a 100K trail and multiple 50Ks. I think that helps them understand the durability and comfort of the socks.”


Advice for retailers from Matt Hubbell, Product Line Manager. “It’s all about introducing the sock during the fit process. Performance socks have a high-quality fit and feel you have to experience to understand. Once the right sock is selected based on the customer’s needs and preferences, have them try it on one foot with their selected shoes. They will instantly feel the difference between a high-quality performance sock versus what they are currently Boldfoot’s Wingman in Sky Blue and Royal Hermes Wing Pattern is 100 percent American-made, grown and sewn. Made of 77 percent polypropylene, 17 percent nylon, three percent elastic and three percent spandex. MSRP: $16.99

The Limited Edition Enduro Grit & Grace performance sock is Balega’s newest and most charitable sock. For every sock purchased, $1 is donated to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, the leading national science-based and advocacy organization working to eliminate toxic chemicals and other environmental exposures linked to breast cancer. This performance sock features an inspirational message and unisex sizing so runners can show their support. MSRP: $16

CEP’s Infrared Recovery Compression Socks integrate both Smart Infrared and microvascular circulation to shorten recovery time and ensure runners’ legs feel rejuvenated quicker than ever. This sock features a slim profile and variety of colors, with Lyocell fibers for moisture management, breathability and comfort throughout the lower leg. The micro minerals embedded in the yarn work like a mirror and reflect the transmitted body heat radiation waves back on the skin surface to keep the body temperature constant and improve blood circulation. MSRP: $49.95


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Darn Tough’s No Show Tab Ultra-Lightweight Running Sock is its most minimal running sock and is ultra-lightweight with Merino wool for blister protection and sweat-wicking power. MSRP: $18


The Definite ankle sock performs whether running trails or cruising through a 100 miler with premium cushioned support. As “the planet’s first biodegradable performance sock,” runners get all the performance without the waste. MSRP: $14.95

Advice for retailers from Tressa Kreis, National Sales Manager. “Quality, quality, quality. Runners don’t want to spend money on a sock that will only last six months — they want something they can rely on for years. Education around Merino wool will steer them in the right direction. They want socks that hold up to the test of many miles and if the socks do start to wear through, they want a guarantee that they can exchange them for a new pair.”


Advice for retailers from Bob MacGillivray, Executive Vice President. “Customers trust your expertise, they are in your store to buy from you. So reward them with a long-lasting technical item that improves their running experience and keeps them coming back.”

Advice for retailers from Aaron Sanandres, CEO. “Performance first. No one sock fits all feet or runs. Encourage runners to pick the sock that best suits their running adventure. Socks can make or break a person’s run and retailers can help by making a variety of performance socks available to share and test out before committing to a brand. Lead by example. Most runners have no idea their performance socks contain plastic that takes centuries to biodegrade. No way should our socks outlast us. From our soles on up, what we wear matters — for our performance and our planet. Run retailers can play a leading role in building awareness.”

Drymax Running Lite Mesh is made from plush terry loop bottom and venting make this a Goldilocks “just right” choice for a run. Made in the USA. MSRP: $13.50

SOCKS 2022

SOCKS 2022

Lasso Performance Compression crew socks provide patented Kinesio-style compression and support to arches, feet and ankles to improve musculoskeletal alignment and joint stability. MSRP: $30

Injinji’s Run Lightweight No-Show Wool brings the power of Merino to runners who prefer a lower profile silhouette. Featuring reinforced toes with additional nylon, this lightweight, breathable toe sock offers a mesh top to increase comfort and provide optimal temperature regulation during runs.


Advice for retailers from Jason Battenfield, CEO . “Feature a sock of the month, or a fun sock wall feature that highlights the importance of a good performance run sock.”


MSRP: $18

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Advice for retailers from Scott Sorensen, Chief Marketing Officer. “The sock is arguably the next most important purchase after the shoe. The shoe provides basic comfort while the sock provides foot and ankle support. All of your weight, all the impact and all of the stress is placed on the feet, ankles and legs while running and the right sock is critical for both performance and recovery. The right compression can help improve blood circulation that helps performance and speeds up recovery.”


The Ultra Light Mini Trail Sock from Le Bent is a low-profile, ultralight outdoor trail sock with minimal cushioning to keep feet cool in warm environments and during high intensity workouts. MSRP: $20 Advice for retailers from Anthony Symonds, Founder. “Your running footwear is only as good as the socks within them. An ill-fitting, slipping or blister-inducing sock will ruin a run quicker than just about anything. It follows that anyone selling shoes should, by extension, be selling the right socks to compliment the shoe. At the try-on stage, couple a new shoe with a new pair of socks and see the sparks fly. Once it’s felt, there’s no going back, you’ve got loyal feet for life.”


Advice for retailers from Jeremy Rider, National Sales Manager. “As simple as it sounds, telling customers about them, and more specifically, telling customers about the experience they provide. All products are at their core solutions to problems. A retailer who understands what problems a product solves or what experience it provides can identify customers who might experience the problem and bring the product/solution to their attention with a level of trust and authenticity that is challenging to replicate through digital and print media.”

The Active Comfort Sock offers room in the toe box for proper toe splay, helping runners distribute body weight throughout the foot, reduce point pressure and improve alignment. The sock is available in no-show with a double-tab for high-collar shoes, quarter crew and crew. It is constructed with bamboo charcoal cushion, targeted zones of light compression, Skin Thin cooling panels, anatomical fit and 360 degrees of blister protection. MSRP: $14.99

Advice for retailers from Josh Higgins, President. “The key to selling more socks is to make a personalized sock recommendation during the fit process to either enhance the performance of their new shoe or double-down on the solution it offers. That requires having the right mix of condition-specific and performance-based solutions on the sock wall and the brand support to keep staff up to date. The sock recommendation should be just as intentional as the shoes you pull from the back.”

Crosspoint socks are fully waterproof thanks to three layers — a wear-resistant knit exterior that feels like a regular sock, a waterproof breathable Artex membrane and the natural moisture-wicking antibacterial properties of Merino wool in the inner sock. MSRP: $42


Lightfeet Evolution socks are designed by Australian podiatrists with protection and comfort in mind. Evolution features FormFit technology to contour to left and right while keeping feet cool, dry and fresh with Coolmax and X-Static yarns. Lightfeet Evolution is coming soon to America. MSRP: AUD$34.95, USD TBD Advice for retailers from Jake Bevis, Brand Development Manager. “Lightfeet Evolution is more than just a sock. Evolution represents performance, quality and pride. We are so proud that we are able to deliver an Australian-made product that outshines, outperforms and outsells the largest brands in this category in Australia.”

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Showers Pass Crosspoint waterproof socks feature a three-layer, 3D-molded design.

SOCKS 2022

Advice for retailers from Michael Foley, President. “Go beyond black and white. It’s been a tough couple of years and you’ve already got a ton of black and white socks, so it’s time to make things more fun for your customers with unique performance socks that show personality and style. You’ve got the basics covered, now sell some fun.”

Smartwool’s Targeted Cushion Low Ankle Socks are durable and comfortable and provide the extra cushion for runners who prefer it. On top of offering reduced slippage, they are performance-oriented and breathable, made with ZQ-certified Merino wool, so they’re odor-resistant. MSRP: $19


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Advice for retailers from Jason Barlow, Account Representative, Run. “Train your staff to be comfortable pulling try-on socks with every fit.”

Sock Guy’s Grin socks were designed to make runners smile with a grinning pup. This sweet dog face and sunny blue are meant to be a reminder to smile no matter what the day hands out. These socks will also keep feet comfortable and dry. MSRP: $11.95


Advice for retailers from Jody Carlson, Director of Sales . “Runners are in search of two things — improved performance and user experience. Retail staff must understand that both of these extend beyond shoe selection. Socks are the connection between a runner’s foot and shoe — serving critical roles of moisture management, friction reduction and cushion that every runner needs. Socks should be part of the shoe fit/user experience equation. Improving sock sales is like improving distance or pace — the only way to improve is to measure.”

SOCK GUY Swiftwick Flite XT Trail features AnkleLock technology that supports ankles during quick movements on uneven and varying terrains, while GripDry Fiber in the heel and forefoot keeps feet from sliding in shoes. Comes in a two-inch and five-inch cuff. MSRP: $23.99–$26.99


Zensah’s PF Ease Sock provides runners with relief from plantar fasciitis and foot pain. With features such as targeted compression zones, performance material and seamless construction, this plantar fasciitis sock provides relief with compression zones around the arch and Achilles to lift and support the plantar fascia. This no-show plantar fasciitis sock design has performance tabs ensuring easy wearing and no slippage down into the shoe. MSRP: $20

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Wrightsock’s Run Luxe sock is a cushioned sock made from post-consumer recycled plastics — each pair is made from approximately two plastic bottles. They feature an anatomical heel, cushion dense padding and a ventilated mesh top for added breathability. MSRP: $15.

Advice for retailers from Russ Coillot, Director of Sales and Marketing. “Make your sock business important. Talk about it often with your team. Make sure your team is wearing the sock brands you carry. If they are not, reach out to your vendors for seed product. Measure your team’s performance, share their numbers with them. Make sure your team understands how important adding a couple of pairs of socks to each purchase can be to the success of your business.”

Advice for retailers from Sarah Humphries, Marketing Director. “Creating targeted, quality products that serve a specific purpose for our customer is half of the battle. The other half is telling the story of that product and how it will provide benefits to runners.”

SOCKS 2022

• 89 percent spend more than $101 online on apparel and footwear each year, with 67 percent of all clothing spend and 74 percent of all footwear spend occurring online.

• Apparel and footwear shoppers also seek out specific information when deciding whether or not to make a purchase., including price (84 percent), ratings and reviews (78 percent) and imagery provided by people who have previously purchased the product (56 percent).

running shorts

A RECENTLY RELEASED STUDY called “The State of Apparel & Footwear Shopping in 2022,” based on survey responses from 11,862 beauty, clothing and footwear shoppers across the United States, provides an interesting glimpse inside the minds of today’s consumers and gives run specialty retailers some insight into what to expect when these shoppers walk into their stores.

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Among the key findings.

• Apparel and footwear shoppers pay par ticular attention to the opinions on specific details relevant to the product (72 percent), average star rating (70 percent), review volume (65 percent) and review recency (56 percent).

Ratings and Reviews are Essential to Apparel Shoppers

• Just over half (51 percent) indicate they spend more money on apparel products online than they did pre-COVID.

• 98 percent read reviews when shopping for footwear at least occasionally.

• 99 percent of consumers read ratings and reviews when shopping for clothing online.

• The top factors apparel shoppers pay attention to are fit/sizing (89 percent), comfort (84 percent) and overall quality of the product (76 percent).

• 96 percent of consumers seek out photos and videos from other consumers when shopping for clothing online.

• The most common places for consumers to start the apparel purchase journey online include retailer sites (35 percent), brand sites (33 percent) and Amazon.

The State of Apparel & Footwear Shopping in 2022 Revealed in New Survey

Brooks Launches ‘It’s Your Run’ Campaign Brooks last month launched a new global brand campaign, “It’s Your Run,” as a celebration of the creative ways all types of runners get to their personal finish lines. It’s Your Run is billed as a celebra tion of runners of all types finding their best run (in whatever creative ways they want) and to own it with pride. The campaign features seven video spots, with VO from actor David Harbour, who has been vocal about his connection to running for its mental and physical benefits.

• 95 percent of online footwear shoppers seek out user-generated photos and videos at least occasionally.

Consumers Weigh Many Factors When Purchasing Apparel and Footwear

Online Apparel and Footwear Shopping Continues to Grow

Clothing and Footwear Shoppers Alike Seek Out User-Generated Visual Content

With 8.6 million runners added to the brand since 2020, and with global participation in running expected to grow, Brooks is looking to reach the next generation of people who run and inspire them with creative ways to conquer their run and support their run with solutions to stay the course.


© 2022 Diversified Communications

Take The Lead is created by Martha Garcia, former Hoka director of global brand creative and communications, and Alison Désir, advocate and founder of Harlem Run and Run 4 all women.

• Make New Friends … Connect with like-minded runners and find members in the area.

The online forum is a place for any member of the running com munity to engage, support, inspire and get educated in ways to promote sustainability in their community and beyond. Among the benefits and aim of the Forum:

52 running shorts

With the help of the Running Industry Diversity Coalition (RIDC), one of the things that will be addressed at the

According to Christian Fyfe, co-owner of Palmetto Running Company and the organizer of LIA, “run specialty is craving an online community for likeminded and eco-conscious runners, retailers and brands to support each other on our path to making the running industry more sustainable and environ mentally responsible.”

• Learn … Members can be the first to hear about upcoming events, webinars and LIVEs on the online forum. Access exclusive content only available to Forum members.

LOOKING TO EXPAND ITS reach and facilitate communi cation among both existing and potential members, the Low Impact Alliance (LIA) this week is launching its Online Forum.

• Speak Up … Engage with major running brands and indus try leaders about the changes members want to see in the industry.• Get Inspired … See what others are doing in their com munity and create a game plan.

Take the Lead, described as “the first women/femme of color-led retreat that centers the experience of women/ femme of color who work in the running industry,” is set for September 25–27 in Seattle, WA, at Brooks Running headquarters. The goal is for women/ femme of color in the running industry to to build community, address bar riers and create avenues for change.

Take The Lead Event Is Shaping Up For September 25-27 in Seattle


Following the late September event, RIDC will be reporting the findings and developments, along with any perti nent programming or buy-in from the largest running brands in the world.

Take the Lead event is the lack of employment data, specifically on race/ ethnicity diversity in the running indus try. Only several of the most prominent running companies in the world are transparent in data — Brooks, Nike, and Deckers. Of those, none have aggregated data specific race/ethnicity and none of them have C-suite teams or boards that are close to reflecting the fact that 40 percent of people in the U.S. identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigienous, People of Color).

The event has support from nota ble industry players such as Strava, Oiselle, On Running and several others that are sponsoring and/or sending participants from their teams.

For more: events/2022/62141/take-the-lead-retreat

Low Impact Alliance Goes Online To Facilitate Communication

• Be a Part of Something Big … Witness firsthand the power an individual’s voice has in pres suring big companies to make big moves in sustainability and environmental responsibility. Forum landing

DataPoints is produced by Upper Quadrant Upper Quadrant assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in this content. The information contained this infographic is provided on “as is” basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness, or timeliness. A New RIA Member WEEKLY SNAPSHOTS BY UPPER QUADRANT IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE RUNNING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION Get Industry benchmarks in your inbox every Monday. BreakdownInventoryPERCENTAGEOFTOTALSALESANDTOTAL ON-HAND UNITS BY BRAND FOOTNOTES: The percentage of sales is from May 1 to August 13, 2022. The percentage of on-hand inventory snapshot was taken on August 13, 2022. Data was compiled from 67 retailers representing 186 locations. • Half of run specialty footwear sales came from Brooks and Hoka. • Recovery and sandals brands OOFOS and Birkenstock rank in the top 12 (above some running shoe brands)! • Several brands in yellow are over-indexing, with a higher percentage of sales than inventory. UQ DATAPOINTS Diadora HokaNewBirkenstockNikeMizunoAltraOofosAsicsSauconyOnBalanceOneOneBrooks Percent of Total Sales Percent of Total On-HandLEGEND 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% STORYLINE:

n 2004 I was a high school special education teacher. Every day posed an unpredictable challenge with kids’ behavior, their parents’ behavior (which was often worse) and the bureaucracy of a convoluted educational system. It all took a toll on me. One morning I was out for an early run and passed a shop I’d never visited before. A small store dedicated to running! For the rest of my workout I wondered about what it would be like to work in a running store: I’d get to hang out with fellow run ners, geek out on shoes, compare PRs and maybe even get a fat discount on the kicks that took regular chunks out of my bleak teacher’s salary. When I got home I sent the owner a mes sage. A few months later I’d lock up my classroom, trade my tie for a technical tee and sit on a fit stool across from countless customers who regularly mispronounced the word plantar fasciitis. I was in heaven. Back in those days I was more into hiking than running. Once, on a long single track through a dreamy portion of tall woods I sped up my ambling pace to a slow jog. The pack rattled on my back as the trees whizzed by faster than ever. “Dang,” I thought. “Running on a trail is amazing! I wonder if it’s a thing.”

By Tom Griffen

Trail Running Is Indeed A Thing During my next shift at the shop, I shared my experience with coworkers. “Doggone right it’s a thing,” another staffer said. He and I quickly became trail running buddies. After a few months of super early morn ings, starry miles, dim headlamps and way too many spiderwebs, I came into work one day to find a new shoe on the wall. A chicken fat yellow eyesore with a blood red logo and dark splotches. The shoe was like all my students at the time in that it demanded attention and caused everyone around it to shake their heads a little bit. Ugliest Trail Shoe Ever I You.

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A Love Letter To The


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That nasty mustard shoe became the talk of the shop. It proudly glowed among its foot wear peers and no matter where it sat on the wall it inevitably became a conversation piece.

Yet as I sauntered in utter comfort, I felt unfaithful. And when the sixth pair of my cheater shoes concluded my transcontinental journey, I still pined for my old shoe friend. It’s funny how an inanimate thing can become such a living part of our persona.

Cheating On An Old Friend

For many years, that first trail shoe defined me. These days, when I cross paths with runner people from my past they often ask if I’m still a loyalist. When I tell them I’m not, I feel a little pang in my heart. I then secretly promise myself I’ll grab a pair of the newest version on my next shoe-buying trip. But so far my promises have all been empty and I still am without my once-favorite shoe. Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t recognize it if I saw one. As humans, evolution and growth is inevitable. And with this growth, we have to endure loss. Yeah, I know trail shoes are just shoes. And being senti mental about a certain model is plain silly. But there’s no deny ing I am still a little bit in love. I can’t shake the impact of my old, unsightly friend. Probably never will. And funny, what once caused embarrassment and self-consciousness now fills me with nostalgia. How I wish I could, just one last time, put on a fresh pair of those sunny golden dreamboats from back in the day. n In case you are curious: The yellow monsters the author refers to in the story were Brooks Cascadia (in photo above) and the ones that he replaced them with were the Hoka Bondi (page 54).

When version 2 came out, I snagged my size 12s straight from the vendor’s shipping box and brought it to the register for my discount. Soon I had a backup pair — and before long a backup to the backup. This trail shoe became part of my identity. I proudly wore it as an all day, every day shoe and wouldn’t even consider other options.Astime went by, my attachment deepened. Every ultramarathon I’ve ever run was completed with a version of this shoe on my feet, including a couple sub-24 hundred milers. Of course the model changed a little bit with each iteration — and thankfully the spongy funky lemon profile gave way to far hipper designs. The model was my go-to for more than a decade.In2018, as I began my walk across America at the Santa Monica pier, version 13 shod my feet. I assumed it would be my accompanying footwear for the 3000 miles between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. I even had a few pairs on deck back home for friends to mail me when I’d worn another pair ragged. I had run, but never walked marathon distances on hard top with these favorite shoes, let alone done it daily for months on end. And when my feet started throbbing after the first 300 miles, I didn’t even consider the possibility of changing styles. I charged ahead in pain and fig ured I just needed to get used to the new conditions. But things only got worse and it wasn’t until a friend rec ommended a completely new shoe (Gasp! A road shoe!) that I started to feel better. My pain dissipated and for the rest of my journey I stayed true to this new model that made me feel like I was walking on a marshmallow.

“What’s that one?” customers would ask, cringing. “That’s a new trail shoe,” we’d say. They’d scratch their heads. “Wait. Should I have a differ ent shoe for when I run trails?” they’d ask. And the banter would continue about why a trail shoe is a great solution.

Loving a Shoe Wasn’t long before those yellow shoes became the trail staple. Seemed that everyone had a pair. Eventually I, too, rocked this terrifically unsightly model as I cranked out longer, faster and more comfortable trail miles. Still, I hated that I loved this hideous shoe.

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