May 2020 Issue 430

The Latest in Road Running for Race Directors and Industry Professionals


BUSINESS PAGE

Business Page   Mileposts

Inspiring News Amidst the Gloom

By Dave Kayser

Shoe Company News

The NPD Group, an American market research company, reported athletic footwear sales declined by a percentage in the mid-teens during the first three months of 2020. Although anecdotal evidence points toward more people running outdoors because of shuttered fitness facilities and gyms, running footwear sales also experienced a drop in the mid-teens. Almost all footwear brands declined, with Brooks an outlier with a mid-single digit increase. The Nike Air VaporMax Flyknit 3 was the seventh best-selling shoe by dollar amount.

New Balance released an ad in late March showing a face mask with the underlying text reading “Made shoes yesterday/Making masks today.” The Massachusetts company is utilizing its Lawrence production facility to create the masks, relying on the company’s manufacturing acumen to quickly begin production. They expect to produce 10,000 masks a day that will be distributed to medical facilities around New England. The New Balance Foundation is donating $2 million to support local, regional and global nonprofits to fight the pandemic.

Asics joined the race to compete against the popular Nike Vaporfly racing flats with the release of the Metaracer that features an energy-saving Guidesole technology and a stabilizing carbon plate.

Adidas has received approval from the German government to participate in Germany’s state-owned development bank. The approval will allow the company to receive $3.3 billion to help it weather difficulties brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Adidas intends to repay the loan, including interest and fees, as quickly as possible. The company has seen its retail sales, which account for 60% of their business, come to a virtual standstill.

COVID-19 Induced Changes and Innovations

In the early days of the pandemic, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), organizers of the Boston Marathon, donated $100,000 to the Boston Resiliency Fund, which provides essential services to Boston residents affected by Covid-19. The organization also donated race-related medical supplies, including gloves, face masks, IV fluid bags, hand sanitizer, ponchos and face shields to area hospitals. Thirty thousand bags of Terra Chips, part of the unused marathon post-race refreshments provided by JetBlue Airways, were donated to the Greater Boston Food Bank. Marathon sponsor John Hancock gave $1 million to the Boston Resiliency Fund shortly after it was launched on March 16.

On Patriot’s Day, the BAA posted a message on its website thanking a bevy of front-line workers, from doctors and nurses to delivery and bus drivers for their efforts and closed by saying, “We’ll wait to start until you reach the finish.”

The New York Road Runners donated $100,000 to the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, a fund designed to assist front-line medical personnel. The group noted in its donation announcement that many doctors, nurses, emergency responders and medical professionals support runners at NYRR events.

New York City’s Coogan’s restaurant, billed as “America’s #1 Runners Restaurant” by Olympic historian Walt Murphy, has permanently shut its doors, a victim of the coronavirus epidemic. The Washington Heights establishment, opened in 1985 and located around the corner from the Armory and the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, was the go-to place for a post-race drink. Track and field memorabilia adorned the dining room, and a framed copy of every issue of Sports Illustrated with a track athlete on the cover hung on the walls.

Fleet Feet has partnered with The Run Experience to create Together We Move (FleetFeet.com/TogetherWeMove), a free virtual training program that offers a day-to-day approach to physical and mental wellness with a mix of video, audio and written content on running, strength and mobility, stretching, yoga and mindfulness. Content is uploaded daily on Fleet Feet’s website and in The Run Experience app. Also included are workouts, giveaways and sessions featuring elite runners, including Des Linden, Aliphine Tuliamuk and Deena Kastor. A weekly YouTube question and answer session takes place every Friday at 5 pm EDT.

In similar fashion, the Atlanta Track Club introduced The Distance, a free online resource for running workouts, strength programs and diet information. Live strength and mobility classes are available on YouTube, and virtual athletic challenges will also be offered.

Just Run, a fitness program for school children, has developed a fitness-at-home program in response to parent requests. Logged miles posted on the Just Run website can be viewed on a Run Across the USA map. Educational points of interest through which teams have run will be noted, and “Mileage Award Cards” can be downloaded to celebrate milestone accomplishments.

The Running Industry Association announced it will defer member dues for all retailers joining the association and will also give current members the option to defer dues until January 2021. One valuable benefit of joining is the discounted freight program, which can save up to 35% on shipping fees annually, an important consideration as stores turn even more to shipping products directly to consumers via e-commerce.

UK-based Athletics Weekly, or AW, as it is commonly called, has suspended its print edition until further notice due to the coronavirus’s impact on the sport of running. Updates will continue to be published on their social media platforms.

Marathon Tours is expanding its usual menu of Two-fer race tours to include Three-fer and Four-fer possibilities to reflect the now crowded fall race calendar. The company is offering packages such as Loch Ness/Prague and Paris/Dublin and will help plan multiple race packages for the more adventurous and enthusiastic runner.

Field General, a real time GPS asset tracking software company, has retooled its flagship product to give race directors a platform to launch and manage virtual runs. Among other things, the program sends out invitations and establishes a leader board and has the ability to download individual results and post a celebratory results page. Directors can try out the program at www.vrace.us.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series rolled out a Rock ‘n’ Roll Virtual Running Series, a “web-based platform allowing runners to race, engage and connect with a new series of weekly races, challenges and rewards.” Virtual races will be offered in a variety of distances with participants tracking their activity by a GPS device and uploading that activity to the member dashboard. The first event drew more than 11,000 runners from 80 nations and all 50 states.

Spartan’s Gym Protection Project will offer up to one million free event entries to members of fitness facilities who continue to pay their dues. Paid-up members will receive a free entry into a Spartan, Tough Mudder or DEKAFIT event in 2020 or 2021 by entering basic information on a form at the company’s website. The program was designed to help affected fitness facilities stay afloat until they can re-open.

The Big Sur Marathon Foundation is marketing “The Coast Will Clear” T-shirts, with a portion of the proceeds donated to the Community Foundation for Monterey County’s COVID-19 Relief Fund.

Hightech Signs has adjusted its manufacturing facility to produce CDC-compliant non-medical face masks. The masks are available in toddler, youth and adult sizes. Custom masks in quantities over 100 with a logo or pictures can be created. Hightech intends to give one mask to a local charity for every one sold, with a goal of distributing 250,000 masks. Order info is at hightechppe.com.

BibBoards, which developed a method to secure race numbers on clothing without making holes, is now producing face mask snaps after receiving requests from healthcare personnel for such a device. Regular mask straps have caused irritation behind worker’s ears after wearing masks for long periods of time. BibBoards’s snaps can alleviate the irritation by securing the elastic bands to hats, skull caps and bandanas or to each other behind the head.

Ashworth Awards has reconfigured its manufacturing capabilities to produce polycarbonate face shields. The company is promising a fast turn-around time and large quantities of the shields are available.

Leslie Jordan has added face masks to its product line-up. Custom designs are available, with a minimum order of 1500 pieces.

Individuals looking to keep up with the dizzying pace of cancellations and postponements brought on by COVID-19 should consider a subscription-based tracking service provided by Race Results Weekly for $225.00. The listings, including contacts and websites, is provided as a Google document that is updated every Wednesday. Click here for a sample file: https://bit.ly/39Ydx3c. To order, send an e-mail to Jane Monti at j8monti@gmail.com using the subject line "Calendar Service."

Online registration provider RunSignUp announced that it is dropping its standard race reserve requirement to cover chargebacks from 20% to 10% and its overall payment account reserve requirement from 10% to 5%. The changes reflect the lower current volume of chargeback requests mostly due to cancelled events.
 


MILEPOSTS

NYC Marathon Champ Silva Does Treadmill Run to Honor Medical Personnel; Runners Warned Off Boston Course

1991 New York City Marathon winner German Silva, who famously used his race winnings to bring electrical service to his remote village in Mexico, recently ran a marathon on his home treadmill to honor frontline medical personnel. The 52-year-old achieved his goal of completing the distance in under three hours by finishing in 2:52, at the same time urging others to run any distance to honor the workers and to stay inspired.

With the number of coronavirus cases spiking in Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh took to the airwaves urging runners not to run an unofficial Boston Marathon on Patriot’s Day so as to keep everyone safe and not impact already strained law enforcement personnel. An often-run television commercial did the same. The message sunk in, as only a few runners were seen on the roads between Hopkinton and Boston on Patriot's Day, all of whom maintained social distancing.

COVID-19 caused the cancellation of the RRCA's annual meeting in March, which led to the RRCA opting to elect its new slate of officers electronically. The new RRCA officers are:

  • George Rehmet - President (new in this role)

  • Barb Jewell - Treasurer (new)

  • Blaine Moore - Eastern Director

  • Sue Brown Nickerson - Central Director

  • Samantha Collmar - At-Large Director (new)

In the aftermath of the New Balance Falmouth Road Race cancellation and transformation into a virtual event, with the attendant loss of its significant economic impact on Cape Cod businesses, race organizers plan to purchase $25,000 in gift cards from local businesses that will be randomly distributed to virtual race entrants. Registration for the virtual event opens on May 18. Other charitable activities are also being considered by the race officials.

Japan Running News reported via a blog post that the Chiba Aqualine Marathon, scheduled for October 18, has been cancelled. What made the cancellation noteworthy was that race officials cited the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on sponsor companies as the reason for the cancellation. Full blog report at http://japanrunningnews.blogspot.com/2020/03/oct-18-chiba-aqualine-marathon-canceled.html


Dave Kayser worked for the National Park Service for over 30 years before turning his full attention to writing for Road Race Management Newsletter and collecting old running shoes. He started his running career in 1966 and currently trains exclusively on his three bikes.


Road Race Management, Inc.
4963 Elm St., Suite 106
Bethesda, MD 20814
301-320-6865
pstewart@rrm.com
www.rrm.com