CalendarResults

Running Event Show Draws Largest Retail Attendance

Date: 
12/20/2017 - 13:04

A multi-million dollar shoe manufacturing machine, several of the world's greatest runners, and innovative running accessories, made the 12th annual The Running Event (TRE) the largest ever in terms of retail attendance. 

A total of 2,629 industry professionals attended the conference and trade show on Nov. 28 to Dec. 1, 2017 in Austin, Texas. This represents a 3.5 percent increase in total attendance over 2016.  

TRE 2017 hosted 880-plus retail buyers representing 1,000-plus retail storefronts and nearly 400 unique ownership groups, the highest number of retailers in the 12-year history of the show. Also attending: more than 50 race directors, and 53 running concierges from the Westin hotel chain.

"The running business is alive and well," said Troy Leonard, show director for B2B publisher and trade show producer Formula4 Media, Great Neck, N.Y. "The attendance at the show is proof of the vitality of this marketplace."

Specialty running store buyers came to Austin for conference sessions designed to help them operate more profitably, and to preview new products and services from 255 exhibitors (including 60-plus first-timers) showing the latest in footwear, apparel and accessories. 

One of the highlights of the conference was an on-stage interview of Walter Robb, the former co-CEO of Whole Foods, who discussed creating a strong healthy culture in stores. Robb was interviewed by Chris Farley, owner of Pacers Running Store in the Washington, D.C. area and the voice of the "Pace the Nation" podcast. 

The main topic was the many similarities between the healthy food business and the running business. "Both of us are selling a healthy lifestyle and both channels are facing intense competition," Farley said.

In a spirited give and take, Robb defended Whole Foods high prices saying, "I never apologize for selling quality." He also emphasized the importance of eliciting "magic and creativity" from retail sales associates. 

"Retail has changed but you can remain competitive by understanding how your people (store employees) think and feel ... create an environment where team members can bring forth new ideas .... and can help the store come alive for customers."

Robb continued, "Test and learn, test and learn, and don't lose touch with your customers."

Brooks Running launched a line of custom fitted running shoes, in partnership with HP and Superfeet. It's the first performance running shoe created for an individual's unique biomechanics. Retailers watched as Superfeet's state-of-the-art DESMA polyurethane injection-molding machine produced Brooks Levitate RS shoes on demand.

Meb Keflezighi, the most decorated American marathoner - Olympic silver medalist (2004), and winner of the New York City Marathon (2009) and Boston Marathon (2013) - received the inaugural TRE Lifetime Achievement Award. In the video documentary, The Home Stretch, shown to the audience and produced by Skechers and Meb's brother Merhawi, he's called, "a world class athlete with all the class in the world."  

Several of the top female runners in the world were also at TRE. Deena Kastor held court in the ASICS booth and previewed her upcoming book. Emma Coburn and Jenny Simpson made their second consecutive TRE appearance at the New Balance booth, and Krissy Moehl represented ProTec at the Friday recovery breakfast.  

It wouldn't be The Running Event without the annual Indie 5K, which this year was held at Nland Surf Park, the only surfing destination of its kind in North America. The male retail winner was Dan O'Keefe from Naperville Running Company for his 5K time of 14:46. The women retail winner was Marisa Hird, also from Naperville Running Company, with a time of 18:08. 

(See all Indie 5K results at: https://www.athlinks.com/event/29968/results/Event/693086/Results)

Retailer Awards

Fleet Feet Chicago's Catherine Moloznik took home the Just Do It Award from Nike. Sister-owners Kate Pezalla and Anne Pezalla of Lively Athletics in Oak Park, Ill., captured the Ubuntu Award from Balega Sports. Jenni Peters of Varsity Sports, New Orleans, was named winner of the Run for Good Award from Saucony, and Caroline Yasuda of Naperville Running Company (Ill.) was honored with the Run Happy Award from Brooks. 

Other retail winners included: FrontRunners, Victoria, B.C., as Canadian Retailer of the Year honored by New Balance Canada; Runner's Roost of Denver with the Never Stop Exploring Award from The North Face; and Ragged Mountain Running of Charlottesville, Va., with the Sound Mind, Sound Body Award from ASICS.

Manufacturers Praise Return to Austin

When asked about the show on the final day of its three-day run, Amphipod's CEO and co-founder June Angus, says, "It's been a constant flow of retailers to our booth since the trade show opened. TRE allows us to tell our story and talk to customers in depth."

Bryce Whiting, VP Sales & Marketing for ElliptiGO elliptical bicycles, stood besides his "test track" inside the convention center to say, "It's great to be back in Austin (after attending TRE 2016 in Orlando). Sure, there's challenge and change in the industry, but there's a sense of positivity and creativity here to help figure it all out."

Deana Welborn, director of retail at BOCO Gear reports, "We've been extremely busy and this is the best TRE for us ever. It's an important show for retailers and vendors to get face-to-face and review product." 

Adds Kim Overton of SPI Belt, "The show is growing and we're growing along with it."

Innovative Accessories

Retailers come to TRE looking for mainstay products from companies including ASICS, Balega, Brooks, New Balance, Nike, On, and Saucony. But the show is also an incubator for young start-up companies offering accessories for the specialty run market. 

Safety Skin Reflective Skin Spread attended TRE for the first time to launch a new roll-on paste that makes skin more reflective, especially in low light, inclement weather or varying terrain.

There were no-tie shoelaces (Caterpy Laces); Runbell, a signaling device runners wear on their fingers; Runs Done, sports towel seat covers; a Smart Bra with integrated universal heart-rate monitor (Mi Pulse); blister-resistant socks (Balega); Detoxair, personal breathing filter for active lifestyles; pinole and chia natural bites from Mas Korima; and a new category, trail running poles, from LEKI, which Greg Wozer, vice president, says is a "game changer for trail runners."

Marti Moran, an accessory buyer for Fleet Feet Nashville, was attending TRE for the first time and was particularly impressed by the wide range of accessories.

"I've seen innovative ideas I'm looking to bring back to the store."

Moran continues, "I'm impressed with how friendly everyone is, but the running community is like that."

Next year, The Running Event returns to the Austin Convention Center on Nov. 27-30, 2018. 

For more information about TRE: Troy Leonard, show director, 352 624 1561, tleonard@formula4media.com; Mark Sullivan, president, 646 319 7878, msullivan@formula4media.com, www.therunningevent.com

Formula4 Media, based in Great Neck, N.Y., established in 2005, also produces nine publications: Running Insight, Footwear Insight, Sports Insight, Sports Insight Extra, Outdoor Insight, Team Insight, Textile Insight, Trend Insight, and Sportstyle.

Copyright © 2017 Running Journal