The running specialty business again converged on one of North America’s most running-friendly cities for the healthy lifetime sport’s largest-ever conference and expo. The Running Event, Dec. 3 to 6, attracted 2,100 to Austin – 792 owners and buyers of running specialty stores, plus 1,344 exhibitor personnel and other industry professionals. All were drawn to the Austin Convention Center for educational seminars and a trade exposition featuring 295 manufacturers of running shoes, apparel and accessories (up 18 percent from 250 exhibitors the year before).
The 2012 show occupied 201,700 sq. ft. of exposition space, a 19 percent increase over 169,057 sq. ft. the year before. This record size makes it the largest running specialty event of its type in the U.S., and one of the 50 fastest-growing trade shows in America according to the August 2012 issue of Trade Show Executive.
TRE’s laser-like focus is to help brick and mortar specialty stores become more profitable as they cater to the nation’s 29-million people who run 50+ days a year (SGMA, 2011). Helping to spread the message were some of the best runners in the world. In fact, more running stars than ever attended The Running Event this year with personal appearances by: Craig Alexander, Jeff Galloway, Ryan Hall, Scott Jurek, Meb Keflezighi, Hal Koerner, Anton Krupicka, and Andy Potts.
For 2,100 of the fastest, fittest, thinnest businesspeople you’ll ever see, the four-days ran by lightning fast. There were seminars about increasing store profitability, gait analysis and footwear prescription, planning events, and the effective use of social media. The nation’s top retalers were recognized and a first-ever competition was held for products of the year.
Said co-founder Mark Sullivan of Formula4Media, Great Neck, N.Y., “We believe we have the largest gathering of athletic footwear companies of any trade show in the world. The show is a springboard for new brands, and a place where retailers can see what’s new for the coming season, not only from established brands but literally dozens of small entrepreneurial companies that came to Austin with an idea for a new product they hope will revolutionize the sport.”
Reinforcing TRE’s role in product innovation was an appearance by Daymond John, founder of the fashion brand FUBU and one of the stars of the hit ABC-TV Show Shark Tank. When he started out, John went to specialty fashion retailers to find out what was new and hot in hip hop. He told retailers, “specialty stores are the bloodlines of industry.”
John also moderated the inaugural TRE-Mendous Newcomer Award of the Year. Eleven finalists conducted live three-minute pitches in front of John and three other judges. The winner was The Racer Wall Frame, based in Los Angeles (www.racerusa.com).
“Winning is a great honor, something we’ll promote and leverage to the industry to help grow our sales,” said founder Scott Power.
A second award program recognized the TRE-Mendous Product of the Year from among companies that had exhibited for three or more years. Feetures!, Newton, N.C., won for the company’s slip-on therapy that helps heal plantar fasciitis.
“The honor of receiving this award validates that we’re on the right track with this product, said Hugh Gaither, president of Feetures!
“We love this business – helping people lead healthy lifestyles. So winning this award is something very special to all of us.”
At the Running Specialty Hall of Fame luncheon on Dec. 4, presented by the Independent Running Retailer Association, the Shoe of the Year was the New Balance 860 V2, while honors for the Vendor of the Year went to Brooks.
During the 50 Best Stores Awards dinner on Dec. 5, sponsored by Competitor, Oregon-based Fit Right Northwest was named winner of The North Face Never Stop Exploring Award, recognizing the store for its fun and creative programs designed to appeal to recreational and serious runners. Honors at the dinner also went to Fleet Feet Syracuse (N.Y.) as the Store of the Year.
The running industry is apparently a hardy group. Despite partying on famed Sixth Street the night before, the Indie 5K the next morning in a local park was the largest ever with 930 pre-registered to race. It was also the fastest ever – Bobby Mack from Capital RunWalk, Raleigh, N.C., clocked in at a blistering 14:22.3 (a 4:36 mile pace), making him the Fastest Retailer in America. The female winner was Erin Richard from Hanson’s, Royal Oak, Mich., with a time of 17:42.2 (5:39 mile pace). Hanson’s was also the top team in the race.
Local Austin television affiliates broadcast a sneak peak from within the closed-to-the public expo. The Fox affiliate reviewed new running products in the dawn’s early light of Zilker Park, while the CBS affiliate subjected its meteorologist to the W.L. Gore Storm Chamber, located inside a massive truck that has traveled 200,000 miles over the past eight years to demonstrate the company’s waterproof/breathable Gore-Tex laminate.
The Running Event is a registered trademark of Formula4Media, LLC.
The conference and expo returns to Austin in 2013 on Dec. 3 to 6.
For more information: www.therunningevent.com
Logo courtesy Blumenfeld and Assoc. PR/The Running Event