Austin, Tex. Nov. 7, 2011 – Fall is crunch time for footwear and apparel manufacturers in the $850 million running specialty business. Four of the largest running marathons of the year are scheduled in the fall – Bank of America Chicago, Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., ING New York, and the Philadelphia Marathon.

Fall is also the time when 1,500 to 1,600 retailers and manufacturers gather in Austin, Tex., to see the latest in footwear, apparel and accessories for 2012 and beyond from the likes of adidas, Asics, Brooks, Gore-Tex, Merrell, New Balance, Nike, Pearl Izumi, Puma, Reebok, and Saucony, to name a few.

This year, The Running Event® Expo, the six-year-old brainchild of Formula 4 Media, scheduled for Dec. 8-10 at the Austin Convention Center, will provide a first look at the footwear Olympians will wear for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London (therunningevent.com).

One reason for the growth of the running specialty market is so-called “marathon mania” – 2010 experienced another record year of growth as U.S. marathons registered an estimated 507,000 finishers, an 8.6% increase from 2009 and the second largest increase in the past 25 years, according to Running USA.

Market research company Leisure Trends Group (leisuretrends.com) reports sales of running apparel increased 15.4 percent for the 12 months ending July 2011, versus the same period one year earlier.

What’s more, running gear continues to improve. “Intelligent” performance apparel supports the bodies of aging baby boomers in much the same manner as a well-built pair of running shoes.

“Thanks to books like Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run, there has been a growing curiosity aboutrunning form and new types of footwear,” says Mark Sullivan co-founder of The Running Event and editor-in-chief of Running Insight magazine.

“Consumers are open to new types of footwear and top brands have responded

with a great new array of product.”

Sullivan continues, “We’re lightyears ahead of where footwear was just five years ago. Shoe designers are making incredible use of materials and technology to

create shoes that are lightweight and versatile.”

A recent poll of over 240 exhibitors coming to The Running Event on December 8-10 reveals an impressive array of product innovation for those who hope to place one foot in front of the other as fast and as efficiently as possible. Consider:

Footwear Sheds Weight

Under Armour is exhibiting a”transitional shoe” designed to bridge the gap between more traditional running shoes and barefoot running shoes. The UA Charge RC’s ergonomic design includes a lower heel angle to encourage runners to change their stride and strike at the forefoot for more efficiency. Temperature-regulating HeatGear upper keeps feet cool, while strategic compression delivers a power-boosting fit. (underarmour.com)

TrekSta USA’s Edict combines the natural fit of barefoot technology with the protection and support necessary for trail running. It has a highly breathable mesh upper with rubber overlays set on top of an ultra-light EVA midsole. The tacky HyperGrip outsole offers just enough structure but not too much weight. (trekstausa.com)

At 9.5 ounces, the Spark is Scarpa’s lightest trail-running shoe, a race-ready shoe embodying its “mountain minimal” concept of stripping things down to the basics yet providing an appropriate level of protection. Along with a low profile midsole, the Spark employs a high-tensile fabric forefoot strike plate and recycled content materials. (scarpa.com)

Faster Shoe Designs

The new Cloudracer from On competes to be the fastest shoe in the world. According to an independent study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), the CloudTec outsole empowers athletes to run with a lower heart rate and lower lactate-levels compared to other leading running shoes. The Cloudracer combines an ultra-lightweight skeleton design with On’s patented CloudTec 3D cushioning system. (on-running.com)

Custom Insoles are EZ

MasterFit Enterprises’ EZ Fit auto-adaptable insoles turbo-charge running shoes with a cut-to-fit aftermarket insole that personalizes arch and heel shape to provide maximum comfort, control and performance. (masterfitinc.com)

Apparel Smartens Up

Zensah is exhibiting high compression shorts, tights and capris. The compression bottoms incorporate 3D ribbing to pinpoint each muscle group and are made with soft, comfortable, and moisture wicking Italian-made Zensah fabric. (zensah.com)

Men’s X-Running Collection from Gore Running Wear was created for ambitious, long-distance and endurance trail runners who run in changing weather conditions. Key features and benefits: weather protection, lightweight and packable, robust and performance enhancement. (gorerunningwear.com)

Socks Go Technical

Feetures! will showcase its new Elite No Show with Tab sock in two weights, Ultra Light and Light Cushion, in six colors. Feetures! Elite provides a glove-like anatomical fit and additional support – the Exclusive Power Arch (patent pending) provides isolated support where it’s needed. The No Show with Tab design is a favorite among runners, because it sits just below the ankle but doesn’t slip inside the shoe. (feeturesbrand.com)

Lend a Hand

The Simple Hydration Water Bottle is a hook-shaped bottle that can slide into a runner’s waistband or race belt, thus eliminating the need to carry a bottle in the hand or wear a bulky hydration belt. (simplehydration.com).

South Mill Design’s Phubby, a cell phone cubby worn on the wrist, allows runners to comfortably keep their mobiles readily accessible and set to “vibrate mode” without fear of missing an incoming call. (phubby.com)

Winter is No Time to Stop

The Insulator Endurance Pro, new from Wacoal Sports Science Corp.’s CW-X brand, is made for fall and winter cold weather running. It contains a windproof front panel, and Warm-Stretch insulating fabric. (cw-x.com)

Dion Snowshoes are used by thousands of runners, bikers and triathletes for training and racing. A Teflon coating helps keep snow and ice from sticking to the cleats. (dionsnowshoes.com)

ICEtrekkers Diamond Grip keeps runners on their feet in slick winter conditions. They fit easily over running shoes for a tenacious grip on snow and ice. (icetrekkers.com)

Be Seen

Brooks is offering new high visibility colors in its NightLife collection including Brite Pink and Brite Orange as well as the more traditional Brite Green and NightLife yellow. (brooksrunning.com)

Knuckle Lights are worn across the knuckles to light an oncoming path and are considered the alternative to a head lamp or hand-held flashlight. (knucklelights.com)

Armpocket Enterprises is showing its Nighthawk NVS (Night-Vision System), an ultra-comfortable, no-slip armband-carrying device with an ultra-bright, forward-looking LED and a rear-facing, red, flashing-steady LED. (armpocket.com)

RoadNoise has created a reflective vest that eliminates the need for ear buds and armbands or other holders for music devices. Runners, walkers and even cyclists can wear a RoadNoise vest with integrated speakers that fit on the shoulder right below the ears (not in them), allowing athletes to hear both music and their surroundings. (roadnoise.com)

Be Cool

Trigger Point believes “cooling” is the next category of performance like hydration and nutrition. TP Performance Cooling products keep athletes cooler and reduce the mental and physical stress that heat places on the body. The BEX Runner is a 3 oz., durable, reusable cool gel-pack that form-fits to the palm of the hand; palm cooling is scientifically proven to remove heat from the body’s core and delay fatigue. (bexrunner.com)

180s enters the warm weather category with QuantumCool performance technology, which allows athletes to maintain sustained performance during hot/humid weather conditions, decreases skin temperature up to three percent, and offers 50+ UPF, as well as an anti-odor component. Products include compression arm and calf sleeves, head and sweatbands, running jackets, hats and visors. (180s.com)

110% Full Length Clutch Tights combine the benefits of zoned, gradient compression with the power of ice therapy to maximize preparation and performance and speed recovery. (110playharder.com)

Gadgets and Gizmos

Marshall-Browning International, the manufacturers of Robic Pedometers, has developed a comprehensive line of pedometers that eliminate errors caused by sitting, standing and other brief activities which can throw off accuracy. (robictimers.com)

Victor Technology’s RunningCalc calculates the user’s Time, Distance, Pace and Speed by entering in two of the variables to solve for the third. (victortech.com).

Stuff for the Body

Leg Lube is a new Colorado company that makes leg care products specifically for athletes, including Leg Lube Performance Shave Gel. Both male and female athletes can use the product in-or-out of the shower. (leglube.com)

The Acuball is a heatable self-massage ball that offers relief to runners’ common complaints of plantar fasciitis, tight glut/TFL/hamstrings and low back soreness. (acuball.com)

The Running Event® is a registered trademark of Formula 4 Media, LLC, and is not open to the public. For more information: therunningevent.com

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