Over the first week of December each year, 100’s of brands, industry “insiders” (ooooh!) and 100’s store owners descend on the town of Austin, TX to launch product, learn about the latest running business trends, kiss babies, run and drink amongst colleagues. If you are in the running business, you need to visit this expo at least once to get overwhelmed by this product display of all things running.
I have had the privilege of going with Mizuno North America for the past three years. As a Territory Manager for the past 5 years, I feel it is always a great experience to see what the other brands are doing as well as get a pulse for what is going on in other parts of the nation. We in the dirtiest of dirty South, tend to catch trends a little later, due to our mistrust of all things not Southern, and it is sometimes cool to see what is happening NOW in the rest of the nation.
I thought I would announce my top 13 things of the 2013 TRE as this is what all good list makers are doing this week.*
*this may be shortened or lengthened at my discretion.
IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER-Here’s some cool things I saw and did last week.
1. Saw Meb Khaphlizziziieiee running ludicrous speed with what appeared to be a leprechaun around Austin’s Town Lake. For those of you who have been under a rock for the last decade or so, Meb Kah-fleeeezy has been one of the baddest mofo’s out there. If you ever want to see how bad of a runner you are, go watch a local high school cross country meet, then go watch the collegiate level. Then go watch pros. Then go watch pros at the highest level. Watching Meb float by as I hung on for dear life to some kid conversationally hammering a measly 7:20 pace into my face made me want to hang up my shoes…alas, I have much better hair so I am calling this one a draw.
2. My boss Fritz Taylor was quietly inducted into the IRRA Running hall of fame. As he is so stealthy, I barely knew about this, I won’t go on an on about him. He’s a great guy, and has been in the industry for ever. Congrats bossman!!
3. Skratchlabs Has been a product I’ve been loving for the last year or so. The company makes an all natural sports drink mix that I can’t live without. New this year are two new formulas-HYPER with 4x’s the sodium for very high sweat conditions (I’ll be writing a full “review” on this once it heats up again), and DAILY, which should be used…daily. Jon, Jason and the crew are good folks, the product is legit, and Alan Lim is a mad scientist. What else do you need to know?
4. Hoka was once again the darling of the dance. Their shoes look more like the Ace Frehley boots, but the shoes are surprisingly responsive. One blogger mentioned that their booth looked like Vibram’s 4 years ago. My feeling is that the large platform shoe will remain as the reality is that even as the marketplace shifted minimal, most running companies kept selling heavier, more cushioned shoes. Time will tell.
5. ORANGEMUD-If you are friends with me on the book of faces, you will know that I love this company. I got to spend some time visiting and drinking with the owner and creator Josh Sprague. He is everything that a small company should be. There was a need, he invented something to fill said need, the product shipped, and now people are gaga over it. It’s like the goddam American Freakin Dream!! Anyhow, you can visit their site HERE and check out their unique hydration packs that do not bounce as well as their award winning transition towel, which is my number one favorite item of 2013. Here’s a picture of me whoring the products because I love it some much I’d give them an award, but there are no awards. Go buy one. You will be stoked.
6. Mizuno-So this is touchy. I work for this company. I may be in trouble for saying Hoka is an okay brand. I am nothing if not honest. Not everyone runs in our shoes. What I do know is this. Our 2014 line is stacked. To prove I am true to being a fair observer of the show, I will tell you not about our new product, which you can find on your own, but I will instead tell you about something I am truly stoked about. While not everyone runs, a lot of people who read this blog do or will. Many of you who know me, know that I am very passionate about marketing and messaging. But not just for the sake of a canned bullshit message. There is a power in running and we believe that this power is transformative. We believe that the world would be a better place if everyone ran. We build products that seem to disappear from your feet so that all that is left is the run. This is what we are about and what we will be pushing. This notion of the Mezamashii (eye opening) runs. I am very excited for where our product, but moreover our brand is going. I encourage you to join us.
7. Fuel Belt/ DeSoto Sport-These two leaders of the tri market have been in the game a long time and have two of the best guys I know in the biz. Hats off to Emilio DeSoto and Vinu Malik. Just dig what these brands and guys are about. They get it.
8. Finally there was THIS—>>>>> THIS
Proof that there were many drinks had….many many drinks.