New Balance, Canada Running Series and the Running Room partnership is bringing runners together
For Canada Running Series (CRS), New Balance, and the Running Room, running isn’t just about speed, finishing a race, or selling products — it’s about having fun and giving back.
Written by Holly Walker
CRS is Canada’s premier running series, composed of races from Quebec to British Columbia.
The organization is in the second year of a 2-year partnership with the Running Room; the official retailer, and New Balance; the official footwear and apparel supplier of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. The partnership hopes to continue in the future to find new ways to improve the running community.
The marathon, held on Oct. 21, marks the end of yet another successful race put on by CRS and it’s race director, Alan Brookes. The race made history when former Olympian Cam Levins crossed the finish line, breaking a 43-year-old Canadian marathon record.
At the heart of the race is a story of triumph, with the Toronto Runs campaign as its rallying cry. New Balance, CRS and the Running Room saw the importance of bringing the city together, and wanted a campaign that would resonate not only with Toronto runners, but global participants as well.
The past year has been a trying time for Toronto as a city with a number of tragic incidents from the Toronto van attack in April and the Danforth shooting in July. But New Balance, CRS and the Running Room believe running as a sport can bring people together — no matter where in the world they are.
Here Jon Purdy, senior marketing manager for New Balance, shares insights on the partnership, the race and the future of running.
What was the experience working with Running Room like?
Running Room does in-training clinics. We have had a number of our brand ambassadors, and athletes like Rachel Hannah attend a lot of those to encourage participation but also to offer runners a unique experience. It’s not everyday that you get to run with an Olympian, or someone who can run a sub-2:15 marathon [an elite time].
We also developed apparel for the in-training clinics, so there was something special for someone who was training for any of the races. We did other events, training runs, and test runs. We brought out some of our product for test sets. People could run in our product and try it before they buy, or not buy at all. We also did gate analysis to show what shoe is best for each runner. It’s a serious thing to train for a half or a full marathon. At the end of the day you should be having fun. It’s a lot of hard work, so how the brand can make it easier—or a little bit more fun—that’s important.
How did the shoe donation initiative start?
Charity is important to CRS and New Balance. It’s been a part of the Scotiabank marathon for a few years now. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t meet our goal. I think part of the reason we didn’t get there is because we didn’t communicate it early enough. That’s one of the things we want to improve next year, and try to go after a Guinness World Record; the most shoes donated at a race for example. It’s for a great cause and people need to donate shoes and get rid of them anyways. It’s great to help people that are underprivileged that don’t have access to those kind of things. It’s about giving back as much as it is about putting on a great race, or selling product.
What feedback did you receive at the expo from participants and consumers
For us, it was outstanding. We passed our goal on the expo sale side with both our souvenir apparel and over all sales with the Running Room. Capturing interested participants and doing experiential things to get them excited about running was great. Consumers were happy that we were a participant again this year. We are known for our footwear but one of the opportunities that we have, and what consumers are telling us is they want to see more apparel from us. We’re really happy with how we showed up as a brand, and how much consumers interacted with us. New Balance is a global company but privately owned and operated by the Davis family out of Boston. Many people were asking if our product was made in the U.S. because that’s what they want to buy. We do domestic manufacturing in the U.S; It’s a big pillar of our brand, and our culture. It’s resonating with customers, which is a great message.
What are three takeaways from the event?
The first is that Toronto and Canada is a real running mecca, the sport itself has never been healthier, but participation rates in running spectatorship need to go up.
It was great to see real support from the corporate perspective. The sponsorship, and the involvement from the corporate community from Scotia Bank, down to CRS and Running Room, us and other sponsors too.
The last takeaway is running is really at the core of who we are as a brand, and we want to support it at every level. It’s about more than commercial success. It’s about growing the sport, giving back and again, having fun. Having fun is the most important thing.