NEW YORK — So much for the loneliness of long-distance runners.
This story first appeared in the April 17, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Athletic companies will be out in force this weekend psyching up runners and fans for Monday’s 107th running of the Boston Marathon, and picking up some customers along the way.
With 500,000 people expected to watch the 20,000 runners on the 26.2 mile course, the event should boost Boston’s economy by $74.2 million, according to the Boston Athletic Association, the race organizer. As the official sponsor, Adidas will outfit the race’s 7,000 volunteers and is the only brand allowed to sell merchandise imprinted with the Boston Marathon insignia. But Reebok, Puma and Nike are also busy making their presence known. In recent months, all four brands have renewed their pledge to running.
Most Likely to Be Seen
Couch potatoes who live downtown will get a glimpse of Reebok like it or not.
For four consecutive nights starting Friday, Reebok will splash its logo in lights on the Prudential Tower, a 52-story building in the heart of Boston. Light projections will illuminate different messages each night in an 80-by-80-foot area on the side of the “Pru,” which is also steps from the finish line. “Anyone Can Run a Mile. It’s the Last 25.2 Miles That Matter,” and “Bibs? Carbs? Reeboks? Good Luck Runners” are among the messages.
Riding the Pain Train
Terry Tate, the self-proclaimed “office linebacker” who won fans in Reebok commercials aired during the Super Bowl, and Reebok reps will be cheerleading fans and handing out temporary “Pain Train” face tattoos. If Tate spots someone’s tattoo, that person takes home a free T-shirt or DVD. Runners, on the other hand, might not be so enthusiastic about seeing the Pain Train message.
Running in Place
Puma has arranged for a Puma-clad man and woman to complete the distance of a marathon on treadmills in the store window of its Newbury Street store.
The man will finish in time to get to the marathon starting line and plans to finish the course. Puma’s athletes will be logging miles for philanthropic purposes, joining Ted Williams’ daughter running in Boston on Monday for charity.
Running Cross Country
Puma will be camped out on the course to kick off “Road Trip,” its cross-country campaign touting its new running line. The collection hits stores in July. Next stop, the Rock-n-Roll Marathon in San Diego on June 1.
Sport Psychology 101
Adidas will host a series of lectures including the “Seven Stages of Marathon” over the weekend at the Hynes Convention Center, the place where runners pick up their race numbers. Seven Stages, an outdoor and print advertising campaign making its debut in Boston, will address “ritual, shock, denial, isolation, despair, affirmation and renewal.” Grete Waitz and Johnny Kelley, who has competed in 61 Boston Marathons, will offer their insights.
Most Coveted Prize
For the first time, Adidas has designed official marathon jackets for women. Olympia Sports in the Prudential Center will sell the $80 item and expects race day and the Tuesday afterward to be the busiest shopping days. Images from Adidas’ Seven Stages campaign are in its store windows. “Everything we put out should be sold. We’ll easily sell hundreds of units of marathon merchandise,” said Bryan McComish, store manager.
Most Likely to Call Time Out
Nike is encouraging fans to save some energy for a little shopping at Niketown.
From Friday through Tuesday, there will be a runners’ lounge where marathoners can pick up pace bracelets geared for the Boston course or to send e-postcards with images of themselves. Free massages and product tips will be offered by running experts the day after the race at the lounge.
Legally blind runner Marla Runyan, who finished fourth among the female pack in last year’s New York City Marathon, and gold medalist and former Boston Marathon champion Joan Benoit Samuelson will also stop at the store over the weekend for Q&A’s.