Taking an afternoon run is pretty much a given today for staffers at New Balance.
Instead of grabbing some lunch, many employees in the company’s offices around the world will be taking a group run in honor of Global Running Day.
Global Running Day, an offshoot of what was National Running Day, is meant to drum up interest in the sport, and fitness in general for women and men. Last year there were 44.5 million runners and joggers over the age of 7 — an uptick of 3.5 percent compared to 2014, a spokeswoman for the National Sporting Goods Association said Wednesday. And total apparel sales for running/jogging tallied $1.2 billion in that time frame — a 5.1 percent increase. But the number of race participants, who crossed the finish line of an organized race, declined. There were 17.1 million finishers last year — a 9 percent decline compared to 2014, according to the Wichita, Kan.-based industry organization Running USA.
By celebrating Global Running Day, the Boston-based company aims to encourage consumers to take advantage of the running trails, tracks and roads in their areas and to travel virtually with members of Team New Balance, such as American record holding steeplechaser Emma Coburn and ultra-marathoner Anton Krupicka, as they train for upcoming races. Those runners and other New Balance-sponsored athletes are posting to encourage nonprofessionals to start walking or running.
All in all, New Balance has organized associate-led runs in 23 locations in the U.S., the U.K., China, Australia, South Africa and Vietnam. About 1,100 New Balance wearers are expected to lace up their sneakers, while simultaneously reinforcing the company’s commitment to maintaining good health and leading an active lifestyle. With international sales of $3.72 billion, New Balance has 5,000-plus associates.
As is often the case with road races and other sporting events, participants are encouraged to post photos and videos and share what motivates them to run via Twitter and Instagram. In addition @nbgivesback social handle will be motivating kids to run, play and stay active through the New Balance Sparkstart program which helps to ignite the spark for movement in young people.
New Balance has also asked coaches affiliated with the nonprofit Playworks, which serves 1,300-plus schools in 23 U.S. cities, to ask kids to opt in by running at least one lap during recess. The Boston-based company will also be championing running later this month when the New Balance Nationals Outdoor are held for student-runners in Greensboro, N.C., June 17 to 19 for collegiate runners.
Brooks Running Co. chose the streets of New York to host its own celebration of Global Running Day. A group of 65 editors and friends of the brand met for an early-morning jog on the High Line and West Side Highway running trail. The attendees were given Brooks apparel and shoes as well as race bibs and gold-framed sunglasses that caught the attention of other runners on the roads. A mock finish line was set up on the High Line, complete with a tape that all the runners broke when they finished the 5K route.
Similar events were held around the country with Brooks teaming up with local retailers to promote runs. Consumers were also able to obtain a bib for their own personal Global Running Day run if they couldn’t make it to a group run.
In celebration of the day, Brooks conducted the fourth edition of its Global Run Happy Report that revealed a few facts about runners. For example, 97 percent of runners say participating in a run makes their day better and 57 percent say they’re able to come up with creative ideas while they’re kicking up their heels.
Worldwide, the survey said, 59 percent of runners share their experience on social media, with Facebook the most popular platform with 40 percent of people participating. And stopping for a selfie is a must for 35 percent of runners.
For women worldwide, the greatest concern when running is lack of support from their sports bra, according to 30 percent of respondents. When they find the right fit, 65 percent said they would wear their sports bra in place of their regular bra. Additionally, 48 percent of female runners globally run or consider running in just their sports bras with the French most likely to run shirtless (73 percent) versus the U.S., where only 24 percent were ready to remove their T-shirts.
Whether they wear a shirt or not, 56 percent of female runners always or sometimes wear makeup when they run while 44 percent say they would never leave the house without it.
And lastly, the survey found that 41 percent of runners would opt to compete in a track and field event in the Olympics and 37 percent would love to carry the torch through their hometown — if given those opportunities. And when asked to pick their dream relay squad, 53 percent would choose an athlete over Hollywood actors (19 percent), supermodels (12 percent) and the royal family (11 percent). In last place were the Kardashian sisters (Kourtney, Kim and Khloé), with only 4 percent of runners wanting to have them lace up and join them for a jog.
“Every year I look forward to the results of our Global Run Happy Report because they bring to life the transformational power of the run,” said Anne Cavassa, chief customer experience officer at Brooks Running. “I couldn’t agree more that the miles I spend on the running trails are where I do my best thinking. Whether it’s thoughts about work, friends or family, I always return refreshed and ready to tackle the day.”