Thursday, September 04, 2008

RUN NYC: A Beacon of Hope and Prosperity in a Dark and Scary Tomorrow

Strong title right? The post isn't going to live up to the hype - sorry.

Anyway, as the six of you know, (the readership is growing by the SECOND), I work for the RUN NYC program, which is Nike's running program in New York City. I've put my time in on the bottom rung of all the programs, checking runners in at Run Club, freezing my arse off in February at the Runners' Station, doing bag check at Bridge Runners, putting in 30 straight hours on multiple event days, trekking up and down the east coast in the mobile van, and every other level of insignificant, significant, and magnificent task that's lead to the program kicking names and taking ass.

So I'm understandably protective of my runners, my programs, and my brand, in a very momma bear kinda way - beautiful to look at but get near my cubs and I'll gouge your fricken eyes out. Test me. I dare you.

So when blogs and message-boards started blowing up post Human Race about some of the difficulties on the course, I was pretty mindful of the responses. Granted, things weren't exactly peach pie out on Randall's, but all things considered it was hardly the worst thing that's happened in the history of the sport. I held my tongue.

And then this thread happened over at blogtastic NYC Blog Overlord Brian's Internal Pigdog. I've been reading over there for a while due to the fact my Runners' Station has come up in a post. And again when there was a SportBand debate. But I felt some of the comments here fell along an interesting line of Nike bashing that's apparently still pretty prevalent.

I'm of the belief that not every shoe is for everyone, but the Bowerman Series is on par with anything on the market. Trust me. I've done the trials, worn the shoes, heard the feedback, and I speak the truth. But Nike continues to fight the perception (based largely on mistakes in their not so distant past), that they make shoes with style not substance. Just no longer a true story.

And that's where I come in. RUN NYC is single handedly erasing these misconceptions by taking the product to the runners, listening to the reasons that Nike is too narrow, not stable enough, not flexible, not light, catches fire when bumped, etc., and saying, "Just try it." The results are incredible, and a quick look at the feet at the Run Club are proof the approach works. Once runners stop yapping about why they don't like Nike, and actually try them, the perception changes. They're no longer super narrow in the forefoot, the natural motion technology designed into the forefoot creates a very flexible and responsive ride, the Cushlon in the Vomereos is the softest substance known to man. The hits just keep coming.

So for all the naysayers and haterade drinking sheep sporting your 2100s, claiming no real runners rock the swoosh, come out to Niketown on Tuesday or Thursday night at 6:00PM or Saturday mornings at 8:30AM. Give me a chance to strap you into something that isn't an Air Max 360 or Shox, and give the ORIGINAL running brand the chance to show you their back. It's free, and it comes with a side of pineapple.


Brian Morrissey said...

Thanks for the new title.

My post was about The Human Race. The reason I wrote it was several people in blog comments and on Twitter said the race was terrible. Many of the problems seemed to me clearly avoidable to me. (I didn't run it myself. Randall's Island? No thanks.) Does Nike consider the event a success? It was put on by marketing, so the 1m participants goal was hit. My hunch is the overwhelming majority of those who participated were happy. They were there for the concert and the nice red t-shirt. Yet this is the connection I made to the "serious" versus "casual" runner. If I went to run a 10k and had to walk over a pedestrian bridge, I'd be pissed. Many of my casual running friends would be psyched to run that far then enjoy a concert. A runner showing up to run, however, would be disappointed. Nike put on a bad race; forcing runners to walk during a 10k is inexcusable in my book. Maybe my standards are too high, but the NYRRC has never failed to live up to them.

I think the post struck a chord with some people because it highlighted Nike losing touch with "serious" runners, the very people the company was founded to serve. From a marketing standpoint, the Second Running Boom is driven by participation and health, so I don't blame Nike for concentrating on casual runners. I just don't think it can be all things to all people.

I doubt I'll wear Nike shoes. I ran the Flying Pig Marathon in a Nike shirt and have a pair of socks that frankly ripped in the toe way too soon. I'm happy with Asics. There's no reason to switch. One ray of hope: I very much want to buy a pair of Nike Vintage but they are tough to find.

Thanks a bunch for taking the time to respond.

joncane said...

Nicely done PLe. I certainly think there were some valid criticisms of the race Sunday, but for some reason, everything from the paramedics leaving their supplies on the ferry, to NYPD not allowing the race to start on time, to NYRR's course which included the notorious bridge, to global warming is being blamed on Nike. Clearly the Human Race was geared toward casual runners. Anyone who expects to PR in a race with 10,000 people on a two loop course isn't paying attention. If events like this were done at the exclusion of Nike's support of the NIKE Central Park Track Club, free training programs, the Runners' Station, etc. that support more serious and competitive runners, I'd join the chorus, but they're not.

In the meantime, 10,000 people got off their penguin butts and ran a race here on Sunday. If they all show up at Club Champs and line up at the front, i'm all for running them over from behind and then public flogging them after the race. Heck, I've published photos and names of self-centered 8-minute milers who line up with the fast kids at big races - but i really don't care if they slowed down some MOP'ers who wanted to break 45 minutes at the Human Race.

None of this means that the HR was a complete success or that it can't be done better, but I commend you for adding some balance to the chorus who want to blame Nike for everything.