Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Farewell Runners' Station

Last Friday, with little fanfare, little warning, the Nike Runners' Station went gently into that good night ending it's nearly four year run (pun intended) on the West Side Highway.

The Runners' What?
The Runners' Station originally went up in March of 2006 as a joint effort between Hudson River Park Trust and Nike. At its essence the Station was a runner specific clubhouse that provided WSH harriers a refueling stop, and aid station, a place to talk shop, and just a respite with all the amenities that a runner could want. Over the years it would serve as much more than that in many ways becoming one of the central pieces elevating the NYC running community.

The running community in New York is amazing but those who run here know that running in NYC can be somewhat weird and solitary. There are plenty of clubs and NYRR is far and away the best race organizer in the country, but with the hustle and bustle of the City the majority of runners squeeze their runs in between a 70 hour work week and the rest of their existence. The Station serviced the veterans and the n00bs alike giving them information, routes, product trials, tips and tricks. Along with water, Gatorade, Powerbars and Gels, and even bandages for long runs and bloody nipples. The staff over those four years was amazing and easily the biggest benifit of stopping in. A mix between personal trainers, high school runners, marathoners, NYU runners, and people who were fully committed to the sport. Rarely in my three years involved with the program did I here anything short of glowing reviews about the people working there.

For Nike it gave a brand with a storied history in the sport, seeking to highlight their authenticity, the ability to start communication in a marketplace where people saw them as inauthentic.

But times they are a changing. Nike's target has shifted, the funding for this kind of immersion marketing has shifted, the Station moved not once, or twice, or even thrice, but whatever you call a fourth move, and in general the concept because somewhat expendable.

It's the dead of winter right now and short of the brave souls pounding out mileage for a spring marathon the paths have slowed. So chances are the loss won't be noticed by many until the weather thaws a bit. But as someone who worked on the program, and planned many long runs around it, seeing the empty space on my next trip around the tip is going to be highly upsetting.

Thanks to everyone who worked on it, came to it, posted about it, and will miss it as well.

Some of my fav RS posts and whatevers.

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