Timely topics highlighted at The Running Event

The 17th edition of The Running Event (TRE) was held in Austin, Texas from November 28-30, and featured more than 300 vendors in a two-day expo, educational sessions, and numerous networking opportunities. TRE is North America’s premier specialty retail conference and trade show welcoming race directors, media, run specialty store owners, brands and organizations.

TRE opened on Tuesday, November 28, with a trail cleanup along the popular Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail along the Colorado River and then a full day of Deep Dive sessions focused on everything from youth to social media. A welcome reception followed in the evening complete with a charcuterie spread, sweets, and beverages.

ATRA was one of the exhibitors at The Running Event.

Wednesday and Thursday were expo-focused and there were several panel discussions in the Training Camp Theater. In addition to much networking time spent indoors, there were opportunities to enjoy group-led runs in the mornings.

Pickelball at The Running Event

New this year was the introduction of an indoor pickleball court and vendors like KSwiss and Selkirk exhibiting their latest products. Attendees could try their hand at America’s fastest growing sport and learn how run specialty could incorporate products in-store and support consumers looking to their trusted retailer for guidance on getting outfitted in the proper gear for pickleball.

Sessions at The Running Event

A recap from some of the sessions follows and a link to all the speakers for each session can be found here.

Youth and Running Panel – What the Next Generation Actually Wants and Needs to Run

Kiera Smalls, RIDC Exec Dir; Dustin Martin, Exec Dir Wings of America, Rob Simmelkjaer, CEO NYRR, Lauren Kobylarz, Exec Dir Students Run Philly Style, Fikayo Babatunde, researcher, RIDC.

Kiera Smalls opened the youth session by asking everyone in the audience to close their eyes and remember their first time running. She implored the group to think about where they were and what the experience was like. It was evident from the smiles around the room, that memories were positive and heart warming.

Creating opportunities for youth was one focus of the panel and much of the discussion centered on culture over competition. Dustin Martin suggested that instead of defining better than or faster than, build culture and community. Rob Simmelkjaer added that programs geared to children need to be free and easy thereby removing barriers to entry. Most important, programs need to be fun. “We start with elementary school youth and focus on physical literacy providing events that are developmentally appropriate based on age. The emphasis is to get kids moving.”

Providing incentives such as T-shirts or gear may be one way to get youth enrolled in program. But, as stated by Lauren Kobylarz, “Shoes may get the kids there, building trusted relationships keeps them there.” Kobylarz also mentioned the importance of mentorship and in fact her group has 400 mentors working with over 1000 kids annually. Further, “Establish a relationship with the family/guardian, bring them into the fold and provide education and resources.”

Connecting with friends at the youth running session.

Barriers to youth running may also involve geography. Martin said that some kids spend an hour each way on a bus to school and getting into an after school program would be challenging. Also, there may be safety concerns where youth live. Simmelkjaer agreed, that although running is something you can do “anywhere,” a 10-year-old kid living in Brooklyn might not find it so simple in an area where crime and traffic may prevail.

Breakouts then provided an opportunity for ideation on three topics – Running and Culture; Donations and Sponsorships: and Physical and Movement Literacy. A key outcome from the group collective was that, “youth is the now.”

The Impact of Events: Hosting Zero-Waste Events

Nick Kovaleski, Director of Operations, A Runner’s Mind, and Brian Mister, Director, Around the Crown 10K

The primary areas of this session centered on sustainability, environmental and social responsibility as well as finding ways for events to give a great runner experience while implementing new protocols to reach zero-waste. A quote that resonated with Brian Mister was shared, “Need less…give more.” Nick Kovaleski added, “We only have one planet, there is no planet B.”

Kovaleski and Mister lead the discussion.

Work that is being done by Runners for Public Land including the recently released Race Director Hub was referenced throughout the discussion. Some key takeaways were to:
Envision that your start line looks like your community.
Celebrate the natural history of landscapes.
Develop cultures of environmental stewardship.

It was also suggested that events take an honest assessment of their footprint focusing on:
Racial Diversity and Inclusion – commit to remove social barriers, ensure the event reflects the diversity of the community at large.
Mission and Values – research the organizations, brands, and vendors you support and ensure they share your values.
Waste, Carbon, and Water – decrease the amount of new equipment purchased each year and eliminate unnecessary waste.

Sustainability is a long-term endeavor. Accomplish things in the short team with a focus on the long-term impacts. As an example, whatever the percentage you can achieve, reduce the waste. Event organizers needs to set up their policies and then communicate them, clearly stating values and principles. Further to this, creating a race code of conduct that clearly communicates expectations was advised. Also mentioned was the pledge of sustainability from A Fit Planet.

How to Social Media

Michael Ko, shoe reviewer and YouTuber, and Tommie Runz, social media influencer and podcaster

Because there are numerous share-worthy events already happening, a simple photo and a caption can easily create buzz. This session provided tips that could be used by anyone to enhance their social media presence. Topics ranged from creating content with a smart phone to collaborations and creating community.

How to social media presentation at TRE.

One of the easiest tools to use to share social is with a smart phone. Offering both portrait and landscape options provides a choice how to use and share photographs, but if you can only take one, take portrait (vertical). On the other hand, YouTube and Facebook use landscape (horizontal) more often. Be sure to experiment in wide and normal angle modes (1x and wide), as different camera angles tell more of the story.

Tailor your content to the social media platform you are using. Photos are most common on Instagram and Facebook, while videos are most common on YouTube and Instagram. For video, there are basically two settings – slo-mo and real time. For resolution, check settings to be sure you have the correct one realizing that 4K is the best resolution.

To best realize the impact of a reel, be sure the viewer feels like they are there, or could be there. Tommie Runz emphasized, “Play and relive the experience as you saw it through your eyes. Catch moments when you run into friends.”

To construct a reel, take as much content throughout the day as you can – even just short 5-6 second moments. Catch a quick video. You either have a community, or you are trying to capture the vibe of a community. Capture a bunch of content and then you can slice it down into bite-sized pieces. Film and edit chronologically and focus on the basics … start, middle, and end. Be sure to get content from a couple of key points at the event.

In making video for social media there are popular angles: Point of view; action shot; selfie; set shot (set phone up and then walk away and film – use a rock/a ledge, etc.). Create FOMO. Share the energy at an event.

Pro tip: Button on iPhone 14 and above has a button on the top of a runner icon – this is the stabilizer and can be used with action shots.

It was a packed house for the social media presentation.

Video software suggestion was the free-to-use CapCut. It is user friendly and when you have a lot of video, this works well. The software is used to upload everything from the photo gallery, or pick the ones you want to use, and you can slide and edit clips. You can add text (Instagram has 6-7 fonts, CapCut has many more). If you are using CapCut for the first time – delete the CapCut pop-up at the end. CapCut can house all your videos. You can add music in CapCut, but if you have a business account you can’t. However, there is un-copyrighted music. The pro version of CapCut is probably better for adding sound as it has a more extensive library. Scroll through audio on Instgram and then save and use on CapCut. According to Runz, “I like to use my original audio. You don’t have to mute out all the love and energy in the story.”

Social media influencers can work well with companies and businesses to help promote events, or create and enhance messaging. In order to invest in creators and build collaborations, businesses should develop and maintain authenticity for the best result. The influencer/business model creates an opportunity to highlight a relationship, a friendship and build fans. Finding an influencer can be either be an active ask or a passive ask. Having shared goals and values is of the utmost importance. The relationship needs to be built, rather than a pay-to-post cost sheet (this should however be part of the conversation and be part of your budget).

Leverage vendor relationships and local partnerships to drive participation

Elyse Braner, Director of People + Culture at Pacers Running, Sam Burmester, Community Lead at Pacers Running, Jason Millison, Deputy Director of Public Engagement & Strategy for the DC Department of Parks and Recreation; Sarah Scott, DC Department of Parks and Recreation and FitDC; Tom Taylor, Senior Manager, Go to Marketing and Retail Marketing Altra Running.

Leverage vendor relationships and local partnerships to drive participation at TRE.

In finding the right fit with a partner, Tom Taylor said, “Of course we want to sell more shoes, besides this, we want to be a little more in touch with the consumer and the marketplace. We want to know what runners are looking for from their running store, their shoe, their brand. We want to be inspired.”

Brand partners are looking for a well thought out plan and a thoughtful and long-term approach. When establishing a partnership, outlined goals and clear expectations are important for both parties.

Sarah Scott said, “The partnerships that work out are those allowing time to collaborate and grow. Think about what is important in your community, write out your plan and present it. Find out what is close by and do research about the organization before making the ask.”

Running and fitness make sense for many brands and potential partners. As Jason Millison noted, “Wellness is a winning issue.”

Sam Burmester shared a success story from their community’s Juneteenth event this year. It was the 14th installment of the event which featured a government-based organization working alongside a run store and a brand to realize a common vision. Said Burmester, “A shared mission and shared values result in reciprocal benefits.” In a successful partnership, everyone brings different resources to the table.

When seeking support for an event, consider the following:
Identify long term goals and long term plans.
Be authentic with engagement in the community.
Be creative.
Look for wins that make everyone look better.

Editor’s Note: Read about the top takeaways from 2022’s The Running Event here.

The Running Event 2024 will take place November 19-21 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX. Stay updated about The Running Event here.

Downtown Austin near the convention center.