Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset

Posted by on Friday, September 6, 2013 @ 8:19 am | Leave a reply

My Newtons and I Run Mongolia — Continent #5

Winter Mongolia 2

 

Getting There

In August, I spent a week in a Ger—the Mongolian term for a Russian yurt—in remote northern Mongolia. Morning views were of the sunrise over Lake Hovsgol, the “Mother Lake”.  Reflections of the distant mountains were painted across the still water. The mornings were so quiet, that if one looked hard enough, they might envision Chinggis Khaan and his men roaming the countryside on horseback. His legend lives across Mongolia. I knew the journey would be long, but the rewards of visiting a country with so much history would be worth the challenging travel.

The journey to Mongolia took two days. I left Portland, Oregon and made a quick stop in Seattle, before the long flight across the Pacific Ocean. Spending several hours on a layover in Seoul, Korea was a very surreal moment for me. At just 14 years old, I live away from home and my family. My days are spent training at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah, with aspirations of making the 2018 Winter Olympics in aerial skiing. It just so happens, that those Olympics will be held in South Korea. I walked through the airport that day knowing that I will hopefully return here in 2018, with my skis in tote, chasing my Olympic dream. Many people don’t realize, the many purposes my running serves. Running is great cross training for so many sports, especially skiing. I believe my cross training as a triathlete and runner give me an added advantage as a skier.

A three-hour trip from Seoul put us in the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar. I would later learn to call it UB, as it is known amongst the locals. We spent one evening in UB, where I witnessed how underdeveloped the area was. Many of the main roads were dirt with patches of broken up concrete.  A layer of dust rose above the city and mixed with the pollution from the four coal power plants used to power the city. The total population of Mongolia is 2.8 million with more than 1 million alone living in UB. Childhood obesity is as much an epidemic here as it is in the U.S. The major contributing factor is felt to be the lack of vegetables and outdoor activities, which is compounded by the extreme cold temperatures.

Yet another early morning flight, one-hour north, put us close to the border of Russia. Russian minivans took us on a three-hour drive to Camp Toilogt. For the past 15 years, this camp, mostly visited by fishermen and avid horseback riders, has had about 70 runners converge on it from around the world to run the annual Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset 42 km and 100 km trail run in Hovsgol National Park.

I have been to remote areas in Kenya and Peru, but wasn’t quite prepared for what I would face in Mongolia. Most of us faced nutritional challenges the week leading into the race. We did not anticipate such a lack of fruit, vegetables, and the protein rich food that most athletes live on the days leading up to races. Refrigeration was limited, the dairy products were unpasteurized and rice was the main staple. The main water filter for the camp had broken so keeping up with fresh water meant boiling the water. Many of us tried to keep up on hydration by drinking the warm water or trying to cool it in our water bottles, which we submerged in the lake. Camp was at 5,000 feet, so runners needed to pay close attention to staying hydrated. I normally try to pack dried fruit, oatmeal, and bars, but was limited due to weight restrictions from the airlines. I definitely fell way short on my stash of pre-race food for this event. Luckily my stomach tolerated the change of nutrition fairly well, but others were less fortunate.

Winter Mongolia

Despite not having ideal conditions leading up to race day, everyone’s spirits remained high. Fourteen of the 70 race entrants were runners from all over the world who I had previously met at my second marathon in Kenya, the Amazing Maasai. We developed friendships and a running bond. We had decided to all meet up again in Mongolia, almost a year after the marathon in Kenya. We were also reunited with the Canadian filming crew, Boundless. They had filmed a segment with us in Kenya as part of their first season debut. Intrigued with my story in Kenya, the filming crew was kind enough to put together a great video about Team Winter. Having them join us in Mongolia and include us in their second season of filming was so much fun. The filming crew added a dynamic to camp and even caught my first “Hash Run” on film. (Hash Runs have now been modified so that non-drinkers and young people like me can participate as well.)

RACE DAY

Race morning was a 2 am wake up call. My mom had the usual morning fire already going. She would have a pot of hot water on the tiny stove that warmed our four-man Ger. The hot water would be used to make my pre-race oatmeal, which I had rationed specifically for race morning. Generators were used only two hours each evening to recharge phones and computers, but an exception was made race morning to provide early morning light. The weather was a runner’s dream, low 50s no wind and slightly overcast. The clouds would chase us up the mountain passes all morning, but never catch us.  About 70 runners, 33 for the 42 km and 35 for the 100 km lined up for the 4 am start. I was running the marathon, or 42 km.

By the pace of the first 100 yards of the race, you would think we were competing in an 800-meter sprint. The first 2.5 km’s of the course was very technical singletrack through the woods. The roots, low hanging trees, and stones made the trail—lit only be our headlamps—difficult for us to navigate in the darkness. Most of the top runners knew it would be difficult to pass during this section so there was definitely a race for positioning at the beginning. To my amazement, as I navigated the darkness with the lead pack, I would catch glimpses of the camera crew running the woods parallel to us trying to capture vital footage. The next 12 km were still in the dark along a rocky road next to Lake Hovsgol. The clouds hid the morning sunrise as we began our first ascent.

After a rewarding first climb we were greeted with a steep rocky descent with much loose stone, making for a difficult downhill run that didn’t allow for much recovery. There had already been many early morning falls by most of the runners, but luckily no serious injuries. By mostly pure luck, I managed to stay on my feet for the entire 26.2 miles.

The second climb humbled many of us, including myself. It was a steep climb through a mossy, dense forest that never seemed to end. I would occasionally find myself glancing around hoping to catch a glimpse of an area that might be the location of Chinggis Khaans’ burial site. To this day, no one has been able to identify the exact location of his tomb. At the summit of this second climb, stood an Ovoo, a spiritual triangle of stones and flags that are found throughout the land and especially at the highest points of elevation. These are sacred areas thought to house the spirit of the dead. It is good luck to circle them clock-wise either once or three times and place offerings. Of course, I made my offering and circled three times before continuing on in the race.

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Three aid stations filled with water, potatoes, tomatoes, and homemade donuts would be the only source of spectators on the course. An occasional sighting of the filming crew in the most obscure, remote locations would be the only other sign of life. There wasn’t a single time during the race that one couldn’t think about their foot placement due to the rocky nature of the course. The course proved a challenge to many runners. One person got lost for several hours and many of the 100 km runners quickly realized at the 42 km mark that the course would be too much to continue on. In the end, only about half of the 100 km runners that set out that morning actually complete the entire course. Many realized the 18-hour cut-off would be difficult to achieve and were happy to settle with 42 km. The last 42 km runner crossed the finish line in about 10 hours.

The course lived up to its name, “The Most Beautiful 100k” and definitely can be considered one of the more challenging races. I was pleased with my 5:55 finish and taking second place overall female. I have fallen in love with the challenges that trail running offers. I continue to learn much about running and most importantly about myself. Through my running, I’m not only able to raise awareness for prostate cancer, but to show that age and gender are not barriers! I am now just two continents away from setting a world record for the, “Youngest person to run a marathon on all seven continents”.  I will be headed to New Zealand in October followed by the completion of my World Marathon Tour in Athens, Greece in November.

As with every race, I learned afterwards of the unsung heroes that had run amongst us. Running in the Mongolian Sunrise to Sunset, were some of the 1 in 6 men I run for.  After the race, they came to me and shared their stories of family members affected by the disease or their own personal story of battling prostate cancer. I learned that prostate cancer survivors had been out there running the 42 km and 100 km in silence, a silence broken only by the presence of a 14 year-old girl out there running with them and for them. May they “Never Give In!”

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*** Although one in six men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, awareness and screenings remain extremely low. Help me to bring attention to this disease that affects almost every family worldwide during September—Prostate Awareness Month—by joining Teamwinter S1X, a month-long charity “run raiser” to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer and research by converting daily running or walking miles into dollars. Like run/walkathons, S1X participants invite friends, family, and colleagues to pledge dollars (or cents) per mile they log running or walking throughout the month of September. Activities are tracked on www.athlete.com/s1x and all proceeds benefit prostate cancer research and awareness.

As a bonus, S1X participants receive a “S1X Pack—with over $200 in swag,” and Athlete.com is awarding the top six men and women with the most money raised, most miles run, and first to six hundred with awesome prizes. There will also be great random raffle drawings—and participants can increase the odds by getting an extra raffle ticket for every $10 they raise. It isn’t too late to still register! Register here.

Never Give In!

Sig

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Kōkua: Helping Others One Triathlon at a Time

Posted by on Thursday, September 5, 2013 @ 11:04 am | Leave a reply

By Nicole Clark

Back in February, I heard from my husband, Nick Clark, about the potential for a Newton Running Ambassador Team. Then, I noticed the application on Facebook to apply for the inaugural IRONMAN Foundation Newton Running Ambassador Triathlon team. It took me about a week to finish up the application process and another month until I received an official email stating that I was chosen to be part of the team.

Being part of this team is quite an honor. We have more than 40 teammates from around North America with one common goal: to give back to the communities in which we are racing. Our team motto is kōkua, which means “extending loving, sacrificial help to others for their benefit, not for personal gain…” This sums up exactly what our team is all about. I wanted to be part of a team that wasn’t focused on PR’s, splits and power, although that is perfectly fine, I felt like this team was going to be more than just that.  I love training, racing and being at different venues, but raising money for the different charities and community outreach programs for select IRONMAN races has been an amazing experience to be part of.

Kokua

I am fortunate enough to live in a great community. I have amazing friends and family all over the country who have supported this experience. I reached out to a local restaurant in Louisville, Colorado, Lucky Pie, where they support fundraising events. They were kind enough to allow me to host a silent auction social. We had wonderful local business who donated for the event, ranging from teeth whitening, local triathlon shop packages, to autographed Craig Alexander Newton Running visors. We also had representation from Newton Running, Ironman and IMF teammates.

The monies raised by my teammates and I will go to local Henderson charities served by the IRONMAN Foundation at the IRONMAN World Championship 70.3: Coronado High School Band, Coronado High School, Clark County School District, Foothills High School, Student Council Getting 2 Tri Foundation, Grant a Gift Autism Foundation, Green Valley C.H.A.N.C.E., Green Valley Women’s Basketball, Green Valley Wrestling, Greenspun Junior High, Henderson Lacrosse Club, James Gibson Elementary, Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation, Pinecrest Academy, SECTA Student Organization of Latinos and Somerset Academy of Las Vegas.

I qualified back in September 2012 at Branson 70.3 for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships 2013.  What a great set up for the year ahead. This made fun planning for upcoming races. Leading up to Vegas, I raced the Boulder Tri Series and Kansas 70.3. I had the opportunity to race Vegas two years ago, while living in Florida. Now that I live in Colorado, with the ability to train at altitude and really knowing how to ride hills while also having the advantage of knowing what the course is like, I feel like I am a little more seasoned and prepared for a great race. I’m really looking forward to having fun, enjoying the weekend with family and friends coming to support me and meeting new teammates at our charity project.

Ironman 70.3 World Championships donation page
Nicole Clark’s Blog
IRONMAN Foundation Newton Running Ambassador Triathlon Team
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Meet The Dogs Of Newton – Week 14 Daisy

Posted by on @ 8:18 am | Leave a reply

DAISY1Hello my name is Daisy! I’m the newest member of the Newton Dog family.

I was born at the end of May and every week my biological Mom would send pictures of me getting bigger to my new mom in Colorado. This became known as “Woof Wednesday”. There was stiff competition between me and that hump day camel but I won out as the camel has gone to pasture & I am living it up at the Newton School of Running.

My mom thinks I’m wicked cute- but don’t let that fool you. I’m a bit of a sheep in wolfs clothing. I act soooo cute & then I flip my wolf switch where I run around like a crazy puppy and jump and nip at people. My mom keeps talking about taking me to class to get trained up… but I don’t think it’s much of a threat because I hang out at a school all day and nothing too authoritative happens there. They even have this cool display that has these neat socks hanging off of it that just sit there and wait for me to come by & play with them. My mom frowns upon this but Timmy thinks it’s funny- so I’m going to keep doing it.

Speaking of the School of Running, I even have my own fan club of ladies from the bank next door that come over to visit me. Come to think of it… I heard that the school was much less inhabited before I came and now there are people flocking to the door to hang out with me!

I am happy just hanging out but I love to go on adventures. The car isn’t my favorite place but it brings me to visit lots of cool stuff so I tolerate the ride. Once I adjust to the altitude I will be spending my mornings on runs with my mom. Times are tough this high up… I sure hope she brings me back to visit her people at sea level soon!

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Losing Weight to Triathlon: Fleet Feet Spokane’s Wade Pannell

Posted by on Tuesday, August 27, 2013 @ 2:14 pm | Leave a reply

FleetFeetWadeSix years ago, the owner of Fleet Feet Spokane, Wade Pannell, was living in Bozeman, Montana. The former competitive cyclist — in both road cycling and mountain biking — was working in resort real estate development and wining and dining more than he was working out. “I was sixty pounds heavier and needed to get fit,” says Pannell. “I would say I was big boned. It was a good excuse. But when I lost the weight, I realized I really wasn’t.” Finally, a friend with whom he grew up suggested he was out of shape and Pannell says, “I took it to heart.”

He began to run. “I couldn’t run a quarter mile without stopping and walking.” Yet, for Pannell, running took the least amount of time and was the easiest to do on the road when he was traveling for work. He also found the running community much more accepting than the cycling community, whose participants he says can be more competitive and critical. “In running you’re always in a pack and it’s much more community based.” He found the community he needed at Fleet Feet Bozeman. The store offered a plethora of programs to help people like Pannell get started. Pannell found this invaluable. And, he says, “Once I ran my first 5K, the old competitive juices were back.”

Back in shape, and 60 pounds lighter, Pannell began to enjoy riding again. From there, he set his sights on triathlon. “I ran the Boston Marathon in 2010, and in 2011, I completed my first Ironman Coeur D’Alene.”

While his training was picking up speed, Pannell’s work moved him to Spokane, Washington. Before leaving Bozeman, Pannell had been dabbling with the idea of opening a Fleet Feet or changing his line of work to training and helping people get fit. Once in Spokane, he and his wife decided that the city presented the perfect opportunity to open a Fleet Feet. They opened Fleet Feet Spokane last summer, in August 2012.

Spokane County has a population of roughly 450,000 people, and it only had one real specialty running store, explains Pannell.  “It was an underserved market and historically a very running focused community. We send about two or three high schools to national high school championships each year. Yet there was only one main specialty store.”

With an inventory focused on triathlon more than the average Fleet Feet, Pannell reached out to Newton Running in April, 2013. Ever since, Newton has been the store’s number 2 vendor with the Gravity leading the way, then the Isaacs and Pannell expects the Energy to do well, too. “I’ve been running in Newton for the last five years. Newton is not one of those brands most Fleet Feet’s open with. But we are very tri oriented. A few employees and myself coach a tri group and we were in a tri club with about 250 people. So for our audience it makes sense to find some brands with more of a tri focus.”

Newton’s message also aligned with that of Fleet Feet Spokane. “As we worked with training people and talking about minimalism and everything people need to do to become better runners, Newton’s education and biomechanical feedback was a nice segue for what we were doing and what we were about,” Pannell explains. “Not only has Newton given us fantastic support with their tech rep and corporate backup, but we’ve probably held five run clinics. Each time we get 20-30 people. I love the drills that Danny gives. And they brought in Chris Legh during Ironman Coeur d’Alene.”

Pannell says more than 50% of people who come in to his store probably should be introduced to Newton. “It’s the person who wants to run better, more naturally and improve their form, and who likes a lighter shoe or is a triathlete. All of those categories add up to a large portion of our customer base, so it’s a natural fit to bring out a Newton.”

And it’s not just triathletes and serious runners who like the shoes. Who is his unexpected customer? “We have the unexpected walkers who love Newtons. We fit a fair amount of people who are baby boomers who just want to be in comfortable footwear. I’m surprised at how many choose Newtons. The Energy will be great for that group.”

Personally, Pannell runs in the Distance. “If you want a shoe to be a stronger, better runner, I can’t think of a better shoe to give you that feedback than the Distance.” And for people who are worried about the transition and strengthening process that accompanies running in Newtons, he says, “You’ve lifted weights before right? Did it hurt? Well, if you’re going to increase your strength in your legs, you should have some muscular discomfort. It’s nothing to be scared of, just manage it properly.” He adds, “Once people commit, they get it. Even those who were skeptical about Newton are now very excited about running in them.”

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Meet The Dogs Of Newton – Week 13 Mr. Bo Jangles

Posted by on Wednesday, August 21, 2013 @ 7:58 am | Leave a reply

Mr. Bo JanglesSoooo.  My name is Mr. Bo Jangles.  They call be Bo, Bobo Head, MBJ and Sweet Man.   But my name is Mr. Bo Jangles.  I used to live under a dorm in Texas, and my to-be human would sneak me cans of Friskies under a bush.  I’d hiss and spit at her to show her how fierce I am, but I actually was pretty grateful.  Friskies is gross, but not as gross as University trash.  Soon thereafter, I was trapped by the Feral Cat Rescue Program and sent to live with my human.  She didn’t get to actually touch me for about three months; I was a wild cat after all, and she needed to know there would be no cute kitten fluffy snuggles.  We moved from Texas to Colorado five years ago, and now I spend all my time outside hunting the mountains, because I am a mountain lion.  I now have three humans; my favorite is the 18month-old who calls for me at dinner time, hollering “Boooooooooooooo” and kisses my back and tail.  Nobody knows how old I am, but I think I’m about eight.  My game weight is a svelte 15.9 lbs.

Likes:  Playing with creatures, oftentimes until they stop playing back.  I try to bring them in the house to share with my family – two snakes, four lizards, a mole, two mice, numerous birds (the best being a crazy magpie who my manhuman had to catch and release) and I’m spending this summer hunting a chipmunk family in the rock wall next door.  My humans say they’re responsible for eating the tomatoes, peppers and Brussels sprouts in the garden, so I’m looking to take them down.

Dislikes:  Having my belly petted.  Oddly, my shehuman seems to be magnetically attracted to my belly and tries to rub it constantly.  I tell her “no” by rabbit thumping her arm and biting her hand.  I’ve given her scars.  Grasshoppers I also don’t like.  I chase them, knock off a leg or two, and then eat them.  I don’t like them so much that I hork them back up again, usually in the house.

Points of Interest:  In one of my hunting forays, I was bit by a rattlesnake in my own backyard if you can believe that.  This is when I first met my Colorado Vet, who told my shehuman that I had a 50% chance of living or dying.  My face and neck swelled up like a bull frog, they had to stuff me in an acrylic box and gas me to pass me out and mend me.  I traded out four of my nine lives for that one.

I don’t actually get to come into the Newton Headquarters (other than for my photo shoot).  There’s some sort of company policy that dogs are allowed, but no cats, rabbits, ferrets, and so forth.  It’s because dogs are stupid and can’t spend the day by themselves without help – who needs an escort to go wee?  Pretty sure they’re the only ones…   Speaking of the photo shoot, if you’re ever coming in for one of these, know that there’s no Green Room or Craft Services table, and the photographer had the audacity to ask my shehuman if she could make me sit for the shoot.  Uh, no.

Last bit.  Although I’m a mountain lion of feral heritage, I am most comfortable at night sleeping between my two adult humans, on my own special pillow, with my face buried under Skipper the Bear.  I live the life of Riley.

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Training with KPeasey

Posted by on Thursday, August 15, 2013 @ 8:32 am | Leave a reply

By Kyle Pease

Brent and Kyle Pease are a team of brothers from Atlanta Georgia who compete together in athletic competitions — despite the fact that Kyle is relegated to a wheelchair, the result of Cerebral Palsy at birth. Brent, his older brother, pushes, pedals and paddles Kyle in 5k’s, 10k’s, marathons and triathlons to encourage those who witness their efforts that anything is possible. Through their foundation, The Kyle Pease Foundation, the duo raise funds to promote success for persons with disabilities by providing assistance to meet their individual needs through sports.  

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The following is from Kyle Pease’s blog: Where There is a Wheel There’s a Way:

I’ve been finding it difficult to fall asleep at night knowing that everything that Brent and I have been working toward is just around the corner. Up until this point, the greatest moment of our running career occurred recently at the Peachtree 10K, where we became the first assisted pair in the long history of the race to compete. It doesn’t get any better than the local crowds cheering our names as we traveled 6.2 miles through the familiar streets of our hometown Atlanta…or does it?

Now, just two months later, Brent and I will make Pease history as we try to have the word “Ironman” etched next to our names. For this, we will cover 140.6 miles through the water and roadways of rural Madison, Wisconsin — 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles on the bike, and finishing with the 26.2 mile marathon. Our goal is to break the 17-hour mark, which of course would make us forever IRONMEN. But even though Brent and I are hoping for a time between 14 and 16 hours, I’ll be honest anything this side of 16:59:59 is good enough. But that one second, is the second that differentiates an Ironman from a couple of guys who competed to truly becoming Ironmen.

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Now, as strange as some people find it, I have been training harder than I ever have in my life. Many people think that I have the easy part. Although Brent may agree with them while he’s paddling, pedaling and pushing me for 140.6 miles, it is important for me to be prepared for this, too. I have never sat on a bike for nearly nine hours and the average human body is not likely to fare well without proper preparation. Brent and I are training far longer and more often than we normally do in order to get both of our bodies used to the many miles and hours out on the course. I’ve been eating better than I normally do and have been trying to increase my liquid intake. I’m struggling a bit there, as I don’t really enjoy drinking water, but it’s very important to stay hydrated. It would be a shame if Brent was up to the task, but I wasn’t. It’s important to me to not let my brother and my teammate down.

My trainer, Matthew Rose, (yes I have a trainer) tells me to visualize the shoot. The thought of 45,000 screaming fans lining the shoot at the end of the race is something I just can’t imagine, despite his efforts to help me mentally imagine what it will be like. That is the golden carrot hanging just in front of me that will motivate and inspire me and subsequently inspire Brent to the finish line.

Yet, there’s one very important thing for my readers and our fans to remember, becoming an Ironman is not and never will be for or about Brent and me. It’s about our Foundation and the people who we are hoping to inspire: People who see what we are about to accomplish and believe that anything is possible through our efforts.

We are very proud of the Kyle Pease Foundation and take great pleasure in seeing the looks on the faces of the athletes who compete with us. It is exciting to know that through the efforts of a few, we have impacted the lives of many. Although Brent and I will be thrilled to wear the Ironman medal around our necks on the evening of September 8th, we really know that the medal symbolically hangs from the necks of all those friends, fans, athletes and sponsors of the Kyle Pease Foundation. We know that through their continued inspiration and efforts that the only thing that will not be humanly possible is finishing in a second more than 16:59:59. Off to Wisconsin!

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Meet The Dogs Of Newton – Week 12 Frankie

Posted by on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 @ 10:09 am | Leave a reply

Frankie week 12Hello, my name is Frankie. My humans rescued me from the Boulder Humane Society about 7 years ago after spending much of my first year roaming the streets of south Denver and I have been thankful ever since! I’m not exactly sure what breeds I am so your guess is as good as mine….any guesses? I’m dying to know!

Likes: My favorite activity is chasing the deer and wild turkeys around our house, but I will settle for running, hiking, or swimming with my humans. I also love going to work at the Newton headquarters where I get treats and snuggles throughout the day. If you are ever in need of a hug, come on over.

Dislikes: Thunder! And fireworks! I hate the Fourth of July and I’m a big scaredy-cat during thunder storms. I usually take cover in bathrooms with my tail between my legs.

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Aha!

Posted by on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 @ 8:49 am | Leave a reply

FB_Freak FB_BLEND2 FB_Clash

For Newtonites, there’s a uniquely memorable moment when the unmistakable pop that characterizes the Newton ride first energized our stride. Nearly a decade ago, before terms like “minimalist” and “natural” invaded running vocabulary, Newton founders Danny Abshire and Jerry Lee spent years perfecting that feel. Danny and Jerry knew “it” when they felt “it”, launching the Newton brand and an ever-evolving product line that has always stayed true to that trademark experience.

The Newton ride is different. It transcends shoe technology and running form to simply make every run better. So that “aha” moment reappears every time you lace up your Newtons. In celebration of all that differentiates us, from our characteristic colors to our protruding lugs, we launch our new Newton brand campaign.

Hello better!

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Meet The Dogs Of Newton – Week 11 Manny

Posted by on Wednesday, July 31, 2013 @ 8:28 am | Leave a reply

MannyHi, my name is Manny and I’m a 2-year-old Beagle. I may be small but my bark is loud (and often heard throughout the Newton office).

Likes: FOOD! I use my super strong sense of smell to detect any food within 20 feet of me. If you are preparing food in the Newton kitchen I will stare at you until you feel uncomfortable and share with me. I also really like cuddling on the couch with my owners, long walks in the park, sunning myself in the yard and playing soccer with my favorite soccer ball or any other toy that squeaks. I’ve learned to like hiking this summer since it beats staying at home by myself.

Dislikes: Being left alone, skateboards, rain or sprinklers and spicy food (I’ve learned my lesson)!

Summary: I’ve got a lot of personality packed into 25 pounds. I’m a good listener since I have such big ears and I like to tilt my head as you talk to me to show that I’m paying attention. I really like hanging out with my family and am never, ever in a different room from where they are when we’re all at home. I’m getting better about making new friends – especially friends with treats!

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Taking Chances With Gear Running

Posted by on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 @ 7:49 am | Leave a reply

 

Gear Running PhotoIn 2009, Paul Horan took a chance — a big chance. He and his business partners bought the oldest running store in the Twin Cities area. The store, Gear Running (http://www.gearrunningstore.com), based in Edina, Minnesota, had been the “it” store in town from 1985-2006, but when the store owner started to step away to pursue other personal interests, the store began to lose its footing in the market. Horan had been an avid runner since high school and had at one point run for the Gear Running store team. He also had worked in clothing retail for most of his career and was looking for a retail opportunity to call his own. When the chance to buy Gear Running presented itself, he jumped on it.

Horan’s own market research had turned him onto “natural running”. He understood that it wasn’t just a fad, but a trend that would play a role in the future of the running market. “I thought the Newton technology was fascinating, how they spent so much time trying to mimic the barefoot gate, while still being substantial under foot. And we were lucky that our inventory levels were such that we could bring in a lot of it, and bring it in right away.” Horan hoped that a new brand like Newton Running would help him to differentiate his store from his competitors

Horan’s differentiation plan paid off, Newton became Horan’s number one brand after the first year he carried it. Gear Running has in fact sold more Newton shoes than any other storefront.

Thanks to many years spent on the retail side of the clothing industry, Horan says, “I had very good experience in retail and great connections as far as a customer base.” When he changed to Gear Running, many of his former clothing clients, began to visit him at the shoe store. Others, aside from his competitors, were also happy to see him take over the store. Many local runners had fond memories of the store when it was doing well. “People would always say, ‘Gear Running. I love that store,’” says Horan.

And his customers loved Newton shoes. “Every day, I was open jawed at the number of people who came in because of Newton shoes or who were turned on when they saw the shoe. We did well from the get go. And it kept building and building and building.” And, it’s not always your typical elite runner who is into minimal running. “We have guys all the time, they don’t appear to be the kind of guy who would run in that type of shoe. Suddenly they’re all intrigued.”

“We have a former NFL hall of famer who has bought about 12 pairs. He thought his running career was over. He’s a bigger guy, but in great shape. He heard about Newtons. He bought one pair and then came back and said ‘I need two more pair,’” explains Horan. “We have a lot of customers who have had great improvement with the Newtons and feel like they can run again. And the 30-day guarantee is a nice safety net to have in your back pocket.”

Horan says there is another group of 10 to 12 women who walk around the nearby lake. “They all have the pink Newtons. They’re walkers, but they love them.” He adds, “The shoes sell themselves to a degree because they’re so colorful.”

The other secret to Horan’s success is a partnership he founded with Team Ortho (http://www.teamortho.us), the largest race organizer in Minnesota. “We’re their exclusive retail partner. So when we go to their expos, we’re the only retailer there.” Horan explains that every race has a Facebook page, and Horan has run multiple contests on these pages giving away a pair of Newton shoes. “They will simply say, ‘Like’ this page to be eligible to win a pair of Newtons. And just one of those pages gets around 10,000 ‘Likes’.” He adds, “You also get all of these comments. For the most part it’s a love fest, so then other people think maybe they should try them out.” Every time a new product comes in Horan will have Team Ortho give away a pair. “They’ll post the picture and people are just like ‘those are the coolest!’” He sold 200 pairs in December last year as a result of these social media giveaways.

The next giveaway candidate? The new EnergyNR . Horan, who primarily runs in the Distance, thinks the new EnergyNR will spark even more interest in Newton because of its versatility and potential to be a cross- trainer. “I’m excited about that one,” he says.

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