Apparel, Footwear Brands Flock to New York for Marathon

NEW YORK From running shoes and windbreakers to restaurants and hotels, the New York City Marathon is a big moneymaker for the city as well as the brands that are associated with the annual event.

According to the New York Road Runners, which organizes the race, the marathon generated an estimated $427 million in 2019, “significantly boosting tourism, tax revenues and the economy,” according to an economic impact report conducted by Audience Research & Analysis.

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Although the group does not offer projections, city officials believe the impact will be in the neighborhood of $400 million again this year.

Because of the pandemic, the race was canceled in 2020 and, in 2021, registration was capped at 33,000. But this year it will return to full capacity, with 50,000 participants from around the world planning to cross the five boroughs on Sunday.

One of the most popular shopping spots for runners is the marathon expo at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. All of the runners need to visit the expo, which is one of the largest in the country, to pick up their official registration materials and bibs.

The marathon expo is at the Javits Convention Center.

The marathon expo is at the Javits Convention Center.

Once on-site, it’s almost impossible to miss New Balance, which is the official apparel and footwear sponsor of the race. In addition to the TCS New York City Marathon collection, the Boston-based brand is selling other New Balance apparel, footwear and accessories. Retail prices for the marathon collection range from $30 to $235 for apparel and $145 to $250 for footwear.

Although New Balance sponsors other races, New York is “always special as it welcomes the most international runners ever year,” said Kate Tamsett, senior product manager for running. “To be able to connect with such a wide range of runners from around the world is incredibly valuable to our brand.”

Among the most popular items is the official New York City Marathon jacket, which retails for $134.99 and is made from a wind- and water-resistant material that helps keep the runner comfortable while racing or just recovering from the effort.

This year, she added, the brand has also created an official Surplus jacket made from 98 percent surplus materials. “This means we are using leftover fabric from our factory — either from canceled orders or dropped styles — and are reusing the fabric. By using this leftover fabric, we are preventing this extra material from ending up in a landfill. These jackets provide pinnacle technology and offer wind and water-resistant protection.”

New Balance is the official apparel and footwear sponsor of the race.

New Balance is the official apparel and footwear sponsor of the race.

Other historic best sellers include the PMV Shutter Speed ​​Collection, the brand’s “pinnacle running collection” that uses recycled content and a dyeing technique that reduces water consumption by at least 80 percent per yard.

Although the temperature for this year’s race is expected to be far from ideal marathon weather at 73 degrees with 75 percent humidity, New Balance isn’t seeing any last-minute spurts in singlet or shorts sales.

“Weather is always a bit of a wild card, so we ensure there are options to accommodate any sort of weather,” Tamsett said. “We also believe that people are purchasing this product to wear after this weekend to show off their marathon accomplishments throughout the year.”

Although the big push is at the expo, New Balance official marathon product is also being sold at the New York Road Runners’ Runcenter, Fleet Feet and Paragon Sports in New York City and online.

In addition to the product, New Balance is hosting a series of activations around the race weekend. It opened a pop-up at Time Warner Center in partnership with Fleet Feet for runners to demo shoes, hosted runs with sponsored athletes Emma Coburn and Dani Jones and offered a fireside chat with Emily Sisson, the American record holder in the marathon and half- marathon, and Jake Wightman, the current 1,500-meter world champion.

Although New Balance is the official partner of the race, other running shoe brands have also flooded into New York City to connect with the international running community.

Tracksmith, a Boston-based independent running brand cofounded by Matt Taylor, has opened a marathon weekend pop-up in Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York, in anticipation of a permanent store it will open there in the spring. That store, at 147 Wythe Street, will be 1,500 square feet on two floors and be a retail space as well as a community gathering spot. Like the company’s Boston flagship and soon-to-come London outpost, it will be called a Trackhouse.

Taylor said the brand, which is known for its classically styled athletic apparel, has been doing activations in New York since its founding in 2014 as a way to build community around running.

When this year’s pop-up opened on Wednesday afternoon, Taylor said 150 people were waiting on line outside to shop the brand’s marathon-specific collection and check out its new running shoe.

“Marathon week is so unique because of the foot traffic it creates,” Taylor said. The store is giving out a free running pack with a tote bag, cap and a copy of its magazine, Meter, to all registered runners. It also hosts fireside chats and shakeout runs. The day after the race, finishers are invited to stop by the shop and have their race time stamped on a special commemorative poster.

Every year, Tracksmith creates a special collection tied to the Marathon Majors, or the top six international races: Tokyo, Boston, Berlin, Chicago, London and New York City.

“We create exclusive products every year, all with the same logo, we just change the city for each race,” Taylor said.

In the New York City store, Taylor said the warm temperatures expected for race day have cut down on the sale of gloves, but shorts and singlets have been among the bestsellers, along with base layers in anticipation of cooler days ahead.

Britt Olsen, general manager of the Americas for On, the popular Swedish running brand, said the company hosted a happy hour and concert at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City to encourage conversation around the sport and running culture.

The brand also held a series of events around the city as part of its Point2 program, which offers motivation and tips for marathoners. They have included everything from training runs and product showcases to strength and conditioning sessions, yoga classes, food trucks and panel discussions. The events, which were free but required advance registration, were completely sold out, she said.

Olsen said On didn’t create a special marathon collection, but instead focused on showcasing its regular line of footwear and apparel. The brand opted out of taking a booth at the expo this year in favor of holding events at its own store in SoHo as well as at Nordstrom, REI and other retailers around town that carry the line. “We think this is the more creative way to show up in the running world,” she said, adding that by holding events that encourage exploration of the relationship between running, movement and the mind, it can help runners work out more than just their bodies.

Hoka, a highly cushioned shoe popular with endurance runners, is also visible in New York, hosting group runs at its store on the Upper West Side as well as a series of talks including an athlete panel at the Brooklyn Running Company, a Black women- focused event with Rungrl and a mobility class with Finish Line Physical Therapy.

The TCS New York City Marathon is on Sunday with the professional men’s wheelchair division starting things off at 8 am, with professional women starting at 8:40, professional men at 9:05 and nonprofessionals starting in waves on the Verrazano bridge in Staten Island at 9:10. The race goes through all five boroughs and ends on West Drive in Central Park.

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