Full Speed Ahead: All About the Run
What’s in Store for 2021
Despite the challenges of 2020, the running industry is headed into 2021 with optimism. On the footwear side, new runners, new products and new technologies have the category ready to run into the new year. Performance brands are banking on everything from affordable performance to street style to elite level offerings with carbon plate tech. There’s plenty in store for the year ahead.
The Noosa Tri 13 from Asics, launching in March, is an eye-catching $130 shoe with triathlon-specific design details. It also features the brand’s GUIDESOLE technology for a snappy, fast and stable ride.
The 361-FLAME, set to launch in Q1 of 2021, is a Carbon plate shoe that is race ready and lightweight at 7.4 ounces. The $160 style features 361’s QU!KFLAME foam with carbon fiber technology, aiming to allow for faster, longer runs for the wearer.
The $180 Carbon X 2 from Hoka One One is designed as a fast, endurance racer that can be used for training and racing alike. It has a responsive, carbon fiber plate and an aggressive Meta-Rocker.
Altra’s Lone Peak 5 updates the brand’s popular trail shoe model with the brand’s EGO midsole for more cushioning and durability. The Lone Peak 5’s stone guard has also been updated to reduce weight while maintaining protectivity.
“The outlook for the category remains strong as consumers will continue staying active, no doubt. The biggest challenge for the category remains knowing where the consumer will be shopping. We prioritize and encourage consumers to shop at their local running specialty dealer. But at the end of the day, a brand must make sure they give the consumer access to their products on the channels in which they want to shop.” — Jim Monahan, USA President, 361
“Being able to predict 2021 would be as challenging as predicting what happened to the world in 2020. However, as an industry, we need to focus on what we can positively affect and the incredible benefits of the transformative power of running. More people have come to running this year for stress relief and health and wellness, but runners miss the gathering of their communities. My hope is that we take all the hard lessons we have learned in 2020 around COVID-19 and racial injustice and continue to make a positive impact by ensuring inclusivity and bringing runners together in a safe community environment.” — Todd Dalhausser, President, Altra
“2020 has been a year when many people found empowerment in getting outside and moving; the running shoe category will continue to develop and be driven by consumers’ desire for health and fitness in 2021 and beyond. Given that, Hoka has an opportunity to continue delivering a unique experience to consumers at all access points. Our one-of-a-kind Hoka cushion and ride will see its latest iteration with the updated Carbon X 2, launching this January. It delivers an unprecedented combination of our lightest cushioning to date and a propulsive carbon fiber plate; together this is designed to give our consumers a soft, responsive and inherently stable ride. In short, by continuing to lead with a bold and unexpected approach, we think we will be able to provide consumers — many returning, but many more new — a unique and empowering running experience.” — Gretchen Weimer, Global Vice President of Product, Hoka One One
Diadora’s Mythos Volo, which had a run-specialty only drop last month, is cushioned, responsive and designed to deliver maximum impact absorption. The $135 shoe has a lightweight and breathable air mesh nylon upper, along with a midsole with a morpho base that has been carved following the shape of the foot to provide stability and a fluid transition.
MBT’s Huracan 3000 is a performance running shoe with a distinct MBT design. The $199 neutral trainer’s midsole/outsole combo works to dissipate shock outward in the heel/midfoot. And MBT’s PIVOT STRIKE rocker is designed to aid in rolling the foot through toe-off with every step. The end result, per the brand: A cushioned, responsive running experience from impact to toe-off that minimizes fatigue and promotes continuous forward movement.
Skechers’ GOrun Speed Elite is a high-performance racing flat designed to offer a competitive edge for setting that next PR. The $195 ultra-lightweight (6 ounce) shoe delivers a quick turnover with running economy in mind and features the brand’s HYPER BURST cushioning, a carbon-infused winglet plate, plus a durable Goodyear performance outsole.
The Brooks Launch 8, $100, is a price-friendly go-to for lightweight responsiveness on the run. The latest version, arriving in spring, now offers the option of the brand’s GuideRails support. And the Launch GTS 8 style adds more support to keep runners in their stride.
“As usual routines were disrupted over the last year, fitness behaviors began to change. Look outside and you’ll see more people walking, hiking, and running than ever before. As we embrace this ‘new normal’ in the near term, the running category will continue to grow as runners seek to experience new innovations that the industry, and most especially Skechers, is delivering. Skechers GO RUN Speed Elite offers the unique combination of a lightweight responsive feel from the Hyper Burst midsole plus an energy return sensation from our carbon-infused winglet plate. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to experience the difference of this footwear, and with additional launches in the pipeline, [we] will have even more options for every level of runner.” — Dan Sullivan, Performance National Sales Manager, Skechers
“As we all know, people are re-prioritizing their time, and running as an activity has become a key component of physical and mental solace. New runners are being formed. These new consumers are those who are in search of a lasting connection to the run community, as well as the correct products, which is why we expect run specialty growth in 2021. At the same time, independent run specialty dealers evolved faster in the past 6 months than we have seen in the past few years with the development of online sales platforms, delivery systems, virtual fittings, curbside pickup, appointments for fittings, and much more. All of these changes in conjunction with the boom we are witnessing give us an actively optimistic position when looking at our retail partnerships.” — Bryan Poerner, Country Manager U.S., Diadora
“In 2021, runners will still be out there running and this should give us all hope during such an uncertain time. According to a recent McKinsey & Company report, fitness and wellness habits adopted during this crisis are likely to remain in the medium to long-term future. From running surges during prior economic downturns, we’ve learned that these behaviors don’t simply switch off as soon as there are other options available. At Brooks, we’re predicting that a year from now we’ll actually see more people running than ever before. We are very confident in the sport of running and anticipate folks continuing to seek the joy of the run once we’re on the other side of this pandemic.” — Dan Sheridan, COO, Brooks