Safety Goes the Distance


With virtual school, online meetings and health concerns all in the mix this season, consumers have turned to running as a stress reliever and mind clearer – at all times of the day. In response, brands are stepping up their game to make runners shine. “Running safety is important because while on a run, the runner should be focused on their run,” comments Mike Orton, product line manager of men’s apparel for Brooks. His design team’s goal is to provide “a distraction-free experience” and “apparel that can be seen when running in low light and no light environments,” he says.

Autumn and winter are typically seasons where those in the running industry focus on safety being paramount. November is annually tabbed as National Running Safety Month with the Running Industry Association working with retailers and brands to educate consumers about run safety. Low-light situations at dawn and dusk, not to mention distracted drivers, can put runners, experienced and novice, in danger. Gear that addresses these concerns is a staple of the season for runners aiming to be safe and sound (and seen).

Light Up: Footwear, Apparel & Accessories

New for Fall 2020, the Brooks Run Visible collection features high-contrast and high-visibility colors, as well as 3M Scotchlite Carbon Black for reflectivity on key motion zones including elbows, wrists and ankles (so a driver will recognize a person moving). For feet, the brand’s Ghost 13 and Levitate 4 are both offered in a Run Visible colorway.

According to John Ealy, Category Director for Performance Run at Asics, the brand’s Lite-Show apparel, footwear and accessories provide 360-degree reflectivity to “be seen and feel confident.” The Lite-Show Winter Jacket has reflective bars strategically placed in motion zones for increased visibility to traffic lights. Asics’ Institute of Sport Science Lab in Kobe, Japan tests and validates reflective placement.

New Balance offers reflectivity on all running product, with core Impact and Accelerate programs featuring reflective silver logos and trims (with candle power checked to ensure visibility). The FW20 Impact Winter Jacket and Impact Run Heat Tight have an all-over reflective print that “is stealthy when not in low light conditions,” says Jeff Garabedian, GM for NB running apparel. For 2021, NB will elevate its reflective offering with a new collection dubbed PMV Shutter Speed where “the tech creates the fashion.”

Socks are a great place to start for a touch of highly visible color. Balega’s new Enduro Reflective features a reflective stripe in the rib top. The stripe is “knitted with a highly technical yarn which contains ultrabright refractive glass beads inherent in the yarn to continue to perform for the life of the product,” Tanya Pictor, VP of marketing, explains.

At Swiftwick, the popular olefin Aspire Four is now available in Hi-Vis Yellow “to give runners an option for reflectivity around their ankles,” says Jason Barlow, Swiftwick’s Run Account Representative. Firm compression aids in circulation and supports the arch, while a thin, breathable design keeps feet cool.

Headsweats recently joined forces with It Could Be Me, an organization that raises awareness for road and street safety. As part of the partnership, Headsweats has “developed accessories to be more visible while biking, running and recreating outside,” Headsweats president Mike McQueney notes. The brand added new designs to its multi-sports Ultra Band for the season, which can be used as a face covering.

Boco Gear offers reflective headwear options year-round, along with gloves in hi viz colors with reflective accents. According to Boco Gear CEO Kay Martin, “a good reflective fabric or surface application will shine in regular daytime light and glow in low level light when it’s needed most.”

Teched Out: Gear

As new runners hit the streets in this pandemic, Amphipod is stepping up its Run Visible, Run Safe campaign with free signage, email, social media materials and clip-on reflectors for all dealers. “Our engineers have head-to-toe visibility covered with over 40 styles,” comments Amphipod co-founder, June Angus. The new Xinglet Optic Beam employs flashing pink tubes, reflective booster zones (with USB rechargeability) and a waist pack for housing essentials.

Nathan’s SaferRun Alarm attaches to clothing and can generate a 120dB siren to “deter assailants or alert others of danger,” explains Roberto Gutierrez, director of brand marketing at United Sports Brands. Nathan also offers safety vests, headlights and hand-held torches.

SPIbelt’s kinetic, flashing SPIbeams LED Reactors can be affixed to shoelaces. Reflective SPIbelts “make carrying a phone easy and comfortable,” says SPIbelt founder Kim Overton.

The Radiant 300 Rechargable Headlamp from Nite Ize has five modes, including white LED, high spot, low spot, high flood and low flood. The SlapLit Rechargable LED Slap Wrap features glow and flash modes on a steel spring band with a secure hold. Nite Ize Director of Outdoor/Pet/Toy, Jay Getzel, explains that the Nite Ize LED line is powered by “efficient LED illumination, with rechargeable batteries, minimizing environmental impact.”

How Has Running Safety Changed in 2020?

“There are now an estimated 7 million new runners in North America alone.” — Jeff Garabedian, general manager running apparel, New Balance

“Running has been a great outdoor option with a low barrier of entry.” — Kay Martin, CEO, Boco Gear

“2020 has brought more new runners outside to focus on mental and physical health.” — John Ealy, category director of performance run, Asics

“Runners may experience low or no light scenarios, possible for the first time.” — Mike Orton, product line manager of men’s apparel, Brooks.

“With new runners out, we are amping up our safety communication.” — June Angus, co-founder, Amphipod

“Vibrant colors are trending.” — Mike McQueeney, president, Headsweats

“Athletes need to take safety into their own hands. Drivers are more distracted than ever.” — Jason Barlow, account representative, Swiftwick

“Safety begins with preparation. Tell someone where you are going or have your phone accessible.” — Roberto Gutierrez, director of brand marketing, United Sports Brands

“An increase in participation has facilitated an increase in sales of technology that safeguards runners.” — Jay Getzel, director of outdoor pet/toy, Nite Ize

“More runners outside have highlighted the need for new and innovative wearables.” — Tanya Pictor, VP marketing, Balega

“Technology has made it more convenient to be safe with comfortable reflective fabrics and lightweight LED accessories.” — Kim Overton, founder, SPIbelt

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Oct 7, 2020


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