RBR Interviews Josh Rowe, Marketing Manager, Running, New Balance, by Larry Eder

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Jenny Barringer & Josh Rowe, NB Games, January 2010, photo by PhotoRun.net.

Josh Rowe is the new marketing manager for New Balance. For most of the past decade, Josh was known as one of the guys who helped start the Nike Border Clash ( a November event between the 40 best boy and girl cross country runners in Oregon and Washington), and managed the Nike Indoor Classic and Nike Outdoors for Nike Athletics. Josh's personable style allows him strong access with coaches, athletes and event professionals.

RBR thanks Josh Rowe for his time and insights into running, which is, for many of us, both sport and profession!

RBR, 1: How did you get started in running?

Josh Rowe: When I was in 4th grade, the local high school (Crater High School, Central Point, OR) started an event called the Sams Valley Mini Marathon, a 5k for all elementary school kids in the district. I’d never run a step before that but it sounded fun so I jumped in. 27 minutes later I finished and was hooked.

RBR, 2: How did you get started in running promotions?

Josh Rowe:In 1998, I was working as the pricing manager in Running footwear at Nike when John Truax had the idea to create the BorderClash (BorderXC originally). A bunch of us (including Tom Carleo) sat in a room and brainstormed some ideas, then Johnny and I brought it to life. I was so charged up by the event, I moved into promotions full time a year later.

RBR, 3: In your time at Nike, you spent much of your time developing high school events, tell us about those experiences?

Josh Rowe:I always said I had the best job at Nike as the high school promotions guy. It was a lot of fun creating events and figuring out how best to connect the brand with high school runners. All the fellas around there would go on lunch runs and bounce ideas off each other, occasionally talking about work, but mostly it was about having a good time.

RBR, 4: You are now at New Balance. Tell us about that experience so far?

Josh Rowe:Just last week I celebrated my 3-month anniversary here at New Balance and it has really exceeded all my expectations. It is great working for a company that is truly dedicated to Running. Everything from footwear to apparel to promotions is about creating an amazing experience for runners.

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Jenny Barringer, AR holder steeplechase, one of top U.S. women over 1,500 meters, 3,000 meters, 5,000 meters, photo by PhotoRun.net.

RBR, 5: Why did you sponsor Jenny Barringer? Why does she fit with New Balance?

Josh Rowe:One of my marketing philosophies is to make big statements. Whether it is an event or a camp or an advertising campaign, create a statement for your brand. Signing Jenny Barringer was a big statement for New Balance. She fits perfectly into our value-driven company culture. And she fits perfectly into our marketing philosophy to make New Balance an aspirational brand to a new generation of runners.

RBR, 6. I enjoyed going to the New Balance Armory and watching the NB games. The kids there love the facility and the events-what about the Armory attracted New Balance?

Josh Rowe:I obviously was not around when New Balance cemented their partnership with the Armory Foundation, but I think what attracted NB to the Armory in 2003 is the same as what attracts NB to it today. It is the opportunity to be a part of young people lives. At the Armory hundreds of thousands of high school students get to experience a world-class track & field facility each year. And it is so much more than a T&F facility. It’s a learning center, a positive place to go after school, and a place to create dreams.

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Andy Baddely winning NB Games Mile, January 2010, photo by PhotoRun.net.

RBR, 7: New Balance has now announced the sponsorship of the NB Outdoor Nationals, tell us about that?

Josh Rowe:The NBN, again, gets back to statements. Ideally, we’ll have a premier program in outdoor track, indoor track and cross country. The NSSF has made the NBN the top high school track meet of the year in the US. We are very proud to be associated with such an outstanding event.

8. How will NB use the NB Outdoor champs to show its support of prep athletes?

Josh Rowe:We are crafting how we show up at NBN as we speak. We’ve got a terrific team in place here that will deliver a great experience for those athletes in Greensboro.

RBR, 9: With the sponsorships of Jenny Barringer, the NB Outdoor champs, and your 65 plus events at the
NB armory, NB is showing its rededication to the grass roots running, is that your belief?

Josh Rowe:New Balance has a tremendous grass roots program, most of which has simply been outside the national spotlight. We are now getting involved more with programs that garner a bit more national attention.

RBR, 10: The running business is at the core of New Balance success. Events like Race for the Cure, the Armory, NB outdoor, all reach out to core runners with core values. Where do you see New Balance going in the future?

Josh Rowe:New Balance has been dedicated to core runners for a long time. I see NB continuing to create inspiring products and programs for this core audience but also expand our business with women and young athletes.

RBR, 11. Any comments from your view on where you see our sport going?

Josh Rowe:The sport of running and T&F is in great shape. Race participation is up, high school participation continues to grow and thousands of new runners join the movement each year. On the road race front, I see the half marathon distance continuing to gain momentum. On the high school front, I see young athletes continuing to get faster and faster. Don’t be surprised if you see multiple athletes breaking 4 minutes in the mile one of these years. And on the new runner front, I see more programs dedicated to helping these new runners get involved in the sport.

RBR, 12: Who are your Favorites?
a. T&F athlete:

Josh Rowe: Kipchoge Keino. Very few athletes have had as much effect on an entire nation as Kip has had on Kenya. His athletic achievements are rivaled only by his humanitarian efforts.

RBR-b. Non-track athlete? :

Josh Rowe:Dustin Pedroia, second baseman for the Red Sox. He is the model athlete for anyone who has ever been told you’re not fast enough, tall enough or good enough.
RBR, c- Event:

Josh Rowe:its March—it has to be the NCAA tourney. Dreams are made, hearts are broken--you’ve gotta love the drama.

RBR, d. - T&F event:
Josh Rowe: the Prefontaine Classic. The best 2 ½ hours of the year.

RBR, e- Favorite Olympic moment:

Josh Rowe:1996 Carl Lewis. No long jumper has ever won 2-consecutive LJ Gold medals. Carl won 4 straight. Incredible.

RBR, f - Run:

Josh Rowe:41-mile Timberline Trail around Mt. Hood. My pals John Truax, Geoff Thurner , Tony Bignell and I ran it a few years ago, (some of us just barely getting out alive.)

RBR, 13:and finally, why do you work in the sport of running?

Josh Rowe:It’s all about the passion, Larry. I tell young people all the time, find what you are passionate about, work hard at it and someone will actually pay you for it.

Special thanks to Kristen Sullivan, and Josh Rowe, who took the time to answer our questions, and let us get a view into what makes him tick..

For more about New Balance, please check out www.newbalance.com.

For twenty five views celebrating the diversity of our sport, please check out www.runningnetwork.com.

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