Saucony is presenting sponsor for USA Cross Country Championships, by Larry Eder

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While most people consider the support that brands like Nike, adidas, ASICS, New Balance and Reebok make to the sport, some of the most important suppport for events has come from brands such as Brook and Saucony.

Saucony took over the Foot Locker championships this past year, providing the support to keep the national event up to its standards for the past three decades. Now, Saucony is sponsoring the US National Cross Country Champs, this coming Saturday in Maryland! They are also supporting a national program called Saucony XC 2008!

( A spread of the six page Saucony XC Training program, sent to over 350,000 prep cross country runners in the Summer of 2008).

Cross country is the most primal disciplines of athletics, with a storied history. A writer much more thoughtful than I called cross country, " the meeting place of the miler and the marathoner."

My favorite competitions were in high school and college cross country. After college, I remember watching Adrian Royale and Alberto Salazar duking it out over a pock marked cross country course in Burbank, California, where the lead pack ran right next to the back of the packers, every lap or so!

Best wishes to the competitors this weekend and special thanks to Saucony for putting money where their mouth is and supporting cross! In the summer, watch for the Saucony sponsored Cross Country training programs, which will be on the websites and in print of American Track & Field, Athletes Only, California Track & Running News, Coaching Athletics and Missouri Runner.

So, become one with the mud and run cross country!

SAUCONY ON COURSE AS PRESENTING SPONSOR OF 2009

USA NATIONAL CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS

Brand’s commitment to young runners and specialty retailers continues to position Saucony as the market share leader in growing sport

LEXINGTON, MA (February 3, 2009) – Continuing to strengthen its premium positioning in the cross country running market, Saucony, Inc., a leading global supplier of performance athletic footwear and apparel, today announced their sponsorship of the 2009 USA Cross Country Championships and World Cross Country Team Trials. The championships will be hosted by the Montgomery County Road Runners Club at the Agriculture Farm Park in Derwood, Maryland on February 7th. In addition to the national titles up for grabs, open and junior men and women will qualify to represent Team USA at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships March 28 in Amman, Jordan.

Vying for the national title and a position on Team USA will be Saucony’s newest addition to its sponsored athlete roster, Anthony Famiglietti, two-time U.S. Olympian and five-time national champion. Famiglietti, known to the running world as “Fam,” will be running the Championships as his first competition in a Saucony uniform.

“As participation in cross country continues to grow, we intend to be there every step of the way, creating innovative products and presenting opportunities for these athletes to compete on a national level,” said Mary O’Brien, Saucony’s vice president of marketing.

“Additionally, we are committed to the future development of the young cross country runner, providing programs that will help educate and inspire,” she added.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), over 400,000 high school boys and girls participated in cross country in 2007-08, an increase of nearly 12,000 from the previous year. To help prepare these young runners prior to the start of their high school cross country season, the brand launched Saucony XC 2008, a nationwide grassroots program. The initiative, which will continue in 2009, includes a nationwide Spike Night event series; an online partnership with Flotrack; a special training insert with Running Network LLC ; and a print advertising campaign.

The brand’s commitment to the serious young runner as well as the specialty retailer continues to position Saucony as the market share leader in cross country. According to the latest Running Specialty Shop Retail Audit (Fall 2008), Saucony once again captured the number one market share position for third quarter in the cross country footwear segment. Saucony’s cross country shoe sales continue to grow at specialty run, led by the men’s Shay XC flat, ranked as the number one “best-seller” by the audit.

Highlights of the 2009 USA Cross Country Championships will be televised on February 15th during ESPN coverage of the Tyson Invitational. The championships will consist of six cross country championship races for men's and women's categories with national titles on the line for junior, masters and open divisions. The nation's premier cross country event, the Championships will feature $47,000 in prize money. For more information on the 2009 USA Cross Country Championships visit www.usatf.org.

About Saucony, Inc.: Saucony, Inc., a subsidiary of Collective Brands, is a leading global supplier of performance athletic footwear and apparel with its widely recognized brands Saucony and Saucony Originals. For more information, go to www.saucony.com.

About Collective Brands, Inc.: Collective Brands, Inc. (NYSE: PSS) is a leader in bringing compelling lifestyle, fashion and performance brands for footwear and related accessories to consumers worldwide. The company operates three strategic units covering a powerful brand portfolio, as well as multiple price points and selling channels including retail, wholesale, ecommerce and licensing. Collective Brands, Inc. includes Payless ShoeSource, focused on democratizing fashion and design in footwear and accessories through its more than 4,500-store retail chain, with its brands American Eagle™, Airwalk®, Dexter®, Champion® and designer collections Abaeté for Payless, Lela Rose for Payless and alice + olivia for Payless, among others; Stride Rite, focused on lifestyle and athletic branded footwear and high-quality children’s footwear sold primarily through wholesaling, with its brands including Stride Rite®, Keds®, Sperry Top-Sider®, Robeez®, and Saucony®, among others; and Collective Licensing International, the brand development, management and global licensing unit, with such youth lifestyle brands as Airwalk®, Vision Street Wear®, Lamar®, Sims®, LTD®, genetic®, Dukes™, Rage®, Ultra-Wheels®, and Skate Attack®. Information about, and links for shopping on, each of the Collective Brand’s units can be found at http://www.collectivebrands.com.

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