Bennett Grimes is a running product line manager at Brooks Running. This guy loves his job. He lives, breathes and emotes running. A fine runner in his own right, Bennett has taken that love for running and developed a fine career at Brooks Running. Having run 2:18:47 for the marathon, Bennett understands running from several levels. He also understands what it takes to focus on racing and training at the elite level. Now his running is more relaxed, but his focus on building great running shoes and his subsequent success at that profession comes from the Trials of Miles and Miles of Trials, as the fine writer John Parker wrote, all those years ago in Once a Runner.
Bennett Grimes, Product Line Manager from @brooksrunning speaking with Larry Eder of @runblogrun on the new line from Brooks at @therunningevent 2017 in Austin, TX. Photo by Mike Deering, the Shoe Addicts #TRE17 #brooksrunning #runhappy #running #shoes #therunningevent #runningshoes #athletics #training #fitness #run #fit #brooks #performance #austin #RunBlogRun #theshoeaddicts #letsrun
I have to confess, I take a special appreciation for Bennett, as I ran with his father, Danny Grimes. Danny and I, along with Bob Lucas, ran during the summers in high school, piling on the miles in the hills around Stevens Creek dam. We ran our first 10,000 meters on the track, way back in July 1976 at West Valley College. Remember, the two mile was the longest track distance we had during the high school season.
Homer Latimer, the coach at Leigh High School, won that day in 32:11. Danny ran in the 33 minute range, Bob in the 35 minute range and I ran 36:48. It was the beginning of a love affair with that distance for me. Danny would get down to 28:38, I believe. I would get down to 32:53 on the track and a bit faster on the roads, but, it was those beginnings that I recall so often. Twenty-five laps on the track became a distance I was fascinated with, and to this day, one of the highlights of the global championships I write about, is that 25 lap race.
It is comforting for me to see this next generation of shoe dogs, and I give Bennett Grimes that title with respect. Watching him speak about the shoes his team built, and his comfort with his product, team and industry tells me that Brooks is going in the right direction. Running is an activity that provides solace physically and spiritually.
The business of running is constantly evolving. While runners are creatures of comfort and habit, the brands that work in this culture sometimes forget who they are serving. Sometimes brands take their consumers for granted. Sometimes, in the search for quick dollars, they divert their attention to other areas, especially fashion.
The best running shoes combine form and function. Watching the successful performance running brands right now, from ON running, to HOKA ONE ONE, to New Balance and Brooks, there is the attention to not only to the product, but service and respecting the culture. Brands come and go in running not because the brands loose their way. It is because they loose respect, I believe, for the running culture. Social media may highlight a brand, but the sale of a running shoe still comes down to one person finding a shoe that fits, has nice colors, or, perhaps someone recommends. Shoes are sold one pair at a time. Brands that get that thrive.
In seeing succesful brands, one notices support of the sport culture, making consistently fine product, and a long term approach to the running culture. While Amazon seems to be taking over everything, successful running stores continue to stand out, knowing that they need to use social media, old school media and old school service and relationships in their stores. The brands that thrive in this channel are putting in overtime to support the retailers and the consumer.
With all of this change, there is pressure. Some brands will thrive, some will not. That is why my conversation with Bennett Grimes and some of his cohorts at other brands mean so much at the Running Event. The Running Event, the premier trade show in our sport, is three days of listening, interviewing and learning about our culture. One should be open to learning every day. To day, one has to listen and observe. Many have forgotten that.
This running culture that we have lived since the 1970s continues to change, but with stewards like Mr. Grimes, the sport and this channel of the running business will continue to thrive.
The sport and business of running will continue to change, but if one has flexibility, listens and observes, they will be part of that evolution.
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