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Posted: December 8, 2016:  

Athletics: The Running Event 2016 Draws Second Strongest Retail Attendance in its 11-Year History

Orlando Was the Epicenter of Running for Four Days

ORLANDO (Dec. 8, 2016) - An estimated 17.1 million Americans compete in road races; millions more run for exercise. Earlier this month, you'd think their passion for the fitness activity was focused entirely on Orlando's Orange County Convention Center at The Running Event (TRE), the annual trade show and conference for the running business.

This year, TRE attracted the second largest retail attendance in its 11-year-history. Run specialty stores, manufacturers, race directors and sports media convened for four days of educational seminars, networking, and buying, making a city best-known for its allegiance to a certain cartoon mouse, the temporary home of North America's $4.5 billion running industry.

TRE 2016, organized by B2B publisher and trade show producer Formula4 Media, Great Neck, N.Y., hosted every major footwear and accessory brand; 70 first time exhibitors; and a fun Indie 5K run through Disney World's EPCOT Center that recorded near Olympic-caliber times.

TRE also hosted a record-breaking treadmill endurance record; honored the top run specialty retailers in America; and inducted four industry veterans into the Running Specialty Hall of Fame.

The 11th The Running Event (TRE), usually held in Austin but relocated this year to Orlando due to a scheduling conflict, attracted 870 buyers representing 1,250 retail storefronts from 21countries, placing it close to the record buyer attendance at TRE 2014.

Total attendance in 2016 was 2,540 industry professionals, versus 2,705 in 2015.

The overall exhibitor count was down slightly to 278 suppliers in 2016, from 307 the previous year, and exhibitor square footage was flat. This was a reflection of the consolidation on the supplier side, according to show director Troy Leonard of Formula4 Media.

"Many thought this one-time change in venue would affect attendance, but this is a resilient business. Buyers want a mix of content and commerce, with opportunities to unwind after hours. And the strong retail attendance shows that retailers support our concept," Leonard said.

John O'Neill, manager of The Colorado Running Company agrees, "Even though the (running) industry has seen a slight downward trend, it is not seeing the decline of other channels dealing with sport.

"I believe one reason is TRE. The ideas shared not only in formal meetings but in the hallways lead to great discussion. Those who stop to listen and learn are the stores that will survive. Relationships are what is keeping us moving in the right (profitable) direction," O'Neill said.

International retail attendance was the highest ever. Attendees from Argentina, Australia, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Sweden, Taiwan, and the UK all attended this year as exhibitors used TRE as a platform for global product launches and marketing campaigns.

Said Gary Muhrcke, owner of the Super Runners Shop in Huntington, N.Y., and winner of the first New York City Marathon in 1970, "TRE is the single most important event anyone in the running business should attend. There's nothing else like it. If you're not here, you're really not in the running business."

Around the Aisles

  • Treadmill Record Set - Altra elite athlete Jacob Puzey, 34, from Calgary, ran an average pace of 5:56 per mile to set the new world record for fastest 50 miles run on a treadmill with a time of 4:57:45, shattering the previous record of 5:57:31 by an hour. His marathon split time was 2:38. Puzey stayed hydrated with soft drinks and electrolytes and fueled with potato chips, stopping for a bathroom break only once.
  • Fit and Bronzed - New Balance athletes Emma Coburn and Abbey D'Agostino posed for photos, Emma with her 2016 Olympic bronze medal around her neck.
  • Store of the Year - Every year, Competitor magazine partners with Running Insight trade magazine to identify the 50 Best Running Stores in America.
    Charm City Run of Bel Air, Md., was named the 2016 Running Store of the Year during an industry dinner Dec. 1 at Disney World's EPCOT Center.
  • Racing Through the House of the Mouse - Winning time for the Indie 5K was 14:59.4. Jorge Lopes, 53, a sales rep for CW-X from Linden, N.J., who finished 77th overall, joked, "There was a lot of talent out there. I call it a 'not so fun fun run,' especially considering the 6:45 a.m. start time.
  • Hall of Fame Recipients - The Running Specialty Hall of Fame held their induction ceremony, honoring: Johnny Halberstadt, Boulder Running Company; Dianne Etheridge, Phidippides; Jeff Phillips, Fleet Feet; and the legendary founder of the New York City Marathon, Fred Lebow.
  • On a Roll - Retailers tried an 8-speed ElliptiGO Arc elliptical bicycle on an indoor test track.
  • Bright Ideas - Night Runner 270 displayedLED shoe lights and a video of their recent win on Shark Tank; Brilliant Reflective sampled safety strips powerful enough to reflect a flashlight from across the convention hall.

TRE returns to Austin on Nov. 28 to Dec. 1, 2017, and is scheduled to be in the Texas capital in 2018 as well.

New for 2017 is the Sportstyle conference and trade show, June 14-16, 2017, including the RIA Style Summit (Running Industry Association members only), and a consumer expo on June 16 at the Ft. Lauderdale Convention Center. For more information about how to participate, contact Jeff Nott,, 516 305 4711; or Troy Leonard,, 352 624 1561, (

Formula4 Media, based in Great Neck, N.Y., established in 2005, also produces nine publications: Running Insight, Footwear Insight, Sports Insight, Outdoor Insight, Team Insight, Textile Insight, Trend Insight, Inside Insight, and Sportstyle.

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