Sina Horsthemke

Discussion Panel With On, Adidas Terrex and Joe Nimble

Corona Spurs Running: From Couch Potato to Lockdown Runner

Corona brought the world to a standstill? Not that of the runners! At the Runner's World running symposium at ISPO Munich Online, three industry insiders from On, Adidas Outdoor, and Joe Nimble reported on how the year went for them.

Laufen in der Natur wird immer beliebter.
Laufen in der Natur wird immer beliebter.

There are many industries that have suffered and are still suffering from the Corona pandemic. The running industry is not affected - and is an exception in the lockdown-ridden sports sector. "In these very negative times, we see very positive numbers," emphasized Urs Weber, editor of the running magazine "Runner's World" at the ISPO Munich Online running symposium.

Many people had started running in the lockdown and learned to appreciate regular jogging, they had equipped themselves with high-quality equipment and had literally absorbed everything worth knowing about running.

On, Adidas Terrex and Joe Nimble Report on Their Fiscal Year

Three industry insiders from the running sector can only confirm this: "In 2019 we had prepared a launch for 2020 and when it started with Corona, I first thought: This was a complete waste of time," reports Sebastian Bär, CEO of the running shoe brand Joe Nimble. "But then the tide turned and the launch was more successful than any other before. Last year we also launched a trail shoe, which also did very well. We really can't complain." Despite all the fears, 2020 would have been worth it in the end, says Bär.

Andrej Zwer, category director of Adidas Terrex, agrees: "Our online outdoor shop was constantly sold out in the spring of 2020. The world stood still, but trail running never did."

He learned a lot about his customers during the Corona year, says the passionate cross-country runner, who has been working for Adidas for 15 years: "2020 gave me an even better feel for the market, because we communicated a lot with end customers via social media during that time. There we asked them directly where and how they use our shoes, which was very valuable for us."

Urs Weber (Runner's World, top left), Caspar Coppetti (On, top right), Andrej Zwer (Adidas, bottom left) and Sebastian Bär (Joe Nimble, bottom right) talking.

Unknown Faces on the Running Trails

2020 was a great year for trail running anyway, says Zwer, "I hope it continues like this". At Lockdown, the Adidas outdoor expert made it a point to run on "his" trails every day outside his front door. "I met runners there that I had never seen in running shoes before. It was nice to see more and more people doing the sport now. The year really had its good points too, there's no other way to put it."

Caspar Coppetti, Co-Founder of the Swiss brand On, has experienced something similar: "When the lockdown came, people took advantage of the time and did more sports. Everyone fled from the cities to the outdoors, which is probably why the trail sector benefited the most for us as well."

He says 2020 was not a lost year; on the contrary, "It was a very, very good year for On - certainly not just because of Corona, but because of the overall outdoor boom," Coppetti says. "However, I feel sorry for the retailers where the sport has its roots. I hope they recover from the lockdowns."

Runners Let Strava Records Tumble

The fact that Corona restrictions have driven more people outdoors than usual and turned numerous couch potatoes into lockdown runners is impressively shown by data from the training platform "Strava": the "Strava Report 2020", a kind of annual review by the operators, recorded massive growth rates in the spring of 2020.

Overall, users uploaded a third more activities in 2020 than in the previous year. And what was not possible in reality, athletes lived out in the virtual world: Around 170,000 new online sports clubs formed on Strava in 2020, campaigns like the "Everesting", which involves climbing 8,848 meters of elevation in a single bike ride, went viral.

Not only did new runners join - the experienced ones also ran more than usual: outdoor running sessions on Strava increased by a factor of 1.9 in the Corona year, and overall the average user's training frequency rose by 13 percent during the pandemic.

That didn't come without consequences for form: One in two runners who had been using Strava for a while set a new personal best over five or ten kilometers in 2020, and solo race records also fell at the half-marathon and marathon distances. Data like this shows that Germany's runners made the best of the pandemic and impressively proved: Sport is stronger than the virus.

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Sina Horsthemke