24 | MIXED | Running 09.2018 SPECIALIST RUNNING RETAIL Trail is Trend „Trail running does only work in the South!“ Nothing of the sort! As long as there is a proper route, the running sports shops can have success in the North, West and East with trail running. And the trend continues! Text: Marcel Rotzoll Trail running is not only popular in the South! Since the opening of the Baldeneysteig in the Ruhr region, more and more people in Essen have discovered the trail far off the urban jungle together with Laufsport Bunert. In Essen in the Ruhr region, the former mining centre of West Germany, nobody would assume that trail running might be a profitable supplement to the ranges of the local running sports shops. However, for some time, an increasing number of runners discovers the trails around the Baldeneysee, the largest of the six reservoirs along the river Ruhr. The reason therefore is that, in 2017, different hiking trails were bundled together into the so called Baldeneysteig, in total 27 kilometres long and with a cumulative elevation gain of 600 metres. Marc Böhme of the running sports shop Laufsport Bunert in Essen rapidly recognised the potential of the new trail system in the south of the city which has the advantage to be far from the urban jungle, yet easy to reach with the suburban train. He reports, „We have a quite large community with different running meetings with up to 200 runners. Above that, we try to attract new runners with our running courses. At some point, we considered in which categories we can still grow. The opening of the Baldeneysteig was a good opportunity for us. Many runners of our community want to run far off the road. Therefore, we have focused increasingly on the trail running segment.“ Since then, the running sports shop has offered a monthly trail special with three different performance levels. The shop reflects the new category by expanding the range, for example, with trail shoes of Salomon and La Sportiva. Additionally, the shop has also offered apparel since the restructuring; and the wall presenting accessories has been complemented with versatile bits and pieces for trail runners, for example, foldable Leki poles. The retailer held several workshops with the Salomon representative Carsten Brake and shoe testing actions with La Sportiva. The customers can see the trail running theme already at the shop window decorated with different models of the Italian shoe manufacturer. Marc Böhme and his team state, „The community itself attracts attention for us too. Trail running is a good addition to the core segment running. We are active within the trail running community ourselves, for instance, with image impressions of diverse trail running events posted by our team on Facebook and others. The customers reward this enthusiasm and appreciate our product range and the trail specials.“ PHTOS: LAUFSPORT BUNERT/ESSEN, BROOKS
09.2018 Running | MIXED | 25 The Global Platform Trail running has meanwhile become a substantial part of many running sports sections. There is, however, a north-south divide, according to Daniel Fasshauer, Sales Manager, Brooks, „In the south of Germany, in Austria and in Switzerland, the interest in trail running is definitely higher than in the north of Germany. This is also reflected in the sales of dealers.“ In general, the market is rapidly growing. Ralf Schön, the industry veteran of Asics, reports, „The category has developed positively in the double-digit range and Asics is growing with the market.“ It is obvious that more and more road runners discover trail running as an alternative and as balance. The example of Laufsport Bunert in Essen proves this. Daniel Fasshauer points out, „We have seen intersections between trail and road for for some time at some manufacturers. At Brooks, however, we are convinced that the runner prefers a clear statement, so it is important to us that every runner is optimally equipped for himself and his chosen terrain. That‘s why we offer the corresponding running shoe for all facets of trail-running – regardless of terrain and ambition.“ Asics on the other hand is noticing the growing relevance of this trend. „In case of hybrid models, the sales from us to the retailers were successful as well as the sales to the end consumer. This proves the acceptance of the target group.“ In the future, the producer intends to provide the corresponding new models for „hardcore trail runners as well as for those preferring hybrid models“. Marc Böhme is happy about the positive development of the trend. He tells us, „At the beginning, I focused on establishing our reputation as number one trail running expert in Essen. Accordingly, we started with renowned trail running brands such as Salomon and La Sportiva. When trail running continues to develop as positively as so far, we will surely also include trail shoes of our traditional running partners.“ However, he is apparently convinced of it, because a ten-week trail running training with closing event in Belgium is scheduled for July already. In summary, the north-south divide exists without doubts. However, this is obviously rather due to the fact that the North German Plains don’t offer many ascents, descents, height metres or obstacles. Wherever there are trails through meadows, woodlands or hills, such as in the south of Essen, trail running is a welcome change for many runners. Mark Böhme concludes, „We are most probably not the first contact point for experienced, long-term trail runners, but what we can do is to arouse the interest of those runners who have had hardly any contact with trail running so far. The trend is obvious and is becoming more and more popular. Provided there are adequate trails, the trend will continue.