We all know Southsea is a great place to live. It’s also a great place to run. Our seafront is home to the start and finish of the Great South Run and an ever-popular Parkrun. With miles and miles of seafront, it’s a place that inspires many of us year-round to run and back in October 2015 it inspired two local guys, Matt and Craig into creating a fresh new running brand. After months of planning, networking and sourcing, Runr was launched in April of this year.
The guys describe Runr as “a fitness and lifestyle clothing brand that epitomises the passion people have for running, the sense of community there is within the sport, and the pride people have in their achievements.”
I first heard of the brand earlier in the year when the guys got in touch wanting to exhibit at the Fitness Festival, our annual event held on Castle Field. The chance to be seen, to network with other local companies as well as retail on the day proved fruitful. Runr have since teamed up as sponsors of the Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon. Their aim now is to team up with local specialist running shops and widen their reach to connect with the local running community.
Speaking to Craig, his passion for running is obvious from the outset. He explained to me:
“For the uninitiated, running can be a lonely, solitary existence. For those taking part, it is about passion for the sport, pride in our achievements and a supportive sense of community spirit. Runners inspire each other on a daily basis, with their commitment to training regardless of the weather and to continually challenge themselves further than what we thought was possible.
“Based in Southsea, Runr was created to bring a sense of belonging and achievement into our everyday lives. Being able to identify with one another and share stories is what being a runner is all about, whether you start out on a Couch to 5k program, take part in Southsea Parkrun every week, or compete in marathons or ultras.”
What are your most popular items to date? And what can we expect in the New Year?
Without a doubt our original Runr branded hoodies have gone down a treat. We think it’s been so popular as it’s ideal for pre-race to keep you warm, post-race while you revel in the glory of a new PB, be it down the pub or shops with friends. We want to be recognised as a fitness brand but also a lifestyle one also. We are in development of technical running apparel and accessories plus we will be adding new styles, products and designs to our lifestyle range. We had a real epiphany moment sat at the Point in Old Portsmouth where another passionate runner noticed our Runr t-shirts and enquired what it was all about. After a lengthy discussion about our successes and failures of running it turns out he was running 12 races in 12 months for charity. We hope that Runr will inspire other people to connect with each other in everyday life as if there is one thing us runners like more than running… and that’s talking about running! We are also working on a special event for our one year anniversary to help inspire people and promote people to share their passion for running.
What’s been the toughest aspect to being a ‘start-up’ so far?
As a start-up, we want to manufacture high-quality apparel from day one and it has been hard to find suppliers to work with who meet our very high standards. It took a while, but we have found them and we’ve now got a great range of products available to the running community. It also takes time to build up the ‘brand’ and being predominately online, people are always a little hesitant that the product they order might not be as good a quality they would like. We have attended several runs on the south coast and we’ve been able to interact with runners of all ages and abilities which has been a great learning experience. Due to the quality of the products, we have many repeat customers and this brings us a great sense of pride that people have not only bought into the brand but love the quality of the products we are developing. The product that we’re asked for the most is technical running clothing which is definitely on our radar! As we have already experienced since we started, finding the ideal partner to develop the type of running apparel we want is challenging and we continue to work to get the right product that we’re happy with.
I saw you running the GSR, looking comfortable at 9 miles! What are your own biggest achievements to date in running?
I have been fortunate to run the London marathon twice in both 2010 and 2015 and would recommend it to any runner – regardless of their time or ability. The occasion of running alongside people from all over the globe coming together and taking part in a mass event full of fundraisers is hard to beat. Running for over four hours and crossing the finish line is something I’ll never forget along with the high five’s with complete strangers at the realisation of what you have achieved. On a more regular basis, I love taking part in Southsea Parkrun which as an event creates a great feeling of involvement within the local community and it’s great to see people of all running backgrounds taking part. You’ll often see me there sporting our latest Runr top!
Matt meanwhile has completed nine marathons and four ultra-marathons up to 100km. Breaking the 4-hour marathon barrier on the third time of asking was one of his highlights especially due to an epic fail on marathon number two. Next up for Matt is a non-stop 100-mile run!
Where do you see runr in say five years time?
We want Runr to be the go-to garment in people’s wardrobe whether that be to go for a run or out on the weekend or evening with friends & family. Runners train for miles and miles, hours and hours, in preparation for race day. After the race, they will get on with their daily lives and we want them to wear runr to let people show their pride they have in simply being a runner and connecting people through conversations about running.
Runr is predominantly available on our website at the moment but we want Runr apparel to be available in specialist running shops all over the country. We’re keen to build awareness of the brand and a great way to do this is by sponsoring and attending events to get the Runr brand out in front of as many runners as possible. We also have some great collaborations in the pipeline and are working away on how to come up with new ideas of making Runr appeal to a wider customer base.
We’ll know we’ve been successful when the London Marathon is branded the ‘Runr London Marathon.’