Sunday, April 13, 2008

Nike Beijing Summit (part two)...

EUGENE, Ore.--After the introductory remarks on the Flywire and Lunar foam technology, a group of specialty running/track & field writers were herded onto a waiting VIP bus from Nike’s Tiger Woods Conference Center to take a 90 minute ride to the company’s roots in Eugene for a presentation in a conference room at the Bowerman Building overlooking the University of Oregon’s historic Hayward Field.

While eating our lunch on the bus, I couldn’t help but stare at the wrists of several Nike folks on the bus with us, as they were wearing the new Nike+ Sport Band, to complement the wildly successful Nike+ iPod running system.

Using a laptop computer hooked up to the television screen, Nike+ guru Matt Capozzi went into a detailed presentation on the Nike+ Sport Band, explaining that the sport band is designed primarily for the runner who wants to take advantage of the Nike+ system, but prefers not to run with an iPod nano hooked up.

Nike+ SportBand allows runners to see their distance, pace, time and calories burned when they run, in addition to gaining access to all of the features and tools on Designed for runners who choose not to run with music and for those times when you can’t use music, the Nike+ SportBand provides all the benefits of Nike+ technology to a broader audience of runners.

In the same manner that the Nike + iPod Sport Kit allows shoes to send information to a nano, the Nike+ SportBand is a wristwatch that also monitors a runner’s steps. A runner can check time, pace, distance and calories burned at a glance of the wrist. The Nike+ SportBand watch face is a detachable LINK that captures all the run data from a sensor located in the runner’s Nike+ ready footwear. Once a run is completed, the LINK conveniently plugs into a computer like a USB drive, so data can then be sent to where a runner’s progress is tracked.

On April 10th, all Nike+ runners can get access to their own personal online trainer with Nike+ Coach. Nike+ Coach takes online coaching to the next level by empowering runners of all levels with the information and motivation needed to build their own training programs.

The only problem with the Sport Band, which I believe will be addressed in future generations of it, is that it lacks a stopwatch/split timing feature. Future versions of the Sport Band may also include a heart rate monitor function.

Perhaps the coolest part of the Sport Band is that it can link with up to eight Nike+ sensors, instead of having to dig out your shoe and replacing the sensor with the one that comes with the band. I tried it out for the first time on Friday with a short run from Ballard High School to NW 32nd, one of my most familiar runs. After some initial problems uploading the data, along with a software update that I needed to download, the information finally showed up on my account.

Once we got to Eugene, we were treated to a more detailed presentation of the shoes and apparel by Nike running summit veterans Kevin Paulk and Debra Talbert. In a presentation on Nike’s promotional activities in the sport for 2008, we were informed of perhaps one of the worst kept secrets—Nike will be one of the major sponsors of this fall’s Chicago Marathon, finally giving the company an avenue in one of the five races that comprises the World Marathon Majors (London, Boston, Berlin, Chicago, New York), although we were asked not to release the information until April 10th, in deference to the marathon’s title sponsor, Bank of America.

The University of Oregon’s Vin Lananna and Mike Reilly then gave a presentation on what to expect in June when Hayward Field hosts the US Olympic Track & Field Trials. The infield was completely redone, removing a 3-foot crown in the middle to meet international standards. New runways were laid out for the high jump, long/triple jumps, pole vault, and javelin; the track was resurfaced, and a new state-of-the-art video scoreboard (photo above) was installed at the south end, replacing the iconic board.

Olympic marathon team member Dathan Ritzenhein for the second consecutive year addressed the gathering of reporters, giving everyone an update on how his training was progressing, after suffering a minor injury that forced his withdrawal from the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh. He stated that the move from Boulder to Eugene has been beneficial.

(NOTE: For those of you who read about the Nike Beijing Summit in the business section of the major publications, Nike rolled out the Hyperdunk basketball shoe, complete with a Q and A session with Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, who was in town, as the Lakers were playing Portland the next night. The running scribes were the only ones who missed the presentation, which was held while we were in Eugene).

Our day in Eugene ended with dinner at a local restaurant, in which we were graced by the presence of one Andrew Acosta from the University of Oregon, who was a guest of fellow San Diegan Bob Babbitt of Competitor magazine. A few weeks earlier, he broke four minutes in the mile at the UW Last Chance meet in Seattle. AJ used this opportunity at dinner to bust my chops about not giving him the “BOOM-SHAKA-LAKA” call after breaking four. I shot back by stating that only the field event guys got that call, but since we’re in Eugene, I would give him that.

In my best Mr. Announcer voice, I belted out to my fellow running reporters and Nike running PR folks, “And AJ Acosta has broken four minutes in the mile for the first time—BOOM-SHAKA-LAKA!!!”

In part three—Spikes, spikes, baby; uniforms for Beijing, and the Gouchers


Jeremy said...


Really enjoyed the look behind the scenes at the Nike Beijing Summit. I think unveiling the US Olympic team kits at the Trials is a stroke of genius. Did anyone even hint at what they might look like? Or how different they would or wouldn't be from the current kits?

Regardless, I'm really curious to see them, because I think the current national team gear is absolutely class - just really, really sharp. Hopefully Nike will do just as well this time around.

Mercanator said...

If history is any indication, don't be surprised if the general pattern used for the Kenyan/Ukraine/German federation kits are used for the USA uniforms--hopefully you've seen the photos I posted.

Having said that, I did see a PowerPoint slide slipped in the presentation that gave the indication that the font used in the USA uniforms would be similar to that used in the 1964/1968 Olympic team unis...stay tuned!

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