Running groups are spreading around the globe. There’s a renewed interest in the sport, seen more as a social than a competitive activity. Adidas and other big companies understood that and started new innovative marketing projects, such as Adidas Runners, with the aim of involving people.
I occasionally go to Milan, so I decided to touch and see what Adidas Runners is about. The Runbase in Corso Sempione is the meeting up point, where you show up and then go running. All Adidas Runners have access to a dressing room: the entry badge is a cool magnetic bracelet. The Runbase isn’t a shop. In fact, as the name suggests, from there you start your sessions, you don’t buy shoes.
There I met Paolo Bellomo (you can reach his Instagram profile here), the crew captain who guided me and a group of about 20 people across a nice route on a midweek evening. I noticed the group was mainly formed of habitues who seem to know each other very well and share a lifestyle. Although I was a gringo, I was involved in some pleasant chat and in a final sprint around Parco Sempione.
I was interested in the project, so I tried to get some insights from Paolo. Here’s what he said.
Paolo, what does running mean for you?
I run to feel alive. I run because I don’t like wasting my time on a couch. I run to feel fit and take a break from the everyday routine.
Running taught me that something magic is hidden into strain. Something that makes it an epic journey. I then learned to face difficult situations with a sunny disposition. I learned that my strengths can lead me beyond imagination and that I can reach my goals with dedication.
It’s so inspiring, do you race a lot?
I race once or twice a month, on average. It’s a good way to test myself and have fun, especially when gatherings and events are organized before and after the race. Recently I started running around Europe. Last July I ran the Adidas City Night Run in Berlin, a 10k race surrounded by music and performance along the whole route. Thousands of participants within the amazing Berlin: it was a great experience.
Now I’m training for the Florence Marathon, in November. It will be the first out of three in the next 14 months (I will then run Milan and New York).
How did you become Adidas Runners Crew Captain?
Beautiful things happen when less expected: suddenly my greatest passion became a job! I was in search of a change; I was looking for a purpose capable of delivering human value: I was tired of full days stuck on a computer screen. In that period, while I was chatting with a friend about what I was going through, casually, he told me about an open position at Adidas. I then sent my application and here I am!
Nice story, what do you have to do as a Crew Captain? What exactly a crew is?
I think in running “crew” has a similar acceptation to “family”: a group of people that it is born from a shared sport experience. The crew also means pleasure of gathering together and have fun, it’s not limited to running. I think the crew phenomenon is turning running into a real team sport.
As the Adidas Runners Captain in Milan I am the community team leader, the first reference point of all runners. More specifically, I ideate and plan the weekly workout programming and the racing calendar, for which I am supported by the Adidas Coaches.
I also manage the workshops programming, where we speak about many running related issues, such as nutrition and functional training. I usually don’t forget other collateral events, like parties!
Within the community, I help beginners in their approach to running. I drive them to discover the sport’s beauty, often covered by strain! Let’s say I am a guide for beginners and a running mate for who is more advanced and wants to improve his performance.
How many people run with you? Who are the Adidas Runners?
Now Adidas Runners gather more than 600 people in Milan. Recently, we registered a 50 runners per month increase. They divided in smaller groups basing on their training preferences, since we propose different category workouts every night. On average about 40-50 runners join us every night.
I can’t fit the Adidas Runner in one category, there are university students, office workers, DJs, photographers, designers…
The average age is something I noticed. In fact, in Italy running is usually a sport people approach later in life, but our group is mainly made of young people between 25 and 35 years old.
What do you think people search in Adidas Runners?
Running passion is the basic issue, but it is not limited to that. Many friends of mine entered the Adidas Runners despite they had never ran before. They wouldn’t have tried if it wasn’t for my insistence they should! Running is basically an individual sport, much introspective: you need a great motivation to practice consistently. However, if brought into a social dimension, everything changes and it’s easier to crush the barriers, such as “today I don’t feel like running/I am tired/it’s freezing outside”. People come to Runbase to meet their friends, find new ones and practice running with fun.
Adidas Runners is present in all the European capitals, are you in touch with other groups? Is there a group you share a particular feeling with?
Adidas Runners is a European-wide community with bases in all the major cities: Berlin, Munchen, Paris, Moscow, Wien, Athens and Milan. The international scale has great impact on the organization: all the groups constantly share opinions, ideas, advice. Periodically we organize weekends all around Europe in the context of races or running events. The point of reference is certainly the Berlin group, first to be founded and broadly develop.