iRun because I cannot say no to a second slice of chocolate cakeEmily Shandruk , Vancouver, BC

iRun to stay fit and release those running endorphinsLiliana Plava , Calgary, AB

iRun because I want to qualify for Boston and raise money for charities near and dear to my heartChristine Gracel , Calgary, AB

iRun because it makes me feel good, allows me to spend time with my friends and gives me a feeling of accomplishmentHelen Kolodziejzyk , Calgary, AB

iRun but not enoughMichael Shaw , New Westminister, BC

iRun because I never thought I would be able toGary Morris , Winnipeg, MB

iRun to challenge myself, physically and mentallyKathleen Keenan , Brampton, ON

iRun because people around me inspire mePina Bevilacqua , Caledon, ON

iRun therefore I amDuncan Walsh , Nottingham, UK

iRun because I liveGeorges Schneller , Laval, QC

iRun to be free and enjoy our beautiful countryCheryl Carter , Clearwater , BC

iRun for overall wellbeingTrish McCourt , Halifax, NS

iRun because it makes me a better person, a better wife, a better mother and a better friendNathalie Joncas-Caissie , St-Antoine, NB

iRun because it makes me feel powerfulCarlene Paquette , Carp, ON

iRun because pecan pie, french fries and beer are chasing meTeresa Sterling , Ottawa , ON

iRun because it’s in meMichael Foley , Stittsville, ON

iRun because it reminds me that I am capable of so much more than I have doneJames Sauve , Ottawa, ON

iRun for meKiza Francis , Ottawa,ON

iRun to prove to myself I canLesley McGougan , Brampton, ON

iRun because all the ladies are chasing my sexy runner’s bodyChris Baker , Etobicoke, ON

iRun because I can and I’m gratefulTerry SanCartier , Gatineau, QC

iRun because when I run I feel most aliveMeghan Lynch , Ottawa, ON

iRun to unleash my inner athleteAdelle Densham , Avonmore, ON

iRun because it cleans up my life, because I drink more water, sleep better and eat healthier foodsRobin McIntyre , Ottawa, ON

iRun because of the peace and strength it brings meMichelle Jordan , Ottawa, ON

iRun because I need it to soothe the soul, keep me in shape and for overall wellbeingBeth Neil , Lombardy, ON

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou , British Columbia

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sonsKeith Bradbury , Newfoundland

iRun because endorphins are freeCassandra Chouinard , Ontario

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn’t Heidi Abbey-Der , Saskatchewan

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew , Ontario

iRun because it’s cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter , Alberta

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie , Ontario

iRun slowly!Jason Hoffman , Manitoba

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brainMarie-Claude Gregoire , Nova Scotia

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every kmSteph Mansell , Quebec

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe , British Columbia

iRun and run, and run, and run, and nobody can stop me Andrei Lucaciu , Ontario

iRun because the wall is meant to be broken Jonathan Bird , Ontario

iRun because it has saved my life John Marshall , Alberta

iRun for the challenge to go faster and farther Steven Matejka , Alberta

iRun to my happy place and some days it’s very Doreen May , Alberta

iRun because food tastes better afterwards Patrick Houston , Alberta

iRun because I can’t dance Mario Javier , Ontario

iRun so I don’t say never ever again Linda Klaric , Manitoba

iRun because it makes me whole Denis Ladouceur , Quebec

iRun because it gets my husband out there Tricia LaLonde , Alberta

iRun away from the negative and towards the positive Teri Lepard , Alberta

iRun because running is like breathing to Stephanie McEvoy , Ontario

iRun because I love the solitude Janene Tailleur , British Columbia

iRun for the moment when both feet are off the ground Catherine Anderson , British Columbia

iRun to someday win the race Lindy Dunlop , Yukon

iRun to stay ahead of the weight gainMyra Abstreiter , Alberta

iRun because otherwise I’m grumpy Alexandre Charest , Quebec

iRun because I get foot rubs afterward Kate Howerton , British Columbia

iRun because iLoves my man Beverly Huang , Alberta

iRun because not everyone can Olivia Harvey , New Brunswick

iRun to get to know myself, my strength and my spirit Lisa Groulx , Ontario

iRun whenever I feel the need to escape Iona Hillis , Ontario

iRun because it’s like flying, only lower Glenn Johnson , Ontario

iRun because it makes me feel powerful Sarah Kallaghan , Alberta

iRun because I’ve lost 80 lbs and running has become fun Cheryl Kelly , Ontario

iRun because there is no finish line Claire Kilgour , Ontario

iRun so my daughters know that they can, too Shelley Kirkpatrick , New Brunswick

iRun because it reminds me of how strong I can be Monique Lavoie , Ontario

iRun because it’s a great way to see the world Sherry Mahoney , British Columbia

iRun because my heart tells me to William Martin , Manitoba

iRun to prove to them that iCan Catherine Smith , Manitoba

iRun because it’s fun when it’s done Sue Matte , Ontario

iRun because I am not as clumsy I thought I was Hanna Baer , Quebec

iRun see where my feet will take me todayMegan Dolinskas , New York

iRun for the cool t-shirts! Pina Bevilacqua , Ontario

iRun because I want to be a role model for our six kids Catherine Empey , British Columbia

iRun to inspire my kids to tryGlen Johnston , Nunavut

iRun so I can eat ice cream Sandy Bolan , Ontario

iRun because I want to live to be 100! Colette DeJean , Ontario

iRun for health, i Run for life Pat Cheung , British Columbia

iRun because it gives my day a boost of energy Sara Campbell , Nova Scotia

iRun because it’s better than almost everything else Nathan Carey , Ontario

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn’t Peter Cicalo , Ontario

iRun because it's better than almost everything else Nathan Carey , Ontario

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn't Peter Cicalo , Ontario

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou , British Columbia

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sons Keith Bradbury , Newfoundland

iRun because endorphins are free Cassandra Chouinard , Ontario

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn't Heidi Abbey-Der , Saskatchewan

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew , Ontario

iRun because it's cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter , Alberta

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie , Ontario

iRun slowly! Jason Hoffman , Manitoba

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brain Marie-Claude Gregoire , Nova Scotia

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every km Steph Mansell , Quebec

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe , British Columbia

iRun for my heart, so it runs for me! Cathy Brzoza , British Columbia

iRun to inspire my children! Wendy Bowen , Manitoba

iRun because it sure beats the bus Robin Robbins , Alberta

iRun for the challenge and to remember to fully live Pascale Synnott , Québec

iRun to kickstart my day Sharon Strueby , Saskatchewan

iRun for me! Judi Wearing , Saskatchewan

iRun because it's a great stress release Brooke McKenzie , Yukon

iRun because i love to Mirella Petriello , Ontario

iRun because it helps me see things more clearly Jennifer Pitts , Ontario

iRun to eat Maureen Tritscher , Alberta

iRun to correct years of sedentary living! Mike Scott , Ontario

iRun away from the abyss Charlene Thomas , Ontario

iRun all the livelong day Pierre Saint-Laurent , Québec

iRun to challenge my perceived limitations Cassandra Williams , Ontario

iRun to maintain a strong physical and mental state Tammy Rainville , Ontario

iRun so that I can live longer and stronger Derek MacPhail , Ontario

iRun to feel great Kathryn Rachar , Saskatchewan

iRun because I like to be healthy Melanie Oickle , New Brunswick

iRun to eat more, especially sweet potatoe fries Joanna Skomra , Ontario

iRun for the fresh air and adrenalin Charlyn McGregor , Saskatchewan

iRun for the individual pursuit Robert Pelletier , New Brunswick

iRun to satisfy the irresistible urge Tim Nixon , British Columbia

iRun because I love the sense of accomplishment Amber Moase , Nova Scotia

iRun to challenge my mind, body and soul Sonia Mendes , Ontario

iRun because walking is too slow Barry Knapp , Ontario

Motivation, News, Training

Reebok comes out with a sweet pair of shoes: “We’re re-thinking what a running shoe can be.”

Reebok is a company not immediately associated with running. In the 80s, the brand, part of the Adidas Group since 2005, was heavily into aerobics and older folks will remember their famous Olympic advertising campaign starring Dan and Dave, decathletes who were supposed to go head-to-head in the 1992 Olympics. (Dan never qualified but the clips, which aired in heavy rotation, are still an iconic part of the sports advertising canon).

Fast forward to 2017 and the brand—now based outside of running-rich Boston, where New Balance and Saucony also call home—is investing steeply into running, with the Floatride Run out this season and available at the Running Room, and as many as ten new shoe lines expected this year. Does the running world really need another new sneaker? And with so many shoes already out there, what can the Floatride do that other shoes haven’t already done? Curious about the next iteration both of this company and this new sneaker, iRun GM Ben Kaplan spoke with Dan Hobson, the VP of Innovation from Reebok’s Global head office.

iRun: It’s interesting to see you guys move into running, which feels like, to me, an already crowded field.

Hobson: We, as Reebok, we love running and this is our re-commitment to our heritage. J.W. Foster, in 1894, before the company was set up, built his own running shoes to go faster at his track club in England and our history and spirit is in running. This shoe launch marks us getting back to running, which is what we love.

iRun: But how can you do another shoe launch? Isn’t it yet that anything that can be done has been done?

Hobson: That’s a good question, but we really don’t think so or we wouldn’t have bothered and what we made—the Floatride, is a result of us talking directly with runners. We’re re-thinking what a running shoe can be and translating the current problems runners have with more modern materials. Look, I’ll be frank: between ourselves, and plenty of other companies, if you want a traditional running shoe, there’s plenty of options. The way innovation works is you’ll have a certain material that comes in and the evolution of that continues on that path until a new thing is introduced.

iRun: And you’re introducing something new today?

Hobson: Yeah, we really are. We’re at the tail end of traditional EVAs, foams in particular are coming into play, and there will be another revolution with rapid prototyping.     

iRun: Keep going.

Hobson: The Floatride 1 is the next big step forward in materials, as far as foams go. It’s unlike any foam and it’s what we’ve been working on for two and a half years. You’ll see it in our curring shoe and coming down in iterations of that, down that path, and you’ll see some really high-performance racing shoes come out and some other products, less in the performance space. We’re looking at running as not just being for one runner.

iRun: So do you see it like there’s a gap in the running shoe market that Reebok stands to fill?

Hobson: We didn’t look at the market. We started with the runners and said, ‘What do you want?’ And we looked at different types of runners and said, ‘Imagine what the possibilites could be with the ultimate running shoe.’ It was connecting with runners, less about, ‘Hey, there’s a space in the market where we can be.’ It was: what do runners want? What do I want to run in?

iRun: OK, so, what do we want?

Hobson: To feel in the zone. The word we got from people was to be “floating,” that came from runners. I run, but I never said “floating,” but that was what we heard and so it became about: how can we help runners feel like they’re in that place? We want to get them there quicker, and we had our new foam and we knew we can deliver to the consumer—to the runner—the experience that they want of loving to run.      

iRun: What is this crazy foam?

Hobson: There’s one place in the world that can manufacture it and get the material to turn into the foam. The material has been around, it’s just difficult to work with and convert with the polymer to make it applicable. Think about it like this: there are different classes of plastics and this is the highest end of super polyamers and super plastics. We start with the best materials, and you get different properties. With the better foam, you use less of the material, so the walls of each cell are thinner and more consistent. The Floatride maintains a resilient consistency across the material and delivers it at half the weight of a normal foam.

iRun: Less weight, quicker sneaker, that makes sense. Can you talk a little bit about the development?

Hobson: When we were building up run, we were building a racing shoe. The whole thing with Float foam would be “cushioning without compromise,” you want a racing flat to be light and thin and to reduce traction down to the barest pieces, but if we could take a material with full cushioning and make it light, you start getting to interesting places. Energy resiliency is something we’ve been working on.

iRun: It’s just hard to imagine there’s still foams out there that haven’t been discovered yet after so many years of so many new innovations and so many new shoes.

Hobson: The way we discovered it actually is that we were working on a space boot for a company in Massachusetts that makes space suits and they were looking to make their gear lighter, something compatible with their pressurized suit. The boots they use now are 4-pounds each, like old flight boots, and the astronauts didn’t want those clunky things, they wanted a running shoe. So we used the Float foam in the boot and holy crap—it was amazing. That was the same time we were talking to runners and, you know, it was a once in a lifetime project.

iRun: And you’re a Reebok lifer and this shoe is your personal mission, right? You’ve been with Reebok since 1999?

Hobson: Yeah, I started as an apprentice and have been here ever since. I mean, the company went through heavy changes. It was owned by Paul Fireman and bought by Adidas in 2006, and there were different ideas on how you run a company. I lived through that and I think, as far as running goes, we were much broader in the early 2000s and did a lot of different things with performance and running shoes. We were spread pretty thin and lost our way a little bit, but Adidas came in and focussed on fitness and running and I feel like the re-commitment really began three years ago.

iRun: That’s where the journey to create Floatride began?

Hobson: Yeah, we restructured the way the group was set up with the running business unit and there was a conscious effort to reconnect with runners. It was myself and the GM of Running, Scott Daley. It was a big group of people and the people on our team are all runners and we craved the authenticity of a product we weren’t creating. Reebok is running. We really are a running company. We didn’t want to make a gimmicky product. We wanted to make a real running product that we’d want to wear.

iRun: And you feel like you did that?

Hobson: Put it on your foot and see what you think. We love it.

This is part one of a two-part story. Up next, Ben Kaplan takes the Floatride for a ride. 

June 15th, 2017

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