Let’s face it: this year kinda sucked. Between the global pandemic and the ravished economy, the cancellation of races and our inability to gather with the people we love, 2020 will go down, for many of us, as one to survive and not one to relive. However, as we head into the holidays and take solace in the fact that we’re still here, and there’s still beauty and joy in the world and that we—as runners—have a gift that many of our slower friends do not: we are able to spark joy in ourselves whenever we lace up our shoes.
Earlier this month, we sent out a survey to our 200,000 readers, asking you folks what made you happy this year.
New Balance Canada is the 2020 iRun Brand of the Year. Runners said New Balance is a brand that they trust. “Every brand needs the innovation piece that’s super cool and makes you go faster, but the core of it is you need a daily exercise shoe to move forward and that’s what drives the New Balance brand,” says Dave Korrell, category manager for performance at New Balance Canada, and a longtime ambassador of our sport. “It’s what New Balance has been trying to do for 114 years—since 1906—to be that independent company that’s true to it’s values, and reliable. I think that’s become even more essential during COVID-19.”
Not only did NB take Brand of the Year, but their 860 sneaker earned top ranks as our Best Running Shoe. It’s apparent, as we saw many exciting new launches in 2020, that what runners craved was value and dependability. Angrily, as the world spun, runners wanted stability in their sneakers.
“It doesn’t take something fancy to get people out the door,” says Korrell, who’s spent 14 years with the company and came up running track and working at iconic Runner’s Choice in Kingston, Ontario. “Innovation will always be essential, but New Balance always also has stood for dependability—it means a lot that our message rings true.” In a year marked by disruption, Korrell is quick to point out that of all the lines of New Balance sneakers—including basketball shoes worn by someone named Kawhi—it’s the 880s first, and the 860s second, running shoes, that sold most for the brand this year.
“We haven’t been over-the-top this year about tooting our horn. We were listening, learning and delivering, and from Victoria to Halifax, we’re optimistic that the running boom we saw in April will only continue this spring,” says Korrell. “New Balance Canada is doing everything possible to amplify this boom in the new year.”
Runner’s up for your 2020 brands of the year: 2. ASICS. 3. Saucony. 4. Brooks.