Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Some track talk, pro contracts and Zealot ISO 2.

Hello hello, how's everyone doing? I trust your all enjoying the rad summer weather, getting some training in and even a race or two. Here in Canada we had an awesome week of events this last one with Harry Jerome, the Victoria meet and London's 1500m night, (there was also an 800m night in Toronto). So it was a good time to be a track fan, it looks like our athletes are ready to roll as a lot of people looked really good. Stafford took Rowbury to the line in a great battle over 1500m, she's going to be a force to be reckoned with as she continues to grow as an athlete and gets more experience. And what can you say about Melissa Bishop.....that girl is on fire right now, she literally blew the doors off Brenda Martinez who it likely the second best 800m women in the states behind Wilson and is one of the best on the planet. If she get's through the rounds well in Rio I can see her battling for a silver or bronze for sure. She may be as fit as 1:56:XX shape right now which is the fitness it will take to grab a medal this year. Anyway, yeah let's talk a little track, some contracts and I'll review/talk about the new Saucony Zealot ISO 2.

Donavan Brazier, Boris Berian and pro contracts.

So this is something we all like to talk about, analyze, and we often wonder what the top pros are really making. I think it's fair to say for the most part track athletes are severely under compensated especially when you get outside the top 5 in the world. Now, I'm a firm believer in negotiating your worth, testing the market and being confident enough to walk away if you aren't getting what you think you should command. (After all, we are worth what we can negotiate). 

Seeing the Nike vs. Boris lawsuit play out has given us a glimpse into what someone at that level can expect to make. And with people in the know saying Brazier is now floating at his highest market value of about 400-500k/year base salary before bonuses through 2021 we have some things to go on and we can sort of figure out what the contract literature looks like. 

There's so many things we could get into here, like why aren't the athletes making big time dollars? Well in my mind they aren't getting paid big money because they aren't household names. Bolt gets paid, and rightly so, he's an icon and is know the world over as the fastest man alive. You can't expect to get paid if you don't bring anything to the table. Mo Farah is likely making between 3-5 million a year through his endorsements/contracts, appearance fees and prize money. But there's plenty of athletes that are very close to his ability yet they may only be making 50K a year, why? In my mind it's because they aren't thinking about their career in terms of a business, they look at it only in terms of sport and competition. Farah knows, he's a brand onto himself, and he has a team of people constantly generating content for him on social media, and working his PR so he's always doing appearances and building his name.

Other examples of people maximizing their earning potential are guys like Meb and Ryan Hall. Even when Hall wasn't running well, he was doing commercials for Nissan, teamed with Cytomax (the company that makes muscle milk), Oakley, he still works daily with Asics....he understood that you don't make money just training and racing there's more to it.

Now, if track and field was structured differently, and the athletes themselves weren't independent contractors, things could work much differently, they could collectively negotiate and form a union or an athletes association. They need to realize that alone they have no power to go up against the governing bodies or shoe companies, but together they have strength and could exercise their negotiating power. I'm just rambling here obviously, but these facts could certainly be looked into. The sport isn't really in a good place right now, with all the doping allegations and busts happening, and how they use their TV slots and broadcast the events, it's just not super appealing to the average sports fan.

I don't have any answers, but I've got some ideas. I feel like if the leaders in the sport and top athletes all sit down and really put their heads together and start thinking about track and field as a business then we can see great things come in the future, both in terms of the athletes getting paid and the sport growing. But until we get past the secretive contracts, shady doping scandals, companies dictating governing bodies and athletes having no say or power then we are doomed to stay right where we are.

My week in training,

Monday - 60' easy + strides

Tuesday - 60' easy + strides

Wednesday -60' easy + stides

Thursday - 8X800m off 2'. Did this at the track, just ran it relaxed and controlled, Coach wanted 2:22-24 smoothly and that's how it went down. (went a little fast on the first one by accident in 2:17 but settled after) 75'

Friday - OFF (Did a spin class with my girl)

Saturday - 122' Long Run

Sunday - 60' easy 

Saucony Zealot ISO 2 

So as promised I'm continuing to review/talk about the new shoes Saucony just released or will be releasing soon. The Zealot ISO was released for the first time in Early 2015. I believe I got a pair in January and they released Feb 1st, this second iteration dropped June 1 and it's an excellent update.

So the Zealot for those of you who haven't run in it is a neutral lightweight daily trainer. It uses the ISO technology which forms great to the foot and provides a great lock down. Go back and read my review of the first model which you'll find in a late January 2015 post. 

The biggest change with this update comes with the addition of an Everun topsole that really wakes up the ride and gives that snappy feel. They swapped this in to replace the PowerGrid+ that was used in the last model. The other big change comes in the outsole where they use the Tri-Flex technology instead of the IBR+ pattern they used last year.

The shoe itself is great for long runs as it's pretty light for a shoe with so much cushioning and midsole under foot. I find I can put this on when I want to feel a little lighter/quicker where I'd normally rock a triumph. I've even seen people race marathons in them so rest assured it can go far and fast.

It fits very much true to size and I'm the same size in it as with all the other saucony shoes including the previous model. One thing I did notice was that when I put it on the toe box seems a little smaller which I was really happy about as he last one I found it a little big. The shoe feels more nimble then the last model in my experience and it's for sure going to be a staple in my rotation from here on out.

If you guys want to know anything else about the shoe please leave a comment below and I'll answer it as best I can or put you in touch with a rep who can tell you anything about it that I may not know. Here's the link to the shoe with all the spec - http://www.saucony.com/en/zealot-iso-2/24976M.html?icid=SAUC_home_1_ZealotISO2m_SHOP&dwvar_24976M_color=S20314-1

Zealot ISO left and the ISO 2 on the right

The new Zealot ISO 2 on the left, and the first generation on the right.

Next week we will look at the new XODUS with Everun for those trail runners out there.

A faithful pair of Triumph ISO 2's had to be retired today....they served me well.

 Alright folks that's it for me, I'll see you next week and we will talk more about my running/training and look at the Canadian and American Olympic Trials!

Stay frosty,
DF - Out


  1. Dave, I agree that the athletes, as has been spearheaded in the past by people like Pre, need a union towards "minimum compensation" (aka, simply making a living off the sport in the all-too-brief career span). As you say, the current state of athletes being independent contractors is a dream for companies like Nike, who can add/drop athletes from contracts with really no cause. As we know, pregnancy, for goodness' sake, has been one (unstated) cause of contract termination, as the pregnant athlete is unable, for a couple of years at least, to promote the brand at meets. This kind of thing is despicable, of course, but in such situations (injuries and illness being another) the athletes have no representation.

    That is the "getting a part of the pie" part of the discussion; the other part is increasing the size of the pie. I agree with your assertion that athletes have to get out and "sell themselves" to sponsors, but sponsors will be more likely, of course, to sponsor athletes if the sport in which they compete is an attractive arena (see watched and supported via gate receipts, TV ad revenue, and merchandising) to advertise said sponsors' brands and products. Currently, I fear track and field is not this attractive space for companies to utilize.

    You mention the poor optics of the doping problem, etc., but I think there are deeper problems -- mostly around poor structuring and marketing of the sport by the IAAF and the NSOs. While I'm a big fan of the history of the sport, in many ways the sport today seems archaic and behind the times (as compared to structure and marketing of other sports). And I fear that unless things change quickly, the window will close more and more, and the issue of revenue sharing for athletes will become moot.

    1. Andrew, as usual you bring up fantastic points and state them far more eloquently then I generally do haha. I couldn't agree with you more.

      The biggest issue in this whole discussion is one of exposure, the structure of the marketing of the sport and how we can get people more excited and interested in it. If we don't address these issues then your right, revenue sharing won't event matter.

      This isn't really a fair sport for comparison but look at something like Mixed Martial Arts for example, the biggest organization, the UFC is in talks to be up for sale at a price of 4.1-4.2 billion dollars, a company that was purchased in 2004 for about 2 million dollars. They went from a fringe sport to one that is on Fox regularly and is now regulated in all 50 states with the company even providing heath care for the athletes. Guy's like George St. Pierre have become household names even.

      Now if a sport like that, which isn't really appealing to the masses can grow and thrive we can surely resurrect track and make it fun and exciting again. It's just going to take some smart minds coming up with new ideas and really getting the consumer interested in the product, from there we can look at how best to broadcast it and how to structure the events to make things as exciting as possible.

      (I know it's a stretch comparing MMA to Track but you get the idea I'm floating here, it just takes some thinking outside the box and the right marketing).

      Thanks for the awesome comment dude. I always value and enjoy your input.

    2. Thanks for the nice words Dave, and I enjoy reading your ideas likewise.

      I think your comparison to the MMA has validity, in that as you mention this sport/entertainment is quite young, and consquently had to start pretty much from scratch. In fact, I would suggest that it started out less-than-scratch, as I think many people saw it as somewhat related to the scripted and prescribed WWE wrestling property, and there fore less than "true sport".

      I would suggest that Athletics/T&F has been guilty of being a bit snobbish, and that they reject the notion of athletics as "entertainment", thinking that this is disrespectul to the history of the sport. My suggestion is that if it is indeed present, they get rid of that attitude and move with the times.

      Athletics has great "bones" I think, including:

      >compelling disciplines (I mean the PV is just awe-inspiring!)
      >fabulous athletes who show what humans can do/can look like through training and dedication
      >amazing broadcast/visual possibilites (see various up-close wired and railed camera angles/drones/super slo-mo, etc.)
      >potentially great rivalries (see Jamaica vs. USA in sprints)

      I could go on, but I think the problem may be that the IAAF just hasn't scaled the sport down into its component pieces (see the Greek goals of speed, strength, endurance, etc.) towards creating a nice, simple, sleek package of entertainment. Currenty the sport appears (to the outsider) complex and rather inaccessible.

      Hopefully Seb Coe and co. will commission some great marketing help going forward and bring out to the general public what is great about our sport.

    3. Andrew,

      You hit all the points there man, I agree with that assessment 100%.

      Thinking about how most of the people involved in track think about the sport and act/conduct themselves when talking about the sport or organizing events I do get that "snobbish" vibe, your right. I didn't think about it like that before but it's something the sport as a whole is guilty of.

      As far as the disciplines, they are indeed super compelling but a lot of them need to be explained and the audience needs to be a little more educated on them so they grasp the magnitude of just how amazing the feats they are watching really are. Like people should get excited about the decathlon, the fact that some of these athletes can hit Olympic standards in multiple events yet compete as combined event athletes. And like you mentioned the PV is out of this world.

      Also, our athletes are as good if not better then the very best in the world. Like Messi has nothing on any of the top track athletes. And some of the shots we get like the side view of the 100m when you see how fast Usain is eating up ground and the flashes of the photography, it's awe inspiring. We have the raw materials to make for amazing sports/TV

      The challenge like you mention is streamlining it so we can captivate the average sports fan and keep them engaged in the process.

      Let me ask you this, I'm sure you watched the world relays in the Bahamas with the fireworks, light show and teams coming out to music and a crazy show. Do you think that was a step in the right direction? Maybe introducing the DMR into certain diamond league meets too. If the world relays had of gotten more attention it would have turned more people onto the sport.

      Its that kind of new, outside the box thinking we need. Again, I don't have the answers obviously but we need new ideas and not the tired same old thing we see each year.

  2. Dave, you mentioned Messi and that got me thinking that the big world sports are, of course, team-based. Sure, Messi has distinguished himself from the pack of great players (well, some would say Ronaldo is as good :()but it seems that human beings really like to cheer on a group of athletes working together. Whether it's for club or country, it's the team stuff that sells to the masses.

    That said, your mention of the World Relays I would say is indeed a step in the right direction by the IAAF, as we're entering into more of a team competition that fans can get behind. I loved the fireworks, cool introductions, etc., and this kind of more laid-back and modern approach is what I believe track needs to adopt.

    Now, with a little lateral thinking I'm sure we can get the distance runners and field eventers teamed up as well (love the DMR idea, and how 'bout the old shuttle relay! :))

    I must say that I'm a traditionalist, and wouldn't really like too much change too soon, but in light of the sport's current status (depressing to see Bislett half-empty the other night) I'm ready to adjust to a new paradigm, if it means the survival (and hopefully growth) of the sport.