Take that, Nike.
There was Meb Keflezighi, wrapped in the stars and stripes as the first American winner of the Boston Marathon since 1985 and on his feet were … Skechers.
The sight was a rarity in the $7 billion market for performance running shoes, but it may not be for long. Skechers, which the Wall Street Journal reports had an 18-percent increase in sales last year, signed Keflezighi as a spokesman in 2011 when it launched its line for high-performance athletes.
Forget those butt-firmer shoes; this is serious stuff and Skechers got a huge boost from a victory that further establishes Keflezighi as one of the top American marathoners. He also won the New York City Marathon in 2009 and won a silver medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. He previously ran in Nike shoes, but split with the company in 2010 because he felt it didn’t offer him enough money.
“I have nothing against Nike,” he told the Journal last month. “It’s a business decision they have to make. But at the same time, there’s people that are employed by Nike that hopefully regret their decision.”
Keflezighi’s win caps a tough weekend at the Beaverton, Ore., apparel conglomerate that got its start with running shoes and helped stoke the running movement. On Friday, CNET reported that the company had laid off a number of employees in its FuelBand division, a move that could eventually mark the end of FuelBand. Rather than focus on the wristband that allows users to track various aspects of their fitness, Nike will focus on building software for fitness trackers.
Don’t worry too much for Nike, though. They’re still got those Air Jordan XX9 high-def sneakers going for them.