Running brand Tracksmith has revealed a new, atypical athlete partnership program, and elite runners Mary Cain and Nick Willis are its first two signees under this new deal.
The Boston-based brand announced today that the athletes are now full-time employees. According to Tracksmith, not only will Cain and Willis represent Tracksmith in competition as they train for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, but they will also work on its marketing team, specifically to drive community building and athlete experience efforts. (They will also receive full-time salaries and benefits.) Cain will assume the New York Community Manager role and Willis, who is based out of Ann Arbor, Mich., will be the Athlete Experience Manager.
This partnership model, Tracksmith said, was created to relieve the anxiety of results-oriented performance incentives that are common with athlete endorsement deals. The model was designed to allow for athletes to focus on competition and provide opportunities for them to find balance and fulfillment outside of performance.
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“There’s no doubt that Mary and Nick are tremendous athletes. But more than that, they’re well-rounded humans and advocates for change within our sport. They share our vision that running should be a cherished part of a full life,” Tracksmith founder and CEO Matt Taylor said in a statement. “With this new model for partnership, we hope to provide Mary and Nick with the freedom and stability needed to succeed both as athletes and employees. Win or lose, professional or amateur, that’s something we can all learn from.”
Both Cain and Willis have had ties to the athletic footwear world. Cain, who won gold at the 2014 World Junior Championships in the 3000 meter event, is a former Nike athlete and Willis, a two-time Olympic medalist in the 1500 meter event, was sponsored by Adidas.
“As I contemplated my next step as a runner, I knew I wanted to partner with a brand that aligned with my priorities as an athlete and an individual. Tracksmith came to the table with an outside-the-box opportunity to join their team as both an athlete and employee, to pursue my dreams, contribute to a team and build a career,” Cain said in a statement. “My goal is to demonstrate that you can have a happy, full life and run at your highest level.”
Willis added, “Over the last Olympic cycle I’ve done a lot of thinking about how I want to continue with the sport. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have a long, healthy career as an elite runner, but I’m excited to add a new challenge within running to my life. It’s long been an ambition of mine to help enhance and grow our great sport, and I’m excited to join the Tracksmith team full-time to work on projects and platforms that will reach more amateur athletes.”