We like to think we know a thing our two about location and timing. So when it came down to planning an event to announce Garmin’s new sponsorship of SoleMates
, the charity running program for Girls on the Run
, we set our sights on Chicago. More specifically, the Garmin Store
at 663 N. Michigan Avenue. And we dialed in a date of July 31, the day before 30,000 runners beat the streets for the Chicago Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon
. Two more big pluses to making our announcement here: Chicago has one of the largest Girls on the Run councils and is home to Coach Jenny Hadfield,
well-known Chicago-area coach and author
. A supporter of GOTR who wote the training plans for SoleMates runners, Jenny gladly accepted our invite to speak at our event.
Perfecting our plan was the appearance of Molly Barker
, the founder of Girls on the Run, plus staff members Liz and Katy. We soon found out that these ladies had a secret talent or past experience as sandwich boarders, and on the morning of our event, they did a fine job of luring passing shoppers into the Garmin Store with a promise of a chance to win a Forerunner 110
As young girls, parents and runners of all interest levels wandered to the presentation theater on the 2nd floor of the store, they had a chance to meet Molly and Jenny, sample snacks provided by Clif Bar
and snag a raffle ticket for a chance to win water bottles from CamelBak
or the Forerunner grand prize. Jake
got things kicked off with some background on Garmin as a company and our evolution into the fitness market. He also talked about how Garmin’s core values to improve lives and help people explore their world aligns with the Girls on the Run mission. Then Coach Jenny Hadfield took the stage and provided some solid training advice that resonated with the runners in the crowd, some suffering pre-race jitters for the next day’s 13.1-mile foot race.
“This is like Oz to me,” Jenny commented on being in the Garmin Store. Jenny and her husband, John “the Penguin”
Bingham, are huge Garmin fans and have used our products for running, cycling, hiking, driving and motorcycling. One of her training tips to the crowd was to use tools to track progress. “Seeing the distance and pace data in front of you is so motivating.” She also had some tips on using Garmin Connect to track information beyond the data recorded by Garmin watches. “Use the notes to record how much sleep you had the night before and how you’re feeling.” Jenny added that many injuries can be curbed by simply listening to your body and cutting back your training when needed. She also talked about using Forerunner’s pace calculations as a speed governor of sorts for the early miles of a race. “A modest pace means you are investing in the final miles.”
Molly took the stage next and immediately reached out to the young Girls on the Run participants in the audience, playing the name game that signals lesson one of every GOTR season. “Your name’s Grace, right? You must be Amazing Grace.” And in a way that no one else can match, Molly began telling stories that engaged everyone in the audience — male, female, young and less young. Molly’s final message encouraged the audience to get involved with Girls on the Run at some level — as a coach, running buddy, supporter or SoleMates charity runner. She described how young girls’ lives are changed through the empowering lessons gained from Girls on the Run, and how seeing them cross the finish line for their first 5k is like nothing else. “It is a privilege to experience that,” Molly said.
As audience members were swiping eyes, moved by Molly’s words, Jake jumped in and brought the laughter back with some short infomercials on the CamelBak
water bottles he was about to give away. With help from a couple of audience members, he doled out bottles ranging from sporty styles for fitness fans to cool and colorful ones for kids. Then came the drawing for a Garmin Forerunner 110
fitness watch — a perfect pairing for a woman in the crowd who was gearing up to run the half marathon the next day.
Many thanks to the Garmin Store sales staff and product experts for hosting this event; Molly, Liz and Katy from Girls on the Run; Coach Jenny and Girls on the Run of Chicago