This is my editorial on the importance of keeping our sport grounded, and the Brooks PR Invite is my example.
I received a note from Jesse Williams, then Brooks sports marketing dude, in December 2010. Jesse invited me to this track meet that they were putting on. It had golden tickets and some funny video teasers. This is my original story on that release: https://www.runblogrun.com/2010/12/brooks-sports-announces-brooks-pr-invitational-release-note-by-larry-eder.html
The idea was really simple, and in that simplicity, Brooks showed, once again, that they get that whole purity and simplicity of the running thing. Brooks found some of the brightest high school track geeks in the country and asked them to observe the top finishers, boys and girls in the events run traditionally indoors, from 60m to 60m hurdles and ending at two miles.
The Brooks PR Invite team invited the kids and their chaperones, developed some fun activities, set up a really cool recreation area, fed them, and put on a tremendous indoor track meet with a couple thousand fans and some attentive media. I put the Girl’s 2 Mile on my American Track & Field cover.
The first meet was held on February 27, 2011, and here is my story on that meet, which I loved: https://www.runblogrun.com/2011/02/brooks-pr-invitational-2011-its-a-hit-by-larry-eder.html
One of the winners in that original meet, Ajee’Wilson, went on to win the World Indoor title and dominate the 800 meters in the US for over a decade; enjoy this picture, courtesy of Brooks Communications.
2011 Brooks PR Invite, Ajee’ Wilson leading mile, won in 4:49.48, photo by Brooks Communications
I flew to Seattle from Madison, anticipating a fun meet. The facility that they were using was the 300m oversized indoor track at the University of Washington. It is a fun track, and in that first year, they had about 2,500 fans, and media geeks like me had free reign. We did some interviews the day before and covered the meet, from the 60 meters to the two miles.
Here’s what was and is beautiful about the Brooks PR Invite. Getting some of the fastest high school athletes to race, let them have some fun, and celebrate them in the goofy but loving style of Brooks Running.
Blocks at Dempsey, March 2012, photo by Brooks Running
At the time, Dave Larsen, long-time VP of Marketing and trucking (I believe that was his title), had a fun time coming up with absolutely goofy stuff for the kids to do and enjoy about the meet. I still see Dave Larsen as one of the best marketers in running during my 40-odd years in the business.
Dave and Jesse are long gone from Brooks, but the whimsical feeling of the meet is there. Jesse and his company, Sound Running, manage the meet, Runnerspace (under Ross Krempley) produce the streaming and broadcast in stellar fashion, and Brooks sponsors the event.
Now the meet is outdoors, and Brooks continues to evolve the meet.
Both miles will be hot this year, but the Girl’s 100 meters has the chance to have history being made, like two High School Girls (perhaps 3) under 11 seconds! Remember 2015, Candice Hill ran the first sub 11 second 100 meters.
Why do I love this event so much?
It is all about wonderful track meets for the fastest high school and junior high students. It is a fun meet, and it is a fast meet. Brooks has found a way to stand out in the plethora of running brand-sponsored high school events by keeping it wonderfully simple and fun, just like running and track and field should be.
I was hoping to be there this week, but my favorite Uncle, whom I call Bubba, is ill, and I am heading to Seattle next week to see him. Bubba is nine years older than me, there is a picture of him sitting in my playpen and me holding his hand, and he watched me. I have called him Bubba ever since.
Candace Hill runs 10.98 on June 20, 2015, photo courtesy of Brooks Running
The last time I was in Seattle, I was at the Brooks PR Invite, and he picked me up in his police cruiser. Bubba got a kick out of me coming to Seattle, and I told him about the meeting. He got a kick out of it and knew about the Brooks shoe company. His beat was around the Pike Street Market.
The night before the PR Invite, I had been walking in my Brooks Beasts around the Market, doing my nightly 3-mile walk, wearing my Suicidal Tendencies (band) hoody and simple sweat bottoms, just enjoying people-watching and downtown Seattle. Two cars stopped me and asked me if I could help them purchase a substance then illegal. I respectfully declined. When I mentioned this to my uncle Bubba later that night, he said, “In that hoodie, I would have expected more requests,” smiling and laughing as he always had.
2011 Brooks PR Invite, President of Brooks, Jim Weber with a member of the Brooks Beasts TC (not an actual Gorilla), photo by Brooks Communications
I will be watching the Brooks PR Invite from afar tomorrow from the Larrenhalle (my office, named by my son, Adam) in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. Make sure that you watch one of the most fun and exciting meets in North America, the 2023 Brooks PR Invite, and to paraphrase the Rolling Rock beer ad, the Brooks PR is the Same as it ever was, which gives it a wonderful feel and atmosphere!
The Brooks PR Invite will go live at 1:45 PM Pacific time on Wednesday, June 14, 2023; link here: https://brooks-pr-invitational.runnerspace.com/eprofile.php?event_id=5619&do=videos&video_id=358360
Junior High School entries (some fun races) https://brooks-pr-invitational.runnerspace.com/eprofile.php?event_id=5619&do=news&news_id=660745
Meet Schedule and Previews: https://brooks-pr-invitational.runnerspace.com/eprofile.php?event_id=5619&do=news&news_id=664515