How RunTogether runners are helping shape the future of kit designs

210527_RunTogetherHero86-1000.jpg

A RunTogether run with your friends offers the opportunity for you to discuss many topics, whether it’s about TV, shopping, politics or the latest recipe you can’t wait to share! For one group their discussions focussed on what makes the perfect piece of running kit, and their opinions were taken on board by England Athletics’ official sportswear provider, Kukri Sports.

Kukri has long recognised the importance and expertise regular runners like any RunTogether group offer when it comes to creating pieces of clothing that are comfortable and fit well when you’re running. That’s why the group MadRunners in Merseyside found themselves very much in the product development spotlight recently, featuring in a photoshoot and feedback initiative hosted by Kukri to help develop kit that you, a normal runner, would enjoy.

Kukri keen to see what RunTogether group members want

As you can imagine, designing an apparel range is all about understanding fine detail, which is why Kukri is so keen to see what RunTogether group members want from their sports clothing. So often, big brands, which are performance-led look to the elite for such feedback, while in reality the best clothing isn’t about how well it copes with the Olympics, it’s all about what looks and feels good on a normal Wednesday night with your mates.

“My top is the dark blue Kukri one with light blue squares and I’ve worn it to group sessions and on solo runs. I usually run between 5 and 10k. The top fits well and is comfortable to wear,”

says MadRunner, Sue, one of those asked for their thoughts. “It’s just the right length and the sleeves are well designed and don’t get in the way (sometimes sleeves are too long on me!). I usually wear unisex tops, but this is a ladies’ fit and I was pleasantly surprised by how well it fits. It’s very well-made and I particularly like the neckline which is reinforced so it washes well without losing shape. The material feels strong but not too heavy. The design of the top with the square pattern is eye-catching without being too ‘over the top’.”

Group leaders Mark and Deborah Hurst are keen to stress this is a normal group like any other RunTogther meeting. “All our runs and sessions are mixed ability so we can have a lot of runners at each session,” says Mark.

“I welcome new runners, support new and existing group participants through sessions and assist with any technical drills and adjustments they need to help them run. It’s great to meet people who want to run just for fun and people who do it to improve their health. It’s interesting because not every runner is the same.”

A complicated formula

And it’s these different needs that makes Kukri so keen to talk to RunTogether members. Creating a world record-ready running vest is quite a different proposition to finding a t-shirt that fits well and looks good on that Wednesday night in Merseyside for three miles and then could double up as a stylish number for a post-run coffee. It’s a complicated formula that Kukri is looking to solve using RunTogether members.

“The good quality fabric is a fair bit thicker than my other technical tops which is great as I don’t need a base layer underneath but am still cool enough on a warm day,”

says Mark, one of the testers from MadRunners, explaining what his side of the equation looks like, while Debbie is happy with how the product caters for her slightly different needs.

“I like the top and think the print is flattering. Even though I wore a ladies’ fit (I usually wear a unisex top that is longer) the pattern and design felt comfortable. If the top was plain, I may feel less confident wearing the ladies’ fit. The quality is really good too and washes well,” she adds.

And on the subject of washes, Joanne was also happy with the way the shirts coped with her family’s machine, but she added: “I would say is the sizing is a bit snug.” But it’s that feedback Kukri, which has spent the past 20 years developing and listening to team identity are keen to act on. It’s why RunTogether has become so important to the brand - runners are members of a group and not individuals who happen to be part of that group.

210527_RunTogetherHero86-1000.jpg blurred out