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Atlanta Track Club, Mizuno strike historic partnership

The Atlanta Track Club and Mizuno USA will announce an exclusive partnership on Wednesday that has many goals, including putting at least two competitors in the 2020 Summer Olympics.

The arrangement is the first of its kind for both Atlanta-based organizations and is the largest business partnership in Atlanta Track Club history. The partnership will begin Jan. 1, 2015.

“Our mission is to impact health and wellness in Atlanta through running and walking,” ATC executive director Rich Kenah said. “Mizuno will help us elevate that commitment every single day.”

Neither side would reveal the financial commitment Mizuno is making to the ATC, nor would they reveal the length of the contract.

Bob Puccini, President of Mizuno USA, said the partnership is a “win-win” because the values of the organizations match. It contributes to society and the running community and does so in his company’s backyard.

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“It’s a bold statement for us,” he said.

Because of this partnership, the ATC will in 2015 be able to work the runners across what Kenah describes as the running life cycle:

  • Hire a “world-class” coach by Jan. 1 who can develop training programs and provide instruction for the Atlanta running community. This is a first for the Atlanta Track Club, which in the past has relied on volunteers to lead training programs. “Now we will have a staff to help teach the sport the right way to teach people in our training programs,” Kenah said.
  • Begin trying to increase the membership in its Kilometer Kids program from 5,000 to 10,000 members over the next for years, and provide running equipment to lower-income neighborhoods;
  • Develop for the first time a track team for middle-school athletes that can compete in meets in the region to fulfill its goal of helping all age groups interested in running. The ATC has hosted a series of meets at Emory in the spring and summer for those who want to participate. “We want to create a competitive team to give them an opportunity that they might not have,” Kenah said;
  • Host a high school cross-country event in Cartersville in the fall that will be sanctioned by Georgia High School Association. “We want to celebrate running and cross country in a way that’s bright and visible and spotlights every high school runner the way they should be (celebrated),” Kenah said.
  • Through Mizuno, ATC-branded running gear will be for sale at retail outlets;
  • Grow its existing competitive teams with the goal to have one male and one female qualify for the 2020 Olympics wearing Mizuno gear featuring the ATC brand. Kenah said the athletes would either be developed by the club, or would be recruited regionally to compete for the club and given the resources to train for the Olympics. He said they wouldn’t pay someone to simply wear an ATC-branded product in Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo.

“This all fits within our mission,” Kenah said. “We had begun to do some of these things. With Mizuno’s support we can elevate and do it bigger and better.”

Kenah, a former Olympic athlete, said the two sides approached each other about a partnership earlier this year, shortly after he was hired.

Mizuno will become the official footwear and apparel sponsor for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race, and will produce the coveted race T-shirt.

The agreement will also provide Mizuno a chance to put its brand in front of the 100,000 runners who compete in ATC-sponsored events, as well as the groups 22,000 members and 20,000 volunteers. It will also enable Mizuno to do some research and development of its products.

“This type of relationship doesn’t exist in any other marketplace, this type of integrated investment 365 days a year,” he said.

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