Skechers extended its contract with Meb Keflezighi through 2023, when the elite marathoner will reach the ripe running age of 48.
Keflezighi’s feats and inspiring run as America’s best male runner has played a pivotal role in legitimizing Skechers’ foray into selling running shoes. He will continue to be featured in marketing campaigns as well as collaborate on footwear introductions.
Keflezighi was signed in 2011 just as Skechers, known its casual shoes for adults and light-up shoes for kids for much of its history, was launching its Performance division. Keflezighi was 36, an age when elite runners start pondering retirement and was recently dropped by Nike as a shoe endorser. The company soon launched the first GOrun shoe with Keflezighi – widely known in running circles by a single moniker “Meb” – as its official brand ambassador in performance and consultant.
Since signing with Skechers, Keflezighi set a personal record (PR) at the 2011 New York Marathon, PR’d at the 2012 Olympic Trials in Houston and took fourth place at the 2012 Olympic Games. He then went on to set his current PR (2:08:37) and win the 2014 Boston Marathon at the age of 38. He became the first American man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983 with the victory especially poignant coming a year after the Boston Marathon bombings. This past November, he finished seventh overall and was the first American at the New York City marathon.
Over his career, he stands as the only athlete in history to win the New York Marathon (2009), the Boston Marathon (2014) and an Olympic Medal (2004)
In 2016, Keflezighi again compete the Olympic Trials in Los Angeles this weekend for another spot on the U.S. team.
“Being 40 years old and training for the Olympic Trials is a huge achievement and Skechers Performance has helped make this possible,” said Keflezighi. They know what it means to be a partner and working with the brand to help create the best running shoes possible has been a rewarding experience. It’s not something many athletes have the opportunity to do.”
For Skechers, the extension is unusual because it’s a rare occasion where a company will more than likely be sponsoring an athlete past his retirement. Some reports compared it to Nike’s recent move to sign a lifetime deal with LeBron James. Nike also obviously has a secretive long-term contract with Michael Jordan.
Skechers already has turned to sports legends such as Joe Montana, Mariano Rivera, Sugar Ray Leonard Pete Rose and Joe Namath to support its casual Relaxed Fit collection but it will be interesting to see how Keflezighi is used on the performance side.
Skechers said the long-term extension reflects Keflezighi’s stature in the running community.
“Meb’s motivation is contagious,” stated Rick Higgins, SVP, merchandising/marketing, Skechers Performance. “Anyone that has the pleasure of meeting him knows what I mean. He is a phenomenal role model, an essential ambassador to the sport, and a champion on and off the course. We are excited to continue working with Meb, as he has truly become a part of the Skechers family.”
Keflezighi is also the vice president of running at Competitor Group Inc., which owns the “Rock ’n’ Roll” series of marathons and half-marathons. In that position, Keflezighi works with event managers for races, developing training content and appearing and competing at events. Finally, along with another retired Olympic runner, Bob Kennedy, Keflezighi is a part owner of San Diego area running store chain Movin Shoes.
On the women’s side, Skechers also sponsors Kara Goucher, who will also be competing this coming weekend for a spot on the U.S. women’s team. The trials will be held in Los Angeles on Feb. 13, the day before Skechers begins its sponsorship of Los Angeles Marathon. Skechers announced last August that it will replace Asics as the race’s title sponsor. Skechers has also been a major sponsor of the Houston Marathon since 2014.
Photos courtesy Skechers