Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Me And My Saucony...

By Frank

Saucony... Pronouced as "Sock A Knee", a running brand from Boston, US is a brand that I never thought that I will be associated with. To start off with is because I didn't had a pleasant experience with my first pair which is the Saucony FastWitch 3 back in year 2009 where I ran my first ultra marathon with. Suffered cramps badly which at that point of time and being a newbie runner, I blamed the shoe for it due to the extremely soft cushioning. Since then, I stayed away from this brand until another opportunity came in year 2012.

I was really fortunate and lucky to be spotted by the then Saucony brand manager and my friend now Alicia who offered me the opportunity to be representing the brand here in Malaysia. I was skeptical back then due to my first experience but at the same time matured through time that it wasn't the shoe's fault back in year 2009. I shared my concern with Alicia and she fully understood my situation at that time and hence handed me some key models, in this case the Kinvara 3 and Mirage 3 to try out first.

After close to half a year, when I was a free agent again, and being impressed by the Kinvara 3, I finally agreed and put ink on paper as I accepted the Saucony sponsorship. I was grateful to Alicia too for keeping her promise and waiting for my availability patiently. From there, not only I was representing the brand, I was also working closely with her in matters of branding, marketing, ordering, training and more. It was not all smooth sailing for Saucony isn't a brand well known here yet and with tight budget, it makes things more challenging. Understanding the issues we were faced with, both myself and Alicia used whatever resources we could find back then. I didn't push for my sponsorship either and just used whatever gears that was made available. We were working very tightly but at the same time, safely but yet happy. And probably from there, we turned our business relationship into friendship.

Product training.

But we overcame it with the help from a dedicated team and a year down, we made our first media event by launching the Kinvara 4 and at the same time expanding the ambassador team to 3 with Zijill and Jason coming on board. Then came the running clinic where we presented ourselves to the running community here to share our knowledge and experiences.

The launch event of Kinvara 4.

Moving on, as I explored the world, I also met up with the principals of Saucony from various countries being South Africa, Netherlands, United Kingdom and of course Jimmy from Asia's regional office at Hong Kong, the principal we have been working with. I was really touched and grateful for their support in my day to day adventure which eventually helped me a lot in my upcoming race at West Highland Way with gears made available through them.

With Saucony South Africa, whom we meet every year at the Comrades Expo.

With the hilarious guys from Saucony Netherlands.

A pleasure to meet up with Eric, Product Specialist from Saucony Scotland.

As time passes, Alicia had left the company for greener pasture. In fact, most of the team from the first day had eventually left too. I really miss the the original team for their efficiency was well, efficient!. And before Alicia left last year, she was kind enough to arrange the pro team's kit for me which I am forever grateful for. With a new manager and team to work with, we started from where we left off, only at that time, Saucony had already established itself among the runners here. Sales has picked up and awareness is there but there was still a problem, the budget.

In Kinvara I trust.

At a recent outdoor photo shoot.

Studio photo shoot.

Over the years through the Saucony gears, I ran better Comrades each year, clocked my best timings in various distances such as 70KM and 100KM, did my first 100KM trail with it and also ran my second fastest marathon with it. And next will be my half decade of Comrades and my first longest trail run with it. With the accomplishment I had with the brand and the budget problem still persisting, I thought through it and decided that for the brand to grow further, I will step down as the ambassador to allow the budget to loosen and flow, and also for new talents to carry the brand. That explains the number of Saucony related photos I've been uploading on my Facebook lately, for those who suddenly felt there was an sudden overflow of it. Yes, I have a soft spot for this brand and it's not an easy decision especially when I was sincerely asked to stay on. But I guess new faces are needed and with that decision mutually agreed, Zijill remained and I hooked Jamie and Nick up for the new team.

When the outgoing ambassador meets the new ambassadors.

I will have 2 more races under the ambassadorship program before my contract ends officially. My fifth Comrades at South Africa and the 95 Miles West Highland Way Race over the mountain of Scotland. For the final 2 times and for the first time ever, I will be in racing in full Saucony kit. It is certainly a pleasure to be in it and I will race proudly and confidently in them.

One final race at the highlands in the colours of Saucony.

Hence at the end of this entry, I would like to thank everyone from past and present of Saucony Malaysia from Alicia, Razi, Cheryll, Khiem Khiem, Amy, Alice, Yi Xuan, Kiki and many more from the retail team for their gracious support and understanding through these 3.5 years. A new chapter awaits for me with this brand and I know it will be a great one ahead. As for Saucony in Malaysia, I hope the new team including the ambassadors will take good care of it as a new era will begin soon as we all continue to "Find Your Strong" together!

Thank you for the 3.5 years.

Always part of Saucony.

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